Stockholm, Sweden’s Necrophobic has been churning out old-school Satanic death metal since forming in 1989. Lineup changes, trends and fads haven’t stopped these northern warriors from releasing album after album of blasphemous fury. Their new release, Hrimthursum (2006 Regain Records), is no exception. Songs such as the blistering “Blinded by Light, Enlightened by Darkness” and the satanic epic “Sitra Ahra” show there are mighty, unseen forces at work behind the band’s evil sound. Jeff Maki of Live-Metal.net had the privilege to interview Sebastian Ramstedt, who summons these forces time and time again with his shredding guitar work. Ramstedt gives us details behind the lyrics and making of Hrimthursum and answers the age-old question: How is Satan represented in your music?
LIVE METAL: First off, Hrimthursum [a word taken from the old Norse mythology which means the “frost giants”] is one hell of a killer fuckin album! Why did you choose this for the title of the album?
SEBASTIAN RAMSTEDT: Thanks! It was when the title came up that the songs started to form. We wanted to have a concept when writing this album and the image of iced giants destroying the world felt like a good one. We made a song called “Izas” on The Third Antichrist  that had this theme and I always wanted to develop this into something bigger. The concept was too great to deal with just one song.
There are numerous female backing vocals and orchestration on Hrimthursum. Is this something the band has always incorporated or is it more present here?
For the first time we had time to think about effects in the studio. We talked about what could add atmosphere to the songs and these parts were added. It was important to us that the song wouldn’t rely on these parts. We don’t build riffs around a cool effect but try to strengthen the image we want to deliver. Our songs are always built the old fashioned metal way. Good riffs, pounding drums and howling vocals…
Lyrically, describe what the following songs are about:
“Blinded by Light, Enlightened by Darkness”:
Well.. it’s easier to cope with life if you choose to believe in eternal glory but then you live blindfolded.
The awakening of the red dragon and the beginning of the end.
The journey into the kingdom of hell crossing the river of hell (styx).
Chaos, magic, fire, Death. Eternal doom to wimps and posers …
Is there an overall concept for the album lyrically?
Not really. We had the Hrimthursum theme in mind when we did all the lyrics but they turned out in different directions. Our songs always deal with death metal topics like death and destruction but we had the north mythology as ground for the lyrics this time.
The songs on Hrimthursum are just that – songs. They are dynamic, memorable and still brutally heavy. With so many bands just playing as fast as they can and trying to be as extreme as possible they tend to blend in with one another to a degree. Do you think it’s important for songs to actually have choruses, melodies and somewhat distinguishable vocals or does it all depend on the artist?
We build songs how bands like Accept and Saxon wrote theirs. All of us in Necrophobic have our hearts in the NWOBHM. I guess that we write regular metal songs with a little more black force. It’s not hard to be extreme and make a lot of noise, but to make the songs stay interesting over the years you have to add some kind of rock n roll to it. I mean without Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and Judas Priest there would be no metal at all. When people (see gore/grind bands) deny that, then their music starts to sound boring.
Not important at all. But if it improves the song it’s great. On the last album Bloodhymns  there were almost no solos and only short ones. I don’t make solos just because I’m a solo guitarist. I don’t try to show off and I don’t want to be heard over the others in the band. Guitar solos are a powerful tool that should be used with finesse but its very easy to overdo them.
In the band’s official bio it states that Necrophobic was started to “give the world a band that created unholy death metal.” What is your take on religion in general and how is Satan represented in your music?
Satan as a creature or metaphor is someone that forces you to take a stand. Facing the ultimate evil makes you think. To me Satan is a part of Christianity and should therefore be denied. Without Christianity I wouldn’t use his name again, but in the war against religion one of the ways is fighting fire with fire. It makes more impact when you say that you worship the dark side of your enemies’ beliefs than if you just say you don’t care. Religious people think you are plain dumb if you say you are an atheist but they go berserk if you say you are a Satanist. And so the war begins…
Outside of Necrophobic, do the band members all live fairly average, regular lives? After hearing the music it’s almost hard to imagine one of you guys mowing the lawn or something like that you know?
It’s all sex, drugs and rock’n’roll…he…he
There have been a few lineup changes over the band’s career. Are things now set for the Necrophobic lineup?
Yeah! This is it. We cannot go further if this would end, but it will not. The four of us has been friends since the late 80’s and even if some of us didn’t join Necrophobic until later we have always been a part of the same evil plan.
What has been the single greatest accomplishment thus far for Necrophobic?
The release of The Nocturnal Silence. [Necrophobic’s first full length release – 1993]
What are the future touring plans? Will we see the band in the U.S. sometime next year? What bands would you like to tour with?
We did Europe this autumn and we try to look overseas next year. We want to tour with true metal bands that keep the black flag up. I fucking hate nu-metal and hybrids like System of a… It’s important that the tour/festival has the right kind of idea of what metal is. I don’t wanna be seen with a bunch of poser bands…fuck them!
Great video for “Blinded by Light, Enlightened by Darkness” by the way. Where was the video shot and are there plans for any more?
We shot it at Tyrant’s (bass player in Nifelheim) home. He actually lives in this deserted castle outside Stockholm. It’s a fucking weird place and it was awesome to do the video there. I mean we hardly had to add anything except for a couple of skulls to the atmosphere. There were bats flying around and fog everywhere. We have no more video plans on this album. There’s not much use for them anymore since there’s hardly any media showing them.
What is the single most influential band for Necrophobic and why?
Iron Maiden. They are the best and they show that no matter what trends you can be successful doing exactly what you want.
What do you think of the current death and black metal scenes? What bands stand out in your mind?
Mostly shit. Great bands are: Nifelheim, Pest, Unleashed, Vulcano, Dismember, and Watain.
Is there anything else we need to know about Necrophobic?
No … I have to go and get drunk now…go and buy Forged in Fire  by Anvil instead, it’s a fucking great album…”Lips” rules… [Note: Sebastian refers to Steve “Lips” Kudlow, lead guitar/vocals for Anvil.]
Thank you! Like I said Hrimthursum is one killer album and should be recommended to any fan of extreme metal. We wish you all the best and hope to see you in the States real soon.
Thanx! Hail the hordes!!