Gurthang also inspired by Tolkien

interview with Gurthang

Gurthang is a Belgian (Antwerp) technical yet melodic black death metal-band, formerly known as 'Ecliptica'. Due to numerous reasons we decided to change our bandname into Gurthang on the vernal equinox (March 21st) of the unholy year 2001. Most bandmembers played in Ecliptica for at least two years and recorded the cdemo 'Eclectica' back in 1999.
At this very moment the band is preparing its first release. Gurthang's debut will be a full-cd entitled 'The Irony of Death (Chronicles of a Magical Vengeance and an Inevitable Death)', a real fantasy concept-story. The name 'Gurthang' comes from JRR Tolkien's fantasy-world. It is a black sword, exactly meaning 'Iron of Death'.

interview with the Arne on 25-9-2001

Please give us a short introduction of yourself?
Well, I am Arne, aka Arneriach, leadsinger of the Belgian black death metal-band Gurthang. I’m 24 years young/old and in my last year of studying History at university. I listen to black metal since 1995. What more do you want to know?

How does it feel to be part of Gurthang?
Very nice, thank you, hehe. I have quite some influence on the writing process of our songs and I am totally responsible for the lyrical aspect of the band, so that gives me both satisfaction enough to continue. Playing live is another pleasant aspect of being a member of a band. (Not to mention the numerous rock star advantages, hehe)

The debut is a concept story. Lyrically inspired by Tolkien?
Our debut will indeed be a concept story, entitled ‘The Irony of Death. Chronicles of a Magical Vengeance and an Inevitable Death.’ It is not inspired by Tolkien, or by any other novelist. However the fantasy genre as itself is almost invented by the man, so in that way I am inspired of course.

Why is Tolkien an inspiration for so many bands?
JRR Tolkien offered us a complete new world, Middle Earth, where we are able to roam freely. No borders or limits, except those of our imagination. So I think lots of his influence is due to ‘escapism’. However in our case it is not. We simply needed a proper new name for the band (Gurthang was called Ecliptica until the beginning of 2001), and I came up with it, by accident so to say. Maybe his enormous linguistic approach has also something to do with it: his Elven-languages are so metal-like, not? (Gorgoroth, Isengard, Shagrath to name but a few sound very metalish to me...)

Did you read his books? Your opinion on them?
I read all his books, some however not completely (The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales). Like most of his admirers, I simply like his way of describing the unknown places, cultures and actors he invented, created. It is all so convincingly written, almost perfect. Also his story-lines are well composed, with almost all necessary ingredients available, or something like that, eh.

At what age did you learn to read?
The same age I learned to calculate: the number of the beast divided by 111.

Why and when did you decide to use the mic?
At the beginning of the year 1998, Ecliptica needed a new vocalist and I wanted to try something new so... you see what happened. I still use the same microphone, hehe.

Can you play with other instruments/body parts?
Headbanging is almost all I can beside screaming the lungs out of my body; luckily I am good at it

Where do you get musical inspiration?
Like anyone else: by listening to good - and even bad (to know what to avoid)- music.

To what bands do you listen to yourself?
99% of the time I listen to metal: mostly (Norwegian) black, but also a lot Gothenburg-styled bands. When I am in the mood for it, some doom/gothic metal can tease my ears as well. Heavy or thrash or the modern metal-styles can’t interest me much (exceptions exist of course).
Besides metal, well, anything with a dark or aggressive or melancholic mood maybe can be nice...

Your top 5 bands/albums?
Always a though question... so I give albums of bands I like all times:
•Dissection ‘Storm of the Light’s Bane’
•Old Man’s Child ‘Ill-Natured Spiritual Invasion’
•Dimmu Borgir ‘Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia’
•Dark Tranquillity ‘The Gallery’
•In The Woods... ‘Heart of the Ages’
This list could be twice as long without any problem, but... what the Hell!

Your favourite number to play air guitar?
I’ d say ‘Soulreaper’ by Dissection. Metallica and Sepultura are also great to play air guitar.

Why is Heineken better than Stella Artois?
It isn’t. Besides, I exclusively drink Palm, hehe. Remember: ‘Van Palm word je kalm.’

Had some gigs with famous bands? Experience with them?
One time we played with Ancient. Our keyboard-player at that time was a woman, and she got a lot attention of their bass-player...
Anyway, most musicians of the so-called ‘famous’ bands are also just metalfreaks playing for fun and booze, so normally they act like anyone else you know.

How do you arrange gigs? Yourself? Agency? Easy or not?
I have arranged quite some gigs, however most of the time we were asked. Sometimes by a complete stranger, sometimes by someone we know or met in the scene. So we don’t use an agency (maybe an idea for the future). I find it not so easy to arrange a gig, especially the promotional aspect is hard.

How do you want the crowd to react on your music? And what is your reaction then?
It’s always a pleasure when the crowd reacts. Even when they only clap their hands, but headbanging, moshing and singing-along are appreciated more of course. When the public shows its appreciation, I usually give myself even more.

Do you believe in human sacrifice of some culture/religion?
I believe some humans are crazy enough for that, yes. It’s without doubt an interesting way to die, but personally, well, it’s not my style.

Your opinion on religion in common? Follow one yourself?
Religion (any kind) is for the weak, for those who need some kind of ‘higher’ spiritual guidance. As long as they don’t trouble anyone, I have no problems with them. The problem arises when people aren’t given another choice, and so are manipulated or even worse... I find that disgusting. So to answer your second question: I don’t belief, I am strictly atheist!

What kind of people do you respect? Which ones not?
Those with an own opinion, which they also can defend in a discussion. So people with a well-reasoned opinion I respect, even if my opinion is opposite. I am very tolerant, if the others are that too of course, hehe.
People who lack all kind of own exclusive personality I disrespect: the sheep so to say. Let the sheep-slaughter begin!! Aaarrgghhh!!!

What is the biggest lack of mankind?
In general? The inability (of the decision-makers) to have a long-term perspective and not to learn from the Past is definitely the most important lack of mankind. Not that I want to promote History, hehe. Also the growing intolerance for ‘the other’ is something that annoys me.

Are you trying to make your environment better? In what way?
First of all, I try not to make it worse! I try to be even with myself, so to say. Sometimes it happens that – on the practical level – an idea of mine can help someone, in that case I’ll give my advice. But I really try always to see the consequences of my acts, and that helps.

The nicest tourist spots in Antwerp?
The rehearsal-room of Gurthang; and besides that the ancient centre of the city is very much worth visiting. Like any Antwerpian I am also proud of our gothic cathedral: a real masterpiece of our so-called ‘dark Middle Ages’. Also the Central Rail station is a lust for the eye, really impressing...

Do you like to visit other cities/countries for culture?
Why not, but mostly I prefer to visit the beautiful nature of other countries, possibly combined with a cultural trip to some city. Those interested in beautiful nature, I can recommend ‘Norge’: impressing, awesome, ...

How do you spend your holidays?
Going to some quiet place somewhere in Europe with the tent where I (and preferably my girlfriend and maybe some friends) can spend some time in the green, reading a nice fantasy-novel, eating some delicious food, etc. So really peacefully, with of course (from time to time) a real injection of metal.

How many condoms do you use on those holiday's?
None, my girlfriend takes birth-control-pills, lucky me, hehe.

Do you want to say something important?
GURTHANG plays Eclectic Barbaric Metal exclusively!!

Last rites?
(I survived this crazy amount of questions, cool!) Anyone interested in Gurthang (gig, interview, ...) just contact me at Hopefully my answers where interesting enough for thee, otherwise you’re quite stupid to have read this far
Maniacal Hailzz, Arneriach on behalf of Gurthang.
Interviewer: twansibon
Sep 25, 2001

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