interveiw by: Roberto
Of the new breed of black metal, Aborym is leading he
charge. Melding electronica with the scathing sounds of black metal
speed, this Italian band’s second album, Fire Walk with Us,
took the Maelstrom camp by storm. Now Aborym has released an even more
slick and sinister album, 2003's With no Human Intervention.
The following are two separate dialogues with quintessential frontman
Attila Csihar and guitarist Sethlans
Maelstrom: Attila, I’d like to hear you talk about your performance
with Sunn at the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival in England.
Attila Csihar: It was a pretty interesting
experiment. I like moving in all kinds of extreme scenes. We knew Stephen
(O’Malley, of Sunn) since ‘95. I recorded a track for the
upcoming album (White 2). The track is pretty long - about
25 minutes. I did some weird vox in Sanskrit about the Kali Yuga.
It was also interesting because we played alongside some
electronic bands. It was not metal stuff. But the people liked it. (pictured
Maelstrom: But you’ve always been interested in electronic stuff.
Attila Csihar: Well, I feel it’s not far from some stuff I’ve
done. Have you heard of Plasma Pool?
Attila Csihar: That happened around 1993. At the time
I was really into the electronic stuff, but it was more in the occult,
Pagan wing. We stopped the band when I joined Mayhem. So I like the
electronic stuff and the ambient stuff, like old Current 93 and old
Coil, the old Psychic TV stuff. So it was interesting to enter into
the ambient doom thing with Sunn.
Maelstrom: Let’s talk about the vocals that you did
on With No Human Intervention. They’re excellent as usual,
but I have to tell you that it was disappointing that they don’t
really sound like you. It sounds a bit more generic to me. What do you
think about that?
Attila Csihar: Yes, you are right. I changed a little bit this time.
I didn’t want to use again the low voice. When I played with Tormentor,
my first band, I sang more like this; in a screamy way. But with Plasma
Pool and Mayhem I started to do the low voice. So I wanted to refresh
a bit and do the scream thing.
Maelstrom: You’ll have to tell me, but it seems that the screams
would be more difficult to pull off. At any rate, they’re excellent.
Attila Csihar: Thank you.
Maelstrom: To this day, Fire Walk with Us is still
my favorite Aborym record.
Attila Csihar: Ahh, cool, cool. Yeah, the screams are pretty difficult
sometimes. It takes physical concentration to do it. It’s a breathing
Maelstrom: What breathing technique? Does this have to do with your
taking opera lessons?
Attila Csihar: YEAH! Yeah, I did some opera lessons before
and again recently. I like when they talk about breathing technique.
It’s a little bit like breathing for yoga meditation. You have
to take the breath down and build it up and use it. It’s the same
thing with the eastern fighting things, like the kung fu or wu shu.
I practiced kung fu before.
I like opera vocals sometimes - not all. It’s interesting
for me to think how they can do that. I like classical music. But the
technique is hard to explain as you have to use muscles that you don’t
use in everyday life. After a while your body becomes like an instrument
and you can play it.
Maelstrom: When you go to these classes, do you tell them what you’re
going to be using the technique for?
Attila Csihar: Hahahahaha! No, man, no. I was expecting
this question. Last time my teacher said, “ah! You are pretty
ok. You could sing some jazz and stuff like that. Why don’t we
learn some songs?” I said, “well...” Also, when they
ask me to sing something, they say, “ok, sing some folk songs.”
Like anyone knows. Sometimes it’s pretty uncomfortable. But they
don’t know about [Aborym]. It would be pretty crazy to show the
albums to this old woman.
I tell you the true thing about how I found this teacher.
Someone asked me to be an extra in a “Jesus Christ Superstar”
production here. I was really surprised, but these guys were young and
cool. They were also bikers.
Maelstrom: Bikers doing “Jesus Christ Superstar”?
Attila Csihar: Yeah. At first I thought I wasn’t
interested, but they told me I would be Caiaphas, who crucifies Jesus
in the end. A real negative hero. And he sings in a very low voice.
I had the track “Jesus Must Die.” So it said, “ok,
let’s do.” I went to practice and met classical musicians.
They heard about my art but found it very strange. But it was cool,
because the girls of the strings were very young and were interested
in my stuff. It was a big crew: about 50 persons. A lot of young people.
I had some plans to one day do a black metal opera; to
get together with other people from the scene and do a corpsepainted,
big band with strings and trumpets.
Maelstrom: Do you know about Chaostar?
Attila Csihar: No.
Maelstrom: They’re from Greece. Do you know about Septic Flesh?
Attila Csihar: ....
Maelstrom: I’ll send you an email about it. There
are some really cool metal opera bands, like Hammers of Misfortune (check
out our review and interview). Of course it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t
do your own.
I think it’s remarkable that you started all these
bands so long ago, and you’re from Hungary. Hungary has a few
bands I can think of off the top of my head, but the scene isn’t
so strong like it is in the Czech Republic. How did you think to start
doing vocals like this?
Attila Csihar: It started from my childhood when I would
listen to Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath. I was always practicing by
myself at home, to be a vocalist.
Then, when I was in middle school, when I was 14, I played
water polo. There was a guy on the team who told me about a guitarist.
So we met and we formed Tormentor. Around that time came the black metal
movement, in ‘86. We decided to play black metal because it was
very new and we wanted to be very, very extreme. We were inspired by
the old Bathory, Destruction... but that movement was different from
today’s: the genres weren’t so seperated. There were just
a few bands. Venom was different from Bathory or Celtic Frost, but it
was still the same movement, and we wanted to join it.
We applied to a competition in Hungary. We had two songs
and we went to play them among other bands. Some of them were really
famous. We were really young. We went to the stage and made some chaos.
It was our first show and we played in front of a lot of people. But
at the end of the day when they said who was winner, the third one was
Tormentor by audience vote. Not by the judges, of course. (Laugh) So!
So, it was a fucking surprise. We were all like, “no....”
So we went to the next round, which wasn’t only metal, but all
kinds of musical bands. It was really strange for us to play. But we
failed in the next round because some stupid pop band won.
But after, we were asked to play again. So we put together
some tracks as fast as we could and we made some covers. It was a really
a fast way up. We were underground, but people heard about us. There
was always fighting at the show and the big chaos as more and more people
started to come. We played that way continuously until ‘89.
Maelstrom: But now Tormentor is on hold?
Attila Csihar: I would like to start a label and re-release the old
stuff. We had plans to do a new album. We will do it one day. I don’t
want to stop. Tormentor is a very strange band. The last album came
after a 10 year silence. I want to be a bit faster with the next one.
The lineup isn’t fixed yet. It could be the original one, or a
Maelstrom: If you can look back at yourself and look at the vocalist
you’ve become, how many people you’ve influenced and how
many bands use vocals that sound like Attila, what does that mean to
you? You’re on what is maybe the most important black metal record
Attila Csihar: In a way, it’s really strange for
me to see, but in another way, I feel it in my veins. As you can see,
it’s been like this for me from the beginning. It’s really
coming from somewhere inside. Sometimes, when I’m rehearsing,
I feel this strange energy. Sometimes even I am surprised by my voice.
I have some gift, or something. I can thank fate also.
I can’t say it was always positive. I had some very negative turns.
Maelstrom: What was the most negative thing that happened to you?
Attila Csihar: When we came out with the first Tormentor
album, in ‘88, it was never released. The guy who paid for the
studio for Anno Domini, he lost money on another band and was
not able to release our album. It was really one of the best in the
world of the genre, really. We know that now.
And then came the Mayhem story, which ended up, well,
you know how. At the same time, Plasma Pool had to stop when the keyboard
player was robbed by the mafia. He went into some bad stuff, so one
day some people came to his home with some guns and took his instruments.
But I’m proud of my voice and I’m proud of my art. But I’m
very happy that I could influence others.
Maelstrom: Even with your immediate peers: you sang on Mick Kenney’s
new Anaal Nathrakh record. Kenney’s project Frost is like Mayhem,
and the guy sounds like Attila. It’s a great band, and it’s
in honor of you.
Attila Csihar: Yes. Euronymous got in touch with me in
‘91. As I know now, it was because they liked Tormentor. It’s
a bit strange, as my name in my band was Mayhem. So it was a weird sign
for me. When I heard the music, I said, wow. I remember that at first
I couldn’t believe the drums. It was like the double of the usual
But I was very sad when I heard the news (about Euronymous’
Maelstrom: There was a rumor about a year ago that you would rejoin
Attila Csihar: Yes... sometimes we are talking about this. Sometimes
Maniac feels like quitting. If he quits the band, probably I will be
the next vocalist. I’ll have to see what happens, but basically
Maelstrom: Would you still be Aborym’s vocalist?
Attila Csihar: I don’t think it would be any problem to play
the old songs. For the new ones, I should learn something.
Maelstrom: What kind of guy is Sethlans Teitan? Give us a funny story
Attila Csihar: (laugh) He is like my brother. We very much like and
appreciate each other. He’s a very good guitarist too. He’s
got fucking strong wrists. In Aborym, he does the more heavy riffs,
and Nysrok does the more complicated stuff. They complement each other
Maelstrom: I read in the Gnosis Zine interview about how
you recorded De Misteriis Dom Sathanas. You said you were behind
a curtain in blackness, and candles all around.
Attila Csihar: Yeah. I had very little time. We had just a couple of
days for the vocals. I was very nervous. It was strange that we only
had one track to do. So if I made a mistake, it was not possible to
do different versions and pick the best one.
Grieghallen is a cool studio. I remember we stole the big gong from
the classical department.
Maelstrom: What has been the most important or best experience you’ve
had so far in your musical career?
Attila Csihar: The last one was the show with Sunn. Here
in Hungary, I was fucked by the police at the border. I missed my airplane.
Because of the delay, they changed the schedule of the show. They put
us before Aphex Twin. We were supposed to open the party. We replaced
Earth. So instead of Earth, it was Sunn. It was like 3,000 people. I
heard afterwards that BBC 1 broadcast the show. That was a pretty cool
I also like the period when we recorded the Fire Walk
with Us album. It was a great time in Rome.
The Mayhem period was very nice. It was cool to play with
Mayhem. I played with them once in Milan. Aborym had just recorded Kali
Yuga Bizarre. Maybe you heard it on the live record.
Maelstrom: “Attila! Come on the stage! Attila!” That’s
Attila Csihar: Yeah! That was after a very hard period
of drug use. I was coming out of the depths of that. I was pretty sick.
But I turned it into my performance.
I loved also the Plasma Pool gigs that we did from ‘90-93.
At the time, very few bands played electronic music. There were no computers
like today. It was very hard to put together the stuff. It was a big
Maelstrom: You may be sick and tired of this, but I wanted to know
if you’d care to comment on your arrest recently in Italy on drug
Attila Csihar: Shit happens. I was in Naples and I had some stuff on
me. It took a month to clean myself up, and they released me finally.
I was fucked up with this. For me, drugs aren’t the first thing
Maelstrom: But drugs are an important part of your creating things?
Attila Csihar: Sometimes, yes. When I was young, I liked to experiment.
Taking drugs wasn’t only about going out and laughing at stupid
things; sometimes I took drugs when I was alone and listened to music
and meditated. It was really interesting. I won’t say that all
people need drugs. For some people it would be really dangerous, while
for others it could be necessary to cover up some parts of the brain.
Now, for instance, I use very few drugs. It’s not worth it anymore.
Maelstrom: When was the first time you used drugs?
Attila Csihar: When I was in Plasma Pool. For a time, I had some problems,
but that was five, six years ago. I know what it is when you go too
far and can’t find your way back. But in a way, it can make you
strong. You can lose your personality or make it stronger. What do you
think? Do you use any drugs?
Maelstrom: No. But I don’t judge people if they use
or not. I think it’s funny that people are making a big deal about
your arrest. For me, it’s not such a big deal because artists
have been using before Jesus Christ. So it’s nothing new.
(l-r: Attila Csihar, Nysrok Infernalien, Sethlans Teitan
131, Malfeitor Fabban)
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Why does Sethlans Teitan have the
number 131 in his stage name? Amongst other things, it has to do with
Pan. No, not the cooking utensil. You can read up about it here: http://www.panikon.com/phurba/old/131.html
Maelstrom: The biggest news about Aborym lately has been the arrest
of Attila Csihar on drug possession charges. Would you care to comment
Teitan 131: What happened is very simple: he has a curse and we have
a curse. During and after the making of With No Human Interviention,
so many bizarre shit happened. I don’t really want to talk about
the details. In short, Attila got arrested in a drug sting. They found
some stuff on him. He was jailed for a month, released and came here
to Rome with me and the other Aborym guys. They were hard times but
we all learned from it. Shit, that happens if one lives an extreme life
anyway. It’s a bit strange to see the fuss about such a minor
thing. It was even in the Italian newspapers.
There is a free newspaper when you take the underground
in Rome. And there it was, “Attila of the black metal band Aborym,
Maelstrom: On the front page?
Sethlans Teitan 131: No, in a small column, but it was
there. There were many people that I knew since I was a small kid that
thought I was a drug dealer. It was pretty fun. The only problem is
that all the webzines started to write untrue things, without asking
Anyway, much worse has happened in black metal. I’m
not here to justify it.
Maelstrom: Well, since the beginning of art and music, musicians have
been doing drugs...
Sethlans Teitan 131: Think about what Black Sabbath was
doing in the ‘70s. They were spending $1,000 a day for cocaine.
I don’t know what the issue is about some ecstasy pills.
People who are into metal are supposed to be a bit more
open minded than others, but it seems that in this kind of music there
are a lot of people who are like 50 years old. Of course, it’s
not that one has to take drugs if one is into black metal, but that
doesn’t mean that you should judge like you’re a priest.
Maelstrom: The vocals on the new album don’t really sound like
Attila. Was this a conscious decision, do you think?
Sethlans Teitan 131: It was a very spontaneous process.
He sculptured his vocals to the music. What came out is very different
from the De Misteriis... style. You are right about that. But,
if you follow his career from Tormentor to Plasma Pool to Mayhem to
Aborym, he never uses the same vocals. With Mayhem, he invented a new
vocal style. That’s why they wanted him. I read the letter that
Euronymous wrote him. They wanted him in Mayhem because they thought
his vocals were like nobody else’s. They didn’t want the
usual screaming stuff.
Maelstrom: The new record is improved in every way, in a technical
and production sense. The record is much denser. You also have many
more people contributing to this record. But for a while, Hellhammer
was supposed to lend his drum skills, but he ended up not. What happened?
Sethlans Teitan 131: Hellhammer liked Fire Walk with
Us ver much. We sent him some rough recordings of the new material.
He liked it and was glad to do it. The shit was that he had to go with
Mayhem to Australia for two weeks. That was in the only period we could
work with him. But we thought the drum machine was already programmed
and just fine. And it’s not like if we don’t do it now,
we’ll never do it.
Anyway, there are only three drummers I would ever let
play on Aborym. Hellhammer, Frost and Faust. When [Faust] comes back
and Dissection releases a new album, they will set stuff straight. I’m
also awaiting the return of Mysticum. (Sethlans Teitan with Bard "Faust"
Maelstrom: Yeah, I see quite a few similarities in what both bands
Sethlans Teitan 131: Yes. I can say that Mysticum was the first to
do the black industrial thing. I don’t know if you’ve ever
heard their demos, but they were unique even back in ‘92. They
were one of the bands that influenced me sound-wise. It’s always
an honor when we are compared to them. I’m very proud we’re
doing our own black industrial thing. I really hope they come back.
I heard they recorded an album, but it seems they throw it away and
re-record. But let’s hope they return and set some new standards
in this fucked up scene. It’s pretty lacking in individual and
Maelstrom: It seems that there’s an international
brotherhood forming between you and Anaal Nathrakh, Thorns and Carpathian
Forest and some other bands. A newer breed of these higher tech bands.
Sethlans Teitan 131: I can say that something new is coming out. You
mentioned Anaal Nathrakh. They are much more on the brutal side. Attila
and I guested on their new EP. Irrumator (of Anaal Nathrakh) is a very
good friend. You are right to talk about brotherhood, but it is apart
from the musical thing. There are a handful of bands that I share ideas
and visions about a lot of things. That forms a union. For instance,
bands like Diabolicum, Carpathian Forest, Arkhon Infaustus from France...we
share many views.
Maelstrom: Right off the bat, even before I heard Fire
Walk with Us, I picked up on the obvious “Twin Peaks”
references. Going back even farther to Kali Yuga Bizarre (the
first album), on the last track there’s a melody that’s
lifted from “Twin Peaks.”
Sethlans Teitan 131: Yeah, when we were kids we all saw the TV series,
and after we saw all of Lynch’s movies.
Maelstrom: It’s a totally cool thing to put in there.
Sethlans Teitan 131: Of course the music is excellent.
Angelo Badalamenti (“Twin Peaks” composer) is one of the
musicians I respect the most. But it’s more than that. In Lynch’s
movies there is this kind of morbid and bizarre aura. There is the unspoken,
the splendor of the underworld that he portrays in his work. Much of
the energy I feel when I watch his movies is the same one that we spread
with Aborym. I think I will send him all the albums. I don’t know
if he’ll ever answer. But he did put Rammstein on the “Lost
Highway” soundtrack, so he’s not alien to this kind of music.
Maelstrom: Windham Hell is another band that just sounds
like “Twin Peaks” for me.
Sethlans Teitan 131: I agree. There’s an ethereal aura about
them. They are very much a spiritual band. I like feeling this in music.
Maelstrom: Have you ever heard of Bohren Und Der Club of Gore? (If
you haven’t, check out our interview here)
Sethlans Teitan 131: No.
Maelstrom: It sounds like the alternate music from “Twin Peaks”
or from the Black Lodge.
Sethlans Teitan 131: Ahhh!! The Black Lodge!
Maelstrom: They’re a lounge band from Germany.
Sethlans Teitan 131: They’re kind of jazz?
Maelstrom: Sort of. But it’s really slooooooow.
Sethlans Teitan 131: I love it. Some nights I have listening sessions
with “Twin Peaks” stuff. I would like to live in the Black
Maelstrom: On the new album, the clip at the beginning with the girl
talking about “my dark desire” is so cool.
Sethlans Teitan 131: Many people thought it was a girl. It’s
a sample from a not so good movie called “The Calling.”
It’s a sort of remake of “The Omen.” There’s
a small kid who’s supposed to be the anti-Christ talking. But
what’s interesting is that sentence is a quote from Mac Beth.
It’s about killing the king; the force that wants to slay the
status quo. That’s why it’s in the beginning of the album.
Maelstrom: Why is your first album called Kali Yuga
Sethlans Teitan 131: The kali yuga means “the black age”
in Hindi. The Hindu religion divides time in cycles. Each yuga is an
amount of years. The kali yuga is the last of the ages. If you take
the Hindu perspective, we’re living the kali yuga now. It’s
the last phase, the one where everything corrupts. Adding “bizarre”
was the idea of our first singer.
Maelstrom: Looking at the progression of Aborym: forget
the new record, the progression from Kali Yuga... to Fire
Walk... is such a huge progression. Kali Yuga... had some
unique things about it, like Attila’s vocals. But it’s still
quite derivative of other things. But then you made this huge step forward.
Sethlans Teitan 131: The Kali Yuga... songs were
written between 1994-97 and recorded in 1998. I still really like that
album, but it was done over a long period of time. It’s not one
big trip. The thing the album lacks is union. I have to tell you that
Samoth of Emperor liked that album a lot. We were supposed to go with
his label, Nocturnal Art, for Fire Walk with Us, but we were
signed for two albums with fucking shit Scarlet Records from Italy.
Maelstrom: I’ve heard bad stories about that label. You’re
not the first person.
Sethlans Teitan 131: They are a label that doesn’t
care about the music. They only care to release 10 albums a year of
all kinds of different crap music, from shit power metal to Gothic metal,
to black metal. They didn’t like that we wanted to break the contract
and go with Nocturnal Art, so they didn’t do promotion for Fire
Walk... at all. In a way they boycotted it. Well, we are away from
it. I don’t trust labels anymore. I really hope we will release
our music on our own next time.
Maelstrom: What’s Attila like?
Sethlans Teitan 131: He’s a very strong man and
kind of a magical individual. I appreciate his strength. He did black
metal back in ‘86 with Tormentor in Budapest when there was the
Iron Curtain. They couldn’t buy records. And then the shit happened
with Mayhem, but he always kept on over 15 years. He never gave up.
He has a strong will and cannot stop expressing himself through his
art. Either we are artists or criminals.
We summon something pretty big; we are hallowed by the
trust between us and the current I use to worship. When I do music,
it’s not that I take the guitar and do the song. I play guitar
always, but I can’t force myself to write something. For the last
album, the music was sort of like taking dictation. It was a magical
thing. We usually write separately. I did half of the With No Human
Intervention and Nysrok (the other guitarist) the other half. We
both had this kind of impulse. That’s why it was so true. I don’t
mean true in the “true black metal” sense. I was never so
satisfied with something I did. Fire Walk with Us was also
Maelstrom: The marriage of electronic music and black metal. You know
that some fans have a problem with it, but it seems to be taking off.
What’s your commentary about this?
Sethlans Teitan 131: I will tell you. Something very strange
for me is when I hear these young guys talking about electronic music
- which is of course a pretty wide term. But the shit is that electronic
music is actually older than black metal. I can’t really understand
when people refer to electronic music as a new thing. NON (Boyd Rice)
was playing industrial music in 1969. Venom hadn’t recorded yet.
I say Venom because for me that’s when black metal started.
People might criticize the mix when they see bands like
The Kovenant, and I can agree to an extent, because I don’t really
like their style, especially the last album. But we don’t sound
like this. It’s clear it’s music done with the intention
to hurt and harass and shock the listener. We use techno beats at high
speed, and we did manage to meld the most extreme black metal spirituality
with different brands of electronic music. No one has achieved what
we have with our last two records. If people don’t like it or
aren’t ready, that’s their problem.
Maelstrom: What do you think of stuff like Aphex Twin?
Sethlans Teitan 131: He’s a genius. You can hear that we like
this kind of Aphex Twin and Warp style in the song “Does not Compute,”
which was written by the band Void. We really like these kinds of sounds
and moods. In the end, being a guitarist, I’m more into metal
than electronica. But at the same time I appreciate different kinds
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