How did you come to discover the world of underground metal? Was it a style you took to right away or did it take a few spins to get into it?
SS: It was just a natural progression from the bands we were into, and how our musical interest grew. Learning about more and more extreme bands from friends and older people around. Growing up in Norway with the obvious black metal history, that quickly got our attention. I also grew up next to Apollyon from Aura Noir, Cadaver, Dødheimsgard etc parents, and he gave me a Cadaver Inc album early. It was the most extreme stuff I had ever heard.
Depends on what records etc, some things were instant hits; others took a long time, sometimes years to really understand.
Now how did it become for you to pick up a bass? Who are some of your favourite bass players?
SS: I was forced. I was supposed to play the guitar in Nekromantheon (I played the guitar from before, and play the guitar live in Obliteration), but our first vocalist could not handle bass and vocals at the same time, so when I went to the toilet during one of our early rehearsals the other guys packed away my guitar and put his bass in my place. And that was that. Haha.
Oh, so many, the ones I really look up to are not really in metal, but Geezer Butler is maybe my absolute favourite. Steve Harris, Lemmy, Steve DiGeorgio on the first Sadus demos and album, Blacky from Voivod, Geddy Lee from Rush… I’m very fond of very distorted bass also, so sometimes it’s more the sound and punches bass can give rather than the actual playing I like.
Now I know you in 2 bands currently, one being Nekromantheon, which is what this interview is for and about, but the other being Obliteration. What is the difference between the 2 bands besides you playing the guitar and singing in that band and how do you separate the 2?
SS: Obliteration is dark and doomy death metal and Nekromantheon is razor-sharp thrash metal.
The approach and vibe in the band feel very very different to me, so it’s very easy to separate. Also, the dynamic within the bands is very different, which colours the sound in a significant way.
Obliteration is an ever expanding bleak void while Nekromantheon is a sharp yet rusty knife.
Now how did the coming of Nekromantheon come about? Did you go through a lot of early members before you got a line-up that recorded your first EP that came out in 2007?
SS: We just decided to start a fast thrash/death kind of band after a Black Metal project Arse and Kick had disbanded. We started out with 4 people, including our first vocalist Glenn, who later disappeared.
What are your thoughts on your “We’re Rotting” EP these days? How was it going into the studio for the first time as Nekromantheon?
SS: I like it. It’s very rudimentary and simple in its structure, tempo and dynamics. But it has the right vibe and the essence of Nekromantheon was already there.
We had recorded some demos before. I remember it as stressful, but we did it all ourselves back then also, Kick and Arse mixed and recorded it. It was recorded at the school where Arse studied sound engineering.
Was there any thought of you playing the guitar, as you play guitar in the other band you’re in?
SS: Yes, as mentioned above, I was supposed to do guitar, but had to do bass out of necessity.
Your next release was a split release (7”) with a pretty big indie label, Relapse Records with the band Abigail. How did you manage this? What are your thoughts on this 7” these days?
SS: We got an offer to be a part of their speed and spikes series, a 7” series featuring only thrash bands. We had some contact with Bob who worked at Relapse at that time, and I guess he set it up.
I really like this release and our side of the record. I think the sound we got on those songs was perfect for us, very Dark Angel esqe. Those songs are still present in our live set.
In 2010, you hooked up with High Roller Records and released your 1st full length called “Divinity of Death”. Now was getting to write songs and going into the studio getting easier or harder by now? What are your thoughts on this release these days?
SS: It was basically a sum of all the unreleased material we had up until then, and it was easy to write it compared to how it is now, haha. I think it’s a bit uneven as an album, the quality and style are a bit too diverse or uneven, but many debuts are like this in my opinion. Some of the tracks are still really good and we still play them, while some have been forgotten…
Who came up with the name and the logo of the band and where is the band based out of? Is there a good and strong underground metal scene where your based out of?
SS: It was a joint effort, and the logo was made by RKV of Obliteration if I’m not mistaken. We are a KOLBOTN band, but we are based a bit here and there now… KOLBOTN is a small suburb outside of Oslo and there was no scene there, and the scene is small in Oslo as well, even though it’s vibrant. Aura Noir, Darkthrone and Lamented Souls are from Kolbotn, and that was very inspirational for us.
By now, were you able to play out live much and who were some of the bands you were sharing the stage with? Do you think you’re a good live band?
SS: Too many to mention, we’ve played with a bunch of bands. Some favourites are Aura Noir, Audiopain, Occvlta, Deathhamer, Condor, Purple Hill Witch..
I think our music works well live, there is good energy. Others have to judge if we are good live.
Also in 2010, you did a split 7” on Duplicate Records with the band Audiopain. How did this come about and thoughts on this 7” these days?
SS: We wanted to do a split with Audiopain, because we really like them. It just came about over some beers and our comrade Einz at Duplicate facilitated.
I do not think it’s our best work.
Now are all your releases up to this point still for sale in some form or another? Do you feel the band has grown leaps and bounds since your EP release?
SS: Yes, through the original labels and distros. Should not be hard to find.
Yes, the development has been humongous, but the very essence is still there. We have very different attention to detail now than in the past. But still a huge thirst for rawness and lofi madness.
In 2012 you hooked up with Indie Recordings and released another full length called “Rise, Vulcan Spectre”. How did the recording of this go and how was it working with this particular label? Did you get to play many live shows to support this release?
SS: This is probably our magnum opus. We wrote very very focused for a relatively short period of time and recorded it ourselves at Kolbotn, Arse and Kick did most of the work here. We still work with Indie. They have a very professional approach, maybe too professional for our taste. But it works out, no label is perfect, the music business is a dirty one. We did quite a few shows in support of it yes, the following year. Some very memorable ones with Aura Noir in Norway and in France.
In 2013, you were one band of 4 on a split 7”on Demonhood Productions. How did this come about and did you record just one song specifically for the 7”? Is it still for sale?
SS: Another duplicate records project, Demonhood was just a short-lived joint venture with Duplicate and Neseblood. Don’t remember how it came about, we were not very focused, just donated a track. It’s probably still out there, and we might have some laying around….
Now from 2013 until 2021 nothing was released by you guys until a brand new release, which I’ll get to shortly. Now how many members remain from the band’s last release in 2013 till now? Did you Sindre, work more with the other band your in and also Djevel, who you play live with? Or did the band just kinda break-up and just recently get back together?
SS: Everyone. We have not changed members ever. We have one live guitarist who joins us when needed. We did much more work with Obliteration in that period, yes, released 2 records and played a bunch of live shows and tours over the years. I guess it was the main focus for me and Arse who also is in Obliteration. I just played 4 shows with Djevel, and I’m out of it now. They are friends, but it’s not my band.
Nekromantheon did not break up, we played all the time, but we had some ups and downs with the writing process, more on this in the next question. We were active live throughout this period also.
Now we fast forward to the present (2021) and you recently put out a fantastic release of thrash metal on Indie Recordings called “Visions of Trismegistos”. Any special reason for this title? How difficult was it to go in and record music again as Nekromantheon after being away as a band for 8 years?
SS: The title is also a song title and it points to the lyrical content which deals with Hermetic mysticism, ancient occult and esoteric tradition and a lot of Greek Mythology.
We had been playing all the time and we had NOT been away even though that’s how the media sees it. We were in the underground creating and we played live shows.
It was not hard to go into the studio as we had recorded lots of records with different bands in the meantime. The reason it took so much time was that is the fact that our standards when it comes to thrash metal are extremely high. It takes something extraordinary to get me excited for a new thrash record etc these days. And we think like this when we write, it has to be perfect. Because there is nothing worse than mediocre thrash. Maybe mediocre black metal…
For us the music has to be fast, dynamic, dark and cold, technical up until a certain point yet it has to sound alive, spontaneous and almost sloppy. It needs to possess a certain feeling and an element of surprise. It has to be perfect. Perfect thrash balance on a knife’s edge of all the above-mentioned factors (and more). Hence, we throw away a lot of material, and we work work work work on it until it’s perfect. This is why we have been “away”. We have sharpened the knife until it was perfect.
Was it easy or difficult putting together the tunes for this release? Where did you record it at? What has the feedback been like on it so far as I think it is fantastic myself?
SS: Not it was an ordeal of epic proportions, given our standards and ideals of thrash metal, see the last answer.
We recorded most at a studio in Oslo called The Chaka Chan, but we did it ourselves, recorded and mixed. We have always done this and like the DIY approach. Not heard much feedback yet, some people like it.
How hard has it been with all this COVID crap in being that you can’t play any live shows to support this release? Do you plan on doing some type of touring once this COVID ban is lifted?
SS: It is what it is. You have to adapt. I hope we can do a lot of cool shows on the other side of this, and that the record will be remembered when stuff opens up again. Not wasting time planning anything yet as is all might go into the drain if the covid thing prolongs, as we have seen here in Norway, where we are on lockdown nr.3 as we speak.
For someone who has not heard the band, what would you describe the band’s sound?
SS: A lost thrash gem somewhere in between Slayer, Sepultura, Destruction, Sadus and Voivod in 1986, who has a different take on where to go next in the progress, where most of the classic bands failed.
With so many band’s and so many labels out there, how are you working on separating yourselves from all the generic junk out there?
SS: Hopefully that we bring something fresh to the table, personality, a vibe and intent. We hate to rip off – worship bands, and we try to do something that sounds somewhat original within the narrow framework of thrash metal. That gives you the old feeling, yet with themes and ideas that have not been heard before. I think bands that have the passion, will, genuinely and a broad mindset to allow yourself to progress within the format, will always be a joy to listen to.
Who writes all the music and the lyrics?
SS: We write the music together, but most riffs come from Arse. The kick did all the lyrics this time around.
Now if you had to do 3 cover tunes, what tunes would they be and why?
SS: Arrrrgh.. The obvious covers are boring.
Bulldozer – Mad Man
Dead Kennedys – Buzzbomb
Dead Boys – Down in Flames
Or something of Fantom Warrior or Poison from Germany.
Will it take another 8 years before you release something new again? I hope not.
SS: Maybe. Quality over quantity any day!