Aardschok Magazine February1996

"The Crusade against holy cottages"

'Diest' is a little town, well hidden in the middle of Belgium, so that time hadn't had its effect on it. The one who is interested in medievel sphere, should take a walk through the ancient village. Or make a visit to the former nun's courtyard, an old piece of catholic history. In that little holy court is, curiously, the house of Ancient Rites bassist-vocalist Gunther Theys.

-At A point of view, it's the perfect environment for this though frontman. Doesn't some work of Ancient Rites often refer to dark times where knights prevailed? Also it's an environment dominated by religious symbols. The church is -literaly- situated central and above every house in the court is a little saint's statue build, which is opposite to the big aversion of established religions, something the lyrics of Ancient Rites refer to. Diest is an intrigueing environment to chat about the Belgian black metal pride Ancient Rites. In the big hall from the nun's court it's Gunter who speaks up, assisted by drummer Walter van Cortenberg. It's late December and in the background sounds a choir that sings Christmas carol's.

GUNTHER: 'I consider churches as historical objects, not so much as symbols of something I fight. Therefore I can live fine here. I don't believe in satanic terrorism, something that became 'popular' in Norway some particular time.'

-From Ancient Rites recently came out a second CD, through Mascot, entiteled 'Blasfemia Eternal'. Thereupon aren't only lyrics against christianity, but also the Islamic belief is being attacked. ('Mohammed Wept').

GUNTHER: 'I travel a lot and this way I gain a lot of inspiration. It's a fact that in the western world religious dogma's are almost completely disappeared. Only in countrys like Ireland and Italy, you see how much power the Roman Catholic stils has. When you are in North Africa, you see that there's comming a new fundamentalism, the Islamitic fundamentalism. Also that I see as a big danger. Just look at the minor position of the women over there.'

-However Ancient Rites isn't afraid of angry, Rushdie-alike reactions from this corner.

'We say it as it is, true, but I don't think so we have this big impact as a writer like Salman Rushdie. They'll leave us alone.

-The point is, Gunther and his Ancient Rites hitch to a soft style of satanism.

'We don't preach, we practise nothing and let everybody in his or hers dignity.'

-But where does the penchant for the dark and the occult come from?

'Because the religions of the light, like the chrisitian one, often are this hypocritical. Also there happens a lot, but it's covered and oppressed. I'm not ashame vor certain instincts, like my ego‹sm. It's a lot more honest to face up to certain dark spots on your soul. But I keep the limit in mind. You have to respect others. You may not obtain your goal if that's on the back of others.

-But, that's THE question, can these thoughts be translated to a worldview? Can it serve as foundation for a new society? Here, the story of Gunther stops for a moment.

'Mmmm yeah, that's true. That would be hard.'

-A society is namely helped with some order and regularity. Virtue from the Calvinistic style, isn't it? When we all would be surrender ourselves to our own negative charactersides, it would be in 'no-time' a crazy mess ofcourse. Wouldn't it?

'It would be a mess yeah, I think so to,' sighs Gunther and continues after a short pause, "Maybe it's just easy to kick and rebel against everything. Also I pretend not to have an alternative. I just think that there are area's on this earth, where the religious repression has been grown that hard, that some opposition is been wanted. In such cases, satanism really can offer a reply.'

-Gunther emphasizes that his thoughts about the Islamitic fundamentalism isn't based on political, racist fallacies. Race doesn't matter, only relegion. Nevertheless the band is been boycotted in certain political correct areas, notably Germany. During the whole career of the band, there have been boycots and conflicts. Ancient Rites was founded in 1989 and say things like they are, already from the early start of the band. It produces sensational news in papers. German clubs are being threated with bombattempts by anarchistic hardcorefans, if they let the band do their gig. If there is being played, somethimes it ends up to fights. In no time, Ancient Rites is a band with a bad reputation. However the biggest setback happens when guitarplayer Philip dies in a car crash in 1990. The group continues and releases in 1994 a debut CD, through the (which are friends of the band) After Dark-label. But the folks from After Dark screw up themselves and Ancient Rites. (great friends...) So this debut really flop completely. The album is going to be re-released by their present label, Mascot. So, it's the label that's going to release the second CD. It's an album where fast black metal is being alternated with melodic passages.

GUNTHER: 'We are related to the first black metal wave, that early in the eighties stood up and sometimes we experience that as a disadvantage. We mix old influences in our sound and really do big efforts to let the cd sound good. In contrast to many new bands, who choose intentional for a bad sound. That's why thirteen year old kids sometimes have troubles with placing us in the right context.

WALTER: 'We are namely all three started with Kiss, Iron Maiden and Venom. Back then, now i'm talking fifteen years ago, we didn't know eachother yet. Now when we look back on that time, it appears that sometimes we went to the same concerts. While most fans from back then have build an ordinary life, we ,as survivers, are gathered in a band.