Interview with Metalion, founder of legendary Norwegian metal magazine SLAYER and record label HEAD NOT FOUND
Interview conducted by Wilhelm
Date online: February 24, 2001
Good day Metalion.. How you feel up there in the far North now that it's winter?
Well, personally I'm no major fan of winter. I think it sucks, especially when it is so cold as it has been here the last few days with all the problems that follows. Like now there is no water in my apartment which means I can't even go to the toilet. Have to use the gas station up the road, which is slightly annoying when you wake up 4 o'clock in the morning and needs to take a dump. Oh well, makes life a bit more exciting perhaps!
Obviously everyone knows SLAYER is the oldest "underground" magazine still being published. I think it would be interesting to find out how you started in the scene and with SLAYER itself. Tell us an interesting story about it....
I started in '83 when I was asked to contribute to a local fanzine called LIVE WIRE. (My Metal collection was even infamous back then!) We did a few issues but the other guys lost interest. Three of them are now born again Christians and then there is me!!!! HAHA! With LIVE WIRE I already started to get some contacts with bands and tape traders etc. So for sure I was obsessed by this. I remember another friend going to LONDON in '83 and brought back the METAL FORCES magazine which was a very big inspiration! (Besides that he brought "Kill 'em All" by METALLICA!) So I just had to make a magazine myself - SLAYER! I took the name from the movie "THE SLAYER" which totally scared the shit out of me back then, and I guess it didn't hurt that I loved the band. There were other names I was considering, like METAL DAZE or INSANE but I'm glad I stuck with SLAYER. Short and brutal..... SLAYER 1 was released in February '85, I could have done it earlier but....
Let us know who Metalion is, and specifically. Most people don't realize what motivates his character and spirit or what drives him to burn countless churches and murder thousands of innocent people in the name of SLAYER. Give us the official Metalion story , "The most evil man alive".....
I am afraid you are exaggerating here. But I do feel privileged to do what I'm doing. I don't see myself as a good writer or anything, it is just the dedication to what I do, that is my drive.... I dedicated my life to this, I never wanted a normal life, I just wanted this. When I dropped out of school at one point I did that so I could have more time for tape trading. I never had any proper jobs unless you count some months here and there. (I lived off HEAD NOT FOUND for some years tho') I don't want to be part of that part of society. I just want to sit here in my own world. I don't care about anything, I just don't give a fuck. The smartest person I spoke to lately is the neighbor's cat. I try to avoid people as much as possible. If I hear children playing in the front yard I refuse to go, I hate children. Anyway, I dedicated my life to Metal and to go my own path. I don't know if that is the right thing, it might be very pathetic when you think of it. But I left the other world and created another one where I can reign in peace. I'm not a violent person but I get violent thoughts. I like to be alone a lot unless I'm drinking.
Having been around this long you've had the chance to know many important individuals, two of which, "Dead" and Euronymous" you knew quite well and supported extensively through your mag. I'm curious to know your relationship's w/ both of these interesting characters.
I got to know Euronymous (and Necro Butcher) in the summer of '85 when we all attended a MOTORHEAD gig in Oslo. I was then selling the 2nd edition of SLAYER and I was totally thrilled to get to know them as there were no brutal bands in Norway at that time. Some time later I got in touch with Necro Butcher through another guy and then everything started to roll. They did not know so much about the underground or that scene so I introduced them to that world. When I featured them in SLAYER 3/4 in '86 that was the first Metal publication that did something on them. After that I had a really strong friendship with Necro Butcher and Euronymous. It was good because they were the first people I got to know really well who was into the extreme music. We did a lot stuff together, like going on trips to Germany or whatever. When I first got in contact with Dead was concerning his band MORBID. We started to talk on the phone quite a lot and I mentioned to him that MAYHEM needed a singer so I hooked him up with Euronymous and he moved to Norway in '88 sometime. Dead was a great guy, silent, but really a great guy. It was a great shame that he committed suicide. I must of course accept his choice to end his mortal life but still I fond that to be really sad. But I had the great fortune to know them both really well, so that is cool. Both are the most unique persons I ever knew.
Of course I have to ask you about Varg. I KNOW people want to hear your opinions on him, and for what better reason then he's the poster boy of black metal music? You must have something to say about the guy as you've spoken with him in the past on more then one occasion. Tell us what you remember about Varg and what you felt about his actions against Euronymous?
Of course, the meaningless slaughter of Euronymous is one of the most fucked up things that happened, and it was a big personal loss. At that time I was very good friends with Varg so it was a very strange time for me. We were then speaking to Varg about releasing a BURZUM EP on HEAD NOT FOUND! (Originally what become the "Aske" EP). I liked him at that time as he was a man of action and really dedicated to what he was doing. First time I met him was at HELVETE prior to the MORBID ANGEL/UNLEASHED/ENTOMBED gig in Oslo '91. A lot of strange stuff happened there, I didn't know he was involved in BURZUM then, that come out a few months later when Euronymous informed me about all the BURZUM stuff. I kept in touch with Varg even for a while after the murder, my feelings were all mixed up. But in retrospect - of course - the killing of Euronymous, I still don't understand it or see the true purpose of it. Varg's other actions were valid, but this was just plain stupid. What Varg is all about now is of no interest to me. Also another thing, I remember a lot of people were thinking of revenge, but it seems like that has died out. People are not interested in that, I think that is a shame. Someone should stand up and butcher him.
Euronymous had a shop by the name of Helvete somewhere in Norway that served as both a "record" store for metal items and a sort of "meeting" place. Were you at all connected to this infamous Helvete? What can you recall about it.
Yes, in a way I was connected to this shop as it was me that invented the name. I was supposed to be more involved in this shop but I could not due to economic reasons. It was two other guys from Sarpsborg also working there and they agreed with Euronymous to pay about 150 bucks each month for the rent etc., for me that was not possible. But for sure, I was there a lot, especially in the early days and it was quite an interesting place with a lot of potential. Loads of interesting people could be found there and the I think the evaluation of the Norwegian Black Metal scene is based around the foundations of HELVETE. Many a young to be Black Metal warrior entered that shop and got inspiration from him. Many past Death Metal heads changed into a more destructive Black Metal path. I think bands like IMMORTAL, EMPEROR, DARKTHRONE had a big influence of Euronymous.
In the early days of SLAYER there were many "obscure" type bands and other great old metal groups I'm sure you were interested in NECROVORE, MEFISTO, DARKTHRONE, POSSESSED, MORBID, MAYHEM etc... As well as others. These bands were a big part of the underground in the mid to later 80's. Do you still feel much nostalgia for them and the scene in general during this time?
I don't really know if I like the word nostalgia. I mean, all those bands are as a big part of me now as they were back then. But of course, things were different. This whole letter writing thing and there was a bigger friendship thing going on. Also because of many of those were demo bands you got the music from the bands directly and not via some fucking label. Everything was very underground. And in those days the demo bands were almost better than the bands with albums out. Like MORBID ANGEL, INCUBUS, NECROVORE, MEFISTO, MUTILATED and a ton of others. It was great to be a part of this movement.
There is no doubt the controversy and hysteria
surrounding post 1990 Norway was immense, w/ such hostile anti- Christian acts
of church burning, arson, grave desecration's and murder, this period was the
most talked about and
feared times in metal history. Black metal was at it's unholy pinnacle w/such acts as EMPEROR, BURZUM, HADES, MAYHEM, DARKTHRONE, ENSLAVED, SATYRICON, GEHENNA, IMMORTAL etc.. Raising hell and causing havoc. World wide the scene held some great acts like MARDUK, ABRUPTUM, DISSECTION, IMPALED NAZARENE and so on. All of which seemed to hold some form of extreme ideology which led into the formation of "circles" or "extremist groups". Those chaotic years are a topic of interest among all of us, and since you were right in the middle of it........ Take it away!
Well, what can I say? I soon found out that all these things going on was something unique. It was a breath of fresh air. First the music was different. Personally I was getting really sick of all the bands recording at Morissound or Sunlight, all this life Metal things, the social awareness. It was pretty fucking sad state for Metal. No wonder people started to play grunge, huh? But in Norway, under the influence of MAYHEM things were happening. People took the Black Metal ideology one stop further and actually did what the Black Metal bands of the first generation only talked about. This total dedication to primitive Satanism as well as new outlook on how to perform Black Metal created the flame. Almost all people involved had a total dedication to it, and since it was still such a small movement it was very creative. This was something new. And especially when the churches started to burn and people started to die people realized this was something that was bigger than life. The purpose of Black Metal came before anything else. The thing that it was still very underground was the best part of it. People didn't know what Black Metal was until Grishnackh decided to go public. That made Black Metal 'official' and that of course attracted more and more people to the scene. Of course things got bigger and bigger but I think the creativity got less and less. Now Black Metal is mainstream and normal, which is sad in a way but nothing else can be accepted. It takes nothing now to say you are Black Metal. Back then you had to b a stark raving maniac only to utter these words. Of course there are good bands today, but it is different.
What would you say are some of the best and worst times the underground has gone through?
The best days for the underground where around '87. (I talked about that earlier!) When you had all those kick ass demo bands, all this feeling of unity. Great 'zines. Also prior to that releases from 'big' bands like KREATOR, DESTRUCTION, HELLHAMMER, MERCYFUL FATE, CELTIC FROST, BATHORY and so on. Then the re-birth of Black Metal Norwegian style, very inspiring. Worst things, Death Metal turned so lame in the early '90's. And now all those good for nothing Black Metal bands with nothing to offer.
There doesn't seem to be much excitement in the scene anymore since most bands have either given up their "image" and "sound" to corporate labels thus toning down their antics, and the fact there seems to be little shock in what the rest of them do. What are do you feel about this?
That's what happened. Things have become more normal. No one really cares anymore.... People are very laid back about it. So when young bands are formed they really have no idea of what was going on back them. For them Black Metal is just normal. They might dye their hair black, they might wear inverted crosses, but the destructive philosophy is not there. I can't control peoples mind, but of course it is a bit sad. It would be a bit more interesting with some disturbing elements in Black Metal. Some more fires or something.... I hate that it has become so nice and clean.
What do you feel about murder? Is this act an OK one or not. Hold nothing back.
Murder is a sick act, but I can understand that it happens. I don't go around killing people myself. (Not yet anyway!) Murder as a subject of revenge is accepted I think. If someone wants to kill Grishnackh for instance I have no problems with that. But on a serious note, it is no worries for me that people go around killing each other, I actually think it is fine. But if this gets personal I guess the view is different. I have other things to do than caring for humanity. KILL ALL IN SIGHT DIE.
I heard VENOMS's 2nd LP "Black Metal" was the "drug" that got you started in metal music in the first place! Have you any thoughts on VENOM and the other early black metal groups like MERCYFUL FATE and BATHORY? How about other bands you may be interested in?
WRONG!!!! I think you are referring to the LORDS OF CHAOS book here. What I said (what I tried to say anyways....) was that VENOM was the drug that got me into Black Metal. Not Metal over all. Prior to that I had been into music since the mid '70's with bands like UFO, SCORPIONS, THIN LIZZY, JUDAS PRIEST.... Of course I was extremely young then but I got into the heavy music due to an older brother. Eventually I started to walk my own paths and thinking more for myself. I always wanted heavier stuff so of course it was a great thing to find out about VENOM. I love those two first albums, the covers are really great and the music...... MERCYFUL FATE and BATHORY was great inspiration as well. BATHORY I Found on the "Scandinavian Metal Attack" sampler and I thought they were better than VENOM!!!! MERCYFUL FATE, there was a guy in Sweden taping me some of their really old demos and that was so scary.... Another early band that had an huge influence on me was HELLHAMMER. Via the earlier mentioned LIVE WIRE MAGAZINE we got send the "Satanic Rites" demo from Tom Warrior himself. I remember the other guys were laughing really much of HELLHAMMER but I knew then that this was something special. I still like it to this day of course. The same goes for MERCYFUL FATE, VENOM, BATHORY and so on. They are still among my faves and most played albums. To that list feel free to add (eventually) stuff like CELTIC FROST, DESTRUCTION, SODOM, IRON ANGEL, EXODUS, POSSESSED and others.
I haven't heard much from HEAD NOT FOUND in awhile now. Do you still run this label? The last release of yours I got was "Forlorn's - The Crystal Palace" CD which was a fairly interesting piece of black metal art. What can you tell us about HNF and the bands you have been supporting through it.
Running HEAD NOT FOUND has become a pain in the ass. I don't like it very much anymore. I keep a low profile concerning this because I rather do SLAYER MAGAZINE. HEAD NOT FOUND is still going, I'm in the background somewhere. I'm not a business man and I did a lot of foolish mistakes which was not very smart as far as business goes. I hate to tell the bands that the releases are not selling that much. Of course the bands won't believe me and imagine some rip off fuck up. On the average we sell between 500 and 2000. That's the truth, bands might expect that we are going to sell 10.000 or so, that is not the case. RAGNAROK sells around 5000, bestseller is "Bergtatt" by ULVER which is over 10.000. Some of my personal faves have been different over the years, but now it is USURPER, HEMLOCK, KVIKKSLVGUTTENE and the "Wrath Of The Tyrant" demo on LP. That's my fondest memories.
I find it amusing what people define as "black metal" . There's idiots who seem to mix it with politics, Paganism, Odinism, Vikings, etc.. And Worst of all NS/Nazism which really has nothing to do with "Black" metal. To me "Black" metal is pure and simple, "Satanic/Occult Music". I have nothing against a band claiming to play Viking metal or NS type metal, but this can simply not be called "Black" metal as it has nothing to do with Satanism. Do your ideas connect with these our do you have a different outlook on this?
Yes, I agree with you. It is so annoying, Black Metal is Satanism. How difficult can that be to understand???? Black Metal is not really a music style, Black Metal should be more. You know, people say it is Black Metal because of some high pitched screams or whatever. I tell you, it takes more than that to make Black Metal. I never really had any interest in politics, I never cared for it. I hated it with all this social awareness things started in the '80's and I hate it now with NS Black Metal. It is so fucking stupid, trying to mix your political view with Metal doesn't work!!!! The thing with all those Nazi bands also is that they seldom have the musical abilities to impress me. I might like one or two of NS bands but they don't label themselves as Black Metal so that is cool. I need the music to give me a kick and then take everything from there.
CD or Vinyl? Heh, heh?
I have always been a big fan of vinyl and I try to get vinyl whenever possible. Especially if there is any outstanding releases, like NIFELHEIM "Servants Of Darkness" comes to mind now.... I'm not totally anti CD and I do buy a lot of those things. CD's are easier to handle and it is good as far as promos go. Most releases are average or less these days so it wouldn't be so interesting keeping them on vinyl. I try to get stuff released by MERCILESS RECORDS and IRON PEGASUS at least.
Since you are (or were) pretty close to bands Like EMPEROR, MAYHEM, DARKTHRONE etc.. Do you have strong feelings for their sudden rise in notoriety and popularity contributed by mainstream fans and major labels like a lot of fans do? This seems to be a topic of much debate, and I'd like to hear your views on it.
What other people think is of no interest to me. If it is popular or not.... You, I can say I like DIMMU BORGIR or whatever as long as I do that. I don't follow any rules or whatever. I just do what I do. If I happen to like DIMMU BORGIR, then I say it. EMPEROR, I didn't like their last album except for two tunes, I don't like much of newer DARKTHRONE and I do like new MAYHEM. I think people should be more honest to themselves. Don't listen to what everyone says. I don't care if the bands are released by major labels or small labels. What I care about is getting music that kicks my ass. I like Metal, I don't care for what is wrong or right. I go my own ways - always....
Who are some of the more interesting personalities you've come by in your years in the scene? I noticed besides the people I mentioned earlier, you seem to be interested in interviewing people like Samoth, Ihshan, Bård (ex-EMPEROR), Rok and even Marilyn Manson for SLAYER.. What draws you to individuals like these?
Bård has always been a good friend of mine so it is interesting to get his viewpoints once in a while. I also find Samoth to be an interesting character. I can't say I have featured Ishan much. It has only been one interview with him published in SLAYER and that wasn't even done by me. To tell you the truth, I don't like his side projects and I also think he is to blame for ruining EMPEROR. He might be a smart guy, I just don't like his 'new' style. Rok has always been a friend of mine, since '87 or '86 or something. I'm a big fan of SADISTIK EXEKUTION, one of my fave bands, he also designed the SLAYER logo. His interviews are always very entertaining. Marilyn Manson was perhaps not the smartest feature I've done, but at that time I liked his antic Christian approach and I thought I should feature him when I got the chance. I like people who are outcasts, a bit different but still have some valid points.
Everyone wants to know about Arne Babb. What strange creature is he and what's the story behind this oddity?
I don't think he is odd, I found him very normal. He is my best friend. Whatever lurks under that mask no one knows. He is also an essential part of SLAYER! And he is mine!!!!!!!!
Are there any interesting stories you can tell us? And I do mean INTERESTING!
"ARNE BABB is going to kick your ass and that's the truth!!! (Hahahahahaha! I know what he is! Kangarooes with reindeer antler masks don't scare me one bit! -Wilhelm)
There were some rumors you were soon to put SLAYER to rest, but it's clear you're not! Any idea how long you'll continue this time honored tradition of metal and Kangaroos w/ reindeer masks? What's next in the ever escalating saga of Metalion's SLAYER?
I was actually seriously concerning stopping after SLAYER 13 due to a lot of reasons. Mainly because of the majority of the bands sucked so much, there wasn't any excitement at that time for me. I had no computer etc. so it was really hard for me for a while. So I thought bloody hell, I'm not doing this anymore. So I said this is the last issue . fuck you - I'm not wasting my time on all these low life suckers anymore. Then I got hold of this computer which made things extremely more easy..... Another thing was that I started to do live interviews which I hardly ever had done in the past and it was like new birth. And the Internet which is good to use to reach people and research for bands etc. Also, I been doing this for so long so I I found out I can not live without it, it is my ambition in life. What would my miserable life be without SLAYER??? THIS IS THE WORLD I CREATED SO I PLAN TO STICK AROUND. I don't think people realize how important this is to me. People might say it is just another magazine and of course it is, the difference is that this is MY magazine. I created my own path, I always went my own ways, I will never give in. Now it gives me so much to publish the magazine. The feeling of having another release is a big rush. I can't explain it, but I live for that moment. Also the way you put the magazine together and see how it grow is great!!! I will continue as long as I have that feeling. It is a stress gathering the money, distributing etc. but I must go on. As long as that feeling is there, along as this offers me total satisfaction I will go on. It would be impossible to go into this world half hearted. It is all or nothing. SLAYER 15 is out when you read this, SLAYER 16 is finished in my mind.... So I'm always ahead.
A long interview this was, but your insight and knowledge of the scene past and present is invaluable. I bid thee farewell Metalion, it was a pleasure talking with you............
Thanks to you, I'm sorry I deleted the first interview. I hope that people will buy my magazine. SLAYER 15 is out now and it is 8 bucks. And before you start complaining about the price I can inform you that with this price I don't make any money. It is the high postage cost as well as printing costs who makes this price. Anyway, I still think it is worth it because you get a shitload of information. This my heart and soul, my blood, so if you think the price is unfair I just say FUCK YOU!!!
Thus this concludes my chat with dear friend and partner in criminal activities- Metalion, founder of the notorious Norwegian magazine SLAYER and long time resident of the underground society for the past 100 years. To delve deeper into the physche of Norway's most feared madman get off your ass and contact him at:
PO Box 447
BOLT YOUR HANDS TO YOUR
FEET AND BEWARE.... ONLY ARNE BABB IS REAL!!!
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