Late last year, Djevel released their latest album “Ormer Til Armer, Maane Til Hode”, in which they evoke the ambience and atmosphere of Black Metal’s golden years. We had a chat with T. Ciekals, the charismatic mastermind behind the success of Norwegian Black Metal outfit, about the new album, his influences, the upcoming album and other interesting issues. Keep on reading… 

Your first contact with Black Metal was when you heard the “Under the Sign of the Black Mark” back in 1992, what changed in you when you first listened to that album? What was your first thought?
It was that feeling of hearing something I had never heard before, dark and more vicious than most I would say. I instantly fell in love and it’s been a «happily ever after» since that day…

Do you believe Black Metal has lost its core essence ever since its early days or has it just simply evolved?
Obviously, something has changed and, to some extent, at least after 1995 something went wrong, I personally had a break after 1996 up to 2000 since the «scene» mostly got flooded with latex and eyeliner… but I feel that this old demon has managed to rise once again. I think what happened, and what happens to every sub culture, is that at some point it becomes main stream and watered out. It is totally natural, and the good thing about this is that it has a way of cleaning up; the people that just came for the drinks will leave when they realize they can’t handle the poison, and the rest will transform into the next trend. What you have left then are the ones that never stopped what they started and the new ones that actually have something to offer. It is like a Ragnarok, something/someone has to die in order for the core to rise…

Why did you feel the need to create Djevel? What was your main goal?
I was just missing the feeling of Norwegian black metal from 90-94 and I thought I might as well bring it back myself instead of searching for bands doing it. You have to remember that around 2000 there were, as far as I remember, hardly any bands without eyeliners and rubber spikes, so it was impossible to discover any good acts. Also, I never changed the way I see black metal, and I still don’t feel I have changed anything since 1992. Black metal for me is still what it was back then. I do see that people need to evolve and, in my personal life, of course I don’t lead the same life as I did in 1992… BUT when it comes to black metal I do. It’s the same. Always will be.  

The band plays uncompromising, raw and unpolished Norwegian Black metal as if it was crafted in the 90’s, with a structure and style far from modern Black metal… is this the correct way to present the genre? In your opinion, is Norwegian Black metal the purest and truest? Or can Black Metal from other countries be true and pure as well?
The purity of black metal comes from the heart and soul, not a country…

Supposedly, Djevel’s lyrics are about ancient, Heathen Norwegian culture and the ways of devil worship in the old days. What are the sources from which you draw inspiration? Tales? Literature? Music?
I have always been very into these matters, and I like to spread these messages and preserve them within my music. I have read quite a few books on these matters, and still do, but it is more and more becoming a result of my thoughts and life. A forest walk can inspire me more than 40 pages in a book and vice versa.

“Ormer Til Armer, Maane Til Hode” was one of last year’s highlights within the genre… how proud are you of Djevel’s 6th full-length? Are you fully satisfied with the result?
Well, I appreciate your words. This may sound pretentious, but I honestly create the albums for myself. Once they are done, I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about them. I move on and create the next album, as I already have done. I am satisfied with it and I think it is nice if others like it and if it can feed their feelings, but that’s up to each individual.

"Ormer til armer, maane til hode" translates into «Serpents as arms, moon as head». What does it represent for you? What does it mean?
It is a description of a massive darkness that can unfold both within oneself and upon the world. It can be a manifestation of the darkness within yourself, and when you look at the artwork you will see two serpents crawling down a black mountain with the moon behind it. It is (in my head) a picture of a bigger darkness crawling towards the world/life, and it presents the idea that man is in his core inevitable evil and selfish.

How’s the creative process in Djevel? How long did it take to have the album ready?
The process is that I write the album and send the demos to Faust and Mannevond, and then we record it. This album took me maybe 10 months, and the new one that I have now written took me around 8 months. I usually start on the next album the moment I am done with one.

Djevel must have the longest song titles ever… considering all albums have long tracks… is it intentional and is now a band’s “tradition”? Are they simple lines taken from the songs or do they sum up the content of the song?
No, it’s more just how I feel they need to be presented, and not something I «try to do». Some are lines from the songs and some are not...

How different is the latest album when compared to the previous ones? What makes it special?
Well, that would be a question for you to answer I guess. I don’t consider it special. It’s just another album I wrote, and it is a manifestation of my feelings and forces at the time.

The cover artwork is from acclaimed Norwegian artist Danny Larsen and it is extremely dark and gloomy… what’s its connection with the album and title? 
I just told Danny the title and this is what he created. We have many similar feelings towards black metal and I always feel certain that what he creates will be satisfying. 

You once said “We don’t bullshit on stage, talk and connect with the audience, we come, play and leave. No more no less. I am not very present when I play live, I drift away into my own head and feelings around it, so I mostly just stare down in the floor or close my eyes and play.” Do you think your live shows are attractive to your audience? Why don’t you interact with them? To maintain a certain cult status that is now associated with your name?
Honestly, I don’t care if my live shows are attractive or not. I could not care less… I don’t feel the need to connect with anyone else than my own subconscious mind when I play… If I am watching a black metal band this is the way I would have wanted it to be: dark, little lights, straight forward and no bullshit, hence this is how I do it. I really can’t stand disco lights and bands shouting «hey hey hey». 

In the early days of the band you have stated "We’re not a live band." But the whole live thing has become easier for you and the band has been very active live and Djevel will play at Beyond The Gates in August this year and in some more festivals… Why? What changed? How do you deal with all the attention? 
The biggest reason for not playing live in the beginning was that I was unsure if I would manage to create the correct feeling on a stage and, honestly, I feel we failed the first few tries, but after a while things have fallen into its place, and now I feel confident that what we present on stage is worthy of what we create on the albums. There is not much attention I think, at least not how I see it. I consider myself of «no importance» in this setting. People should pay attention to the music, not me.

Black Metal circa 1992- 1993 has had a deep impact on you and has in many ways shaped the person you are today. Which bands / albums had a bigger impact on you and why?
From the early days of my involvement with Black Metal I would say these albums, among many others:
-Satyricon Dark medieval times; the sound of ancient Norway
-Ulver; Bergtatt- Just beautiful and dark at the same time
-Darkthrone; Under a Funeral moon - it just sounds so fucking evil
-Beherit: Drawing down the moon - Probably the most occult album in my collection
-Gehenna: Seen through the veils of darkness - We used to share rehearsal room and the time they did this album was just very intense and dark, so this album just reminds me of those glorious days  when we all lived for black metal 24/7. 
-Impaled Nazarene: Tol cormpt  Norz Norz Norz - I just love the rawness and dark violence 
-Burzum: Hvis lyset tar oss - No explanation needed

In your opinion, which were the golden years of Black Metal and why? 
It must have been 92-95 and the reason is because we were so young that we could just dive 100% into this hellish cult and needed not to think about anything else. We were all in school, had no bills to pay etc, we just had to focus and be black metal and worship this dark all day long. It was so intense and the only thing that mattered... you can hear on all the albums that came out those days that there was a will and belief behind it, it just reeks from every tone that it was created by fire and will. You knew when Marduk or Darkthrone etc would release an album that it would be great even before you heard it.

What’s the current state of Norwegian Black Metal and Black Metal in general? Any bands that deserve attention, in your opinion?
I don’t keep track, but there are better bands now than in a long time, but I must say that I still think the good bands usually involve people from my generation, like Whoredom Rife etc. There is something about the feeling from that time that one can’t create unless you were a part of black metal then. At least that is my opinion.

Do you believe the internet is to blame for the massification and globalization of metal? Do you think it was for the best or worse?
People are probably to blame as usual. I miss the old tape trading days and the excitement of opening the post box to see what was in it, and also just ordering albums because of the names of the band and the rumours about them, since you could not just download it. But I have been a part of that so I don’t acre so much about the internet being good/bad. I probably would not have been ordering tapes anymore anyway. That being said I still buy a lot of vinyl.

On the 2nd December you posted an image in your Facebook page of a devilish Donald Trump… what’s the meaning or intention behind that? Is it a true reflection of the man? Is he the personification of “Djevel”?
It was just a good image to accompany that our albums were released in the USA.  Haha, no, he is most certainly not the personification of Djevel, he is just a big baby with money.

Once you said that this is the only way you know how to create black metal, hence the use of the Norwegian language and culture when it comes to both the music and lyrics. Why was this the only way for you? What do you mean exactly? Would you create a different project in case you came up with a different sound? 
Because this is the only way I see that I am able to create Norwegian Black metal the way I want it to be. This is what I grew up with and this is what is in my blood. I can’t explain it more than that, it explains itself. Well, I have also created the band NettleCarrier, listen to it and you will hear that it differs from Djevel…

Both Ciekals and Mannevond play in Djevel and NettleCarrier. What differences and similarities, according to your perspective, exist between them?
NettleCarrier is much more based upon a more universal occult approach, while Djevel is, as you know, pure Norwegian. NettleCarrier is also darker and more violent than Djevel. I don’t see how I would do acoustic guitars in NettleCarrier, etc…

Any news regarding NettleCarrier or any other projects the band members might be involved in? Or any new projects you are in that we should pay attention to?
I have a band with Nosophoros from Mare and Ritual Death that we hopefully will release in 2021. NettleCarrier is not a very active band these days.

Any last words you’d like to share with our readers?
Don’t wear rubber spikes and latex.

Interview by Sónia Fonseca

April 2020