Mar 272023

(Today we present Comrade Aleks‘ extensive interview with Kobold from the UK black metal band Old Forest, and under other guises a participant in Ewigkeit, Nattehimmel, Jaldaboath, and more.)

The first stage of Old Forest‘s career wasn’t robust: The band started in London, 1998, released the debut album Into the Old Forest in 1999, and was disbanded in 2001. It was re-formed in 2007 and the wheels turned faster this time. Despite the band’s mastermind Kobold’s occupation in a few more bands since then, Old Forest recorded six more full-length albums and some smaller releases.

Kobold played with the famous In the Woods…, did some “Monty Python” with Jaldaboath, and experimented in his solo project Ewigkeit, but he always had enough time to keep his black metal Old Forest alive, and this March the new album Sutwyke is to be released through Soulseller Records.

So here we are… ready to breathe deep the smell of rotting foliage and the raw soil, and feel the cold wind of ’90s black metal while reading the interview we did with Kobold.

(Thanks to Jan of Sure Shot Worx for organizing the interview.)


Hail Kobold! How are you? Which of your bands demands more of your attention than others at the moment?

Hi – right at this very moment, I am working mostly with Old Forest and Nattehimmel.  In a few months it may be different, but I will always come back to these. They are the primary Black Metal bands for me to work with.


Old Forest’s new album Sutwyke will be released by Soulseller Records on the 31 st of March, and three tracks were already revealed. How else do you plan to support this release? Maybe one tiny live show? The first and the last?

We’re not particularly interested to play live, as we don’t create music for posing on stage and pretending to be rock stars.  There is always the chance that we get offered a gig that is just impossible to refuse, but this is extremely unlikely. You will have to continue to imagining (unless Emperor offer us a support slot on their next tour with Darkthrone…)



The album’s artwork, the very sound of these three tracks, “Faust Recants (Satan Cometh)”, “Master of Arachnids” and “Zodiac of War”, and the excerpts from a black-and-white Faust movie bring strong old school atmosphere along them. Do you still stand firm in your intention to keep a true black metal spirit alive or is it just a matter of habit?

The spirit of the band has never changed – the music that inspires us is firmly in the past, and the artwork associated with it. We don’t listen to any Black Metal made after about 1998, so it is inescapable. For us, this was the end of the Golden Age of Black Metal and so we don’t need to go outside of its borders.  If you agree, you may like something of what we do with Old Forest.


Are you really meaning that? There’s a lot of “good” new bands playing black metal, and some old bands release their “old school” black metal. What’s the reason to isolate yourself from two or three new tunes in the name of black art?

I’m sure there are great new bands of whom I am totally unaware, but we take inspiration from the era that defined our passions for Black Metal.  Everything thereafter is derivative in my opinion – including Old Forest.



“Zodiac of War” brings more variety with its clean chants and epic atmosphere, so how diversity does Sutwyke brings?

If you are a fan of pre-1995 Black Metal, then there is not really anything out-of-the-ordinairy in our music.  Some aspects, like the vocals, can be more doom sometimes, but the genres were much more blurred back in the early to mid ’90s (Bergatatt, Heart of the Ages, etc).  If some younger Black Metal fans want to think it was all face paint, ice thrones, and hyper-blast-beats on mountain tops, that’s just incorrect.  Black Metal is the birthplace of many subgenres which have gone on to develop in recent years. The big explosion in folk metal originated in ’90s Black Metal, for example.


Old Forest’s fourth album Dagian was built upon four unusually long tracks (from 10 to 15 minutes). Why didn’t you return to this formula?

It was an experiment and was inspired by Hyvis Lyset Tar Oss (BxxZxx).  It’s an interesting idea, and we wanted to see how it would work out in our own style.  It’s an album we’re still happy with, although it’s hardly known at all.  It’s possible we may return to this at some point in the future. Thanks for doing your homework.


At your service! I’d like to avoid such a blunt question, but I didn’t find the meaning of the album’s title. What’s “Sutwyke”?

‘Sutwyke’ is the old name for the suburb (Southwick) on the edge of the city of Brighton, UK.  It is where we rehearse, write, record…  There is no deeper meaning than that.  But if people think it’s the name of a Mesapotamian god or a Medieval witch’s Grimoire, that’s also fine with us (and probably a bit more interesting).



Honestly, it sounds “Nordic” to my ears, and that’s fine as well. However, I recalled your countrymen Heathen Deity and their album True English Black Metal. Would you say that there’s a true English Black Metal scene? Can you name a few more bands?

We don’t really see ourselves as part of an English ‘scene’.  We have largely been ignored by the in-crowd and magazines here since we started, and that is fine by us, as we are content with being outsiders (which is entirely synergic with the ethos of Black Metal). We have explored the heritage of our immediate surroundings with our music over the last 25 years, but have no strong attachment to our nationality or flag. Some names I see mentioned a lot are Winterfylleth, Fen, Heathen Deity, and the older ones Hecate Enthroned and Cradle of Filth – but I don’t personally know anything about any of them or their output.  That’s not to denigrate them – I’m sure they’re great.


You operate with images taken from Tolkien’s myths (“Master of Arachnids” if I got it right), and you approach good old devilry (“Faust Recants”) and folklore (“Witch of Prague”) in your songs… Well, the legend of Faust is folklore too, but you know… So how would you sum up the lyrical side of Old Forest?

“Master of Arachnids” is actually a song based on the story ‘The Haunting of Toby Jugg’ by Dennis Wheatley (who also wrote ‘The Devil Rides Out’).  It’s an occult thriller set in a big country estate in England, with rich people engaging in Black Magic. It’s very much in the same vein as ‘The Devil Rides Out’ – in fact, it is a much better story.  “Witch of Prague” is a long-form gothic romance horror poem by Victorian writer Francis Crawford.  I personally get inspiration from a wide range of things; Hammer Horrior, local myths, Grimm’s Tales, retro occult books etc…


Yes, I had to check “Master of Arachnids”. Wheatley is quite popular among doom metal bands… You confessed to your “love the cheap, low-fi sound of ‘80s / ‘90s budget keyboards” in your interview with Cult Never Dies. I understand this feeling, but I wonder if you ever tried a kind of more pompous, “symphonic” keyboard arrangement with one of your bands?

I have played with many styles of music over many years. And so yes, I have played with pompous orchestral music before (Ewigkeit‘s Starscape has some moments). However, it will never sound very good because I don’t have the money to hire an orchestra like Dimmu Borgir.  Also, we don’t have the money to pay a classically trained composer to do the work for us (again, like Dimmu Borgir).  So what you get is what you get – limited by my ability and zero budget.  However, the final track on Sutwyke, “Effigies to the Flames”, has some nice bombastic moments.   Regarding the low-fi keys, I will be releasing a compilation of dark ambient tracks from the last 25+ years at some point (I believe the “kids” now call this ‘Dungeon Synth’)



When you look around or read the news it’s easy to see music as an instrument of escapism, and it seems to be a healthier way than many others. At the same time true black metal is considered to be a manifest, a vessel of ideology. What are your own motives behind performing “black art” for nearly 25 years?

We are constantly drawn back to folk tales, the occult, superstition, fantasy, history, etc.. these are a constant source of creativity for Old Forest.  I’m personally immediately disinterested in a band who are only all about satan, goats, upside down crosses, etc etc.. It’s a very shallow and empty pool of inspiration that has been done to absolute death.  Basically, it’s just boring and, actually, it always was.  The sort of Black Metal Old Forest are inspired by and also create is definitely escapist.



The band’s third album None More Black was re-released by the Chinese label GoatowaRex. How did you get in touch with them?

They asked to release a vinyl of the debut, and we told them to contact the label who owned the recording.  The label has constantly ignored all requests for vinyl releases from multiple labels, and so we just told Goatowarex to release it anyway, as an ‘official bootleg’.  Then they asked about the original recording of the abandoned album None More Black, so we said “yes that would be fine”.  Unfortunately, the sound quality proved problematic for Spotify / Amazon, and so we re-recorded it for digital release (although the CD has both 2000 and 2020 versions).


Did this release help the band to spread its influence? At least was there any feedback from China? If you care about such things of course.

No – no feedback from China at all. The location of that label is idiosyncratic for Black Metal, for sure.  But I don’t get the feeling that Black Metal is particularly popular in the red state, if that’s what you mean.  Having been socially isolated from western music since WW2, and then be exposed to everything from Elvis through to Napalm Death all at once must have been incredibly confusing when things opened up there about 20 years ago…


Speaking about reissues… Cult Never Dies released The Old, Old Forest: Complete Demo Collection 1998-2001 in October 2022. Do you see this material as a kind of important documentary or as a collection of killer tracks which deserved wider exposure?

It’s nice that the demos aren’t forgotten to the mists of time, and I guess that the majority of Black Metal fans never heard them before. We aren’t a Norwegian band whose demos have been released a hundred times on vinyl, and so it is possible that these would be forgotten and lost.  For this reason, it’s great that CND released the CD compilation, as they are documenting the history of Black Metal and have included the music of Old Forest in that quest.  Also, the two ’98 demos were released at the same time by Amor Fati Productions on vinyl, which we are extremely proud of.  They are a great cult label who have our full support.



Those of your first songs were recorded under the influences of certain – and as I understand, mostly Nordic – black metal bands. What other factors shaped Old Forest’s sound to the material you recorded for Sutwyke?

We are inspired by the same shit, but just with older eyes. You start to hear other aspects to the music that you perhaps never appreciated before. A bit like a connosieuer of wine…  Inspiration can always be found in film, music, art, literature. Only boring people get bored! It isn’t that we only like Norwegian bands, or that we think all Norwegian bands are great (there are some truly terrible releases); it’s just that the best stuff from that period is definitely Norwegian. I see it as just Black Metal of a certain era – not of a particular country.


Back in those days you took part in another black metal band, The Meads of Asphodel, and you seem to be busy with many of your bands and projects since 1998. Do you feel a sort of nostalgia for those “good old” times or are things simpler and more effective nowadays?

Meads of Asphodel was a joke band that I started with a guy who used to do a Back Metal comic book.  It was fun for a few years, and then got really boring as he started to take it too seriously – which is the death of any joke band. 1998 was the year of Ewigkeit‘s second album, and also the year of Old Forest‘s debut – it was an extremely productive time, but if I had access to a studio and equipment back then, I would have been even more productive than I was.  I am probably just as productive today, but working to pay bills gets in the way.


Ewigkeit had a new EP Out of the Woods that was recorded in 2022, and it’s said that this material was rejected by In the Woods… which you left in 2021. How do you value the experience you got playing in that band?

Hmm – that’s an interesting version of events which I haven’t heard before, but here is the truth; I contributed about 80-90% of the material for the previous album Cease the Day as it needed to be released to try and recover back the label some money that had been stolen from them. After playing shows to promote the album, I really didn’t feel like continuing. They recorded my songs for inclusion on the next album, but I finally decided that I needed to leave and so I quit and took my songs with me. The only rejection that occurred was by me not wanting to record another album with them. I didn’t want them to go unreleased, and so that is why the EP exists.


Let me check… It looks like I interpreted this in a wrong way. That’s what I’ve found: “These songs were part of a 12 song demo written by Mr Fog for no particular project. They were originally presented to In the Woods… but were taken back when he left the band”. However, how do you value the experience you got playing in that band?

There were some very positive and valued experiences for sure at first, but then there was also far too much chaos and ‘financial irregularity’ for my personal taste. The band died when the twins left – I maintain a good friendship with them, and that is the one enduring positive aspect. I have no contact with the other guys at all, and this is unlikely to change.



You also took part in the recording of Nattehimmel’s debut full-length Mourningstar. What’s the story behind this collaboration?

Shortly after I left In The Woods, I got back in touch with the founding members (the Botteri twins) who had quit before Cease the Day.  This is when I found out that they hadn’t quit at all; they were actually kicked out of their own band – which is just ridiculous and I can’t really understand how that happened.  But that aside, I wanted to work with them again as we enjoyed working together on In The Woods‘ album Pure. However, we all agreed that we wanted to go back to a more raw and primitive sound, like their early material (as they hadn’t done any Black Metal for almost 30 years).  So the sound is a mix of In The Woods‘ debut album and some other ‘90s Black Metal, classic early ‘90s stuff like Emperor, Gehenna, etc.  It’s a very original sound for 2023.  Debut album Mourningstar is released shortly..



Yes, Mourningstar is to be released on the 20th of May, a reason to do another interview indeed. But do you mean that you all feel yourselves comfortable enough in Nattehimmel to go further and record more songs in the future?

100% – we are already planning another EP, followed by another album. We are all very enthusiastic about Nattehimmel which has already achieved quite a lot in the 16 months we have existed.


Honestly I have watched for the progress of Jaldaboath since 2014 in absolute desperation, as there was no news from this side at all. And to my surprise I’ve discovered that you just released two inspiring singles – “Alehorn Battalions” on the 1st of February and “The Ogre of Ogmore” on the 27th of February. Are they heralds of Jaldaboath’s new album? How soon may we expect its coming?

I did get a bit tired of parodying “gimmick metal” with Jaldaboath, and so left it alone for some years – but decided I would return as we are STILL having to endure new Pirate Metal bands and the like (which is just unbelievably sad).  And so, yes, I started releasing some material.  There’s about 10 tracks that have been building up for a few years – but whether or not I will release them as an album, who knows…



Parody or not, but if we put humour aside then “The Ogre of Ogmore” is a killer heavy metal track – catchy, effective, and epic. So maybe it isn’t necessary to stick to the parodying side of Jaldaboath and just play decent heavy metal?

I appreciate your words, but I think there are already far too many great Heavy Metal bands to choose from without another being added to the pile of nondescript wannabes.  The one thing that makes the project stand out is the humorous element, and so it is integral in my opinion.  Funnily enough, I have a growing pile of catchy heavy metal songs, that I just don’t know what to do with…


Thank you for your time and patience Kobold! It’s good to see Old Forest alive and breathing, and I hope that your inspiration won’t cease soon. Did we skip any important questiona?

Many thanks for the support – it is really important for us.  We are already 90% finished with the next album, so you will be hearing again from us for sure…


  1. Can’t stop reading, “Dio Forest” which sounds rather to die for..

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