Interview with Lord Sabathan (bass/vocals)
Interview conducted by Barbara Williams (Crowley)
Date online: April 10, 2003
What made you form Enthroned? How did you guys meet?
The love for metal music has made us form our band Enthroned…About how did we meet: refer to our biography (www.enthroned.de/Biography/EnthronedBio.htm). The whole story is there.
Why Enthroned? Who came up with the name?
Enthroned means, "the domination of Satan upon the Christian world." Dethrone God, Enthrone Satan--in a resume that is what the name Enthroned means to us. It was Cernunnos who came with this original name when we formed the band in 1993.
How do you write your music? Is there a set guideline or do you write what you feel as you go along?
Mostly we write what we feel and we don't copy any other bands to avoid plagiarism. We're obliged now to set a guideline—a kind of plan of composition. Of course, we have our musical influences, but they come mostly from a different kind of music than black metal. It is necessary to take deferent's sources as not to fall in the copycat trap of another band.
How do you get the inspiration for your writing?
It is directly dictated from my spirit, my state of mind, what I feel, what I believe, my visions, my dreams, what I hate, and what I love. I'm not the only one who writes lyrics, as a major part of them are written by Nornagest, but I speak for myself. I suppose Nornagest is inspired by the same things than me. We also write about real stories like principally the concept of our epic songs such as "Graced by Evil blood" or "When Hell freezes over." This is not fiction, but these are lyrics based on real stories. An important source of inspirations for our lyrics is also occult books.
Do you consciously think about staying in the Enthroned-style or music? As a musician, do you play other sorts of music on the side or is this your 100% musical taste?
Of course, we want to keep the Enthroned-style; we have our own musical identity, our own mark in the black metal style, and we never change it. Personally, I also play heavy metal and progressive rock. I hope this year I will have the possibility to reform my side project called Underworld, which is a 100% heavy/power metal band, but I need serious and competent members. And, of course, Enthroned is my first priority, but I like to play heavy metal as much as black metal. I find the same pleasure in both styles. My musical taste ranges from classical music to rock, from hard rock to heavy-thrash- and power metal, all the way to progressive metal and [more]rock…to arrive at black metal.
How would you describe your style of vocals? Who have been your role models?
I describe my vocal style as pure, raw, and melodic black metal vocals. My principal role model is Quorthon from Bathory on the black metal albums as well as on the epic ones.
The music scene really changed between the 70's, 80's and 90's. What would you say has been your strongest influence?
Principally the eighties, of course; these were the best years when the source of metal was most prosperous. The early nineties were also great for extreme metal like death and black metal. The seventies, as far as progressive rock bands like Pink Floyd or Rush go, were absolutely brilliant; these were the years when I've gotten into rock music with Black Sabbath, Rush, Pink Floyd, Thin Lizzy, Judas Priest…all these bands are my roots, the ones who gave me the motivation to be musician. And now the most disastrous years are the late nineties and the millennium; everything now is a matter of money and popularity. The underground scene is dying 'cause all the people who lead the scene nowadays are business men and not music fans like before, in these golden years. They don't care if a band is talented or not; all they see is how many albums they will sell, how much people they will bring to their shows, and how much money they will benefit from them. It's a shame. The best example of a victim of this system of shit is us, Enthroned. We hardly get honest tour and concert conditions and we now have 5 albums. Also, if Napalm Records were not there to sign us, not one other established record company would be interested in our music just because it is not trendy anymore, and as it is no longer a trend, it is less money for them!!! I'm really sick of this capitalistic system within the metal scene. It's the same with the magazines. Many of them are not interested to reserve just one page for an interview with Enthroned because we're not "famous" enough; we're too underground and honest to our style. I don't see any future for the black metal scene. It is sad but true. I'm not a pessimist but a realist.
Which bands are on your list of favourites? If I were to look through your CD collection, what would I find?
Pink Floyd, Rush, Iron Maiden, Saxon, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, Running Wild, Blind Guardian, Dissection, King Diamond/Mercyful Fate, (old) Slayer, Kreator, Destruction, Sodom, (old) Mayhem, (old) Emperor, Taake, Darkthtrone, Bathory, Venom, Celtic Frost and Hellhammer, Desaster, Dark Fortress, Mörk Gryning, Morbid Angel, Immolation, Grave Digger, Helloween, Gamma Ray, Stratovarius, Freedom Call, Asphyx, Unleashed, Rotting Christ, Tiamat, Immortal, Marduk, Ragnarok, Twisted Sister, Pretty Maids, and many, many more--to name a few here, but many more. As you can see, I'm very open to a lot of different kinds of styles. Ohhh, I also forgot to mention Mozart, Beethoven, Wagner, Bach, and Prokofiev. Classical music is the root of everything and a major part of my musically creative influence.
How do you compare the Death and Black metal scene here in the States and in Europe?
Mhhhh… A lot of people say that in the USA the metal scene sucks, but concerning Enthroned, we're much more respected in the USA than in Europe. Strange but true!!! In Europe the problem is that some countries like Germany, for example, think that Enthroned is just a bunch of impostors who rip off Norwegian and Swedish bands, and that we are just a bunch of incredible children who don't have any other inspirations than brutal music. In the USA we're appreciated and have a lot of "die hard" fans everywhere. In Europe, we've got die-hard fans in France, Sweden, the Eastern countries, Italy, Portugal, Scotland, some people in Holland, Belgium and England, but not everywhere like in the USA.
Which songs do you like most playing Live?
"Evil Church," "Graced by Evil Blood," "By Dark Glorious Thoughts," "Tales from a Blackened Horde," "Deny the Holy Book of Lies," "Spawn from the Abyss," "Boundless Demonication," and "Infernal Flesh Massacre."
When you play live, do you try to stay close to the studio version or do you like to change things up?
No, we try to play as close as possible to the studio version, but sometimes we made some changes which can give another dimension to a song. Studio and Live are completely different; you have to give more intensity on stage and in the studio more precision and a lot of intensity as well. It's two completely different worlds, two situations that are not comparable in any way.
You have done a lot of shows over the years. How do you feel about playing live? Are there any particular memories from the touring you would like to mention?
Playing live is really important for us. It is the most intense pleasure for musicians like us. I couldn't imagine Enthroned without stage performances. I feel so good on stage. It is like an escape from the material world towards another dimension. It's incredible how I love the stage and Enthroned is a band that is cut out perfectly for the stage. There are so many good memories on tour that I couldn't mention them all, but one of the most particular ones is from our first tour in 1996 when we got on the tour bus; a child's dream had become reality. We couldn't believe what we were experiencing, the first date of this tour, when the crowd was going crazy during our show. It was still a good epoch for the black metal. Now the times have changed a lot here in Europe. We don't have as many crazy people at our gigs as we had at that time.
As the founder of the band, Sabathan, when did you start playing and how old were you when you became interested in metal?
I started to play bass guitar in 1986 when I was 16 years old, and my first band was Morbid Death, which I had formed with my schoolmate Cernunnos (Enthroned former member with me) *refer to the biography. I became interested in metal when my older brother took me to see one of these friends' band rehearse in 1980, and two days later at their concert, when I was 10 years old, this band played pure Rock'n Roll like Motorhead, and I've been really impressed, so I bought their album. After that I discovered Kiss, AC/DC, Iron Maiden, Motorhead and Judas Priest, and a while later Venom, Mercyful Fate, Metallica, Megadeth, and Slayer…and I caught the METAL virus for life!
What made you decide to play in a band? Had it always been a dream? Who or what inspired you?
For my part, the first time I saw my brother's band play in the seventies (cause my older brother is a rock musician, too), I wanted to be musician, too; it had always been a dream, as you say here, and I tried hard to make this dream come true, and it's done.
Have your parents and friends always been supportive?
Absolutely! Always! Concerning my family, it has principally been my older brother, as he has taught me to play the bass guitar.
Besides Metal, what other types of music do you listen to?
Classical music, progressive rock, traditional rock and blues.
Outside of playing Metal, what kinds of things do you enjoy doing?
Playing video games; watching cool movies; travelling around the world and visiting old castles and old monuments; reading cultural books, and working on my computer with different programs.
So far, I have only heard and read good things about you. Are there any critics? (How does all this make you feel)?
Hehehe, cool! It proves that we're appreciated in USA. Comes to Europe and you will hear something different at some places. If you want I can send you some reviews of Enthroned concerts or albums coming from some big metal European magazines. You will read something different than goods things, you will see. The fact you read good things about Enthroned makes me proud, of course, because it means that all the hard work we have done—rehearsing four to five hours a day (alone or with the band), answering all the mail and interviews, wrecking our brains to compose and arrange our music and all, is to receive a congratulation and a recognition for our work. That's why I prefer to hear good rather than bad things. Nobody likes to work hard only to be then discriminated against and to be humiliated.
Do you feel that Death and Black Metal bands have it more difficult to gain recognition compared to those who play other types of metal?
No! Absolutely not, but nowadays to get recognition you must be"money" band, not a talented band with good musicians. There are so many bands with top musicians who compose and play really good music and deserve many deals with many labels, but instead, they are killed by many magazines and don't get any interest from any labels (as is the case of Emptiness, the second band of Nerath Daemon our guitarist; they play killer death metal and have three excellent professional demos, and not one label wants to sign them, and they're all top musicians; Nerath Daemon gives guitar lessons and teaches his instrument as does Emptiness' drummer.) On the other hand, you have some amateur musicians, totally unprofessional, who directly get a deal with a major company because they play something trendy or just because their nationality is good criteria for selling. This stupid, shitty system of this millennium mentality completely sucks!!!
Have you gotten any gifts from fans? Which would you say would be the coolest or weirdest?
Yes. We get them sometimes. The funniest one was the one I received from some Polish fans--a caricature of me with my bass guitar in modelling clay ?
Who designs your CD artwork and who has the final word on what actually goes on the album cover? Does it have any special meaning?
We decide on it together, and now that we designed our album covers and complete layout ourselves, it's much easier, as both our guitarists, Nerath Daemon and Nornagest, are info-graphics; they made all of our artwork by computer. Before we used artists, but since the "Carnage" album, we have been making all of it ourselves. We know the best what kind design concepts best fit our music and lyrics. Yes, of course, they do have special meaning; they mostly represent the subjects mentioned in our lyrics.
The "Prophecies" album cover has been released by Kris Verwimp, one of the best artists I know, and it reflects the concept of this album perfectly. The same goes for the "Towards" album. The only design that has nothing to do with the subject of the album is the cover artwork for "Armoured Bestial Hell." We're not a war metal band; we're a pure black metal band, but, anyway, we've used it because the guy who release it (Rok from Sadistik Exekution) is someone we respect very much.
Noticeably, your lyrics are very strong and straightforward in content. I have just recently read an article (on anus.com) about boycotting Christian metal. What are your feelings about that? What does "Metal" actually mean to you?
We have nothing to hide. Our lyrics reflect our personality perfectly and our hate towards religions as well Christians and Islamists. My feelings about Christian metal is just laughable, nothing else. These bands who spread the word of God through metal are just pathetic because metal at the base that had been created by rebels against religions. Metal is rebel music and certainly not a kind of music for people who claim a Christian doctrine; the same goes for Nazi Metal bands. It is completely pathetic and stupid because the Nazi's system couldn't accept people with long hair and differences in society, exactly like the Christian system. Both are so illogical and pathetic; it is like pretending to be vegetarian and eating 25kg of meat every day if you want another comparison.
There has been a rise in pagan/satanic metal over the past few years. What's your opinion about that?
It's cool, if it's played by true dedicated people, who are involved in their believes. They're many good bands in this style.
How is the music and being Enthroned connected with the person you are? Is your band image a reflection of you or completely separate?
No. Enthroned, for me personally, is a perfect reflection of the music and lyrics I write for the band. You can feel and hear through the music I compose and the lyrics I write who I am and what I feel, and what my own way is.
How is your latest album different from the previous one?
I can compare Carnage in Worlds Beyond to our second album, Towards the Skullthrone of Satan. They've got the same mood and atmosphere, but "Carnage" is, of course, more mature and successful than Toward the Skullthrone of Satan; the musical evolution is evident.
Could you tell us a little about the lyrical concept for this album?
Each song has a different theme. We had written this album with the feelings we had at the time, and all of the lyrics are very personal, so I cannot tell you more; you have to read the lyrics and interpret them in your way, and then you will have the best description. It is not a concept album; the title means "the chaos in other dimensions, and as the dimensions can be reversed, the chaos could be on earth. This is what we presage: a total annihilation of human kind coming from another world, another dimension--the dawn of the new millennium, the age where the gates of Hell will open wide upon us.
What, in your opinion, separates a good death/black metal band from a bad one?
This is actually is a good thing because the underground scene is completely polluted nowadays by bands formed by extremely bad musicians who pretend to be underground and who use this excuse because they know that they will never be able to reach popular status because they're not able to play good music and are not completely dedicated to their style. This is why they refuse all kinds of any evolution and maturity. They want to stay in their ignorance. That's why the records label are actually so hard to them about giving them a deal; they must be sure they sign something credible and not a bunch of untalented guys who just make noise and pretend "we're underground!!!" The underground scene needs good bands and truly dedicated metal people, not clowns, not untalented musicians, and nowadays unfortunately, fewer and fewer people take the underground scene seriously due to the lack of good bands it has, and it's getting harder and harder with labels, concerts, festivals and tour organizers (like Wacken Open-Air, for example); they book fewer and fewer underground bands; they only take care of sure valour.
How do you see yourself as a role model (or idol) to many young people who listen to and who get into your music?
No. I'm just a musician, not a role model. It's great if I can influence many young musicians and people, but this is not my primary priority.
What advice would you give young musicians who wish to be in a band?
Yes. I would like to tell them: "before you form a band, when you're debutant, play a maximum of your instrument to get experienced and before you think about recording something, be sure that you can create something good; don't try to be the fastest or most brutal band in the world. There's no meaning in that. Try first to create something cool to listen to. I don't want to be philosophic, but as you ask me to give some words for young bands, I just give you what I think.
Any last words to fans?
We hail you all high. You're the best. See you on tour!!!!!
|Other information about Enthroned on this site|
|Review: Carnage in Worlds Beyond|
|Review: Towards The Skullthrone Of Satan|
|Review: Regie Sathanas - A Tribute to Cernunnos|
|Review: The Apocalypse Manifesto|
|Review: Xes Haereticum|
|Review: Carnage in Worlds Beyond|
|Review: Tetra Karcist|
|Review: Tetra Karcist|
|Review: Cold Black Suns|
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