Rising from the grave with murderous intent, ‘Vampir’ is an ancient Blood Red Fog recording featuring two substantial, bloodcurdling offerings of miserable, decadent, deranged Black Metal deviancy. The tormented mind behind this unique and twisted creation, B.R.F., discusses its foul conception during the darkest period of his existence; dealing with melancholy whilst dwelling in the shadows; the symbolism of vampires; meditating upon the mythology of undead beings; depicting life as a possessing entity; and deploying dark art to channel a consistently bleak and pessimistic worldview.
The latest Blood Red Fog full-length, ‘Vampir’, constitutes the most literal example of an artist going back to his roots as these songs were actually recorded a-decade-and-a-half ago, just after you had released your self-titled debut album. ‘Vampir’ assumes a unique place in the Blood Red Fog discography as it has transcended the linear nature of time and is both the second and sixth album simultaneously. Or, one could say, it is like a true vampire rising from the tomb?
“It’s best not to see this as a traditional album as the songs were supposed to appear on a split, so there’s a more experimental side to the tracks that does not happen as much in our proper albums. I have always seen splits, EPs etc. as playgrounds of sorts, trying different things that do not necessarily work on a full-length scale. This release, clocking over 40 minutes, makes it a full-length album, of course, but in some stylistic choices it is closer to the ‘Death Cult’ EPs, for example.”
As you have revealed, the two curses contained hereon were originally conceived to be part of a split album that never materialised. Are you at liberty to disclose the identity of the other artist who was scheduled to participate in this ill-fated collaboration and can you recall how or why it didn’t come to pass? I’m guessing there was a frustrating wait for the other half of the material before eventually the mission was reluctantly abandoned and the music was indefinitely consigned to the archives?
“The identity of the other party is irrelevant. I think they were quite close to finishing their side a couple of times but never fully. It was frustrating at times but in the end none of it mattered; the main thing is that the songs are now out and I’m honoured to have been able to work with Zazen Sounds on this.”
Split releases are synonymous with the Black Metal underground and there is certainly something special about them. You collaborated with Musta Kappeli, Funerary Bell, Verge and Cosmic Church on infamous splits around this same time and more recently there was also the wonderful split LP with Sombre Figures, so this appears to be an important aspect of Blood Red Fog’s approach to creating and unleashing music. What is it about this type of release that appeals to you so much?
“Like I wrote earlier, the freedom a shorter release offers is something I value. Also there’s a strong comradeship involved with each of the splits, as I know the people behind the bands personally and have played in different projects with most of them.”
Returning to ‘Vampir’, why did you decide after all this time to disinter this long-lost recording and finally make it available to the masses? To my ears, it’s pretty apparent that this music is simply too good to leave on the cutting-room floor. Was this something that was always in the back of your mind as an option or had you pretty much laid it to rest before revisiting these monolithic tracks and realising that they are too important to gather dust, and worthy of being inflicted upon the masses?
“Releasing these has always been in my mind but doing it now is thanks to Zazen Sounds. They contacted me wanting to re-release the first Blood Red Fog demo on CD but, as it is still available (at least from me), I didn’t think it was a good idea. We continued talking and finally I revealed these tracks to them. Little to my surprise, they liked these enough to release them. These tracks are definitely not an easy-listening experience and they can be too much even for a fan of the earlier material. This release is much like the debut but taken to its extremes in terms of sound, style and execution. Not for the weak.”
You recorded and mixed ‘Vampir’ in solitude, on an analog eight-tracker (and it was mastered at Trollhouse Audio earlier this year). What can you remember about writing and recording these curses and what frame of mind where you in at the time? Considering how bleak, harrowing and disturbing the songs are, is it safe to assume you were feeling quite rough back in 2006?
“Can’t remember much or anything really. I do remember recording these twice, the first time in winter around 2005-2006 and again in summer 2006. The mixing was a bitch as sometimes the volumes on the guitars dropped or rose out of the blue so I had to be ready to move the sliders at the correct time. Horrible job and not always a smooth operation. I was doing my civil service at the time, working with retards (the actual ones) and being full of hate and depression. It impacted a lot upon my song-writing and nowadays it would be impossible for me to write such bleak material. I have been a melancholic person since my teenage years but that time period was definitely the darkest for me.”
Indeed, your art under the Blood Red Fog banner has certainly been consistently dark, decidedly depressive and inherently soul-destroying, so there arguably hasn’t been any real change in your negative outlook in the meantime? Thus, could we say ‘Vampir’ represents an accurate snapshot of a consistent worldview (and could have been taken from any era of your existence)?
“My general outlook is still pessimistic and bleak, so not much difference there. Even though I dwell deep in the shadows and darkness, I do not let myself succumb to this but rather use it to my advantage in this life of strife. ‘Vampir’ is a snapshot of a certain era – much like any other album or work of art from anyone for that matter. I think the surrounding world, mindset, art consumed, etc., all affect the artist in one way or another and nothing comes from a total void.”
You have gone straight for the jugular with the succinct song title ‘Agonizing Existence’, which leaves nothing to the imagination. Your art appears to reflect a firmly held, personal interpretation of the travails of life and the world we live in, but are you able to separate the suffocating, all-consuming agony of Blood Red Fog from your everyday activities? Despite the all-too-apparent misery and meaninglessness of existence – with all the pain, suffering and inevitability that entails for mere glorified animals – wallowing in negativity is counterproductive and we have to shut out that noise and get on with our lives…
“Yes, of course. Although Blood Red Fog is something into which I channel much of my soul, it is not the be-all and end-all of my being, rather a mirror of the darkest aspects of it. There are also more ascending characteristics beginning to take form in my expression in BRF … not anything too clear at first glance, rather hidden between the lines.
“My everyday activities deal mainly in different artistic expressions. I work as a tattoo artist and run my own studio, which takes up a large part of my time, and in my spare time I work with music, mainly Black Metal with Blood Red Fog and Poisoner as well as ambient with Accidie.”
Those drawn to darkness find the intimidating portrayal of vampires particularly appealing. Was the fictional vampire entity of old horror movies and literature something that had a big influence on you during your formative years?
“Not really. I really enjoyed movies like Nosferatu, Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Interview with the Vampire, but the biggest influence of the Vampir is Mütiilation and general meditation on the mythology of the undead being. During my youth, I read a lot of fantasy and sci-fi books but vampiric literature escaped me.”
In ‘Vampir’, are you referring to the literal creature of folklore or something more abstract and symbolic? For me, time is the ultimate vampire as it slowly but surely drains away our life force and essence in the cruellest and most horrific manner. From the moment we are born, we are dying. After reaching the peak of our physical powers in early adulthood, the average human begins to decline, deteriorate and decay before succumbing to the relentless onslaught of time and disintegrating. We could even argue that life itself is the ultimate vampire…
“It is more symbolic in nature. In ‘Agonizing Existence’ I explore the horrors of immortality, the deterioration of the human spirit in centuries of solitude and the descent to a life where nothing more remains but the basic instincts of thirst and hunger. The lyrics also touch upon the subject of man’s fall to stupor where it is unable or unwilling to defend itself from the obvious danger as it is deemed as superstition in the course of time.
“Your analysis of life as a vampire is interesting and on the title track of ‘Fields of Sorrow’ there’s a similar sentiment on life as a devouring entity – or rather a possessing element – wanting to experience all there is to experience and using us as pawns towards this end and as such causing all the maladies we are to encounter as individuals and collectively. Overall, this cyclic pattern of birth, decay, death, rebirth is very inspiring to me and I have written about it several times.”
Blood Red Fog has been quite prolific in recent times, with full-lengths released in 2018 (‘Thanatotic Supremacy’) and 2020 (‘Fields of Sorrow’) as well as the aforementioned split with Sombre Figures (‘Eternal Black Metal’) in between. Have you had time to work on any further new material, either with Blood Red Fog or indeed any of the other musical endeavours you are associated with?
“I’m currently working on a split and a new full-length album. There’s been a slight delay in these as our long-time drummer, Profundiis, left the band some time ago. Slowly but surely new material will emerge, hopefully the next album will be out in 2022. My other main band is Poisoner, a black heavy metal outfit, with one self-released EP. We are working on a new one at the moment, hoping to find a label. I also play in traditional doom metal band John the Baptist – we digitally released our album this year and are about to sign a deal for a CD release. There’s Lordamor (black / funeral doom), too, with a second album almost recorded and the aforementioned Accidie, which has one demo out and two more in the works. I also play synths for Sammas’ Equinox and we’re recording a follow-up EP to the ‘Tulikehrät’ album that was released last year. I think that’s about it.”
What motivates or inspires you to keep going back to the well and creating this dark art? Listening to Blood Red Fog, I get the distinct impression that it could be quite a traumatic experience conjuring this style of music and that it might take a certain toll on the artist. Do you suffer for your art, are you just drawn inescapably to the darkness, or does putting your feelings to music provide a degree of catharsis to the tormented spirit?
“There is still an urge to create that I cannot escape. I don’t feel there’s much choice for me but to do what I do. There is no reward in this other than the very fleeting feeling of accomplishment and once one release is finished I immediately start to work on the next one … if I haven’t started already. I feel a great emptiness after each album and it is hard to see how the previous one can be improved upon. The next album will be hard as the two previous ones have been such great records, but I think I’ll find a way to at least match them. And if not, it doesn’t matter; the main thing is to just keep moving and doing.
“This style of music comes very naturally for me, so suffering for it might be an overstatement, but I do invest a lot of time and effort into each release, much more now than before. The lyrics play a large part in the whole and getting them right is the most difficult part, always has been. Through them I channel my worldview and overall observations on the world, both within and without.”
Photo credits: B.R.F. Feature Image courtesy of Maija Ajomo; forest and snowscape shots by Ville Bräysy