The Blizzard Beasts now 'Damned In Black' today virtually define Black Metal. As many of the original black metal bands and numerous bandwagon acts render the scene stale, Immortal opened 2000 with the absolutely killer new album 'Damned In Black'. Is Immortal the only black metal band that is still 'true'?!! Immortal are already back on the road after this brilliant release , and set for a 'Pure (live) Holocaust' On the first date of the No Mercy tour, I had the chance to talk a bit to Iscariah (bass), a very cool guy. Sadly, I've was forced to make it short, because he suffered from a severe hangover…

So, Iscariah, what's new since the last time you came here in Strasburg with Anorexia Nervosa?
Well, the new album 'Damned In Black' is out and it does well. We've been in the US and in Mexico on tour, mainly with Angel Corpse and Krisiun in the US, and on our own in Mexico. Apart from that, we've been drinking, eating, fucking, sleeping, listening to music, etc…

With 'Damned In Black', I think you're a bit back to the roots. It's a sort of mix between 'At The Heart Of Winter' and 'Battles In The North', don't you think?
Yeah, everybody says that! And I think it's a compliment, because they are great albums, just like 'Damned In Black'. I especially like its violent parts, that's very important for me. And I think it's a very important album and very strong for us. I would also say it's more demonic and more evil… Yeah, it's more evil. It's the most evil and most crypticl album for Immortal since the first one, I think so. It represents us.

And what do the lyrics deal with? Still with nature, wind and ice?
The winter is still a part of the concept of Immortal, but it's not that much on the album, because it appeared a lot already on 'At The Heart Of Winter'. So, this time, we have decided to go under and see what was evil there, and go more cryptic than before. As musicians and as individuals, we have to progress you know, we have to explore new territories, and that is important for us. We have to be still Immortal, but we have to progress, or else we would die. We have to take challenges and go a step forward.

Concerning the studios, you went to the Abyss ones, just like Marduk, Dimmu Borgir, Old Man's Child and so on, but you sound very different and unique. How did you manage to do that?
I don't know (laughs), it just happened. We don't know about the other bands, but we don't want the sound of the others, we don't simply say Peter to do his job. If it sounds good or not professional, we don't care. We want to have our own sound, and not the others' sound, we don't care about the general thing or the hype. We go for aggression and violence, and we don't want to overproduce any record.

How do you see the future for Immortal, both musically and commercially? And will you resign with Osmose?
Well, I mean, we have some huge labels licking our ass, but we think that the most intelligent solution is to stay with Osmose, because we know that with them, we are the priority, that we have tour opportunities, and we have a great communication with them. We haven't signed the new deal yet, but I think it will happen soon. About the artwork, it's been made again by Fournier, but only for the limited edition box.

Why did you do that?
Yeah, we just did it for the box, and not for the normal version. We wanted to make something special and exclusive… And the picture that's on the normal cover is a sort of trademark for Immortal you know. It's always been thought of like that. But for 'At The Heart Of Winter', it was a temporary thing, because at that time there were only two members in the band, and that's the reason why a drawing had been used. It was great of course, but Abbath had always in mind that when the band would have a full line-up, we would use again a picture of the band as cover. We just wanted to make something special for the box, and make something exclusive.

What about you? Are you now fully integrated? Can you give your ideas to the band?
The thing is that until last year, I hadn't played any live show. I had never played any concert before I joined Immortal, so it took some time for me to get into the routine of playing live. I didn't really manage to give my own ideas, I was more concentrated on playing the songs. But for the next album, I'll give my own ideas. And also, for 'Damned In Black', I had chosen to stay away on the sideline, because I wanted to clear my head and put everything in box, but now I'm confident. I'm used to touring and playing live, and we'll see with the next album…

Now, you're a really big band, you're on the road very often, and you even entered the charts in Germany… How do you live with that?
I think it's good for us. It's not that important to enter the charts, but it shows that we sell a lot of records and that a lot of people appreciate what we do. The good thing about being in the charts is also that we are now sure that in Germany, it will be quite easy for people to find our record in the shops.

And finally, what do you expect from this tour?
I think it's gonna be a success. Today is only the first day, and the first day is always hectic, I don't even know who the tour manager is. But I guess I will know soon… But the bands are all very happening and important bands, and the tour is going to be important and very promoted. It's only a pity it's not lasting longer, I would have seen it lasting a month at least, and maybe do a US part of the tour too…

I guess you're going to play some summer festivals then?
Yes, we're gonna play the Dynamo festival, we've been confirmed yesterday as headliners of the black stage, over Mayhem. So that's good for us, and we're also going to play the Wacken Open Air, and that's certainly going to be like last year, when we played nine festivals, which is quite good.

Festivals are important of course, but the conditions are crap, you don't get any soundcheck…
Soundcheck is hangover (laughs), and festivals in general are hangover.

Thanks! Would you like to say something to the readers?
Thanks for the support! The French (what about Australian!?) fans are some of our most important fans in the world… Keep staying who you are! Thanks and keep up the good work! See you in the front row!