An exploration to the 90s Black Metal culture, by Niklas Göransson.

The interview that changed everything

This would’ve been around spring ’91, when Slayer Mag #8 came out. The one with that legendary Euronymous and Dead interview where they lay down the law in terms of, Black metal is like this, death metal is like that. And it’s a lifestyle.’

All this really resonated with me. I thought, ‘Fuck, I love what they’re saying here. It feels right.’ That interview changed my whole approach to music, my interests, and the direction I wanted to take.

Mortiis, Thou Shalt Suffer and Emperor

Shortly thereafter, Mortiis was invited to participate in an as-of-yet unnamed THOU SHALT SUFFER side-project.

I was so sceptical about bands that I needed some convincing; it took them a couple of weeks to coax me into becoming their bass player.

When I joined, the band essentially consisted of two songs with no vocals or titles. I had some lyrics lying around, “Forgotten Centuries” and “Moon over Kara-Shehr”, so I brought them with me to what became EMPEROR – a name I gave them, by the way. And the fucking logo.

Some Eastern European guy sent it to me in the mail, so I brought it to rehearsal. I gotta admit, I didn’t know the guy’s name. I wrote him and said, ‘Thanks for the logo, I think we’re using it’, but never heard anything back. That was weird.

Recording Sessions – The mood at the studio

I was only there for the actual recording session; after I’d done my bass lines and some backing vocals, my job was essentially done. I tried coming up with suggestions about song arrangements but was pretty much ignored.

Samoth was judging the finished product of ENSLAVED against our unfinished work. ‘Our album is fucking bullshit! It sucks compared to theirs.’ I got really pissed off. This was probably the reason why Samoth and Ihsahn fired me a short while later; they said it was because I got angry all the time.

Was the 90s black metal cutting culture already established in Norway by then?

Mortiis : Oh yeah. I mean, bear in mind that Dead was doing it well before anyone else. I’d say all of that came from him; we heard he used to carve himself up during shows, so we started doing it ourselves. But I never took it as far as some people who had to go to the fucking hospital because they cut too deep. I think this seeped out a lot from Norway and into the rest of the world. That’s another MAYHEM credit, I’d say.

Full Mortiis interview is published in Bardo Methodology #7