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Black Metal Historian FINN HÅKON RØDLAND Discusses His Projects & Shares His Expertise

Future generations will thank him for his work!

Photo by Filippa Rødland.

Finn Håkon Rødland is the leading black metal expert, whose advocacy for the art form is changing public perception. By virtue of his accomplishments as an author, curator, and collector, Rødland has become one of Norway’s greatest weapons. Although his rise has been relatively stealth, he has been featured in major papers, such as Aftenposten. This is partially because Rødland has miraculously managed to assemble the most important black metal collection in the world. Rødland’s museum-worthy archive thoroughly documents the history of The True Mayhem and other fantastic bands with pictures, letters, recordings, instruments, stage attire, etc.

During Beyond the Gates last year at Grieghallen, Rødland presented a photo exhibition called “De Mysteriis Dom. Sathanas” that focused on the golden age of Mayhem. The carefully curated showcase included images from ThornsSnorre Ruch and Mayhem’s Attila Csihar. The opening of “De Mysteriis” was followed by a DJ set by Watain’s Erik Danielsson, who was among the exhibition’s attendees. While at Grieghallen, Rødland served as a wingman to Pytten — black metal’s greatest producer — during the latter’s guided tours — that ended at the exhibition. On the last tour, they were even joined by Attila himself.

Over the past decade, Rødland has been involved in several other projects likewise aimed at preserving the legacy of Mayhem. Not only has Rødland assisted with the re-release of Wolf’s Lair Abyss and the Blasphemer-era box set A Season in Blasphemy, but he was also the instigating force behind the epic box sets for Cursed in Eternity, De Mysteriis Dom. Sathanas, and Pure Fucking Armageddon. Like the last-named effort, Rødland contributed to several other releases that came out in 2022 alone: ManesIhjelbrent Skatt box, Mysticum’s Industries of Inferno box, Dimmu Borgir’s reissue of Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia, and Josh Brown’s Ancient Black Art: Nidrosian Black Metal. Rødland also recently conducted interviews for Ulver’s Trolsk Sortmetall box, which shipped in February.

Notably, Rødland played a behind-the-scenes role in NRK’s four-part TV series Helvete: Historien om norsk black metal (2020). His knowledge and resources helped make Helvete an outstanding documentary that raised awareness of the importance of the genre while providing an accurate, intelligent, and humanizing depiction of the artists involved. Shortly afterward in 2021, Mayhem received the 2020 honorary Spellemann Award, or “Norwegian Grammy,” from their friend Thomas Seltzer of Turbonegro. Necrobutcher later presented Rødland with a mini Spellemann harp. Everyone who appreciates black metal should be equally grateful to Mr. Rødland for his work, which he carries out with enthusiasm and a perfectionist’s attention to detail. Surprisingly, he has never accepted a cent for all of his painstaking efforts. Slagmaur, one of our favorite bands, said it best:

Finn Håkon has without a doubt been a resource in the black metal community and a glue that history badly needed for posterity. What this man has done in terms of blood sweat and tears to secure the world heritage of black metal is unprecedented, and I believe we have the best ahead of us.”

Without further ado, we present our conversation with the venerable Mr. Rødland himself.

We’ve heard that you’re currently in the process of putting together a box set for Thorns’ insanely influential Grymyrk demo. That’s obviously a noble task; we really needed proper documentation of the Grymyrk period. And, of course, you’re the right person to tell this story. So, could you please tell me more about this project?

When it comes to Thorns, I have become good friends with Snorre [Ruch] over the last few years. He gave me all of his tapes at some point in time. I started trying to sort them out, find out what type of recordings he had, and discover the best stories behind them. I really liked learning about the Stigma Diabolicum era — before they became Thorns — and what kind of people were members of the band during these years. It’s been so fascinating to investigate all this, especially Grymyrk. That recording has been so fundamentally important in the Norwegian black metal scene and really instrumental in defining the sound of Norwegian black metal along with Euronymous and Darkthrone.

I know that the Greek label Kyrck released a Stigma Diabolicum / Thorns compilation years ago, but I felt that Grymyrk is such an important recording in the history of Norwegian black metal, and it deserves a separate release. I said to Snorre: “You have to release Grymyrk as a stand-alone release because it’s an iconic recording!” I didn’t stop telling him that we needed to do it, and he just finally said: “Yeah, okay, I understand.” And I know others also agree with this. Then, we just started working on it and called Peaceville, so they will be releasing it. This was a couple of years ago. Then, I worked quite intensely with Snorre on an interview for some time. I think it’s ten pages. I tried to really create a timeline and pinpoint which members are on each recording and when they happened. I already had some dates on the tapes and stuff, but they’re not complete. At the same time, I spoke with Bård [Eithun, “Faust”] and Marius [Vold] about what they could remember. And then, I completed the Snorre interview. I’m currently focusing on interviewing Bård, Marius, and Harald [Eilertsen]. So, Grymyrk will hopefully be released this year.    

It seems that you’re also actively conquering Mayhem’s Deathcrush period. Could you please take me through your experience working on that box set?

It’s an important era. The Deathcrush album is iconic. The original pink cover is the holy grail for all collectors. Only 1,000 copies were printed for the first pressing. The backs were hand-signed by Euronymous because his name was left out under his picture due to a printing error. So, I was at Jørn’s [Mr. Jørn NecrobutcherStubberud’s] place this summer and picked up a lot of material. The original vinyl had this little slip saying that there was supposed to be a booklet inside, but we didn’t have time to finalize it, so you can order it instead. But they never printed it. We actually had the master sheets. It’s a two-page booklet with some pictures. That’s going to be a nice edition — finally being able to honor the promise to deliver a booklet and different promo materials and all. I have scanned everything. And just for the fun of it, I made some copies for myself in various colors just like they did back in the days — red, yellow, green, and stuff. So, that looks quite cool. The next step is to look into the pictures, Jørn’s personal photo archives. We have a lot of photos; we just need to decide what to use. Obviously, a lot of these photos have been used before in The Death Archives book and other releases, but it’s important to find the right pictures to honor that era. So, Jørn and I will have to tell his story because it is his story. Both Pure Fucking Armageddon and Deathcrush are Jørn’s legacy. I’m just helping him realize his vision.

Black Metal Historian FINN HÅKON RØDLAND Discusses His Projects & Shares His Expertise
Finn Håkon Rødland and Necrobutcher. Photo: Finn Håkon Rødland.

The Deathcrush box set will be released by Voices of Wonder. It will have the Deathcrush recording, obviously. I have the raw mix from Maniac. Maybe there isn’t that big of a difference between the raw mix and the mastered version, but, as a fan, I think it’s cool all the same to have the different documentations. We will include the demo tape that Maniac did, the Septic Cunts demo, if all goes well. Maniac has said yes, and Jørn has said yes. The Death rehearsal recording will be there. They rehearsed for two days. Only a handful of copies of the tape were originally released and sold at Helvete. I believe that only a few of the originals still exist, mine being one of them. I have also found some radio interviews because Mayhem were in the studio on High Voltage — they were there in 1986 and 1987 as guests, talking about Mayhem, playing some Mayhem, but also playing tracks from their favorite bands. It’s quite old-school, but I hope they can use it. I would need to translate it for the book, so that’s a big job. Hopefully, I’ll be able to work to have everything completed in 2023 and then have it available for pre-orders at some point in time at the end of the year or something.

You’ve rebounded quickly from completing Mayhem’s Pure Fucking Armageddon box, which comes with your 80-page book! Readers should know that you were also the main author behind a 92-page hardcover for the deluxe edition of Cursed in Eternity and then a 96-page hardcover for the De Mysteriis Dom. Sathanas box. Anyway, is there anything you’d like to say about what you learned while researching Pure Fucking Armageddon since it was just published this past September?

Pure Fucking Armageddon covered the beginning of Mayhem, so it was important to capture the history surrounding it. That was a really interesting project. I knew that there were different recordings that existed. Generally speaking, I am a sucker for obscure details and information. Like the story about the pig’s heads: They got them from this place called Butcher Bob, and Jørn still has a sticker from this place on his refrigerator. There’s also the story about the cassette player that Jørn used for the recording of these tapes and how it was shot to pieces with a shotgun. I tried forever to find the brand on that cassette player based on the photos but without luck. If anyone recognizes it, please get in touch, haha! Then, there are the details about the logo that Nella — a friend of Maniac from Rjukan — refined after Jørn’s first draft, the Norwegian newspaper clipping Norwegian newspaper clipping from December 1984 with a picture by Guido Rocha that was used for the cover, and how they ended up on the chart for imports in Kerrang! in 1987 after they visited Shades in London in ’87 and gave them 125 copies.

The reason why they did the first photo shoot was actually that they needed to have photos for Slayer Magazine. Just finding out who took the different photos, when it all happened, and why they took them was so fascinating. It was Øyvind Ihlen who took a lot of these photos back in those days. He’s the one who had Panic fanzine. He did the interview with Mayhem that was actually their first. People thought for a long time that the first one was by Metalion for Slayer Mag, but Øyvind Ihlen beat him by a few weeks. Øyvind Ihlen took a lot of photos for both of these interviews — the burning pig’s head, obviously. People thought that the photo they used for the promotion for the return when they got back together for the tour in ’95-ish looked like a bat head, but it was a pig’s head that was burning. So, the stories about those things were cool to capture. We included the Panic fanzine interview because there was a recording of it. Of course, it’s really obscure, but it’s now documented for eternity. It’s included as well as the Ski gig.

Now that you’ve realized so many of your ambitions with Mayhem and churned out so much phenomenal material, how do you feel about where you are on your quest to document their history?

I think that’s really important. For me, this genre, and Mayhem in particular — it’s world heritage. It’s Norwegian music, but it’s kind of world heritage. It seems that some people in the public are starting to understand that. Giving Mayhem the honorary award at Spellemannprisen is one example. Helvete is one example. The National Museum having a black metal exhibition is another example. But I think there’s a long way to go to further realize that when I’m saying that you have Munch, and you have Grieg, and then you have Mayhem, I’m not saying that only to make a title in the newspaper, but I actually mean it. I really think that when people look back in 100 years, it’s going to be true. It’s going to be Munch, Grieg, and Mayhem.

So, trying to document this part of history and everything that there is to know about it is a really important task for the time when we are gone, you know, because I didn’t want the bootlegs or random old interviews to be the legacy and only documentation of this band. I really wanted to capture the real story and the actual events, the actual people, and look beyond the sensational quotes in fanzines and old letters when they were like in their 20s. So, when I did the De Mysteriis box set, I was kind of always having a close dialogue with Euronymous’ old friends. That’s why it was so important that when I visited, for example, Nocturno Culto — I went to his place and gave him the finished box — he just sat there looking at it and said: “This is totally made in Euronymous’ spirit. This is totally how he would have wanted it.” He was crystal clear that Euronymous would have been proud of this. So, that’s kind of the assurance you need to be able to do this sort of thing — that you have the trust of all the guys involved, the guys in the band, the environment, the people who actually knew him and were there when everything happened.

After Deathcrush, we will be able to look back and say that we have covered pretty much everything from the start to De Mysteriis Dom. Sathanas. We have a little surprise with Dead [Per YngvePelleOhlin] later on as well. Stay tuned!

Last year, you presented the Mayhem photo exhibition “De Mysteriis Dom. Sathanas” during Beyond the Gates. We heard about some of the magic that happened there thanks to musician and presenter Tarjei Strøm, who facilitated the guided tours. Are there any updates regarding your upcoming exhibition in Berlin?

I met with Torgrim Øyre [a music journalist; Beyond the Gates’ festival manager; the founder of Revelations Music; and Malignant Eternal’s frontman, a.k.a. “T. Reaper”] a few weeks ago. The concept for the exhibition at the Norwegian Embassy has kind of developed because, at some point in time, they discovered that the Swedes had something similar in mind. In Berlin, the Nordic countries share the same meeting space, this exhibition area. So, when they discovered that both Norway and Sweden had similar plans to do something, they had to combine them, and the scope is now Nordic. The working title is “Der Harte Norden,” which roughly means “The Hard Nordics.” They have actually employed Ika Johannesson, who wrote Blood, Fire, Death: The Swedish Metal Story.

So, she and Torgrim and his colleagues came and checked out my collection last week, I had found various items that I suggested to represent Norway. Norwegian black metal has so many iconic album covers and visuals, so those could be the core of the Norwegian section, I think. We probably won’t bring first prints and such due to challenges of security and transportation. But ideally, we would present album covers, the T-shirts and long sleeves from the ’90s, photos, flyers, posters, fanzines, and some rare relics, and maybe stage-worn outfits by various bands if they can borrow such items.

I’m also going to be at the Inferno festival in Oslo this year, where I will be moderating a talk with the NRK team who made the Helvete series. So, that should be interesting as well. This will take place on the final day of the festival. I don’t have the details yet, but I assume they will announce them when we get closer to the festival’s opening date.

You’re originally from Nannestad, but you’ve been a long-time Jessheim resident. Obviously, some amazing bands come from Jessheim like Dimmu Borgir. And the second full Mayhem gig took place there: That was the first show with Pelle, though the band had already played a couple of songs at Bootleg. So, could you please speak a bit about Jessheim’s role in the history of black metal?

Looking back, that event was an extremely important for the Norwegian scene — like an official launch — with corpse paint, pig’s heads on stakes, and Dead’s iconic performances. This made such a strong impression on everybody present and set the standard that has endured.

Many of the guys who would become key players in iconic Norwegian black metal bands were there. Some say about 50 people were there, maybe 100 max. Everybody was present — for the record, I wasn’t there — but people came from all over Norway, and even some from other countries. You had people from Bergen, Trondheim, Sarpsborg, and Oslo. The show was held at this place called Folkets Hus. It’s gone now, unfortunately. It was an old place where people went to have parties, dance, and hold small concerts back in the day.

There were some rumors about a video recording of the Jessheim gig for years, but it was like a fable. Too good to be true. After years, I was finally able to get to know a member of Death Mission, who played at the gig, and he actually had the video recording. It was what all fans from all over the world could have hoped for. It is recorded from distance and without zooming, but you can see Dead, Euronymous, Hellhammer, and Necrobutcher — the legendary four in their prime. I was extremely happy to share this with the world when we included it with the Cursed in Eternity box set.

They had a lot of technical difficulties during the concert. There were some long pauses. You can hear people talking, talking about the smell of the pig’s heads. You can hear the glass beer bottles. It’s almost like you are there in the audience. I always think it’s so fascinating to sit and look at the pictures and video. It’s like a time capsule.  

I’m really proud to say that Dimmu Borgir comes from Jessheim and Nannestad, my home turf. They went to the school in Jessheim — Shagrath, Silenoz, Tjodalv, Brynjard Tristan, and Galder, who later joined. And Galder and Tjodalv co-founded Old Man’s Child. So, there was a special environment that started here. Shagrath was actually in Oslo as well because he was in Ulver for six months, so he was part of that environment as well. And later, you had Susperia from the Jessheim area as well. And we must not forget Minas Tirith, who were important back in the days. I remember when Mayhem played here in 2011, and I got to introduce some of the old Minas Tirith members to Attila. Attila was so honored to meet them. Very cool.

Black Metal Historian FINN HÅKON RØDLAND Discusses His Projects & Shares His Expertise
Finn Håkon Rødland and Shagrath. Photo: Finn Håkon Rødland.

Do you think you still would have become a black metaller even if you weren’t from Jessheim?

Becoming friends with the Dimmu guys was important in terms of providing the impetus for me to investigate the music. But I had an increasing fascination with the art, and opening this Pandora’s box of black treasures would have been inevitable anyway.

It’s not a secret that you have the greatest black metal collection in the world. What made you start collecting?

The collecting gene goes all the way back to Kiss and childhood because — and I think this is really important — when I was growing up, I was dirt-poor. My family was poor, so we had no money. So, I was always dreaming about Kiss posters, Kiss cards, just being able to buy Kiss on tape, and they had a lot of tapes. Just being able to afford the tapes, you know — it was a struggle. For years, I just had to just copy the tapes. That was how you did it back then. You copied them. Kiss is my childhood in a nutshell. It was Star Wars, Superman, and music in one. Everything was just so fascinating and wonderful. So, I started to collect as a kid and buy these Swedish magazines called OKEJ and also ROCKET. I just loved sitting there and looking at the pictures — cutting them out from the magazines and gluing them into this book that I always made like all other kids back then. So, the collecting gene was part of my childhood and my fascination with Kiss. And then, when I started listening to other bands as well, you know — you wanted their tapes and later on, it was the LP and the T-shirt. But back then, it was really expensive, especially for a kid.

So, when we fast-forward to Mayhem in particular, it was just a natural thing to have a drumstick from Hellhammer, a guitar pick, or the setlist, you know, some nice memories from the gigs you attended. And then, when we got to be friends, opportunities came to have more special stage-worn relics — Maniac’s lyric sheets written for their recordings, Helhammer’s cymbal used on albums and stuff like that. The ball just kept rolling. I love to document and collect items that serve as proof of important events. And over the years, becoming friends with the bands I love to listen to has been an honor and an absolute pleasure.

When it comes to black metal relics, you have everything from ridiculously iconic objects to some really fascinating yet obscure items. Is there anything that you’d still like to acquire?

Yeah, there are iconic items that I know exist that I would love to have, but I know that I will never be able to have them because the people that have them will never part with them. But that is totally fine. They are in good places like Neseblod or with the personal friends of Euronymous. I’m very happy with what I have. My focus now is more to help and work with friends in the scene, do interviews, work on important releases, and continue to spread awareness of this important movement and its heritage.

Obviously, you have a lot of really important letters. What surprised you most about their content?

Well, I got the letters from Euronymous to Maniac many years ago. I think the humor. They were joking all the time. That was a really different side. During the first years, I think there was a lot of humor in Mayhem. That was really nice to see in those letters. I think that was the thing I really liked the most as well as how much Euronymous wanted Maniac to be in the band and how generous he was when describing Maniac as a vocalist. I laughed a lot just reading those letters because they were really fun.

And Deads letters are a mix of band promotion and info, plus they reflect his fascination with Transylvania. He was planning to arrange a trip there and bring some like-minded people along. He drew maps and shares about the topic in his letters. Very cool stuff. I also love the postcard he sent to a friend from Leipzig the day they played there in 1990. Iconic stuff, obviously.

Let’s talk a bit about Pelle Ohlin, who tragically passed away in 1991. For the sake of readers, I’ll say that he joined Mayhem in ’87/88. But before that, he was the vocalist for Morbid, which he co-founded. He was actually supposed to do a reunion show with Morbid in ’89 that was cancelled. And he began rehearsing with them again before his death: They planned to record a 7” in 1991. The interesting thing is that “Dr. Schitz,” Jens Näsström, has stated that there is no reason to assume that Pelle would have quit Mayhem once he moved back to Sweden, which he apparently would have done, and might have fronted both bands at the same time. So, anyway, you recently attended a Morbid reunion show in Sweden with Jens; “Napoleon Pukes, Ulf “Uffe” Cederlund; “Gehenna,” John Hagström; and “TG,” Torbjörn Gräslund. We previously discussed that Erik Danielsson and Daniel Ohlin — Pelle’s other brother — performed as well. How was that experience?

I actually don’t remember how I found out about it. When I was made aware of it, I just thought to myself: “I have to go there. I can’t miss this event.” And then, I met Erik Danielsson when Watain were playing in Oslo. We talked about it, and he had some information for me that I didn’t know: He was going to do the drums since the legendary L-G Petrov died of cancer a few years back, and Pelle’s brother was going to sing. And I said: “What is Anders going to sing?” “No, there’s another brother.” I couldn’t miss it for anything in the world.

I think that the capacity was 180 people. I took the train over. The event was held at a place called Klubb Fredagsmangel. I was there when they opened the doors, and I met the Morbid guys. I knew Dr. Schitz a little from before, online so to speak, and it was really nice to meet him and the rest of the band as well. Humble guys, down to earth. Dr. Schitz, who is actually a psychologist, had his white doctor’s suit. So, that was really cool. And I had the Deathcrush vinyl that Pelle sold to Dr. Schitz — the last copy that Pelle sold in Sweden. I have that from a few years back. And then, I met Anders Ohlin. He’s a super nice guy, really empathic, really soft-spoken. I hadn’t met Pelle’s other brother, “Necrobird” — his name is Daniel — but I instantly I said to Anders: “This guy in the room, is that your brother who is going to sing?” He introduced me, and that was so wonderful. He had the same traits as Pelle — how he looked and his hands.

When they did the gig, I just tried to do as much as possible in terms of recording and taking pictures while still being present in the moment and enjoying the concert. It was totally insane. Daniel, you know, he was really similar to Pelle in his performance style, and he sang really well. So, for me, it was a really emotional thing just to see it and be a witness to this one-time happening — it was to celebrate the December Moon demo tape. I think they did it in a wonderful way. Respectful.

Black Metal Historian FINN HÅKON RØDLAND Discusses His Projects & Shares His Expertise
Finn Håkon Rødland and Necrobird. Photo: Finn Håkon Rødland.

Besides that historic evening, what were some of the best concerts that you’ve attended lately?

I think I set a personal record for attending concerts in 2022. There were so many during the summer. I was at all of those festivals with Dimmu Borgir in Belgium, Portugal, UK, and Norway. Seeing them at Tons of Rock on the main stage with a fully packed crowd with 30,000 people was truly fantastic and a proud moment for me. Even though I was there to kind of be around the band, I was also able to see some of the other bands — old heroes like Judas Priest and Alice Cooper, all that hard rock stuff. I also enjoyed finally seeing Imperial Triumphant in Oslo. I met Zachary, the vocalist, in New York some years ago — a true gentleman. They have achieved this cult status in the underground. I love their fantastic Manhattan visuals, and I’m glad on their behalf that they’re doing so well.

But when it comes to black metal, there was obviously Beyond the Gates. I have to say that I was running from concert to concert. Every day, the lineup was packed with really-really high-quality stuff. I think the day at Grieghallen was the most important event in regard to Norwegian black metal that I have ever witnessed. Being able to see Enslaved do Vikingligr Veldi! And then, seeing Emperor — they did pretty much the same as I saw when they were in Notodden, you know, the stream concert. So, I knew what to expect, and it was fantastic. And Mayhem’s performance was too, obviously. I’ve never heard black metal being performed with such excellent sound. Ever! You just felt the drums. It was truly an amazing day. Nothing can ever touch those three gigs in my opinion.

I would also like to mention that Beyond the Gates had this band called Darvaza with Wraath on vocals. They did two Celestial Bloodshed songs from their first album — “Cursed, Scarred and Forever Possessed” and “Gospel of Hate” — with H. Tvedt, on guitar just as before with Celestial Bloodshed. He played live with the band in the old days and appears on their sophomore album, Ω. I’ve never seen Celestial Bloodshed live and never will be able to either because Steingrim [Torson, their vocalist, who was sometimes referred to as “Mehimoloth”] is dead. But, you know, having Wraath, the co-founder, and H. Tvedt — it was an extremely powerful moment. I know it was really emotional for Wraath as well. It was really fantastic seeing those two songs there. That was really-really special for me. And Djevel — fantastic gig. Vemod — fantastic gig again. So, the festival was just so-so packed with the best Norway has to offer.

Earlier that summer, I attended Imperium Festival, where I saw lots of bands, but my highlights were Slagmaur, Dødheimsgard, and Dold Vorde Ens Navn. I am so happy that Haavard is back in the scene. So, you have his classical guitar aspect in DVEN. And “Vicotnik,” Yusaf — he’s so multi-talented and has so many projects. He makes incredibly fascinating music. Beautiful! I’m looking forward to the new Dødheimsgard album. The debut album by Vicotnik’s new project Doedsmaghird will hopefully come out six months afterward. The DMG release will be a twin to the DHG record.

Black Metal Historian FINN HÅKON RØDLAND Discusses His Projects & Shares His Expertise
Slagmaur and Finn Håkon Rødland at Imperium Fest’s Urban Seige #1. Photo: Maria Lund.

Not only do you have the best taste in music, but you’ve also done a ton to ensure that people are paying attention to the quality bands that they wouldn’t have discovered otherwise. Do you have any black metal recommendations for our readers?

If we look beyond the obvious bands — the ones people already should know about like Arcturus, Ulver, Emperor, Darkthrone, Satyricon, Dimmu Borgir, Enslaved, Immortal, Gorgoroth, Thorns, Mysticum, Gehenna, Gaahls Wyrd, and more — I would like to mention Dødsengel, who recently released a monster album, Bab Al On.

Again, Celestial Bloodshed is a fantastic band that was put to rest when Steingrim died in 2009. He was so important in the Nidaros scene. After his death, Kaosritual transformed into Dark Sonority and transformed some of the tracks that they had been working on and also did some touring. So, people should definitely look into Dark Sonority and Kaosritual.

Mare is, in many ways, the flagship in the Nidaros scene, and they finally released their monolith Ebony Tower in 2018. It’s some of the best Norwegian black metal that has been released in the last decades.

I would like to mention a very unique project by Steingrim called Selvhat. It’s a fantastic project. “Kvitrim,” Eskil, did the drums on their most important work, Gjennom moerket famlende, which takes you on a dark and beautiful journey into darkness, despair, and hopelessness. Last year, my good friend Ole from Terratur Possessions released a Selvhat compilation, Avskjed, and also issued a re-release of Gjennom mørket famlende, which really was previously impossible to find. People should definitely look into that. I have Steingrim’s tapes, his personal ones. H. Tvedt, a.k.a. “Kaos,” and Kvitrim surprised me and gave them to me as a gift when I was visiting Trondheim. An incredible honor.  

Grenjar, one of the precursors of sorts to the Nidaros environment, is a really interesting band as well. Everything Kvitrim has been involved in is worth exploring as it always has the highest standard possible. And Steingrim was the vocalist in Grenjar. It’s a bit Ulver-esque. You get a feel for landscapes, you know, the folkish forest thing. So, that’s something worth checking out. There’s actually some exciting news regarding Grenjar. Kvitrim has been feeling nostalgic about that project and therefore has decided to honor the old material. He has an album that he is going to complete and release. He has invited Mannevond to do the vocals since Steingrim looked up to him as an artist.

And then, there’s Sarath, another great Nidaros band.

I would also like to mention Beyond Man — another one of Wraath’s projects. I really liked the 2008 Neter-khertet demo, which was recorded when they were still known as Vordrinn and had a bit of a different lineup. They released their debut album in 2021.

And then, there’s Ritual Death, who were founded in 2016 by Wraath and Nosophoros. Kaos was part of that band from the first EP until the end of last year. Lord Nathas joined in 2018, and he’s been a great asset. Ritual Death finally released their debut album this past December. I highly recommend that.

We can expect a new album from the magnificent and obscure Slagmaur that will hopefully come out this year through Prophecy Productions.

Of course, Whoredom Rife is another band that I always recommend. They are in many ways leading the pack, touring and delivering brilliant albums time after time. They in fact just finished recording their new album. It’s set for a release later this year. The same goes for Misotheist — we can expect a new album sometime this autumn. Misotheist has a nice blend of old and “new.” I can hear they must be inspired by Deathspell Omega.

And then finally, Djevel have manifested themselves as the absolute finest of Norwegian black metal with their last two albums. Naa skrider natten sort, the newest addition, is a total masterpiece of genuine craftsmanship.

Are there any picks you’d like to mention that fall outside the category of black metal?

The talented Leon Kristoffer will be releasing a full-length album under the project name Spirit Tomb. It’s just dark, classical piano and cello with clean vocals. It’s fantastic! He’s been making all these videos. It’s like a cinematic experience, and I just love it.

I love Seigmen as well. I would say Seigmen is one of the most important bands from Norway if you look beyond Norwegian black metal. I must have listened to their album Total a million times. And I think that people should check out Radio Waves because, even for Seigmen fans, that’s a really underrated album. Seigmen was really important for me in the ’90s, and I’m really glad they made a comeback. For me, it’s really magical music.

As you’ve told me and Aftenposten, years from now, bands like Mayhem and Emperor will have a place in the history books. But I’m a bit worried about some of the others that are also legendary but in more of a cult way. Do you think that those bands will still be remembered?

That is a very good question. You can look at the scene, and you have the old bands that are already legendary and well established today. And then, you have the underground scene — in other words, the rest. There are excellent bands all over the world, but I choose to primarily focus on the Norwegian scene, though I also love some bands from France, Sweden, and Finland. Most of these bands are not meant for bigger audiences, and I don’t think that should be a goal either.

The excellent bands that we have talked about here will for sure have their place in the history books of black metal. I interviewed Kvitrim for the De Mysteriis Dom. Sathanas box set, and thereby included a highly esteemed spokesman for the Nidaros scene, bringing attention to their important work. If my work helps bring awareness to these important bands within the scene, I would be glad for that outcome.

Black Metal Historian FINN HÅKON RØDLAND Discusses His Projects & Shares His Expertise
Nosophoros, Finn Håkon Rødland, and Kvitrim. Photo: Haakon Tvedt.

Is there anything else you’d like to cover that we didn’t touch upon?

I hope that by raising awareness through my work, collaborations, and collection that the Norwegian authorities, whether it be the National Museum or whoever, will actually understand and appreciate the historical value of Norwegian black metal as Norway’s cultural legacy. Hopefully, they will assume the responsibility of taking care of my collection when the time comes. It has such a high historical value, not only for Norway but globally. It would be a shame if I died and my kids had to split up the collection and sell it to collectors all over the world, you know, scattering it to the highest bidders. This belongs in a national museum in Norway when the time is right.

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