Define prolific? Fenriz. Define magnetic? Fenriz. Define genius? Gylve Fenris Nagell, who was born Leif Gylve Nagell, is the answer to everything. Fenriz first let the “Light” take him under its dominion on November 28th, 1971, which means that the world will soon celebrate Fenriz’s 50th birthday! The Norwegian black metal icon told the now defunct magazine Terrorizer: “I’ve never moved much more than ten kilometers from where I was raised. sort of like Rain Man in that way.” Fenriz’s first home was in the woods of Vinterbro. In 1987, his family moved to the nearby area of Kolbotn, where Fenriz has spent most of his life.
Fenriz is the Norwegian Elvis Presley. He once joked that Reese Witherspoon should play him on the silver screen. The truth is that like Reese Witherspoon, Fenriz belongs to the rare class of almost perfect individuals who deigned to fall to earth. It often seems as though Fenriz can do no wrong. He is a wordsmith and a revolutionary. No one will doubt that this savage yet noble soul is one of the greatest forces behind the second wave of black metal, which is arguably the best wave of black metal. Fenriz’s first and most culturally impactful band became known as Darkthrone in 1988. Fenriz has stated that the name was inspired by the Danish magazine Blackthorn and Celtic Frost’s 1985 song “Jewel Throne” from To Mega Therion (1985). Fenriz has adopted many monikers throughout his lengthy career: Esgaroth, Hank Amarillo, Gribb, Lee Bress, Herr Nagell, Kaptein Vom, Mao Tse Tung Rock, etc.
Black metal tends to be pretty consistent in terms of its awesomely aggressive emotive force. The words are also notoriously difficult for non-metalheads to understand. Thus, you can blast black metal without the fear of embarrassment or the risk of projecting anything other than brutality. In this regard, it is “safe.” However, you never know what random creative spark will possess Fenriz. This eccentric fellow will occasionally do something so unmistakably silly that your eyebrows will hit the ceiling with enough might to tear the roof down. At some point, Fenriz’s ingenuity may even cause you to experience tears of sublime joy. As far as Fenriz’s darker moments are concerned, if you are a Satanist, Darkthrone's topsy-turvy “Leave No Cross Unturned” logic will probably fail to shock you. Rather, you will be enchanted by Darkthrone’s commitment to what is extreme, nasty, and brutish. When Darkthrone recently released Eternal Hails…… (2021), their 19th studio album if you count Goatlord (1996), they did so with the bold command: “Decapitate sympathy!” Darkthrone will wrap you in a protective “Hate Cloak” and bring about an “Evilution of the mind.” Fenriz understands that “Sorrow and fright [are] the dearest catharsis." Therefore, Darkthrone’s unholy canon is healing to the all the “lifelong addicts of exile and gloom.” But, again, Fenriz’s body of work represents much more than “dready bitter soulsets.” It can also be quite kaleidoscopic. We intend to explore the many manifestations of Fenriz as we focus on a variety of his mind-blowing projects. His music traverses genres and his influences span several decades.
By focusing on Fenriz, we do not intend to downplay the accomplishments of his Darkthrone collaborator “Nocturno Culto,” the amazing Ted Skjellum — who recently released his 7th album with Sarke, Allsighr (2021), on November 5th — or any of his other bandmates. That said, Fenriz leaves his own personal hallmark on everything he touches. Even when Fenriz is not singing, you can usually discern this self-taught multi-instrumentalist’s drumming from a mile away. The same applies to the rest of Fenriz’s abilities. Join us as we show our appreciation for Fenriz with 20 of his most absurd songs.
1. Black Death — “Chainsaw Attack”
A 25-second, pre-Darkthrone track called “Chainsaw Attack”? Must be “brootal” right?! Perhaps if you are a toddler. Brutality would simply be too much, considering that the 4-second “Nazgül Riders,” three tracks earlier, features the sound of bullets and a half-hearted scream. “Chainsaw Attack” is actually the beloved children’s song “Pop Goes the Weasel.” Fenriz energetically exclaims the immortal four words as a prelude to a wayward rendition of the well-known melody. This may be the greatest album troll ever.
“Chainsaw Attack” is the 16th “song” on Black Death’s second demo cassette, Black Is Beautiful (1987). Fenriz had not yet turned 16 when it was recorded. Black Death was formed during Fenriz’s Christmas break in 1986. On Black Death’s first demo album, Trash Core (1987), the lineup simply consisted of Fenriz and his friend Anders Risberget. On Black Is Beautiful, Fenriz rocks out on the drums and provides his vocal excellence while Anders Risberget accompanies on guitar and Ivar Enger plays bass. Ivar was previously named as Trash Core’s “producer.” In addition, Kjetil Aarhus rehearsed as Black Death’s bassist and Jørgen Thoresen tested his potential as a singer. Both men were involved with Black Is Beautiful. The latter, whose voice can be heard on Black Is Beatiful’s 12-second “C.H.U.D,” also assisted with the artwork for Trash Core. Ronny Sorkness, Kenneth Sorkness, and Robin Olsen from Fenriz’s other band Valhall, which we will discuss later, made guest appearances on Black Is Beautiful as well. That said, responsibilities on Black Is Beautiful shifted hands on many songs.
In the video below, the scatting that you will hear introducing “Chainsaw Attack” is the album’s title tune “Black Is Beautiful.” This clip also includes “Pizza Monsters.” “Nasty Sausage” is among the highlights of Black Is Beautiful. It is worth mentioning that Morbid’s “Disgusting Semla,” which means sweet roll, was recorded the same year. Although Black Death’s song about repulsive food cannot hold a candle to the Morbid classic, Black Death’s material cannot be ridiculed for its primitive nature. — The proud right to hold a candelabrum in honor of vocalist “Dead,” Per Yngve Ohlin, of Morbid and Mayhem is something that Fenriz had earned when it came time to photograph the cover of Darkthrone’s fourth studio album. — Black Death is the work of teenagers experimenting with sound in order to find their way. What people have referred to as “fooling around” clearly served a purpose, considering that Darkthrone continues to incorporate absurdist elements into their work, albeit in a more skilled manner. Fenriz deserves credit for carrying on with his musical pursuits despite the barbarous verbal assaults that he endured words early on. Slayer Mag lambasted Black Is Beautiful: “I hate this shit more than I hate PEPSI LIGHT!!!!!!!” Fenriz was slightly younger than many of the other second wavers. Despite Black Death’s lack of experience, their enthusiasm is commendable. One could even venture to say that Black Death’s music is postmodern art. Every Black Death song is an oddball gem.
We will now provide a summary of Darkthrone’s beginnings and early connections in order to situate Black Death’s material within a broader framework. After Black Is Beautiful, Black Death finally changed their name to Darkthrone in late ’87. Although Darkthrone is often accused of having started as a death metal band, Fenriz told The Inarguable: “No, we played more freestyle with emphasis on EPIC DOOM; our first logo even had EPIC DOOM written ON the logo, haha. Death metal didn't enter much until our 3rd and 4th release in 1989. Before that we were more inspired by English Dogs, Metallica, Slayer, and Celtic Frost, and Napalm Death’s 1st vinyl.” Darkthrone would release four demos before their debut studio album, the death metal Soulside Journey (1991). In the meantime, Anders’ friend Dag Nilsen joined at the end of 1987. Dag, who could not play an instrument at the time, was assigned to bass because Ivar wanted to switch to guitar. Darkthrone’s first demo, Land of Frost (1988), was actually recorded in late 1987, the Black Death period. On one track, Fenriz opted to play all of the instruments himself to compensate for his bandmates’ lack of experience. After Land of Frost, Fenriz supposedly fired Anders for lackluster skills and for liking Five’s Star’s Luxury of Life (1985). Kjetil Aarhus then connected Fenriz with Nocturno, whom he met through his cousin. Noctunro then phoned Fenriz, they met at a train station, Nocturno attended a show, and then he decided to join based on the talent of his new acquaintance. Nocturno told Mork’s Thomas Eriksen on the latter’s podcast that on the occasion of his first gig with Darkthrone, Kenneth Sorkness, Valhall’s bassist, acted as the group’s frontman. Valhall created the intro for Darkthrone’s second demo album, A New Dimension (1988). Soulside Journey, features Fenriz on drums and as the album’s lyricist, Nocturno on lead guitar and vocals, Dag Nilsen on bass, and Ivar Enger on rhythm guitar. Darkthrone stayed at the house Nicke Andersson from bands like Entombed while recording Soulside Journey at Sunlight Studio in Sweden.
For A Blaze in the Northern Sky (1992), Nocturno and Fenriz adopted their famous pseudonyms and Ivar took the stage name “Zephyrous.” A Blaze in the Nothern Sky (1992) was dedicated to Mayhem’s late “Euronymus,” Øystein Aarseth. This milestone album showcases three black metal songs as well as some blackened songs in the vein of the death metal Goatloard. The reason for this is that Darkthrone had thoroughly labored on the latter album before shelving it in favor of a move towards black metal. Fenriz told Voices from the Darkside: “‘Goatlord’ was just a rehearsal tape that was conducted between late ’90 and early ’91. About the wait, I think it’s because we just didn’t make the lyrics for that… I did some vocals on that rehearsal tape called ‘Goatlord’ in ’94…” Dag Nilsen left the band after recording his parts for A Blaze in the Northern Sky in 1991 because he was displeased that Darkthrone had decided to take a new direction after all the work that he had put into Goatlord, which would not become available until Moonfog Productions distributed it in 1996. Apparently, the band had similarly concluded that they wanted to part ways with Dag after traveling to Finland that summer. Peaceville Records was angered by Darkthrone’s embrace of black metal and initially refused to release A Blaze in the Northern Sky. Peaceville ultimately caved when the band threatened to find a new label. Under a Funeral Moon (1993) marked the band’s full transition to black metal. After Under a Funeral Moon, Darkthrone became a two-man act and have remained that way ever since. Zephyrous, nonetheless, would not truly drop out of the picture until he suffered from a car accident after Transylvanian Hunger (1994), from which he was left out. Darkthrone has occasionally welcomed guest vocalists like “Apollyon,” Ole Moe, who has played with Aura Noir and Cadaver. Early on, Darkthrone and Cadaver played several shows together. Fenriz has provided guest vocals for both of these bands. The Darkthrone founder was also an original member of Dødheimsgard, which Apollyon joined after he left.
Fenriz’s “vision” for Transilvanian Hunger first seized him while he was working at the post office. Fenriz created all of the music for Transilvanian Hunger, minus Noctorno’s vocals, in a two-week span of creative brilliance. He recorded his contributions on a 4-track mini-studio called “Necrohell.” Necrohell actually belonged to the Sorkness brothers from his band Valhall. Fenriz remembers that the brothers had set up Necrohell in his living room. Thus, Fenriz worked on the album every day when he returned home from his day job. Darkthrone’s songs have an unparalleled sense of atmosphere. The exceptionally cold Transilvanian Hunger is a stellar example. As Fenriz has argued, atmosphere is often lost when bands try too hard to attain it by becoming “atmospheric,” and thus remove the backbone of the music in the process. Fenriz had been thinking about Per Yngve Ohlin’s 1991 suicide and the recent death of Øystein Aarseth, “Euronymous,” who was also from Mayhem, when he began to write the lyrics for four of Transylvanian Hunger’s songs. In a peculiar move, Fenriz asked Varg Vikernes, a.k.a. “Greifi/Count Grishnackh,” to contribute lyrics. Varg, a church-burning arsonist whose birth name was Kristian, penned Transilvanian Hunger’s remaining four songs while he was imprisoned for killing Euronymous. Fenriz had been fond of the victim. However, many have stated that Euronymous had plans to kill Varg. Sadly, Euronymous, who was only about 5’6”, was in his underwear when The Count entered his apartment to engage him in a fatal “chat.” Fenriz speculates that if Euronymous’ shop Helvete had not provided a meeting place for metallers, there would not have been such an eruption of violence. In the period between Euronymous’ death and Varg’s arrest, Fenriz was so scared that he once brought an axe with him when stepping outside of his house with Varg to get a CD from his visitor’s car. Fenriz claims that he had not suspected Varg of murder at the time. When all was laid to rest except for the pain and the consequences, Fenriz sent the Transilvanian Hunger tape and lyrics to Nocturno by mail because the latter had moved to the woods in 1991. Precious Metal Decibel Presents the Stories Behind 25 Extreme Metal Masterpieces (2009) has recorded Nocturno’s recollection of his first thoughts when hearing what Fenriz had sent: “Well this is exactly the sound — if I could create an atmosphere on tape of what I’ve been doing for the last two years now…” Nocturno’s gruesome vocals could not have been more fitting.
Mayhem released De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas (1994) three months after Transylvanian Hunger, which came out three days after Valentine’s Day. The album featured many lyrics by Dead. Despite the wishes of Euronymous’ parents, De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas was released with Varg’s bass. Varg also wrote the words to Darkthrone’s “Quintessence” on Panzerfaust (1995). The Burzum masterpiece Hvis lyset tarr oss/If the Light Takes Us (1994) came out shortly before Varg’s sentencing. He dedicated the album to Fenriz and Demonaz of Immortal. Varg recorded two folk albums under the Burzum brand and also saw the release of Filosfem (1996), which was recorded before Varg went to prison. Black Metal: Evolution of the Cult (2013) has quoted the one and only Niklas Kvarforth of Shining: “Filosofem is a perfect album… You can’t believe a human being has been capable of carving that out of nothing…” After “Blackthorn,” Snorre W. Ruch, was released from incarceration for supporting Varg “psychologically,” Fenriz and Satyricon’s Satyr contributed to Thorn’s cannibalistic 1999 song “You That Mingle May.”
Fenriz joked on the Black Is Beautiful gatefold that Mayhem was going to kill him. “The idea of having a fold out cover like this is honestly nicked from the True Mayhem.” He speculated that they would send him a letter bomb. “Maybe I can get out of it by letting Oystein have a coke. Yes, the way to freedom, coke and hell no!!!!” Everyone knows that Euronymous, like a lot of other black metallers, was a major Coca-Cola addict. After writing to “Necrobutcher,” Jørn Stubberud, Mayhem first allowed Fenriz to attend one of their rehearsals in the fall in 1987. Fenriz believes that he met with Mayhem three times that year and that the same probably applied to the next two years. Fenriz did not want to impose, especially considering that Mayhem would pick him up by car. Fenriz and Jørn have since become skiing companions.
2. Black Death — “Pizza Breath”
If you think that Black Is Beautiful is strange, wait until you hear Black Death’s first demo album, Trash Core. “Another Lousy Meal” includes a one-sided discussion about television towards the beginning and talk of pizza. “Pizza Breath” follows two songs later. Fenriz repeats “I hate dogs” ten times before clarifying “Cuz’ they crap everywhere!” Fenriz innocently concludes the track: “That’s all we wanted to say.” Although dedicating a song to cynophobia sounds absurd, Fenriz is acutally not alone. An estimated 2% of adults dislike dogs. Fortunately, Fenriz is a cat lover. As many metalheads know, Fenriz was elected to his local council after posting a picture of himself holding his cat, “Peanut Butter,” and writing: “Please don’t vote for me.” Unlike Fenriz, the late Per Yngve Ohlin, who was affectionately known as “Pelle,” hated cats. The frontman kept a trusty spear under his bed. When he saw a cat, he would grab his spear and try to kill it. Necrobutcher and others remember Pelle’s chases, but they are not sure that he ever actually managed to kill a furry feline. Mayhem’s former drummer “Hellhammer,” Jan Axel Blomberg, claims that he lost his fragment of Dead’s skull, which he kept around his neck, during a party at Fenriz’s house.
The craziness of the destruction that would envelop Norwegian metal is juxtaposed with the naïveté of the Trash Core gatefold. Fenriz, who is listed as Gylve “Death” Nagell, thanks “Mom and Pop Risberget for understanding and letting us play in their attic.” Fenriz has remarked that all the noise in his home from practicing may have killed his father. Although this is clearly improbable, the real blame for Fenriz’s career path lies on his junkie uncle, Stein Tomter. According to Fenriz, Stein first played Pink Floyd for him when he was about one or two years old. In 1974, Stein gave baby Fenriz a Uriah Heap album for his third birthday. Throughout the years, Stein would present young Fenriz with many such gifts. Fenriz even bought his first adult drum kit from Stein’s son. Nocturno’s interest in rock was also cultivated by the collection of a “cool uncle.”
3. Black Death — “Black Death’s Nuke War”
“I hate nuclear wars.” Who cannot say the same? Trash Core opens with “Black Death’s Nuke War,” a hodgepodge of a song with a redundant title. What would happen if Picasso painted Grover into his famous Guernica?! Fenriz alternates between sounding like a Sesame Street character and an angry fascist on this remarkably looney tune. Fenriz’s staccato delivery renders lines like “Can you think of all the pain?” inappropriately amusing. “Radiation sickness is blowing your mind. Ultimate death is all you find.” A highlight of this song is when Black Death inexplicably breaks out into the melody of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” Fenriz then goes insane on the drums in what can be compared to a kiddy crusade of shotgun fire. The next Trash Core song, “Into the Void,” takes a more satanic point-of-view: “I will slay. You will pay.” “Nickhrist” feels like a reprisal of “Black Death’s Nuke War” in some respects with the continuation of muppet vocals: “You will kill and I will kill, but you don’t know who you are.” The album’s last track is called “Fascist!” This mostly instrumental song features one of the metal’s strangest openings. It will convince you that Fenriz should become the next voice of Disney’s Minnie Mouse, even though pitch-shifting was utilized. Fenriz’s ability to create a strong sense of tone paired with his frequent refusal to allow any default tone to become static has served him throughout his endeavors. His songs include a variety of spontaneous impulses. One moment, a song may be grim. The very next second, Fenriz will stupefy you with an unexpected flourish. Sometimes Darkthrone, for example, will bust into a beautiful riff that seemingly appears ex nihilo. You have to listen to all of Fenriz’s songs until the end because you never know what new direction he might take.
4. Ulver — “A Song of Liberty (Plates 25-27)”
Fenriz contributed vocals for the last track of Ulver’s Themes from William Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1998). Yes, we mean to tell you that Ulver adapted William Blake to experimental music. This is usually the kind of grandiose idea that comes about when adjunct philosophy professors suffer from ennui. Depending upon how one looks at it, “The Blake Album” either represents Ulver’s break from sanity or their break from insanity. The previous year, band had released a box set called The Trilogie – Three Journeyes Through the Norwegian Netherworlde. The middle album, Kveldssanger (1996), had not been black metal like the other two. Nevertheless, black metal purists were angry that Ulver had forsaken the subgenre with their new direction. Regardless, hearing Fenriz recite the lofty pronouncements in Themes from William Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell should spark joy for every Darkthrone enthusiast, even if electronic, quasi-avant-garde music may not implicitly be every headbanger’s cup of tea. The song begins: “1. The eternal female groan’d! It was heard over all the Earth. 2. Albion’s coast is sick, silent. The American meadows faint! 3. Shadows of Prophecy shiver along by the lakes and the rivers, and mutter across the ocean. France, rend down thy dungeon! 4. Golden Spain, burst the barriers of old Rome! 5. Cast thy keys, O Rome! into the deep, down falling, even to eternity down falling, 6. And weep.” Blake’s “A Song of Liberty,” which was composed between 1790 and 1793, happens to contain a couple of bigoted lines. However, it seems obvious to state that this should not be interpreted as reflective of the musicians’ intent or views. Most Darkthrone fans know that the band has made unfortunate word choices and have since apologized. Fewer people are aware that Fenriz was arrested for participating in an anti-apartheid demonstration against the South African consulate in 1989. That remains Fenriz’s sole criminal conviction. Fenriz maintains that he has become apolitical.
5. Reitgjerde Pasientband, and the Heavy Ripping Fyrstikk — “Al’right Fuckheads”
Valhall was formed in 1987 after Fenriz met the Sorkness brothers, Ronny and Kenneth, at a local snack bar. The teenagers immediately discovered that their musical tastes aligned. Valhall’s first lineup consisted of Fenriz on drums, Ronny on vocals, Kenneth on bass, and Robin Olsen on guitar. Fenriz has served as Valhall’s permanent drummer ever since, despite a four-year hiatus. Fenriz quit in 1989 and returned in 1993. However, his departure was reportedly briefly interrupted in 1991. Given the group’s eclectic influences, it seems appropriate that Valhall’s second demo cassette was called Amalgamation (1989). This effort included songs like “Rubber Duck” and “Texas Tune” — Fenriz used to love to rock cowboy boots. Unfortunately, Amalgamation does not seem to be available for listening. On Valhall’s third demo tape, Trauma (1990), the roster and responsibilities were obviously slightly altered. Trauma’s penultimate track is the highly unusual “Kingdom of Fire” by Isengard, Fenriz’s most fruitful solo project. — Fenriz released Isengard’s awesome first demo album, Spectres Over Gorgoroth, in 1989. According to Peaceville Record’s website, Isengard has sadly become a thing of the past. Hopefully, however, Fenriz will revive the endeavor. — The inclusion of Isengard material on Trauma seems natural considering that Fenriz recorded a lot of Isengard’s songs using the same portable studio that was utilized for Transilvanian Hunger. Even during Fenriz’s absence from Valhall, he allowed the group to practice in his basement. Fenriz had learned to play bass on Kenneth’s instrument with Iron Maiden.
After “Kingdom of Fire,” Trauma ends with “Al’right Fuckheads.” As far as we know, Reitgjerde Pasientband, and the Heavy Ripping Fyrstikk was a one-song, one-man project. Thus, we assume that Fenriz is having a hip-hop jam session with himself. Nevertheless, the limited number of tracks at his disposal might have necessitated the help of additional vocalists. Hearing Fenriz say “Yo-Yo-Yo” is enough to make you drop the cigarette from your mouth and light the carpet on fire. Of course, what Fenriz must have meant is the Scandinavian “Jo.” In this otherwise English-language song, Fenriz also seems to say “Skål”/“Cheers.” In any case, Fenriz accurately captures an embarrassingly nostalgic portrait of a “New York State of Mind.” “Al’right Fuckheads” begins at the 17:20 mark of the video below. This track is so daft that it acquires a “meta” quality. Fenriz’s laughter and sense of humor are contagious. He manages to make his voice crack at certain points like a teenage girl. “Al’right Fuckheads” later became Valhall’s “Vulture Trance Time,” as sung by Ronny Sorkness, when the group’s debut album, Moonstoned, was released after their fourth demo tape, Pagan Token (1991), in 1995.
6. Fenriz’ Red Planet — “Jon Carter, Man on Mars”
There is a lot of heat on Fenriz’ Red Planet. Perhaps “Fenrico,” as Mr. Nagell once dubbed himself, inherited the sunny side of his personality from his Argentinian-born grandmother. Fenriz’ Red Planet is an absolute gift from outer space. Unfortunately, Fenriz’ Red Planet was only a three-song project, which was recorded in 1993. Nattefrost of Carpathian Forest heard this material and convinced Fenriz to release it as part of the split album Engangsgrill (2009). — Noctorno had already been featured on his own album with Nattefrost. They both contributed vocals to the morbid yet entertaining album Secht (2006), which also included vocalists like Apollyon and Gaahl. — On Engangsgrill, tracks 4-8 are Nattefrost’s. “Jon Carter, Man on Mars” will make you want to bust out your crushed velvet bell-bottoms. All three songs will also make you wonder whether Fenriz has experimented with acid. The answer is yes. And Mama Nagell tried to interrupt at least one of her son’s psychedelic journey with waffles.
On Fenriz’ Red Planet, Fenriz does everything. Based on the credits, however, it looks like someone else may have helped with the tambourine. Don’t let the presence of this instrument catch you off guard like a cowbell. Pitchfork claims that Fenriz used a cowbell stuffed with toilet paper for Darkthrone’s “In the Shadow of the Horns.” According to Metal Underground, Fenriz dropped a massive bombshell in a since deleted YouTube video:
“Ever since I heard ‘Don’t Fear the Reaper,’ I just knew I needed cow bell in my life… I started incorporating it into my drum sound in Darkthrone. ‘Boreal Fiends’ [from Arctic Thunder (2016)] has a walloping cow bell to it. It’s a fun and triumphant song. The guys, well, the guy in the band doesn’t like it because I’m always gyrating my hips to the beat. Since we practice in my laundry room, we don’t have much space, so I’m sure he doesn’t like my hip shakin.’ That’s fine, because I don’t care. I’m going to express myself like Elvis Presley, like Shakira, it’s on, hip shaking is krieg!”
In regard to Fenriz’ Red Planet, it is interesting to note that a different version of “Temple of the Red Dawn Rising” appeared as the song “Moonstoned” on Valhall’s Moonstoned. Fenriz’ Red Planet’s “My Ship Has Sailed Without Me” and Moonstoned’s “Dreamer” also share almost the same lyrics. Unlike “Dreamer,” “My Ship Has Sailed Without Me” begins with the mirthful opener “Hey Judas!” The refreshing stoner doom Moonstoned contains songs like “Stonehead” and “Suicidal Hippie.” Yes, even Fenriz harbors an often closeted hippie within. Moonstoned even satisfies your craving for elevator music with “Rophynol.” This album is full of weird rock n’ roll references. “Tell him sister, tell him what you’ve done,” evokes Billy Idol’s “White Wedding.” Just when you think that you were likely tripping, another track begins with “In the midnight hour.” “Made in Iron” is a reference that any metal newbie can understand. Sometimes Valhall is so Black Sabbath-inspired, that it would be infuriating if the band did not have such an individualistic character. Do not confuse Fenriz’ Red Planet with Valhall's Red Planet (2009). Philip H. Anselmo released the latter album, which had been recorded from 1999-2003, with the support of Housecore Records. Although Valhall has not officially broken up, they have not released any new material since Red Planet.
7. Darkthrone — “I Am the Graves of the 80s”
Hell yes! Necrohell II Studios, that is. Circle the Wagons (2010) was recorded using Necrohell II, which is actually just a portable 8-track mini studio that the band has since put to the side. Fenriz told Guitar World: “Yeah, five of the [Circle the Wagons] tracks are by me — in a 1979–1985 style — and four are by Ted, in a 1970–1987 style.” “I Am the Graves of the 80s” is a song that screams “Fenriz!” The music aficionado penned: “I am the graves of the 80s. I am the risen dead. Destroy their modern metal. And bang your fucking head. Uh! There’s way too much black. And there’s too little metal. Dealing with this had me breaking my shackles.”
“I Am the Graves of the 80s” is followed by Noctorno Culto’s highly imaginative “Stylized Corpse.” Nocturno is a true menace: “Chain you to the wall. Blowtorch literally open your eyes. You feel superior now? All you can do is imagine how it is in my world. Let chipmunks feast on your heart.” We wonder how many student essays Nocturno possibly needed to grade in order to write lyrics like that. After all, he has worked as a teacher.
8. Darkthrone — “Fuck Off and Die”
“Fuck Off and Die” is the title track from F.O.A.D. (2007). As strange as it may seem, this blackened crust album showcases songs like “The Church of Real Metal” and “Canadian Metal.” The latter song debuted on NWOBM (2007), which stands for New Wave of Black Metal in this case, as opposed to New Wave of British Metal. “Canadian Metal” features a word that you might not have heard in any metal song — “whimsical.” The astonishingly exuberant tune begins: “Sex with Satan the loudest songs. Sounds like a hammer from hell.” Fenriz is absolutely hilarious and incredibly charismatic. Two tracks later, Darkthrone rewards listeners for their faith that the band’s renegade attitude would carry them through their stylistic shift. “Fuck Off and Die” is a real crowd-pleaser. Fenriz repeats its title line a total of 13 times, presumably for good luck. “If you think my castle is built on sand, well bring on the tides. You can fuck off and die.” Fenriz’s Danzig-like delivery proves that he is a chameleon who can mimic any artist. F.O.A.D.’s “Splitkein Fever” is another track that is full of “Sardonic Wrath,” to reference the album that brought you the likes of “Straightening Sharks in Heaven.” Sardonic Wrath (2004) was recorded in just 5 days, by the way. Fenriz has disclosed the shocking truth that Darkthrone has never spent more than 30 days making an album. This is probably why F.O.A.D. has so much momentum and seems so feverishly zealous.
If you like “Fuck Off and Die,” you will love the penultimate track on The Cult Is Alive (2006), “Shut Up.” Nocturno’s sassiness will make you snicker: “Are you Satan? I don’t think so.” In essence, “Shut Up” is the slightest bit reminiscent of certain Pantera songs insofar as Nocturno refuses to suffer fools. “You copy my style, and you call yourself a man. You want a piece of me? Yeah, you do. Begging for this and asking for that. Shut up, fucking twat.” If you don’t love this song, then “Satanism is lost on you.”
9. Darkthrone — “Raised on Rock”
Fenriz uses “Raised on Rock,” also from F.O.A.D., as a forum to vent his contempt for the state of modern metal as in “I Am the Graves of the 80s.” “Raised on Rock,” which is also the title of an Elvis song, has an opening that will knock you off your cushion: “You have nothing in common with me. You think old-school is 1993. Ha! I’ve been a thrasher since ’84. Almost nothing sounds true anymore.” These words are very important. Although 9 years may seem insignificant, in this case, they make all the difference. The searing rage with which Fenriz delivers the punch of these lines is pure gold. “Modern metal. I don’t give a fuck. Uh! I was raised on rock.” Fenriz’s groaning is worth the price of the album. “It went plastic in ’94. Oh my god, you’re such a bore. If you don’t understand what I mean, fucking listen to Venom’s ‘Acid Queen.’” Right on, Fenriz! A highlight of “Raised on Rock” is when Fenriz exclaims: “Let the streets burn.” “Raised on Rock” is completely typical of our man of the honor. He wrote, composed, sang, and played drums on this song.
Fenriz is a music connoisseur whose tastes even extend to techno. In 2016, he made a shocking mix of international music for The Wire. “I deem it my most important communication with the world so far…” As we have established, however, Fenriz is an elitist of the rarest breed when it comes to metal. After all, Darkthrone declares that “Black metal is the devil’s fuel!” on “In Honour of Thy Name” from Hate Them (2003), which intrigues listeners with “Striving for a Piece of Lucifer.” In “Too Cold, Too Old” from the The Cult Is Alive, Fenriz seethes: “You call your metal black? It’s just spastic and lame and weak.” It is a testament to Darkthrone’s authority that they render nearly all other musical artists intolerable. On Dark Throne’s and Black Flags (2008), Fenriz strikes again with “The Winds They Called the Dungeon Shaker.” In this opening track, Fenriz rages: “Posers are the same with their metal lies. In a seance of insanity with maniacal screams. Does your metal know what metal really means?” This is a question that reverberates right “… through the nurseries of real metal sound.”
10. Darkthrone — “I Am the Working Class”
Let’s circle back to Circle the Wagons. There is nothing absurd about being the working class. Nevertheless, form and content clash in this track as they might in a pop song about murder. Fenriz is the only metaller who could have possibly written anything this real: “21 years of minimum wage. Got no problems with manual labor… All day. So I don’t have to see your face. I am the working class! Discipline. The daybreak is when I begin. I am the working class! Each day. I bust my bones to get paid. I am the working class! Damn straight. The daily grind is my fate.”
Fenriz has stated that he has maintained the same job since he was 16 years old. Again, he works in the postal industry. This means that he mostly spends the day coding and entering zip codes while he listens to music. We wonder if he shakes his hips at the office as he does in front of Nocturno. Fenriz is relentless in his extracurricular pursuits: DJing, music journalism, podcast host, etc. As we have mentioned, Nocturno has worked as a teacher. In the late ’80s, he was an apprentice to a painter and decorator. The family man has also assumed a number of odd jobs over the years. Despite Fenriz’s work ethic, he certainly knows how to party. Fenriz has revealed on The Thomas Eriksen Podcast that he used to spend $120,000 on his habit of social drinking each year. For a time, Fenriz made a ritual of “holding court” at the Elm Street Café. By drinking at home, Fenriz saves $90,000 annually. Although his habits drove him into temporary financial ruin, this kind of spending ability is still pretty good for a working-class hero. To vouch for Fenriz’s street credibility, Darkthrone does not make nearly as much of a profit as they should. This is partially the result of self-sabotage, the refusal to tour, and the absence of greed.
Nocturno and Fenriz do not like to play the disingenuous role of celebrity while they are going about their respective daily grinds. Fenriz does not particularly appreciate what he refers to as “blackpackers” — those who pilgrimage to black metal hot spots. Perhaps Nocturno and Fenriz’s shyness is partially due to the fact that they betray their images by coming off as incredibly kind, polite…. and dare I say even sweet at times?! Despite his misanthropic tendencies, Fenriz is obviously exceptionally skilled at maximizing his time in front of the camera. Both Nocturno and Fenriz are practitioners of humility who inspire the world with their refusal to sell out.
11. Darkthrone — “Graveyard Slut”
When Darkthrone laced their style with crust punk and shifted away from black metal for The Cult Is Alive, Nocturno and Fenriz angered a lot of humorless and unappreciative people. In reality, Darkthrone had started introducing more of a mix of influences long before. The title of Total Death (1996) is a Kreator reference while the track “Blasphemer” may be said to be an allusion to Sodom. This album indicated that changes were brewing. Most people view Ravishing Grimness (1999) as the beginning of a new era in the history of Darkthrone. — Eerily, Darkthrone’s next album Plaguewielder (2001), which dishes up “Raining Murder,” was released the day before the events of September 11th. — In Darkthrone’s defense, one might argue that the band jumped off a dying ship that had been infiltrated by posers. Darkthrone was certainly ahead of the game insofar as they decided to evolve because they felt that black metal had become too “trendy.” Fenriz is probably right when he says that true Norwegian black metal remains a phenomenon of the early ’90s. The Cult Is Alive carries the dual signification of marking the band’s reconciliation with their original label, Peaceville Records. Darkthrone first signed with Peaceville after they sent them the live Cromlech (1989) demo cassette, which is not to be confused with the song “Cromlech” from Soulside Journey.
“Graveyard Slut” was apparently the first Darkthrone song that Fenriz had completed as a main vocalist since 1994 when he recorded Goatlord's vocals and a track for Panzerfaust. “First saw you at the graveyard. Nice rack n’ all. Creepy and lost in a fucked-up head.” Necrophilia has never sounded so ridiculous: “Graveyard sluts! Wow!” Yet, Darkthrone’s “… burning riffs and rampage drums [are verily] a soundtrack to the whory nuns.” Quite possibly, Fenriz’s wife, Marte, is glad that he won’t have reason to sing “Graveyard Slut” again. Darkthrone has not played a live gig since 1996. Before that one-off show, Darkthrone’s last performance was in 1991. Nocturno, however, has taken to the stage with Satyricon at Wacken in 2004 to play some of Darkthrone’s material, thus one could consider that a “Darkthrone” concert. He also jumped onstage beside Frost and Satyr as well as Høst from Taake in 2011. Nocturno had briefly been a member of Satyricon in the ’90s.
12. Darkthrone — “The Ones You Left Behind”
This metal is not very black. Instead, Fenriz adds a spoonful of sugar and what seems like vanilla Silk. “The Ones You Left Behind” from The Underground Resistance (2013) is one of the funniest Darkthrone songs. The wide-eyed, flamboyant tone is the last thing that one would expect to find in metal. It is fantastic. Fenriz sounds like a ringmaster or a classically trained thespian. Listening to this song, one might expect him to summon Bette Midler onstage for a choreographed dance. “The rush. The lights. They draw you. Excited. Delighted. They form you. Creation. Dictating. The new you. Outdating. Preventing. That old you.” If you were surprised to hear the word “whimsical” sneak into “Canadian Metal,” the “E” and “D” words above come as an even greater shock. “The ending of time. Three steps and you’re mine.” Of course, the song’s underbelly is a bit darker: “Ignite. Fierce fight. Destroy them.”
The ostentatious feel of “The Ones You Left Behind” is slightly similar to that of Circle the Wagon’s “Those Treasures Will Never Befall You,” which should prove fruitful material for your next Broadway audition. “Shaken and stirred in the dungeons. Why is it you find yourself there? Left in the mud without a torch and no one cares. No, they don’t. Ah.” The chorus commences: “Seen stumbling around in the darkness, questioning honors and dreams. Those treasures will never befall you. They’re out of reach. (x2) For you.”
The Underground Resistance is a very special album to say the least. Fenriz’s clean vocals soar in “Valkyrie” as he attempts Beelzebub knows what. In any case, the song is brilliant. Fenriz confessed to Noisecreep: “Well, what was funny was that on the ‘Valkyrie’ track, the vocals aren’t all in key. And why is that? Yes, we fucked up and forgot to put bass on the guitar tracks for the headphones, and no bass guitar either, so it was like singing to drums with a vacuum cleaner underneath and try to hold a decent key…That is not the best conditions for doing melodic speed metal vocals.”
“Lesser Men” not only slays it will also make you chuckle: “Molecular structure defines the imaginary balls. Vaporizing intellectual leftovers the wall of life is closing in.” In “Come Warfare, the Entire Doom,” Nocturno takes another shot below the belt at the anatomically challenged: “Growing in confidence, but still without balls. You are not welcome. Scraping on the door, but it’s sealed. The false agenda biting its tail.” Nocturno’s deep, gurgling voice will make you lock yourself where Satan cannot find you. The song’s lyrics are truly great: “Remorse is just a distant treasure. All systems fail. Organic doom. Fear planted. Seeds of steal.” For the band’s next album, Arctic Thunder (2016), Darkthrone returned to their old bomb shelter rehearsal space. Arctic Thunder spawned gold nuggets like Nocturno’s “Inbred Vermin.” Darkthrone also recorded the ultra-cool Old Star (2019) in the same Cold War-era bunker. However, the owner eventually shut it down to the band’s chagrin due to poor air quality.
13. Darkthrone — “Witch Ghetto”
As Noctorno growls on “I Muffle Your Inner Choir,” “Click your shit boots together. We are not in hell anymore.” We are entering the “Witch ghetto! (x4).” No one can deny the veracity of Fenriz’s enthused proposition: “Black metal is unreal!” This is another confounding tune that was written and composed by Fenriz. As in “I Am the Graves of the 80s,” there is chain-breaking in this oddly liberating war cry.
“Witch Ghetto” is the concluding track on Darkthrone’s 14th studio album, Dark Thrones and Black Flags. This release is also responsible for “Hiking Metal Punks.” Speaking of which, the hiking metal punk Fenriz used to write for Norway’s leading paper, Aftenposten. Terrorizer reported: “Here, he contributed columns about the nation’s old forests, ecology, hiking, campting and outdoor safety tips while revealing choice spots for nature enthusiasts who wanted to get back in the touch with fresh air and greenery, whether for black metal inspiration or to get their bodies moving…” Fenriz eventually gave this up because the lone wolf does not like to give his resources away. In other words, this rocker does not want to cross paths with you in the middle of the woods.
14. That Time When Fenriz Burst into “So You Won’t Have to Die”
You might remember that Fenriz once burst into song on Norwegian television. He treated the folks at NRK TV to a few lines from “So You Don’t Have to Die” by Grand Funk Railroad, a rock band from Flint-Michigan. Back in the ’70s, Grand Funk Railroad had hair that could have made Bob Ross jealous. Fenriz’s uncle introduced him to Grand Funk Railroad like so many other groups. In the clip below, Fenriz will dazzle you as he sings: “I’m afraid of overpopulation. I don’t want to die of suffocation. The world is full of illusions. And Jesus is the solution.” Fenriz often flaunts his talent for imitation during interviews. He is known for being more animated than a cartoon. This certainly proves to be the case here. He looks like he is auditioning for Jesus Christ Superstar. Based on this video, fans eagerly await Fenriz’s gospel debut.
What if the real reason why Fenriz played bass on Dødheimsgard’s “Jesu Blod”/“Jesus’ Blood” is that he longs for Sacramental wine? Perhaps Fenriz secretly longs to partake of the Eucharist. After all, he typifies the “Holy Fool” paradigm in certain respects. It is safe to say that the “anti-religious” Fenriz is only a lukewarm Satanist. He confessed to Legion Magazine. “I became a Satanist through Mercyful Fate… So, I started to read more about that, got interested in it. Suddenly I got possessed… You always have this thing [Satanism] with you. But it might not be so strong now.” Fenriz told Dayal Patterson, author of Evolution of the Cult, that he selected his home because it was near a church that he fancied for its aesthetic value. He joked to Patterson that attending church might actually do him some good: “Say what can I do to really feel the hatred? Okay, I’ll go to a sermon.” In 1988, Darkthrone briefly used a Baptist church as a rehearsal space. Predictably, they were eventually thrown out. Unintentionally, Fenriz may have actually destigmatized Satanists by making them seem so affable. He has bridged the gap between Satanists and non-Satanists in their adoration of him.
The venerated “The Cult of Goliath” lyricist has even inspired Pantera’s Philip H. Anselmo with his devilry. In 1993, Philip named one of his bands Superjoint Ritual in homage to Darkthrone’s “Pagan Winter” from A Blaze in the Northern Sky. “Pagan Winter” begins: “Horned master of endless time. Summon thy unholy disciples… Gather in the highest mountain. United by hatred. The final superjoint ritual.” — Sadly, the reign of Superjoint has just been confirmed to have ended following a period of uncertainty. — Philip H. Anselmo, who identifies as an atheist, loves Darkthrone so much that he has a tattoo of the band’s logo. In 1999, Phil, a.k.a. “Anton Crowley”; Necrophagia late founder “Killjoy DeSade,” Frank Pucci; Satyricon’s “Satyr,” Sigurd Wongraven; and “Maniac,” Sven Erik Kristiansen, who was still with Mayhem, tried to start a supergroup. Although Maniac soon withdrew from the project, he asked Fenriz to join forces with them in Eibon, not to be confused with the French outfit by the same name. Phil had been largely responsible for Necrophagia’s resurrection in the late ’90s when he stepped in as the band’s guitarist. Coincidentally, Necrophagia had been one of Fenriz’s inspirations. Eibon, however, awaited the fate of an aborted project. Fenriz recalls that his interest waned once he began working with his fellow musicians. Fenriz is one of the only men alive who can stand up next to Phil in terms of his merits and distinctive personality without seeming like “Piss in the Wind.” He estimates that he stayed in Phil’s house for about a week. Satyr and Phil have admitted that the latter’s addiction hurt the collaboration. It also makes sense that a man who calls himself “Anton Crowley,” in honor of Aleister Crowley and Anton Lavey, and a Norwegian metaller like Fenriz might not always see eye-to-eye. — Norwegian metalheads tend to harbor an extreme dislike for Lavey’s all-too-human brand of “Satanism.” — Fans can listen to Eibon’s “Mirror Soul Jesus,” which was recorded in 2000. Despite the fact that only a couple of songs from the project have seen the light of day, Eibon helped kickstart Fenriz’s creativity by rescuing him from his depression.
15. Regress FF (For Faen) — “Conformist Nirvana”
“Conformist Nirvana” was recorded in 1994. By Fenriz’s own admission, this was his wildest year. It is also the year that Kurt Cobain committed suicide. “Conformist Nirvana” would not be released until 2015. Regress For Faen/Regress, Dammit was a one-man, two-song punk project. Fenriz has acknowledged that Valhall’s Geir Kolden may have co-written Regress FF’s lyrics. The words themselves are a jab at the idea of a conformist utopia and do not appear to be a direct attack on Nirvana. Fenriz rejects those who play it safe in this free-spirited song. “Conformist Nirvana” captures the hatred I feel when posers wearing their daddies’ Nirvana shirts as a fashion statement denigrate metal and desecrate “the Graves of the 80s.” — Cobain actually enjoyed certain metal groups. — Darkthrone shirts are popular among posers as well. However, Nergal of Behemoth can attest to the fact that wearing one just might earn you an ejection from the YMCA.
Regress FF’s second song, “Rockemillion,” also appears on Isengard’s Varjevndogn (2020). On this album, listeners will also find tunes like “The Fright” and “The Light,” both of which were originally from Isengard’s EP Traditional Doom Cult (2016). “The Light,” which dates to 1989, was the only song recorded by Fenriz under the band name Pilgrim Sands. This track may have been Fenriz’ first experiment with clean vocals. “The Fright” was made in the early ’90s. Varjevndogn is one of Fenriz’s most off-beat albums. After the 31-second “Cult Metal,” Varjevndogn launches into “Dragon Fly (Proceed Upon the Journey).” Fenriz really hits the high notes owing to the assumed assistance of technology. This genre-bending Isengard song is truly hilarious: “Oh no. Dragon fly. You must die.”
16. Isengard — “Slash the Sun”
Gangster Fenriz is in the “hus.” “Slash the Sun” is another novelty from Varjevndogn. Fenriz accomplishes the unbelievable feat of mashing doom metal and hip hop into the same original jam: “Wanna see you die, wanna see it now. Show me how you do it, yes show me how. Cramps in my sleep, I slash at the sun. The vulture trance time has just begun. Roaming the streets, life is a feast. But the wait is hard for a hungry beast. Demolition priest make your move. I’m so fucking empty and I dig your grove.” You might remember from earlier on this list that “Vulture Trance Time” was Valhall’s adaptation of Fenriz’s 1990 demo “Al’right Fuckheads.” “Slash the Sun” is accented by a few unexpected power metal screams. This song merges several decades of music. For those who may be angered by the playfulness of this song, Fenriz inserts additional comic relief to remind us of his purpose: “Just relax… Take it easy.” Just when you expect Fenriz to go full-out “Iron Man,” he goes into female orgasm mode. “Ah yes!” The slowness of this song tests one’s patience, but it is definitely worth the 6+ minutes.
Another great example of Fenriz reconciling the difference between genres is Isengard’s “Storm of Evil” from Vinterskugge (1994). This album, which boasts a wicked title track, is a compilation of three demo albums. “Storm of Evil” originated on Horizons (1991). The track combines post-punk, death rock, and metal. The goth influence is creepy enough to make your flesh crawl. The quirky vibe makes Fenriz’s explanation of the meaningless death in store for his listeners sound chill in a mind-numbing and irritating manner. In this respect, form and content work together. “Execute. We drink from the chalice of frightened screams.” Fenriz’s delivery two tracks later on “Our Lord Will Come” is also outlandish in self-aware way. Fenriz sounds like a cross between a demented toddler or an extraterrestrial senior citizen. He is meek and driveling. “Forest of Darkness” from Land of Frost is another bizarre yet entrancing song with an alien twist.
17. Darkthrone — “Love in a Void”
Darkthrone’s “Love in a Void” is a Siouxsie and the Banshees cover song. The shrill, screeching original can be likened to nails on a chalkboard. “Siouxsie Sioux,” Susan Janet Ballion, recorded the vocals and “Steve Severin,” Steven John Bailey, wrote the lyrics: “So many fools blocking my motion. Clouding my eyes must be the potion. Spots on my eyes must be the lotion.” Fenriz stands in solidarity with Ballion and Bailey as he takes a stand against closed-minded thinking: “So many bigots for my liking.” Needless to say, Fenriz’s spin on this 1978 goth, post-punk song is quite amusing. Darkthrone has also covered “Bad Attitude” by the NYC punk band Testors on NWOBM.
18. Doomicus — “Cargonaut”
The name Doomicus is a reference to Candlemass’ Epicus Doomicus Metallicus (1986). “Cargonaut” was released in 2014 along with a song called “Boozehound.” Although Fenriz did not participate in the latter track, he is one of four vocalists on “Cargonaut,” the title of which may be a nod to Sleep’s 1992 stoner doom song “Dragonaut” and/or Black Sabbath’s “Supernaut.” The other singers are guitarist Ronny Østli, Sebastian Ehnbom, and Øyvind Hægeland, who appears to be the main singer. In an awesomely epic voice, Hægeland gives life lyrics that are utterly ridiculous. The song begins: “Only Y-O-U, can drink 23 White Russians in a row!” “Cargonaut” meanders into odd little tangents: “Do I have to travel to India to get spicy food?” The track is a comedic revival of dead metal tropes. Doomicus’ lone vinyl release was a 40th birthday tribute to guitarist Stian Fossum of the doom metal band Devil. "For the chief a trusted friend, a comrade to the end. Hear these words of human love from everyone you know." 4 of Stian's Devil bandmates participated in the two-song wonder Doomicus. Stian and Fenriz collaborated on the four-song project Fuck You All.
19. Isengard — “Neslepaks”
“Neslepaks” was released on Høstmørke (1995). Fenriz states in the commentary to this track: “If you call this folk metal, this is rather decent, not so silly and spastic and merry and jumbled.” Fenriz then proceeds to say that folk metal generally ought to be deleted, whereas folk rock is great. — We hope that Fenriz will at least spare the “happy little boozers” of Korpiklaani from his wrathful judgement. — When considering Isengard’s black metal/death metal start, it is a bit surprising to see how the project branched out into so many different styles. Neslepaks” is “Creation” spelled backwards. Accordingly, “Neslepaks” is an inverted version of Genesis 1. In Fenriz’s retelling, everything ends in darkness instead of light: “Og på den ellevte dagen slo han folk og dyr i hjel. Og på den tolvte dagen kvalte han himmelriket. Og på den trettende dagen skygget han for solen… Så var der ingen dager mer.”/“And on the 11th day he slew the people and animals. And on the 12th day he strangled the Kingdom of Heaven. And on the 13th day he covered the sun… And then there were no more days.” This song is slightly reminiscent of the apocalyptic “Unholy Black Metal,” which appears on Under a Funeral Moon (1993), insofar as they each narrate grim tales in a biblical manner.
20. Valhall — “The Dream of a Jester”
Fenriz does not sing on “The Dream of a Jester.” As we have said, he was Valhall’s drummer, which is fitting because he has always been the arbiter of his own beat. We think that “The Dream of a Gesture” from Heading for Mars (1997) is an appropriate way to end the list. From beginning to end, Heading for Mars features trippy songs like “Mindblaster.” “The Dream of a Jester” is the final track before the outro. It is doom that will not induce any feelings of gloom. You can tell that this retro-inspired track is the work of music geeks. The tension created by the contrast between the dramatic mood and the nonsensical and repetitive lyrics mounts to the point at which you might need to start gesticulating and singing along in order to relieve it. The homespun feel makes this song somewhat irresistible. “Getting taller. Still I’m growing. On the 20th floor of a five-store building. Now I have to go. Go away and I’ll take you with me. No one can stop me…” Just when you think that the speaker intends to jump to suicide, Valhall throws in the anticlimactic possibility of an exit ladder: “I used to be so tall now I’m small. Using a ladder to reach the floor. Used to be a clown. Now I’m a jester. I’m an entertainer. Please look at me now.” Fenriz has been entertaining the world since 1986. We thank “Satan, sinister Duke of Gloat” for Fenriz’s 35-year career.
This brief video from the Instagram account FenriZara is just too great not to include. Although Fenriz speaks fantastic English, he has a difficult time hearing what the interviewer’s words. The result resembles a discussion between the Metalocalypse characters Skwisgaar Skwigelf and Toki Wartooth.