Carpathian Forest are truly one of the last bands in the black metal scene to play in the classic, traditional style, and their newest album, 'Strange Old Brew' is an admirable mixture of the old and the new, the conventional and the innovative. I had planned to question them about the new work...but before I could even begin framing my questions I stumbled upon this interview, and because it sums up just about everything I wanted to learn from them, I just decided to reprint it here. I wish to sincerely thank my friend Lance Gifford of the always-admirable Ultima Comparatio magazine for allowing the transcription and reprinting of this interview. You can email Lance here.

Note: The images included here were taken from the Avantgarde Records website.

Ultima Comparatio interview with Carpathian Forest

One of Norways best bands finally gets some space here in the Pages of Ultima Comparatio. Carpathian Forest has existed in some form or another since 1991, and still churns out some of the coldest and most grim sounding Black metal anywhere.
With demos, a mcd, a bootleg CD, a full length CD, a 7 inches pic ep and 2 more full lengths in 2,000, Carpathian Forestís time should be now, time for everyone else to wake up and recognize the greatness that I have been preaching for years and years.

Greetings to you Nattefrost. Can you update us on things with Carpathian Forest?

Ahh, things have been hectic as hell actually. I have a fairly chaotic routine with work and such. But basically what is going on with the band is a lot of things.. We had a long dead period before and after the Black Shining Leather album, especially before.
We had many songs written that never made that album, and were intended for another. So in January and February, we went into the studio and recorded a lot of material.
The result of these recordings will be 2 CD's this year.

This is excellent news.. What can you tell us about these two releases?
Are they similar to each other or vastly different?

Well, as I said, some of the stuff was older material, but we also did write some new material as well. The older stuff was written between 1991 and 1996, so there is a lot of variances within those.
What we basically did with these CD's is we tried to keep the older songs on one album with a couple of new tracks that might have a similar feel to them on the one CD.. This will be the CD called "Strange Old Brew" and should be out in June. The attitude is very much a "Fuck-off" album.
The other CD, which should perhaps surface in December or something will be called " A Morbid Fascination of Death ". This one will be a bit different.

You recently put out a 7 inch pic disc, will either of the songs on that be on the (new) discs?

Yes actually, the new song "It's turning Blue" will be on the "Strange old Brew" CD as a bonus track, while the Mayhem cover will be on the second CD.
So those without turntables will also be able to check these songs out. The sounds isn't the greatest on the 7 inches, so perhaps it was meant that they come out on CD.
I really like the sound of vinyl myself. And the EP sounded fine to me. I like vinyl a lot too, but today there are so many younger kids into this music that they probably don't even possess a turntable, so they wouldnít have the means to check it out.

You mentioned that the second CD will be a bit more experimental, will you still have the traditional mix of raw, primitive songs with the more epic and meloncholic songs?

You really need to hear these albums, yes both styles will be present on these.
I should note, that the other main member of the band, Nordavind, has left the band. The friendship was heading south during the time of recording, and it became very evident in the songs, they are extremely aggressive, I think the tension helped the overall aggressive level.
But regarding the experimentation aspects. As I said, we do have the traditional mix of Carpathian Forest style(s), but we experiment with some Jazz as well.

Carpathian Forest's newest release

What compelled you to try this at this stage of the bands existence?

I have always been a big admirer of Jazz music, when done properly it is an outstanding style of music.

This brings to mind another band from your country.. Ved Buens Ende, they seem to be one of the first bands associated with Black metal that incorporated Jazz into their music.

You are right, and they did it very very well. They were a phenomenal band in every possible aspect.

I don't know how it was over there, but over here, even somewhat mainstream critics recognized their talent as musicians. It is unfortunate that they no longer exist.

Definitely, but that is the nature of music..
Bands drop all the time, unfortunately, some great bands as well. Another thing that was really great about them, a lot of people don't recognize, is some of their strange chords and timing, was somewhat similar to old VoiVod.
So if you look at all the bands that are incorporating the VoiVod stuff {Advertantly or inadvertantly} VBE started it all. Definitely.

Is it this style of Jazz that you will be putting into Carpathian Forest?

I wouldn't say it is any definite Jazz style, just a bit more of experimentation for us.
Believe it or not, there is Saxophone on a couple of songs. I love the sax when used properly in a Jazz environment. I think it came out really good, it is subtle, but there.

Back to the basics of the band. You have existed since when, 92 or 93?

No, 1991 was when we started recordings our first material...sometimes I feel like it has been far too long.

Given the fact that you have existed since that period, and you have always had a large degree of Hellhammer/Celtic Frost style music on your recordings. Do you feel envious that Darkthrone has gotten all the credit for starting this trend?

Haha, no not at all. Darkthrone are absolutely one of my favorite bands, so no ill feelings there.
There are many other bands that jumped on the bandwagon some years after that gained some notoriety that I feel is extremely undeserving that annoys me more.

Anyone in particular?

I don't even want to give them any free publicity.

Haha, ok.. Your thoughts on the Black Metal scene today as opposed to years ago?

It is pretty horrible now.
It isn't a scene, it is just a huge trend with a lot of people doing it for fame and money only. Over the last 5 years it has become a circus with bands more intent on selling image than making music with any ounce of substance. Some young bands really get far more credit than they deserve.
I have thought about retiring from this many times, but I still love doing it, but my absences from any contact with the so-called scene helps a bit. If I had to deal with it on a regular basis, I would have definitely quit a while ago.

Carpathian Forest materializing...

Funny you should mention bands selling image. Do you feel that ANY of the bands are as extreme as they portray?

Some yes, but most no!!
I look at some of the bands that are trying to make everyone believe that they are the most extreme individuals on the planet, I don't believe for a moment that any of them are at all.
There are certain German bands that have a lot of hype surrounding them that I feel are the biggest whores of selling an image around. I can honestly say, I don't think there is a German band that I have heard that I have found much worth in their music

On the subject of bands getting more credit than they deserve. Your country doesn't seem to stagnate in this category.
You seem to be a bit ahead of everyone else. Bands like Dodheimsgard and Mayhem are moving on to new things as well as others

Yes, I feel it is a good thing but I don't always deem it as necessary. Some bands evolve a great deal all at once, we have evolved with each release, just on a smaller scale.
We aren't immune to the trends either, the entire Goth movement here is rather large and rather annoying. Bands like Theatre of Tragedy and The sins of Shy Beloved, and there (are) countless others, especially here in my area. In fact, we recorded at Sound Suite again for this release, and I have to be honest, as good of a producer as the guy is, I was finding myself getting annoyed at times, because he was trying to bring the things he did with Tristania and their like to our music, which isn't acceptable.

Speaking of Goth.. You had an interesting cover song on "Black Shining Leather". What compelled you to cover a "Cure" song..

Well first of all, let me clear (this) up, I am not a huge Cure fan at all.
I do like some of their more moody songs, as they are quite surreal, and I have always loved the song "A Forest", so since every other extreme band covers some Heavy metal song, we thought it would be great to do something completely different.

So as a whole you don't have much tolerance for Goth music?

Not really, some 80's British Goth had some merit, but not this new stuff.

What about electronic music or industrial music?

I personally am not into either much. But that is just me.
I do however like a lot of the Cold Meat Industry bands, although it isn't exactly either style you are asking about here. I find them to be very mesmerizing and in many cases very dark and I do frequently listen to such music.

Have you ever considered trying to do a project of this style?

Yeah, but I would only do it if done properly, I wouldn't want to release a cheese product, there are a couple of other Black metal people doing that already. We do have a couple of songs of this style on the up-coming CD's, and I think one on Black Shining Leather as well.

Does the band play live at all?

We have played some, not a lot, the former member, Nordavind, wasn't too fond of it, and was a very difficult person to work with.
So even though it is a sad thing that he is no longer a member, it really is for the best. He was very very narrow-minded.

Why exactly did he leave?

He was a strange person, he all at once decided he wanted nothing more to do with music at all. So that was it.

Strange. But getting back to the shows. Speak of them a bit. How many? How did they turn out etc..?

Well, there are 2 shows of note, the first could be described, well I guess as one would figure it being our first show, quite mediocre.
The second however was fucking great!! We played with Immortal and Satyricon. All three bands had an excellent response from the crowds, seriously an incredible night for everyone. We anticipate playing more with our new member now.

Do you still utilize the corpse-paint with the band? Live and otherwise?

Well, we don't wear it to the mall and such, but I am being sarcastic as I know what you mean..
Yes, we still wear it, but not so much of the hard definitive Black and white, but more of a shadowed effect, I think it looks more corpse-like as opposed to clown-like.

That is good, many bands seem to be moving away from it, I had hoped you hadn't too.

Well, we are all getting a bit older now, I guess some feel they are too old and mature or sophisticated for it.
We have grown too, just look at our name, it really doesn't represent anything we stand for anymore. At one time we were really inspired by the entire Vampire history and such. But that isn't present at all.
We really have developed into a whole now, it isn't anything that we were influenced by much, it is our own thing I think, both musically and lyrically.

I would have to agree. Speaking of your lyrics.. What compelled you to begin writing about the entire S&M thing?It seems strange, but all of a sudden (this) seems to be catching on.

Yes, I have noticed other notable bands doing it within the last year. But I can only speak for myself, my lyrics are all from personal experience or interests. Not shock value, or anything else.
This will be a constant from here on out. I don't see much sense in singing fantasy lyrics.

What I was getting to, was we have a huge festival over here every year known as the Metal-fest, have you heard of it?

Yeah of course, it is very well known over here, a lot of bands have gone over there to play it.

Has Avant Garde ever approached you about sending you there to play it?

I WISH!! I would love to, I am really anxious to get my feet on American soil. Some people like to bash the U.S. for being behind with the Black metal scene, but to me, it is an opportunity to introduce a hungry audience to our music.

Back to some other releases of yours. A few years ago, Avant Garde released some of your demo's and rehearsal tapes on CD format. There are other demo's and such still not on disc, aren't there?

Well, I do not endorse the said CD at all, the sound is shit on it, and the fact that the old rehearsal tape was included really annoys me, as that is something we can't listen to at all these days.

You had a demo called "In these trees are my gallows", why do you think that it didn't make that CD?

It actually did, but the sound was so shitty on that CD that you obviously didn't recognize it. If I was just asked, that release could have been 1,000 times better, I possess the actual tapes of those recordings that have GOOD sound, it could have been a decent release, but I am not too fond of it. And like I said, I have never got Roberto to admit to releasing it.

Despite that, I can honestly say, the label does a great job promoting you, it is a big event whenever new Carpathian Forest material comes out, I get the feeling they are genuinely into your music as well.

Yeah I have no complaints at all, the label has a LOT of releases and a lot of styles {Not all of which I like}, but they seem to handle us really well even though I am sure there are others that sell more than us. I think the one band that really did well for them is Katatonia, and it seems to me that they don't promote us, much less than they do for them.

On to another topic, this issue will have a theme of rememberance to it, the memory of Euronymous.. Did you know him very well?

Yeah I did actually. He and I met through his store, he always ordered my tapes and such and sold them in the Helvete shop. I ordered all my music through him, he would always call me when something special came in that he thought I would be interested in. I have nothing but fond memories of him.

It seems that he is a completely forgotten figure now.

Yeah he does. But you have to remember, that was 7 years ago now, and 90% of the people that are into Black Metal now, were not even thinking about it then, so they don't know the history and the importance of him.
A lot of people like to talk shit on him, but I have nothing but good things to say about him, I agreed with a lot of his ideals and there really would have been no such thing as "Evil" black metal if not for him, he was 100% into everything he talked about. And because of that, other bands seemed to strive for the same thing, and because of his influence, we had some of the most emotional and dark music ever to be made come out of our country.

Your views on Christianity today? Are they still as strong as say, 6 years ago?

Definitely! The whole existence of the band stems from a very very antichristian belief system. I have my natural views, I look down at it, but I had to come to an agreement with it. My parents are fairly strong Christians, they became Christians about 5 or 6 years ago, and although it annoyed me, I wouldn't stop associating myself with them because of it. Most aspects of christianity are nauseating to me, but that is just me. My parents dislike my views as well, but it isn't something we talk about out of respect for each other.

During all the fires etc.. did they try to really sway you against your chosen path?

No, they know it is it.
I became me at about age 15 or 16, that was when I realized I was never meant to be a Christian. I think my parents thought it was teenage rebellion, but if so, I am the oldest teenage rebel going, as I am now 26 years of age.

Well, that is all I had for you this, time, I really appreciate you taking the time to call and answer some questions, you were a difficult man to track down.