Hails to Magister Templi! Tell us a little of the band, if you will, for the uninitiated!
Baphomet: We’re a bunch of hairy, beer drinking metal heads from the worn out, but charming town of Oslo, Norway. We’re all raised here and I guess none of us will ever leave this place, which makes Magister Templi a thigh knit band of comrades playing a blend of classic heavy metal and doom.
May 7 marks the release of your first full length, ‘Lucifer Leviathan Logos’! What are some of the events that have led up to this album? Was it an easy process or more difficult? Why?
Abraxas: This one was rather easy and enjoyable, as most of the material was already written, no one rushed us and pretty much everyone we involved in the project were nice and knew very well what they were doing. Of course that goes for the IAO SABAO! EP too, but that was on a smaller scale of course.
I think the most important single event leading up to this release was our getting a full and steady lineup. Rather than being two good friends writing music together we’ve been a band in the real “Don’t fuck with my bandmates!” sense of the word, more tightly knit than before to steal Baphomets words.
What ideas did you have when you began writing ‘Lucifer…’? Was there a specific goal or vision? Would you consider ‘Lucifer…’ a concept album? Why or why not?
Baphomet: Lucifer is actually the first song we ever played. Abraxas recorded the song through a headset and showed it to me when we stood outside a bar one late evening some years back, so it has been with us for some years now. We had already decided to use the song on the album and Abraxas thought about building a lyrical concept with these three steps. We then started to write Leviathan and Logos and if you read the lyrics while listening to the music you will see that the music is written to support the lyrical content. The other songs have looser affiliations to the theme, so it’s more of a quasi-concept album.
Abraxas: Lyrically speaking it’s a concept album, musically it is not.
Magister Templi has a definite old school NWOBHM sound, tell us about your influences, musically. What is it about this sound and style that grabs you and lends itself to your own vision?
Baphomet: We listen to a lot of different stuff. The heavy metal influence comes from Saxon and Judas Priest. It’s all about the “in your face”-heaviness which is the core of heavy metal. We also love more dramatic bands like Angel Witch and King Diamond and we listen a lot to old school thrash metal and some black metal. This is the stuff that really makes you raise your fist in the air and do stupid things. On the other hand we have a lot of influences from more doomy bands like Trouble, Pentagram and Pagan Altar, which adds a more spiritual feeling. We also listen to stuff like Black Widow, King Crimson and Jehtro Tull. I especially find a lot of inspiration in strange bands like Goblin, Popul Vuh and Comus, a more latent influence when listening to the music, but a very present influence when I try to find a kind of mad and ritualistic feeling.
Curz Del Sur is releasing the album, how did your relationship come about? How is the album being released, CD, tapes, vinyl, digital…?
Baphomet: CD, vinyl and digital.
Give us an idea of how songs are written with Magister Templi? Does the band write as a whole or individually? Why?
Baphomet: Traditionally I write the riffs with some arrangements ideas regarding the other instruments and Abraxas writes the lyrics and melodies. We usually meet over a couple of beers to exchange ideas and when the song is more or less finished, we bring it forth to the band and start rehearsing, removing parts an adding other things. I prefer to dwell on stuff before I bring it forth, especially because I sometimes have a lot of half mad ideas, but Abraxas and I have always written the best material when we work together. Nowadays the band as a whole has a bigger part in this process, especially Patriark who wrote the music to one of the songs on the EP and one on the album, the song Tipareth.
I was drawn the image of the hexagram in your logo, as well as some of the song titles. Much of your material could be interpreted as Thelemic and Qabbalistic. How do these philosophies influence your music and direction?
Abraxas: I’ve never considered myself a Thelemite, but I do find Crowleys writings, when you can filter all his self-centered lies and bullshit out of them, to be some of the most interesting esoteric philosophical thoughts of the 20th century. And a rather fun poet actually, not a genius as some people will tell you, but lots of fun. Kabbalah on the other hand has always been extremely important to me both its modernized western form and the Lurianic tradition.
Our lyrics are of course heavily based in the western esoteric tradition, rather than satanic occultism, as some folks seem to believe, we’ve focused on classical magic and alchemy in those regards. I guess it felt natural with my weird interests and all. But the symbols and language of magic/alchemy also make for very good lyrical metaphors.
Tell us about how the area that the band lives in affects your sound. When many fans of extreme music think of Oslo, they, of course think of black metal…does this help or hinder Magister Templi? Why?
Baphomet: Black metal has always been the main thing in Oslo. Everyone in Magister Templi is in some way related to black metal (three members play in Svarttjern) and I guess a lot of the attitudes and feelings of black metal subculture has influenced Magister Templi as well. But the metal scene in Norway has changed and the intense focus on black metal is not as evident as before. Other genres like doom metal and classic heavy metal has become more important than before. But Magister Templi is the only live band that we know of that plays heavy metal, so we usually identify ourselves with the doom scene.
Abraxas: We should probably also mention that Oslo has a very active and awesome Thrash Metal scene that we rather enjoy…
How has Magister Templi changed over the years since your inception? How has the band remained the same?
Baphomet: The sound has in some ways changed, but we haven’t really changed the way we make music. We still have a “no rules”-policy. I think we write better music now and we’re a better live band.
Abraxas: I certainly hope so… As I said before I think the most important change has been the people coming, coming going and leading us to the current lineup.
What is on the horizon for Magister Templi? What can fans expect in the near future? What about the distant future?
Abraxas: Apart from a couple of shows in Norway and writing new material I guess we’re hoping for some cool bookings in the year to come. Yeah… we want to get out there and play and meet you guys! That’s what we want!
In the distant future? Well I’m not going anywhere, and I can definitely see me and Baphomet sitting in some nursing home in 50 years “Sister! SISTER! Baphomet lost his pick again!”
The last words are yours!
Guess we’ll have to choose them wisely then…
Gabriel whispered in mine ear
His archangelic poesie.
How can I write? I only hear
The sobbing murmur of the sea.
Raphael breathed and bade me pass
His rapt evangel to mankind;
I cannot even match, alas!
The ululation of the wind.
The gross grey gods like gargoyles spit
On every poet’s holy head;
No mustard-seed of truth or wit
In those curst furrows, quick or dead!
A tithe of what I know would cleanse
The leprosy of earth; and I –
My limits are like other men’s.
I must live dumb, and dumb must die!
Oh, and never stop listening to Uriah Heep!