Interview by Dale Roy with Tue and Henrik of Exekrator…
Bestial Burst sent me a fantastic disc by Exekrator. They do not just grab the usual formula of black metal but come more from the old scene when heavy metal like Mercyful Fate and Venom were what black metal was all about. Exekrator capture this old spirit in a new form and atmosphere. I was immediately possessed and a demon channeled through demanded I perform a ritual, I mean interview with this sick Danish horde.
I see the line-up of Exekrator has changed a few times? What has brought this on? Are you difficult to work with? How long did it take you to find news members and how hard was this process?
Tue: It seems it was always incredibly hard finding new members, it is probably the one thing responsible for the most 'downtime' in the band. I don't think I'm difficult to work with, but maybe others should answer that, heh. When you are in the same band for such a long time, it is probably inevitable that you lose someone along the way as people and their focus change. I think everyone who has left are still involved in music in some way, but something very different from Exekrator. So I guess it comes down to the oft-quoted 'creative differences', but if your heart's no longer in it it's probably better for everyone if you leave.
We still have two vacancies (bass and drums), which can be frustrating of course, but we'll manage, and hopefully pick up someone at some point.
Can you tell me how things were around the time of your debut in the scene – I speak of the time when you recorded and released your rehearsal demo in 1997? Did this release result in getting a deal for your first 7” ep in 1999? What is your opinion looking back on these two releases now? Do you still listen to them?
Henrik: “Well, the “Beast Is Come” 7''ep was actually financed by the band. So it wasn't until the second 7''ep “Superstitionis Maleficiae” that a label was involved. I still listen to both the 7''ep's, but not really the demo I must say.”
Tue: I can still listen to both those releases, I rarely do though it seems. The '97 tape was spread far to little to be instrumental in anything, the '99 EP was probably much more important and interesting also. As mentioned, the 'Beast' 7” was completely self-financed, the covers are also cut and assembled by hand! So every copy was made with the sweat of band members haha. So why does it say 'Manufactured by Fiery Records' on the back you might ask? Well, we basically ordered the EP's through them, and they made us put that on... A bit misleading I guess.
At the time I didn't really consider Exekrator of myself as part of the 'scene', in some ways we were very much apart and didn't really socialize with other bands. To be honest I really hated the scene in the late nineties, especially the Danish one...
What is the black metal scene like in Denmark in your opinion? Is it true you share a member with Victimizer? Is it considered an embarrassment that Lars Ulrich came from your country?
Henrik: “Ha ha, I don't know if it's considered an embarrassment that Lars is from here. There are probably a lot of retards with only a peripheral affiliation to metal, that would think of him as the pride of danish metal. But many also think of him as embarrassing of course. I still love the old Metallica albums, but the new stuff is so utterly pathetic and Mr. Ulrich is a trendy monkey with no language. The danish scene is in very bad shape I must say! So much shit is being released here. There are countless trendy metal-core bands, standard-death and worthless black metal copycats. For those interested I'll recommend some bands though: Denial Of God, Strychnos, Blackhorned, Church Bizarre and Ad Noctum and perhaps a few I've forgotten. But in spite of trendy idiots and Lars Ulrich, we still have King Diamond so there's something to be proud of there!! And yes, I play the guitar in both Exekrator and Victimizer.”
Tue: As I said I used to hate the scene, I don't any more. But maybe I just stopped caring. I will say that there are a few good bands now as opposed to none before, so I guess that can be considered an improvement.
What does the name Exekrator mean for you? It kind of reminds me a bit the way it sounds like a brutal death metal name, are you a big follower of brutal death? What were some other names you thought of for the band but did not choose?
Henrik: “Well, all real death metal is brutal in some way. I really like classic and old-school death metal. I love the early albums from Possessed, Death, Morbid Angel, Autopsy, Necrophobic, Dissection etc. and of course the few good death metal bands releasing something today like for example Nunslaughter and Mortem. But I think most of the death metal scene is so extremely tedious today. It seems like everyday there is a new “death metal”-album with ultra-modern and -polished production and incomprehensible music that is made with the sole purpose to be a technical and complex as possible.”
Tue: I wouldn't say I'm a big follower of death metal, I used to listen to lots of death metal around the time when the band was started though, but not so much now. Probably we didn't even know any black metal in the beginning. But there was never really any conscious decision to go down a certain path or play a certain genre like 'death' or 'black'.
The name Exekrator does mean a lot to me since it has been with me for such a long time now & I hope it will continue to be... As for the word itself, well it just seems like a classic 'metal' name right?
I can't really remember if there were more names that was seriously considered, I don't think so. I do remember the guitarist at the time had an idea for a name I think he was serious about, “The Third Eye”, I thought that was a bit too lame though, hehe.
Do you like the process of recording material? Do you always have songs written 100% before entering the studio? Do you enjoy recording more than playing live or is the opposite true?
Henrik: “I don't know if I actually enjoy the actual recording process, but it's very important for me to record the material. Playing live is probably more enjoyable than recording, but less important. The most important for me is to have my music made eternal on some medium, so that I have the possibility to listen to it when I want. Yes, I've always had the songs finished when recording something, but course new ideas might occur when recording – such as a solo or vocal part. Due to some curse it's impossible for us to find a suitable drummer, so we're not playing live with Exekrator at this point, however I've been playing live quite a lot with Victimizer.”
Tue: The songs themselves are usually finished when recording begins, sometimes I haven't worked out all the lyrics or vocals yet, because I sometimes need to hear it rather than perform it before I can finish it. I don't actually enjoy recording I think, but I enjoy the end result, so I have to keep doing it heh!
Do you use pro tools and do you have a preference between analog and digital recording and why? You have recorded your own stuff in the past, do you prefer this method or a professional studio?
Henrik: “We have recorded in both studios and our home studio dungeon. I have actually not been in a real professional studio with a producer yet. When we recorded “Superstitionis Maleficiae” in a small studio we also produced it ourselves. We're not exactly making money of our music and our budget is limited, but we'll see what will happen in the future. I prefer whatever can give us the best sound, so if we get the chance to go to a studio cheap or free we'll take it, but if not we go for a home-recording, which is also fine. We create an ok sound with our home-studio. I've never had the chance to record in an real analog studio, so I can't say to much. I hope to be able to go to one at some point though.”
What do you think of the black metal scene nowadays? Do you find bands usually sound too much the same? Do you prefer newer black metal or the old way of bands like (classic) Venom, Mortuary Drape, Bathory and maybe the first wave of the 90s? Do you think black metal like the old days is more of a feeling of atmosphere rather than a style or some of genre?
Henrik: “There are of course very good black metal bands today that I like. For example Funeral Mist, Inquisition, Watain, Grand Belial's Key, Ondskapt, Denial Of God etc. but I must say that 99% of the music that is tagged black metal today is pure shit to me. Black metal simply seems to mean ripping off some norwegian band. I like Darkthrone and Burzum, but I can't count all the crappy clones I've heard of these bands. And yes I prefer the black metal scene before the Norway-trend that turned black metal into a homogenized sound. Before this trend really made it's impact there were not nearly as many black metal bands and they all sounded differently. Almost every band was a unique vision and black metal was simply metal based on darkness and evil. Hellhammer, Sabbat, Death SS, Root, Morbid, Von, Sarcofago, Mercyful Fate, Masters Hammer, Mayhem, Tormentor, Samael as well as the ones you mentioned and more we're all black metal, but still unique and had a much more special, mystical and dark aura than most of the bands today. Black metal is NOT just music with screaming vocals and fuzzy guitars! I believe that in Exekrator we carry on with the tradition of black metal before it became a standard formula.”
Tue: Oh yes I think that the very heart of Exekrator is that our music is about the expression, or atmosphere if you will, not a certain style or formula. This is what black metal is to me. I have never really understood the formulaic approach to music from either musicians or listeners, like “it has to sound like this” or “we must do it this way”. Especially applied to metal this makes little sense to me, judging black metal or whatever on technical styles and merits, I mean why were you attracted to (black) metal in the first place? Because it was something different or because it was all the same...? For me the “meat” lies in the expression or feeling you project, not the tools you used to get there.
Time for me to learn some Danish Culture! Do you know how this saying “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark”, got started and what the fuck it means?! What does the phrase “Hygge” means? Do people eat “Danish Rolls” there all the time and do you call them “Danish Rolls”? Best Danish liquor is?
Henrik: “The phrase “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark” stems from Shakespeare's “Hamlet”, which is set in Denmark. It refers to Hamlet's father, the king, being murdered and usurped. Later it has been used in many contexts, for example by danish metalcore band, Illdisposed who have used it as an album-title. I guess some Danes are a bit proud that a work by such a classic writer is set in their country, therefore it's been used here and there. Hygge is not really easily translated, but the closest word is coziness, which a lot of Danes value. We don't call it danish rolls here no. And at least I don't eat it very often at all. But people in Denmark are getting fatter and fatter, so some people eat a lot of it I guess. I'm not much of a booze-drinker. Whenever I drink hard liquor I do things that have (or could have had) dire consequences. I usually stick to beer. I used to drink the cheapest piss you could find. But as I've cut down a lot on drinking and maybe my tastes have refined a bit, I find myself preferring Carlsberg beer, though Tuborg is good as well.”
Do you think Metal was meant to be violent, heavy and dark but also has the ability to not lose it’s integrity by also being epic and catchy or do you think these elements do not mix? Do you miss the old days when bands used to be more well rounded instead of only fast, only dark, only melodic etc… Just think to bands like Venom or Mercyful Fate for an example.
Henrik: “I listen to a lot of metal and a lot of different metal. So only listening to a very narrow selection of metal is ruled out for me. I think metal can easily be catchy, epic and other things while not loosing integrity. Catchiness is one of the things that makes classic metal classic. And I can't really see why for example Absu should have lost any integrity with for example the epic “Stone Of Destiny”. In fact it's probably their best song! Being only fast all the time gets very old. And yes, often I do miss the quality and, as you say, well-roundedness of older acts when listening to newer records. There are very few bands, if any, coming out with the quality of early Mercyful Fate today.”
So tell us how you came in contact with the mighty Bestial Burst and how did this relationship transform into an album release? Any other releases planned for Bestial Burst or will you move on? What kind of deal did you have with B.B. and are you satisfied with their work so far?
Henrik: “I sent a demo to Bestial Burst with my other band Full Moon Lycanthropy (now split-up). That led to the release or a split 7''ep with FML and Conjuration. During this time we had been in contact and I sent him some Exekrator-material, which he loved too, so we agreed on working together here also! Then he released the “Ordo Bestiae” cd which includes the music from both our 7''ep's + unreleased tracks. I'm very satisfied with the job Sami and Bestial Burst has done. I think the cd's and posters he did look good and I'm satisfied I must say. We never had a written contract with any label and not with Bestial Burst either. For the next releases I don't know what will happen. Like I said, we don't have any contracts. We have a couple of labels interested and I certainly wouldn't be opposed to working with Sami again. But we'll let time tell nothing is certain yet and maybe new labels will contact us. The future depends on the concrete offers we get.”
You mentioned in an old interview that small labels “work – slow, if at all” after signing with Bestial Burst, so does mean you strive only for a large label in the future? Will you work with small labels at least for Eps and such?
Henrik: “Ha ha, well that’s actually true I guess. But don't misunderstand. We'll work with any label - big or small as long as they are dedicated, serious a keep their promises. I think Bestial Burst did good and at least those labels that actually manage to release the stuff they say are cool. The worst are the ones that just disappear or back out. We've especially had this problem with tape-labels up till now and an “Ordo Bestiae”-tape is still quite chaotic to us... Misanthropic Propaganda has told us that they have printed some and have sent us a sample, but we can't really get in touch with them! I do not believe that the big labels are lined up to sign something as insane and abnormal as Exekrator, but as mentioned as long as we can work with serious labels the size doesn't matter. Anyone can write us if they want to suggest some release.”
Tue: I believe I said that, but it wasn't really a criticism of the smaller labels, more of a description of our experiences with them. Of course you can't blame a one-man label for taking a few weeks extra or whatever, it takes time and dedication, we know. And we very much appreciate anyone who'll work with us, small or big.
Tell me what are your opinions regarding the Paranormal such as Poltergeists and other unexplained phenomena? Do you believe in UFOs or things like the Illuminati?
Henrik: “Hmmm... very hard question. I at least find the paranormal very fascinating. An upcoming song “Ex Draconis” is actually about some of this.”
Tue: I don't believe I think a lot about the paranormal, but I guess that depends on how you define it. You also mention the Illuminati, that would probably fall under “conspiracy theories” rather than paranormal? I do believe there are constructs in the world that exist not to serve man but rather to make man serve it... Organized religion will come to mind for many who read this, but there are others, more subtle devices in every part of society. For me at least. For others it is just “conspiracy theories”.
I see you have included yourselves in a tribute to WASP! How did this come about and what does the band mean to you? How did you decide which song to use? Which period(s) of WASP do you prefer? I am a fan of old WASP but was surprised and pleased at how dark and brutal the “Kill Fuck Die” album was…
Henrik: “I heard about the W.A.S.P. Tribute when it was decided that my other band – Victimizer should participate. I thought it was a good idea to put Exekrator on there too. Tue and I sat down and listened to some W.A.S.P.-songs that were not taken yet and decided on “The Flame” in mutual agreement. I could have covered just about anything they've done. I worship W.A.S.P.! It's one of my favorite bands. The songwriting and vocals are absolutely brilliant! I prefer the early period of W.A.S.P. - the first three a fantastic. The debut is their best. “Crimson Idol” is also brilliant. The five first albums are classic but I like all W.A.S.P.-albums. The “Neon God” series are great. It's good to see that you like “Kill Fuck Die” since it seems like everybody hates that album. The lyrics are insanely evil. It's far from their best, but Blackie until now has only done good stuff.”
What is the sickest thing you have ever personally witnessed with your own eyes? Do you think sex and violence mix?
Henrik: “Sex and violence certainly mix for some. I've seen a lot of strange stuff but I don't not what's most insane. Many insane things have happened, but I don't know if they'll be too exciting in print.”
How does the writing process go? Does each member contribute, or does one person do the lion’s share of writing and arranging the songs!? Any new material written for the next for the next record? Do you play any covers during rehearsal?
Henrik: “Every member contributes to the songs as it is now. It's very much a band-effort. The writing process is very slow for us as we change the songs and throw a lot of material away before getting the end result. We have about half the material finished for our real debut full length. But it will probably be a while before we have all the material ready for recording. No we usually don't play covers during rehearsal. Mostly when we're rehearsing some up for a recording. We rehearsed and recorded a couple of Misfits covers, that have not been released yet. I don't know what will happen with those, but I think they turned out really good.”
Do you see underground ‘zines as a useful tool for labels and bands alike? Are they a vital part of keeping the scene alive and well? Do you prefer fanzines or webzines? Do you think the scene has gone totally internet at this point? Even large metal festivals can be watched online these…
Henrik: “I definitely prefer real zines! They are a vital part of the underground and metal scene. Putting things on the web seems to easy. There's almost no quality-control. You can be sure that the people buying the zines are the ones that are still truly into the scene in contrast to those who can't be bothered if it's not for free and on a screen. Of course fanzines also represent a better and older metal scene. Additionally when you get a zine you read almost everything, whereas you only read the stuff you came for when going to a homepage. Also there seems to be almost no interesting webzines, they all seem to have the very same news, bands, reviews etc. and I don't want the computer-screen to be my only source of information. I respect those who still bother to put together a real paper-zine and I'm glad that there are at least still a few people buying them.”
I think everyone who is a member of a really active band, must give up and sacrifice many things. What are some sacrifices you have made for Exekrator? What would you be doing with your time if you were not in a metal band?
Henrik: “I don't think I can mention any specific things I have sacrificed except for time and money of course. But maybe we're just not active enough. I think if I didn't play music I'd try and do a zine.”
Well that is all I have, thank you my metal brother for filling out this interview, it is appreciated. Please leave us with some hell-o’s to some of your UG friends and contacts – also please tell us what the plans are for Exekrator in the near future?
Henrik: “Thank you for this interview, Dale. It must be the most in depth we've done so far. It's an honour to be featured in this zine that I have followed the latest years. Keep up the good work with Canadian Assault and Autopsy Kitchen! Hails to the people in Victimizer, Church Bizarre, Blackhorned, Denial Of God, Ad Noctum, Sickroom 7, Strychnos etc. and all the zines, labels and bands we've had contact with through the years. The future plans are to write an album, find out what's going on with the “Ordo Bestiae” tape version. If at all possible submit a cover of “Von” for the Von-tribute on Rusty Axe Records. Otherwise just continue on the path to damnation.”