Nåstrond is found in the Nordic realm of death (but also death personified) Hel (hylja), - meaning “covered” or Nifelhel (the Dark Hel). It is a graveland with gloomy topography. It is found in the ultimate North. Downwards and to the North lies the way of Hel (nidhr ok nordhr liggr Helvegr). The orientation of Death in North is ancient. Already in the Age of Stone, did the Nordic people bury their dead in this direction, and the folkbelief has carried the direction over the Ages.
In North lay Nástrond (Naströnd, Nåstrand or Nastrondur “the beach of corpses”). It is located close to Nidafjäll and Nidavall, possibly also to Ámsvartnir. This hall stands far from the sun and even its doors faces Northwards. In Nastrond there is a large and horrible habitation. The door is formed of the backs of serpents, like a house built of wands. The Serpents makes a wickerwork of the walls and roof, while their venom drips and dribbles through the smoke-hole. All of the serpent-heads are turned into the house, and blow forth venom, so that this flows through the halls.
Nastrond is a place of punishment. Here dwell the oath-breakers, murderers and adulterers. Before they reach this hall though, they have to wade through the river Slidhr (Fearful). This is a river of knives and sharp swords, which drops from the east and rattles through venom vales. Nastrond could be compared to Nagelfar, a wessel or ship made up from the nails of dead men. This holds also similarity to the snake-pits found in the legends and in real Norse and Anglo-Saxon history.
At the shores of Nastrond is Nidhöggr, the dragon who tears the bodies of the dead, and makes the sky red of blood. Nidhöggr fly upwards from Nidafjäll, bearing corpses on its wings, possibly as a sign, showing that nothing is eternal. The dragon is one of the few creature to survive Ragnarök (Another is Surtr), which imply its un-creation. It is before and after, like Fire and Ice.
There is also a deeper level to the meaning of Nastrond, that is the seperation between body and soul (which also holds similarities to the meaning of Hvergelmir). There is a few leads in the Völuspá, telling us that Nidhöggr tears the bodies from the dead. This holds the meaning together with “beach of corpses” that this is the location where the physical bodies travel after death. There was a common burial form to use boats in Pre-Christian Scandinavia. These boats pointed the way to the Realm of Death. At Nastrond, they met up with land. Until this moment everyone had been treated equal. Those who had commit crimes were now here to stay, and pay for their deeds, because they could not leave their physical bodies, they were trapped, not as a part of some sort of divine punishment, but because of their injust actions that held them back. A similar punishment was given to Loki, after his responsibility to the killing of Baldur had been known. Also Loki was forced to bear the venom dripping on him. Eventually he was released from his prison. The same release must be given to the criminals kept at Nastrond, eventually. Nothing is eternal, not even death. It only keeps on evolving and changing.
Nastrond is thus a hall of separation between the physical body, which is torn by wolves, and Nidhöggr, the forces of destruction, that has to be there, that also gnaws on the roots of Yggdrasill, and by the non-physical or spiritual body that passes into Hel´s realm. The punishment is the entrapment of the physical body, containing the spiritual body in the limbo between life and death. When Hermod rides to Hel, to try to bring Baldur back, he founds the death goddess on Nastrond. This is showing how Hermod reaches the very last border, closest to death for a living being. This is how long he could enter into the Realm of Death.
Recent underground scene is huge! There are shitload of bands around for newcomers to get influenced from, whereas when you first started the band, extreme music scene wasn’t that big and there weren’t many bands playing the way you did/do. Therefore I wonder what were the major influences on Nåstrond in the beginning?
KARL: That is correct, but this does not mean that the quality, meaning the inner strength of the music, has become any greater over this period of time. The presence of Black Metal as we recognized it in 1992-1994 is basically gone. Instead there is a superficial and massive copying. Commercial interest has made the idea to become public and thereby loose its power. When we started, there was much more difficult to access this type of music, but if I should name a few but important bands there are: Bathory, Darkthrone (A Blaze…), Beherit (Oath…), early Rotting Christ, etc. There are many more but it is no idea to spit up names I suppose.
What were your expectations when you first started? Was is all about jamming and making noise or were you serious about what you were doing? Could you foresee that you will be one of the most known bands in the entire Swedish underground?
Karl: I think we were very determined at that time, and our aim was to create music according to our ideas. On the other hand, music has never been a goal in itself. It has always been a path to presence the dark energies and forces. Playing music could be to turn into a trancelike state, where you are not making causal decisions, but letting the subconscious rule over the physical construction. Music and art in general has that power, therefore I dislike music which is not personal and expressive in the way it forms its own meaning.
Considering you have been in the scene for quite long time, I want to ask what you think when you compare the recent scene to the old one. What has changed in general? What is your attitude towards internet, mp3 trading and such things?
Karl: Technique has changed access a lot. For good and worse in my perspective. It has especially brought comfort for several people who is half-determined and just surface-based. I dislike much of this. These so called “scene” of the period 1991-1995 was not that large, it was serious, perhaps naive, but because of much media attention and commercialization, the scene turned towards a wider public. This is also the period, around 1997 where I think things had lost its inner strength, and I turned more towards Industrial music. This is also the reason why I do not follow the changes any longer. I do not feel the stress to fit in any sort of stereotype. It is really the curse of the “unique and misunderstood” misfit teenagers… Personally I believe it is nonsense. I make music as a tool of my inner works, it is one of several ways to transfer the idea which is the main focus of the band.
I don’t think Nåstrond is that popular among the new generation fans. In fact, bands seem to respect Nåstrond more than fans do! Do you agree? If so, what do you think the reason might be? Maybe lack of promotion or the fact you still play the old way? (I don’t think the second one could be the main reason since old school black metal bands seem to get what they deserve, especially in the last few years.)
KARL: We have never promoted any “Old School” attitude, instead I am certain that much we have done has been innovative and without any sort of respect for styles. It is not any ambition to become popular I general sense, so it is only positive if this is true. I also value the respect of serious persons, who have understanding of other things than what the market brings, and what “looks good”. Some of the subjects we are about are also not part of the general direction and interest.
Talking about respect, which bands do you respect most? Do you follow the new bands? If yes, which new bands do you think deserve attention?
KARL: I keep contact with several new bands, often with members, which have been in other bands. I should recommend a few such as Myrkr, Slidhr, Kaosritual, Satanic Warmaster, etc.
How did you originally get involved in black metal?
KARL: In 1991 I started to listen to Death Metal, but soon I found out there was a greater power in Black Metal underground. After searching I found some vinyls, which really convinced me in this direction. I think it was “A Blaze in the Nordic Sky” by Darkthrone, a compilation with the track “Freezing Moon” with Mayhem (Dead on vocals) released by Head not Found and the debut of Bathory. In 1992 I started a one man band called Beleth together with a friend, who was more into Thrash at that time, my ideas was a bit different, so I searched for other people who wanted to play Black Metal type of music. In summer 1993 The band Trident started, which soon changed name to Nåstrond.
How would you describe your own views on Satanism?
KARL: Satanism is fundamentally the idea of evolution and spiritual transforming existence into higher presence. Satanism is true opposition against false reality, as it is the breaking of stasis as Satan is the instigator of change. Through the Left Hand Path it is possible to step into the Dark, the Occult and realize the presence of the acausal within the causal reality, thereby extending vision and thus Becoming. It is a struggle with self, with time and existence. It is a path leading over an abyss. I am currently working on a major scripture on this issue. This is also where my full view of Satanism and the Sinister is unfolded.
Considering you have been in one of the first occult Black Metal band from Sweden (of course not mentioned the mighty Bathory, just talking about the second wave of Black Metal), what do you think about the Swedish scene. What is your opinion on religious/devil worshipper scene from your country. Do you like bands like: Watain, Ofermod, Ondskapt, Zavorash, Heresi, etc?
KARL: Yes, several of the bands you mentioned holds great impact, but we have never been typically “Swedish sounding”, which in my point of view is fast and massive, a standard set by Marduk. This is possibly due to the fact that Death Metal held great influence in Sweden during the early 1990’s. Instead we have been more turned to a melodic and occult/ritualistic focus. A great Swedish band is also The Black. Their debut demo “Black Blood”, is among the greatest Swedish pieces of Black Metal in my opinion.
If you would decide to leave this world by suicide, how would you realize this? Is suicide an acceptable solution in you eyes?
KARL: I can accept suicide as something done in a moment where your life is fulfilled in the causal existence, and where the existences continue on another level. Physical life is not necessary. In my own situation, this is not an option, not at this point. Considering suicide in terms of failure, I personally believe death in battle honors the individual and his culture in a greater way, but I have respect for a determined death by own hands.
Thus I’m not sure whether you often do live shows or not, but I’m sure I haven’t seen your logo on gig/festival flyers for a while. Is it because you no more play live or what?
KARL: We have never been a live-band, so this is natural then. We also do not make flyers anymore, as it takes to much time to manage sales and such.
Although Nåstrond has released vinyl Ep’s, most of your albums are still limited to CD format. Regarding majority of your albums are now out of print and rare, why not to re-release them on vinyl, or CD?
KARL: It is possibly that there will be re-releases of the old albums, but it is not the main focus.
“Toteslaut” album was released on LP format by Cryptia Prod. / Pakana Distr. in 2005, limited to 300 copies, but this LP is considered a bootleg from your point of view. What is the story behind?
KARL: The vinyl is considered as non-official because we rejected the cover. Cryptia released it anyway in this form, but I refused to promote or sell the albums due to this. This also ended our collaborations. The small amount also made this a minor trouble really.
What is your opinion about the labels involved in black metal scene. Lots of respected bands from the 90-s were fucked up by some highly appreciated labels like Necropolis, Full Moon, etc, etc. Are you satisfied with your new label Debemur Morti?
KARL: To this point, I have only a positive experience from Debemur Morti Productions. This is not the case with some of the earlier companies unfortunately.
“Celebration Of The Four” is a very special album from your discography. This album was self released. Do you planning to do a re-release on Debemur Morti or other labels?
KARL: Yes, I would like to have it released in a limited vinyl version. It is likely the album will return, as it is an important work of great depth and concept.
Are you guys involved in other underground projects like distro, label or maybe another band? If yes, some information will be appreciated:
KARL: I know Arganas has been involved in both labels and distributions, but I am not sure about the current situation. On my part, I have been involved in other projects, and focused more on my writings on the occult and ideological part.
Since you aren’t teenagers anymore you should have regular jobs and maybe families. How do your daily lives affect the band? Can you reserve enough time for rehearsals? Have you ever thought about giving up the band to spend more time with your families or another reason? Seriously, do you ever feel like wasting your time playing in a band?
KARL: This is not in any conflict in my opinion. Instead it is the other way around. I would like to spend more time in exploring and constructing art and music, than is possible at the moment. It is true that you lock yourself up more when you turn older. And it is tragic to watch people between 30-40, still thinking and acting as a 15-16 year old. This is also why I since over ten years rejected the so called “Heavy Metal” attitude, which is immature and foreign to Nordic culture. I was young when I started this and I have naturally changed during this period, but much has also grown deeper and more serious.
Do you know any band that has covered a Nåstrond song?
KARL: No, not to my knowledge.
After years of existence, is there anything left that nobody knows about Nåstrond? Feel free to tell it here.
KARL: I suppose most things are and will remain unknown. Nåstrond is the expression and mouth of something else that is the presence of Chaos manifested in Order. It is in a constant flux, changeable and developing.
I think I’m out of useful questions, so I’d better stop it here and don’t let this interview be infected by shitty questions. Thank you for your time. If there is anything you want to mention, go ahead!