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The following interview is done with Incarnatus...

Introduce the world to the relatively unknown Pagan Hellfire.
Pagan Hellfire began in March 1995 and consisted of myself (Incarnatus) on drums, bass, and vocals and Blackthorn who handled the guitars, bass, and occasional vocals. We tried out a few bass players over the years, but it did not really work out too well. Blackthorn and I were the nucleus of Pagan Hellfire and that was the way it would remain. The music was mostly composed together and we both contributed to the lyrics. Three demos/cassettes were recorded from early 1996 to early 1998. The first was "Everlasting Funerals," followed by "Honor Black War" and then "Outlander" all released independently. However, after "Outlander" was recorded, Blackthorn left the project for he moved away, thus severely hindering his duty in Pagan Hellfire. Since I had taken part in the song writing process and had experience playing all the instruments used in Pagan Hellfire, I was able to continue writing and now perform all the music myself. Presently, I remain the sole member and from the way it is going now I cannot see anyone else getting involved in it.

What does the band represent, what separates it from the rest?
Pagan Hellfire is a very personal entity. You could say it is an expression toward various dark and commonly thought of "negative" ideas. These ideas filtered through my eyes and my mind. This project deals with ideas such as night, day, the universe, death and dying, tyranny, strength, observation and action to name a few. Even though it is not always blunt and direct, underlining Pagan Hellfire is anti-Christian ideology. Walking one's own path, not with a herd and not flowing with the currents of a very Christian society, but rather against them. This often overlaps onto a stance against bigger realities, specifically humanity itself. I realize some of this sounds similar to Satanic philosophy, but it is not! At times I feel Pagan Hellfire is different from other bands because it is not really a typical band at all, with a few people getting together and practicing the songs over and over. Its pretty much a write-review-record affair and then its done! I consider this just a "project," with minimal deadlines and a lot of freedom to do as I please. Another thing is I have never felt a part of a Black Metal "scene" and I have very limited contacts with those involved which I have kind of always liked. I feel, on the average, there are too many silly/ignorant attitudes and trend-minded people involved.

I understand Satanism once played a role with Pagan Hellfire, please explain your thoughts and the reasons behind you distancing yourself from this.
I kind of drifted away from Satanism and using the figure of Satan mainly because it is derived from Christianity. If one is always dealing with Satanic imagery and the like, I feel they are essentially perpetuating the Christian fairy tale - the dichotomy of God and Satan. To get away from Christian ideology, Satanism must go to, especially the mediaeval style of Satanism many bands employ. This is an important aspect of anti-Christian thought. Its not like I stay completely away from all Satanic bands or anything, but for me this is how it must be. With this in mind, however, I do have respect for certain occult matters and for those who seriously practice magick. So long as it is not done for reasons like trying to be "real evil and blasphemous".

You are preparing for the release of a self-released debut CD titled "A Voice from Centuries Away." Tell us about this, and give those who have yet to hear your work a vision into your creation.
"A Voice from Centuries Away" consists of music composed over a period of about a year. Roughly the middle of 1998 to the middle/last few months of 1999. I wrote tons of music during this stretch and selected my best compositions for this CD release which is, to say the least, overdue. It is a natural evolution for Pagan Hellfire. Four of the tracks are the more characteristic Black Metal style I play, two are (neo)classical oriented, one being a march and the other, very dirge-like and hypnotic. There is one other song too that is performed with acoustic guitars and is quite slow and minimal. 7 songs with a total running time of about 40 minutes. As always, the production is not the high-tech, new age Black Metal sound, but, as I like it, raw and dirty. Also, this is the first Pagan Hellfire release to feature classical music, a step that that seemed necessary to take.

You also are doing an interpretation of Burzum's "Frijos EinsamesCirca 1998 Trauern" ("the Lonesome Mourning of Frijo") from the Hlidskjalf album for the upcoming Tribute to Burzum. This is a very anticipated release by Cymophane Records. What motivated your contribution? Your thoughts on Varg-the man, the myth and the reality? What does it all mean to you?
I contributed this song to the Burzum tribute album as a token of my respect for Burzum. Varg's music has had a big influence on me. It really takes you away. Since Varg is (as he always was) heading in a Heathen direction musically and personally and speaks fondly about European style folk/mediaeval music, what could be more appropriate than to do a mediaeval version of one of his newer songs? "Frijos Einsames Trauern" is a great composition. As for Varg himself, he is a strong character with a lot to say. Some of his ideas I agree with, but a lot of them I don't. I enjoyed the first part of what I read from "Civilisation" a lot. I question it all sometimes because he is working from a prison cell and not in the outer world and that has got to change one's thought pattern somewhat. But what's done is done, his history is interesting and I admire his bravery, honesty, and boldness. My contribution has nothing to do with National Socialism though. Pagan Hellfire is not a NS band.

We should also mention that you composed a track for our second photo CD. You seem to have a good amount of skill in devising atmospheric pieces, which are entirely different from the music of Pagan Hellfire. Tell us about this relationship and how they serve one another.
I think composing the track "To Whom Dirges are Still Sung" for your photo CD was, first of all, part of the evolution of my musical expression which is including, among others, more classical-oriented sounds and second, is basically the way I view Black Metal. To me, Black Metal is classical music placed in a modern format: extreme metal. I often keep that in mind when writing Black Metal melodies and piecing together sections of a song. There is some classical music that can be played Black Metal style and it sounds amazing. So I'd say there is a very close relationship between Black Metal and atmospheric/classical music. They are just played on different instruments. I prefer to keep them separate in a song. Have the Black Metal songs "all Black Metal" - real sickly grim - and the classical music by itself...lurking.

Do you find it sometimes difficult to continue on being the sole member of the band? Where do you derive inspiration to create music?
I don't find it difficult whatsoever being the only member because of the fact it gives me a lot of freedom when creating and recording. There are certain times when the recording process gets physically tiring, playing all the instruments and everything, but in the end it is still better that way. Much of my inspiration comes from visuals, whether they are landscapes, other elements of nature, films, books, literature, poetry, etc. Observing this "humanity" and this Age is often a good source of disgust and does well in fueling the flame of retaliation inside. It appears weakness is valued and exploited above strength today and I don't buy that.
Besides this, I am of course greatly inspired by music of a darker nature. Bands such as Mayhem, Burzum, Beherit, Ulver, Blood Axis, Darkthrone, Graveland, Lord Wind, Marduk, Puissance, Perunwit and others are truly great. Certain movie scores greatly inspire me too. France's Vlad Tepes deserve a special mention. Their recording on the Vlad Tepes/Belketre split "March to the Black Holocaust" is probably the best and purest example of Black Metal period.

You say death takes a certain precedence in your more recent lyrics. Circa 1996 Tell us about your thoughts and assumptions of death. Tell us also, since these are closely tied, your thoughts on religion and the supposed afterlife.
Death is, perhaps, a sure way of shackling the chains of this existence and thus getting far away from "humanity." In Pagan Hellfire, I sort of use death in a symbolic way. It represents something separate from this world for when you or something dies, it is not among the living anymore. I try to view Pagan Hellfire as not of this "humanity" or earth, but rather something separate on another plain or level of existence observing it all and watching it decay. Existing in a separate realm, like death perhaps. I think nobody really knows what death holds in store for them and because it is such a mystery, it frightens people. I personally do not think much about death besides it is part of our species' life-cycle. The idea of an afterlife is a nice thought, but it is greatly flawed when people even consider forsaking this life for another, unknown one as Christianity does. Rubbish. We live now!
As for religion, it depends on how you define it. You've probably heard it before, but Christianity exists for many as something to lean on when weak therefore taking the responsibility out of their hands and proclaiming helplessness. There is this possibility of giving up yourself. This is a highly organized religion and that is a scary reality. The whole forgiveness thing with the church too is totally absurd. I am mainly opposed to all organized religions. Religion can also be something very personal and individual. The ones who compose their own personal "religion" (if you can call it that) based around themselves and their experiences, I feel have the upper hand.

To those with eyes to see, the world is indeed a cold and crumbling place. Society at large is a rotten, soulless beast preying on one another. Your thoughts on this world, its people and its future? Will things grow worse before better?
Well...say NO to humanity! As far as North American society goes, it is pretty lame. Extremely cosmopolitan, consumer-oriented, and image-based. America is the absolute worst and they are playing a leading role in ushering the world in a more global direction - globalization and economic liberalization - and this is shit. The "westernization" of the world...blah!
The future does not look so good. I think in our lifetime we will not see the fall of humankind, but big steps in that direction, as we have already seen over the years. Hopefully, nature will fight back and perhaps unleash deadly plagues to exterminate many of earth's inhabitants. Things will surely be worse before better. I try not to let it ruin my day however.

What does Black Metal represent to you? What elements must be present in this musical expression?
To me, Black Metal represents an audio experience of darkness, power, war, domination/totalitarianism and it is by nature uncompromising. It is grand and chaotic showing its fierceness, but directive and controlling showing that thought, organization and, hopefully, intelligence has been put into it. To many I know it is, but to me Black Metal is not about heavy metal culture - long hair, leather, headbanging, sweat, etc. - it is something more, an experience. That is what I like in Black Metal and that is what I am striving for with my creation. I hope to get to the point that when one is listening, it moves them away from the actual notes of the music in the song to another frame of mind.
For me, Black Metal must have a sincere feeling, whether it is a darker, war-like attack, a Pagan/folk atmosphere or whatever. It is sad to see a lot of Black Metal today sounding more "normal" and more like regular heavy metal. The cold feeling it once possessed is often gone and it seems so hollow. I am not against change, but taking away this vital element...not good.
As for Black Metal terrorism, the potential may be there. More organization would be the key.

Since man first began to question himself and his place in the universeCirca 1996 questions have lingered unanswered. I'm sure you yourself have many, perhaps some or most of which will forever remain unanswered. However, hypothetically, if you could know the answer to any one question, what would the question be?
Hmmmmm...what lurks among and beyond the stars untouched?

Your thoughts on the cosmos, infinity, the universe? Does life exist elsewhere? Surely it must... but if so, what might it be like? Does the universe continue on infinitely? An endless expanse of solar systems, matter, gases, etc. etc. ! It is very hard for the human mind to grasp, the idea of eternity-infinity.
Yeah, I agree. Its a complex idea. Life definitely exists elsewhere, but I doubt it looks like the wide-eyed aliens we see from the Hollywood studios. I cannot really imagine what it might be like. Hopefully, it would be cleaner and more pure with regard to natural resources and nature itself. You, I and nobody can and I don't think ever will know the secrets to the vast limits of the universe, so in a way I guess we could say it is infinite, at least to our human eyes and knowledge. I feel it is important we don't know any hard truths about eternity. It keeps us in our place and reminds us there things bigger than us, maybe with more power. Compared to this possible infinity in the universe, humans are small specs of micro-matter. Mere dust! Honour the cosmos!

Tell us what to expect for the future of Pagan Hellfire.
First of all, expect the "A Voice from Centuries Away" CD to be out in June 2000 and after that I have several things planned. Before the end of the year or very early next year, I will have another release, either another CD or a cassette. I cannot really say exactly what it will be. Perhaps another Black Metal attack or it may be all (neo)classical music, organ hymns, acoustic and hypnotic sounds. Whether or not it is the next release, I know I will definately be doing a complete recording of the latter at some point in the near future. I am not too concerned with sticking to a strict formula as you can see. I also plan to find people to carry "A Voice...". If anyone is interested, distribution and labels, get in contact.

Lastly, your final words to your comrades and enemies worldwide?
Thank you for this interview, support, and opportunity. Good questions you ask. I wish Mourning the Ancient well! Regards to Cymophane and any one else who supports the empire of Pagan Hellfire. To all, avoid trends! I am NOT against all NSBM bands whatsoever. As you see above, I enjoy many of them. I just find it interesting sometimes how many NSBM bands have formed in the last few years. Surprised? By now you shouldn't be.

Marching onward...

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