"Så tetnet tåken til sist.
Så vandrer vi endelig til Dødheimsgard.
Tilvaerelsens morkeste elementer
har stenket jorden med en gravskjendig ild."
"Then the fog finally thickened.
Then we finally walked to Dødheimsgard.
Existences' dark elements
have spattered the earth with a grave-desecrating fire."
Yusaf "Vicotnik" Parvez is recognized as one of black metal's greatest artists. Yet, as most geniuses, Vicotnik is criminally underappreciated. The trailblazing vocalist and multi-instrumentalist is primarily known for co-founding Dødheimsgard / DHG and Ved Buens Ende. More recently, he joined the original lineup of Dold Vorde Ens Navn, which blew listeners away with their debut album last year. Over the decades, Vicotnik has had many monikers: "Mr. Fixit," "Viper," "498," "Osma Bin Askeladden," ("Asekeladden" means "the ash-lad" and is the name of a Norwegian folk-tale character), etc. Vicotnik, is "an indecent exposer of consciousness," whose artistic visions will alter your state of mind. His musical offerings will make you feel "Like [You Are] In A Constant State of Sexual Ecstasy."
Born in Oslo on May 31, 1977, Vicotnik was set apart by his unique upbringing. Early on, he moved with his father to Stockholm before relocating to India at the age of 5. Thus, Vicotnik grew up listening to Indian music. He sometimes incorporates Indian influences into his music and visual presentation. At 10, the future "Architect of Darkness" returned to Scandinavia — Stockholm and then Askim, Norway. While still living in Stockholm, Vicotnik formed his first band, The Lords of Satan, in 1990.
Vicotnik's next band, which he started in Askim, soon morphed into Manes / 1811. (This group is not to be confused with Cernunnus' Manes from Trondheim, with whom they shared a split that was released in 2009, Pro-Gnosis Diabolis 1993 / Solve et Coagula. This vinyl features mostly, but not exclusively, '90s material. As it happens, the evolution of Trondheim's Manes has been so fluid and unique that the unfolding of Vicotnik's career is one of the only things with which it may be compared.) On Easter of 1993, a 16-year-old Vicotnik requested that his parents drop him off in Oslo for good, as he explained to Mork's Thomas Eriksen. By that point, Vicotnik had already visited Euronymous' shop, Helvete, and Elm Street Rock Café. He had also made the acquaintance of future superstars like Shagrath (Dimmu Borgir), Garm (Ulver), and Frost (Satyricon). After relocating, Vicotnik first took up residence in the rehearsal space used by his friend, a teenage Carl-Michael Eide, a.k.a. "Aggressor" / "Czral," (Aura Noir, Infernö, ex-Cadaver, ex-Virus). This same space, where DHG and VBE would practice, was also used by Mayhem, Arcturus, Ulver, Satyricon, etc. Notably, Carl-Michael had played on Satyricon's first demo, All Evil, which was recorded in 1992, and went on to become the founding drummer of Ulver. However, his dissatisfaction with Ulver's direction led him to forge another path with Vicotnik. Together, they formed the band that would become Ved Buens Ende, which means "At the End of the Rainbow" — a name created by Garm.
In 1994, Victonik and the individualistic Bjørn "Aldrahn" Dencker (Thorns, ex-Zyklon-B) finally started Dødheimsgard. The name Dødheimsgard was pieced together from “død,” or “death”; “heim,” or “home”; and “gard,” which can mean “farm.” For interview purposes, Aldrahn and Vicotnik decided that they would say that the amalgamated word means “Kingdom of Death.” Initially, Vicotnik viewed DHG as an opportunity to return to raw black metal, as opposed to more progressive BM: As a member of the second generation of Norwegian BM, he had been compelled to differentiate his style. Thus, DHG allowed Vicotnik to resurrect his persona from 1991-1992 before record deals had become a possibility.
Vicotnik has cited Darkthrone, Mayhem, Burzum, and Thorns as his black metal muses. Thus, it is quite fitting that Vicotnik recruited Darkthrone's Fenriz to complete the original DHG trio: Vicotnik first met and impressed Fenriz with his guitar skills while working at Stovner Rockefabrikk. Fenriz appears on DHG's first album, Kronet til konge (1995), or "Crowned to Be King." By the time this was released, material had already been completed material for future DHG releases. That said, Kronet til konge (1995) and DHG's next album, Monumental Possession (1996), were more traditional than the works that would follow. The latter is bound to delight thrash fans with songs like "Angel Death." And yet, this deceptively straightforward record reflects Vicotnik's interest in topics like philosophy and psychology. Both Kronet til konge and Monumental Possession featured songs that were made in the rehearsal space with riffs created by the DHG team. (Keep in mind that Fenriz joined only after Vicotnik and Aldrahn had already prepared many songs. Furthermore, on DHG's sophomore album, future-Emperor's Alver replaced Fenriz and Carl-Michael's Aura Noir bandmate Apollyon also came aboard.) By the EP Satanic Art (1998), Vicotnik was writing more of the music on his own. Due to Vicotnik's spirit of experimentation, each DHG album brings new surprises.
There is black metal and then there are Vicotnik's projects, which stand apart like Martians from men. Unlike many other influential BMers who began with death metal, for example, black metal had been Vicotnik's starting point as a musician. And yet, even within the BM community, where Vicotnik is royalty and has collaborated with the best, he remains an outsider in a sense. Vicotnik has incorporated a broad range of influences: classical, electronic, techno, industrial, pop, etc. Although a lot of his work could be referred to as post-BM, it is "true" as can be. Transcending categorization, it ranges from grim and frostbitten to kaleidoscopic. Vicotnik uses variety and spontaneity to create the impression of madness.
The insanely versatile musician has stated that he doesn't believe that a band has to be defined by anything. During an interview with Hessian Firm, Vicotnik reasoned: "… if you kind of fix all that to a certain state now… the image is owning you. You're not owning the image." He spoke to MetalRecusants about his choice not to slavishly obey the genre conventions created by others: "You want to be a performer who can expand the notion of what black metal instead of just confining it into a little circle." The protean musician continued: "… why cling on to someone else's style?" Above all, Vicotnik wants his art to be evocative and tell his story. He explained to Hessian Firm that he comes from the '90s mindset of focusing within: "… try to put like a dagger inside your heart but the dagger has a speaker on it and the dagger kind of plays music from your heart…" Even when striving for complexity, Vicotnik doesn't lose hold of what is dark and morbid: Everything he does harbors the juices of primordial chaos.
When reflecting upon Vicotnik's diverse undertakings, Endwarfment stands out as a hidden jewel. Vicotnik and Carl-Michael Eide played together for overlapping periods in this one-of-a-kind grindcore group, which makes a theme of politically incorrect humor. It's so easy to fall in love with Endwarfment: Get down and dirty with "Saturday Night Beaver" and "Fistfuck Reggae!" This band is arguably even weirder than Oslo's Beaten to Death.
For years, Vicotnik formerly fronted the Greek band Naer Mataron. Vicotnik produced their 2005 album, Discipline Manifesto, and agreed to do the same for Praetorians (2008); but after the departure of Morpheas / Sykelig prior to the latter album, Vicotnik generously offered to fill the vacant position of vocalist as well. Meanwhile, Sykelig borrowed the name of the fourth song from Kronet til konge, "Den saakaldte" / "The So-Called," for the amazing group that he founded in 2006. Den Saakaldte's original roster actually consisted of Vicotnik on bass, Mayhem's Hellhammer on drums, Sykelig on guitar, DHG's Jormundgand / Honey Lucius on keyboards, and Shining's Niklas Kvarforth on vocals. Expect a guest appearance by Vicotnik on Den Saakaldte's upcoming album, Pesten som tar over!
Vicotnik has been with the legendary Strid since 2009. (Founded in Askim, Strid's 1993 one-song demo End of Life is regarded as the first DSBM recording. The band now features three members who previously worked with Dødheimsgard, in one capacity or another, including Fleurety's Svein Egil Hatlevik, who joined in 2017.) Although Ravn Harjar is the project's only remaining '90s member, Strid began working on a new album in 2010 and have more recently returned to this ambition. We hope that the results will be released. Similarly, we are looking forward to the possibility of a new record by VBE. The group prematurely tried working on new material during their short-lived reunion in the mid-2000s. However, since reuniting in 2019 for a friend's 40th birthday, they have been a healthy unit. Vicotnik has stated that he would like VBE's next release to pick up where they left off with their first and last record in the '90s. One day, Vicotnik may also unveil an album of leftover material. Thankfully, the recording of DHG's next album is already complete.
For today's purposes, we will be focusing on bands of which Vicotnik was an actual member. Vicotnik's guest appearances include contributions to Slavia's overwhelmingly awesome Strength and Vision (2007): He provided additional lyrics and vocals for "Divided by Three" (along with ex-Mare's Ghash) and "The Abess Desecrator." He also appears on "Black Dragon Phoenix" and "Imperialis" from Doedsvangr's phenomenal sophomore record, Serpents ov Old (2021). You can hear Vicotnik on Dimmu Borgir's For all tid (1995) and Stormblåst (1996), both of which contain lyrics by Aldrahn. (Aldrahn actually came up with the word "Dødheimsgard" for the text of For all tid's “Over bleknede blåner til dommedag,” which he also sang.) Fenriz even made use of Vicotnik's screaming superpowers on Isengard's iconic Høstmørke (1995). (Note: When aiming for a bombastic tone, Fenriz and Vicotnik's voices actually sometimes sound alike.) Appropriately, Vicotnik teamed up with the Italian band Kolossus for the track "Norge," or "Norway." Vicotnik actually connected with DHG's current bassist, Lars-Emil Måløy, after the latter reached out to see if he was willing to help him with his project If Nothing Is, which our hero was. The list goes on.
Now let's get down to business: Take some time to enjoy Vicotnik's brilliance with these 10 unforgettable songs!
VBE — "Remembrance of Things Past"
"… I have touched the past… It was like the love of thorns…" The dynamic "Remembrance of Things Past" is the penultimate track on Ved Buens Ende's first and only album to date, Written in Waters (1995). The direction of this song is supple as melting wax, as mercurial as a mental breakdown. In its own way, the barren landscape that this number evokes is as imposing as Immortal's fictional Blashyrkh Kingdom: "Let the fallen hear: 'It never rains around here."' As many readers will know, "Remembrance of Things Past" was the title given to the first English-language translation of Proust's magnum opus, À la recherche du temps perdu, which is more accurately known as In Search of Lost Time. Written in Waters' opening song, which VBE's most popular, is called "I Sang for the Swans": The first volume of In Search of Lost Time bears the name Swann's Way in honor of the character Charles Swann. The counterintuitive idea to begin a career with a "swan song" is one that could only occur to a band as eccentric as VBE: "Sing for the one with horns. We pity the feathers, we devour the wing… I sang for the swans. I raped her on her throne."
On the whole, the Daliesque Written in Waters is so otherworldly that it sounds as if it could have come from outer space or an area ravaged by a nuclear catastrophe. After all, Vicotnik has stated: "… we never made Ved Buens Ende to sound like a band; We made Ved Buens Ende to kind of create a world…" The ability to do precisely this is one of the ways by which Proust identified genius. Even if you have never heard this incredibly mature and wistful album, it will probably give you the illusion of déjà vu: It is so familiar and yet so distant. Vicotnik played guitar, handled harsh vocals, and penned the lyrics to "Den saakaldte." Carl-Michael added drums, executed the clean vocals, and wrote most of the lyrics. Skoll (Den saakaldte, Arcturus, ex-Ulver) provided bass, keyboards, and additional vocals.
DHG — "Jesu Blod"
You can find "Jesu Blod" on Dødheimsgard's Kronet til konge (1995). This mostly Norwegian effort features three English-language songs. As noted above, it is in the style of raw black metal. Nevertheless, Aldrahn approach to vocals, for example, was atypical for BM. Kronet til konge proves that DHG has what it takes "Å slakte Gud," "To Slaughter God"; hence, the inclusion of the sixth track, "Kuldeblest over evig isøde," or "Coldwind over the Eternal Ice Realm," on Malicious Records' compilation album Vox Mortis (1997), which showcases some of Norway's greatest blasphemers like Gorgoroth.
"Jesu Blod" may not be the most popular track from Kronet til konge, but it truly encapsulates the nostalgic '90s spirit. Listening to this "doomsday" song, one cannot help but picture Fenriz, the author of "En vind av sorg," prancing through the woods preparing to hurl his battle-axe at kind-hearted yet unsuspecting Christians. Bear in mind that Darkthrone's Panzerfaust was released the same year: On this album, Fenriz authored of "En wind av sorg: "Her lukter det Kristen manns blod — igler på Våre Hjerter" / "Here it smells of the Christian man's blood — leaches on our hearts." If you love Darkthrone, you should also check out Dødheimsgard's cover of "Green Cave Float" from the tribute album Darkthrone Holy Darkthrone (1998) by Satyr's Moonfog Productions.
DHG — "Traces of Reality"
"Traces of Reality" is black metal infused with an ample dose of genre-defying chaos. This insanely innovative song begins and ends with a soundbite from Twin Peaks: "Touched by the devilish one." "Traces of Reality" is the second song on DHG's Satanic Art (1998). The lineup on this EP cannot be surpassed: Galder (Old Man's Child, Dimmu Borgir), Apollyon (Aura Noir, ex-Cadaver, ex-Immortal), Svein Egil Hatlevik (Fleurety), Aldrahn (Thorns, ex-Zyklon-B), and Cerberus (now DVEN). For this effort, Vicotnik switched from drums to bass. Although Vicotnik sings the fourth track, Aldrahn is the main vocalist on this effort. Satanic Art marked the beginning of DHG's collaboration with Satyr's Moonfog Productions.
DHG would take the use of electronics and turn towards an industrial style present on Satanic Art to a whole new level on the highly influential game changer of an album that followed, 666 International (1999). After 666 International, Aldrahn departed from DHG to focus on Thorns. Yet, he would appear as a guest on the next album, join DHG for the record after that, and then part ways with the group again. Although 666 International is a polarizing release, many fans will say that songs like "Shiva Interfere," "Ion Storm," "Sonar Bliss" rank among their favorites by DHG.
Aphrodisiac — "Fairies and Frogs"
What happens when you put together Norwegian BM's two most eccentric men — Vicotnik and Svein Egil Hatlevik?! Perhaps you have seen footage of Vicotnik covering Mayhem's "Freezing Moon" while lending a hand to Svein's awesome band Fleurety: Although musicians usually disappoint when taking on Per Ynge Ohlin's lyrics, Vicotnik definitely rocks them. You probably had no idea that Svein and Vicotnik constituted an electronic duo called Aphrodisiac. Their one and only release, Nonsense Chamber (1997), is just too good to be true. Interestingly, Garm (Ulver, ex-Arcturus, ex-Borknagar) contributed the track "Children, It Is I." This record is absinthe in sonic form.
"Fairies and Frogs" is a work of ephemeral savage beauty laced with a father's murderous revenge, which you will hear confessed in an amusing American accent. This lovely song is where the base and the noble simmer together in a cauldron as wicked as that of Thorns' "You That Mingle May." "Fairies and Frogs" showcases the voice of Jeffrey Dahmer's attorney Gerald Boyle. In addition, a quote is twice repeated from everyone's favorite Danish philosopher, the brooding Mr. Søren Kierkegaard: "I am in the profoundest sense an unhappy individuality, riveted from the beginning to one or another suffering bordering on madness, a suffering which must have its basis in a mis-relation between my mind and body, for (and this is the remarkable thing as well as my infinite encouragement) it has no relation to my spirit, which on the contrary, because of the tension between my mind and body, has gained an uncommon resiliency."
Svein told Ave Noctem, "… it [Aphrodisiac] was basically about making the most unpleasant sounds we knew how to… we were reading a lot about serial killers and taping documentaries on VHS to use as voice sample material." He continued: "I was listening to composers… that utilized the typical kind of post-WWII academic music kind of timbre and tone clusters. I remember when I first heard Penderecki’s Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima when I was 16 or so, and it struck me as infinitely darker than any black metal that I’d ever heard." Nonsense Chamber may not be black metal, but don't you dare call it "soft." It's filled with "Dismembered human remains, decapitated heads in a refrigerator freezer, limbs and male genitals in other containers and a large barrel full of acid."
DVEN — Mørkere's Unholy Trinity of Singles ("Løgnenes abstinenser," "Er det måneskinn?," "Syke hjerte")
Dold Vorde Ens Navn, or "Hidden Be Its Name" is a supergroup that Vicotnik fronts. In DVEN, you will also hear Cerberus (ex-DHG) on bass, Myrvoll (DHG, Teloch's Nidingr) on drums, and Haavard (ex-Satyricon, ex-Ulver) on guitar. The project began around 2016 when Cerberus visited Haavard to write a song. One thing soon led to another. The two musicians, who had dropped out of the scene for years, bring the true spirit of the '90s. Cerberus initially asked Vicotnik to write lyrics for a song. Vicotnik then volunteered to become the group's vocalist.
DVEN's debut album Mørkere was not only one of the best albums of 2021, it is some of the greatest and most fiercely independent black metal that you will ever hear. It is permeated with "Lebensekel," "disgust for life" / "world-weariness," that only lived experience and BM-veteran status can bring. We love the addition of string instruments. Vicotnik's highly theatrical approach delights us and juxtaposes beautifully with some of this avant-garde album's more traditional elements. Mørkere gave Vicotnik a chance to make more melodic music, which he had been longing to do. This masterpiece is nothing short of "et vanvidd som sprenger alle grenser." / "a madness that breaks all boundaries." Although Mørkere will give you the dizzying sensation of "et sinn som aldri hviler, en smerte i dissonans" / "a mind [or in this case, minds] that never rests, a pain in dissonance," it will lull you. Enjoy "Løgnenes abstinenser," "The Abstinance of Lies"; "Er det måneskinn?," "Is It Moonlight?"; and "Syke hjerter, "Sick Hearts."
Code — "The Cotton Optic"
You might not have remembered that Vicotnik was once a member of the English band Code. Vicotnik appears on bass and backing vocals on Nouveau Gloaming (2005), on bass on Resplendent Grotesque (2009), and on bass and backing vocals on a 2003 rehearsal demo that was released this year. Even True Norwegian Black Metal's fiercest fans will have to admit that these are truly breathtaking albums. Code's then-singer Kvohst, who also wrote many of the band's lyrics, told metal.de the following, which can thus be translated: "I find the [Vicotnik's] basslines really superb. You can listen to them solo and they are almost like songs in their own right! Vicotnik provides our musicians with a very different and creative slant and his way of working is very probing and creative. He always brings the music in a completely new direction."
Fenriz and Kvohst co-wrote the text for the opening tracks on both Nouveau Gloaming and Resplendent Grotesque: "The Cotton Optic" and then "Smother the Crones" — "Let’s get skeletal, necro-spiritual. There’s murder in the cronehouse tonight." This collaboration came about because two musicians had been friends and shared a mutual admiration for one another's work. Of course, everything Fenriz sets his pen to bears the stamp of a freakishness so pure and rare that it can only occur once in a blue moon. "The Cotton Optic" not only feeds your hunger for what is black and savage, this high-energy song will also get you hyped: "These plastic superhero suits are starting to choke. Choke! Choke! Choke!" (Note: On Resplendent Grotesque, Kvohst and Vicotnik's partner in crime Carl-Michael Eide co-authored "Possession Is the Medicine.")
DHG — "Vendetta Assassin"
Rarely does Scandinavian extreme metal sound like it belongs in a Hollywood action film, but "Vendetta Assassin" certainly proves an exception. Supervillain Outcast (2007) gives you the feeling of "living in an insatiable video game": It is "The Snuff Dreams Are Made Of." In some ways, this album is a step back from 666 International (1999) toward something more accessible. Supervillain Outcast throws some curveballs, so enjoy the ride but don't think you know where it will lead you. The songs are meant to be performed live.
Supervillain Outcast boasts Clandestine, who joined Strid in 2018, and Sarkom's Tom Kvålsvoll. The two of them played together in Paradigma. Kvålsvoll mastered this album, three other DHG releases, and Resplendent Grotesque (2009). He also served as an assistant mixer here. Supervillain Assassin also marks the one time that Code's Kvohst recorded with DHG. He was tasked with lead vocals and lyrical duties. Vicotnik provided guitars, some additional vocals, samples, and programming. He co-produced this record on which he labored intensely. Besides 666 International (1999), Supervillain Outcast is the only DHG album on which Carl-Michael Eide appears. He recorded the drums for Supervillain Outcast before his devastating injury: In 2005, he fell from four story building. Although Carl Michael continues to sing and play guitar and bass, he can no longer drum.
VBE — "A Mask in the Mirror"
Ved Buens Ende's Those Who Caress the Pale (1994) consists of two songs that landed on Written in Waters (1995) as well as "A Mask in the Mirror," which serves as the demo's opening; "The Plunderer" — "Cremate the raven's wing!"; and the title track. "A Mask in the Mirror" is a bit of an acquired taste: This oddity might not be everyone's cup of chamomile tea with madeleine crumbs, to make a Proust reference. All the same, we love its uncanny allure. The song juxtaposes beauty and horror in a way that wreaks of fin-de-siècle aesthetics — "Slowly, I bound you and your doves… Is it fear?"
DHG — "Aphelion Void"
Do you like your extreme metal with a hint of saxophone? Dødheimsgard's "Aphelion Void" from DHG's fifth and latest album, A Umbra Omega (2015), is too epic to be true: "There is a place called reality — hidden to all men. You can reach it through insanity, but never to return again." This novel song is perfect for those suffering from ennui: "My only joy is to forget… Smothered by spiral repetition." Paradoxically, this song will strangle any feelings of boredom and monotony. Whereas Aldrahn speaks of "An attempt to reach some imagined form in the twinkle of my perceptional ruin where life offers no hope," this song is inspiring as hell insofar as it is unlike anything you've experienced. These were written by Vicotnik, who also provided a couple other texts for A Umbra Omega. He also handled guitar, songwriting, additional vocals, producing, and mixing. Although "Aphelion Void" does not seem conducive to live gigs, Vicotnik recently gave a refreshing vocal performance of this song at Imperium 2022.
A Umbra Omega marked the beginning of DHG's collaboration with the legendary Peaceville Records, which is known for their long-standing relationships with bands like Darkthrone. The songs on this far-out masterpiece are "weapons of mass hypnosis." Yet, as Vicotnik has stated, in order to experience A Umbra Omega properly, you must listen to it as a whole. Vicotnik explained to interviewer Marlon Crudo: "If you don't spend enough time on the album, you won't like it…You have to spend some time getting into it and then it will be your friend for life." Based on this record, we understand why Satyricon's Frost told Vicotnik: "… with Dødheimsgard you're never going to get the credit you deserve." A Umbra Omega was simply too much of a breakthrough for many people to digest.
DVEN — "Drukkenskapens kirkegård"
Gjengangere i hjertets mørke (2019), which can be translated as "Spectres in the Heart's Darkness," is Dold Vorde En Navn's killer 4-song, debut EP. Whereas the energy on DVEN's album is centripetal, the energy here is centrifugal. It's intense and hits you like a kick to the face. We are wild about the punk track that kicks the endeavor off, "Den ensomme død," "The Lonely Death." The existential come as a surprise given the song's style. Cerberus and Haavard made the track in the latter's basements for fun.
The next track, "Drukkenskapens kirkegård," "The Cemetery of Drunkenness," captures what we love about Vicotnik. This amazingly brutal and haunting song is like a juncture where Dionysian madness and intellect merge. Vicotnik gives a performance deserving of an Oscar. "Et selvrettferdighetens litani fordekt gjennom språkets listige arkitektur. Er vi alle hypnotisert på innsiden av dette forgylte bur? Hvor vi velter oss samvittighetsløst i destruktivetetens diktatur." / "A litany of self-righteousness concealed through language's cunning architecture. Are we all hypnotized inside this gilded cage? Where we topple over lacking conscience in the dictatorship of destructiveness?"
"Vitnnesbyrd," or "Testimony," is the most popular song from Gjengangere i hjertets mørke. This insanely black glimpse into the abyss of "selvutslettende galskap" / "self-effacing madness" will provide you with a sense of metaphysical comfort. The EP closes with the bittersweet "Blodets hvisken," "The whisper of the Blood" — a sophisticated, beautifully written, and powerful track that you will love more each time you hear it. Black metal has never given death so much meaning.