Pictured: Gelal
Controversy has always surrounded the American black metallers Grand Belial's Key. The band has often been accused of being connected with rightwing extremists thus resulting in cancellations of shows among other things. I could of course not pass on asking guitarist Gelal about this. But my priority was naturally Kosherat, the latest album from the band. Kosherat is in many ways different from the standardized and half-hearted black metal that we get flooded with nowadays. Gelal enthusiastically explained why that is and his views on black metal today.

You're not the easiest band to find information on. Do you deliberately keep a low profile or is it just coincidence?
Both. The thing is that we don't run in metal circles all that much, and haven't played in our own turf for years, so not many people really know us personally. Besides, we all have jobs we must keep to survive, so it is not a good idea to advertise ourselves foolishly.

If you should mention three things that set Kosherat apart from Judeobeast Assassination what would these then be?
The production, the line-up, and the conceptual focus on early Judaism. It is the culmination of a decade-long attack on the root of the enfeeblement of man.

Nearly three years have passed since Judeobeast Assassination. How come it's taken this long to get Kosherat done?
We are bit of perfectionists when it comes to releases. We find it beneficial to release quality over quantity. It would be too easy to release music that sounds like Krieg or Darkthrone every year. Our music is memorable and release when the time is right. Much detail is given to composition, and lyrics. We had the same idea back in the day. It was better to distribute Goat of a Thousand Young for a years rather than signing the contract with Cacophonous Records before we even had enough music for an album.

Have The Gulag and Grimnir Heretik contributed actively to the song-writing?
The song writing process was entirely handled by Demonic and I. Grimnir took part in lyrical placement, and the Gulag's input was entirely drums related. What set this album apart from others are the obvious musical contributions by Demonic. On Judeobeast Assassination I was the only person writing music. The lyrics are still something I contribute with in its entirety.

Production-wise you don't have that typical thin and distorted black metal production that many bands aim for. I was surprised that it's so thick and clear. Is there a particular reason why it turned out as it did?
Our band doesn't have a bassist just for stage appearance. Most black metal bands have no talent, no lower end, and no idea how essential a bass guitar is in a band. A totally distorted recording or one with no definition would make our music suffer. It is important to hear everything that is going on, the notes and melodies, the octaves, the picking, and even the thickness of the strings. The recording and mastering of this latest album proves that black metal can be heavy as fuck. According to Demonic it sounds like a 10,000 lbs. pound mosquito! It is thick, very varied and with loud guitars and bass. The recording process was much more extensive than in the past. More attention was put into detail and timing, and the result is the most powerful record we've done so far. Even though most bands say the exact same shit, I really mean it especially when you play them back to back with our older albums.

The intro sample on "Vultures of Misfortune" is this something you made up or is it from an actual song? I ask because it sounds kind of odd!
This is very real although I don't know where it came from. It is more disgusting than odd.

Lyrically you deal with anti-religion and anti-Judeo-Christian topics. Any idea why people keep putting more into this than if it just were the usual Satanic thing?
The lyrics deal with religious topics that go beeper than the early days of Christianity. The true roots of this pestilence are explored, exploring pre-Christian Judaism and its abominable origins.

"The Tricifixion of Swine" was on a 7' EP back in 1999. What made you include that song on Kosherat and did you rearrange it or anything?
Nothing has been rearranged on any of the 7"ep songs on the new album. There are a total of 3 songs, "The Tricifixion.", "Hobo of Aramaic Tongues", and "Son of the Black Ram". The original vinyl versions were recorded on crappy 4-tracks and they deserved proper production.

You've released quite a few 7' EP's during the years. Are you fans of vinyl or was these just a way to get the name out?
I think early on vinyl was definitely what we wanted released. In today's scene, where even rehearsals are put on vinyl, they have sort of lost their appeal. In any case, I think it's proper to release 7"eps between CD releases, especially if they come every four years or so.

You were among the founding bands of the American black metal scene, but unlike so many other bands you haven't jumped the commercial train. Is it important for you to remain underground?
Even if we had wanted to jump on the commercial train, I think we would be denied a ticket. We owe it to ourselves and to the original underground to remain this way. There is no marketing that could make us out to be anything other than what we are. The scene is gullible, but not blind. The cowards in the scene who try to silence us have been very quiet recently; I'm starting to think they're enjoying our music. You know the type; they go to the gigs and don't say a thing or confront any of us but 10 minutes later they're talking trash on the computer.

Do you see a major difference between the American and European scene?
Well, yes. They had one and we don't yet. There still isn't much of a scene. Scattered bands here and there ripping off Burzum, Darkthrone and Immortal in a country of 300 million inhabitants hardly constitutes a scene.

To me it sounds like you're quite fond of Bathory, Possessed, Nunslaughter, Venom, Darkthrone and similar. Have any particular band had a major impact on your music?
It was my intent from the beginning to create something original and unique. At that time there were too many clown bands around, all sounding identical to each other, and looking like each other as well. My goal was to have anyone identify the band as Grand Belial's Key from the moment the first note was heard. Certain moods from different sources inspired my creativity, such as the Master's Hammer compositions, early Rotting Christ songs, Possessed, Bathory, early Samael, Necromantia, and Sarcofago. Other inspiration came directly from great death metal bands such as Autopsy, Nuclear Death, and killer thrash like Vio-lence, Razor, Slayer, Fates Warning etc. We're going to skip our early days of heavy metal like Ozzy Osbourne, Kreator, Iron Maiden, Van Halen, Armored Saint etc. Ultimately, however, Mercyful Fate inspired me the most as a musician. Oddly enough, I was never a fan of Celtic Frost/Hellhammer or Sodom, as some prefer to think. Hardcore/punk music, regardless of its political inclination, has always been a part of our musical upbringing. Any hardcore fan would recognize traces of it in our music. Old shit like Negative Approach, Reagan Youth, No Remorse, Fang, Void, Jerry's Kids, Dwarves, Aggravated Assault, Artificial Peace, Nordic Thunder, Minor Threat, Gorilla Biscuits, Brutal Attack, RKL, The Exploited, Raw Power, GG Allin, Chaos 88, Siege, Crumbsuckers, The Adolescents, Black Flag and so on.

You don't wear corpsepaint so I was wondering what you think of that gimmick?
The thing is that we're musicians not models, so to all those homosexuals that pose for photographs may they be aware that you are nothing but laughing stock for us. Our photos appear as a courtesy to all the fucks who may think we hide behind a name or a mask. When will all the so-called "evil warriors" in the scene appear without their KISS and Alice Cooper gear? Apart from our very first show, there was never any interest in my behalf with regards to corpse-paint. Back in 1992, it was already trendy for bands to look like KISS and pose in the woods, etc. The trend apparently never died making it a normal thing. It's been 14 years since then and people fail to accept our imageless image.

Pictured: Grimnir Heretik
There's been a lot of controversy about the band due to alleged affiliations with rightwing extremists. Do you see yourself as another victim of the so-called political correctness?
Although our band has never addressed political or racial issues we have links to certain extremist beliefs and ideas. Grand Belial's Key is black metal since day one and although some consider our lyrics quite offensive and provocative, they cannot be considered political in any sense as they deal exclusively with anti-Juden/anti-Christian themes. Sure, our enmity for Christianity can be separated from Christians, whereas our attack against Judaism cannot be separated from Jews, for their religion is their ethnicity. If you are asking what I think about racism and nationalism in black metal, then I must say that I have no problem with it. What I do have a problem with is people regarding National Socialism as a mere political preference when in fact it is much more than that. National Socialism is a way of life, a particular view of society, of culture, of mythology, of pride and ethnicity. There has been an increase in national socialistic bands attempting to connect them with black metal. Some have been successful whereas some have not. National socialistic black metal bands that attempt to be positive while using a negative form of music are not very convincing. Bands such as Spear of Longinus, Thor's Hammer, Dub Buk, Geihmre, Wolf's Moon, Wotanorden etc. have successfully tied their beliefs to the art of black metal. If black metal is used as tool for channelling hatred then it can certainly work. The militant, pagan, and nationalist aspect of rightwing beliefs are also proper for such music. What cannot be accepted in the scene are bands that use black metal to fight for righteousness and anti-hate agendas. If in the underground, how could someone be too offensive? It doesn't make sense. I've found it ridiculous for many years now the "underground" will turn a blind eye or tolerate bands who openly express Satanic, nihilistic and perverted views, sing about bestiality, drug abuse and the murder of Christians, and follow like sheep without question, yet will go out of the way to try and clean their guilt by acting offended anything remotely fascist, anti-Juden or national socialist. Where do you draw the line and what makes one better than the other? It's acceptable to burn a church and kill a priest, but we must leave the synagogues and rabbis in peace?? I don't accept this. And this is what black metal has become today.

I understand you occasionally have trouble with getting cancelled. I remember you were supposed to have played in Svendborg, Denmark on the 25th of February this year. Isn't this frustrating not being able to play?
It's true that the show was officially cancelled; however, Grand Belial's Key flew out to Denmark anyhow and played a successful secret gig in a church with Victimizer in another town. Comrades from Germany, Sweden, and Finland made it out to that one. Apparently it was a big deal for us to play in Denmark. There were even t-shirts made with the gig flyer on the front for this show. The night we arrived our gig cancellation was a news item on the 8pm news broadcast on TV. There were also some articles in the newspaper regarding our show. It is evident that not much goes on in Denmark if Grand Belial's Key makes it to prime time news, don't you think? It was during the same time the Muslims got offended by the cartoons that appeared in Danish newspapers.

What are the plans for the remainder of the year for the band?
I think we may have already concluded the year by playing a successful gig in Virginia with Kult Of Azazel and Demoncy in June, and a private gig with Absurd from Germany and special appearance by Blue Eyed Devils in New York City in July.

Anything you wish to add to conclude this interview?
The Star of David and the Pentagram go hand in hand like black metal posers and a camera.

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