Interview by Eset Hellfrost
Arvas, first known as Örth, is a Norwegian raw Satanic Black Metal project formed by Vassago Rex in 1992, with two permanent members these days: guitarist, song writer and founder Vassago Rex and the human ‘drum-machine’ Fordervelse. Currently preparing themselves for the recording of a new album, which is planned in the late summer of this year. V-rex promises ‘a straight in your face attitude’, more aggression, more intense. We can only wait anxiously how more intense this new album can be after their killer release ‘Blessed From Below- Ad Sathanas Noctum’ – 2009.
F.M.: Admitted I have been looking in the dictionary first to see what Arvas means, but couldn’t find anything. Can you fill us in and tell us why you choose this name and why the name change?
V-REX: Arvas doesn’t really mean anything at all. The name simply just came into my mind and I liked the sound of it.
F.M.: Are there any bands or musicians which had any influence on you and the music you make and how?
V-REX: I do like a lot of different artists, not in the black metal scene though. My inspirations come from different genres,like dance, trance, techno ,europop etc. The metal part is basically from music I grew up with. Like 80’s thrash metal from the USA, some German bands like Kreator and Tankard. My favourite thrash band overall is Slayer, so I guess some of my music reflect this. The reason why I don’t listen to black metal is because I don’t think it’s interesting, there are no bands that really make me go ‘ooohh’ so I rather make black metal myself if I want to listen to it. But I do check in on some bands that I know personally and bands that I think deserve attention. In Bergen, my hometown there are two bands I really like and the potential here is huge; Blodhemn and Vithr. I am friends with the musicians of both bands and therefore I support them.
F.M.: Arvas goes a long way back, breaks in between, line up changes, etc. What gives you the drive to keep on going?
V-REX: Ahhhh… it has to be a certain passion for the music and the art within. Regarding line-up changes, these are things that are bound to happen every now and then. Some people see other priorities, which is allright, but I need the ones within Arvas to be the right ones. I have nothing bad to say about any of our former band mates, they had their reasons to leave the band and after all there is no use in forcing musicians to hang in there if they don’t want to be there in the first place. These other guys had other projects they wanted to focus on and some had personal issues that resulted in leaving Arvas due to different understandings within the band.
F.M.: Talking about all the happenings within the band, there was quite a troublesome past. Do you have the impression all is a bit more calmed down now within the line up?
V-REX: Well, right now everything is exactly how I want things to be. After we played the HAMMERSLAG VINTERBLOT festival, Toensberg in February this year I got some lung problems,I had some difficulties breathing and was caughing for hours each night thereafter, I still do at times. I was not capable to sing anymore. I am still not capable. So me and Fordervelse had to think about finding a replacement. We came up with ANGST DRAKAMER, the singer from a band called DAUDEN,we both knew him from before because DAUDEN and Arvas did some shows togheter earlier and we got along great as well so why not ask him. He was into it and that was it. Our bassplayer Hexzaldre was not a permanent member or a permanent session member but helped us out doing the bass for two important shows, so we needed a more permanent guy. I had some contacts with different candidates but we ended up with VHRED. A solid bass machine playing in the bands ESCAPETOR and ANTAIOS. I still do the guitarwork and songwriting. Stürm is still with us as permanent live guitarist and my wingman Fordervelse is the drummer of course. In Arvas Fordervelse and I are the only two permanent members,it are also the two of us who make the decisions regarding to the band. The other guys have voting rights of course, but in the end we make the final decisions.
F.M.: There is a lot being said about the Norwegian Black Metal scene. Some claim it’s the only true Black Metal, others say it has become too polished. What is your opinion about the overall Norwegian scene these days?
V-REX: Ahhh I do not really follow up on what’s going on actually. As I mentioned before, I don’t listen to the genre except for some friend bands. Remember, black metal is not at all a Norwegian phenomenon! It all started in South America with all those extreme bands during mid eighties. Norwegians may have made it more known and accepted.
F.M.: Occult, Satanic, Anti-christian. It are terms which are heard a lot in the underground scene. What suits best with your band? What is the main vision behind it?
V-REX: We or I call my art Satanic Black Metal, based upon my Satanic believes. These are the main theme in lyrics and our image and lifestyle as I see it. Black metal is more a lifestyle than actual music to me. The music is a soundtrack to what I do. Death and the worship of all that is shameful, hatred and pure are all elements I intend to bring further on to the ones that will listen.
F.M.: Currently you are working on a new album, called ‘Upon a Throne Of Satanic Worship’ which will be recorded in the late summer 2011. What exactly can we expect from it?
V-REX: This album will be far more intense and aggressive than ‘BLESSED FROM BELOW’. The new songs are more well thought made and I have tried to make a more direct approach, going for a straight in your face attitude. Hopefully I have succeded. There are no bands in Norway these days who play this kind of music, so I am curious to see what people make out of it. Most of the younger and newer Black Metal bands nowadays still play this rock’n’roll mid tempo happy music. Arvas will never do something like that.
F.M.: The reviews I have been reading about your previous album ‘Blessed from Below-Ad Sathanas Noctum’ which was released in 2009 are very positive. It happens a lot that bands loose their ‘magick’ quite rapidly after their first releases, they loose their rawness. How big is the chance this might happen to Arvas as well over the years?
V-REX: Good question, but really, I don’t see this happening with Arvas any time soon at all. Of course, you never know but this also has something to do with who is in the band right? Still I will be the main composer of the music, but the people who perform the music live have to like what they play, if they don’t they will leave. On the other hand, todays line up is not at all interested in doing any signifficant changes either to the music or the attitude. Of course I can kick the musicians out of the band if they don’t like what I compose and get in new people, but I don’t see this happening anyday soon.
F.M.: You mentioned in your biography as long as you don’t find a proper label you will press new albums yourself as well like you did with ‘Blessed From Below- Ad Sathanas Noctum’. How ever you also mentioned that Odium Records is your label. Can you explain that a bit? Does it means you’re not satisfied with them?
V-REX: Odium Released one edition of the BLESSED album and they did a good job distributing etc. We got shirts and sleeves even. Now we haven’t been talking about them releasing the next album, we are just have to wait and see what happens.
F.M.: Arvas started in 1992 under the name Örth. The first gig was in 2009 how ever. Why did it take so long before the band left the studios and went out on the road?
V-REX: Well basically I had troubles finding musicians, things took a while and I don’t have a positive past in this town, which naturally results in no contact at all with musicians etc. I truly was an asshole back in the days so I don’t have friends either that I can rely on except maybe three or four. The rest of the metal comunity here in Bergen is a non topic in my world. Anyway, I got this band together and the rest is history.
F.M.: It seems you have been using a drum machine, later replaced by the human ‘drum machine’ Fordervelse. Was this because of lacking a real drummer? What is your opinion about the use of computerised material in the underground raw Black Metal?
V-REX: I used drum machines for all the demos I’ve made from the first Örth demo till the latest Arvas pre prodution. In Arvas I needed a live drummer so that is why I contacted Fordervelse to see if he was interested. I was determined not to look for musicians in Bergen. That is not vice in the long term for me, but luckily Fordervelse said yes to do the drums. After he was fired from Koldbrann I immediately asked him to join in as a permanent member of Arvas, he agreed and this has been working out perfectly for the both of us. We work very well togheter, we share the same visions and goals for the band. There are not that many drummers,if any, who can play drums like he does and his style fit the music perfectly. There are way too many computer bands out there. Any kid can go out now and buy a homestudio,install it on their pc/mac and start recording their music, spread it on myspace or whatever and I don’t think it is fair play. There are many bands, real bands with hard working musicians out there who do not get the credits they deserve, because these ‘internet bands’ overflow the industry.
F.M.: I totally agree with you on that one! I red in the band’s biography you want to play live as much as possible. Do you also play outside Norway? Are there any plans for a tour?
V-REX: We have played in The Netherlands once actually, great fun. But most of our gigs have been in Norway. Now we are going to change all this and we are focusing on other countries as well. A tour is a goal we will strife for now of course, and we have some plans already, but the year is still young so we will see.
F.M.: I know from earlier conversations Arvas would like to play in the USA. How ever staying underground and being capable to play everywhere seem not to match together. Are these plans still existing and how far are you willing to leave the underground to achieve these goals?
V-REX: The USA project is still just something we have discussed about. We want to do this, when is not certain, but this is way ahead though. Being a part of The Underground scene does not mean that you can’t do bigger things.
F.M.: What can we expect from a Arvas show?
V-REX: Alot of blood, sheeps heads and children’s heads on poles, barbed wire, loud music, aggression, intensity and a violent display of Satanic barbarism.
F.M.: Any last words to our readers?
V-REX: Well, hope to see you sometime on a show or on tour in the future,thanx for your interest in Arvas and spread the word!!!!
F.M.: Thank you as well and I surely hope to see a show of Arvas any time soon!