Trespasser: "Black metal is mainly a little circus for the already initiated"

The Swedish anarchist black metal group introduces itself in a torrential interview about the genre, tradition, politics and of course the Apocalypse

Από τον Αποστόλη Ζαμπάρα, 11/02/2023 @ 19:21

You can find the greek version of the interview here.

In black metal, being inspired by religious texts is pretty common. John’s Apocalypse though, is surely a book that has influenced in various ways extreme music in general. So, after a point, it is natural for this phenomenon to be saturated. Here come Trespasser with their second album, "ΑΠΟΚΑΛΥΨΙΣ".

The new album by the anarchist black metallers treats the book as a fountain of inspiration in order to communicate their hopeful, revolutionary message. So, reaching the mainman of the band, XVI, for an interview, was a one-way street, since our reflections and curiosity to enter the world of the band, were huge. From the use of the greek alphabet, to the analysis of the way the band processed John’s Apocalypse, by drawing parallels with concepts like struggle and utopia and the in-depth analysis of the dipole between politics and black metal, Trespasser reveal themselves. The torrential interview below, showcases the charisma of not only giving answers, but also raising questions with its humble honesty, contributing in a conversation and a dialogue that maybe should be more generalized. And that’s why because the reflections and the viewpoint of the band are not just addressed towards a small close scene, even though that may be the impression after one reading.


Greetings, I am Apostolis and I proudly welcome you to!

Hello and thank you Apostolis! Also thank you for very initiated and fun questions, I'll try to answer them the best I can!

You’re about to release your superb second album, named "ΑΠΟΚΑΛΥΨΙΣ", but first of all, would you like to introduce yourselves?

Means a lot that you like it!

Trespasser is a two piece band, formed in Stockholm around 2017, when me and the singer laid our former band to rest. I wanted to do something bigger and better than just another d-beat band and ever since I was a teenager I’ve always wanted to play in a blast-beat based band. But I never had any luck to find members, since I rarely ventured outside the punk scene. So I learned the instruments myself and recorded the first album with the help of my friend Happy on vocals.

I am a bit tired of the left always being negatively reactive to any societal problem

From what I understand, the political message is in the core of Trespasser’s existence. What role did the situation with the far-right aesthetics and sympathies within the tradition of the black metal play, in your shaping as listeners and artists?

I never ventured right of Marduk when it comes to black metal. So I can't say my political interest or musical driving force comes from anything like this. There are so much bigger problems in the world. Trespasser is not primarily about fighting NSBM or being against fascism. It's about fighting the capitalist, neo-liberal, colonial world order by being pro anarchism, pro-democratic confederalism, pro-ecology and so on. I am a bit tired of the left always being negatively reactive to any societal problem and I think the way forward is creating your own positive vision and work towards it.

About right wing black metal though. The aesthetics is one thing, and the sympathies are another, and the actual right wing political work is a third. Many bands, not just BM-bands, borrow nazi-shit for their image, that is totally fine with me. It's all within the boundaries of provocative art.

Just remember a martyr can often be more powerful than a living prophet

Sympathies are another thing, they are hard to outlaw or forbid as well, but all I can say is I don't want to hang out with people like this. Depending on what views they hold, we can debate or we can kill. Just remember a martyr can often be more powerful than a living prophet. Right-wing sympathies come from material conditions, let's fight these and not the ideas, first hand.

Thirdly, right-wing political work (as in propaganda for right-wing causes, or collecting money for right wing organisations or platforms) must be fought - hard and every day. This includes neo-liberal propaganda.

I couldn't quite figure out records like "Panzer Division Marduk", are these guys nazis or what?

I always thought extreme metal was pretty sketchy, coming from a punk point of view. I always listened to metal, from early Nile to Immortal to Exhumed. But my heart has always been in the punk scene, which is why I never started a metal band or hung out much with metal heads, which of course goes hand in hand. Black Metal was a guilty pleasure as a punk, I couldn't quite figure out records like "Panzer Division Marduk", are these guys nazis or what? Then you see interviews and read lyrics and are like: what the fuck, these different bands are just wannabe evil clowns or jock party people or music school graduates or whatever. I felt I had nothing in common with the extreme metal scene, more than that I liked the music. And this is still the case.

But also - then what? What the fuck do you want with all this energy and power?

One thing I do respect is the dedication in the black metal sphere, not only musician-wise, but the full embrace of a whole life style, the epicness of the music, scene shows; a tight package of thought-through aesthetics and fucking raging spirit. But also - then what? What the fuck do you want with all this energy and power? Nobody burns churches anymore... To me it seems like black metal had such good momentum, but kind of lost it along the way. And now it’s just magic and meditation and "rituals" that means fuck all. It's mainly a little circus for the already initiated.

To perform in any space but a safe space is considered treason. Which to me is strange


In your bio, you also claim that you "went out to create the record that you wanted to hear but have given up hope to find in record stores". How important is for you the correlation between the message and the quality of the art form? In other words, does a revolutionary message need to be accompanied by radical art in order to succeed its goal?

Interesting question. Does music have the power to change the world? And in that case: which music?

One goal with Trespasser was to spread anarchist ideas into the metal community. By the first record I was quickly drawn in by the RABM-crowd, and they didn't seem to share this ambition at all. To perform in any space but a safe space is considered treason. Which to me is strange.

Aren't we in this to try to permeate the metal scene with our beliefs and ideals? How can we do that if we, just like the punk scene, isolate ourselves and just keep on performing for the already initiated? That, to me, seems like you don't have any trust in the power of radical art.

You don't find new souls among the already saved

Because then it all comes down to you, as a concert goer, already have been infiltrated by some other left-wing medium to be able to attend a left wing concert. And also that you, beforehand, decide that if an anarchist band shares a stage with a right wing band, the right wing band will come out on top from that situation. All I wanted to say is: you don't find new souls among the already saved.

So, pretend Trespasser plays a show with sketchy or right wing bands. I see it as this: even if I dont convert a single person in the audience to anarchism by my lyrics and art, I still take their ticket and merch money and give to Rojava, instead of giving up my slot to another right wing band who just invest their money in Mikko Aspa or some shit.

I have had such conflicting thoughts since I started Trespasser, because like you said - politics is a main pillar of the band. Which logically means I want to reach as many people with this art as possible, which also means black metal is kinda a stupid scene to adhere to. I guess I should have been doing drill, or even just some good old well produced chewing gum pop. Or not even music, just tik toks, because that's how you get into the heads of the youth. Ok boomer..


Your debut back in 2019, "Чому не вийшло?" showcased a great intensity, making waves in the underground community, and lyrically, it focused greatly on the Makhnovist Movement. How did you come up with the idea and the concept?

I just started reading books again after a long period of working, smoking weed, working out, smoking, working… you know, the cosy but no brain activity stuff. I got bored with that and I started to study history of ideas at the university and just started reading a lot again. I came over this book about the Makhnovist revolution, and was sincerely blown away that I hadn't heard more about this in all my years as a self described anarchist. This coincided with the disbandment of my current punk band and the new venture of starting a metal project. It was not much work translating the Makhnovist struggle to metal lyrics. The stars aligned, so to say.

I started to think about the future, and about peace. That's where John’s Apocalypse came in

Did your compositional approach change, during the creation of "ΑΠΟΚΑΛΥΨΙΣ"? This time, the title, along with many of your public posts and messages, contain greek letters and words! Does it have to do with the concept of the record, or are there any other reasons behind this, let’s say uncommon, choice?

This record was much harder. I struggled a lot with a lyrical theme. The riffs kept on squirting out of me, but I was kinda numb when it came to writing yet another set of songs on the theme of armed revolution. So I didn’t.

I came to the conclusion that I already made a record about historical armed struggle, so I went the other way. I started to think about the future, and about peace. That's where John’s Apocalypse came in. I had just moved to a house in the woods to focus more on the music and to get away from the temptations of the city and started decorating it with icons and other religious art. Don't really know why. At the same time I started reading David Graeber and the Bible simultaneously and was just hit by this revelation (ha!) that what we need to focus on in today's socialist struggle, and get rid of, is debt. Debt is the big fateful question of our time.

Debt as a concept is ever present in the Bible and is often a justification of oppression

The cornerstone of contemporary oppression and maybe the stepping stone of a social revolution. John’s Apocalypse (JA) may not address material debt in this sense, but debt as a concept is ever present in the Bible and is often a justification of oppression (original sin, and so on). So I figured that the language of the Bible, juxtaposed against modern themes of liberation tactics would be fruitful to work with. A lot of other themes, and not so biblical language, has of course made its way on to the album as well.

Also, the poetry of JA is a fucking trip! It might be one of the most often quoted works in metal, but that's just because it is an unfailing source of inspiration. Read it! There's this push, power and stamina to it. It has unlimited conviction and trust in a new and better world to come. And that is very uplifting. I'm no nihilist, nor misanthrope, so I want my music to mirror my own hope and faith in humanity's potential. And from what I understand JA was originally written in mostly Greek, so that's why I've gone from Ukrainian Cyrillics to Greek. Plus Greek letters are very beautiful.

I wanna think early christian cults were quite radical and even anarchist leaning at times


Speaking of concept, you mention that the album is influenced by John’s Apocalypse. How did you connect this book’s perspective with your ideology?

Oh. Well, aside from the above mentioned, I wanna think early christian cults were quite radical and even anarchist leaning at times. At first I wanted to do an "anarchist reading" of JA, but turns out it is very antiquated and obsolete, who would've guessed? But JA also handles themes of apocalypse, in the modern sense as in the end of the world, which can be interpreted as our own end times in the anthropocene. There’s of course a lot of submissive, superstitious, patriarchal, chauvinistic bullshit in the chapter as well, so I don't want to think that I was inspired by its ideology as much as by its poetry and prose.

In the album’s final track, "The Great Debt-Strike II", you end with the expression «αφέσεως σημασία». Would you like to explain its importance in the concept, and what would you wish for the listeners to have as a final feeling while listening to the record?

As far as I have learned it means something similar to the sound of "liberty trumpets" or a trumpet that is the harbinger of a debt-less time. It is from the Jewish/old testament concept of "yovel" or simply "jubilee", when all debts were scratched and the debt-serfs were let go. A trumpet sounded and that was the sound of freedom. This happened like every 70th year, but then serfdom and debt-society started again. So it was like a temporary debt-amnesty.

Exchange the shofar for an air raid siren and the 70 years for "eternity" and you have the gist of what I was aiming for. The last jubilee.

It would be social suicide to make a too big of a deal about which genre or not we belong to

In the later years, more and more black metal bands come forward making public their left wing political beliefs. Do you accept the tag "red anarchist black metal" as a way to label your music? Do you think that it can accurately describe the current wave of this kind of bands?

Yes and no. Trespasser is neither red in ideology nor black in metal. Black Metal is metal about Satan and satanism. But I don't do that, so Trespasser is not black metal.

I could argue that my ideology is both black and red, but lots of the red bands under RABM are more maoist, stalinist, state-communism-leaning, and I just don't believe in that shit. Maybe as theories that we can lift profound thoughts from, but as a positive vision I think state-less societies with workers councils, or something similar, is the way to go.

Doesn’t matter how many songs you write about Kronstadt if you just keep the attention and money for yourself

But I also understand that RABM is where we best fit in today, so I go along with it because it would be social suicide to make a too big of a deal about which genre or not we belong to.

In the end it doesn't matter which label gets slapped on there. If you do anarchist shit with the attention and money you earn from your music, you are anarchist. That's it.

Doesn’t matter how many songs you write about Kronstadt if you just keep the attention and money for yourself.

I identify more with dorky ass vegans than the wannabe evil douchebags

In your bandcamp page, you have the tag "life metal". Furthermore, your first single from the album, is named "Forward Into The Light!". How do you think concepts like hope and faith to the cause, fit into such an aggressive music scenery?

Haha! I fucking love the life metal tag. It was such a big thing in the 90s. Like the true black metallers Marduk calling the vegan shorts wearers in Carcass life metal. I guess you all know this already. But yeah, I identify more with dorky ass vegans than the wannabe evil douchebags.

I don't really see a conflict between hope and aggressive music. For me armed struggle can be positive, hopeful, and faith-inspiring. And aggressive music can inspire big positive feelings of trust, conviction and love. And also, is it really aggressive? I see it as energy-filled.


"Hand In Hand Towards Har-Megiddo" is the lengthiest track on the album, showcasing a more epic and melodic side of your sound. Would you like to guide us behind the creation of the song?

I just needed to expand from the already trodden paths. There’s not much to say really. Started with a drum beat that I had currently not explored, mid tempo 4/4. It's basically a conventional pop structure, but with an additional appendix-outro. The riffing is so basic, it is a wonder that the song isn't more boring.

I think it is the lyric least inspired by JA, but also the lyric I am the most pleased with on the record, even though I didn't steal anything from anyone on it. I mean the apocalyptical theme I definitely lifted from JA, but the poetry is almost free from biblical cliches. It's about our collective and complacent participation in the ongoing extinction event.

I know it sounds a bit weird talking about hope and faith in times like these, when climate catastrophe is knocking on the door, but I also think that we, as anarchists and progressive socialists, sit on the most hopeful vision when it comes to saving this iteration of humanity.

You hail from Sweden, a country with a historical, and at a lesser extent, notorious black metal scene. Did it influence you in your sound, and how do you perceive its legacy in today’s black Metal?

Sweden definitely soiled extreme metal with excessive melody. For good or for bad. But Trespasser clearly works in that tradition.

I don't think they would’ve minded if we were out burning churches, which I think is as political as any Rojava benefit fundraiser

Have you ever have faced troubles with labels, concerts, or anything else, due to your political Beliefs?

The black metal scene is silent every time I post anything with Trespasser in any of the online groups I'm a member of. I think the Swedish black metal scene is very elitist and narrow minded, but I don’t put any value in that, it is what it is.

BMP, Black Metal Promotion, which is a big YT-channel and FB-page recently declined our new album, and even deleted the old one, because I mentioned that we donate funds to Rojava. They don't work with political bands, they said. I don't think they would’ve minded if we were out burning churches, which I think is as political as any Rojava benefit fundraiser. So, they are against contemporary left wing politics to be more correct.

Other than that, I think overtly anarchist themes serve as a rallying point more often than not.

But what should be our burning churches and sketchy murders?

Black metal, has always had a tendency towards a more extreme aesthetic. Still, in the recent years it’s been the metal genre with the most variety and experimentation, not only musically but lyrically too. Why do you think that this is happening? What does a band see in this dark feeling that makes her want to explore it as a music language?

I don't think I am the right person to answer this. I don't see myself as a part of the black metal scene in that sense, that I want to see it develop or that I see a future in a bigger more including black metal scene. I think it is kind of a dead project to try to redeem or save the black metal sphere. We have to build something new.

But if we're just talking about why black metal has attracted people through the years, I think it's because of what happened outside of the practice spaces and off the stages. That it is more than music. It is conviction, lifestyle, dedication. That's where we can learn and build an even better, more attractive music scene and political project. We have to do something more than just music.

But what should be our burning churches and sketchy murders?

Furthermore, there’s been an importance, historically in the concept of sacrifice in the genre, mostly from an occult perspective. From what I understand, you approach it from a different point of view, especially in the track "Holokaustos", which by the way has an incredible full title! Would you like to share with us the concept of the song?

Oh. Yeah. Big shoutout to Nile for that title inspiration.

First of all, it has nothing to do with the extermination of non-Aryans during WWII. For which ‘holocaust’ is kind of a disgusting term, we should be using "Shoah".

Holokauston (or holokaustos?) is a burnt-offering presented in the temple; instead of using the oxen to produce for mutual gain, it is killed and burnt to apease a god.

The song meditates on the symbolic significance of overproduction in contemporary society. On the function of offering vast amounts of totally functional goods to keep the system afloat. It is almost like every hierarchical society needs to have a special set-aside amount of surplus, that no one can touch even when starving, to justify that same hierarchical system that keeps people in poverty. I don't really know why this is, but it is a nauseating symptom of a sick society.


Would you mind sharing artists (not only music) that have been your inspiration in writing this Record?

We've discussed the Bible. I’ve also read David Graeber's "Debt" and "Bullshit Jobs" during the process. Good stuff. I've listened to a shit load of hip hop, mostly female US bling-bling trap, DragonForce, Swedish pop music. Funeral Mist, Marduk, Nile, Misthyrming. Abdullah Öcalans writings "Democratic Confederalism", "War and peace in Kurdistan" and "Woman’s Revolution".

Artwork is inspired by John Martin amongst others.

You are about to tour with Gravpel, another anarchist black metal band. Would you mind recommending to our readers any other like-minded newer artists?

I have no idea about such things I’m afraid. I mostly listen to assholes.

How do you imagine the black metal scene in five years? What would you like to change?

Oh shit. I hope the whole of society has come a little further in our evolution toward the next stage of human.

Final question, and I would like to thank you for your time! Any future plans you would like to share with us? I wish you the best, and I hope that many will find joy and solace in your new record.

Thank you! A real pleasure. Keep up the good work! Such a good time. Hope to see you IRL sometime. Let's keep in touch about the Greek festival and solidarity project you talked about!

Anything we plan will be up through the Facebook-page, until we find a better alternative for mass communication.