.:.DOUBT IS THE GYVE OF THE WEAK.:.
An Interview with Abigor
When it comes to Austrian black metal, the band name that comes up before that of any other act is Abigor. From the glory days of early nineties European black metal to the present era, Abigor has seen it all and been through it all. Through release after release of the utmost order, Abigor has stayed true to the path of blackness unlike most other acts from their time, and their music has continued to represent the variety of sound and presentation that has come from the innermost circle of elites through the various eras black metal has passed through in the last twenty or so years. Abhik Chakraborty converses with the legendary T.T. and P.K. on Abigor and everything related to their unconsecrated path.
Heathen Harvest: As we begin this interview, I would like to start by taking our readers deep into the philosophical standpoint behind the latest offering from Abigor—the majestic Leytmotif Luzifer (The 7 Temptations of Man). What was your vision, as the artist, while trying to craft this particular constellation of seven hymns?
T.T.: Lecturing about the ‘deeper meaning’ of our lyrics and the underlying concept is not of necessity at all; rather, it is the contrary. It could do nothing but cut short your personal experience with the album. The narrower I would explain what it means for me, the more it would ruin the ‘applicability’ for the ones who read this. And you could take everything violently literal. There are no attempts for ambiguity. It’s spread out before you.
When it comes to what we write about—our belief—we are undogmatic but at the same time just as intolerant. There are several right but also devastatingly wrong interpretations.
If I should name some starting points to access Leytmotif Luzifer, then it’s the reading as an absolutely immediate album—the open stream to and from Lord Satan opposed to intellectually writing about existential matters. It is pure doxology rather than theology. It demands the acceptance as well as the implosion of duality. It’s about the similarity of self-abandonment and true self-aggrandisement. It is about an ecstatic and painfully radical form of worshipping the deity—the devil and some of his specific manifestations.
That’s the ‘superstructure’ and core of the album, while conceptually, the lyrics and songs are obviously determined by the very temptations. But this demands no explanation. Overcoming these temptations leads you to the desired divine exchange. So, again, it is a guide to the practical side rather than a theoretic album, and by that maybe more an applicable satanic grimoire than much of the symbolic charlatanry that you could buy out there.
HH: It has been stated that in the new full-length, other than on the vocals, no effect has been used to enhance or modify the sound in the production. One can be sure that this is indeed a conscious change on the part of the artist. What was the reason behind this? Is it an attempt to solely shift from the previous styles of the band, or is it an extension of the way of this particular work itself as it has been defined by both its sound and philosophy?
PK: Of course it was a conscious decision, mainly because the ‘sonic material’ of Leytmotif Luzifer demanded a sound and production that is ‘alive’. From the most tender tone to the furiously fast parts with multiple guitar lines, you always should be able to hear the details. It doesn’t mean a break in Abigor’s ‘style’ whatsoever. Leytmotif Luzifer is an entire concept of art starting with the waveform through to the word and the used paper of the booklet.
TT: Maybe the sound is the logical step resulting from our previous album, but I can’t really figure out if there ever was much of a choice. It feels more like an overwhelming whole that came to us—a spark that contained all of the aspects of Leytmotif Luzifer in the sense that the very initial idea was the core, while lyrics, form, sound, and artwork can all can be seen as ‘rays’ emanating from that core. A work like this album doesn’t get compiled from small independent bits and ideas floating around, with us as artists snapping ideas that pass-by. Rather, every aspect seemed so utterly logical, clear, and non-exchangeable that being asked how this or that detail appeared, I only could answer with, ‘It was all there from the very beginning.’
HH: Final question specifically on Leytmotif Luzifer (The 7 Temptations of Man): What was it like to have Silenius (famously of Summoning) in the recording process again? For what we typically state as black metal in the purest form, Silenius hasn’t been connected to it regularly for a long time as his path has taken him to other directions despite having some fundamental similarities with the genre. Was his presence a source of new perspectives into how you approached this album and its sound?
PK: Even though I’m not in close contact with Silenius anymore, I have known him for ages as an eccentric, strange man that suits Abigor very well, and I admire his work. But I guess T.T. can give some more details here…
TT: He is kind of the ultimate artist to work with, as he inhales the lyrics and exhales something that transformed the words into sonics which are, again, non-exchangeable.
In black metal, people often think you could just scream and apply any lyric, but great vocals demand character, and the colour and character of the vocals must reflect the meaning. He did that perfectly, and much to my own surprise, actually. I knew about his range because of the Supreme and Immortal 7“, but all my imaginations have been surpassed by his dedication. Hearing his vocals leaves no room for any doubt about how ‘true’—in the real sense of the word—his performance is, even though he was remote from the black metal scene and its movement.
HH: One of the characteristics that has marked Abigor is the quality of musicianship, instrumentation, and arrangement that reminds of Ved Buens Ende, Emperor, Arcturus, and the likes of others from the early days. How do you see your work as a whole as compared to the styles that are probably built on less sophisticated technicality and more straightforward arrangements like Under a Funeral Moon or Drawing Down the Moon?
TT: I have never viewed it that way. On the contrary, I never held our old works in high esteem. I’m always just seeing the errors and failures, while the two classic albums you mentioned are perfect in what they do. I am radically critical with our own work, and at the same time, I don’t value minimalism as any lower than highly sophisticated and overboarding art. Black metal always was Ildjarn and Emperor! No limits, no boundaries, breaking the law is the law. The quantity of notes never was a necessary criteria for me for my listening choice, and other artists told me the same. It was just recently that I experienced that Abigor’s work is valued by those who create ‘primitive’ black metal, too, just like I value their work. All approaches are worth the same and there is no need to separate the various styles if the very core is the same—namely, uncompromising satanic art.
PK: Personally, I am really tired of all comparisons. All the mentioned bands were around in the early days. So were we, so what the hell? Abigor has existed since 1993, and we’ve found our individual sound—a certain way of composing and arranging songs. It doesn’t matter if you play a multitude of technically demanding lines or use two simple riffs per song. It’s the essence that defines black metal, and that’s not just the music, but the honest praise of Him.
HH: Another characteristic that has never failed you is the ability to change while staying rooted, thereby keeping your listeners engaged and interested with each incoming release while keeping the quality and intensity uncompromised with time, which I think is an extremely admirable quality. We know there are people in the scene whose change has been so drastic through the years that they refuse to acknowledge their previous mentality and outlook even while there are people on the other side who, although they don’t connect to their earlier works and the mentality that went behind manifesting them, stick to it as some kind of formula to success, thereby releasing boring and inferior versions of their earlier works. Where does Abigor stand in relation to that? Do you view the music and the ‘movement’ exactly as you saw it twenty years ago, or do you have a different opinion and mentality towards it while maintaining the same level of dedication to the art form?
TT: When speaking solely about the music, well, due to our own studio and personal maturity, the possibilities have changed so much that you can’t compare nineties Abigor to our recent work. But the very same essence is definitely evident for everyone who remotely understands what we do.
Keeping the excitement, atmosphere, and uncompromising-ness surely is the most difficult thing to do over such long time, and most bands fail terribly. You have some that try to be consistent but deliver the most horrible standard piece of shit imaginable, and you know what, I am watching all people applauding and stating what splendid album that is. Which, when translated, means, ‘band X doesn’t give a fuck and realizes they can cash-in easily, they could make an uninspired streamlined random-riff album with enough “blastbeats” to feed the masses, and everybody is super happy.’ Major label business. And on the other hand, I’ve seen great artists losing their inspiration and connection to their spiritual source, and now just make good metal—be it progressive or ‘traditional’. But that’s simply not enough. Black metal is not just music. And obviously I don’t see Abigor in either of the two categories.
Finally, let me quote my valued brother in crime of the glorious Drastus. He recently wrote,
‘I would like less magick on paper and more in the music. That would make more sense. But it seems that it’s the paradox of the present scene.’
Or like Euronymous has put it, ‘We need less musicians and more terrorists.’ What I want to say is that we have an overflooded market where people have lost their orientation around what to buy, confusing occult images with truly evil art, and coloured vinyl or limited editions with a quality work. The greatest art gets sacrificed and extinguished by the masses, while huge shit is fed to the ‘fans’. This situation is definitely new. Back in the nineties, the underground still dominated the scene, and in the 2000s, there was a strict line between major business—the big magazines, labels, and internet PR, hidden or obvious—and unholy black metal, like spread by End All Life Productions / Norma Evangelium Diaboli, Northern Heritage, Sombre, Niessedrion, and the like. But for the first time, this has changed. There is no line between underground and consumerism, between exploiting major and satanic underground artists. And despite all the great quality, it’s not a satisfying situation. It’s totally fucked up, and we must fight it uncompromisingly. As pathetic as it sounds, death to the traitors, raise hell and let a flood of fire cleanse this art form and restore its pure impurity!
HH: What is your opinion on the present black metal scene in Europe and around the world? Do you see the same level of dedication and sheer worship for the art form among musicians as you saw when you and your colleagues were starting your career?
TT: It’s incomparable. Or how would you set up a comparison of a new musical direction made by late teenagers against a very developed and refined one made by grown-up men? The excitement, energy level, and uncompromisingness was unchallenged in the early days, when it really happened as a movement, let’s say from 1992 to 1995. There’s no question that something was present. The gates were open and synchronicities channelled a force stronger than the mediums even realized. People like Count Grishnackh, Fenriz, even Immortal and many others have been oscillating in the right ‘wavelength’ and were part of Satan’s web, which started to coat the world with terror. This was an aligned army that somehow marched in step with the hellish legion. And then everything fell apart. Or what else do you think is the reason Burzum or Darkthrone aren’t able to create classics like in their earliest days anymore, just exactly from the time on they excluded ‘darkness and evil’, ‘Satan’, or ‘the diabolical’ in their concepts? Because they suddenly are worse musicians? No, because they betrayed the fire that was given to us by Lucifer.
PK: Yet, on a whole, there’s one thing that hasn’t changed throughout all these years: some bands suck and some are great. Some keep this black flame alive, and some just drift in the fairway of others. A lot of excellent artists disappeared but new great bands arose the past years. That’s a constant during the different periods.
HH: Do you have a favourite Abigor album, and would you give an opinion on the demo era as a whole and each of your full-lengths individually as to how or what you think about them today?
TT: The demos were surely special. Lux Devictaest is one of the most important Abigor works, although done in the most primitive way you could imagine (and I’m not talking about ‘sophisticated primitive’ like Darkthrone’s Panzerfaust, but really without a clue how to record, just equipped with a supermarket microphone and a Tascam 4-track). Apokalypse for sure must be mentioned, while Opus IV has long been our favourite next to that.
Because of the LP box we just did, I have completely rethought my opinion concerning our nineties albums. I used to not think they were great works—quite the contrary. I could only hear and see what we did wrong. Strangely, the old recordings started to talk to me again, so I can’t tell you more as this is a very fresh mindset which has to settle. And I have written six extensive pages of liner notes for the LP box which truly gets into details, so I would ask you to find anything that could be of your interest concerning the nineties there.
Just as much, we tried to fully meet what we wrote about in real life, and as you have witnessed with all people from the scene of the early nineties, one could only fail on a long run if he’s serious. I have embraced black metal’s negativity, violence, and extremism so much that I ended up shattered by the end of the nineties. A new form had to be found, and this was the transformed spiritual content and an advanced form of music. This was the only way to transcend into the present days of black metal. The other way would have been recklessness violence: ready to kill and be killed, burning churches, spikes and forests… I just don’t see anybody living this exclusively over decades, and the ones who pose like that and sell us this kind of old-school image are the worst really, as they just pretend and act. Those who scream ‘true’ the loudest are fake to the bone.
HH: Next, I would like to come to the subject that involves the possibility of a split album. It has been known in the underground amongst select individuals that there is a four-way split release incoming that involves Abigor. Is this true? And if it is, can you enlighten us about it?
TT: It’s insane, for sure. I’m enthusiastic as this is a dark dream fully getting realized. If you ask me for my three favourite albums in 2014, I will say Liber Lucifer I, Grape of the Vine, and Ego Dominus Tuus. The greatness of Funereal Presence and Grudom‘s LPs should be mentioned, too, but that’s another story. So, now Abigor works on an album with the artists that made my three favorite albums in 2014. This alone is a different approach than a regular split.
If you look what we four have in common musically, then I’d say we all are representing a different but distinct musical tradition, but quality and sophistication and a more ‘advanced’ kind of sound is what makes our recent albums be close to each other.
To get more specific, this so-called split album is a real coherent composition, not a collection of four songs. Each group has its very distinct part, and in the end, the album should be one piece of work. It will be released on CD and LP by ourselves and not by a label, so this is a real contribution from and for the underground, just like Euronymous had envisioned black metal should be like back then.
I also like to view the album as a kind of caesura of the scene at this very point in time, to mark where ‘sophisticated satanic black metal’ stands, and nothing less than that.
HH: Abigor came at a time when the Scandinavian black metal scene, especially in Norway, and also European black metal as a whole was at its highest realm of notoriety and musical output. For me, the notoriety of the scene at that time as led by some of the masterminds there was indeed an art form which, coupled with the music as a separate art form, formed the unconsecrated gestalt which was black metal at that point. How were you and your colleagues from that time influenced and driven by all the news and things happening through Europe and the world in the realm of black metal at that time?
TT: I wouldn’t say ‘Abigor came at a time when the black metal scene in Norway was at its highest point of musical output’, because not even De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas was released at that time. When we put our first demo together, there was A Blaze in the Northern Sky and Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism, but album-wise, not much else was released. The huge focus on Norway happened later, when you really had everything spread out there: De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, Pure Holocaust, In the Nightside Eclipse, everything important by Darkthrone and Burzum, when Thorns were already legendary and not ‘an insider thing’, Blood Must be Shed, Constellation, Ulver, Dödheimsgard, Mysticum, Ved Buens Ende, Gehenna, etc. Musically, Norway seemed monolithic by 1995. Before that, the media focused on the superstar-news aspect of Grishnackh and the church burnings, in sensational yellow press manner.
However, when we started, everything was equally important, not just Norway. There was Abruptum and Azhubham Haani, and there was the whole Greek scene which back then was just as important as the Scandinavian one. Master’s Hammer, Von, Beherit, the Impaled Nazarene demo, Monumentum, Tormentor, the Unholy demos, Sigh… All of this made the black metal underground what it was.
Nevertheless, the ones responsible for how black metal had to look, sound, and feel like were all Scandinavian individuals, you are right: Euronymous and Dead above all, Jon Nödtveidt and It. When you were reading fanzine interviews in 1991 and 1992—in times before Burzum’s great albums were known, those four individuals spread the gospel and taught everyone how black metal had to be! Those four lectured with the hammer about spreading darkness and evil, about leather and spikes, about the musical heritage of Bathory, Venom, and Hellhammer, and about black metal as the worship of ‘Dominus Sathanas’—an exclusive and pure art form which has to be kept free from any ‘outsider’, which must stay far away from the corrupt and commercial metal scene, which must form a hermetically closed underground. These words are the legacy of the four mentioned individuals, everyone else picked up their words.
Back to your initial question, you must imagine it on a wider plane: The bands who were already active in the scene by 1993 all had the same roots as the legendary figures mentioned above. We share something and have all been nurtured by the same milk: Venom, Slayer, Bathory, the sole fact that we were ‘children of the eighties’, those who always felt like ‘being different’ and a strong attraction for the dark side, the occult, and Satanism from childhood on, etc. We were becoming musicians in heavy or thrash metal bands in our teenage years, viewing the rise of death metal, tape trading 24/7, etc. And then, real black metal was a kind of ‘awakening spark’. When this spark started the fire depended on several factors—1989, 1992, whenever that was.
What I want to say is that we weren’t just regular people that suddenly heard black metal and immediately kind of impersonated it. We all were on this path much, much earlier than even we knew it.
Of course, all the seminal albums, demos, interviews, photos, flyers, fanzines, and traded tapes highly influenced us, and the atmosphere of those days can’t be described verbally. But the shining heroes did not exist; it was Satan who touched us. The stardom of a Count Grishnackh is something for Kerrang! people. For those of us who were there as early, such later stars were one out of many soldiers in an exciting overwhelming scene.
HH: You have always been seen as someone inspired by and dedicated to the path of Satanism. Do you think that it is His will that drives you in your life and also in your art simultaneously as art itself is the vehicle of the being? Or are these two aspects separate for you?
TT: I believe there is a task and an ordeal that has to be mastered. And I also know that people who think we are slaves because we worship Him don’t understand anything; the inverse is true. Murdering the ego is the only path to ultimate liberation.
I know what is genuinely my achievement and what is transmitted to me. Channelling and creating are two fundamentally different things. And in light of your question, I wouldn’t really call our music ‘art’, but rather ‘doxology’. To me, art is German expressionism, French dada, Italian futurism, and so on—something that must have any kind of intellectual value. I love art, but black metal’s religious visualisation of hell, the dimension of our Lord, is something different than such art.
HH: Can you name some philosophers, writers, or literary works in general that have influenced you and your work through the years in Abigor?
TT: We have listed several books which were inspirational to Abigor’s initiation in the above mentioned liner notes. But my answer would still be no, I won’t. I am not a seeker who tries to amass so-called knowledge, who smells the scent of enlightenment which I could pass on here by giving a reading list. All moments of awareness could not be reproduced, because mine happened when reading something specific or the strangest thing that is most probably useless for others. ‘Si monvmentvm reqvires, circvmspice’
I see the divine everywhere. It could be a renaissance painting, a contemporary art text, music, or, what you are referring to, philosophical or ‘occult’ literature—but none has more meaning to me than the other. My proceeding on the Left Hand Path is like playing guitar: you have all these notes and simply know which are right and which are wrong, but I don’t base my composition on music theory like learning the circle of fifths. I just play. I have the music in my head before I touch the instrument.
As revealing and exciting as certain literature is, I used it either as confirmation to what I already sensed and spawned within my metaphysical realm, or such texts served as an indefinite sea of new inputs which later seethed into something I don’t realize the very moment of initial preoccupation.
Steps to more awareness demand the right balance of sub-consciousness and the conscience. Only then you could use your full potential.
Whenever I search for inspiration for Abigor, I stay within our occidental tradition and history, which does the full circle anyway. Right now, I’m reading the two-volume book Babel und Bibel, released in 1903. But before that, it was an interview book with Marcel Duchamp. The former may show me more of the essence that hides in all cults while the latter may spark my general approach to art, but none will mean the same to someone else who so far hasn’t read, seen, and heard what I have, you see?
Using our heritage and stripping bare the occidental Christian tradition to unveil its pagan—in the original sense of the word—and satanic content is enough work to do. To focus on that is something I have learned through my intense exchange of ideas over several years with a certain French artist.
So, I would forward you to our colleagues from Nightbringer, Thy Darkened Shade, and Mortuus, who will satisfy your hunger for recent occult literature.
I’m leading an ongoing discussion with those who follow the gnostic path, but as long as I haven’t found someone who is profoundly further, I won’t leave my path of impulsive spiritual progression.
HH: Austria is seen as a nation where European classical music and culture is much appreciated. As someone from India, I know its implications as I have experienced firsthand in some parts of this nation where classicism is so strong that the influence of Indian classical music moves and drives every aspect of life in these areas. Have similar factors influenced you as a musician in Austria?
TT: Perhaps. But it is also the country where classicism and kitsch is overwhelming. I have seen many people left open-mouthed with ‘such beautiful and old architecture’, but in the end, it was just the last classicistic convulsions of the monarchy. On the other hand, I am trying to be thoroughly cautious in representing only our cultural heritage within Abigor if possible. And especially the renaissance and baroque has a lot to offer when it comes to spiritual art and the devil’s hidden mysteries. That’s why I find it fundamentally wrong to include random Eastern influences in our art, which is en vogue recently. Although, I do understand if someone fully embraces another culture like it’s done on the second Cult of Fire album, but I demand discipline and uncompromisingness, and this is a clear ‘either/or’ rather than a ‘salad bar’ approach, with semantic bits of this and that around the world.
Back to your question: Being born and raised here brought with it that classical music and our culture is so natural and omnipresent that I can’t answer this question objectively. I mean, how could that not have influenced us and what we are?
PK: Not at all for me, simply because I see my work for Abigor on a spiritual level, neither from nor for this world. Trying to establish a context therefore would be self-defeating.
HH: Thank you for answering the questions and giving our readers a chance to look more closely into that which drives Abigor into darker and darker realms from within. It has been a pleasure. This space is yours now. Feel free to add anything you like as we end this interview.
TT: There is nothing more to add except a constant wake-up call to demand radical spiritual art, not hunting down the latest artificial ‘limited’ coloured vinyl, and to remember that black metal is something for and from the underground. It must ooze the stench of danger. It is darkness and ‘the obscure’ that drew us into this art form initially, and we must not let this be ruined by money-driven major label/major press chum ups! And finally, let me express my admiration for the work of Mortuus, Nightbringer, and Thy Darkened Shade here. We will open the gates soon!