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Zyklon | World ov Worms | interview | Zamoth | metal | Lollipop


World ov Worms (Candlelight )
An Interview with guitarist Zamoth
by Martin Popoff

Samoth, now called Zamoth, is one of black metal's reigning evil lords. Guitarist for Emperor, record label Morgoth, er, mogul, once incarcerated for inflammatory behavior, and now head disturbance of crackly, cackly state-of-thou-art black metal group Zyklon. Erase a small hole in your soul with the nub of a pencil and place within your proudly self-carved cavity a polished lump of coal, and you get a sense of the unease this wall of thorns can emit, mostly through vibration, agitation, and Hammer Revelation.

Zyklon had to be for two reasons. One: Emperor apparently won't tour anymore; and two: Emperor is too wussy, even though Samoth will continue happily as part of Emperor, playing dark foil to Ihsahn's increasingly progressive esoterica (I'm sure glad the P's of my CD collection are in the office so I can look up for what seems like the hundredth time the correct spelling of the Peccatum nutter's elegant dogtag). So off he rides with his assembled Norse horses, Trym (drummer in Emperor), Destructhor (guitarist in Myrkskog), Daemon (vocalist for Limbonic Art) and lyricist Bård (can't ride; still in jail), sure to cause a palpable loud hollowness on the band's one month European tour with Zamoth's heroes, Morbid Angel. Note: For touring purposes, the band have hired the drummer for Source Of Tides as bassist.

Clarify the desire to be in both Emperor and Zyklon.
I think the main thing I wanted to do with Zyklon [no relation to Zyklon B, an earlier Zamoth project] verses Emperor was something a little more personal-sounding. I've been working with Ihsahn for ten years, and in the last few years, we've been going in kind of different directions and we have different ideas of what we want to do. I want to work a little more with the Morbid Angel aspects of metal, and he wants to work more with the progressive aspects of metal. We still work together in Emperor, and we have the balance between those two points, but we also both have the creativity to do something on the outside. I've had the need for years to do something outside of Emperor, and that's not really new for me. In the past, I was involved with Satyricon, Gorgoroth, and Arcturus. Now that Emperor won't be a touring band, I decided to make Zyklon a full-time band.

Is the creative process different in each band?
I can be very non-creative for a long time and then, all of a sudden, I get a rush of creativity and I write a lot of material for a couple of months and then work on it in the rehearsal room and make the tracks. I work in a very spontaneous way and the things fall into place, whereas Ihsahn has more of the composer attitude. He has his own studio and he works with music every day from morning to evening. So he's more the accompanist, working with orchestration and the huge melodies, and I'm more straight-forward.

The lyrical canon of the album reflects the crunchy futuristic edge of the music. What are Bård's ideas?
The concept is more or less portraying the ugliness and the madness of this world. There are very strong criticisms towards organized, suppressing religions, doomsday, post-apocalyptic worlds, just the human madness that you see today. And it's all done in a futuristic, apocalyptic framework.

What has he been reading that possibly affects his lyrics?
He's doing studies now on the history of religion, kind of on a university level. He's doing really well with top grades and everything. He gets out at the end of next year. He's now in a minimum security facility, which kind of makes life easier. He's been in prison for seven years now, so it's natural for somebody to change, especially in a situation like that. He's always been a very strong-minded person. He's always had goals and never gave up on life. He's been doing serious studies and making plans for the future. So I think he's coming out a lot stronger then when he went in.

Working long distance (mostly by mail, and recently, by email), did you end up with lyrics that needed many changes for Daemon's particular phrasing style?
Actually, Daemon was just given the lyrics to work on on his own. There were a few things we had to change, but in general, he did a very strong job. But that's also why we chose him: He's a strong vocalist and has a strong stage presence. I've been releasing Limbonic Art's albums and think he did a very good job with arranging the vocals for them as well.

And guitarist Destructhor?
He is unique. He is currently my number-one guitar hero. He's amazing and I can't compete with him. I'm very satisfied having him in the band because he's extremely strong technically and with timing. He's strict. But we're working with the same kind of intensity and energy. He's also a lead guitarist and I'm not really a lead guitarist myself.

What's the story with the title, World Ov Worms?
Obviously, it's pretty open to interpretation. And the cover is kind of related to the title. It shows a person being consumed by worms, and worms are symbolic of human beings, or the grey masses. So it's symbolic. You see this figure crawling out of the average masses, or somebody not being part of the so-called normal standards of the society. It could be me, it could be you. And the Ov, that's basically just to make the title a little more obscure. It doesn't really have any specific meaning.

In terms of the overall sound, it's not that it's anything new, it just somehow has that pleasant new car smell...
We basically label it extreme metal, a hybrid between black and death metal. We mix a lot of the extremities of black metal with the aggressive grooves of death metal, with a touch of electronics. For the most part, it's real drums. "Zycloned" has a kind of industrial element in the middle that's sampled drums with a really distorted beat, but apart from that, it's all Trym.

Is this somehow a return to the original tenets of black metal?
No, not really. I'm just basically trying to do what I feel like doing. I don't really think so much in terms of the scene. We feel like doing aggressive music because that's what gives us a kick. I don't have any specific aim to bring back the old days of black metal or whatever. I mean, I don't think the album sounds like any black metal album from the early '90s, not at all. I think it has some of the extremities of that time, but there're also a lot of new elements we added in as well. Basically it's an extreme album for the new millennium.

You're married to Andrea Haugen (and have a child), Haugen having a book on white magic to her name as well as albums as Hagalaz' Runedance. Have your spiritual beliefs evolved over the years, and how do they mesh with the elaborate philosophical systems of your wife?
Well, I don't really have very strong spiritual beliefs. In the past, I was searching for something. Today, I have a much more down-to-earth, balanced attitude toward the world in general. And in terms of like Satanism or anti-Christianity or whatever, I view these things on much more of a serious level today. In the past, I expressed a lot of this as some sort of extreme attitude. It's no longer so important for me to puke it out, to tell everybody about it; it's more my own thoughts, you know? And with Andrea, we have pretty different ideas, but we discuss things a lot, especially things going on in society today. It's a fucked-up thing. But she's very much into this Nordic spirituality, which I also find very interesting. I find a lot of symbolism in it as well. It's an interesting culture and it's my heritage, but I'm not into it as a religion. I'm not practicing it or anything.

Have you thought to get her involved lyrically?
No, we try to keep our artistic things separate, you know? When a married couple makes things together, people tend to make a fuss about it (laughs).

What do you listen to around the house?
I listen to a lot of different music, but for the most part, when I'm in my office in the daytime, it's metal blasting through my speakers. Metal is my main source. But I'm also very open to other types of music. Psychedelic trance like Astral Projection, which is really groovy techno music. Andrea is into a lot more folky stuff and some electronic, some Gothic, and also some metal. Although she is not so fond of when I blast Nile and Hate Eternal.

Any other side projects planned? Perhaps a collaboration with Moonspell on The Butterfly Effect Part II, accompanied by another name change to A Moth? (I didn't ask him that. I just thought of it!)
No, although we might invite someone to help out on the Emperor album, but that is yet to be revealed...

What's the status of the next Emperor album?
We're working on it now, and we're actually going to start recording this weekend. We're pretty much done with the basic material. Ihsahn did pretty much all the basics this time, and I'm very pleased with what I've heard. It's going to be a very strong album. I think it has elements all the way back, from every Emperor album, as well as new elements, because you never get the same Emperor album twice. But I don't think there are going to be any huge surprises. Though it depends... In the studio, things can happen. But as for now, there're no drastic changes.

If you had your way, would you prefer Emperor remain a touring band?
(sighing) Ideally, yes, but it was decided quite a long time ago that we work best as a non-touring band. So I'm kind of beyond this thing now. But the press is starting to pick up on it and speculating a lot and asking why.

So what's the reason?
Yes, what is the reason? Time will tell. The truth is yet to be revealed (laughs). That is all I can say...
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