Heavy Metal interview of this issue belongs to the Norwegian BLACK VIPER band around the drummer Cato Stormoen, better known from Deathhammer. Of course, there are other interesting personalities of the Norwegian extreme scene, especially from the area of Thrash / Black / Death Metal. BLACK VIPER signed to the German High Roller Records label, who release many things for worshipers of true and traditional Metal. Of course, they have released their “Hellions of Fire” ´18 debut, which has received a good response from fans and critics, and it has certainly ranked among the best debuts of this area for the year. The band plays Heavy Metal in a very aggressive way, drawing from Speed Metal of the 1980s, but their violent performance, godless speed and technical riffs make them an important idol of actual Heavy Metal. First they recorded the three-songs “Storming With Vengeance” demo from 2016 and then everything went to the mentioned debut. I myself wonder where the next steps of this commando will be heading, while everything is well on track. The answers were provided by vocalist Salvador Armijo.
Greetings to BLACK VIPER band. Could you first unveil the reason behind BLACK VIPER formation at the beginning? Do you remember a particular turning point when it all started?
Good evening! The reason for Black Viper forming, was because, Cato had some riffs that didn't fit with his other outfit "Deathhammer". They were more melodical in nature, opposed to Deathhammer more raw and aggressive style.
A pretty successful "Hellions of Fire" debut under High Roller Records is out. What are your feelings now? What expectations did you have of the material and how much they fulfilled? Would you say your full-length is successful? Is any success important to you?
Yes, Hellions was, to our surprise, really well received. We just wanted to make a killer album that we could enjoy, and if someone else also digs it, well, that's cool and all. But we mostly play music for our own fun. Success is fine, obviously who wouldn't mind some bit of success, but as individuals, success is not that important. I mean, i get really awkward when people in public recognize me.
Your songs are quite fast but also technical. Sure you must have mastered these elements in order to compose this type of music. Can you go to the limits of your possibilities, or the power of the songs and the solid composition are more important to you? Which song did you think was the biggest challenge in terms of playing?
I think that when Cato wrote the album, it was more of an epiphany. The riffs just came to him and he's damn good at just making the coolest songs possible. But, he is also his own worst critic. I know that he'd never show the world something his not 1000% happy with. When it comes to what song is the hardest to play. I know the guys tend to struggle a bit with Suspiria, just because of it's insane speed. Me personally, i think either Metal blitzkrieg or fountain of might, are the hardest ones for me to sing.
Was the "Hellions of Fire" a simple birth where everything went smoothly and spontaneously, or some songs were born in long enough and more complicated way? What did you put most emphasis on while writing it?
Cato wrote all the songs, apart from Suspiria, a few years before Black Viper was a thing. So, when the time to record came, things started off smoothly. But then, something happened. The vocal melodies where not the best they could be, some solos needed to be re-recorded, and all that jazz, right. So, what could've taken 2 months or so, turned into two years. Since the other guys all have other bands and where doing their own thing at that time, BV did get priority. When we finally did get together to finish the record, things just went great.
Do you use the altered states of consciousness while composing, or you use some smaller rituals helping you to get to comfortable state your writing process is going easier? Can alcohol help you, or rather make it more difficult?
I was not part of the writing process, so i wouldn't know if they got drunk or not. But during recordings, at least vocals, I did not drink as it dumbs down my judgement and I get less critical.
The album has seven tracks with a time of nearly 50 minutes, indicating the songs are quite rangy with a more complex structure, but not literally progressive. Could you imagine create an album from one song, as it did for example Edge of Sanity on their "Crimson"? Would be such an approach a challenge for you?
I think that would be boring, and honestly not fitting, for us to do. We play fast metal, with some slower and heavier parts sprinkled around, but the dynamic of our band is such that basing an album on just one so g would be boring. That's not to say that those who have done it before us are boring, it's just that it be boring for us to do it.
How do you get inspired? Do you only listen to bands from the 70's, 80's or 90's, or do you listen to actual bands? What about influences beyond Metal? Do you have a relationship to classical or jazz music? Could you give some examples and how much does it affect the style of BLACK VIPER?
That's a really good question! I don't know what would inspire us now, or even what inspired Cato to write Hellions. But for me, whenever I'm going to play live, I have to listen to some Latin songs, be it Rancheros, Mariachis, Cumbia, Merengue or Rumba. I just need to get that energy into my body and put myself into a mindset that only that kind of music can deliver. Other than that, I do listen to some oldschool stuff from those decades, but I find myself drawn to more modern bands, like Shakma, Sepulcher, Inculter, Obliteration and more. As for how it affects the style of the band, I wouldn't say that we take direct influence from any band, just a bunch from here and there, and just make it sound good and metal as fuck!
What about non-musical influences? Can dreaming, thinking about death, philosophy, and other similar things inspire you while composing? Could you mention a specific song that was inspired differently than other songs?
Hum, death is always a part of a creative soul, I would wager. Black viper do play songs about death and such. but, i guess, death is inevitable, and thus we tend to focus on personal glories and defeats, and the state of maximum freedom.
I know that our coming work will be more personal, more... Real in a sense. We're going to focus more on dark personal stuff and our victories(or not) against our personal demons. In hellions, I'd say Suspiria is the oddball, as its just a retelling of the movie Suspiria, and nothing personal about it.
Have you ever experienced any interesting conditions within the band, something that goes beyond the ordinary understanding? I mean, for example, something paranormal, could it be a little thing that could have seem as a coincidence first, but over time you realized it was strange? I would also ask the same about personal life. Have you ever experienced a similar condition type in life?
Something paranormal in the band... No. But, personally i have seen some shit i can't explain. My day job, or rather night job, is being an auxiliary nurse in a retirement home. I've seen shadows in the hallways at night, forks moving, glass exploding right in my hand and stuff like that. Paradoxically, I do not believe in ghosts, nor spirits. I've also had some sleep paralysis where I've seen the "shadow man" a couple of times.
Could you mention whose book author you like most and what kind of literature attracts you? What book are you currently reading? I would also ask the same about cinema. Do you prefer old movies with a specific atmosphere, or you prefer new films with digital effects? What kind of art are you still interested in?
I'm not much of a book man, but i do like HP Lovecraft. His shadow over insmouth is crazy good. As is all of that cthulhu mythos stuff. When it comes to cinema y tend to like older stuff, but I'm not above enjoying a newer flick. Just as long as its well made and doesn't bore me, its all good in my book. Art is such a subjective thing. for me it really comes down to my feelings day by day. One day I could just sit and watch some dumb shit like grown ups with my hand down my pants, then another day i could be watching some Jodorowsky stuff while reading some psychiatry books.
Do you remember the moment when mystery, darkness, mysticism began to fascinate you? Could be any movie be a trigger, or it was always spontaneous and hidden in you? Do you search for this type of experiences, or you need only a look at the night sky, sunset, absolute darkness and the like?
I think that, every human is, at least a little, born with a sense of wonder over the supernatural. An illogical curiosity over the darker parts of our world, and consciousness. Therefore, it just comes down to what you are taught and the way your near and dear say about that sort of stuff. It's in us from the time before fire was discovered " you have to fear the dark. Darkness is where predators lay in wait". If your loved ones, when you're trying to discover the world, tell you that darkness is bad. You'll either rebel against that logical thought or you embrace it and shy away from it. For me it was rebellion, I discovered I had an interest in the macabre and the darker stuff at a fairly young age. What was the trigger I couldn't say, as I have long forgotten it, but could be that i was raised Catholic and that just didn't cut it for me.
Do you still carry an amulet with you? Are you a superstitious man? Do you believe in the power of magic, parapsychology, the strange abilities of man, or other worlds elsewhere in the universe where other foreign life forms can exist?
As I've said, I do not believe in ghosts, nor spirits. Any interest I had in the supernatural and the weird, was always through a skeptical lens. I believe in what I see, smell, hear and feel. As to strange abilities of man. Yes, I do believe that some of us have some latent "powers". I myself have had episodes where I've focused my strength, in a fit of rage, and lifted something that I'd never could have otherwise. So, yes, latent abilities of man is a check. Other worlds in our universe... I mean you'd have to be a bit selfish to not believe in other life forms in our vast universe. I do not, however, believe that there have been sentient lifeforms from another planet on our planet.
Salvador Armijo 10.7.2019 Mortuary