Interview with Vorph of Samael
Interview and live pictures by Michael F. Coles (3/09) - One can see more Samael pictures on myspace.
Samael have forged their own path in the metal scene ever since they began, always focusing on their own mind-sets and never following any current trends within the Black Metal scene. With their 9th album simply titled; Above, Samael have gone back to the basics and have released an album that is less experimental than their previous efforts. Those of you who stopped liking Samael after Ceremony due to the change in musical direction might want to look into this release. Although you really can't compare Above with Ceremony in the sense of how exceptional Ceremony is musically, just imagine if you could put all of their albums into a blender, and then re-glued the CD back, this is what comes out; Above! Are you interested yet? You should be. And in case anyone reading this is interested, I have an earlier interview and older pictures in my first issue if you would like to check that interview out as well.
The Outcast: Greetings Vorph, so how is the Carcass tour treating you thus far? Has anything new and crazy happened that hasn't happened before on previous tours?
Vorph: The tour is going great. This is the biggest tour we've been on in the US so far, and we see this as a very good opportunity to confront our sound to a new audience. We had a few parties but nothing unusual has happened at this point.
The Outcast: I read that Above was supposed to be a side project? Is this correct? Why was this so and what made you decide to use it as the next Samael release? Will you continue on with a side project named Above, or was this idea put to rest?
Vorph: Yeah, we've worked on the whole album thinking it would be a side project. Xy wanted to do some music that would be 100% metal, more aggressive and faster than anything we've done previously with S A M A E L, but when everything was done we thought it would be great to play that material live and that's how it became our new album. There is no plan to work Above as a side project anymore, as we'd like to keep focus on S A M A E L.
The Outcast: That's understandable. What exactly is Above about? What mind-set did you go into this album before writing the lyrics? In the booklet within the lyrics, there are small crosses within the lyrics, what is this about and does it stand for anything?
Vorph: There is no big concept behind this album, we just wanted to have fun and enjoy ourselves playing music that is familiar to us. When it comes down to the lyrics, I had the same mind-set that I had on our three last albums. The topics are the same developed since Eternal, but the words are blunter and all the texts are less metaphorical. The music is frontal so the lyrics had to follow. As for the crosses, they're just part of the graphic; they don't mean anything unless you decide otherwise.
The Outcast: What exactly is Black Hole about? How about Dark Side?
Vorph: Not everybody agrees on what happens in black holes. Some believe this is the annihilation of everything, while others think they might lead somewhere else. In any case they're sources of wonders. The change of state they implied is the meat I use for the lyrics of that song. Dark Side is actually a cover from the song The Black Face from our first album. It comes with new arrangements and slightly modified lyrics, it makes a link to our early days.
The Outcast: Have your views in life and philosophies in life changed any since the creation of Samael? Do you feel that you had a darker persona back in the day during Worhsip Him? The reason I ask is because I've talked to you a few times over the years and you seem really personable and really nice; implying, for someone who has "dark" lyrics and even blasphemous lyrics from the past, you don't seem "to fit" the darkness you sing about. Even on stage you seem really happy and full of joy while performing, not darkness. Your thoughts on my thoughts?
Vorph: Darkness is ignorance. When we first started with S A M A E L, our experience with life and music was pretty limited. I hope I've learned a bit through the years and got a better grip on my life. I feel more comfortable now than before, and that's great if I can pass this through our music and live performance.
The Outcast: In your new CD you wrote that "this record would not have been possible without the work of the following artists: Dave Mustaine, etc." At the show Jeff made negative comments about Dave and his new faith in Christianity. What are your opinions on Dave finding God, if any at all?
Vorph: He's a great musician and it's all that matter to me.
The Outcast: What are your opinions on religion? Would you consider your beliefs a religion? Were you forced to grow up in a religious home, if so, what religion?
Vorph: I've been raised in the Christian faith and it took me time to get over it. I don't think there is anything positive in religion. It has parasitized common sense, and the philosophical content that can be extracted from the scripture is the same that you would get from fairy-tales. I don't live my life according to dogmas or faith related laws, I try to keep the right balance for myself and go toward what matters to me.
The Outcast: What are your beliefs on Satan and God? Do you think they are actual beings?
Vorph: They are archetypes and can be used to make sense of things, but I can do without.
The Outcast: If you do not believe in either one, why have Satanic imagery; specifically Baphomet on your shirts?
Vorph: To me the Baphomet's figure is the occidental version of the yin/yang symbol and is embedded in all sorts of opposites: male/female, earthlike/spiritual, liquid/solid.... This is probably the demonic/angelic thing that makes western people think it has something to do with Satanism.
The Outcast: I see. Do you think Jesus Christ existed and is who he claims he is (the messiah)?
Vorph: Whether he existed or not doesn't matter more than to know if Frodo form the Lord of the Rings would have been a real character. Both belong to a story that say interesting things about life and from which you can eventually learn something.
The Outcast: You are walking down the street and a Christian comes up and hands you a flyer that reads; "Have you accepted Jesus Christ into your heart?" and begins to talk to you about his beliefs. Do you -
a) Calmly tell him sorry but you have different beliefs and begin to talk about each others beliefs.
b) Walk away and say nothing.
c) Tell him to fuck off and die?
Vorph: That would be "b". I would maybe give him/her a smile, but I have nothing against those people. I just feel sorry for them.
The Outcast: What do you hope to find after your life has ceased?
The Outcast: Are you an atheist then?
Vorph: I didn't say I was sure there wasn't anything, I said I expect nothing. On all the probability, I can think of nothing. Seems to be the safer bet, but I'm not pretending I know it for sure. Just because I don't believe in supernatural things doesn't imply I have to accept being labeled, I leave that assumption to you.
The Outcast: Some self proclaimed Satanists in Metal claim that Metal is the devils music, what do you think of this claim? Do you think Metal is the devils music and do you think the devil actually has his own style of music? If you think about it, what other style of music is open with a satanic belief system, whether it be a Lavey Satanist, or other.
Vorph: Metal is great music, most of the time. I don't think it belongs to any particular faith, politic or sexual orientation; people have the right to have good musical taste wherever they're standing.
The Outcast: What is your opinion on Christian Metal? Or even Un-Black Christian Metal? Do you think it is a contradiction?
Vorph: There's religious militancy within all kinds of music, so I guess we'll have to put up with this, I'm just not interested.
The Outcast: What one thing do you want the listener going away with after listening to Samael's music and after reading your lyrics?
Vorph: I hope they find something enjoyable in both, but further than that, I'm not so concerned about it. Once the music is recorded and released it belongs to the listener who pays for it.
The Outcast: Samael has always forged their own path in Metal and in their beliefs. What has kept you and your brother focused for so long?
Vorph: The excitement of reinventing ourselves over and over again through our music and lyrics. We've evolved with S A M A E L, so this is an important landmark in our life.
The Outcast: What is in the future for Samael after this tour?
Vorph: We'll play a few headlining shows in Switzerland and we'll participate in some festivals during the summer, and then we'll see. If something comes our way in a form of a tour this fall, we'll do it, if not, we'll start working on new material.
The Outcast: Well Vorph, I thank you once again for the time and pleasure. Any closing words?
Vorph: Thanks for your interest and support!