OV HELL – Satanic Sadism

April 24, 2010, 8 years ago

news life in black ov hell

By Aaron Small

Former GORGOROTH bassist King ov Hell and DIMMU BORGIR vocalist Shagrath have joined forces in the Norwegian black metal super beast, OV HELL. Their debut album, The Underworld Regime, has a long and storied history.

Initially, The Underworld Regime was intended to be the follow-up to Gorgoroth’s Ad Majorem Sathanas Gloriam from 2006. King had been a member of Gorgoroth since 1999; contributing to three albums, yet found himself facing “problems fronting some of the ideological aspects of Gorgoroth’s agenda,” which resulted in a temporary hiatus from the group. “I had to take care of some legal problems outside of the band; that was the reason. On the other hand, people were in jail.” King is of course referring to Gorgoroth vocalist Gaahl, who was incarcerated for assault and guitarist Infernus, who was behind bars for gross negligent rape. “I needed to be outside of the band for a couple of months to take care of my personal problems. Then I joined again, obviously (as Gorgoroth went on tour). I never actually left the band. It was more of me taking care of my legal situation at that point, getting things sorted. Then it was basically business as usual.”

Normalcy led to a nightmare in 2007 when King and Gaahl attempted – and failed – to secure the legal rights to the Gorgoroth name and logo. “Gaahl and I decided that we weren’t able to work with (founding member) Infernus anymore. We both felt that we had put so much of our personalities and everything into the band, that we felt it was not necessarily only Infernus’ band alone anymore. So we started our legal dispute about the band name. It was taken to court and the court decided (in 2009) that Infernus was the rightful owner of the band and left it at that.”

Defeated but determined to carry on, King and Gaahl regrouped as GOD SEED and returned their focus to what would eventually become The Underworld Regime. Unfortunately for King, “Gaahl decided to retire from the metal scene for a while,” leaving him without a singer. However, King and Dimmu Borgir frontman Shagrath had “talked about doing a band together for several years. We started to make music and send it back and forth. Then I had already recorded an album (The Underworld Regime) and decided to send a few songs to Shagrath. We both agreed that it turned out to be something evil, representing both Dimmu Borgir and Gorgoroth. But the music had its own voice. It didn’t sound like Gorgoroth or Dimmu Borgir. Of course there are references, but that’s only natural since we have both been significant creative forces in our bands.”

Although the music remained largely intact, it was renamed Ov Hell. King explains the change in moniker. “I view Gorgoroth, God Seed and Ov Hell as a part of my own development as a composer. I work with different people and God Seed is something Gaahl and I are doing together. We’re actually working on new music as we speak. Things went very rapidly and it got kind of hectic. Gaahl decided he needed a break. But our goal is to pick it up again. That’s the plan for 2011 – to release a God Seed album. But I can’t predict the future. I’ve made the music and am ready for the vocals. The signal from Gaahl is that he’s interested.”

Returning to Ov Hell, King knew that Shagrath’s involvement would be minimal because of his commitments to Dimmu Borgir and CHROME DIVISION. Yet that didn’t deter the duo from working together “because Ov Hell was never aimed at being a touring band. We will do select shows and release albums. So far, we haven’t been able to book any shows because of our busy schedules. So that’s sort of a drawback because we wanted to do that in 2010. But we aim to do it at a later stage. We got lots of offers, but the problem is that a small tour or a festival is months ahead and at this point, Shagrath is in the studio with Dimmu Borgir (working on the follow-up to 2007’s In Sorte Diaboli) and that’s unpredictable.”

In regard to Ov Hell, King steadfastly admits that he is “more occupied of developing myself spiritually and musically than strive to be viewed as original by fans.” A statement he elaborates upon. “It basically means focusing only on myself and my own creations. If people are judging my creations as bad or good or unique or unoriginal, it doesn’t concern me. It’s all up to me to decide what I feel is truthful and honest and good in my view. So that’s where I’m at.”

Shagrath’s take on Ov Hell seems to differ somewhat as he’s been quoted saying, “this has a totally Satanic, anti-Christian state of mind thing going on, and I like that a lot.” King is quick to reply with, “you have to ask Shagrath about that. I cannot answer questions on his behalf. I view Ov Hell as part of a bigger picture. It’s part of what I’ve been presenting in black metal for a decade. It sort of mirrors my view on world order, metaphysics, man and values… stuff like that. What I present in Gorgoroth or God Seed or Ov Hell – I don’t change as a person. I don’t change my views on the main themes in my life. It’s just the banner and logo that’s different.”

Photo by Peter Beste

With The Underworld Regime finally coming to fruition, King shares the secret behind the album’s title. “That was Shagrath’s idea. It basically refers to the shadow. In nature and in the human mind you have a dark side, your own shadow side. To get in touch with that, you are more likely to get closer to what is true and honest. You have to be in contact with your shadow side to be able to grow – simple as that. The Underworld Regime may come across as a childish title, but for me, that’s what it represents.”

The second song on The Underworld Regime is ‘Post Modern Sadist’. How exactly does a post modern sadist differ from a traditional sadist? “That is actually a lyric written by Silenoz (guitarist for Dimmu Borgir). I have contributed very little on the lyrical side of this album. But that’s how it is. If you go the left hand path or if you are a Satanist, you walk that alone. That’s a decision that does not reflect my views on everything. But I come from the same source as Gaahl or Shagrath. Everybody I work with has something in common. That doesn’t mean we are identical. ‘Post Modern Sadist’ is not a lyric I would personally say reflects or mirrors my views on Satanism in a good way.”

Rounding out The Underworld Regime are two non-English tracks: ‘Krigsatte Faner’ and ‘Hill Norge’. “That’s Norwegian,” clarifies King. “The two last songs on the album are in our native tongue. Those are actually lyrics that Shagrath wrote back in the ‘90s; they’re rather old. We both felt the Norwegian tongue has been lost in black metal, so we wanted to have a few songs in our native tongue on this album ‘Hill Norge’ is Hill Norway. That’s more of an anthem for our northern heritage. ‘Krigsatte Faner’ is hard to translate in English. But it basically means… that’s why I use corpse paint and everything. You need that war attitude towards everything. It’s more of a warrior song.”

Coming Feb 8, 2010 via Indie Recordings.  Art by Marcelo Vasco

An album’s cover art makes an instant and lasting impression. The Underworld Regime depicts an inverted crucifixion of Jesus Christ set aflame, situated between Shagrath and King. An image that is rather stereotypical as far as black metal goes, yet its commonality didn’t worry King. “Not really. It’s to the point. You can always argue that the cover is cheesy or whatever. It was basically a cover made so it will be easy for people to recognize what the content of the album will be. That’s why Shagrath and I are on the cover, so it’s easier to understand what’s presented on the CD – simple as that. To go into long philosophical discussions about this album cover would take it too far.”

Conversely, King revels in detailing the origin of the Ov Hell logo, which features the symbol of chaos. “That’s more me. I’m way more into Chaos Theory. The sign of the eight arrows was chosen because… I actually wanted to call the album The Sign Of The Eight Arrows, because it’s a very strong symbol and it reflects very much my standpoint. It basically represents that I don’t believe in universal truths. Everything reduces down to some sort of chaos, a moral chaos, chaos in values. There is no good. There is no bad. You have to rise up yourself from that chaos. The strong ones will be able to adapt to that chaos and organize themselves. A weak person will have problems adapting to chaos because he needs some sort of doctrine to organize his life so he is able to survive, simple as that. That could be Christianity or any form of organized belief.”

Given their poignant presence on the album cover and extremely significant history within the black metal genre, King and Shagrath are undoubtedly the Ov Hell focal points – but two men do not make a band. Completing the outfit is equally renowned drummer Frost (SATYRICON, Gorgoroth, 1349), along with guitarists Teloch (God Seed, 1349) and Ice Dale (ENSLAVED, I, AUDREY HORNE). “I’ve worked with Frost (on the Gorgoroth album) Ad Majorem Sathanas Gloriam. That’s probably the most important record I’ve done so far,” reveals King. “It was natural to ask him and he was interested to partake. He’s a great drummer. He understands very much what black metal is all about and what I want to present. Teloch played on a few songs, but it’s actually Ice Dale who is the most important guitarist on the album. He did most of the guitar work. I also worked closely with him on pre-production for the album.”

With Shagrath hard at work on the new Dimmu Borgir album, it seems that Ov Hell will remain relatively dormant for the rest of 2010. But don’t expect King to go into hibernation. “There will be a third album from SAHG. I’ve done my parts on bass for it. I think it will be released in September. I’m also doing a new band – we haven’t gone official with the name yet – with Rob Caggiano from ANTHRAX, John Tempesta from THE CULT, Dani Filth from CRADLE OF FILTH and Ice Dale (guitarist for Ov Hell). I’ve always been interested in other forms of musical expression outside of black metal. That’s why I took part in Audrey Horne and Sahg. I draw inspiration from a wide variety of things, not only black metal. It’s hard to say (what this unnamed band sounds like), but it’s like a metal version of TOOL with Dani Filth on vocals. It sounds unique. We have written most of the material for the album and Dani has been to Bergen (Norway) twice now in the studio to finish off a demo. Then we will shop a record deal and make the album. Hopefully it will be released sometime in 2011.”

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