Ustumallagam - Denial of God - Back
Interviewer: Cameron Edney - http://www.myspace.com/insideout666ints

Every now and then I get the opportunity to conduct an interview that just blows me away, this is one of those interviews! Black metal has long taken a beating as a form of music that is nothing but noise, a style of music that influences teenage boys and girls to take a deeper look at the dark side of life, a form of music that governments have felt the need to ban in various parts of the world. To those of us who actually love and enjoy listening to this heavier style of Metal itís nothing more than a release from the stresses of our everyday lives. Denmarkís Denial of God are one of many bands who know what itís like to be both loved and hated by the critics. Their onstage antics, a blend of horror, metal and Satanism has left many with their jaws on the floor and others hungry for more!

The bands most recent album ëThe Horrors of Sataní was five years in the making and the outcome is nothing short of phenomenal. íDenial of God who have been together for more than fifteen years have like many other bands had their set backs with line-up changes and so on but show no sign of slowing down. Denial of God are about to embark on an Australian tour which will leave Aussie metallers in demand for more of Denmarkís finest! I recently had the pleasure of catching up with the bands front man and founder Ustumallagam for an in-depth chat about the bands history, latest album The Horrors of Satan, the much-anticipated Australian tour and much more. Time to spend ëA Night in Transylvaniaí with Denial of Godís Ustumallagam.


Metal Fanatix: Hi Ustumallagam, how's things mate?

Ustumallagam: Ave. It’s a day off today, so I just try to relax for once.

Metal Fanatix: Good to hear mate! Firstly I want to thank you for putting time aside to answer the following questions for our readers! Let’s head back to 1991 and the creation of Denial Of God. What comes to mind when you look back on those early days, starting out?

Ustumallagam: Lots of things really. It wasn’t that well organized back then (Well, is it now?), but the spirit and sincerity was always there since day one. Back then it was all very chaotic, ‘cause it was so hard to find the right people for the band as we don’t just want to put whoever in the band. Nowadays we still think that way, but now we have the toughest line-up we ever had. It has all become better for the band. In the beginning we had to rehearse in a public rehearsal house and today we are back in one, but we still do fine.

Metal Fanatix: Did you ever think that fifteen years on you guys would still be playing to fans around the world?

Ustumallagam: Hard to say. I don’t think so really. I normally try to live for the moment only as tomorrow everything could be gone. I always knew we would do the band for a long time probably, but I try not to think too much ahead for the band, only the next release or so. There always tends to be some shit in our lives, so suddenly we are in deep shit and lack members or something, but this time the line-up really seems stable and perfect. We are more creative than ever really.

Metal Fanatix: Mate as you mentioned, during your career the band has undergone a few line-up changes, at any point did you consider throwing it all in?

Ustumallagam: Yes, I must admit when we had no drummer and Isaz (bass) had left too and we couldn’t find new members for some years, I think we both got a bit sick of it all, but I never wanted to quit. I just thought sometimes maybe we had to, but luckily Galheim (drums) and The Unknown (bass) suddenly crept out from the dark and saved us. That was really a hard time for me mentally, ‘cause I am a way better person when I can rehearse regularly etc. It’s like therapy to me.

Metal Fanatix: Let’s talk about the bands most recent release ‘The Horrors of Satan’, you guys started writing material for the album way back in 2002, now that it’s finally been released is there anything you would have changed?

Ustumallagam: To be honest, not really. It really turned out pretty much like we wanted it to. Of course there are minor details like a sensitive microphone for recording the whispered vocal parts that simply recorded everything (meaning drum sticks ticking in the headphones) etc., but it’s nothing bad. The lay out turned out good, the artwork is killer, the heavy vinyl and cover reeks of death and decay, so I can’t complain. Next output will be even better, so you are in for a treat.

Metal Fanatix: I really loved the artwork you guys used, tell us about that!

Ustumallagam: The cover art was done by our good friend Juha Vuorma from Finland, he has been around for ages. We have always loved his work as he has a very dark and sinister way of creating pictures. At first we wanted to use another guy actually, but he had an accident and suddenly couldn’t make it and that was our luck, I guess I can say, ‘cause when looking back at it now, it would never have worked for us as that guy has a very clean way of painting and it wouldn’t really have fitted the album. Juha’s way of painting is in some way primitive, but very eerie and that was what we really wanted. He did the covers during only a week or something and really put his soul into it. I wish more people would be as dedicated as he is. I hope we can use him again for future covers as he really describes well what our songs are about and really captured what the band is about. What’s on the cover is no coincidence either. If you look at the different things on the cover you will see that all songs are presented on there in one way or another.

Metal Fanatix: Ustumallagam in a few words tell us what comes to mind when I mention the following tracks from The Horrors of Satan:

Ustumallagam:

The Curse of the Witch: I see a witch tied to a stake surrounded by an angry mob, not knowing they are playing with fire. Some things you shouldn’t fuck with.

Cycle of the Wolf: I see a misty wood with a dark figure walking around searching for prey at night time. Can’t help thinking about the movie The Wolf Man (1941). Imagine to be cursed to even kill your loved one. This story is a pure tragedy.

The Iron Gibbet: I see a rotting cadaver hanging in an iron gibbet in the cold, wet hills of old England. A mocked corpse planning his revenge on the ones who took his life.

A Night in Transylvania: I see this old country. A castle on a hill top and villagers locking their doors and windows. Even today the fear is still real in some places.

Metal Fanatix: When it came time to record ‘The Horrors of Satan’ did you approach it in a different way to albums you have recorded in the past?

Ustumallagam: Yes, I’d say we did. This time we had a much better plan of how we wanted it all to be like and there weren’t really any coincidences. We had a strong vision and were able to put it onto tape. We had rehearsed better and everyone acted more mature (At least while being in the studio). I am very proud of this album and it shows the way we will go. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have stuff up our sleeves for upcoming releases.

Metal Fanatix: There is no secret that you guys are heavily influenced by Satanism and horror and have incorporated that into your music and live shows, do you think that has in any way hindered the band or has it increased the popularity over the years?

Ustumallagam: Both really. In some ways I am sure it has gained us some extra attention and in other ways I think some people have ignored the band finding it cheesy. But do you know what I think? I couldn’t care less. When you see the band name you should know you won’t be served your average shitty Nu Metal band consisting of trendy fools jumping up and down. We have had some boycott emails from serious Christians etc., but honestly, it’s just fun to watch people wasting their time trying to convert you, isn’t it? We just do what we like and what we are best at and if people have a problem with that, so be it.

Metal Fanatix: Mate, I want to talk to you a little about life on the road! Throughout the years you guys have been known for some outrageous onstage antics! Early on in your career there was incidents where you would throw live maggots at the audience; what was the typical responses you would get from the crowd!

Ustumallagam: We actually still do this. Only now we also use raw meat like hearts and livers. The response from the crowd is normally better than the one from the venue owners, but who cares. The crowd actually tends to embrace it and I have seen people actually eating the shit we throw to them. Some people are really fanatical and that’s great. When the show really gets going I have sometimes filled my mouth with maggots to spit them at the crowd. Certainly disgusting, but that’s how we are. A few times some people have thrown a little meat back at the band, but you have to expect that when you do stuff like we do.

Metal Fanatix: You guys recently announced that you will be heading to Australia to play a series of shows in July, can the Australian audiences expect to see That kind of stuff at these shows?

Ustumallagam: Well, because of the tough laws of Australia we have not been allowed to use neither fire on stage nor throw meat and maggots, so it’s not like a show we would do in Europe, but it will still be very extreme of course. We will still bring our gravestones, coffin, skulls, rotting clothes etc. No worries. If we use fire, we will be fined Six Thousand Australian dollars and we simply can’t afford that. I guarantee horror and chaos and simply can’t wait to jump on the plane. Nocturnal Graves (Hail!) will join us as support act and on every show we will have 1-2 other bands playing too. It will be great to meet everyone. I know how cool the country and the maniacs there are from my earlier trips to there.

Metal Fanatix: Awesome mate, I can’t wait to see the show! Being heavily influenced by the likes of Alice Cooper, King Diamond and Mayhem to name a few I guess it’s safe to say that theatrics was always going to play some part in the D.O.G. shows!

Ustumallagam: Oh yes! When I go to a show I want not only to listen to music, I want to be entertained. I’m not saying everyone should put up a horror show or something. What I mean is you want to see a band that’s moving, banging their heads off, going totally nuts. You don’t want to watch a band standing totally still afraid to move and touch anyone. That’s boring. On the early shows we didn’t have all those theatrics really, but there was still stuff like maggots there, the skulls, candles, Azter slicing up his arms, maggots etc. It just developed and got wilder.

Metal Fanatix: What comes to mind when you look back on those very first shows you guys played together?

Ustumallagam: On the first one it was pure chaos and even if we played with shitty bands it was still great. The response was huge even if it was our first show and we had only just done one demo. It was weird and I remember we were like possessed and it was very unreal. Already the second show was in Sweden with Pagan Rites and other bands. We played headliners again. This was in 1992 when Black Metal was still just going through it’s rebirth. The atmosphere was evil and totally underground. It was a crazy time with lots of memories like us and Pagan Rites joining each other on stage, stripping down naked on the police station having knives and booze confiscated etc.

Metal Fanatix: What’s the craziest thing you have ever done on-stage?

Ustumallagam: Hard to say as there has been some crazy moments. Don’t know which would be the worst really apart from the meat and maggots throwing. One time the cross we burn got a little too much fluid and the flames started licking the ceiling, which was pretty dangerous, I guess. I once broke a microphone by slamming it against my forehead several times, people have been kicked from stage, people have been running onto stage cutting up their arms etc. It’s never boring.

Metal Fanatix: Over the years you have played with some great bands, who have you enjoyed touring with the most and can you share a funny story from the tour!

Ustumallagam: Touring is a big word ‘cause that means a lot of shows played after each other and we have never done more than three shows in a row, I think. Last year we did that with InnerFire, but it wasn’t really that interesting as the arrangement, promotion and response wasn’t that much to talk about. One of the best shows we have done so far must have been in Torhout, Belgium together with Paragon Impure, Revenge and Destroyer 666. We arrived when the second band was already on stage (Good the bill had changed us to be headliners a week before or so), so it was very hectic, but the show was great (Only the second one with the new line-up), very pro done and the party at the hotel bar afterwards with Destroyer 666 was hilarious. I am sure the Australian tour will blast all that away though. Funny stories? Well, when we played with InnerFire we stayed at this hotel and partied pretty hard. Actually so hard it looked like shit afterwards and the fire alarm went off. Oh Well. Another time we had to empty a bottle of piss out of the window of the van while driving and another car drove underneath. He wasn’t laughing, [Laughs]

Metal Fanatix: [laughs] Oh nice [laughs]. Over the years I would imagine you have heard some insane rumors regarding yourself and the band!; What’s the craziest you have heard?

Ustumallagam: Yes, there has been a ton of weird rumors really, but mostly they are just laughable. For some reason some people said we split up, but we never did, but just looked for the two right members, so we didn’t release anything for some time. I have been told many weird things during the years like I pissed on the audience at shows, me and Azter kicked a dog to death, Azter had AIDS and was kicked out of the band and stuff like that, but that’s just rumors People must be bored.

Metal Fanatix: [Laughs] mate people never seem to get sick of making up rumors Do you do anything specific to warm up and prepare for a show?

Ustumallagam: Not really that I can think of. We just go backstage when the band before us hits the stage and start preparing what has to be done. At that point of time we prefer to be alone. Each member concentrates on what he has to do with paint, clothes etc. At times this can be rather quiet. The feeling for talking kind of disappears a bit as you start leaving the normal day life and descent into some very dark world where everything can (and will) happen. We are by no means Rockstars or arrogant fucks, but right before and after a show we just like to be alone. As soon as we are “back on earth” again, we go and hang out with the crowd again. It’s hard to describe really. You cannot take the normal working guy to the stage. You have to bring out the dead.

Metal Fanatix: After all these years in the business what goals have you set for yourself these days?

Ustumallagam: All I want to do is play the music I like and then we’ll see how far we go with that. It will forever remain underground music, I guess, and that’s fine as long as we do what we really like. We’ll never sign a one-album-a-year deal ‘cause they almost always ruin a band.

Metal Fanatix: A couple of years back you guys did a killer cover of W.A.S.P.’s ‘The Hellion’ for the tribute album ‘Shock Rock Hellions’, there are so many awesome metal songs to cover! Is there one song you have always wanted to cover but just haven’t had the opportunity to do yet?

Ustumallagam: There are like 5000 songs we’d like to cover at least in the rehearsal room, but our own material is too important to do all that really. Sometimes when just jamming around we dig up classics like “Evil dead” (Death), “Black magic” (Slayer) etc. In the past we also played “Schizo” (Venom), “The freezing moon” and “Funeral fog” (Mayhem), “The third of the storms (Evoked damnation)” (Hellhammer), “Terror” (Death SS), “Parasite” (Kiss) etc. Some of them made it on to live shows, but most of them stayed in the rehearsal room.

Metal Fanatix: Ustumallagam, what would you say have been your greatest achievements to date?

Ustumallagam: Without doubt the “The Horrors of Satan” album. I am so proud of it as that really shows what we are about and it turned out like we wanted it. The response to it has been extremely good. It’s like it took all listeners by surprise. I can’t wait to do the next offering as it will be even better. And that’s a promise.

Metal Fanatix: What are the biggest differences you notice these days in the business compared to when you guys were starting out?

Ustumallagam: Back then everything was better. Nowadays the “underground” is something everyone can access and it’s not the same anymore. Everyone runs a label or a band (and mostly actually both). It has just all become too much and the good and original bands are rare. Certainly the internet is a good way of communicating, but it also did that every mallcore kid can access everything now. I often miss the days of receiving letters filled with cool flyers even if emails are way easier to reply to.

Metal Fanatix: If you could put a band together consisting of musicians passed and/or present who would they be and what would you call the band?

Ustumallagam: That question is too tough to answer. Resurrecting Dead and Euronymous and make Mayhem the real Mayhem again would probably be the ultimate thing to do. To create an all star band of my heroes would be hard, but be sure it would be interesting. Maybe Cronos (bass), Paul Baloff (vocals), Kim Ruzz (drums) and John Ricci (guitar)? That would be killer.

Metal Fanatix: Oh dude that would be an insane band to hear! What is the one band you never want to hear again and why?

Ustumallagam: Where can I start?

Metal Fanatix: [Laughs]

Ustumallagam: All Nu Metal, Emo fags and mallcore shit is a good beginning, but there are too many to mention. I am not much interested in new music really whatever you call it.

Metal Fanatix: Ustumallagam, it’s been a total pleasure to speak with you today, all the best with the Australian dates! I can’t wait to see you guys! Do you have any last words for our readers?

Ustumallagam: Thanx a lot for this great interview. You did really well with your questions. We can’t wait to come and desecrate the Australian soil. Hail Australia.

To keep up with all the latest news & much more on Denial of God check out the following websites:

http://www.denialofgod.net - Official Denial Of God Site
http://www.myspace.com/insideout666ints - Inside Out 666

© Cameron Edney May, September 2007 Not to be re-printed in any form without written permission.