Smile Politely

“Black metal is war”

Øde Vinter is a metal band, and I know zero things about that. I interviewed and reviewed a couple dozen bands this summer, and there have been plenty I had never heard of. The musicians I talk to hail from all over and play different styles, but they all sound like something familiar. There’s always a musical landmark. This past week, I took an assignment that had me stymied.

Nick is the guitar player/vocalist for Øde Vinter, and he asked me not to use his last name. He and his band mate, Thomas, use stage names that help them present a unique tone for their shows. Nick asked me to refer to him as Torvus for the publication of the interview, and I am happy to oblige. I understand the need for a stage personality. These young men are, as Torvus puts it, “just paranoid.” I can understand that, too.

Smile Politely: Tell me about metal. I’m terribly ignorant about that genre…

Torvus Mortuus: We’re a weird band and don’t want our real names attached to the band, ’cause we like to do things in character because that’s just what black metal does. But I am Nick and the drummer is Thomas, otherwise known as Torvus Mortuus and Sortis Abortis. Also, black metal is an insanely specific genre… black metal gets really silly at times, so don’t take all of what I say as completely serious.


Black metal is an ongoing war between the forces of depression and evil. Black metal is a collective of dead and lost souls eternally banished to walk this realm in hopes of finding happiness, only to find more suffering and self-loathing. On the other hand, black metal is the relentless fury of the antichrist, tearing cities apart and leaving none alive in his infernal wake. Then, there’s a clearing… black metal is about the world around us. The trees, the sky, the universe. Black metal is about the wind and the mountains and the [essence] of nature in its purest form. Black metal is about the Earth.

Bearing corpse paint, blood, and distortion, we recreate the sounds of somber darkness as a means of understanding existence. Musically, black metal is the absolute edge of the musical spectrum. We make very harsh music, and everyday people just have no idea what’s going on when they listen to it. It’s like a storm of minor chords, blast beats, and undying screams of the deceased. Black metal is war.

SP: Intense. So you get into a zone when you play! It’s a whole character and a big production.

Torvus: When the corpse paint and blood goes on, I shift into character pretty much immediately. I’m fairly certain that goes for Sortis Abortis, as well. We walk in to the venue and everyone’s just like, “What the hell is going on?” I like to trip people out while watching whoever plays before us, just give random people a dead stare. They just don’t know how to react. It’s great. 

When we go on stage and get all set up and ready to play, I leave my mortal form behind and let my inner black metal sorcerer king take the wheel. Since we are a two piece [band] and Sortis is stationary, I try to move around a lot and look sort of possessed. There’s usually some blood vomiting and copious amounts of headbanging, with semi-frequent live collaborations with Shyama Anima Belly Dance. 

SP: Is there a lot of improvising and riffing, or is it all set down in stone what you’re both playing? 

Torvus: What we play isn’t improvised, but it’s not totally set in stone. We play some parts differently than what we have recorded, but for the most part it’s the same.

SP:  How do people respond? Do you get some who are expecting this kind of thing, or are they somewhat surprised?

Torvus: We try to make our live show pretty extravagant, since we can only do so much on stage as a two piece. It has helped attract a lot of non-metal fans, which is really cool. Most people that aren’t really into black metal or don’t know about it at all just stand there looking confused and scared most of the time. But most people who know roughly what black metal is about think it’s great that we go all out and do all the extra black metally stuff on stage. It’s not there to make up for anything lacking in sound, though, it’s just there to add to the show. 

If you’re paying good money to see a few local bands play, you want it to be worth it. We try to do just that. We’ve been playing shows around here for a just month shy of two years.

SP: How did you start? What can you tell me about your group that we can’t find on your site?

Torvus: I was involved with a few projects in early 2010, and one day this guy I knew asked if I wanted to start a band with him, me doing guitar and him doing vocals. We started looking for a drummer and Sortis Abortis was the first person to actually want to do it, so the three of us jammed a couple of times, but the aforementioned singer just stopped showing up to practices. We ended up ditching him to start our own band under the name Exordium around August of that year. I played guitar and Sortis played drums, so it was basically Øde Vinter with a different vocalist for the bulk of [its existence]. Three others were involved with the project at various points in time, and one of those three was into black metal. So we jammed a bit with him on guitar, Sortis on drums, and I did vocals. 

From October 2010 to February 2012 we had that lineup, but we really didn’t like the guitarist, so we sacrificed him to the dragon-god Antithesis, about two weeks before our first show. I took over guitars, as well as vocals. From then on we’ve been a two piece, and it’s been working pretty well so far.

SP: Where did the name Øde Vinter come from?

Torvus: We chose the name by just putting black metally words into Google translate, and we ended up translating “desolate winter” into Norwegian to create Øde Vinter. 

SP: As good a method as any…


See Ode Vinter at Error Records this Sunday at 8 p.m. with The Gorge, Eminent Slaughter, and Orator. Error Records is an all-ages venue at 702 Neil St. in Champaign. 

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