Mayhem is an entity in the realm of extreme metal that needs little introduction, yet was such a cardinal turning point in the history and evolution of extreme metal that chronicling their importance at least briefly is inevitable. Having started out as a group of youth in Oslo channeling their inspiration and influences from the first wave greats, the band was formed by bassist Jørn Stubberud (Necrobutcher), drummer Kjetil Manheim and last but far from least Øystein Aarseth (better known as Euronymous) on guitars in 1984 and named itself after the Venom song ‘Mayhem with Mercy‘. The band, after two demos went onto release the incredibly belligerent ‘Deathcrush‘ EP in 1987, which was merely a precursory sign of the inevitable ascension of the then embryonic black metal genre in the years to come, a legacy they would come to herald. Apart from the more than well known violent past involving church burnings, internal conflicts, left-hand path doctrines and a militant and elitist approach apropos extreme metal; the band also has the unique position in the history of black metal as being the primary founders of its signature sound, with the guitar wizardry of Euronymous having been the stylistic base of most second wave black metal bands, with his usage of high-speed poly-rhythms alongside the textural base of ambient riffing. Despite having had a controversial history and rocky tenure as a band, with the deaths and departures of key members to add to the situation, the band (today comprising of Attila Csihar, Necrobutcher, Hellhammer and Teloch) is still going strong, expanding upon the foundations laid down by its early work in a sensible and progressive manner.
Indeed, the band’s latest studio album, named ‘Esoteric Warfare‘ is a testament to their longevity, and with the release of this latest slab of unforgiving, industrial-esque and mechanically war-like black metal having been already unleashed, the band’s latest addition, guitarist Teloch took the time out to sit down for a brief interview with Metal Wani writer/correspondent Achintya Venkatesh, and discussed a variety of topics, including the nature and stylistic leanings of their newest studio album, the band’s musical and stylistic progression and his side projects, among others.
Greetings from Metal Wani, Teloch! It’s an honour to
have you on here. How are you doing?
band released the highly anticipated follow up album to ‘Ordo ad Chao’,
ambitiously titled ‘Esoteric Warfare’ not more than a few days ago. What
has the response and reception from fans to these new songs on tour been
Mayhem album divides the fans, but that’s normal from what I can figure out.
Either you like it or you don’t, seems the fans that are still waiting for a
Mysteriis part two don’t like it of course, nothing new with that (laughs). Wonder
when they will understand there will never be a new Mysteriis album.
to the album’s sound, how would you personally compare it to the past
catalogue of Mayhem? Would you say there is a progression of any sort?
album seems a bit cold, I think its very organic at the same time.
‘Psywar’s release, I’ve read a number of fans comparing the sound to bands
like Thorns. Of course, most fans know about Snorre (a.k.a Blackthorn)’s
involvement with ‘De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas’ as well. What is your opinion
on such comparisons, in light of the same?
Teloch: Havent really thought about it, but Snorre was one of the guys that invented
the Mayhem sound, so Im not surprised. I was trying to capture the Mayhem vibe,
so of it sounds like Snorre I guess I succeeded.
believe you are one of the chief composers on the album. What was the
song-writing process of the band like this time around, and what is your
approach to riff writing like?
Teloch: I wrote all the music and Attila the lyrics. It usually starts with a riff
and it grows from there, sometime it starts with a guitarriff, sometime
bass, sometime a drumbeat, and it can even start with me having a vocal
Recently, we had a chat with Necrobutcher were he mentioned that the lyrical themes
explore topics such as science projects, psychological warfare, mind control, experimentation and
conspiracy theories. Did you contribute to the conceptualization of the
themes and topics addressed in the album in any way?
Teloch: Not at all.
the guitarist of Mayhem, you are obviously always under the scrutiny of
fans and critics. Do you ever feel that there is some sort of pressure on
yourself to match up to the standards set by the band’s earlier material, or
as some fans do, comparisons (and consequent judgement) with Euronymous?
Teloch: Not really, I don’t think much or it, seems there are enough people
already thinking of it for me (laughs).
are also the guitarist for Nidingr, which has a mainly black metal sound
combined with some other, more death metal elements. Is there any new
material in the works?
Teloch: Yes, being worked on as we speak. Planning to get it done this year,
addition to Mayhem and Nidingr, you are also a part of NunFuckRitual,
Umoral, Teeth and Thorns and The Konsortium. For those unfamiliar with the
bands, could you briefly describe the sound, and also perhaps elaborate on
what is the status with each of these projects?
Teloch: NunFuckRitual is a slow domish black metal thing I started some years ago , I got
Dan Lilker (Nuclear Assault, Brutal Truth) on the bass with me on that one. Released one album, a new one
is ready to be recoreded. Umoral is a project I started with Zweizz (ex-Dødheimsgard, Fleurety) some years
ago. An album is being mixed as we speak. Teeth and Thorns was a one off thing I did to help them out. Nothing more is planned. As for the The Konsortium, I’m not sure if I have time for it anymore.
have a prolific history as a live guitarist, having played with black
metal giants like Gorgoroth, 1349 and God Seed. What was the experience
like in a live setting with these bands? Did it help you further hone your
style and skills?
Teloch: Of course it always helps on your skills to play in different bands. But I
don’t think it did that much to my actual style, I think my style is
basically the same as it always has been.
what are your plans for the future? Will you be mainly concentrating on
touring with Mayhem in support of ‘Esoteric Warfare’, or will you revive
your other side-projects as well?
album that takes up my time, togheter with interviews for Mayhem of course..if
all goes as planned there will be 2 more albums from me out this year, maybe.
Thank you for taking the time out to do this
interview, Morten. It’s been an absolute pleasure. If you have a message for
your fans in India and beyond, do go ahead!