MORTEM were part of the „Inner Circle“ in Oslo in the 1980s, later the MORTEM musicians founded Thorns and Arcturus. In other words, with a little more consistency, their demo tape „Slow Death“ could have been the cornerstone of a great career in black metal – and yet remained the band’s only release for almost 30 years.
Since 2018 MORTEM are back – and after their debut album „Ravnsvart“ they have now re-released their demo from 1989. How this late comeback came about, why black metal demos sometimes have to be re-recorded and what’s next for the all-star band, we discussed with singer Marius Vold.
Let’s start with your breakup in 1990: What went wrong back then?
The demo, “Slow death”, was among the first death/black metal demos released in Norway. At that time only Mayhem was famous within extreme metal. It was later on that all the other bands became famous and legendary. MORTEM did not really exist long enough to become famous. But those who have followed the metal scene from the beginning know MORTEM very well. So nothing really went wrong – it’s only a turn of events that made us quit MORTEM. Actually MORTEM existed one year longer, without any of the original members …
Soon after the Demo MORTEM disbanded and all of you went on in other projects. Why did you decide to put down MORTEM?
After the demo tape was released, it was also released on a 7” by a French label. So we felt this was no longer only a demo. I met Snorre Ruch and we started Stigma Diabolicum, later to become Thorns. Later all the original MORTEM members started a new band, Arcturus.
More or less out of nowhere MORTEM came back in 2018, in 2019 a new album was released called „Ravnsvart“ – when did the idea of reforming the band came to your mind and what was your motivation to do that … 30 (!) years after the last release, which was only a demo tape back then?
Well, we actually started to rehearse in 2017 with the old material. The reason was an interest from Peaceville to re-release “Slow Death” – but they wanted a better sound, which was not possible since we did not have any DAT or digital copies of “Slow Death”. The only way to get a better sound was to re-record it. At the same time it was 30 years later, an anniversary, which is somewhat cool. We have also had some requests during these 30 years about MORTEM …
Were all three of you immideately convinced that it is a great idea to bring MORTEM back in the game … or did you have to convince one or the other?
Actually, no one had to be convinced. Sverd wanted to play rawer music than Arcturus and Hellhammer said yes the second he was asked. I needed some time, because I had been off the game for almost 30 years.
Since you had to record a new version, I assume it was also a very time-consuming project. Why did you decide to invest that amount of time in this old stuff instead of working on new material?
Yes, it was a time consuming project. As I told you earlier, we started in 2017 and finished 2021. In addition, because we made a new album in between, this project was secondary.
Re-recordings don’t have the best standing in the black-metal-scene, especially when it comes to oldschool/classic releases. Dimmu Borgir for example got lots of mixed reactions on their „Stormblast“-re-recording. Why are you convinced that it is a good idea to re-release your fist demo?
I’m not convinced it’s a good idea to re-release the old demo. But then we had the opportunity to release an old MORTEM song, “Satanas”, that was supposed to be on a Belgium record in 1989/90. But also playing Mayhems “Funeral Fog”, which contains an old MORTEM-riff. I always wanted to play this song, but I felt that this was better in Norwegian. Therefore, we have released almost everything MORTEM produced back then.Did you get any feedback on that idea yet, so were there comments from fans loving or also hating the idea of „Slow Death“ being re-recorded?
Actually, I have not received any comments yet, but it really does not matter. It’s already done.
What do you think about rereleases in general, for example about the mentioned Dimmu-Release or also the new version of Mayhems „Grand Declaration Of War“, to name only two famous examples? Is a „modern“ Sound or better recording always a benefit, or do you also see the risk of loosing attitude here?
I have no preference. It’s all up to the band.
I was pretty surprised how cool the re-recorded material turned out, since it sounds very authentic and not too much „polished“. Who did the sound and why did you know in beforehand he would be the person to go to with this project?
The talented Mr. Sverd should have all the credits. Sverd and Børge Finstad made the sound. They also made the sound for our album “Ravnsvart”. For me, personally, I only know how to play the old 90’s metal.
The original demo was also transferred from a fresh tape again and released on a second CD. Where did you find a good tape to do that after all those years and how did you proceed here?
I think Sverd had the original first copy tape. It was a high quality tape, so it had survived all these years. I know he sent the tape to Børge. Who improved the sound and made it digital.
Now, when Corona seems at least not to remain the world-dominating pandemic forever anymore … are you thinking about playing live with MORTEM at some point?
Yes, MORTEM has already played some shows … also during the pandemic. More to come in the future!
Do you have any other plans right now, are you already working on new material for another album for example?
Yes, we are now working at our second full-length album. So hopefully this will be released sometime 2022/2023.
Can you tell us something about the state of affairs with your other bands to conclude this interview?
Sverd and Arcturus are working on a new album as well. Seideman has just finished a full-length album for Svart Lotus. When it comes to Hellhammer, he has probably several projects …
Thanks for your time – all that’s missing now is our traditional brainstorming session:
Last listened album: MORTEM – Ravnsvart.
Abbath: He is a close talker. If you stand to close, you get wet.
Black metal in 2022: No particular
Springtime in Norway: Inferno Festival
If Slow Death was a car: An old American Ford Bronco Pick Up
Mortem in 10 years: Hopefully still live and kicking.
Once again thanks for your time. The last words are yours – is there anything left you want to tell our readers?
Horns up, and stay true
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