PETE HELMKAMP undoubtedly has left his mark on the scene. No matter if you judge him by his activities in ORDER FROM CHAOS, ANGELCORPSE, or his partly rather controversial writings and views - fact is, the man definitely knows what he's talking about. Darragh O'Leary hooked up with him to catch up on things in between the split-up of ANGELCORPSE and his upcoming new project TERROR ORGAN...
I guess that it was necessary for you to lay ANGELCORPSE to rest after delivering such a ferocious third album. In some respects there was perhaps nowhere for you to go and it was better to end it on a completely high note.
"That’s one way to look at it. I certainly agree that a band's progress is finite: that which makes them great and unique also defines them, hems them in, and eventually suffocates them. If one continues down the same narrow path, its all rehashed garbage. If one strays, then they betray their initial aim. Three albums I think was an extreme statement to say the least, and I'm damn proud of them!"
Was it something of an emotional decision actually deciding that that was it?
"Certainly. Crafting a band from its onset, and then realizing that the time had come when it was no longer wise to continue down that path was difficult. Comfortable yes, and perhaps even a possibility of becoming profitable, but I couldn't see myself betraying my own ideals. As Nietzsche stated: that which is falling should also be pushed. And from death new life springs, so it was the natural progression of things."
Still, your achievements and accomplishments in your brief history definitely showcased that heretic supremacy spirit you speak of. Going from recording a pretty fucking necro demo in '95 to creating albums like ‘Exterminate’ and ‘The Inexorable’ in such a short space of time demonstrated sheer will in my opinion.
"Indeed. ANGELCORPSE truly spanned a huge gap in our five year career. I liken our experience to that of a raging comet blazing across the sky. Proud, strong, fierce, and impossible to ignore. We blasted the heavens and then left the world wondering what the hell they'd been struck with! But that’s the beauty of it..."
Thematically, there have been constant subjects and subject matter referred to right the way through from ORDER FROM CHAOS and into the heart of TERROR ORGAN. I guess in some ways you feel like ‘branding’ the world with your own mark and your own analysis of things right?
"One cannot ignore one's true nature. I've always been branding the world with my vision of things to be and things to come. Whatever musical medium my ideas support can be seen as second place to the fact that the themes are ever present. With ORDER FROM CHAOS, I introduced the world to Heretic Supremacy, although some of the lyrics were steeped in occult symbolism and directly related to the Conqueror Manifesto. Within ANGELCORPSE, I found myself writing lyrics that were to prepare the listener / reader for the depths of ORDER FROM CHAOS lyrical passages. ANGELCORPSE had a simpler yet still highly sophisticated lyrical content. And I tried to use less pure occult images and more martial and internal, if that makes any sense. With TERROR ORGAN, I can choose either of those two methods, or even more simplistic and brute means... I ain't done talking yet!"
TERROR ORGAN is a particularly strange musical beast altogether. Far removed from anything you have lent your hands to in the past. Do you essentially see what TERROR ORGAN is trying to achieve as a direct descendent of what you were always trying to attain in the past with your other bands, just in different ‘clothing’?
"TERROR ORGAN is indeed a beast of a different sort. Metal has really begun to stagnate more so than even I thought, and what TERROR ORGAN is striving for is a new and modern direction. My wife Lea understands this concept as well: she has taken generic instruments like keyboards and drum machine, and with effects pedals and feedback has crafted totally harsh extreme sounds that nearly mesmerize the listener. So we have that element. And then there is the ferocity of my background, and we have a powerful propaganda tool! I viewed ORDER FROM CHAOS and ANGELCORPSE both as tools to relay my words, and now with TERROR ORGAN, we have a real musical soundscape to capture the listener even more so than in Metal..."
It’s pretty obvious that you are a pretty aggressively active person as you have been constantly active within the Metal scene for well over a decade. You have also written a book – The Conqueror Manifesto, centered around your concept of Heretic Supremacy, and also a more recent addition in the shape of Controlled Burn. Is this all symbolically representative of your need to constantly create and evolve through creation?
"Evolution is life. That’s exactly it - simple, amoral, pure. Thus the death of ORDER FROM CHAOS yielded ANGELCORPSE, and from its demise comes TERROR ORGAN. Always progress, always growth, always struggle. From the peak of this mountain I can see the next to be climbed. To ignore that is to ignore life itself."
With ANGELCORPSE, the lyrics were particularly violent and aggressive, more active in terms of their graphic descriptions, but in ORDER FROM CHAOS you lent your lyrics to a more philosophical angle. Was this something conscious over time or did your view of things progressively see the and lead to the way you wrote for ANGELCORPSE?
"I think the progression was a combination of both those elements: ORDER FROM CHAOS was indeed laying down a philosophical foundation. ANGELCORPSE was the acting out of those ideologies: "Hammer Of Gods" represents revenge, "Exterminate" destruction, and "The Inexorable" conquest, all three of which are offshoots of the Conqueror of Fear concept, which was the backbone of the ORDER FROM CHAOS Weltanschauung. Each band has its 'other' lyrics, but the core concepts run concurrent in both ORDER FROM CHAOS and ANGELCORPSE."
Over all, it seems that the strongest theme in the midst of your lyrics is that of ascension to that next state of human conditioning. Arising from the current morass of human negligence and living to what you have termed ‘Homo-deus’. What is it in this particular philosophy that you see as a definite progression?
"It goes back to the concept of evolution. Mankind is not finished evolving - we're not growing extra fingers or gills or wings or what not - where we are evolving is within ourselves. The major flaw in Homo Sapiens is the innate need to have spiritual and mythological guides and explanations for the universe. Hence religions and their moral baggage... The next step forward is the breaking free from the so called 'moral' confines of that which organized religion, particularly in the West - Judeo christianity. Whether or not one has been raised in this lifestyle it doesn't matter, for our societies reflect the values everywhere. Judeo christianity has led people so far astray its truly insane. The next step of evolution, Homo Deus, can think morally and ethically on a logical plane, not on a mythological one. He doesn't bind himself with false parameters that cloud the decision making process. He does what he does because it is right! We burn cattle in England because of a terrible contagious disease. Do we burn humans in Africa because of a terrible contagious disease? We proscribe birth control to koala bears in Australia after we allowed the population to grow out of control. Firstly, wouldn't bullets be cheaper, and then we could utilize the meat. Secondly, do we proscribe birth control to humans that we allow to grow out of control? We proscribe rice. Indeed. Evolution does not happen over night. Many, many more heretics will be burned at the stake before the next stage is reached. If we don't drown in the morass first..."
Do you not agree that weakness, just like strength, is inherent in all human nature, despite the fact that those two character bear themselves out differently in each particular person and that some people do without doubt lend themselves to the more weaker elements of the human condition?
"We all have our weakness as well as our strengths. Exploiting strength and conquering weakness is what life is about. Many people see it the other way round, or perhaps they just take the easy way out."
How do you see overcoming weakness in an active sense? If one is afraid, how does one aspire to conquer that fear?
"It's basic primal action. Weakness eventually will destroy the individual. If one wishes to survive, then weakness must be destroyed. Fear is the emotion attached to weakness. It is an emotion that paralyzes the victim into doing nothing. Hence Judeo-christianity's reliance on fear as a major facet of it's belief system. Fear god = uphold your weaknesses and your reliance on an outside 'force', not your own self will. To conquer Fear? Take the first step, embark on the journey to the Plateau of Invincibility. One can never reach it, but one should never wish to..."
Is it perhaps a little utopian to want to channel mankind into a sense of awareness where he is able to select and deselect humans on the basis of genetic principles of strength and weakness? This could potentially lead to the dumbing down of the human race to a complete state of almost robot like features.
"I think the real genetic principle that here to for is not obvious to most is the idea that I mentioned earlier: freedom from the current human propensity for faith in the religious sense. To distill that out of our genetic makeup would be progress. The human race is dumbing itself down faster than you might think - been to the USA lately?"
How do you personally define strength? Is it of a simplistic, animalistic nature i.e. the law of the claw or do you see it as an obvious and necessary intellectual thing, striving ever onwards, always pushing boundaries within and without?
"Will, intellect, grace, honesty, loyalty, perseverance and fitness. Multi-faceted and never 'strong enough' in the simplest sense."
Do you think that all people, whilst not being equal, do have similar unlimited potential within? They just never use it due to social, emotional or family conditioning?
"I don't think that all people have the same amounts of potential, but I certainly agree that most people don't have even the slightest concept of their potential within. Humanity has gone soft in these recent decades. The beauty of humanity is that it is nearly an untapped wellspring. Look at what has been accomplished - and look at what needs to be done. What is stopping us? Only ourselves."
In The Conqueror Manifesto, you state that Judeo-christianity is the yoke around the neck of the western world. Would you not see that the old monolith has started to completely crumble in the wake of industrial progression and the expansion of populations? The more there is for more people out there i.e. material goods etc., the less any form of theistic value has a place. I would have thought that this would be more evident in the US than anywhere else.
"Logically this would be the case, but people here cling to the old ways. However, I do think that materialism is replacing theism, and that’s not necessarily a good thing. It focuses people completely inwards rather than completely 'beyond-wards'. Materialism here in the States is dominant everywhere, and only continues to grow. It offers 'heaven on earth' rather than having to wait for the afterlife. Yet is still doesn't yield truth - only sidetracks the individual from the reality of the world around him..."
Since the onset of the industrial revolution I feel it is safe to say that Judeo-chrisitianity has been in serious decline. The myths and magics used to suppress people have been slowly unveiled as man has discovered for himself more and more about how the world works from within and without.
"Ignorance is still just as strong though, and from ignorance comes faith. The decline of Judeo-christianity has opened a void, and people are simply filling that 'need' with materialism, they are not evolving beyond. Just like the folks that turned their crosses upside down and hail Satan instead of Jehova - two sides of the same coin. Move beyond!"
Would you agree that the cancerous leftovers from christiantity such as altruism, artificial humanitarianism etc. are more to blame in this day and age than the actual residual structure of christianity?
"Yes. And as I stated earlier, they are firmly entrenched in our societal laws and mores."
Do you have any sympathies with the militias in the US? Do you understand why they are forming?
"To be honest, I haven't kept up on that lately."
Do you think they pose any actual real threat to economic and social stability in the US?
"From what I do know, they haven't got a chance in hell. I don't think any real social change will take place in the US without a major upheaval - civil war, foreign war, major economic collapse. And I really see Fundamental Christianity as the answer offered to 'restore freedom and democracy'. Centrists will swing Right, Leftists will be jailed, and we'll have the good ole US of A back... Give them 25 years. 25 more years of decay, urban violence, racial tensions, and declining quality of living. Just like Hitler and the Nazis, they will seem like a good choice, or at least the lesser of evils."
Some have claimed that your views and your social / cultural analyses are merely revisionist fascism. Do you think that this is nothing more than a mere generalisation of the truth and any easy term to latch onto you in order to box you in and make you an inevitable pariah?
"If the woman floats then she's a witch, if she drowns, she isn't."
Do you think that many of the people buying ANGELCORPSE CD’s actually got the underlying messages in the lyrics or is the Metal fraternity a little too one dimensional and unfocussed to really grasp at much in a philosophical nature?
"I've always thought that although the Metal fraternity mostly consists of dullards, there is an intellectual elite within the group of about 10 percent or so. And this is probably allegorical to society as a whole. It is for the few that I speak."
Have you tried to break your writings out of the underground network and expand to a larger, more intellectual audience? Do you think that you’re personally ready to expand to a different audience?
"This year I will combine most of my material and some new writings as well and 'shop' the work around. I was waiting for The Conqueror Manifesto to sell out. I have revised the work completely, placing all the footnotes and sources and tangent information at the bottom of each page, so that the reader has the material at his fingertips. A much better format. I'm ready to be in every library, bookstore and news stand in the nation - are they ready for me?"
Now that you have pretty much left ANGELCORPSE behind and are planning on focussing on TERROR ORGAN, do you ever see yourself playing Metal again, even as a studio based project?
"Of course. I have quite a few ideas, and have begun writing some material as of late - fast simple, a bit of a combination of both my previous Metal bands. It will not disappoint."
Do you aim at setting Vomit Productions up as a label or just keep it cult as a distributor of various items?
"At this point in time I am planning on only carrying shirts: so many small labels out there... Shirts are a better product to carry, and much more exclusive."
Like the good serpent we have come full circle, time to end
"Here's where I let you know what's availabe right!? TERROR ORGAN full length CD will be out Summer's End on Rectrix Records. It will be called "Buzzbomb: Vergeltungswaffe Mhz 28" and have 9 songs and be roughly 60 minutes in material. Check out www.holyterror.com for info regarding that. Vomit Productions has ORDER FROM CHAOS, BEHERIT, BLASPHEMY, CARCASS and soon ANGELCORPSE "Iron, Blood & Blasphemy" shirts. E-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or check the ANGELCORPSE website (http://come.to/angelcorpse) for a link to the Vomit site. And as I mentioned, a new Metal band is in the works... Beware!"
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