Satan and spiritualism: Inquisition's journey to becoming the perfect cult band
Black metallers Inquisition have spent over 20 years trying to break through – new album Bloodshed Across The Empyrean Altar Beyond The Celestial Zenith might finally see them do it
2013’s Obscure Verses For The Multiverse saw Inquisition reach new heights, signing to French bastion of extremity Season Of Mist and finally, after 26 years spent in the underground, emerge onto a larger world stage. It was a position they were given little time to enjoy before a popular metal gossip site accused them of being Nazis, on the strength of the dubious testimony of a former tourbus driver. Speaking across continents via Skype with frontman Dagon, for whom years of relentless touring has done nothing to dull his shrewd, inquisitive nature, he’s understandably reluctant to retread old ground.
“The important thing for this band to move forward is to not delve back into that topic at all. At all,” he repeats firmly, wearied by the situation. “I gave the media all my time, I over-explained myself, even without meaning to, ridiculed myself, on some things.” He rues. “I’m a Satanist, I’m a spiritualist – I’m not a Nazi.”
It may have temporarily marred them, but it hasn’t halted Inquisition’s progress. Within the underground, away from prying eyes, they spent a long time growing into something elementally powerful. Forming in Colombia as a thrash band in the late 80s, in 1996 they combined a change in location with a change in style, solidifying their outsider status: a lone black metal band adrift on a sea of plaid in Seattle, the spiritual home of grunge. “There was nothing romantic about Washington,” remembers Dagon. “There was no deep and spiritual black metal at all coming from there. I thought, ‘We’ll never grow anywhere.’”
At that time, the flame of Norwegian black metal’s second wave was burning its brightest. “There was this huge romance with the Norwegian scene,” he continues. “Everything else was second-rate. Now imagine where we stood, I don’t even think we were in the second-rate category! A two-piece with weird vocals and odd production, from the USA.”
That did nothing to discourage them from carving their singular path of pared-down, bestial savagery. They started to attract attention. “Then, the true underground really was composed of people that wanted something far out – the more exotic the better. We had that going for us. That was the beauty of the underground. What I thought would work against us was actually a perfect checklist for a cult band.”