The gospel according to Memnock
Susperia is comprised of former Dimmu Borgir, Satyricon and Old Man’s Child members. Their new album “The Lyricist” will arrive nearly nine years to the day its predecessor (“Attitude”, 2009) came out. The origins of Susperia can be traced back to 1998 when Tjodalv, then occupying the drum seat with Dimmu Borgir, and long-time friend Cyrus (ex-Satyricon, Old Man’s Child) got together to share ideas and write songs. Rooted and seasoned in the Norwegian black metal scene, SUSPERIA elevated its sound into more melodic areas of extreme metal, embracing and exploring a variety of musical avenues with ease.
On “The Lyricist”, Susperia has gone back to its black origin in many ways, one of which is a grimmer expression. The unique melodic twist the band is known for is still present, and an additional layer of variety has been added thanks to new vocalist, Bernt ‘Dagon’ Fjellestad. From Susperia’s pragmatic point of view, the new album is a “good old-fashioned kick in the head, both old and new fans should find enjoyable”.
HMA: ‘Nihilism’ is often cited as a form of inspiration and artistic value, in a black metal context what is nihilism?
Memnock: Nihilism (/ˈnaɪ.ɪlɪzəm/ or /ˈniːɪlɪzəm/; from the Latin nihil, nothing) is a philosophical doctrine that suggests the lack of belief in one or more reputedly essential aspects of life. Most commonly, nihilism is presented in the form of existential nihilism, which argues that life is without objective meaning, purpose, or intrinsic value. Moral nihilists assert that there is no inherent morality and that accepted moral values are abstractly contrived. Nihilism may also take epistemological, ontological, or metaphysical forms, meaning respectively that, in some aspect, knowledge is not possible, or reality does not exist. Nihilism is the explanation above that life is without purpose, and therefore we do not need religion to support our goals and us. The goals in life are mere to reproduce and to make sure your offspring survive until they reproduce and so on. In most of the black metal bands, I know the philosophy of the lyrics is about seeking knowledge and finding your own truth about life in general and not being colored by doctrines of different religions that have a strong influence on the world. In my opinion, this is the reason why the influence of nihilism is strong within the black metal community. Moreover, if reality does not exist, it would explain the reason why nothing is real, and death is the only certain way out of this illusion. We could also discuss if death is an illusion too, (which I think it is ) but then I think this interview would be far too long, and no one in their right mind would read it.
HMA: Why is Satanism or extreme pagan symbolism are the only or most widely used and recurring themes in the genre?
Memnock: Many black metal artists express extreme anti-Christian and misanthropic views, advocating various forms of Satanism or ethnic paganism. I think this is a way, of showing the world, they do not believe in the gospel truth of the dominating religions that dictate the world, as we know it today. It also started out as a rebellion of the youth, to the awful metal scene with all the supergirl boys, which the 80′ heavy metal scene was dominated by, and even their parents were comfortable with them listening to. The youths have always needed to rise against the authorities; even Socrates said (the youths nowadays is rebellious and lazy and never do what their parents tell them to do (young boys and girls that didn’t like their music becoming too commercial).
HMA: Would you call profanity and desecration a form of postmodernism?
Memnock: 1. profanity prəˈfanɪti/ noun: profanity can also be called curse (“cuss”) words, dirty words, bad words, foul language, obscenity, obscene language, or expletives. It can be called swearing, although this also has a normal meaning of making a “solemn promise”. A profanity usually refers to religion, sex, or bodily functions. First of all, to me, profanity is a primitive way of trying to express oneself and also to me it shows a lack of better words in one’s vocabulary. If it is used as swearing, this makes it a way to show that you are willing to even give up your honor and life for the cause you’re about to do. Profanity has probably existed as long as humanity has roamed this planet. So to call it postmodern and a way of rejection toward grand narratives, ideologies, and various tenets of universalism, including objective notions of reason, human nature, social progress, moral universalism, absolute truth, and objective reality is a bit too strong for me.
If the F. word or the Sh..t word would pass as postmodernism? I’m not sure or convinced that this is the case (they are some of the most used words in the English language). On the other hand, if you refer to the black metal scene (which I’m not a part of, I’m in the doom metal scene). It might be a rebellion against the Christian norms, morals and dogmas, that you shall not take the lords name in vain and curse” etc., I would understand why you ask this question. However, profanity is also something that the young ones have done for centuries to provoke and shock their parents and the society in general. Moreover, since Postmodernism describes a broad movement that developed in the mid-to-late-20th century across philosophy, the arts, architecture, and criticism, which marked a departure from modernism, I do not think that profanity has anything to do with postmodernism. Instead, postmodern thinkers may assert that claims to knowledge and truth are products of social, historical or political discourses or interpretations.
HMA: What culture means to you? Not metal culture, but culture in general… perhaps your native culture or culture from other parts of the world.
Memnock: Ok, Since we know that Culture (/ˈkʌltʃər/) is the social behaviour and norms found in human societies, it is easy to think that every new aspect of human behaviour is a form of culture. To me, culture is something that is repeated over time and therefore it gets incorporated into our society. If something is done as a safety measure in a primitive society. For instance, we do not go into the dark cave because there might be a big lion or bear in the cave, and this was explained to the first generations, and then eventually as the years passed became the gospel truth. It has become a culture within the society, and everyone knows that this is what we do, but not necessarily know why it has become a culture (religion) of this society. In Norway, we do cross-country skiing this is a very strong culture within our society, it probably started out with the Vikings as a way to be able to visit other clans across Norway in the winter. Another thing is the fact that we bring spruce into our house during Jul jól or jólablót, (what rest of Europe call Christ-mas).
This was originally done as a token of goodwill to the gods, so that life (i.e. summer) would once again come back to the cold dark world (that Norway is in winter). In addition, July is original in Norway celebrated on the 22 of December the exact time the sun turns, and we are heading toward longer days and spring.
HMA: What is the ultimate form of blasphemy that would far reach all corners of the planet?
Memnock: Blasphemy is the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence to a deity, to religious or holy persons or sacred things, or toward something considered sacred or inviolable. If there is something called the ultimate blasphemy (which I don’t think it is). It would be to prove all religions wrong and show the world what a false doctrine it is. The ultimate blasphemy is in the eye of the beholder and therefore does not exist from my point of view.
HMA: Lastly, what are your views on blasphemy laws?
Memnock: That they are outdated and a ghost from the past. To be offended is defined as being: resentful or annoyed, typically as a result of a perceived insult. To have a law against offending someone’s belief, religion and culture is to be a sign of weakness in society. In the USA they even have a no offend zone for the students at a different college, this shows the lack of understanding of what our community should be all about. The question one needs to ask oneself is: what happens when one is offended, and why is this such a bad thing? Ultimately, I think if you easily get offended… well, then you need to grow up.
Interview by Alex Milazzo – Copyright 2018 © Heavy Music Artwork. All rights reserved.