Sigurd: Really good so far. This is our first tour over here, in the East, Mid-West, so far. A really good, wide crowd. We did some shows in Canada beforehand, only with Krisiun, seven shows. Went well as well. What can I say? We're really happy to be able to tour over here, and also grateful. It's been amazing.
The Gauntlet: And in Canada, were you just switching off the headline spot, or were you headlining?
Sigurd: No, Krisiun were headlining. And we had local support bands.
Gauntlet: And this is your first time in the U.S.?
Sigurd: No, second time actually. We did a tour last year with Danzig in November, the �Blackest of the Black� tour. So we had a West Coast run, from Seattle down to San Diego, 11 dates all in all. It was�different audience, you know. Danzig attracts more, what can I say�
Gauntlet: Old school?
Sigurd: Yeah, old school audiences. Still, I think we made a lot of new fans. There were a lot of people who weren�t really familiar with out sound and� (chuckles) it�s a bit crazy
Gauntlet: Bit of a shock, yeah, if you�re not expecting it.
Sigurd: Yeah! Especially the girls in the first row waiting for Danzig. They were like, *looks surprised* �What the fuck is this shit?� But it was still great.
Gauntlet: I read that you had some problems, at the border, with the visas?
Gauntlet: What happened with that?
Sigurd: Well, we had to cancel the first show in Hallifax. We were told that we would get the visas at the Canadian border, and we got it in the end, but it took us four or five hours there, so we couldn�t make it to Hallifax in time. So, unfortunately�
Gauntlet: Seems like that�s a recurring problem with a lot of bands coming to play in the states.
Sigurd: Yeah, I heard, the Canadian border is the worst.
Gauntlet: I remember when I flew to Germany to visit, we had no problems getting there, but coming back we had to fill out all these forms, do all these ridiculous bureaucratic things.
Sigurd: Yeah, yeah. We didn�t have any problems at the U.S. border, but at Canada it was bad.
Gauntlet: Hm. Well, onto more musically oriented things�
Sigurd: No problem.
Gauntlet: You�ve had some drummer�issues. Are you with a session drummer for the tour?
Sigurd: Yep, it�s only for this tour.
Gauntlet: How�s that working out?
Sigurd: It�s going really good. We only had two days of rehearsals with him, so he�s doing really good. After this tour, we�re going to have drummer auditions in Austria. We�ll see if we can find a permanent member again.
Gauntlet: There has been something of a revolving door position, as far as additional members go. How have you dealt with that? It seems like you�ve always been able to keep your consistent sound and your focus.
Sigurd: True. It�s really hard to find any drummers from Austria; that�s why we always have them from neighboring countries. This one is from Germany, the old one was, too. It sucks, but, what can we do?
Gauntlet: The former drummers, did they just live in Germany and then just commute over to practice or did you all relocate?
Sigurd: Yeah, it was no problem. Nefastus, the old drummer�recorded �Pestapokalypse�, the latest album�was from Stuttgart. It�s only a four hour drive to Salzburg. So, what now? We�ll see.
Gauntlet: About the new album. It feels to me like a deeper album than you�ve written in the past. What themes and ideologies were you working with on this one?
Sigurd: It�s basically a concept album based on the Pestilence, the Apocalypse, the Devil in the Apocalypse. We thought it would be interesting to write some lyrics about it. Because everyone�s familiar with the historical background, we thought it would be interesting to bring some of the religious superstition into the lyrics�which reigned back then. People were losing their faith in God, thinking that the Pestilence was a divine punishment�the religious superstition�and they eventually started celebrating black masses. So that�s basically the concept on that album.
Gauntlet: It also seems to be one of your recurring themes. Religion, anti-Christianity.
Sigurd: Yeah, sure.
Gauntlet: And that just comes from your experiences when you were young, or resentment?
Sigurd: Mm-hmm. Pretty much. Was raised in a Catholic family, and was forced to go to Church every Sunday. I got older, realized what kind of bullshit this really is, and always had trouble with the parents, moved out when I was fifteen. So�fuck it, I�m not going to take it. (chuckles) But as far as the other lyrics go, I hate the Church for many reasons, starting with the crimes they committed in the Middle Ages. The Crusades also, the genocides in Middle and South Americas, up to today the situation with the Catholic Church and all these disgusting child molestation cases. It�s disgusting�if you want to fuck little children and get away with it, become a priest, you know?
Gauntlet: Yeah, I�m actually surprised they�ve been able to retain as much control as they have, considering all the things they�ve done throughout all countries.
Sigurd: Yeah, in Austria it�s crazy. People leaving the Church because of all these molestation cases. Almost every week, it�s in the news about what some new priest has done to this boy, or�
Gauntlet: So it�s not just the Americans, then?
Sigurd: Yeah, for sure. Just have to ask, �what�s wrong with those guys?�
Gauntlet: It seems like, though, being so close to the Roman Catholic center in Italy that they would be able to keep more faith in the general populace. In America, people are becoming pretty disillusioned with the Catholic Church�is it the same over there?
Sigurd: Yeah, pretty much. They�re losing power, in some ways, but are still strong in the rural areas, but in the bigger cities, nobody gives a shit, except for the older generations.
Gauntlet: Yeah, that�s another thing I�ve noted. I spoke with Tony Lazaro of Vital Remains a few months ago, and he�had a lot to say about religion�but it also seemed to stem from back when he was a kid, going to Catholic Church
Gauntlet: And then realizing what it was and rejecting it so vehemently. But if it keeps producing bands like Belphegor and Vital Remains, then we might as well keep it around for a little bit longer.
Sigurd: Yeah! (laughs)
Gauntlet: Back to the music. You guys write songs in English and German, and then have some Latin lyrics as well�do you have a favorite language to write in?
Sigurd: Well, (chuckles) obviously German. We always used Latin verses also because it is the Church�s speech. And blasphemy�to me it can�t be blasphemy because I don�t believe in all this bullshit. But the sound of the language� With a song like �Sanctus Perversum�, it�s about a gang-bang in a Church. That�s why we use Latin, to represent the sound of the Church.
Gauntlet: Yeah, and kind of a satirical element.
Sigurd: We try to mix things up, as well. We�re very influenced by old My Dying Bride. Back then, when we started the band, they had Latin lyrics, and we always liked the sound of the language, though we never leaned it, really.
Gauntlet: So why then do you choose to write in English? Do you feel pressured to�
Sigurd: Yeah, sure. Nobody would understand our lyrics, what we�re talking about, you know?
Gauntlet: Related to that. What position do you guys feel you have? Related either to the anti-Christian message or in the black/death metal scene? Do you feel that you have a specific role or are you just out to play some music?
Sigurd: No, we just do what we do. We write music that we like ourselves, and if a lot of people like it as well, that�s fine by us, you know? We don�t think of ourselves as an important band or anything. We�re just here to spread the name, you know? A lot of people are still not aware of the band, so�
Gauntlet: Did you expect at any point back in the day that you would come as far as you have, and that you�d still be playing together?
Sigurd: Yeah, we hoped so. We were unlucky, because we were always signed to the wrong labels. We were offered to tour the states years back, but we always had to turn down the offers because we didn�t have any back-up from the labels, so. We�re on Nuclear Blast right now, and everything is working out fine.
Gauntlet: And that was just recently that you signed with them, wasn�t it?
Sigurd: Yeah, it was October. (pause) No, bullshit, Summertime, I think. October the album came out. So, we set up the tour of the States, finally (laughs). We are really grateful that we could do that.
Gauntlet: Had you put together the album by that time, when you signed with them?
Sigurd: Yeah, it was quite old, actually. Mixed one year ago. We financed everything ourselves, and sent the CD�s out to all the record labels in Europe. Once we got the offer from Nuclear Blast we decided to go with them.
Gauntlet: Yeah, seems like Nuclear Blast is really the label to be on in Europe.
Sigurd: Ah, yeah, absolutely.
Gauntlet: Congratulations, then. And what sort of direction do you feel that you guys are headed in for future releases, if you have any idea?
Sigurd: There are actually some songs written for this next album. It�s going to be the same way as the old ones. We still improve our musicianship and songwriting, I think. It�s going to be the same way, so we�re not going to try to �sell out�, cause all that will do is destroy the band, you know? We don�t have any pressure from Nuclear Blast, either, we can do what we want. Well, maybe for the lyrics (laughs), the covers. But we�ll see.
Gauntlet: Speaking of covers. I was line at the merch table, and people were really talking about the new artwork. Do you know who that was done by?
Sigurd: Yeah, sure. A guy from Greece, his name is Seth. He�s also do covers for Vader, Paradise Lost, some other bands. We sent him down some lyrics and our instructions, and he followed out everything to the tiniest detail, and it�s basically everything that we wanted to have on the cover.
Gauntlet: Pretty striking. Looking at the covers from �The Last Supper� up till now, and reading your lyrics, you can tell that there�s been a significant maturation process�
Gauntlet: Hah, not to say anything bad about the old stuff, but just that it�s developed and is more complex now�
Gauntlet: Do you think there�s been a change in your message to go along with that?
Sigurd: We never had any message, you know. If we did, it would be, like, �Fuck the Church.�
Sigurd: But as for this record, we had this concept, the lyrics. We knew we had to do something different, not that stuff we had on �Goatreich�, which had the demons and naked nuns. We�ve been doing this for a long time, so we had to do something different with the lyrics and concept. So, we can see on the cover, the four raven-headed priests, who are the Pestdoktors, and the burning churches in the background symbolize the apostasy�they are basically corpses, now� dark Middle Ages
Gauntlet: In a previous interview, I was reading that one of you, I�m not sure whether it was you or Helmuth, was into classical music. Was that you?
Sigurd: Yeah, that was me.
Gauntlet: Does that provide any sort of technical inspiration�?
Sigurd: Yeah! Sure. My favorite composers are, of course, Mozart�I am from Salzburg�Bach, and Vivaldi. It inspires me to write lyrics, and also songs. If people recognize it, fine, if not (chuckles) it�s still a source of inspiration. Trying to get better playing-wise, songwriting-wise. It�s our main goal, actually, to get better.
Gauntlet: I�ve certainly noticed it. I did a review for �Pestapokalypse�, and it made my top 10 for the year, so, I certainly enjoyed it.
Sigurd: Oh, cool.
Gauntlet: It seems like you guys are also developing additional layers, particularly on tracks like �Sanctus Perversum�, where you have the clean vocals towards the end�
Sigurd: Yeah. The choirs�
Sigurd: It�s what I said before, it�s like being in a church. We had intended to integrate some church organs, you know, but it was too much in the end, so we just left that out.
Gauntlet: There�s always next time.
Sigurd: Yeah! Maybe some slower shit, with the choirs�we�ll see. There�s actually four or five songs written for the next album. Pretty brutal, sort of in the vein of �Hell�s Ambassadors�, really death metal sounding. So we�ll have to come up with some black metal shit, or choirs, or classical. We always write the songs separately�Helmuth�s always doing his work at home, and I�m always my work at home, so, to get more varied stuff into our music, more varied rhythms and styles. I think one of the strongest aspects of the new album is its variety. Each song has its own�
Gauntlet: That�s another thing I noticed, the rhythm of it. The groove in �Hell�s Ambassadors�, the slower tracks, and the blasting�
Sigurd: Yeah! The different rhythms and the different pace.
Gauntlet: And so, if those are the classical bands that inspire you, what other metal bands do you listen to?
Sigurd: Hmm, only extreme metal, not heavy metal. Old Morbid Angel, old Deicide. I would say Slayer is my favorite band, of all time. I love the musicianship of Hanneman and King. Apart from that, I listen to a lot of classical music and dark ambient stuff. Listening to it, especially at night, get a feeling that�s really dark and spooky. I don�t know if you�re familiar with a Swedish label Cold Meat Industries?
Gauntlet: Yes! Yes, I am.
Sigurd: They�ve got some great bands.
Gauntlet: They really do.
Sigurd: So, in that genre Raison d'�tre is one of my favorite bands, very churchlike.
Unfortunately, at this point, my recorder cut out and the rest of our interview is lost. We went on to speak of other metal bands in the community and their interaction, and more specifically how Lord Worm had such kind words for Belphegor when Cryptopsy came around a few months ago. Sigurd was humbly appreciative of this, and expressed great appreciation for the praise of both Belphegor�s peers and fans. In closing, he made a point to again thank the fans for being as supportive as they have and coming to the shows, and that he hopes to come back soon and keep up, as Helmuth put it, �the Devil�s work�.