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Erik Tormentor (Serpent Obscene)

Interview with Erik Tormentor from Serpent Obscene
by Grigoris Chronis at 15 October 2006, 7:23 PM

Serpent Obscene: a fine Swedish 'old-school' Death Metal act that - as I was informed via this interview - will no longer exist. Bad news…Erik explains everything regarding the band's 'swan' creation Chaos Reign Supreme and I feel lucky enough to talk to a musician who's opinion for Metal music is still so 'pure'.

Hi Erik, hello from Metal-Temple magazine!

Hello! Satan commands you. Death is certain, life is not.

Well, it’s been quite a long time since your newest album Chaos Reign Supreme was released. What’s the feedback you so far have from both the Media world and the band’s fans?

I must say that everyone that understands what we do seems to think that this last album is totally awesome. The response has been overwhelming! I will not quote any reviews, but the ones who understand it only give us the highest grades. And the fans say it is our best work ever, we are almost original these days, in our own primitive way (well maybe original is stretching it). All this is pleasing of course, but there are always some assholes out there that don’t understand us and complain about bad or unclear production, some say we play to fast all of the time and shit like that, but I don’t mind. There will always be ignorant people that don’t get the point. What do you think of it?

Agree!!! Did you spent enough time in the studio for the recordings? How much satisfied are you from the out coming result?

We recorded for one week, of ten days I think. This was all the time we needed and I am totally satisfied with the production. The sound is raw and unpolished but still you can hear all you need to hear. We recorded everything the analog way and we never used any trigs or shit like that. What we play is what you hear. Nothing is edited or tampered with in a computer. It is very important to keep the feeling of live music in the recording; we do not want to end up with a record that sounds mechanical of static. As far as our performance on the album, we did the best we could, and I don’t think anyone is dissatisfied with their job.

How would you judge Chaos Reign Supreme in relation to your previous album Devastation? I mean, both in terms of songwriting ideas and the final style/sound.

Well, when we did Devastation we thought that we could never top that recording. It was as good as it could get. So where would we go from there? There was no point in moving forward and trying to get better at playing, as we had reached our top abilities, instead we moved backwards and made it all more primitive. When it came to songwriting we play a bit faster on the new album, and also a bit more in the Black Metal vain. In the end we got a production that is dirtier and not as clean as the earlier Devastation album. I think we just grew more primitive and violent over the years and the last album is the final testament to this.

Since the release of Devastation, you have a new bass player in the band, Johnny Putrid, right? What happened to Rob Rocker?

He got himself a family and decided that he had no time for the band. We still hang out from time to time, but not as much as we used to. He is still a great friend!!

You also featured Christofer Barkensjo (Kaamos, Repugnant, Grave) in the band’s ranks back in 2001. Still, he left after the recordings of Devastation. Dou you still keep in touch?

Yes, absolutely! We are close friends. At the time when he left S.O. he had a lot of other things going on in his life besides music, and he simply did not have time for two bands. So he made the choice to leave one of us, and it turned out to be S.O.  Nowadays Kaamos is laid to rest and he plays with Blackshine and Face Down, so there are two bands for him again; we will se how this turns out.

Are you satisfied with your cooperation with your current label, Black Lodge? They seem to do a good job for promoting their bands, but how do you feel? Are you planning to record more albums for this label?

Black Lodge is an excellent label, we have only good words about the, they do a great job! I may not like all the bands that are signed to them, but this is not important to me. We will not do more work for Black lodge with Serpent Obscene as the band no longer exists. I however still work with Maze Of Torment for them.

Hmmm…Serpent Obscene existed for nearly ten years now. When the band was formed, which was the basic goal? Do you think you have succeeded in your ideals? You now, there are countless bands that started playing ‘uncompromised’ music and then - due to good sales or manager/label instructions - did alter their style.

Hahaha, yes I know what you mean. There are a lot of those bands out there! When we started out, we where just some friends from school that picked up some instruments in order to play music in our tool shed in the backyard. This was back in 1994-95 up to 1997, and we where not at all serious about anything. We listened to a lot of Kiss & other bands from the 70-80s, and of course Death/Thrash/Black/Doom. We had no goals, we just played, but in 1997 we said why not record a demo and be a real band?. So we did, and we took the name Serpent Obscene. We still do not have a goal, except for making violent music as we always had, I well, yes we have succeeded in that. And I do believe that we have remained true to our ideals.

Really, whatever happened to Necropolis Records? Is this label still active? You had a record deal with them back in 2000, I think.

Well I do not know what happened to them, the last contact I had with them was in 2003, and it had been a downhill movement for them for some time. We did have a deal with them in 2000, and they actually did a good job back then. But they have ripped off a lot of people, in 2001 we recorded our second effort Devastation for them, but they never paid for the recording and it was not until 2003 we got it released by Black Lodge. Anyway we only had contact with Matt Harvey and he is a great man, but when it comes to Paul who was the boss over there, well all I can say is never put your trust in him. Necropolis made a lot of bad business moves, and I think that is why they had to lay it all to rest. They are no longer active as far as I know.

You ever thought of shooting a video? Do you think it is worth the money for ‘extreme’ Metal bands to record video clips? Are such videos be broadcasted on TV that much so as to have a good ‘promo’ helping hand?

We have had thoughts about it, but we never did a real video. I think you can make a video for a fair price nowadays. There are always film students that are looking for a project and so on. It will be worth the money I think. Even if you only get I played a few times it great promotion, not a lot of bands do videos.

Erik, you are a member of the supreme  Maze Of Torment. Wasn’t it a little bit difficult to save time for two bands, since - I guess - you do not make enough money for a living from music.

Yes, It has been a lot of efforts to make ends meet for two bands and still have a fulltime job. As you said, there is not enough money in it to live off the music, but there is some extra cash. For some time I was also doing vocals for the band Deceiver, but I could not keep that up. Nowadays it’s only Maze Of Torment that’s in focus.

How much do you think a band’s ‘identity’ is revealed on the Internet? In the past, it was tape-trading, ‘zines and ‘obscure’ radio shows where a die-hard fan could collect info for ‘underground’ bands. Now, in the days of the World Wide Web, don’t you feel it is easy enough for any band - good or bad - to promote themselves and gain reputation (even limited)? In addition, what do you think for ‘downloading’? Does it ‘kill’ music or not?

Well this is not an easy thing to speak about. There are good and bad things about the Internet. In the early 90’s I was into tape trading and I wrote a fanzine (Tormentor mag) and as I remember it, there was a lot more feeling in the underground at that time, you would always get your new music via the post office. You had to work a lot more to get it. It was a different feeling at that time, that feeling is dead now. When you can get anything at anytime, the feeling of I got something special is gone. What is the point in collecting? On the other hand you can still have your identity on display via your homepage and it’s easy to get your message across, but there is nothing obscure about the bands nowadays, you can write them at anytime by e-mail. Fuck, when Bathory released their albums in the 80’s there was not even a band photo available for years and thousands of rumors about them started to spread and there was a totally mystic atmosphere to the whole thing. Where is the mystic atmosphere on the Internet? Everything is on display, just download it. But you can not stop evolution, overall I think internet is great for music. If you want it, it’s right there.

Speaking of the past, which bands would you mention as the crucial ones - apart from any Serpent Obscene member’s individual likes - fro the style/sound of Serpent Obscene?

Well the music style /sound of S.O. is mostly inspired by bands like Sadus, Grotesque, Merciless, early Morbid Angel, Venom, Kreator, Angel Corpse, Bathory, early Sepultura, early Slayer and of course Possessed, add then some early Swedish D.M. like Dismember, Entombed, Desultory (!) etc.  But there are of course thousands of bands that have made an important impact in our lives; when we grew up it was Kiss and then Twisted Sister, W.A.S.P., Motley Crue, Iron Maiden etc and then there is all the rest that may not be directly responsible for our sound, but still are just as important.

Are you - in particular - interested in ‘current’ Rock/Metal trends or styles, or you’d describe yourself as a more ‘traditional’ music fan? In addition, do you feel the old-school Metal sound (Heavy, Thrash, death etc) can ‘touch’ the hearts of today’s youth? Things seem to have changed quite a lot in our days regarding what Metal is and what it is not.

Interesting, well I find some new music good, but most it has a vintage sound to it anyway, so I would say that I am more into the traditional style of rock/metal. The new stuff is often over produced in my ears, the original feeling is lost along the way. And I also know of a lot of kids here in Sweden that are around 13-16years old and they are into the same old bands that I am, so yes the old vintage sound is timeless and can still touch the hearts of today’s youth. Yes the metal music and scene has changed a lot over the years. The thing that I miss the most nowadays is that not to many band seem to recognize the fact that metal music was meant to be dirty and raw, when it first was invented it was dirty, filthy and unclean. A raw sound was the sound to have. All this seems to be forgotten now that everyone is aiming for a clean, tight and easy listening sound. In my opinion there should be a lot more pain in your ears when you listen to a good record!!!

Erik thanks for your limited spare time. Anything you’d like to add?

Thank you, check out the Serpent Obscene album - Chaos Reign Supreme. And do not forget to keep it violent, dirty and raw. All Death is certain.


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