The ex-Nifelheim legend Hellbutcher has formed an eponymous band that epitomizes the true essence of metal. Their self-titled debut album, Hellbutcher, stands as a phenomenal triumph. On this glorious effort, Hellbutcher not only delivers a stellar performance on vocals, but he mostly composed the sensational tracks himself. Indeed, the writing is simply excellent. After all, Hellbutcher remains one of the most important figures in the Swedish black metal scene. Hellbutcher is joined by what seems to be the perfect team: Devastator on drums, Iron Beast on guitars, Necrophiliac on guitars, and Norway’s Eld on bass. Past and present, these musicians have played with the likes of Necrophobic, Opeth, Triumphator, Unleashed, Firespawn, Bloodbath, Aeternus, Gaahls Wyrd, Malignant Eternal, Mordant, etc.

Initially, Hellbutcher and Devestator, his ex-Nifelheim comrade, decided to reunite. Hellbutcher had coincidentally also been speaking with Necrophiliac. Thus, the trio recorded the demo Death’s Rider. Hellbutcher then reached out to Eld. He likewise recruited Iron Beast, yet another friend of his. Given what they have already managed to accomplish, we anticipate that this outfit will rise to become one of the most lethal forces in the movement, obliterating posers with their authentic expressions of evil for years to come. Yes, the heavy metallic black-thrashing energy of Hellbutcher proves both ridiculously punishing and reinvigorating. The band slay us with stellar musicianship on all fronts.

We are extremely grateful to have had the honor of speaking with Mr. Hellbutcher in celebration of the upcoming release of his aforementioned, latest sonic weapon. As already implied, he is one of the very few figures keeping the black flame alive in our age of compromising weaklings and false emissaries. Thus, his music and words are particularly important as antidotes to the mediocrity with which we are too often bombarded. Verily, Hellbutcher’s work will endure after the pale fruits of trend have withered. 

Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview. I love the new album, obviously. It comes out on May 31 and follows your 2022 demo, on which you played bass in addition to handling vocals. Could please tell me a bit about your creative process for Hellbutcher? I know you discussed the genesis of the band in other interviews.

Yeah, we started about sometime in early 2022. The drummer, one of the guitarists, and I started out as the first lineup. We decided that we wanted to do some songs just to get something on tape. It feels more like you’re a band when you have something recorded. So, we recorded the demo. It was just like a rehearsal, just like they did it back in the days with the tape in front of the drums. It was very… well, unprofessional. But still, we had the songs. I did most of the songs for this album by myself, but I had some help from the guitarist we call Necrophiliac. He is also a very talented guy when it comes to writing music, and he has got the same musical ideas as I have more or less, you know, like more heavy thrash black metal kind of stuff. He’s very much into classic heavy metal music, so the structures and vibes of the songs are more like heavy metal songs than like the modern heavy metal stuff that’s just going on forever.

You and Devastator collaborated in Nifelheim, and Iron Beast is in Dead Kosmonaut with you. I assume that you immediately clicked musically with the rest of your bandmates? Of course, it sounds like you have phenomenal chemistry.

I have known all of them for many years. I tried to get the ones that I thought could fit the absolute best as a band. To me, it was very important also that we should get along, you know, like privately because it’s very boring if you’re in a band, and you don’t even hang out with the other guys after a concert or something. So, it was one of the most important things to get a band that really feels like a real band. This band is really just the way I hoped that it would be.

Yes, the result is obviously fantastic. You had no problem at all with the production? It is my understanding that you, the band, took that into your own hands.

Yeah, we did it ourselves. We have a second guitarist that we call Iron Beast. He’s very good at mixing mastering and all that stuff. So, we didn’t feel like we needed any help from outsiders. At the same time, it’s easier when you produce by yourself. You don’t have anyone that has stupid opinions about how it should sound.

I saw a picture of you from last year with Andy La Rocque. He partially recorded a Nifelheim song. Would you ever record with him again? He’s truly amazing, one of the few.

He lives not so far away from where I live, so sometimes I go up to his studio just to like hang out a bit and talk to him about music or whatever. And I really like his studio, Sonic Train Studios. It’s a great studio. One positive aspect of recording in a proper studio is you get everything done in like one session. For Hellbutcher, we travelled. We recorded the drums at one place. We recorded guitars at one place. Then, we recorded bass and vocals at another place. And then, we mixed it at another place. It’s a lot of messing around. So, it’s absolutely not impossible that we will go to Andy’s studio in the future and just take a week to just record everything live in the studio. He can be like engineering or whatever, but he’s also a great producer, of course.

Andy is the best. I don’t always love music videos, but the video for “The Sword of Wrath” turned out really great. So, is there anything you would like to say about the process of making that?

I was planning what it should look like. And I didn’t want to make too many stories and shit because it could be really bad if you don’t succeed with what you’re trying. So, we just played the song with some pyro and flames, like a live thing more or less but more professionally filmed, of course. I think it turned out to be really good. It was done by a film guy I met — there is a DVD we filmed that will come with the limited edition. I didn’t know this guy from the beginning, but I just called him. He seemed to be very professional, so I called him to do the video as well. He was really amazing. So, I will definitely work with him again in the future. Heavy Groove Media, they were called.

You mentioned pyrotechnics, and you’re a pyrotechnician?!

That’s true. I attended a course to do this a few years ago. I’ve done some jobs with other bands. But mostly, it was because I wanted to use it for my own band. Yeah, I just like blowing things up. Pyro is great fun, I must say. 

On the topic of the live DVD, obviously, you’ve already played some shows. A couple of your members have had accidents, so the Deströyer 666 drummer, Kev Desecrator, has stepped in, for example. I believe you have a Swedish tour planned for the fall. Could you please tell me a little bit about your live ambitions with this band?

I’m trying to create a stage show that’s bigger than what I usually used before, but it takes a lot of time to build up. You don’t have a bunch of money that you can take from yet. You have to do some gigs first, and then invest in all this stuff. But we have already started with some great stage props and things like that that we are planning to bring for the Swedish tour later this year. And we are working constantly on getting new gigs. So, I hope we can build up more dates on that tour or make another tour around Europe or wherever. And I hope to bring as much pyro and fire and other metal things onstage as possible.

Are you working on new material yet?

Yeah, we actually recorded the album quite a long time ago already. So, we have like four – five and a half finished songs. It won’t take too long to finish the next album. We are planning to try to meet up as a band and start writing in the late summer or something like that. My ambition is to try to release albums maybe once a year, or if it’s possible, maybe every year and a half. There won’t be five years between every record. I don’t have time for that. I’m too old now. 

Will the new album be stylistically different?

I don’t know yet. We don’t have a set idea of what it’s going to sound like. We just make the songs. And then, the album turns out the way it is. You never know, but it wouldn’t be too far away from the debut album.

In other interviews, you confirmed that you enjoy working with Metal Blade. Is there anything else that you would like to say about that?

I’m very satisfied with all of the work they’ve done because they are planning ahead a lot more than I’m used to. They actually have a plan for how to promote the album and stuff like that. Those are exactly the things that are quite hard when you’re just a band. The promotion stuff is not easy. If you’re a new band, you don’t have so many followers on the internet or on your webpage. Yeah, they help a lot with that kind of stuff. They’re professionals. I enjoy our collaboration very much.

Since you mentioned the difficulties of promotion, I would like to ask: What has been the most difficult aspect of starting Hellbutcher? — because, again the music is just really amazing, and it seems to have flowed really naturally.

The hardest part is probably to reach out to all the potential fans. Personally, I’m totally uninterested in new bands, so I would not find my own band. So, you have to think of that in some way. I’m just trying to do interviews, promotion, and all that kind of stuff as much as possible just to get the name out so we can start touring, playing live, and doing everything that we really want to do.

If I were to prod you a bit, since you said you aren’t really interested in new bands, are there any new groups that you would like to name that carry the flame of the past and keep the spirit of extreme music alive?

Yeah, well, it’s hard to say really. I very rarely find stuff that I like very much. Most of it is okay, but I usually think: “Well, this sounds like this old band, but the old band is better.” Maybe they should have some more originality to them. I would like it better, I guess. 

I agree, but I absolutely love Høstsol, which is Niklas Kvarforth, Tor-Helge Skei, Kalmos from Ajattara, and Rainer Tuomikanto from Ajattara as well. Anyway, before the release of Friends of Hell’s God Damned You to Hell, I spoke to Tas, and he said that you’re working on a new album, and that you’re helping with the writing process. Is there anything that you would like to say about the next album or this past one that was just released?

For the new album, I have just started to work on some ideas a little bit. We haven’t really gone that far with the songwriting process. Maybe, yeah, he’s got some songs already, I guess so. He’s actually coming to my place next week. So, we’re going to discuss that and speak much more about how to do things. We’re planning to do some mini album or some EP or whatever. It’s going to be in September. We have booked a recording session for that time. I’m not sure exactly what it’s going to be, but it’s probably going to be very cool. And about God Damned You To Hell, I didn’t expect to join the band. It was just a coincidence more or less. He called me and asked if I could do some guest vocals, and I asked him: “Who is doing the vocals for the album?” “Yeah, I don’t know. We don’t have a singer.” And then, it just ended up with me singing. So, it was great to just join a band that had all the songs finished already. I just went down there to Cyprus and recorded the album, which was really great, I must say. It was great fun to work with the guys. 

Along with some other stuff, Darkness Shall Rise Productions are releasing a Nifelheim compilation titled Unholy Death on July 4th on digital and vinyl formats and on June 6 on cassette. You remixed the songs. Is there anything you would like readers to know about that?

It was supposed to be reissues of the old albums. Then, he wanted to put out an old demo tape. I asked him what the quality of the tape was because I didn’t even remember if I had the original tape because it was so old. And then, we started to talk about it, and I have got all the original tapes. You know, we used a four-channel portable studio with the cassette tapes. It is horrible sound, really. And I, for some stupid reason, decided to make some more decent sound. It took me forever to do this because the tapes were like destroyed more or less. Again, there are four channels: You can record four different channels on a normal cassette tape. And in the middle of one song, someone just pressed the rec button by mistake, so everything had disappeared for a while and stuff like that. It was like: “Ugh.” So, I had to cut some pieces from another part and put them back into this empty place in the computer. There were so many weird things I was facing, coming up and down. It was a horror to try to do something with the sound, but I think it was slightly better after a few months of work. So, I hope it’s going to be okay. I hadn’t listened to those tapes since maybe 1993 or something, so I had even forgotten that we had recorded some of the songs. There is some unreleased demo stuff, but most of the songs made it onto albums or compilations. These are new versions, older versions. So, it could be maybe cool for some Nifelheim fans to listen to. 

Yes, and it’s terrific! I recommend that readers go out and buy it. So, NecrosHorns is a great photographer, and he has captured you live. Is there anything you would like to say about his work?

I’ve seen the stuff that he takes. They’re great photos, really. 

Along similar lines, you’ve done album art. Would you like to comment on that?

Sure. Occasionally, I draw some things when people ask me. Usually, I don’t have too much time. I enjoy drawing and stuff like that. So, if I’ve got the time, I can do it. I have never been 100% satisfied. I do better things when I’m not trying, but I’ve done a few things that people like probably because there are typical metal things going on when I’m doing the drawings or paintings. I usually use just a black pen. It’s nothing fancy with a lot of oil paints and stuff like that. 

Blood, Fire, Death has received a lot of attention. Do you have any reflections on being part of that book?

I’m on the cover of it. I enjoyed that. That’s a cool thing, I think. 

I know, and it is! Would you be willing to speak at all about collaborating with Jon Nödtveidt, whom I really admire, and also sharing the stage with Dissection at Midsummer Massacre in 2006?

Jon was a really good friend of mine since we were teenagers, and I think we had very much respect for the bands we were playing in. He liked Nifelheim. I liked Dissection and still do, of course. As we were hanging out more or less all the time, it was kind of natural that he was jumping in, doing some guitar solos and stuff like that. It wasn’t really like you asked him to do it. He was just like: “I can do this here.” It was great. We always had a good time when we were hanging out, and I remember he was calling me when they were doing their last gig. He called me and said: “You have to do this gig.” And I was like: “Okay, okay.” I think the drummer or someone had something else to do that day, but he insisted: “You have to fucking do this gig.” I wanted to do it, so eventually we did it. I’m very happy that we did that. I think Jon already had things planned out, but I didn’t know about it at the time. So, it was an honor that he really wanted me to participate: “You have to do this gig with us. We have to play together.” “Yeah, sure, sure.” It was a huge place, obviously, the ice stadium. It was amazing to be on. It was the biggest stage I’ve been on all my life. I’ve never played on a bigger stage, more professional. So, it was just an amazing thing to do. 

This is a silly question, but why not?! What’s your favorite Stryper album? Because there’s the burning video…

You know, when you’re drunk, you come up with good ideas for interviews, but I don’t have any special favorite album by Stryper, I must say.

Do you have any concluding words? What do you hope that listeners will take away from Hellbutcher?

I hope they will get the vibe of the true metal spirit. I try to inject some metal into the metal scene, and I hope that all the listeners will get it and just continue with the metal thing, really. 

(Order Hellbutcher here.)