Interview with Nocturno Culto
Unrestrained Zine #7, 1999. (By Chrisopher Bruni)


Far away, in the desolate town of Vingelen, where there are only mere, faint traces of
civilization amongst vast landscapes, lies Nocturno Culto. Front man, and one half of Norway's
legendary Darkthrone. It is a quiet realm where Nocturno Culto nests. As far away from society
as he wants to be. He really doesn't have many friends and those within his circle have their
place within his darkened heart. His partner in 'crime', and most notably his best friend,
the notorious Fenriz, is always a talked about subject within the black metal scene.
But really, Nocturno Culto hasn't surfaced within underground circles in a while.
Or made his presence felt.

It has been ten years and even though Darkthrone, like Mayhem, don't have the status of bands
like Emperor, Dimmu Borgir, or Cradle of Filth, their impact in shaping Norwegian black metal
was immense. Darkthrone embrace the real essence of what truly is Unholy Black Metal
and this can be celebrated with Darkthrone Holy Darkthrone, an inspiring tribute album
that does the band justice. Observe as Emperor, Enslaved, Satyricon, Immortal, Gehenna
and others pay tribute to the band that saw a blaze in the Northern sky,
put the fist in the face of God, and carved the legacy in blood.

It's been a while since Nocturno Culto has spoken English. He tells me to pardon it but is very
thankful that he can have someone to hear what he has to say, someone to share his views with. 

- "Hello, I've been expecting your call...," comes the friendly greet.

And how are you today?

- "Well... now I'm okay," comes his humble response.

Well it has been ten years.

- "Yeah, it's a long time, isn't it? For a black metal band, ten years is quite alot."

Did you expect to last this long?

- "We didn't really think about that," Nocturno replies. "But I think we hoped
  to last long because we wanted to live that way and make music all the time.
  That was the whole thing for us. But you know, people are still talking about
  how Darkthrone is dead and everything, but that is not true because we are planning
  a new album. So Darkthrone is actually not dead. But the period when we were
  a three piece with Zephyrous, I think about that because I think that period of time
  was too short because that was really a great time when we were a three piece."

- "Ofcourse I see it as an honour to see great bands paying tribute to us," Nocturno says with respect.
  "Who would have ever dreamed of that you know? A couple of years ago we wouldn't have imagined
  something like that but we really appreciate the effort from all these bands. So it feels good
  that people have appreciated your work and that shows that we have done something important."

And Darkthrone have done something important. As the first Norwegian underground band to
surface amongst the labels and get exposure, it is still to this day that their first official
black metal album, A Blaze in the Northern Sky, and their follow up, Under a Funeral Moon,
are practically the two essential albums in the history of Norwegian black metal hands down,
and their death metal debut, Soulside Journey remains an essential cult classic. All this proved
with Emperor covering "Cromlech" from said album, Enslaved covering "Natassja in Eternal Sleep"
off Funeral..., and Satyricon crushing on "Kathaarian Life Code" off Blaze...

- "Actually Emperor's version of "Cromlech" is identical [to ours] and they are just excellent
  musicians and they have not left out a single detail. The thing with this album is that I feel
  that every band has their own kind of style that shines through. For example the Gorgoroth
  song ("Slottet i Det Fjerne) is really Gorgoroth and that's a good thing (laughs), and there
  is an interesting version of "Pagan Winter" by Thorns and that's really different from the
  original. It's like some kind of industrial version, and the Gehenna version of
  "Transilvanian Hunger" is really good and I just love the vocals! And that to me is special
  because for me the album "Transilvanian Hunger" is a really special moment in my life.
  So I have a real strong connection to that."

When Darkthrone began, it was about a year after Mayhem released "Deathcrush" and there was
no one else involved with the scene. Euronymous hadn't developed his reputation yet and
Emperor were still around thirteen years old. Although Darkthrone were a band just before
Nocturno Culto joined, it was that winter of '88 where he would join forces with Fenriz.

- "A guy I knew had some contact with Fenriz and I had another band at the time which I was
  really tired of because they didn't want to rehearse and it was really slow going.
  So i asked that guy to get me in contact with Darkthrone because they had just released
  a fresh new demo. So I made a phone call to Fenriz and we just talked about it and I knew
  that there was only one person playing guitar. So I asked Fenriz if they wanted another
  guitar player and then we talked about several things and we decided to meet.
  That was in the winter of '88."

How would you define your relationship with Fenriz?

- "We really have an ongoing friendship because there is only me and Fenriz left and I think
  we will never stop being friends but after so many years and after many, many special moments
  we will always be friends and try to do another album. That's the plan."

It was said that it was Euronymous who told Darkthrone to change their style from Death
to Black Metal and that he was a very influential asset in the change of Darkthrone's
musical direction.

- "Well that is very untrue," answers Nocturno. "Euronymous didn't really inspire us but
  we had contact with him and he was an okay guy but he really hasn't meant anything to
  Darkthrone and that's a fact. Fenriz did know him before Darkthrone started.
  He was at some Mayhem rehearsal but I got in contact with him later. I don't remember how
  because I drank so much at the time.

- "Euronymous had his strong opinions and everything,"

continues Nocturno about his contact with the slain black metal aficionado.

- "But maybe he tried to control and rule a little bit too much.
  So I moved away fromOslo in '92 because I didn't like the kind of society that developed
  within his area, you know, because they were kind of like a flock of sheep that tried
  to follow him and I got away from that. So then I moved far away, very far away [as]
  I felt that they were an interference for me [as] I have to be alone to do something
  and get inspiration because when you just hang out with the same people all the time
  you lose your ground a bit. So I just got fed up. When Euronymous was murdered
  I didn't feel sad or anything because he really wasn't my friend at the time."

But the contacts were there. Fenriz' correspondence with Samoth, the contacts with the Immortal
and Mayhem guys, talks about formulating a black metal mafia an Darkthrone not wanting any part
of the inner circle. But during all the imprisonments, when some of the major black metal bands
were on a short hiatus, Darkthrone just kept forging onwards and kept their nerve.
All this during black metal's full fledged rise to exposure. But Darkthrone are a band
that obviously can't serve everyone's needs. Darkthrone is a cult band, they have their cult
following, and it is a cult following that will always remain.

- "It's good that people actually cought the nerve in Darkthrone. But nowadays
  I don't know the popularity of Darkthrone against the young people.
  I mean Cradle of Filth, the band name explains the whole band because they are the
  cradle of filth, cradle of shit. But that's my point because nowadays many people
  claim that they play black metal because it's popular and they use that term
  to sell records or whatever, but for me bands like Cradle of Filth is love metal.
  It's not scary. It's just ridiculous. But there are some bands that I know,
  but I do not have the courage to go listen to all these new bands to see what's good.
  If I listen to black metal now, then it is the old stuff that gives me the chills.
  But there are good bands like Satyricon. They are not black metal but very good metal.
  I just listened to the new Old Man's Child record and my interest is because Gene Hoglan
  is doing the drums. He was like the big hero in '87 when Darkness Descends album
  was released and he is a really good drummer."

- "What I see as black metal is dead. But I have to say that I really respect every band
  because they fight against christianity, and I am getting older now and my thoughts
  are more rational and my hate against christianity gets stronger every year.
  I can't stop hating christianity, I hate it so much that it is a problem
  that is getting on my nerves."

The music that Darkthrone created was what you got when you combined the grimmest moments
of Bathory's "The Return" and "Under the Sign..." with the coldest and piercing moments
of Celtic Frost's "Morbid Tales" along with such disturbed and tortured vocals.
Through their music and their infamous Darkthrone sound, they developed their reputation,
sometimes seen by mockery but must importantly through total worship, and the result was
seven hateful testimonies of vehement art.

- "Well every album for me and Fenriz is the result of the period of time between albums
  because it reflects our moods and thoughts and things that happened in life. Therefore
  every album is different because we don't actually make the sound because we want to get
  the sound to reflect our life and I could just add that "Transilvanian Hunger" is the album
  that means the most to me because I will never forget the time around that album.
  It's hard to explain really, but the things that happened in my life then, where I lived,
  so it means a lot to me and you really have to look hard to find another album
  that is so cold and grim. That's the album that kind of comes up to you and beats you
  in the face."

- "When it comes to the lyrics, I have to give big credit to Fenriz because his lyrics
  are incredible!," Nocturno enthuses. "In my opinion he is the best lyric writer and
  it is a pleasure to get the opportunity to sing his lyrics, it's an honour.
  On the "Total Death" album I tried to write lyrics also but I don't know if I'm a good lyric
  writer but the inspiration came to me. I hope to become a little better in the future
  because that is a really good way to explain things and get out the things in your mind
  and people can read it and if there is good music then it's complete."

It was through Darkthrone's hateful lyrics that people would praise Fenriz as a poetical genius,
but at the same time Darkthrone have seen their share of controversy, mainly concerning their
"Transilvanian Hunger" album. It was their deal with Peaceville that would soon be severed as
said album was criticized with having anti-semitic lyrics. This would lead to distributors
boycotting the band and getting their reputation as "the most hated band in the world."
The band have stated that things were taken totally out of context and Darkthrone have nothing
to do with politics whatsoever. So they would leave Peaceville eventually and sign to Moonfog.

- "The distributors thought that we were political and there's nothing political or racial
  on that album. It's really too bad that people saw the band as Nazi propaganda so
  it was kind of difficult. Politics are just as interesting as Margaret Thatcher's underpants."

There have also been rumors about Darkthrone that have circled around. One that I heard quite a
while back was that they threatened the band Carcass by sending them a cut off human finger
warning them not to come to Norway.

- "Well that's a good rumor really. I don't think we have done that but I have also heard some
  other rumors that we were eating the former Mayhem vocalist, Dead's brain
  [I heard a rumor that they were in the house when Dead killed himself! -Chris].
  So that's also a good rumor. People have good imaginations. We really haven't had
  the opportunity to cut off someone's finger really but it would be fun to try (laughs)."

What about grave desecrations?

- "Well it's hard to say really. But we're not in jail so..."

With Fenriz in Oslo keeping busy as a DJ at a metal pub, which apparently draws huge crowds and
Nocturno Culto trying to keep as far away as possible from huge crowds, is there anything
Darkthrone regret? 

- "No never. You know that we are proud of everything that we have done and going to jail
  for a few years would have been a disaster for Darkthrone. There's nothing productive there."

- "I live as far away from any city," concludes Nocturno Culto. "The inspiration to do things
  here are enormous because you sit alone with your thoughts and you go to work ofcourse,
  but to be alone with your thoughts all the time and I have no friends around here
  and that's the best thing for me. So basically the best inspiration for Darkthrone
  is deserted landscapes and one has to be realistic to say that Darkthrone is not alive
  as it used to be. We are just Fenriz and me and we live far away from each other.
  So we are not as productive as we were before but we will make another album
  and I have started to write music and the next album we will put alot of effort into it."

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