by T. Ray Verteramo
Metal finds a way.
Even in the middle of nowhere, way up north beyond the borders of civilization, the noise will find its voice and the owner will find his family.
That’s what happened to Vetle ‘Raattan’ Skoggmo, the heart of Kvesta – a very brand new Black-Thrash outfit from the home of Black Metal, itself, whose debut, Ibex Arrival, has conjured a small storm of attention in just a few short months.
“I would just be sitting in my room,” Raatten said, “playing drums and having some songs or riffs of my own, making home recordings.”
Most Black Metallers, particularly artists, choose seclusion in order to separate themselves from the sources of their angst; monotheistic oppression, invasive public practices, forced conformity, etc. But, Raatten had a bit of regret with this. He found his sound early in his childhood. However, for a long time, it seemed that he was the only one who could hear it.
“When you get to a point after Trondheim,” he explained, “and granted Trondheim has really exploded the last few years or so because Trondheim is a little less than halfway up the length of Norway — there’s a drought of extreme Metal. And it has to do with the fact that any civilization is much farther spread apart.
If there’s anyone in those towns who likes Black Metal or extreme Metal, it’s usually just one person.”
So, the fact that he was exposed at all was nothing short of a miracle. “I think it was when I was around 6-years old that I was getting a lot of Nu Metal, which I really don’t listen to anymore. But, there was something about the music. Even though I listened to Nu Metal, I absolutely love Iron Maiden.
“I have a really good friend who has an older brother who was into Motorhead and Iron Maiden and stuff. I used to go to his house every day after school and take the bus to his house with him and we sit and play Nintendo. Sometimes we watch TV and Motorhead’s ‘Ace of Spades’ would come on. So, that’s where I got my initial kind of passion or interest in heavy music.”
Then, thanks to technology, Raatten was able to delve a little deeper: “I got into extreme Metal around seven or eight years old…. we got broadband connection, which was quite faster, so I can spend more time on the internet. I discovered You Tube.”
At the same time, he started taking drum lessons and played for the marching band. Meanwhile, “I was just kind of exploring Lime Wire, which was a very popular and illegal program at the time, and I would download like Metallica songs — sorry Lars! — and I would listen to them on my little knockoff MP3 player. After a while, YouTube started to become big. And I got really into Thrash like Metallica so I would check out like Exodus and Slayer. Then, I got interested in the history of the bands and the genres, so then I started to check out okay there are a couple of branches of thrush you have the Bay Area Thrash, the West Coast Thrash, and then Brazilian or South American pentatonic Thrash the German bands like my favorite, Sodom.”
But, the music never left his room, until a chance discovery in the back of the local version of Metal Hammer. “I was just kind of skimming through it, but I went to the last page and it was about and — it was amazing because I was a second away from closing the page and just putting the magazine away until I saw that there was a mention of my hometown and I was like this I have to explore.”
Not only did he discover another Metalhead, he meets the man who would give him a shot on Polypus Records, which would send him to Oslo to the recording studio.
“The complete revelation of there being someone else from my hometown who loved and embraced Black Metal and extreme Metal to the same extent that I did and perhaps in some ways even more was…” and here he becomes lost for words.
“I was like, ‘Okay I have to man up and contact this guy and see if you think my demos are really good’.”
And history speaks for itself. But, regardless of the positive new connection, there was an issue with the musicianship; Raatten had a grip on the composing, even though it took him years to get outside validation. But, he struggled with the guttural vocals and needed someone to take the lead on the guitars. So, the network started to expand.
“I got a new internet pal from another town from Norway, that was very far away, named Viruz – the so-called ‘guitar specialist’ [a reference from an Ibex Arrival review]. He was also into Thrash, but more into Death Metal than I was…we just got talking and then I was like, ‘You know, I’m doing this album in Oslo. It’s just me so and I’m not really into guitar-playing you think you could help me out?’ And he did.”
And then so on and so on until his ‘one-man’ band germinates into an outfit that has collected some of the best support an artist could ask for, making Ibex Arrival a rare bird combining the classic necro sound with living blood in a new millennium.
Though Black Metal has become saturated as of late, Raatten has not lost faith in the genre, but rather disenchanted, which he blames on the spoils of comfort. “I think a lot of the old bands that still play Black Metal just sounds Bland to me. It doesn’t really sound like they’re inspired and I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that they’re mostly writing music and then recording the music in the same space. They’re not out in the world because they have home studios.
I think that a lot of the feeling that you get in Black Metal is because the necro sound isn’t because the band wanted it to sound as bad as possible, but more due to the fact that they could not afford proper studio time.”
Our album came out the way it did because we had 5 days to record it and then we did some recordings later.”
“So, I find that when a band can afford decent studio time it’s when the music gets uninteresting. I feel that a lot of new bands will stick around for a long time now and that the forefathers are growing old, I feel a lot of them feel uninspired.”
As for inspiration for himself, that’s the last thing he’s worried about. “I’m not really an ambitious person. My sole ambition at the moment is to maybe play a few live shows and do more studio stuff. But my true joy in music is creating.
I’m always a sucker for seeking out new kinds of music and experimenting. So, I can’t promise that I will always and forever stay just Black-Thrash or just Black Metal, but it will always be rooted there. It is a genre that I hold very close to my heart.”