Tasty Archive Eyes 3
Posted: Dec 5, 2006
BEYOND THE BLACK.
Csihar Attila of Tormentor
15th June 2000
by Stephen O’Malley
For those immersed in the black, Csihar Attila should need little introduction. Perhaps most well known for his chilling vocal work on the true Mayhem’s masterpiece “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas,” his utterances draw listeners all the way through coldness and into The Other. “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas” remains to this day the most critical piece of true black metal and also THE GREATEST. An obelisk of visceral black matter standing firm in the mists of the beyond, the ethereal crossing to madness and the dark matter of spirit, a quality lacking in most other black metal efforts since by any act (including Mayhem.) This is not Attila’s first crown, however. He previously fronted the seminal black cult Tormentor, which hails from the politically tumultuous capital of Hungary, Budapest.
During 1986 Tormentor created their initial songs which would eventually end up on the heavily Destruction/Exodus/Bathory inspired “7th Day Of Doom” demotape. Subsequently the group became moderately well known in Hungary as a live act, headlining the mythic 666 metal festivals in Budapest in the late 80s. Live recordings of the band from this time capture the catalyst power of the music toward and from the audience, a savage satanic summoning of a vocalist possessed and his barbed and bleeding hordes.
By 1989, the group had recorded a proper album, “Anno Domini.” This work was initially be released by Deathlike Silence, but it never made it; instead, years later, it emerged on Nocturnal Art, the Norwegian label of heavily-Tormentor-inspired guitarist, Samoth of Emperor. This classic of true black metal brimmed with tales of Bathori, torture, black magic, insanity, possession and other tasteful themes. Sounds created therein sat upon the lid of the stars, ghostly spirits freezing the blood and mind, only to drain both after. This was an essential black moment which later proved inspiring to noble guitarists such as Jon N_dtveidt, Euronymous, Snorre Ruch, Ihsahn, etc. (not to mention the trickle-down effect from these guitarists to innumerable, less-notorious individuals). Sadly though, Tormentor fell apart in the early 90s due to outside interests and a typical personal relations breakdown between the members.
At this point, Attila moved on with new musicians in the guise of the oddity Plasma Pool. This is like a primitive Skinny Puppy primally infused with the evokative grotesque vocal of Csihar - a sound which is interesting, yet somehow upcaptivating. By 1995, this band had fallen apart as well (although has since reformed and is preparing new material).
From 1995 to early ‘99, Attila became less active musically, only emerging occasionally to collaborate with former Tormentor drummer Mach_t Zsolt in such projects as Abstract, Daemon Fog, and Himalaya. In 1999 he contributed vocals to the Italian black metal band Aborym’s debut Cd “Kali Yuga Bizarre,” as well as Emperor’s interpretation of “Funeral Fog” for the yet to be released "Tribute To Mayhem" CD on Avantgarde. Stellar. In 2000, Aborym created a second album in a freezing black metallic way, and now Attila has been added as the permanent vocalist (a mark alone which requires mandatory anticipation of its emergence).
Recently, Tormentor commenced a reunion themselves - Zsolt and Csihar convened with a new guitarist and bassist. Properly spellbinding as usual, this time with many washes of confusion, Tormentor created another signature piece that is probably beyond the grasp of most (many by choice, hahhaah). “Recipe Ferrum” is a Pan.Thy.Moniac mash of labyrinthine song structures and layers combined with rock/metal/blues a la Randy Rhodes era Ozzy. The diversity of elements brought into this highly enjoyable creation range far and wide, as it’s a concept album of soul, blood, sun, dark, power, history, night, cult, legend, fun, joke, nation, sickness, debility, and punishment of the evil child. The hard rock tag has been incorrectly applied on “Recipe Ferrum;” as with all other material issued out of Csihar's consciousness, it holds a black spirituality and macbre mental instability (or removal.) Beyond…
What makes this a Tormentor album? Obviously it’s completely different than old Tormentor because that was 10 years ago. So what is the continuing thread?
We have a different line-up now and decided to try something different with the music. I have an Italian band which plays pure black metal named Aborym, so for me it also was not so interesting to do another typical black metal band. We wanted to go to black ‘n’ roll or something like that, so this is one step towards that kind of music.
Is it a conscious change or is it the natural chemistry that came about with these musicians? It seems like an honest effort; it sounds natural to me.
This is very natural sound because we wanted to go back to the hard rock and the hippie ages, to use that kind of feeling. We wanted to make something different, and it was a big risk because everyone was waiting for black metal. But we are more odd now. With Tormentor, after ten years, we can do what we can feel. The old guitarist and bassist were not able to join because they had separate ideas about the music, you know …
It’s a long time. Over the course of two years, people can completely change.
Of course. Maybe I was in black metal scene and the drummer, Mach_t Zsolt - he makes tattoos and was in this kind of atmosphere too. The others were absolutely out of the scene. So we decided not to look for another black metal guitarist but rather, to try to do something strange. I think if you can put together the old rock structure with the black metal feelings, it can be very interesting, but we didn’t know that at the time. We just had some visions and we wanted to realize this. It’s very hard because we didn’t want to do something too commercial; we had to do something in a very insane way, in a very obscure way.
You’ve been describing this music as strange and insane, but to me it doesn’t sound so. It sounds like musicians who are confident in what they are doing without any outside influence. Playing for themselves.
Maybe you think this because you are from the States and you can see many many strange bands. It’s not black metal but has some influences from black metal, and all the songs have different music, spiritual backgrounds, meanings and atmospheres. The second part, with the Hungarian songs, is mostly for the Hungarians, but they find it very grotesque.
Yeah, the slurping zombie…
Also, Mach_t Zsolt is also singing the backing vocals - he’s the high, manic voice. So it’s our insanity which came out. Also, we touched on more serious topics but maybe you can’t understand the lyrics too well.
As you will see, the lyrics go through some deep meanings, from the Aryan philosophy through the ancient Hungarians, through the “Little Match Girl” based on a tale by the Danish writer E.C. Andersen.
That’s actually one track I wanted to talk about. That’s one song where I did catch the lyrics.
That is about a tale of the little match girl, who was very poor and was selling matches on the Christmas or New Years night - a celebrated night. She became alone in the street because nobody buys matches from her. It becomes a sad story because she begins having strange visions as she is getting cold and then she is dying. Her spirit is then rising to the sky; it’s a very sad tale for children.
Children’s voices are used in several parts of the album. One atmosphere I get from that is the imagination of children’s stories. The strangeness or “insanity” seems parallel to something you might read in a childrens’ tale.
We are using children’s voices at some points. Like in the song “Dracula,” in the beginning, the daughter of the guitarist is singing “Dracula… Dracula…” We also have the song “Brummadza”which has children’s voices and is very extreme and disturbing… it has no meaning initially, it’s nothing. We wanted to make the verse song, and at the end of the verse song is the punishment.
It’s very complex I think, the way the songs are moving. It’s hard to find an overall key to each song. It takes a lot of listens to decipher what’s going I think.
Yeah, maybe. For us, we wanted to do something different, to have another point of view of these things. Also, the drummer doesn’t like grind rhythms very much and after ten years, we didn’t want to follow any other bands. We just wanted to do our way, whether it works or not. It’s more of a big risk, because if you’re your making a normal black metal album you know…
I heard the response of this (“Recipe Ferrum”) so far has not been very favorable. Does that make a difference to you? The press release that came with the CD said: “…listen to their music with an open mind and with the right spirit without trying to relate it to the present day trends and ass kissing attitude! But be sure that if you fail to understand their deep message, they don’t give a damn!” Do you give a damn?
We mean if you follow the trend from the beginning, from the birthing of this style of music, then maybe you will understand why this has to happen. If you are younger and stepping in at the middle-age of this scene, maybe you won’t understand. If you look the old bands who are reborning, like Mayhem, they are changing too.
You’re on the same level perhaps.
What is your opinion on the newest Mayhem record then?
I like it; it’s completely different. I think Hellhammer’s technicality rules the album, it’s more about Hellhammer in my opinion. It’s a good thing that they also wanted to go somewhere, to expand this movement.
I think between the new Mayhem and the new Tormentor album, there’s going to be a lot of “die-hard” German black metallers who are going to be very disappointed.
I’m playing music since 86 maybe and for me I always wanted to do the new things, the free things. We took the risk, I think we went more forward than Mayhem. We went into debility and inanities. Not very popular. It’s very popular to be dark and to be in this black way, but we went more down into the knowledge into the insanity.
Yeah. Maybe the metal fans won’t understand, but what can we say? This is what we wanted to do. But also, I’m satisfied with new Aborym because it is the black metal, with vocals a bit like “De Mysteriis…” - very black and very true without any political or human feelings. Nothing. Maybe the first Aborym album, when I appeared only a session vocalist, was more disturbed by these theologies. I think the new will be more true and more black. So with Tormentor I prefer to do something more strange. If you see in the songs, we wanted to make odd melodies. We wanted to find different view of music. If you see how it is now, if you go to a black metal festival you will find bands playing grind, the same things. No refreshment, nothing theatric, nothing more spiritual. It’s become a bit boring. Maybe each of them personally is a bit professional and very good - but maybe you need something else. That’s why we wanted to change. I’m satisfied, more or less, but of course not 100%.
So it’s a three-part concept album.
Yeah. The first song “Recipe Ferrum” is about the Aryan philosophy. It’s based on the Aryan philosophy, but it’s about the confusion of the mind of the people now... confusion of the spirit. It is told from history, from a Roman coliseum where the gladiators had to fight. Sometimes they were best friends, or brothers, but they would still have to fight one another to the death. In this world, sometimes you feel that you fight against you brothers spiritually - this is a big problem and this is the idea here. In the middle of the song, Time appears and says “I am the great destroyer of the earth. All soldiers, here on both sides will be slain.” This is just a vision, but I think this is a very actual meaning of this lyric. After, the gladiator in the song becomes more free and says he will follow his heart. It’s still open. The second song “Iron Country” it’s part of the Hungarian concept. It’s Hungarian blues about the ancient Hungarian history of death and the Hungarian feelings. But this is a normal blues song.
That’s one thing I wanted to bring up - there’s a lot of blues bass lines on the album, which don’t really exist in black metal.
For me it’s not bad because I like AC/DC; it’s a good step into the black ‘n’ roll. Nobody has played this kind of music before, which gives rock&roll the dark feelings of early Bathory. So this is the blues, but it is about Hungarian spirituality. You must know that here in Hungary now, nobody knows the right history. The history from before the last 1000 years is faded, so nobody knows exactly what went on here. The Hungarian language is different than any of the other languages, and there is much debate about who lived here and what happened. The fourth song is “Dracula” which is about a dictator, a true tyrant. I don’t believe in dictatorship, but you must know that the historical Dracula was a very strong dictator and he was a true emperor. There are very interesting stories about what he did as he was a tyrant, but also he was very true. He built an empire and it’s very interesting I think.
I’ve read a lot about him in the past.
In history he was a very extremely true emperor. I mean he was against life, he was against peace, he was against everything and also had enemies all around so he had to be very clever and political. He was slain by the Turkish, I think. It’s interesting because he was in the age of King Matthias, a Hungarian king, and they were very close friends. King Matthias also had one of the most powerful empires in the Hungarian history and has many interesting legends and folktales.
Much of the history I’ve read about central Europe seems very deep and spiritual in a strange way.
“Dracula” is not concrete, it’s just this feeling. It’s the archetype and the atmosphere. After that song comes “Cara Mia.” Much of the music was written by Zsolt, the drummer, and “Cara Mia” is his song about dark love. It’s a very bizarre love song, because we believe in love in our own way. It’s more about sexuality.
Yeah, I definitely picked up on that (a woman is orgasming).
Yeah, it’s Zsolt and his girlfriend appearing in this song. it’s a very long track with black romantic lyrics. Then comes the second part of the album, for the Hungarians. In Hungary Tormentor was always pushed down, so we didn’t want to do very cool Hungarian songs. We made very grotesque and very obscure Hungarian songs. A fuck off. “Paprika Jansci”…
In a live-show photo, I noticed you were wearing Paprika necklaces.
Yeah, these concerts were just for practicing our set, they weren’t very official. Yeah, I use the paprikas; I had the fish head, maybe you saw that in the picture too. I can’t say the name in English, but this fish is living in the rivers here. It’s a very hard fish, mefita, a very strong fish. To tell the truth, I am on the side of the nature, part of my soul is very close to nature, so that’s why I like this fish - it’s very strong, it’s very hard to catch. It’s an interesting story, actually. When I went to the market to get that fish head, I bought six other fishes which were still alive - they keep them in an aquarium in the market.
So, you have to kill them yourself if you want to eat them?
Yeah, you can kill them or the guy will hit them on their head, you know. But these fishes are so strong that they can stay alive when they are in the air. They are so nice that they are still alive, they could be alive for ten hours in the air. So I bought all the fishes before the concert and I took them back to the river. It was a very great feeling.
Ah, releasing them…
Because they were still alive and they are very strong fishes, so it was very cool. You know, all the time I am thinking very much about the spirituality of my music, so this is just a simple story, but it is very much about Tormentor.
Who is “Hany Ishtok?”
That’s the second song for the Hungarians. He is a Hungarian who is a freak of the nature. He’s a man who went into the swamp and lived like Tarzan, here in Hungary in the 17th century. He had special fingers with webbing to be able to swim in the water, and he appears in an old Hungarian novel which is very famous here. It’s all very strange for the Hungarians because it’s a bit forgotten. So we wanted to use this figure: he lived in nature, he lived in the swamp and became half animal and half man, a kind of freak. But later in the history he became a freedom fighter.
This is based on an actual man?
Yeah, this is true. The third song of the Hungarian trilogy “A Hetszunyu Kaponyanyi Monyok” is also true, but less so because this figure comes from the most ancient ancestral Hungarian tale, titled “The Son of the White Horse.” It dates back more than 1000 years, before this European culture and before the Christianity. He’s a very old figure. He keeps his power in his beard and he wants to eat marsh all the time, as he gets force and the power from the marsh. It’s a very mythological story, also very grotesque.
In the third part of the album, we went to “Brummadza” which is the worst song in our new musical history, with the punishment. After this, on the album we have another mix of “Hany Istok” - a studio jam with a good atmosphere. We were just jamming, which is a very strange thing to do in this scene. I’m playing guitars in this song and just jamming in the “Hany Istok” feeling, which is in the swamp. We made very strange lyrics in Hungarian about animals and flowers and what you can find in the swamp. The very strange insects. We are saying “lapepodes,” a strange animal, saying the names of the animals and the flowers which you can find in the swamp. The outro, “The Devil,” is also very obscure and strange I think. We wanted to make pure studio sound, like a radio play.
It’s like a performance of voices. What are those classical pieces you use on the first part of the album?
These are Bela Bartok. The first intro and also “The Iron County” are from his works. The second piece is about people harvesting the fields, a kind of marching sound.
They add another layer of complexity to the music. Trying to understand how it all fits together is very thought provoking.
It’s not typical metal album. We wanted to make Tormentor, not metal. You know, in the past, I didn’t give too many interviews because I thought the music speaks for itself. But with this new Tormentor, it’s better that I explain a bit about what we are trying to do. It’s just our ideas, it’s simple. I like to get influences from other sources and from other bands, especially from more techno in the past. From America, from Canada: Front Line Assembly, Skinny Puppy and all their projects.
Your vocals definitely seem influenced by Ogre, from Skinny Puppy.
Ogre was one of my favorite vocalists.I like and I know Skinny Puppy, quite from the beginning. In Hungary in 86/87 when we started to play everything was mixed; it was a different system and you could have underground music from around the world. At the same time, I listened to the punk, the black metal... I came from the heavy metal, of course, from AC/DC and from Iron Maiden. But also things like Swans and Current 93.
I have one tape of Himalaya, a live performance in P_cs.
You have that? I was completely drunk so, hahah….
It reminds of Current 93, I was really surprised.
I had many experiments. You must know that after the Mayhem album in 93, I had Plasma Pool in Hungary.
Of course, I want to talk about that actually...
This band was also experimenting. We wanted to follow the steps of Skinny Puppy and Frontline Assembly and maybe Front 242 from “Elected by the Music” but mixed with black. So, at the time we had very bad conditions here and we had only one demo and another demo from a concert (released together on the “I” CD in 1996 by Holocaust/Miscarriage Records of Italy -S) and now the last one (“II/Drowning” released in 99 on Scarlet of Italy -S) which is shit because the label didn’t write that this is just a live recording from 93. Unfortunately, I was not into this release. I said they could release it, but it was a mistake of the label to not say that this was stuff from the 90s, from a live show. Not new Plasma Pool.
Now we are planning to do a new Plasma Pool, as the keyboard player is still interested in the music. Maybe we can use more guitars if the guitarist of Aborym is interested. He likes very much the music of Plasma Pool and would like to join. I would like to do three projects as I’m not doing very popular music.
But in 93, after the Mayhem stories, Plasma Pool split too. I was still in school and finished my studies as an electric engineer and made my family. I was not so active in music. I was very much into religion and philosophy because I wanted to understand. And after seven years of searching and reading, I didn’t find my personal religion, but I guess I’m still the same. I can see the parallels in the religions and also the paradoxes. I was very much into the Indian, European, and Hungarian mythologies. Also, I had my family, and also I had to build our house so I very busy at this time. Now I have now two children. I have also been teaching mathematics and physics for five years now. This is my personal life, but I couldn’t give up the music.
Well, once you start, you can’t stop.
Yeah. I came back and now Tormentor is for expanding the rock music, the black metal music into black ‘n’ roll - our way. I hope it will work. For me to play live the best, to be in the studio is the second thing. I like to be on the stage, I can feel the bigger spirituality. At the same time, other people are with me and it’s the best.
Mayhem “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas” CD/LP 1994 (Deathlike Silence)
Tormentor “7th Day Of Doom” CD 1996 (Miscarriage)
Tormentor “Anno Domini” CD/LP 1996 (Nocturnal Art)
Plasma Pool “I” CD 1996 (Miscarriage/Holocaust)
Tormentor “The Sick Years” CD/MC 1998 (Osiris)
(also containing demo material form Abstract and Daemon Fog)
Plasma Pool “Drowning/II” CD 1999 (Scarlet)
Aborym “Kali Yuga Bizarre” CD/PLP 1999 (Scarlet)
Tormentor “Recipe Ferrum” CD 2000 (Avantgarde)