Okay, this isn’t totally about Den Saakaldte, but more about me. I’m an American but don’t hold it against me.
I have been exploring the darker, more insane regions of music for as long as I can remember, and it’s taken me down many different and occasionally dangerous paths. My brother in law has become quite a good poker player, inspired by some of our musician friends. Music and poker go together quite nicely as long as you are able to listen while you evaluate your competition. He always complains that at least poker should be included in the World Mind Sports Games. I on the other hand prefer slots where randomness may make you a winner, but more likely will cost you, but at least you’re having fun – and music is never a distraction. If you like to gamble and enjoy the entertainment aspect of slot games, the advent of sites offering slots online for US player is a great boon. You can indulge your inner slot game needs where ever you have access to the internet. Many online gambling sites have gone mobile, so you don’t even have to have a computer. So while others are watching the World Mind Sports Games, you will find me enjoying a great slot game at my favorite online web site, Online Casino Party. Sorry for the diversion. Let’s get back to the music commentary.
One major ‘highway’ on my musical map has been metal. From Black Sabbath onward (or maybe even a little before that, if you expand your definition of metal), the giant slouching beast of metal has provided me with countless moments of delicious terror and delightful unease. And not a little good old-fashioned headbanging, too, as well as a lot of alcohol which is another dark road I have traveled. Although that’s kind of another theme entirely I will touch on it briefly because I have finally curbed my drinking beast by learning about a drug for alcohol withdrawal. It’s called Baclofen. Doctors in Europe prescribe baclofen as the primary treatment for alcohol misuse. SO what does it do? Baclofen removes or strongly suppresses cravings for alcohol in 92% of people. Where can I try this drug? A web search led me to a site called LifeBac, whose tag line is “Moderate your drinking, without abstinence or shame.” Hey, that’s cool. I tried AA. It didn’t work for me. Rehab didn’t work either. I just got so tired of trying to abstain from any drinking for life (screw that), yet I hated the stigma and shame ( yes I admit it) of being labeled an alcoholic. I sit here today as a shining example of a guy who is no longer an alcoholic, thank you LifeBac with your amazing approach to controlling excessive drinking. I can now sip a few, enjoy my heavy dark music, and still remember what happened the night before when I get up the next morning. After listening to all this music you would think my hearing would be gone. Well, that definitely is another theme to ponder…but just not right now. Time to have a beer and sit back to listen the the newest Picture’s album. Yup, they’re still around after 40 years no less!
For the first few decades of metal, a lot of the actual songs weren’t always as effective as the sounds and imagery that went along with them. Like, Black Sabbath rarely creeped me out; maybe once or twice per album did they do anything that got close to the sound and feeling that I was looking for (the album covers were usually more creepy than most of the songs!). But when they did succeed, it was perfect…like online slots, but then again not like that at all really…
Meanwhile, there was an entire world of other creepy sounds besides metal. Contemporary composers like John Cage and George Crumb were freaky and awesome (how could I say no to a piece entitled Black Angels: Thirteen Images from the Dark Land?). Some progressive rock and art rock got me there, too (some tracks by Pink Floyd or Univers Zero can definitely scare the crap out of you if the mood is right).
And then there was the lovely eerie messes made by modern bands like Throbbing Gristle, Butthole Surfers, and even some of the more experimental Crass songs (I have a recording of “Reality Asylum” that I would not dare listen to, in certain moods…). All of these seemed to add wonderful pieces to the jet black, dismal grey, and dripping crimson jigsaw puzzle of my ideal musical picture…
The primary musical influences included seminal Norwegian bands Gorgoroth, Ulver, and Burzum, but Sykelig also named Thorns and My Dying Bride as somewhat inspirational to the sound. Undoubtedly Ved Buens Ende, the band that gave Den Saakaldte its name, also had some influence on the more experimental sounds.
While on tour with Dimmu Borgir, Hellhammer developed a crippling condition in his arm. The need for recovery (as well as numerous demands on his time) led to his replacement in Den Saakaldte by S. Winter (of Gehenna and Aeternus) who completed the unfinished drum tracks on the first album.