From all the Scandinavian countries Denmark has always been a bit in the shadow when it comes to brutal music with the right credibility… So, apart from MERCYFUL FATE / KIND DIAMOND, EVIL, SAMHAIN / DESEXULT, ARTILLERY and INVOCATOR not too many bands really managed to impress me in the long run… And it seems that Denmark was never really able to come up with a convincing Black Metal act either, well – except for DENIAL OF GOD maybe, who prefer to label themselves Black Horror Metal though. These guys have been around for over 17 years by now and released a shitload of demos, EPs and MCDs throughout the years. When their debut full length “The Horrors Of Satan” finally came out in 2006 it showcased a band that had matured immensely ever since the release of their classic debut demo “Oscularium Infame”… So an interview with vocalist Ustumallagam was definitely overdue. Needless to say that it turned out a little longer than originally planned, but I think it covers the entire history of the band pretty well, so I hope you’ll enjoy it nevertheless…
Greetings Ustumallagam… I know it took us quite some time to finally honour you guys with an in-depth feature, but when I listen to the big musical improvements you made as a band throughout your long lasting career, I think you simply deserve it now more than ever before… do you agree with this?
“Of course I agree with you. I still don’t think we get the attention we deserve, but that is probably due to the fact that the world is too crowded with bands and mediocrity today maybe. You have to dig through a ton of average stuff to get to the good core of things and even just that can be a tiring process. We have never had too much luck with labels either etc., so that didn’t exactly help too much either maybe, but things are better than ever before probably, so I don’t complain.”
Ok, let’s go way back in time then… According to the history on your website DENIAL OF GOD was formed way back in 1991 by yourself on vocals, your brother Azter on guitar and a drummer named Uksul… Was DENIAL OF GOD the first band for you all or have you gained experiences in any projects before already?
“Azter and me had the concept of the band in our heads for more than a year before we could actually finally form the band when we ran into Uksul the drummer. We came from a small town were no one was into playing nor listening to music, so we were excited when we finally met someone who could play what we wanted. We had never been in bands before. Uksul had played for fun with other people, but nothing serious that would ever leave the rehearsal room. Later on during time we have all tried being in other bands too for a little while, but nothing could ever have the impact on me like this band has.”
What actually inspired the individual stage names that you all went for? Tell us a bit about the background of ’em (for example if there’s maybe any mythological / occult background related to them or something) and also who came up with DENIAL OF GOD as the name for the band, the logo and everything… Any deeper meaning behind the choice of that?
“The names we use (well, that Azter and I use today) derive from spirits I once contacted through some kind of Oiuja. They have deeper meanings of course and were chosen by each person because the meaning of the name fitted our way of being and / or acting. The band name came from me too. Originally, before even rehearsing, we wanted the band to be as primitive as possible and simply call it DEATH TO GOD as it didn’t get more simple than that, but we found out there was another band with a name almost the same, so we changed it to DENIAL OF GOD and it stuck. It may be primitive, but it’s original too, I think. I was only 13 or something when I came up with it. I think the name explains everything that has to be explained. It’s a total denial of weakness and dogmas. The logo was drawn by me too. I draw logos for bands every now and then and you can see my work at my MySpace site.”
You didn’t seem to have a bass player in the early days (at least no one’s being mentioned)… How come? Was it really that difficult to find the right people in your area in the early 90s?
“Yes, living in a town of only 2000 people makes it hard. Not even our local friends were into as hard Metal as we were. I played bass in the very beginning, but when we found out my vocals were better than my bass playing I switched. It took some time before we met Kulmar so he could take over the bass position, but it was great when he did, ´cause I always wanted to be a singer and not a bass player anyway.”
Even though you already mentioned quite a big variety of bands as inspirations right from the start (ALICE COOPER, KING DIAMOND, MERCYFUL FATE, DEATH SS, MAYHEM, BATHORY, INFERNÄL MÄJESTY and HELLHAMMER), I wouldn’t necessarily say that they all really influenced your early songwriting (which to me was more or less pretty basic Black Metal)… Was that simply because you still lacked the musical abilities at the time or did you also name some of them just for image / visual inspiration maybe?
“We loved those bands back then like we do today and I think we have inspirations from all of them here and there. Partially in music, partially in lyrics and partially in stage show and spirit etc. Our music back then was still different from other Black Metal bands by far I’d say. And as for the inspirations, they all have something I didn’t find in other bands’ music. If we had been better musicians back then the band would have sounded better of course and what we sound like today is what we always tried to achieve. Maybe we were more hooked on playing fast back then whereas today we incorporate doomy parts as well, but in general not much has changed. The spirit is still the same and in fact I think we have only become more morbid in all ways. You can say we got inspired by the theatrics of ALICE COOPER, KING DIAMOND and DEATH SS, the macabre melodies of MAYHEM (till 1993), the darkness in BATHORY (when it was still satanic) and MERCYFUL FATE, the morbidity of INFERNÄL MÄJESTYs lyrics and the primitivity of HELLHAMMER and the lyrical approach of all of them together. Something like that.”
In 1992 you finally hooked up with Kulmar, who joined you on bass… Tell us a bit more about how you actually got together and what he’d been up to previously…
“I am not sure if we knew Kulmar just from hanging out at the old rehearsal place as he rehearsed there too with his band, DISTORTION OF EVIL, or because Azter went to school with his older brother. Anyway, we asked him to join and he was glad to do that. He was a cool guy to be around and it was sad when he left, but he moved to Brazil to study for a year or so and I must admit I haven’t heard from him since even if I know he lives somewhere in Denmark again now. I have been told he is a cop nowadays, so a lot of things have probably changed.”
Can he already be heard on the band’s first demo tape “Oscularium Infame” which you released in the summer of 1992?
“Yes, he is playing bass on that tape. It was recorded by me, Azter and Kulmar in the line-up and Uksul as a session drummer under the name Nauseous Corpse Vomit. We didn’t want him in the band full time back then as he didn’t agree on wearing corpsepaint. He later on changed his mind to it though and became a part of the line-up again. Kulmar was always totally into the band and a full time member.”
The material on that demo was recorded in your rehearsal room with a simple tape recorder… What was the reason for that? Lack of money for a proper studio, the aim to get a sound as raw as possible or was it maybe more like that the material originally was recorded just for yourselves and not necessarily intended to be released to the public?
“It was actually recorded on a simple ghettoblaster and the sound turned out according to that. It would have been killer to record at a real studio back then, but there was no way we had money for that. A shame ´cause that would have done the songs more justice of course. I was only 14 when we formed the band, so I don’t know how I should have got money for a studio back then. Today everyone owns a computer they can do such things on or so.”
How many copies of that demo did you approxiately spread around to fanzines and what kind of reactions did you get on it? Did you also send it to any record labels at the time already or did labels maybe approach you on their own because they had somehow heard about DENIAL OF GOD?
“I am not sure how many copies were sent to fanzines in all really, but we got rid of something like 400 copies in all. We didn’t have much money at all, so not too many free tapes were sent out. I don’t think we ever sent a tape to a label in hopes of a deal as I like the idea of the label finding the bands better. If they like your band enough they will find you. It wasn’t back then as it is today anyway were you can get signed to some bedroom label even before doing a rehearsal. We got a few interested parties I remember, but nothing really happened before we did the first 7“ on Maggot Records. Most attention back then was turned on Norway and Sweden anyway, so if you weren’t from one of those two countries you didn’t get it served on a plate. The reactions on the demo was both good and bad as always. A better sound could have helped it, but that was all we could do back then. The reaction was satisfying though. Some Danish people laughed at it because it wasn’t trendy Death Metal which was cool to do here back then, but people in other countries liked it. Pretty much what we expected.”
Following the release of “Oscularium Infame” you played your first two shows ever as DENIAL OF GOD… Tell us a bit more about them, like how you got the opportunity, where you exactly played, with which other bands and what kind of experiences you gained…
“Our very first show was the 6th of November 1992 in Sonderborg, Denmark. We simply got a phone call from the promoters who asked us if we wanted to play. We agreed right away as we were hooked on doing it. But we said we have to be headliners as this is no ordinary band and the promoters were fine with it as they knew they were in for something. We played with a horrible local shit band called MR.PANIC and then the techno Thrash band EIDETIC. I don’t remember anyone being impressed. I didn’t know what to expect as it was out first show, but suddenly quite a lot of black clad people showed up with make up and behaved rather bad. That’s was cool and not something I had seen before in that city. We are nowadays banned from that shitty venue, but I take that as a compliment as it is run by a bunch of assholes anyway. The next show was the 5th of December and the first one outside Denmark. We were in touch with PAGAN RITES and they invited us over to play at the Wik-ked Club in Halmstad and so we did. Again we headlined the bill consisting of SEPTIMUS, SICKNESS, CODEX GIGAS, THE ANCIENT’S REBIRTH and of course PAGAN RITES. It was great. The venue was a shitty cellar really, but people just went nuts from beginning to end and the dark atmosphere was overwhelming. I will never forget that show. Everything was so new. Even the reborn Black Metal scene.”
From what I’ve read you already took the visual side / stage show pretty serious right from the start… Tell us a bit more about that.
“Yes, we have always believed that everything with this band has to have a deeper meaning and of course that goes for the stage show too. Fortunately we have been so lucky that we have been able to develop our show through the years to become bigger and better, but we are still not satisfied. There is always things than can be added or done better. In the beginning we didn’t have much of a show besides corpsepaint, torn clothes, black candles everywhere and the maggots thrown to the audience (well, bones on one show). I remember always spitting on the audience etc. We just did the best we could back then and I still see more potential in it when I look at old videos than in most new bands today… When I go to a show I like to 1) listen to music and 2) be entertained. I think most people feel like that.”
What about the lyrical side of DENIAL OF GOD? Was it all Horror related topics right from the beginning or did you also write some “typical Black Metal” lyrics every now and then?
“If you look at the older lyrics you will see they have always had that kind of horror touch to them. Maybe not as clear as today, as some are more focused on the Satanic side of things, but it was always there in some form. During the years as we have become better at composing, it has also become easier to express ourselves lyrically. Still I like the old lyrics a lot. I still think they kill and differ from most other bands. We have never written any so-called typical Black Metal lyrics and I am glad for that. Black Metal should be music dealing with Satan, death, darkness, mysticism etc. and not forests, mountains and gay snow. Fuck you all. We have always been students of the macabre and if I hear one more Black Metal song with shallow drive-through lyrics I will puke.”
In 1993 you finally went into a real studio to record your second demo “The Dawn Of Aemizaez”… Tell us a bit more about its origin, like where you recorded it exactly, if you had to face any difficulties during the recordings (considering the fact that you haven’t really recorded anything in a studio before) and also about the line-up problems you went through around the time…
“It was recorded at a cheap little shitty place called Havnbjerg Musikvaerksted, which is actually only 10 minutes from where I live nowadays. The producer didn’t really have a clue about anything harder than Hardrock, so it was hard for him to understand what we were trying to do and today I can see many things on that tape that we could have done better with the production, but we were inexperienced at that time. We didn’t have a bass player at that time, so Azter recorded the bass too. Apart from the producer being a lazy ass showing up too late, me and the friend doing some backing vocals being ill etc., I don’t think we had too many problems.”
Had your influences as a vocalist changed a bit at the time or why did you come across sounding so different (more screamy) on that demo?
“From the beginning I wanted to do something as brutal as Dead did on the “Live In Leipzig“ recording we had on tape through tapetrading prior to its official release, but on the first demo I didn’t know how to use my voice yet as I was just starting out singing. On the next demo I had developed into some kind of harsh screams and probably got inspired by the first BURZUM album for that somehow, but quickly found out it didn’t work out like I wanted it too and returned to the other idea and got it to work…”
I suppose you did a lot of promotional work for that demo again, so how about telling us a bit about the response you got from zines, fans and / or labels, if you compare it to “Oscularium Infame”…
“I don’t really think we ever did too much promotion really as we were always short on money and believe good music can promote itself. We did flyers and stuff, but I don’t think we ever sent out many copies for reviews as they often mean shit anyway and I couldn’t care less. Most people don’t know how to write them either, so they are worth reading and I don’t believe much in them. But the response we got from the public was good. I have heard from people every now and then that the 2nd demo was the best thing we ever did. I far from agree with it, but it’s cool to hear people like it that much. The sound and production helped it a lot of course compared to the first tape.”
In 1994 you finally found a steady bass player in Fargel… Please tell us a bit more about him and how you got together… It almost seems that being a bass player in DENIAL OF GOD is compareable to being a drummer in SPINAL TAP, isn’t it?
“Fargel was a guy we ran into because of the guy who did a few backing vocals on the “The Dawn Of Aemizaez“ demo and soon after we started attending the same school. Back then he was still playing guitar in his old Death Metal band Discomposure. Nowadays he is playing guitar in the Heavy Metal band Jester’s Crown. He is still a cool guy… We have never been lucky with drummers nor bass players, I know. If we didn’t care for what dedication people had towards the music and spirit it would be no problem, but this is no hobby band, so it means everything for us and therefore you have to be in this with your whole heart. The line-up we have now is the strongest we ever had. I know everybody says that about their current line-up, but I have not seen such dedication, skills and understanding within the band before.”
With him you recorded your first 7” EP ”The Statues Are Watching” for the Italian label Maggot Records… Did they approach you to do so or had you already recorded the material and then shopped it around?
“They contacted us and wanted us to do a 7“ for them, so we recorded those two songs for them. It felt unreal to do something like that as getting something released onto vinyl wasn’t as ordinary as today where it is more ordinary to be signed than unsigned. I never forget the feeling the first time I held the vinyl in my hands. Amazing.”
What actually made you re-record ‘The Dawn Of Aemizaez’ for the EP’s flip-side? Had that song become special to you as a band for one reason or another? A crowd favorite maybe?
“We had to put something on the B side and as we had no new songs we chose one from the 2nd demo. I don’t think there was any specific reason why we picked that song, but I think the version on the 7“ shows an even better version for sure. We have some crowd favorites today like, but sometimes you have to let go, I guess. At least for some shows to not play the same set every time.”
The EP was limited to 1000 copies and sold out pretty quickly, but instead of continuing your successful co-operation with Maggot, you decided to go for a new offer from Dark Trinity Productions in 1995… What made you do that? Or was Maggot not interested / able in putting out more releases by DENIAL OF GOD?
“The deal with Maggot was only for a 7“. We never spoke about doing more with them, I think, and I don’t think they had the money for it either. We were in touch with Thus Defiled and when they started the label Dark Trinity Productions they offered to work with us and we agreed as we knew them pretty well and they seemed alright.”
In 1996 your mini-CD “The Ghouls Of DOG” finally gets released by Dark Trinity… Tell us a bit more about its origin and whether the co-operation with the label worked well for you or not…
“That was our first mini album and it was done on M-CD by them. It was recorded in a small chaotic studio in Sonderborg where we lived and we should probably have chosen some other place, but it’s easy to be the wise guy afterwards, so let’s not dwell on that. It contains an intro and 3 tracks on haunting Black Horror Metal and a picture shot at the local cemetery with the band feasting on a grave. To be honest I don’t remember too well how satisfied we were with Dark Trinity, but in the end there was some things that weren’t alright. A.o. I remember lots of interviews were promised, but we only got one in shitty Terrorizer or something.”
You hadn’t played live for a couple of years until then… how come? And what made you start playing again around the time? Did the label ask you do so in order to promote the release of the MCD or something?
“At some point we kicked out Fargel as he didn’t show the dedication for rehearsing like we did and that took some time as we tried out some other guys, but it didn’t work and in the end we actually took Fargel back thinking all problems were solved. The label never asked us to play any shows. They promised shows in England, but we never saw any. I think they ran out of money anyway.”
According to the info on your website this was also the time when you changed your visual presentation… What inspired this change and who came up with the new ideas?
“We didn’t change our visual presentation, we developed it. It was always there, like already stated with the corpsepaint, black candles, maggots, bones etc. When we started doing shows again we had just developed it into something even darker and added skulls, meat, dolls, fire etc. We wanted to take things further and we are still not done. The biggest problems with these things is you have to transport them from show to show which demands a van and that costs big money. Me and Azter came up with the ideas for the shows.”
And once again you parted ways with another bassplayer… What went wrong this time with Fargel?
“He didn’t show up too often on rehearsals and it annoyed us, but when he finally played a really bad show, that was just it. He understood us and it was all no big deal, despite it was annoying as hell as we had to look for a new member again now.”
In early 1997 also your drummer Uksul quit DENIAL OF GOD… What lead to his decision? Is it quite difficult maybe to be part of a band that is being run by two brothers?
“I don’t think he ever really felt at home in the band as his mentality and personality was rather different than ours and we never really hung out together outside of rehearsals ‚cause we weren’t that close. I don’t think he had a problem with the band being run by others as he was more like the guy who was just happy to play something, but I think it just became too much and too far out for him. Today he plays in an extremely cheesy cover band and totally denies his past and doesn’t want anyone to know he was even in our band. He seems rather ashamed of it even if it was the one that got the most well known of the bands he was in. Wimp.”
But at least he was still participating in some new DENIAL OF GOD demo recordings that later got released as the “The Curse Of The Witch” 7″ EP… What were those demos actually meant for in the first place and what can you tell us about the origin of the songs?
“That recording was actually just meant for ourselves at first to listen to at home. Then Sombre showed interest and wanted to release something, but we didn’t have anything except for that recording. We thought it was good enough at that point though, so we simply let him do that one. He did an okay job on it. ‘The Curse Of The Witch’ and ‘The Witch – Now A Restless Spirit’ were always meant for the album and appear there like planned. ‘Black Horror Metal’ made it onto the “Klabautermanden“ mini album and ‘Medival Mysteries (Superstition)’ only appears on this release.”
When and how did you actually hook up with Isaz for those recordings, who later on became your new bass player?
“Isaz happened to be Azter’s girlfriend at that time. She was playing guitar in Feikn back then, so it was no problem for her to take over the bass. It came in handy for the spoken part in ‘The Curse Of The Witch’ on live shows too.”
Around the time you also were able to add new drummer Sorgh to the line-up… Tell us a bit about how you got together with him and what he’d been up to previously?
“We had known Diabolos from Apollyon for ages and often hung out and one day he introduced us to his new line-up that featured Sorgh too. We clicked right away and eventually we asked him if he wanted to join us too and he agreed on that. We were sharing the rehearsal room with Apollyon then, so it was really great when rehearsing. I am not sure if he was in anything prior to Apollyon. I doubt it. I just know the Apollyon guys formed Brandpest too and had it going next to Apollyon, but both bands are dead now.”
The next step in your career was another label change, from Dark Trinity Productions to Hammerheart Records… what went wrong with Dark Trinity and when did Hammerheart step into the picture excatly? Did you have any other offers that you took into consideration as well?
“Like said earlier I think they ran out of money and they never completely did what they promised us. If I remember right Hammerheart offered us a deal right after we signed with Dark Trinity, so we had to turn it down, but when things didn’t work out with Dark Trinity anymore we immediately went to Hammerheart as the offer was still on and at that time we were still great friends and they seemed alright. Little did we know back then. There were other options too probably, but I don’t remember names except for some unserious one.”
But before you actually were able to release something new, the already mentioned demo recordings got released as the ”The Curse of the Witch” EP in early 1999 through Sombre Records… once again a label that you hadn’t been working with in the past, so how did this co-operation came into being exactly?
“Azter was in touch with Marcel Spaller and he simply offered it to us. It was meant as some sort of time killer while people were waiting for the next mini album as we hadn’t released something for quite a while. I have never been too fond of the releases of this label, but he did a good job in helping us. R.I.P.”
Another drummer change took place when Sorgh gets replaced by session drummer R. Salskov… What was the problem with Sorgh and did he still play on the ”Klabautermanden” MCD that was coming out around that time?
“Sorgh is drumming on “Klabautermanden”. The only release he ever got to do with us as he was a rather slow learner. We had a great relationship, but one day he called and quitted the band as he wanted to focus on his other band, Apollyon. Ironically they never got to release anything after that and split up in the end. R. Salskov was a good friend of ours who promised to help us out for two shows and recording two 7“ EPs. He fulfilled his promise and did a good job. He is normally drumming for Koldborn.”
What actually made you use your native tongue for the MCDs title track and is it possible that you draw a little bit of inspiration from RUNNING WILD for this track maybe (especially the guitar leads have this very typical RUNNING WILD feel to it)?
“The only reason for doing the song in Danish was because we didn’t know the English expression for Klabautermanden and I am still not too sure about it to be honest. Some say Hobgoblin, I am not sure this is completely right though. Anyway, the Danish fitted the song well and gave it a special old feeling. As for the Running Wild influence, we have heard this a countless times and I cannot say what Azter had in mind when he wrote the riff, but I doubt he was thinking of Running Wild. It is great to play it on shows in Denmark as people seem to know it very well and yell along the lyrics. That’s the only song we will ever do in that language though. English is and will always be number one for lyrics.”
From what is written on your website the live show that you played at that time didn’t really turn out too well for the band… Would you mind telling us a bit more about what exactly happened?
“That was nothing. That was the shitty local venue that never liked us that gave in to let us play a show again if we promised them not to throw maggots. We promised them that, but when the show was on we threw not just maggots, but also meat. And believe me the venue owners weren’t impressed. They were busy freaking out and banning us, but never noticed the crowd actually loved it. The venue is really cool as such, but the people running it are fucking assholes that hate Metal music, so I certainly don’t miss the place.“
In 2000 you decided to part ways with Hammerheart Records again… A quite surprising decision considering the status that the label had, so what went wrong with them?
“When you make deals with people and they promise you certain things, but don’t keep them and instead go behind your back and fuck up your release, that’s just the end of it. The “Klabautermanden” MCD was supposed to have a thick booklet in it, but when we got it it was just a cheap digipak CD with no booklet. The picture disc version was supposed to have a lyric sheet included with logo and everything as there is no band name on the vinyl itself, but also that didn’t happen. All this we didn’t see before the release was out, so they completely fucked us over and ruined the release for us. The mini was also “promoted“ in a very immature and ridiculous way. Of course we told them to fuck themselves and left immediately. Through time I have read quite some interviews from bands that have been fucked over by them. No wonder they change their name all the time. Same shit, different color.“
In the summer “The Ghouls Of DOG” gets re-released on cassette format through the Russian label Oupiric Productions with a bonus track… Tell us a bit more about this and also which song was added to the original release here?
“Yes, they wanted to do it for the Russian market and we agreed right away as promotion in the East European countries is always welcome. The tape turned out really good and on it you can find no less than 4 bonus tracks being the two 7“ EPs “Robbing The Grave Of The Priest“ and “The Crypt Has Eyes“. The tape did really well on the market there and helped the band a lot, I guess. Oupiric Productions were also going to release a compilation video with us and other bands, but even if they got the clips needed and an interview for it, it never saw the light of day and the contact broke. Too bad. Could have been interesting to see.”
What really confuses me a bit throught the entire career of DENIAL OF GOD is the fact that you put out countless EPs instead of doing full length albums… What is the reason for that?
“You are not the first one to ask this. Fact is that if we want to put out an album it has to have a red line running through it. Not neccesarily like a concept album, but there needs to be a connection between the tracks, so it all melts together in one big unity. If we don’t feel we have that, there is no album and therefore we won’t do one. Also, songwriting was a bit slow for quite some years because of all the line-up problems, but it seems to catch up now as we have a creative unit going finally. If you look at the “The Horrors Of Satan“ album you will see the red line running through the whole thing and the next album will have it too, just with another concept of course. EPs don’t contain as many songs, so they don’t demand quite as much from you. One of the evils of today’s music scene is that countless bands don’t give a shit for songwriting and just throw together a bunch of riffs and shallow lyrics and there you have the song. I don’t want to be a part of that.“
Talking of those EPs… there’s two more that definitely need a mention here, I suppose: “The Crypt Has Eyes” from 2000 (which features the DEATH SS cover ‘Terror’ on the flipside) as well as 2001’s “Robbing The Grave Of The Priest” (b/w MAYHEM’s ‘Funeral Fog’)… Tell us a bit more about those two EPs and the labels that put them out…
“That’s two EPs I like a lot. The playing on them is great and the sound really brutal. It is hard to hear they were recorded in a messy dark cellar and I finished the vocals at 4 in the morning. “The Crypt Has Eyes“ was brought out by our old friend Pavel from View Beyond Records and “Robbing The Grave Of The Priest“ was released by the Italian label Warlord Records. Both records were later on released as really killer looking picture discs.“
In 2001 you finally signed a new contract with Belgium’s Painkiller Records… What made you go with them and did they at least fullfill your expectations in the end?
“They made us a good offer and had good ideas and as we had known them for some years we thought we could trust them. Without doubt the work they did on the re-released mini albums and on the full length is nothing to complain about as they all look excellent. But of course things wouldn’t work out in the end. After some time you started noticing the album wasn’t being spread as worldwide as you had hoped for regarding distributors and emails from people complaining about the label kept rising. I recieved countless of emails from angry people asking when Painkiller Records would send them their stuff they owed them and in the end it all just became too much. Laurent might be some kind of a nice guy, but he has no clue how to handle as many things at once like he tries to and eventually had to close down his record shop etc. I’m glad we got out of the contract.“
You also mentioned that you lost equipment and your rehersal room in 2001, so that you weren’t able to rehearse anymore for quite some time… Tell us more about those happenings…
“Not really much happenings about that. Fact was that we were rehearsing at R. Salskov’s place, which was a big farm his parents owned, but when he left the band we no longer had a reason to go there. It was shit, but maybe the best as you can’t develop much with a session member in the end.“
2003 sees a re-release of your “Robbing The Grave Of The Priest” 7″ EP on picture disc through Apocalyptor Records… Why have you once again worked with another new label again for this?
“Actually Warlord Records who did the original release was supposed to put it out as a picture disc too, but failed for some reason, so it never happened. Jarro from Apocalyptor Records is an old friend of ours and was glad to help and did a great job on it. The motive is different as picture disc. Whereas the original simply featured a logo on the cover, the picture disc features a drawing of the band members desecrating a grave.“
In 2004 you finally were able to rehearse again with Atziluth as a session drummer… How did you manage to solve your equipment- and rehearsal-place-problems and how did you get together with Atziluth?
“I think there is some misunderstanding here. Atziluth only helped us out as a one time thing with playing drums on one single track when we had to record ‘Hellion’ for a WASP tribute CD. We never played other songs together and never was he in the band. We rehearsed like one time in that studio where the song was recorded too with him behind the desk too. A very quick process.“
In 2005 bassist Isaz leaves the band… Why’s that?
“She sold her soul to Adolf Hitler.“
I was pretty suprised to see the band also taking part in the W.A.S.P. tribute album “Shock Rock Hellions – A Tribute to W.A.S.P.”… Are you fans of W.A.S.P.? Have you been contacted by the company that released it or how did this turn into reality? Any particular reason why you decided on covering the track ‘Hellion’? Are you satisfied the way the whole project turned out in general and your contribution to it in particular?
“We had known Lars who ran Codiac Records and released it for years as he used to be among the people we hung out with, so I guess it was natural he asked us to join as he knew we were big fans of W.A.S.P. too. At least their older stuff. We just covered ‘Hellion’ because it was one of the good old songs that we really liked. The first album is a masterpiece. Too bad the project turned out like a bad joke. The CD was extremely delayed and when it finally came it looked horrible to put it mildly. There was no booklet in that one either with info on the bands, cheap layout and it looked like it had been cut with a rusty knife or so and so on. One of the bands on it even cover ‘The Real Me’ thinking it is a W.A.S.P. song, even though it originally is a cover of THE WHO. I don’t understand why he accepted that either. If I could do it all over today I wouldn’t have participated as it wasn’t worth all the trouble. He was supposed to arrange IMPALER’s European tour last summer too, but fucked it up completely, so they had to live at my house for a week to not live on the street or waste their money on hotels.“
To quote your website once more… “At the end of the year the band is finally completed again with Galheim on drums and The Unknown as live bassist…” Tell us a bit about these two new members and if they are still part of DENIAL OF GOD nowadays?
“They are still a part of the band, yes. Galheim we had known for quite soem years, but we never really hung out for reasons in the past. One day he wrote and offered to play and we decided to bury the hatchet and I am glad we did as he is the most skilled drummer we have had and his understanding of our concept is like we want it. We were looking for a bass player too and some people were interested, but we didn’t try out with anyone as we could see from the messages we were probably too far away from each other talking about musical tastes etc., but in the end our old friend The Unknown offered to do it. We offered him to become a full time member, but he prefers to be the guy left in the shadow no one knows. Therefore he does only appear in the rehearsal room and on live shows. He is the epitome of asocial behavior, but a great guy when you know him even if I doubt anyone really does. Not even we.”
In 2006 both MCDs (“The Ghouls Of DOG” and “Klabautermanden”) get re-released through Painkiller Records… Tell us about the reasons for the re-releases and how they differ from the original versions?
“We wanted to do them again for two reasons; 1) because people kept on asking for them even if they were sold out and 2) because we never felt they got the proper release they deserved when they first came out. Painkiller Records were totally into this idea and we simply revamped the layout with lots of liner notes and never seen before photos and I must say both releases turned out really good looking. It’s releases like that I’d like to buy myself as a fan too. We didn’t change things, as we hate when bands do that, but instead just added extra stuff as a bonus. Painkiller Records did a good job on them as well as on the album. Only the distribution and treatment of costumers wasn’t good enough, but I think we all know that.”
You also started to play live again around this time… Any shows worth being mentioned here? How many shows have you actually played in total throughout your career so far?
“As I sit and write this we have played 41 shows in all. 30 of them with the new line-up. I think that says it all. There has been many really amazing shows through the years and a few ones you don’t want to think too much about because you were in a really shitty venue or something. Some of my favorite moments must be when you get to play with some band you really like. Therefore our show at Hell’s Pleasure in Germany was great as we got to play with Warning, Pagan Altar, Impaler etc. Also our 3 tours have been unforgettable; the tour in Australia was so different from what we normally do and being stuck in a van with Nocturnal Graves was just classic. Finland turned out to be a crazy place with really dedicated ghouls and an amazing promoter (KRK). The European tour with Demonical was so well done there was no big errors and I think we all went home with serious liver damages. And of course the first show ever and the first show outside Denmark back then, because it all was so new.”
2006 also finally sees the release of your debut (!) full length “The Horrors Of Satan”… Why did it took you so long to finally come up with it and are you satisfied with the result, considering how long the band had been together already and stuff?
“Well, one of the reasons why it took so long was all the trouble with the line-up. And another one was simply because it takes time to write good music and we cannot allow ourselves to releases something mediocre. Songwriting actually took a hell of a time, but when the line-up is not always there, inspiration often isn’t there either. For some long time we couldn’t even rehearse, so that wasn’t a very creative period at all. But when the songs finally were done, they had had plenty of time to ripen too, so we were sure we wouldn’t regret what we were going to record. After so many years in the wait you don’t want to fuck things up and I think we really did well on the album. There are a (very) few minor things on the album that could have been done better, but that has nothing to do with the songs itself, but the way it was recorded. Probably things only we know and can hear anyway. Definitely the best recording we did till this day.”
A couple of different collectors editions of it got released as well, right? Tell us what kind of editions are out of it and how many units got pressed of each of ’em…
“Yeah, and it’s growing all the time really. At first it came out on 400 copies on black vinyl, 500 copies on picture disc, 100 copies on black / yellow vinyl, 500 copies on CD and 1000 copies on CD with a slipcase. Besides that also 500 copies of promo CDs were pressed of course. When Painkiller Records fucked up, we sold a licence to No Sign Of Life, who printed 1000 extra CDs. They came with a misprinted booklet though and before the mistake was found and corrected 200 misprinted copies were spread out to costumers with the bad looking cover. The booklet was fixed and the remaining 800 copies look like supposed to. The CD will also be re-released in Russia on CD (500 copies) within some weeks by Pestis Insaniae and both the two mini albums and the full length will come out on tape too in Sweden this year. “The Horrors Of Satan“ will probably also come out on CD in Brazil, but we are still talking with the label about that… I know we work with plenty of labels, but I’d rather be the main priority on a small label, than a piss in the ocean on a big label that will fire you if you don’t do well enough anyway.”
Was it clear for you right from the start that you wouldn’t be able to re-record a lot of old DENIAL OF GOD demo tracks for the album (like most bands do when they unleash their debut), or did you take that into consideration as well?
“No, we did not take that into consideration for the album. The thing is, even if the songs from back then still are great and powerful they are still not what the newer stuff is like. The new stuff is much more sick, brutal and complete. The darkness in the new material is so much stronger and of course we are better at composing now too. We will re-record ‘Feel The Wrath (Of The Nocturnal Slayer)’ from the first demo for the B-side of an upcoming 7“ soon, but that’s it for now. For the next album only new songs are in question and, believe me, it is the darkest material we have ever created yet.”
You don’t exactly label yourselves “Black Metal”, even though most of your fans can be found in that genre I suppose… So, where do you see the main difference between DENIAL OF GOD and the more typical Black Metal bands of today?
“You answered the question yourself by saying “typical“. We are everything those bands are not. Most of those bands have no individual sound nor Satanic insight. Their music will be forgotten faster than you can say “whatever“ and no one will miss them either. I don’t want to be categorized with a bunch of snot nosed kids who just need something to kill their spare time with, when I put my whole life into this. Don’t get me wrong, there are great bands in this genre too, but it has been so watered down it’s just a pain in the arse nowadays. You have to create something unique or else you will disappear and if you are not good enough at it, find something better to do. No one needs Darkthrone copy #1.000.000, do we? Here today, gone tomorrow.”
There’s also been another EP that got released around the same time as the album, entitled “A Night In Transylvania”… what was the reason for that and what made you record a FUTURE TENSE cover for its B-side?
“We thought it was cool to do and in the spirit of the old days to have a EP support your new album. That’s pretty much it. The reason why we put Future Tense’s ‘Swords Of Vengeance’ on the B side was because we wanted to cover something we had always loved and that had some really Satanic message too and that song’s just it. I simply love that band’s “Condemned To The Gallows“ 12“ EP from 1984 and it just felt right to do. We looked up a member to get the lyrics and they got so excited that we wanted to cover a song of them, they reformed the band and started playing again after all those years. Very cool people who came to meet us when we played in Holland once and quite some beers slipped down. One of their members actually created the unforgettable out-of-hand pyros we used when we played Festung Open Air in 2007 when everything blew apart. Classic.”
When exactly did the band head to Australia for a tour overthere, with which bands did you share the stage and what kind of experiences did you make in general in down under?
“Well, my wife is from Australia, so I go there as often as time and money allows it to visit family and in the summer of 2006 we were sitting around drinking beer with our old friend Hushy (Nocturnal Graves) and we got this idea we should make a tour and that’s what we did then in July 2007 then. The whole tour was supported by the awesome Nocturnal Graves and then at every venue there were other bands on the bill too like Treachery, Tzun Tzu, Wurm, Bane Of Isildur, Screaming Dawn, Forn Valdyrheim, Backyard Mortuary, Shackless (Hail!) and Reign Of Terror. It was a very rich experience, I think, ´cause we found out quite a lot of things down there are different when you play shows. You don’t neccessarily get food or beer at all places etc. You never knew what to expect before a show either, ´cause in places like Brisbane is was packed with people and everyone looked mummified, while in Sydney (even if the venue got changed a few days before) only 100 showed up, but banged their heads off like the craziest manics I have seen. I still hail the Sydney Sinners and of course Nocturnal Graves. And oh yeah, prank calls down under are as fun as at home.”
This tour was supported by another (yet rather unusual) one-sided EP release… Tell us more about that and who had the idea for it…
“This tour was very special and unusual to us, so we wanted to do something special too and give people down under some collector’s item. I think it was Azter’s idea, not sure anymore. It’s a 7“ EP entitled “The Book Of Oiufael“ featuring that song from the album on the A side. On the B side there is no music, but real signatures of the band members. The piece was limited to 300 copies and came in a cool black/blue haze kind of vinyl colour. Not all copies were sold down under, so we still had a few to sell when we got back home, but they are all gone by now. On the back of the cover there were 6 shows listed, but they were not the correct ones. The correct ones were only 5 and were 20/07 Lizard Lounge, Adelaide, 21/07 Tote Hotel, Melbourne, 27/07 Club Phoenix, Brisbane, 28/07 Zodiac Lounge, Sydney and 29/07 Jamison Tavern, Canberra. The reason why the dates and venues changed around and the whole tour got more stressful, was because not long before the tour started some guy in Brisbane suddenly wanted to put up a big festival on the very day we were going to play there too, so it was obvious if we didn’t find another day for that city, it would hurt our show. The guy with the festival even offered us to headline his festival, which of course would have been fine, but we had to play for free then and we don’t do that as we are not stupid. Maybe he can do that with shitty local amateur bands. What a fucking wanker. The 7“ was in the pressing plant already when the dates had to change, so that’s the story.”
I guess the only missing piece in our history related DENIAL OF GOD feature now is the demo vinyl album “The Dawn Of Aemizaez: Demos 1992-1993″… Would you mind telling us a couple of details about that as well here? It is also going to be released on CD shortly, isn’t it?
“Yes, it is actually at the pressing plant as I write this, so it should be out in a week or two on No Sign Of Life (Finland). The CD version will be really fancy looking and like the vinyl version contain the two demos (10 tracks), liner notes and lots of old pictures from the dark past. People have kept on asking for the demos through the years even if they were sold out and in the end we thought we might as well just release them properly and Kneel Before The Master’s Throne were very interested in doing it. That was on vinyl only though, so we hooked up with No Sign Of Life for the CD version.”
You’re also running a fanzine called TORNADO yourself for quite some time now, right? Unfortunately I never managed to get my hands on a copy of it, so please tell us some info about it here as well, like when you started it, how many issues were released, which bands you usually feature etc. etc.
“The first issue was published in 1998 and till this day (only) 5 issues have been published. The 6th issue has been in the making for ages now, but bands nowadays obviously don’t give a fuck for interviews anymore, so I am waiting and waiting for the last ones to arrive, so some are already outdated from lying around here. Because of that attitude and me being very fed up with it, I will most likely make this my 6th and last issue or turn it into a webzine. We will see how I go with that. The thing is I don’t really want to quit it, but I don’t want to keep on publishing outdated interviews either. I have waited for some replies for a half year and all I get is excuses all the time instead of simply the answers I need. Anyway, through the years I have interviewed many bands and some of them were Mortuary Drape, Warhammer, Moonblood, Macabre, Nifelheim, Grand Belial’s Key, Nortt, Varathron, Impaler, Rigor Mortis, Damien Thorne, Death SS, Usurper, Minotaur, Abysmal Grief, Blasphemy, Arckanum, Mirage, Ripper, Vomitor, Watain, Mournful Congregation etc. I have always tried to feature bands of all sorts of styles as my own taste goes from NWOBHM to Grindcore. Also, I did plenty of deeply honest reviews and some label specials etc. All done in the good old cut and paste way on xeroxed paper.”
Ok Ustumallagam, we’re finally reaching the end of this roller coaster ride (hope you’re still awake)… if you would like to give us some updates on the current happenings in the DENIAL OF GOD camp, feel free to do so now… No matter what, I hope this DENIAL OF GOD interview makes up for being ignored from us for so long… All the best and… the last words are yours of course!
“Well, lately we have just been rehearsing and trying to get ready for the next recording, which will be four songs for 3 different releases: 1) a 7“ EP entitled “Incubus“, 2) a split 7“ with the mighty Abysmal Grief and 3) a concept split 12“ with Pagan Altar dealing with Jack The Ripper. Like previously said, this year also the two mini albums and “The Horrors Of Satan“ are supposed to come out on tape on a Swedish label and “The Horrors Of Satan“ on CD in Russia (at the pressing plant right now) and maybe Brazil (still negociating on that one). Apart from that we are of course also working on the upcoming album, but I won’t reveal anything about that yet except for the fact that it will be even darker than the previous album in every way. Only time will tell what the crypt will reveal. Tu fui ego eris.”