Abigor is according to pre Judeo-Christian theology known as a demon of the superior order, conjured for his power to foretell the future and provide military aid and advice. He is shown either in the form of a handsome knight holding a lance or a ghostly spectre riding a winged horse. And what better name to crown this Austrian act? Their founding member TT has ascended the spheres with militant fanaticism since the bands initial inception. He is known for his rigorous dedication to the black arts, and his will to sacrifice for his master’s blessings. This uncompromising attitude has culminated in a string of manifestations channelling energies tangible to those absorbed in darker pursuits. A fact this very interview is a reflection of.
SH: People tend to get nostalgic with age, but you don’t seem to be one of them. You’re always looking for a new sound and direction for the band. I do wonder though, how do you remember the early days of the second wave and what role do they play in your life today?
TT: I hate the term ´second wave´, because there was no distinct real first wave. We had the first 3 Bathory albums, Hellhammer/Celtic Frost and some Thrash bands that came up with lyrics and aesthetics on their early releases that we´d call Black Metal in retrospect, you know, the classics. Particularly fascinating for me was At War With Satan in 1983, the long title track, more than anything else that Venom did. The gatefold inside was nailed on my childhood bedroom wall in 1983, and I wonder if this also inspired Grishnackh to set his fires. As I started to collect Metal records in 1982 as a young child, I can tell you, I have never experienced a dedicated ´first wave of Black Metal´, so there is no second one. Mayhem, Rotting Christ, Von, Dissection, Master´s Hammer, Monumentum and others immediately followed the forefathers, they were all active in the late 80s, and this seamlessly merged into the early 90s ´wave´. There was fluent development ever since then, culminating in the first real Black Metal MOVEMENT, with definitive criteria, its own fanzines and tape trader circles. With total seriousness, honest contributions and everything else that belongs to such a movement. This uncompromising dedication and the repetitive mantra of darkness opened the channel to the spheres of Satan. The energy was flowing and whoever entered the movement was blessed, which was solely and ultimately responsible for the fact that even hollow dickheads could come up with something utterly worthwhile. You just had to reach out and capture what was around you. Black Metal was a Satanic artform exclusively, DIABOLICAL Fullmoon Mysticism (Immortal), “Dominus Sathanas” (Burzum), you name it. One witnessed though, as soon as Darkthrone, Burzum, Immortal and the likes changed lyrical subject, ´image´ and mindset, the gift was taken from them. I remember thousands of things and could fill books about those exciting times. Every half a year things changed to another level, no one was standing still, no album sounded like another, and these were the only rules.
What role? It shaped us, it is the mist out of which we arose, and it´s part of Abigor 2013. Leytmotif Luzifer is a direct heir to these, our, early days of Black Metal. The scene during the very early 90s was characterized by an incredible extremism that set the air ablaze, by the radical, often violent, mindset of everyone involved, even the zines and tapetraders. Do not believe what certain figures, which were gifted back then, tell today, even regarding their own work. They´re driven by revisionism, often incomprehension too, as they can´t grasp, can´t conceive what had happened.
Musically there often is a nostalgic feeling in me obviously, and I don´t know if someone who entered later feels the same punch in the stomach and heavy mood when listening to A Blaze In The Northern Sky, Det Som Engang Var, the Thorns tapes or the monolithic masterpiece of Black Metal, De Mysteriis Dom. Sathanas. Or personal old faves like the Azhubham Haani demo, early Abruptum, of course early Marduk, obscurer releases like Mystifier´s Goetia LP, Unholy demo 11.90, the fantastic 3 Fulgor tapes and such. People forget that the Scandinavian veterans were inspired by such diverse early pieces too. Even Grishnackh hailed early Black Metal all around the world in his old interviews, while youngsters who try to be ´traditional´ or ´oldschool´ rip off Transylvanian Hunger and Hvis Lyset Tar Oss exclusively, but doing so is pretty modern and monodimensional.
SH: You obviously weren’t the only young man in Austria who felt the impact of these seminal releases that you just mentioned. There were also a few other individuals and bands that you would end up working with, like the obscure Amestigon. Could you share a bit about that, and what the Vienna Metal scene was like at the time?
TT: Heavy Records was our Helvete from 1986 or 87 and on. The guys who were employed there had a band called Carnage, which later became Pungent Stench, and surely important for Black Metal in Austria was Michael Piesch, the controversial figure who later started Lethal Records. Some years before he had a small but great tape distribution, importing stuff like Impaled Nazarene (all later things aside, Taog Eht Fo Htao Eht was a killer demo for the time), Unholy (demo 11.90 is still one of the blackest pieces of Metal), and Scandinavian Death Metal. We´ve reached the 90s by now, the super commercial Virgin Megastore of Richard Branson had a certain guy named Silenius working there in the Metal department, and I linked him to Napalm Records, who in turn distributed the most extreme things available at the time, hence you could buy everything from Absurd to Zyklon B at this multi-corporate temple of consumerism in the mid 90s, which was pretty weird. For a very short period in winter 1993 to 1994, a handful of people met under the name ´ABMS´ to inspire each other, when Summoning still had satanic lyrics (their first two demos are brilliant and have nothing to do with later things). Pazuzu provided room for those gatherings, and, just like us, was into magic literature and maintained contact to certain orders, groups and organizations of our interest. As for other bands in Vienna, well, a bit later in the mid 90s I brought a few people together, resulting in mostly short lived projects like Nefarius and December Fog, both involving Count Daemon Van Zazas on vocals. Amestigon first was a project by two former Abigor vocalists, while the band today is a quite different one, I would say ´post Black Metal´, musically closer to Enslaved maybe, and lyrically the upcoming album certainly is moving away from fantasy topics of the old demos to more serious metaphysical and magic texts, I have just read something interesting from that coming record. Truly important for the evolution of the early Black Metal scene were the Austrian tapetraders, Mr. Kern, Cle and a few others, who were linking musicians and magazines, labels and individuals. Believe me, how the scene worked back then was very, very different. The right people set the agenda, not some glossy magazine superstars.
SH: Abigor were always a few steps ahead of your peers when it came to composition and virtuosity (only Emperor seemed to be on a similar path at the time). Was this the Austrian love for classical music and high culture seeping through the fabric or a simple matter of personal preference?
TT: You know what, I always thought that we, well, how should I put this, not that we´d totally fail, but I´ve never been satisfied with our old releases. I hold Apokalypse and lux devicta est high as our best work of the 90s, and some aspects of Verwüstung, Nachthymnen and Opus IV surely are worthy contributions to Satanic Black Metal. But I always felt Abigor could not compete with the perfection of great records, be it sophisticated works of Emperor, Ved Buens Ende, or be it earlier, and more primitive masterpieces, which shine in purest form like many early 90s demos. I was haunted by the belief that our things weren´t good, or radical, enough. Stylistically, you´re right, elements on some of our albums had the same majestic atmosphere, were executed with more advanced arrangements, just like Emperor did it. Certain content demands a distinct musical form, so this ´happened´ without our influence, usually it is not a conscious, decisive process. Yet your statement above that we are ´always looking for a new direction and sound´ is correct too, as we stem from a Black Metal tradition that doesn´t walk on trodden paths. A Blaze In The Northern Sky didn´t sound like Panzerfaust, Det Som Engang Var was different to Filosofem, Natten´s Madrigal and Marriage Of Heaven And Hell are both equally essential, and so on. Anyway, in the 90s we were sloppy and impulsive. We improvised the drums in the studio and in general, for most albums we finished drums and guitars within the first 2 recording days. As we returned in 2005, 2006, and I heard all these fantastic albums, from Deathspell Omega to S.v.e.s.t., from Katharsis to Drastus, I was stunned. Through End All Life I got to know that we actually influenced members of those groups, or at least that they valued what we did in the 90s. Be it Abigor´s history, or, how one of them put it, the way we used guitars, even several topics we wrote about. This was amazing and unexpected, and the first time I really felt our own contributions in the 90s were worth something on a larger scale. One creates art to practice one´s belief, because it has to be done. It is an urge, a burden very often. Dealing with such forces, if done without compromise, can be painful and cause harm to yourself. Hence, no other ´reward´ comes close to the words of respect that I heard from those artists that I value myself, that´s about the only thing I am proud of and also reassures me that releasing albums makes at least a bit of sense. I am more satisfied now though, with Time, Quintessence and Leytmotif Luzifer. But I usually hate my own work and find things by other people better, or at least more distinct. I am my own worst critic. How could it ever be enough, standing naked on a vast plane of tones and words, trying to decipher His ungraspable presence, facing His power and will through Abigor?
SH: Have you and PK ever received any classical training or are you both self-taught?
TT: I was a trained classical guitarist before forming Abigor, yes, but that´s worth nothing as an isolated quality. More important is the uncompromising intention to create the most extreme art, and to work hard when recording an album until tendonitis pierces your arm and blood runs down the fingertips from attacking the strings in trancelike state repeatedly. We were developing certain playing techniques, and on Leytmotif Luzifer you will hear such sonics, stemming from guitars and the way we handle them exclusively, untouched by any effects. Only this intent is important, as it gives you the very tone and sound, not how long you’ve studied your instrument. And I do not take praises for myself; I am an empty vessel channelling art from other sources and spheres, which is just flowing through myself.
SH: I know that you probably don’t think much of it today, but a lot of people still hold Nachthymnen as their favourite Abigor album. Do you view the baroque inspired style that characterises it as a misstep, or something that just needs to be perfected?
TT: Nachthymnen and its execution very much belonged to the scene, our history, and was the logical step at that time and place, but it was just as important to move on. Back then we, and I mean all people within Black Metal, didn´t care too much about a subgenre or a direction, there was no pseudo-traditional trend, it was Black Metal, period. Some people chose ugliness as vesture for their message and tones, while Nachthymnen was executed with more pomp, but in general, back then this didn´t matter. The scene was different. We were on Napalm Records, Nåstrond were, and Ildjarn around that time, too (although on a more exclusive deal basis). It wasn´t about secondary things like the sound vehicle you chose, but more if you could stand up or not. Emperor was symphonic, while Abruptum was unbelievably ugly, and it didn´t matter as long as it was Satanic and Individual. Today, it´s more about what you say you are doing, than what you actually do. This is fake to the bone. Every shitty keyboard bit on Nachthymnen, every female moan, is more real than some of those ´super-underground rough primitive´ bands. And although Apokalypse and lux devicta est are our masterpieces in the 90s, Nachthymnen surely has importance and quality, I´m more satisfied with it than some time ago when, you are right, I hated the continuous mentions of that album.
SH: JFN wrote the lyrics for your classic track “The Dark Kiss” on Nachthymnen. Was there a close-knit community in the German speaking countries back then?
TT: No. Basically, the whole scene in a grander scheme of things was tighter, yes, much tighter, incomparable to today. Depending on what ideological movement or distinct group on the left hand path one belonged to. And Black Metal as a whole was tighter mostly due to consciously keeping the big media and labels out. But this was no local phenomenon. There were groups in Vienna we hated, and there were others in far away countries we were close to. Local scenes meant nothing to us, they still don´t. You just gave me an idea, if I´d mention JFN I could renew my status as persona non grata in certain communities, hahaha.
SH: I’ve always wondered if the dark object beneath the window on the Nachthymnen cover is a sarcophagus? What’s the story behind this painting?
TT: It´s a still that was chosen not at least because of its references to “The Dark Kiss”, but in general it just fits the music and concept of the album perfectly. Compared to Leytmotif Luzifer, Nachthymnen´s visual part just accompanied the music and lyrics, but we didn´t choose the images because of a deeper meaning. A more interesting story is the magic circle on the cover of Verwüstung, this stems from PK´s ancestors who were accused to witchcraft. He copied it from a linen cloth, locked away in one of the family´s safe.
SH: The voice of Silenius was a vital part of the early Abigor sound. Are you still in contact with him?
TT: His performance on Apokalypse and Verwüstung is exceptional, also Opus IV shines with his diversity. Recently he recorded the Supreme And Immortal 7” with us that marks our 20th year of releasing Black Metal. I meet him very often, he lives 10 minutes walk away from me. Musically and lyrically, Summoning have nothing to do with Black Metal at all, but I meet Protector and Silenius regularly. And I still think the first two demos are masterpieces of Satanic Black Metal, incomparable to later tapes and albums. Ok, as you mentioned Silenius, I will describe a certain situation again, something that I just wrote about in an interview for Metal Obscur, but it reflects the atmosphere of the early 90s a bit. Doing the second photo session with Silenius, we were driven into the dusky forest, backseat of the car, Silenius in the middle, PK to the left and myself to his right. There was no joking, no friendly atmosphere of friendship. According to early conceptions of Black Metal one had to be violent, dangerous, dark-minded, friendship was not appropriate. The atmosphere became even more frozen to put ourselves in the right mood for the photo session. Silenius had a knife in his bag and the deeper we got into the woods, the harder he grabbed it. He slowly had the feeling PK and I wanted to kill him and got ready to defend himself. I smile a bit visualizing this situation in 2013, but that´s the mind-set we all had in those days. There was a lot of talk about extreme things, and not just talk.
SH: You have often referred to Channelling The Quintessence of Satan as one of the creative peaks in Abigor’s career. It also represents a slight departure from the medieval themes of your earlier albums. What inspired this shift of focus from the past to a more “futuristic” aesthetic?
TT: You think so? I thought it represented the contrary, from the cold spheres of Opus IV back to traditional content. But you´re right, there are dark ambient sounds on the original Channeling The Quintessence of Satan which divide and lead into the parts and songs. But that´s exactly why we wanted to bring this album to the form it was originally meant to be, with Quintessence 2012. The interlude sounds were replaced with excerpts from Det Sjunde Inseglet (being the central inspiration for the original album, “Dawn of Human Dust” and other lyrics are based on this film and the Book Of Revelation), something we have already done on lux devicta est in 1993, and in general the 2012 version is much closer to our initial vision. The individual tracks are lost, so we couldn´t do a new mixdown, but when I read that people criticise the harsh sound, I mean, fuck off, it´s Black Metal. We only had a rough, totally unmixed stereo cassette from the first two studio days in 1998 to rework the album, so the sound is not what I would consider ideal. Yet, the 2012 version is far superior to the 1999 attempt, which lacks bass guitar, only had average vocals and has other negative aspects in arrangement, lyrics and visual presentation. I call Quintessence 2012 our De Mysteriis Dom. Sathanas, as it has a similar feel to me, a furious and riff based album with exactly the right atmosphere, dealing with the ancient mysteries, the triangular relation of devil, death and man, just like Dürer´s engraving that we chose for the cover. The lyrics were a balancing act, as we wanted to keep the original topics and the important phrases of each song, but revise it to a mature form that meets our demands 14 years later. Quintessence on EAL sums up Abigor´s 90s history and represents the peak in this tradition. After the release of the original in 1999, I could not see beyond it. Abigor could not move and the scene was fucked up in my view. It took a 5 year break where I could brace my energies, it needed a new understanding, a next level of seriousness, which happened within me as well as externally, with the next generation of bands.
SH: You’ve talked a bit about your own re-discovery of Black Metal. How did this lead to Abigor’s partnership with End All Life?
TT: That was simple, I thought End All Life was the best label around, when it comes to quality releases in every aspect, content and execution. The achievements, and the tradition EAL managed to build in those few years, were remarkable, so I got in contact with C. He heard demos for Fractal Possession and wanted the album. As I said above, I didn´t take it for granted he owned an album of ours, not to speak of being inspired by us, so I was amazed to hear of Abigor´s importance to him in the 90s. And now he inspired us in return. Things were crystal clear from then on, he put 100% into the realization of our albums, fully believed in our work and did as much he could do, without compromise. There was a lot of communication on all levels, musically and spiritually, during those intense first few years on EAL, developing Abigor to the form it gained now. Sadly people were running after certain new trends in the second half of the 00s, collecting ´the right´ limited LPs (of course just in ´mint condition´ to collect dust on the shelves) that made them appear ´more trve´, so the readily available albums didn´t get as much recognition, which I do regret a lot for End All Life. But more important than ourselves, I am satisfied many short-lived Black Metal trends seem to be over these days, the dreaded ´Suicidal Black Metal´ shit with its empty content and whiny habit seems crushed, but nihilistic Darkthrone oriented copycats singing about landscapes and weather are still around. We piss venomous blood on them. Only Satanic Black Metal is real and prevails.
SH: I’ve always wondered if the band pictures used around the time of Fractal Possession were to be seen as homage to the work of Herman Nitsch and the Wiener Aktionismus?
TT: I am pleased that you see the reference to Wiener Aktionismus. These are the best pictures we have ever made. They truly represent extreme music and spiritual art, while remaining in the Black Metal tradition. Actually, a few years ago we wanted EAL to print a little folder with those photos in larger size and two lyrics, made for people who ordered Fractal Possession to insert it into the album, but well, it didn´t happen.
SH: I was thrilled to hear the abrasive sound of the synths utilized on Time. Very unlike what you usually hear on “electronically inspired” Metal releases. What kind of gear did you work with?
TT: Although every now and then I have periods where I listen to electronic music a lot, we are not inspired by electronic music at all. Well, Kraftwerk´s Radioaktivität was my second fave album right behind The Number Of The Beast in 1982, who knows what impact it had. But on the other hand, although I enjoy primitive and ugly Black Metal all the time, you also can´t hear this personal listening preference reflected in our music. The music we come up with is genuinely our own. It was developed from the times when we formed Abigor, the tradition of Black Metal, and a few deliberate influences of contemporary composers. As well as the great recent Black Metal albums that we listen to, we can´t close our minds if we hear something of value that amazes us, it demands that we compete with the intensity of other bands´ works. But we defy all hints of us having something to do with ´Industrial Black Metal´ or being influenced by electronic music.
I´m pleased that you seem to belong to the very few who understood the sonic shape that formed Time. Those sounds are indeed more extreme and ripping than the sounds of a distorted electric guitar. Although used very sparingly they´re the reason why people miscategorise Time. It´s as if one calls us ´orthodox Black Metal´ just because of parts like ´Come ye father´. Time is doing the full circle of Black Metal, but it seems people´s attention span is no longer than 5 minutes. There aren’t more synth parts on Time than there are on a classic early Burzum record.
As your question concerns the equipment, well, I collected synthesizers from the 70s and 80s some time ago, fascinated by these old instruments. I had a Moog Prodigy, Roland Jupiter 6, Korg MS-20, amongst others. And I used tape echoes and spring reverbs, a great stereophaser and other gear from decades ago. Old analogue equipment that´s magic to put your hands on.
Yet this isn´t pointing to Abigor´s future, we didn´t use a single synthetic sound for Leytmotif Luzifer, and no effects at all are used for the guitars. It is an album that is very, very different to Time in its atmosphere, sound, composition and instrumentation. True to the old tradition of Abigor that´s a fist in the face of all those who think they know how we sound, just like Apokalypse is different to Opus IV is different to Nachthymnen.
SH: What impact has the acquirement of your own studio had on the way you work as a band?
TT: More than just the studio, the whole working process has evolved. While in the 90s, PK and I had met to cross our axes (and that´s all we ever did regarding rehearsals, exchanging riffs in our living rooms), we can now fully concentrate on what each of us does best. Now we never meet, and when you work on something alone with full focus, then a contemplated descent takes place. When you are aware of what you are doing (creating satanic art), when you talk to no one while composing, rehearsing, recording, then a certain state of mind sets in. This spiritual state is the ground on which ´pure´ performances grow. It is the optimum, and maybe the element of misanthropy that´s left from the 90s. Even when you are using technical equipment to record, even when you ´loop´ a part and play it many times to get the absolute intensity, to capture this one single take that is loaded with, well, all the energies you just summoned. Even in this context, it´s not a technical, studio focused process, but a holy act. This is the ideal way to come up with truly worthwhile art, and it is the result of being able to work alone, in our own studio, with no limits. My engineering experience and the equipment is just one part, but the working method is a more important reason for our improvement. People will hear it on Leytmotif Luzifer (you actually have heard it), where we managed to compose and record an album from scratch in the way I just described, for the very first time in our 20 year history.
SH: I think it’s safe to say that the release of Jon Nödtveidt and the following rebirth of Dissection turned out to be a seminal moment in the history of Black Metal. This was, to my knowledge, the first time a Metal band had represented a fully formulated Satanic tradition complete with it’s own cosmology, symbols and advanced magical system. What was your view on this as both a musician and a Satanist?
TT: As musician, and due to my personal admiration back then, I have to praise Dissection´s 7” and the first two albums, masterpieces for the era of Black Metal or to be correct, Death Metal, as Jon wanted these to be called. These have stood the test of time. Although I totally disagreed with their signing to Nuclear Blast back then, a label that was fighting against Black Metal and everything it stood for. And I have my problems with some of the reduced, stomping and rhythm-driven music on Reinkaos, as I demand more chaos in music, but deeply respect the achievement, nevertheless, obviously, the texts make up for personal musical taste. So much for Dissection, an utterly important band, yes.
More generally, I think the sole fact that one represents a ´fully formulated tradition´, which in itself captures and joins various gnostic traditions, while others are based on the satanic exegesis of another, basically says nothing about the quality of the first or the latter.
I have very little knowledge about the MLO (Misanthropic Luciferian Order), and I always thought that there are fundamental differences to my own belief and search, let me explain these: I am set ablaze by the achievement of spirited men, the history of art fuels my own existence, be it religious renaissance and baroque visual art, or contemporary composers of the 20th century, all different kinds. This is important when honestly considering the term ´misanthropy´ and the valuation of man in a wider scheme of things. I see life as a quest, as well as an ordeal by fire, not as sole distortion. It is a trial that has to be mastered by all means, and the skills for this were provided by Lucifer, being the incarnation of the devil who coated man on earth with the fire of knowledge, perception and intuition. Man´s task is to acknowledge and realize, before his existence is burnt to ashes. Hence dying is the sacrilege of man divine. Furthermore, I do not oppose the concept of the cosmos, as it holds one of the mysteries of human existence. MLO suppose time is linear and constant, but it is not. The sheer ungraspable infinity of the universe, or the absence of time in black holes, all are fundamental mysteries of Him that we have to decipher. The ecstasy of chaos is not the opposite of order to my understanding, it is to be found in the fulfilled cycle of order. MLO did practice Gnosticism rigorously, like it has to be done, like natural physics. But then the sources become even more important, a fortiori when so many are used, otherwise it´s like language philosophy. And I would not allow myself to practice it without examining all sources to separate the legends from the myths. There´s always the danger of an esoteric tower of babel, in both senses, regarding the pride as well as the punishment, chaos (although, this is an interesting thought considering the MLO´s reference to chaos). I can´t adopt the conceptual arrogance that I perceived reading texts of the order, because I am an empty vessel of Him, which totally opposes the thought of supremacy. What they seemed to achieve was a huge magical practice and, as you said above, a fantastic form.
You will understand that with the above-mentioned thoughts, I could not fully embrace the principals of the order myself. I think it is hardly possible to be both, full-fledged artist and growing, practicing magician, as each demands a lot of time and focus on a long run.
SH: You have always described yourself as theistic Satanist (correct me if I’m wrong). What’s your view on the so-called “armchair occultists” who favour an academic study of religion as opposed to actual spiritual practice?
TT: Every approach leads to something if done with absolute devotion. And I would be careful judging the work of serious religious studies of any kind, much of the MLO´s sources seemed to be of proper theological (or what people understood of that term in ancient times) origin, not just ´oral history´, so someone´s got to do the footwork. Myth (or testimony, revelation), exegesis, theology, liturgy and permeation are all needed. Raising valid questions or transforming truths to art, all aspects are important, not just collecting knowledge and myths merging with symbolism and practicing the self-nurturing, or destructing, form of magic. If done right, anything on the left hand path could touch the spheres where Satan is tangible. Ritual practice means control, pointing forces to a certain aim. Yet uncontrolled channelling is the way to go when ´creating´ art, and this dedication often has, contrary to magical practice, unpredictable consequences. Recording Time was an uncompromising act of the highest order, where the limitless channelling resulted in huge mischief afterwards, I had lost everything, relationship, surroundings, you name it. Serious bands tell of similar experiences. A certain band ´murdered all hope´ (as he put it) with an album, and the whole group went through utterly miserable weeks after recording it. I have heard this a few times. So, what you need is uncompromisingness, dedication, and a clear vision to get in touch with powers that gnostic luciferian orders evoke in their magical practice, too. Just that magicians do this for themselves, while true satanic artists do it because they have to, their practice is doxology and there´s no way around it to create the soil on which the tongues of fire are received. So, due to what I have experienced ever since my childhood, be it the earliest memories that I have dealing with the dark side, the repeated dreams I had noctambulating, the figure I have seen in the mirror as child. All this at kindergarten age and still razor-sharp and clear before my eye. The deeper occult quest and early magical practice approaching the twenties, the first deciphering of the mysteries, or the experience of uncompromising satanic art, due to all this I do not accept the excluding thought of the gnostic path that says ´you(r achievements) are inferior because you are not initiated´. Even if someone managed to get a step further in his quests, these achievements could vanish to dust for another man. As an artist of Satanic Black Metal, you need to be wide, wide open, empty yourself and be fully dedicated and uncompromising, as well as humble. I have seen many fall that weren´t (no matter how high the status they may have gained in their field).
SH: There has been a recent surge of interest in the Afro-Brazilian and Afro-Cuban traditions such as Quimbanda in a broad spectrum of European Left Hand Path circles. Any traditions in particular that currently holds your interest?
TT: I do not feel the need to delve into the abyss of other culture´s myths and practices, my task is of other nature. Magicians could, but have to be careful not to exchange the ultimate aims for vanities. Let me put it in the known sentence, ´si monvmentvm reqvires, circvmspice´. There is no need to seek out the same mysteries (or spiritual monuments) hidden in all kind of traditions, because you end up being buried in the same questions and same answers. The other threehundredsixtyeightXXX traditions do not contain shattered parts of the one great enlightenment, but they are cultural encodings of the same, each having the same profound relevance for the seeker. One should be aware of other forms, can be interested in those, and magical practice of other cultures are utterly fascinating, but you will find the most fundamental in your own tradition. Which alone is formed out of the widest, oldest, as well as far eastern religious practices, testimonies, codices, and local pagan myths. It holds enough wisdom and truth to lead man to a higher level. One has to execute certain things differently, but the instructions are there. Even on Nachthymnen we stated that “Unleashed Axe-Age” exemplifies the same dark forces of evil that are encoded in northern mythology, just as they are in ancient monotheistic demonology. I am interested in traditions that acknowledge 1. Duality 2. Deity 3. Divinity (in man´s existence). I happened to be born in middle Europe, in the second part of the 20th century, and I´m an artist, so I use the history of art and religion of middle Europe as main foundation and inspiration. If you were born in China a thousand years ago, you could come to the very same conclusions on your spiritual quest. The mysteries are hidden everywhere. I know that a catholic monk of the 15th century, who would have chosen the left hand path, could have deciphered Luciferian truth just as any gnostic today. By the way, yesterday I saw a fantastic abbot´s crozier dated 1250, formed as black snake, a very unequivocal depiction, or on my travels through Italy I saw things in churches or Florence´s Bibliotheca Laurenziana that have kept me engaged for years. This is my tradition, His wisdom is hidden in this cultural environment, and when we merge this with the art of Abigor, we are as close as one can get.
SH: What do you feel your upcoming album Leytmotif Luzifer represents in relation to Abigor and its respective history?
TT: It is the first Abigor album conceived from scratch as fully matured artists. The 90s albums were a glimpse of the respective moment. These works must be interpreted completely different to Leytmotif Luzifer. We were adolescent, Black Metal was still immature as a fully perceivable direction in art, and everything was just developing and building. So that´s the reason why the masterpieces of those days have even more value if they stood the test of time. But if you come up with something half-heartedly now, not absolutely worthy facing a 20-year old tradition, then there are no excuses. Younger bands are in the great position to learn from our failures in the 90s, and how ´we´, and I mean all Black Metal groups who have been active for a long time, developed this music, lyrics, or visual presentation of an album. And we also had to learn how to present something of true value, something decent enough to be executed in His name. Failures today weigh heavier than ones in the 90s. Concerning the previous releases, I think I have enough distance to describe the history Leytmotif Luzifer is written in:
Fractal Possession was our reunion and featured older ideas. You will find the most traditional Black Metal riffs (to exemplify what I mean: the guitar intro to “Lair Of Infinite Desperation” could be right off Burzum´s Hvis Lyset Tar Oss, or the part at 1:22 of “Project:Shadow” could be on Darkthrone´s Under A Funeral Moon) next to early 80s Metal (“3D Blasphemy” 2:14 and such) next to dissonant, more sophisticated harmonies of recent Black Metal. Fractal Possession concludes two decades of Black Metal. We used lyrics that PK has written years before the reunion, pointing to topics we wrote about in the 90s, contrasted by three AR lyrics that kind of struck a spiritual balance and burn down what we have built metaphysically, that dealt with the very foundations, deconstructing old notions of good and evil; the satanic aspects of the known philosophical ´problem of universals´. Fractal Possession musically and lyrically paved the way for the utterly extreme piece that was next, Time. I am satisfied with the achievements of Fractal Possession, the many facets of Black Metal united on one album. Also worth mentioning is the expensive all analogue production (we used things like a Neumann M149 tube microphone worth 4500€, a fine old Studer desk and other hi end gear), which fits the material, captured the album´s atmosphere well, and still very much contrasts all the ´dead´ and sterile productions with those clicky drums and lack of density. Fractal Possession was made with a completely different mindset nevertheless, and is a closed chapter.
Time Is The Sulphur In The Veins Of The Saint initially started as split 7” project and grew to a full length Abigor album. It is the brother of Blacklodge´s album, both groups worked on the same topic and we released our efforts on a split DLP. The result is utterly uncompromising and satisfying, it is an absolutely extreme work, overwhelming every light-hearted nostalgic listener. Time represents the end point of a certain path with nothing beyond that, musically, as well as with regards to the conclusion of the album´s lyrics. You could only be entranced by the album or totally hate it, as it overloads one´s receptors and shatters all hopes by describing the fall of man.
Quintessence stylistically is the complete opposite of Time and herald our 20th year, featuring the very beginnings, all demos, and the new version of Channelling The Quintessence Of Satan. You can hear it´s an utterly traditional Black Metal album, much in the vein of De Mysteriis Dom. Sathanas. Thanks to End All Life´s uncompromising will to realize this expensive project (regaining the production costs when the whole limited edition of 950 copies is sold), the presentation, meaning format and print, turned out absolutely brilliant, paying respect to Abigor´s history.
Leytmotif Luzifer has opened a different chapter and is conceived as new, full length Abigor album with a clear, conceptual vision before we started. According to the lyrics, each song has a definitive purpose musically, hence it is more distinct (simply put: there´s a slow song, a fast one, a midtempo one and so on), and each is accompanied by a drawing. I can not predict the impact this album will have on us and others, as we´re still in midst of working on it, but there´s signs already that it will fully shine with the intensity of Lucifer´s flames. Remarks on lyrics and the detailed interpretation of the artwork will be made soon, I am still waiting for the permission to use the 7 drawings, only then can we reveal everything. Opposed to Fractal Possession and Time, we kept the sound and arrangements very pure, walls of guitars untouched by any effect, nothing artificial or synthetic will stain its purity.
SH: What inspired the move from End All Life to Roberto Mammarella’s Avantgarde Music?
TT: Two things. First, End All Life changed as the scene had changed, although mainly in terms of the label´s activity rather than the initial idea, which is still present I guess. In the early 00s, End All Life stood for something, the artists kind of interacted, obviously inspired one another, and formed, roughly, sub scenes. At least this was the impression one could get. End All Life was different to every other label, I remember mailorders that had ´EAL!´ written beside the band and album title, like a symbol pointing towards something mystical and very special. You had compilations, many split projects and interesting label co works. As outsider you had the impression End All Life and a few others formed something like the old Scandinavian scene of the early 90s (although all the bands never were that close to each other), meaning a concentrated output that is the essence of Black Metal, as well as being predominant and formative. Things run a bit slower now. I am eternally thankful to C, and for a small moment in time, 2007 to 2009, there was immense artistic inspiration flowing in both directions. While on a larger scale, during the decade, sales of CDs went down due to ripped MP3s. By the mid 00s, people were more into hunting ´super-limited XXX€ vinyl gems´ on Ebay to strengthen their fucking ego, rather than supporting the underground of bands that released great art. End All Life, who had just risen from focusing on vinyl, simply had to react to this in their strategy again, I guess. People always tend to think their actions have no consequences and that labels and artist always continue to rip themselves wide open. Underground music like Black Metal was blessed with supportive followers, but in the past years the situation changed, and now the 4 commercial labels and their bought magazines finally took over. People suck pirate MP3s on a much larger scale than the tapetraders did with cassettes, and therefore destroy the work of years. And the continuous Youtube visits deform proper listening habits, slowly and without your notice. And from the artists´ side, bands thought it would be better to become islands, instead of closing ranks to keep the scene free of parasites. Some adapted like rats, playing big concerts, thus reshaping their art, with the music reflecting the stomping, sing-along, headbanging shit, just as the devoted relationship to big magazines does. What do we have now? A few superstars and 4 pseudo major labels controlling the market, and a loose, shattered underground with no aim and no form. Only ignorant minds can be satisfied with the fact that it is still possible to buy three outstanding gems per month. But this is not enough for me, I demand a movement, nothing less.
End All Life continued to release great music, and put 100% into the realization of Fractal Possession, Time and Quintessence. Yet by now, it has become more a publisher of art rather than a full time label in the old-school way, with a ´boss´ who is a very active artist himself.
Avantgarde Records, well, forging that deal was very easy. Roberto thought about what we offered and demanded, and provided the budget to produce Leytmotif Luzifer, agreed to the conditions for releasing the album, and with him involved in Monumentum (In Absentia Christi is one of the 10 eternal masterpieces of Black Metal) there is a musician leading the label who knows what it´s like as struggling artist, and who released Live In Leipzig, that´s something. All this is very important for us. By now he has released the Supreme And Immortal package and did a great job in my opinion. Nevertheless, I can tell you that I, personally, have signed something to Norma Evangelium Diaboli some time ago, a project that demands my full focus soon. So I am still connected to the French circle, while Avantgarde will release the next two Abigor albums, along with other things, such as the mentioned 7”package and finally, the uniform one could wear lining in the Abigor army.
SH: Black Metal has, aside from a few black diamonds, been stagnating since the late 00s. I’d like you to end this ride with your own personal notion of where the genre will have to be taken in order to regain momentum?
TT: Every form of art can only be strong, and I mean truly revolutionary, if it´s a movement. I do not underestimate the importance and the impact of strong individuals, yet the isolation of bands in the past years lead to the dissolution of a more defined underground as a whole. Whatever state Black Metal is in at the moment, so far it has managed to rise twice, in the early 90s and in the mid 00s. I think we could witness a natural, cyclic process. The situation is still a bit ridiculous with bands that are completely hollow and only capture clichés, you know, those who have absolutely nothing to say except ´true underground´, ´Black Metal war blah blah´ ´darkness true warrior´ shit and sing about the weather (frost, winds) or nature (mountains, forests) and such, the phrases and terms we used in the early 90s to capture and describe an atmosphere. While today´s Black Metal shouldn´t content with atmospheric poems rooted in romanticism of the 19th century, but have to do with thoroughly fundamental, at best religious, existential matters, rooted in the respective cultural history. These fake, empty bands still lead a certain underground and eat up resources of all kinds, be it human ones, energetic, financial or spiritual ones. They are like these major label, major magazine parasites that do not contribute but suck the soil dry, while there are others who deliver killer albums with real content, who contribute and bleed, and are totally overlooked. This has to change, and it will change. I have bought many great records recently that strengthen my belief in the Black Metal underground, and if we close the ranks, realize who our enemies are, and deliver satanic art of the highest order, then it´s enough momentum, for ´the next thousand years are OURS´, as Fenriz put it in his short period of brightness.
A / Second Heart Magazine