Interview with Maniac by Whodan 

Since the beginning in the mid 80'ies has Mayhem been the fastest and the most brutal Black Metal band ever. One can't forget the best BM album ever, "De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas". The band will during autumn release its long awaited second fullenght album "A Grand Declaration Of War". Therefore I decided to send them a short interview. I must confess that had my doubts about getting a reply but Maniac kind of surprised me. So here it is. Enjoy!

What can you tell us about the forthcoming album "A Grand declaration Of War"? What makes "A Grand Declaration Of War" an important and viable release for 1999?

Well, it is a concept album concerning the final war and what will come. A very ambitious project, but it will be a killer. Very brutal and aggressive, in fact it will crush our previous material. I hope it will be an iron fist in the brainwashed minds of people. A true awakener! It will burst with vital forces and sets out to kill the christian moral standards that has destroyed European cultures and societies for 2000 years now. It is important because true brutality, pure energy in its highest form, and violent aggressiv music is almost not present in today's Black Metal scene. (Agree with you, the synth scene of today sucks! - ed.) There, as in other parts of society, of which we obviously is a part, have become decadent to a degree that sickens me. Mayhem will by this release show, or should I say: put forth this energy that we feel Black Metal is about.

In what way does the new material differ from your last album "Wolf’s Lair Abyss"?

It is more brutal, aggressive, better, weird, maybe also harder for people to understand. We do not want to make music that you can relate to after 2 minutes of the album. It is not supposed to be easily accessed. But if you manage to enter the domain it will give you very much. And as I said, it is a full concept album.

Can you reveal any new song titles?

Yes, "A Grand Declaration Of War", "In The Lies Where Upon You Lay", "A Time To Die", "Daybreak" (working title thus far, I might change it. + Il principe) 
I) "A Bloodsword And A Colder Sun" II) "Crystalized Pain In The Deconstruction"
III) "Completion In Science Of Agony", IV) To Daimonion" - This is the whole album.

Judging from what I’ve heard it seems as the album has suffered delay after delay. How come? When will the album be released?

This is true. Mayhem has never been fast in releasing albums and not this time either. We are very conscious about the material and we want it to be perfect (for us) and so we have dumped alot of music. Anyway, now we are very satisfied and the material are coming along strong. we could propably have released the album in summer, but the summer is a very bad time to release albums, so it will not be out until the autumn, but rest assured it will be worth waiting for. Also we will release a live-album from Milano, Italy in one or two months. It will be good for the die-hard, true fans because Attila sings together with me on "From The Dark Past" so watch out for it.

Where will you record "A Grand Declaration Of War" then?

It depends, but we have been in contact with Peter from the Abyss studio. That's all I can say at this moment.

Will there be a huge tour after the album? How come Mayhem has never played here in Sweden? 

Yes, we are planning to do an European tour, an American tour and also play Australia and the far-east. It will be The Grand Declaration Of War tour. I really don't know why we have not played in Sweden, we talked about it last year, but unfortunately it never happened. However, I think we will play there after the album is out.

There is also an official live album coming, recorded in Milano (Italy). Tell me about it. Do you really think it’s necessary when there are so many bootlegs out there? 

The bootlegs are the main reason why we release this album. The bootlegs have terrible sound quality and the covers are not too good either, so we want to give the fans a live-album with good sound quality.

Will there be any new songs on the live album? What will the live album be entitled?

Not from our up-comming album. We did play "A Time To Die" in Athens and it went very well. The live-album is titled "Mediolanum Capta Est". 

Have you ever considered recruiting a second guitarplayer to simplify things live?

We tried this, but felt we lost much of the energy and aggresiveness: strangely. As I have said in the past I consider Mayhem as a four-headed monster with no room for more.

An opinion I've heard about "Wolf's Lair..." is that production is a bit "plastic". Do you agree on this? How come you didn’t use Grieghallen to record ”Wolf’s Lair...” as most Norwegian bands do? 

I don't know what is meant by plastic, in describing sound we have no accurate words (like in science) it is a subjective thing and we have to use metaphors or very vague words like plastic, or fat or thin or grim or... This list could go on forever. Science have accomplished many things, but when it comes to describing or talking about feelings we still walk knee-deep in the blood of the ancient philosophers. I like the sound, but that goes for this particular album. We did not use Grieghallen because we felt we had to move away from this particular sound, or to get something else. Also we wanted to record the album far away from any city.

Do you see the video "The Return..." as a tribute to fans who never have been able to witness Mayhem live?

I guess so, but I hate the sound on this particular video. But as I said we will tour extensivly when the new album is out so be sure to catch us then and capture the true essence.

But if you really hate the sound on the video, why did you release it? Would it not have been better to wait with recording a video and try to get a better sound somewhere else instead? Like in Milano for an example.

Well, it was a long time ago since the gig, and it took a long time between the gig and the release of the video. The first time I heard the "soundtrack" I seemed to like it, in an odd way, but the more I listen to it the more I dislike it. And people do make mistakes, but anyway it might be worth having if only for the footage. Actually we did record the Oslo-gig on video (proffessionally) but the fucked-up, desipiseable sound-engineer managed to press the wrong button on the DAT. Now that is a gig I would like to have released on video, but not without sound hehehe...

Judging from the bootleg LP "The Return..." the whole concert was 11 songs long but on your video there were only 8 songs included. Why did you cut off the remaining songs? 

Because the sound on the other songs were even more terrible. And we were not able to do anything with them in the mastering process. 

Since the begining in the mid 80’ies there has never been no compromise in Mayhem’s style. What made you stick to your style when so many other bands were changing? 

Because, as I also have said, we don't seek compromises, we seek the ultimate expansion of limits. If I could make an album exactly as I wanted it I assume that listening to it would be like falling into a black hole.

How do you think Mayhem of today differ on both the musical level the conceptual level from the time when Euronymous and Dead were in the band? 

Musically I would say we are better technically and also I would say more cosmic catastrophy like. When Euronymous and Dead were there I would say it was more based on creating a dark vision or mood. I guess, or atleast I hope, that we have kept much of that, but still expanded into pure will or force. Conceptually the lyrics deal now more directly with the fight against ultimate decay, namely christendom.

There is currently a tribute in production to you, how do you feel about that?

I have not given it much thought. In large, I am not a very big fan of tribute albums. I do not even know who will play on it yet.

Speaking of tribute albums... Weren’t Mayhem also supposed to participate on the Swedish Bathory tribute? How come you never did?

Yes, but I am totally fed up with tribute albums and the more tribute albums being released the more I seem to find the uninteresting. Personally, I rather listen to the original. 99% of the time the original is better. There's something about keeping the moods and states-of-mind that hit you first heard the song. 

We fall slowly into deep stretching space: war is the father of all things.