EMPEROR: The MetalKult Interview


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On Friday, June 1, 2007, Emperor’s Ihsahn and Samoth arrived in the Guitar World/MetalKult offices in New York for an extensive interview on the inner workings of their notorious black metal band (the result is featured in Guitar World‘s October issue).

The two guitarists were in town to play B.B. Kings in Times Square—one of only three shows the Norwegian group would play in the States. (Click here to watch a live video of “Curse You All Men!” from that show.)

After a long interview, lesson and photo shoot, Samoth—who caught a sinister head cold on the flight over from Norway—politely excused himself to prepare for the show.

But the surprisingly genial and candid Ihsahn graciously stuck around to talk with MetalKult about a range of topics, including the motivation behind his group’s early diabolical image, his feelings on Faust and Samoth’s incarcerations and how he managed to avoid trouble in Norway’s treacherous Nineties black metal scene.

Check this out. You won’t be disappointed.

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  • Luke


  • andreas

    great interview but I miss some kind of ending, some last question summing it all up. Like Ihsahn telling what the future plans are, his daily life today etc. Anyway, ihsahn seems like an intelligent man and I hope they put out some new material soon.
    Thanks for making this interview metal kult!

  • bang

    you’re right andreas…there are two more questions in this piece. but at the moment there’s a slight glitch in the matrix, but we’re on the case and should have the final two questions up there shortly.

  • hevy blevy

    In a scene with so many macho hipster doofses, it is really refreshing to hear people like Ihsan who are articulate and well though out…class act. Nice interview, put up the other two!!!

  • iammarshallarts

    Thank you for the interview!

  • Jeff

    Great interview. Hope to see the last 2 clips added soon. As long time fan of Emperor, this was a very refreshing interview. Good job and thanks!

  • http://www.travelext.com Marko

    emperor 4 ever!!!!long live to the emperor….

  • Matt

    ihsahn is truly a musical genius.

  • Nemesys

    I really hope Emperor makes more music, probably not, but a man can dream.

  • Clarence

    Ihsahn truly a respected musician, and of course Emperor king of Symphonic Black Metal!!!!

  • Omadan

    Great interview… thanx soooo much for uploading this on your website. Its very hard to find any Emperor, Peccatum interviews on the internet.Thanx sooo very very much. Keep up the good work. Thanx again 😀

  • http://ihsahn aldo rocriguez

    ihsah eres un maestro con la guitarr han ilfluido a muchas bandas de metal y creaDO musica unica mantenemos la ilusion de que regresen a mexico

  • Lucian

    can’t play this at all, anyone know why?

  • bang

    hey lucian, quick fix: try to load the site in another browser. or, check out our FAQ page.

  • Obsidus

    He mentions something that I think is very important when it comes to extreme metal and the philosophies it entails/inspires. He said that even within the tiny group of blackmetalers in Norway, he has always been an individualist, this tells a great deal about the man, it shwos that he is true to himself and his ideas. So many extreme metal fans try to act all arrogant, like they shun the world, and they are so enlightened, Mayhem/Darkthorne are the only good bands, Emperor sold out after In the nightside, al lthat other crap. And yet you see so many of them with myspeace accounts, throwing around fad words like “kvlt” and such. They are just part of another little herd, trying to act cool by shunning the bigger herd. But guys like Vegard Tvietan are the real deal, this guy is a genius, and his ideas and actions should inspire all those who truly care about being different i na good way, not arrogant little sheep who just happen to be part of a smaller flock.

  • http://www.heathenharvest.com Advodia/Perceptron

    Yes… This interview is nice!

    It’s interesting to watch Ihsahn, who really seems to be like a normal guy, far from the clichés of BM, yet not rejecting at all his past!!!
    He has a very “healthy” view of things about the scene, IMO, doesn’t tell useless words, stay modest and moderate, yet never compromising with his ideas. The speech remains coherent and he especially avoid the trap of judging his and his comrades’ adolescent deeds out of their context, with distant disdainful or superior adult eyes, as some seem to do…
    He even doesn’t waste his time criticizing this or that band, the scene or so.
    He then shows respect to fanhood with, paradoxically with stopping releasing albums… Quality prevails on quantity.
    Sad that the interview doesn’t focus more on values, on ideas, “ideology” of BM… He would certainly have a couple of interesting things to tell.

    Each of the interviews I saw from him shows him as the best example of intelligence, which dramatically lacks within BM scene. It’s usually too filled as well with stupid fans, as stupid bandmembers (although I still appreciate much this genre, I’m often ashamed, and I’m not the only one I guess).

    So, yes, I do agree with the former comment about the value of individualism expressed by Tvietan, but also here’s also intelligence.
    Therefore, I’m really glad there are such people in the scene: expressing and examplifying so well the values and lifestyle of ‘sincere’ BM people.

  • Brad

    Doesn’t he kind of just gloss over the fact that Faust murdered someone?

    The thing that always disturbs me about black metal is the parallels it shares with gangster rap; Tthe glorification of murder, negativity, and crime as an artistic extention of the music. which is pretty fucked. I dont really give a shit what people want to make music about or whatever, but when we’re talking about musicians killing people and commiting crimes I don’t see why anyone would wish to respect people like that.

    The Varg Vs. Euronymous thing is a little more grey-area, since it DID seem like Euronymous intended to kill Varg. But that still reminds one of “rivalries” like those seen in the moronic gansta “culture”.

  • Brad

    As a side note. How did a convicted murderer even get into the US to play this tour?

  • http://www.heathenharvest.com Advodia/Perceptron

    [quote]As a side note. How did a convicted murderer even get into the US to play this tour?[/quote]

    I wonder whom you’re talking about: none of current Emperor’s members has been convicted for murder.
    Faust hasn’t played in Emperor anymore since his imprisonment for a murder, if I am not wrong.

    Samoth has been convicted for participation to church burnings, only, whom he’s been imprisonned for some years.
    Neither Ihsahn has ever been charged with any crime, nor Trym Torson, nor any other session musician, as far as I know…

    For the rest, although we cannot say you’re wrong about “moronic rivalries” and crimes, I think you mix many things and many people in your comment.
    I truely think Ihsahn has been standing as an excpetion since the beginnings, and he kinda says it…
    Moreover, the comparision between gangsta rap and black metal sounds exagerated and especially misplaced, for Ihsahn has always represented the ‘intellectual fringe’ of black metal, a tiny 1%…

    I guess he has been over-asked questions about murders, so I understand he mightn’t have the most commonly expected answer…

    Finally, know that your morale doctrine is not more THE reference than the one of the gregarious 99% of black metal people, or than the one gangsta might have…
    Therefore, preaching people who mightn’t share your references is certainly pointless…

  • Brad

    Yeah I didn’t want my comment to sound too biased or “high-horse” obviously Ihsahn is a smart individual I just thought his answer was a little odd concerning the gravity of those events. And yes I was speaking in broad terms of black metal, comparing the murder of Euronymous with the murder of the homosexual man by Faust. Obviously there is more than one account of what happens with any crime. I’ve heard a side of the story that says the man would not back off when Faust turned him down. But the most common version of what happened was that Faust agreed to go with him, but then turned on him and stabbed him to death.

    My mistake in thinking Faust was still an active member of the band.
    As far as Samoth’s arson. Such acts are stupid not because of the religious or social implications, but because people could be seriously hurt or killed by something like that. Lets also not forget that many of those buildings are ancient landmarks (some structure’s pre-dating christianity)…

    To be totally clear im not dissing Ihsahn. He comes across as someone who is in it for the music, not some dumb “scene” or to be accepted by a sub-culture.

  • Disasteric

    Now facing off in a no-holds-barred, tag-team Grudge Match, we have…

    Former arsonist, convicted murderer, suspected Neo-Nazi and part-time Bass Player – Varg “The Fearsome Fjordsman” Vikernes, the frigid North’s most hated musician!

    And his partner, direct from the front line in the War of Gangsta Rappers, representing the West-Siiieeed – Tupac “The West Coast Warrior” Shakur!

    And their opponents…

    Also hailing from Norway. The brain-eating blasphemer, small business proprietor and Satan’s personal bedfellow – Euronymous… roughly 165 pounds of Norwegian dynamite!

    And teaming with him…from Parts Unknown, Weight Unknown. The man with the most appropriate AND most ironic name in the Gangster Rap War. The one, the only, Beast of the East – “Notorious B.I.G.” Biggie Smalls!

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  • Dom

    What happend to the last two questions?

  • Goat of a Thousand Young

    Hopefully Emperor make a new album sometime. I’m not holding my breath for it, but it would be awesome. Emperor is my favorite of the norwegian BM bands, though I like Mayhem, Darkthrone, Burzum, Gorgoroth, Immortal etc etc too, but Emperor always stuck out for me. I can honestly say that I like every one of their albums. Some people say they sold out after INTE, but I don’t believe this to be true. They just progressed, which a lot of people call selling out anyway, but fuck those idiots. Ihsahn is an extremely talented and intelligent guy and is very nice and courteous too in person, when I met the band at their NYC shows.


  • Count agorath

    I really like in the nightside eclipse by emperor.

    Ihsahn’s talking voice is so differnet to his singing voice

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  • Ondraedan

    What a great guy! Don’t give up! The world needs an Emperor! HAIL!

  • http://None Emperor1

    I hope Emperor to record new material. Ihsahn and Samoth rules. They’re my favorite band. And I agree saying that Ihsahn has grown up as a person. Hope if they record a new material, it’ll be with more deep lyrics.

  • misanthropia

    this the best metal site. I never hoped to find something like this. there will always be metal in my heart. there will always be Emperor and Their music to stand for. BM is not dead!

  • Ivahsent

    Great guys!
    Long live the EMPEROR !!!!

  • http://GothAlice GothAlice

    no hay algun logo de emperor mas facilo y chiko pa escribir en un ziipo ?? xDD

  • Dean

    I agree with Brad in the main.What I never like is how these guys are so casual about people being killed by individuals such as faust or the guy from dissection.The way they appear as anti-heroes leaves a bad taste just pandering to some adolescent idea of being powerful and dangerous.Seeing faust post prison in photos wearing an ed gein serial killer t shirt is just sick,in the bad sense.How would they feel if a member of their family,daughter,son,mother or father was murdered by some kid trying to be ‘extreme’ and then that guy appears in magazines as something special because he can hit a couple of bits of wood on a drum quite fast.Trouble is I like a lot of the music but can never square it with the childish idea of extremity.Look in the papers kids are killing people all the time,nothing to do with being extreme just being mindless.

  • Dean

    And as for burning churches! Christians and satanists I don’t see a lot of difference between them,people trying to make sense of a confusing world both adopting pre determined human traditions they buy into lock stock and barrel without much of an attempt to create their own version of reality.But some churches are lovely historical buildings.I visted some cathedrals in paris recently,great.I always keep my darkthrone cd’s next to a cliff richard cd,just to keep the balance.