Mysticum (all members) interviewed

** Mysticum have mystified black metal purists for decades. The Norwegians’ debut album, In the Streams of Inferno, split black metal into tiny shards, its fans wondering what the fuck in its wake. Originally slated to be released on Euronymous’ Deathlike Silence Productions, the ground-breaking, genre-defying release found a home on American black metal label, Full Moon Productions. Even today, now reissued by Peaceville Records, In the Streams of Inferno makes black metal cower under its innovation and otherworldly presence. The Norwegians, inactive for a spell, are now back with follow-up album, Planet Satan. No less frightening, elusive, and powerful than its predecessor, Planet Satan is another album for black metal to digest and misunderstand with great frequency. Perhaps not. It’s been 18 years between albums. Actually, time doesn’t matter. Mysticum still mystifies!
(photo by Peder Klingwall)

What’s Mysticum up to lately? New album, Planet Satan, is coming out soon, right?
Mysticum: Yes, Planet Satan is being released by UK company Peaceville Records the 27th of October. Besides the upcoming release we’re just about to enter the rehearsal studio again and rehearse the new songs and also make more new music for further releases, so great things are happening with the band nowadays.

Will Planet Satan be a continuation of In the Streams of Inferno or something entirely different?
Mysticum: In many ways it will and in many ways it also reminds us of the debut because the style of it is the same in much of it. It also is a lot like the later stuff like “Eriaminell” and “Black Magic Mushrooms”, so there is nothing to fear about this release. This release will surprise you over and over again and your favorite song will probably change all the time. We are satanically proud of this release and think it our best work.

In the Streams of Inferno was re-reissued this year. What’s different about the Peaceville version?
Mysticum: The whole thing is different, like the artwork that includes more pictures of the band and individual pictures of each member. The front cover is giving away the atmosphere of what Mysticum is about in that album and the audio of the album is re-mastered to get the more correct sound that was actually meant for it. We were much younger at the time this album was recorded and very eager to get it out as soon as possible because of all the delays made be the tragedy of Euronymous. The guy mixing the album was not into any kind of metal music at all, but more into pop and rock so he did not have a clue about what we wanted so that’s why it sounded that way. Now Mathias and Tom at Strype Audio did the re-mastering and the sound turned out as good as it can possibly get we think. Yes the reissue also contains the very first live show we did under the name Mysticum.

What do you think of the album after all these years?
Mysticum: We still think it kicks shit and no one actually has understood what we are about to clone us and that is a good thing we think, or perhaps it is just the respect out there keeping it from being cloned. It is raw cold and a massive sound and gives away an atmosphere we’ve not heard before, so we’re very satisfied with it still.

The Norwegian scene became insular after Euronymous’ death. What do you recall about Norway, as a scene, from 1993 to, say, up to the release of In the Streams of Inferno?
Mysticum: Yes, it got insular because people were pretty much shocked about what happened to him. It was the greatest tragedy in black metal history and it divided the Norwegian black metal scene and the hatred grew insanely huge against the ones involved in the participation of his murder. People from the Norwegian scene got involved with the Swedish black metal mafia “the inner circle” and things went really crazy… People wanted to avenge his death. This whole shit really delayed our release of the debut album at that time which was supposed to be titled Where the Raven Flies.

Do you remember why you changed the album title from Serpent Mysticism and then Where the Raven Flies to In the Streams of Inferno?
Mysticum: Serpent Mysticism is something we totally have forgotten about and I can’t still remember that title [Laughs] Where the Hell did you get this from? But the title seems very realistic because of the earlier band name Sabazios, which was an old Greek snake worshiping sect. Thank you for reminding us about this.

Mysticum had an unorthodox approach to black metal. What was your vision, if you remember?
Mysticum: Our vision about that approach now called industrial black metal was to make music like we did and actually more like you hear it on the later stuff and the up-coming album Planet Satan. Industrial sounding guitar and electronic/computer programmed drums and samples were the idea, mixed together with black and death vocals and a bit of psychedelics too. Unorthodox yes but who the Hell gives a shit but us. [Laughs]

At the time, a lot of people didn’t know what to make of In the Streams of Inferno. Now, it’s a cult classic. Is there such thing as the right place at the right time?
Mysticum: It was very ‘new’ at that time and the normal kind of Norwegian black metal was still growing, I guess. I think as you mentioned in the last question it was unorthodox and perhaps a bit ‘blasphemous’ towards this Norwegian black metal receptive that had developed and that is why Euronymous probably liked it so much because he could sense the value and dark position out of this essence we were cooking up. He said that he believed this was going to be huge in the right time further into the future and the morons complaining about this did not understand shit about what all this was about. [Laughs] He was a brilliant man.

I’m sure the drum machine threw people. What do you remember about the decision to use a drum machine rather than, say, a drummer like Hellhammer, who was briefly part of the lineup?
Mysticum: I answered parts of this question on your last question, so I’m not gonna repeat myself again. Hellhammer was never part of Mysticum, but we rehearsed with him for a little while to see how it sounded and we thought that it was not cool with organic humanized drumming so we went back to the old ways with programmed drums. Hellhammer also wanted to turn Mysticum into Mayhem at that time, but we turned down that offer too.

** Mysticum’s new album, Planet Satan, is out October 27th on Peaceville Records. Pre-orders can be made HERE if you’re sci-fi and into the blackest metal from the outermost parts of the galaxy. Yes, this is all true.