As metal audiences reach into the past for older forms of music consumption (e.g. vinyl, cassettes), there is also a renewed interest in zines. These DIY-style publications helped form the very vessels that pumped extreme metal’s blood out into the world back in its early days. And with the information overload now consuming the online world, it’s good to know there are some dedicated acolytes out there honing this old craft.
One of those acolytes is the editor of The Black Candle, a black metal zine based in Austria. The zine has had two issues so far, covering well-known bands like Krieg, Woe and Nahtrunar, as well as unearthing underground acts like Endalok, Occvlta and Malakhim. Styling the zine as “a journal for illumination, intoxication and insurrection,” its editor has high standards of quality and likes to conduct very in-depth interviews with his subjects.
A quick glance at the zine’s social accounts also reveals a lot of opinionated snark and bombast. Naturally, I figured the editor, going simply by “T” here, would make for a fun interview himself. I asked questions that I hoped would induce similarly colorful answers. Man, was I satisfied! Enjoy the interview below, where I ask T about black metal, politics and what the future has in store for The Black Candle:
You’ve been involved in zines for a long time. What motivated/possessed you to start this one?
I don’t know if he is even aware of it, but it was basically M of Golgotha zine who got me back into zine making. I have been buying and reading his zine ever since it was called Testimonium Veritatis and somewhere along the way, we ended up as friends. I had various unpublished interviews and bits and pieces somewhere in my proverbial drawer that I felt were too good to be gathering dust, so I told him he could have them if he wanted them. I am not entirely sure if it was he who talked me into it or if it was me who came up with the idea, but we ended up doing a split zine – with my part stapled into the middle of his – and that was that.
I can’t really tell what made me do it, let alone why I am still doing it, but that’s the thing with addictions. There is no logic and no reason. My wife also played an integral part in it all. There is something sad about a man in his 40s sewing patches on a sleeveless denim jacket, but she convinced me that it wasn’t only ok, but also kind of cool. Now we have three battle jackets in our family: one for me, one for her, one for our daughter. She isn’t even two years old yet, but she loves the “Bap-Di-Meh” (her way of saying Baphomet) on the back of her jacket.
How did you first get into black metal? Why are you so passionate about this music?
I still vividly remember staring at the windows of the record store on the corner of the house I grew up in for hours when I was a kid. Two things in particular caught my attention: the covers of Killers by Iron Maiden and 666 by Aphrodite’s Child. Having seen Rosemary’s Baby and The Omen at a very young age, I knew what these letters stood for…but man, Maiden was something else. I observed every detail of the artwork and imagined how the music would sound like. Then, one day, I gathered all my courage and asked the lady behind the counter to let me listen to that record – on headphones, of course – and my world was changed forever. Metallica, Slayer, Kreator and Sodom followed soon after I started buying metal magazines. Before I knew it, I was a pimply teenage boy trading tapes with people from all over the globe. I was exposed to Master, Repulsion or my hometown heroes Pungent Stench when I hadn’t even kissed a girl yet and once I dropped the needle on Morbid Angel’s Altars of Madness at age 15, there was no turning back.
I did my first zine together with a friend from high school around 1989, covering the usual suspects at the time: Nihilist (who had just turned into Entombed), Carcass, Blood, Samael, Mayhem, Master’s Hammer, Carnage and Amputation (who would later become a band called Immortal). The lines between genres were blurry. Even fucking Mayhem called themselves death metal and hardcore – and that says a lot. It was a constant quest for the most extreme sounds and it certainly was a great time for underground music. By 1991, when Mayhem had recorded “Freezing Moon”, the framework was solidified. Even though I didn’t dress the part – spikes and leather were infinitely more appealing to me than sweatpants – I had always been drawn to the darker side of things, and there was a soundtrack for it all now.
You’ve made it clear in interviews and the zine’s social pages that you don’t have any time for bands with noxious/reactionary politics. Where do you personally draw the line for covering or supporting an artist? How far is too far?
You hit the nail on the head here like Stalin’s Katyusha hit her targets, but my antifascism goes way beyond artistic expression. Punching Nazis is not only justified, it should be the fucking duty of every grown-up person with half a set of morals and ethics. There are fascists in our governments, fascists on the internet and fascists on the streets, so I have very little patience for Greek or Polish halfwits with out-of-tune guitars pretending to be Aryan “Übermenschen.” There’s Burzum and Death In June on my record shelf, because I have enough synapses to distinguish between the art and the artist and yes, I can even enjoy Whitehouse and Peter Sotos’ Pure zines. I feel that I have a very good bullshit detector. I interviewed Krieg even though and especially because Neill has a very bad reputation in Europe. Nazi? Far from it.
NSBM is easy to hate. It’s mostly shit music performed by shit people for shit fans. But do I want to ban them from releasing records and from performing in public? Nah. Mycotrophic or steroid-poisoned cartoon characters aren’t a threat to anyone or anything, so let them rub their sweaty bodies against each other while they salute the biggest losers in history. But I can still wish for suicide bombers, right? Because as soon as Heinrich and Adolf Jr take their idiotic and poisonous views to the streets, they will be dealt with accordingly. There is a difference between 72 virgins listening to crappy tapes in their moms’ basements and real people attacking real people. Also, just for the record, life-affirming bullshit like a future for worthless white children has no place in a genre which was built on the destruction of everything and everyone.
(The zine shared this video on September 1 to mark the anniversary of the start of WW2)
Everyone has their own definition of “true black metal” or “real black metal.” What does this mean for you?
As I wrote in the intro piece of the last issue: “Black Metal has to be diabolical – if not in content, then at least in spirit.” Black metal IS the Devil’s music, period. Imagine a Black metal band singing about hugging trees in 1993…they would have gotten death threats, and very rightfully so. I am the first to admit that there is some fucking amazing music around that sounds like Black Metal but sure as hell (pun intended) isn’t. Take a band like Ultha for example: lyrics like “It leaves me with a sadness in my heart with no end and with no start. There will be no one else like you again, my grandest love, my perfect friend” are even worse than Varg’s incoherent ramblings about lost forgotten sad spirits. What the fuck is this? Alkaline Trio?! Eighth grade schoolboy poetry has no fucking place in black metal, just like Krishnas have no place in hardcore punk.
What can readers look forward to in the coming months from The Black Candle?
I don’t know if it’s something to look forward to, but I am working on Volume III at the moment. It will be a pocket-sized book this time: like the smutty novels that can be found in thrift stores, or the Satanic Bible and Mao’s Little Red Book. Having grown up in the 1980s, there was no way around V. Vale’s RE/Search books. I was drawn to those anthologies with a red thread throughout them all, from Pranks and Incredibly Strange Films all the way to Angry Women and Bodily Fluids. So, in that spirit, my red thread will be – unsurprisingly, I guess – the Devil. There are many more topics I will be covering when the time is right, but the first book in a series of zines simply has to be dedicated to Him. I have interviewed artists from all walks of life. Some of them are full blown Satanists, while others are more than skeptical.
There will be what seems to be the final interview with Der Blutharsch and the Infinite Church of the Leading Hand, a lengthy chat with Zoe DeWitt of Zero Kama, talking witchcraft and feminism with Ieschure, and the story of Ryan Fairfield of Hallowed Butchery who grew up in a conservative Christian family and spent some time with the obscure cult of the Church of the Final Pilgrimage – to name just a few. Something that sticks out for me personally is the first ever interview with Marid, a Black Metal band from the Sahara region. Their debut album will be out in a few weeks on Vendetta and it simply blew my mind. If Decibel isn’t going to cover them, then we have a bone to pick with each other, haha!
Most importantly, what is your favorite Darkthrone record? And why?
I am very partial to Soulside Journey, because it was the first one I heard and it still holds up to this day, but what people call the ‘unholy trilogy’ certainly stepped up the game. If you are heartless and cruel enough to make me pick only one album, I would go for Transylvanian Hunger, because everything about it is simply perfect: the sound, the atmosphere, the songwriting and the artwork.