“You don’t have to be extreme to listen to black metal; you just have to be true to yourself.”
I’ve been listening to black metal since the mid 90s and I’m still trying to figure it out. At first glance black metal seems like a gimmick, a bunch of guys on stage wearing make-up reminiscent of KISS. In photos, they are shown holding medieval weapons, leering at the camera trying to appear tougher than they actually are.
Musically, they all seem to play the same distorted power cords while bellowing out songs about Vikings or Satan, but if one opens their ears and takes a closer look at these groups you will find an extreme genera unlike any other where the message is so personal and individualistic in its nature that you must be more than a casual fan of a particular band to understand the power of their specific message.
Imagine the stress of taking the helm of a legendary act as its new voice. Spewing the personal message of another while at the same time trying to make those classic lyrics you are singing your own. That’s the predicament Nachtgarm (Steve Marbs), the new vocalist for the black metal band Dark Funeral, finds himself in and having seen him perform live, I have no doubt he will succeed.
I recently had the chance to sit down with the Nachtgarm to discuss his reception by the fans on this current tour. Here are some excerpts from that 10/4/12 interview:
David Halbe: How has the North American leg of the tour been so far?
Nachtgarm/Steve Marbs: So far so good, lots of new experiences, different crowds, very exciting.
Dave: The group hasn’t released any new material since 2009. Is a new album in the works? What can you tell us about it?
Nachtgarm: A new record is in the works but I won’t tell you more, it’s done when it’s down and we’re working on it.
Dave: Can you tell us some songs you’ll be playing live on this current tour?
Nachtgarm: Nope. (Laughs)
Dave: What’s it been like touring with death metal legends like Morbid Angel and Grave?
Nachtgarm: Well, some of them are good friends of ours, especially Grave, we’ve known them for a few years now. The guys in Morbid Angel have been cool to us as well. The crew is great so it has been a lot of fun.
Dave: How do the metal scenes in Europe differ from the US?
Nachtgarm: It differs a lot. First of all black metal is way bigger in Europe than it is over here (in the US). I hope that America will wake up soon and embrace it more. I think that’s the main difference. As far as I experienced it, the Europeans are more specialized so to speak. If someone listens to black metal, you can see it in his dress and demeanor, he’s totally into black metal, almost cliché but here ( in the US) it’s a mixed bag, you see guys wearing baseball caps and Burzum shirts, I don’t know if I like it or not. It’s such a thin line. Sometimes it’s strange to see a skater and he’s wearing a Burzum or Darkthrone shirt, it’s like, do you really know what you are wearing? Over here (in the US) it just seems to be a way to offend.
Dave: Dark Funeral’s version of black metal often incorporates anti-Christian subject matter, what influences those lyrics?
Nachtgarm: Well, that is a question I cannot answer as I haven’t written the lyrics for the last records that was Caligula so that is really a very personal question for him. Everyone in the band has their own beliefs and they differ from one another more or less.
Dave: What are your beliefs?
Nachtgarm: Well, the thing is, it’s good to believe in something, whatever it is and as long as you don’t force it on others I’m cool with that and if it helps you to be stronger or to keep on going, that’s right, believe in whatever you want.
To me there is a big difference between believing in something and religion. Religion is not believing, religion is just another way to make money off the poor.
Fuck religion but believing in something is good
Dave: Do you think black metal’s original message has been lost in the sensationalism of its own history?
Nachtgarm: You have to go way back if you want to get to the roots of black metal. To be precise you want to go back to Venom’s album Black Metal, do you know why they entitled that album Black Metal? Those guys grew up in the middle working class of Great Britain and all of their fathers were working in steel factories and in the UK you call raw steel black metal. That’s were the name is coming from and I think it hasn’t lost its rebellion theme. Black metal has always been a way to express yourself in a very extreme way. To me black metal is a way to get therapy, because I’m just bringing everything in the show and into my lyrics, I’m writing at the moment, it’s a way to get out my inner demons.
To me black metal is a very personal thing, an emotional thing and a lot of people I’ve met over the years are not emotional when it comes to black metal, they just listen to it because its extreme and yes in that perspective it has lost a lot of its originality and foundation. You don’t have to be extreme to listen to black metal; you just have to be true to yourself.
Dave: The physical demands of playing extreme music are well known, not to mention the rigors of touring. Do you do anything special to keep yourself in shape while on the road?
Nachtgarm: No. (Laughs) We just try to survive it.
Dave: How have you been received by the fans as the new Dark Funeral vocalist?
Nachtgarm: Well, it’s kind of hard to bring my personal emotions to very personal lyrics Caligula wrote but I still try to do that of course. But as far as people’s reactions to me being a part of Dark Funeral has been overwhelmingly positive. Of course, you still have haters here and there, complaining that I don’t have long hair and I’m not Caligula but so far it has been really good.
Dave: Has your vocal style changed Dark Funeral’s vocal approach?
Nachtgarm: Yes, it has because Caligula is one of the greatest if not the greatest black metal singers we’ve had over the last fifteen years. His specialty was those high pitched screams, he’s a legend at doing that and the thing is, I can do that as well but it doesn’t sound like him, I have a wider range and I interpret the songs differently. I’ve added growls in places where he didn’t growl at all. I’m just trying to put my personality into Dark Funeral. I’m the new guy so there should be something new. I don’t want to be a rip off or a copy of Caligula, that’s not what I’m trying to do. I just want to be myself and show the people my interpretation of black metal and that’s what I’m out there doing everyday.
Dave: Is metal a fad for younger generations or is it one of the last true forms of artistic expression?
Nachtgarm: You know I’ve been listening to black metal since I was eleven years old, I’m thirty one now, that’s twenty years and I still love it. I remember my parents saying to me ‘You will grow up and you will stop listening to that music, stop wearing those dark clothes’ (laughs) I still love it, Darkthrone and those great bands because for me it was always a way of living and not just a trend. Black metal is just so personal, so emotional for me that I just cannot leave it behind, no mater how old I get because it has always been such a big part of my life. I’ve been through so much shit in my life and black metal has always been there.
Dave: Thanks for you time, good luck tonight and on the rest of the tour.
Nachtgarm: Thank you very much, I’ll do my best.
Dark Funeral (2012) are:
- Lord Ahriman– Guitars
- Dominator – Drums
- Nachtgarm– Vocals
- Chaq Mol– Guitars
- B-Force– Bass
This article was originally published 10/20/12 by Metalrecusants.com