This interview with the guitarist Xaphan of the American black metal band Kult Ov Azazel was done through e-mail by Josh Ngolls in July 2003.

Deep in the death metal depths of Florida, USA lies one of the leaders of the US black metal scene. Kult Ov Azazel is off to a quick start, releasing killer albums with label support and getting better by the minute. With a blistering musical attack and screeched blasphemy, the Florida quartet is a productive rookie in an otherwise antiquated national scene. Founding member Xaphan manned the keyboard on behalf of his band.

You seem to have evolved and been signed fairly quickly. Is this due to a lack of worthy black metal in your area, you knowing exactly what to do, or a combination of these / other factors?
This has to do with a combination of all that you mentioned. We have succeeded quickly because we don't fuck around when it comes to something we set our minds to. Too many bands sit around waiting for someone to notice them or hear them and we don't go that route. We make people take notice. Laziness is not a word in the vocabulary of this band.

One would think that the climate of Scandinavia had an inextricable influence on their black metal. Does the extreme nature of your swampy home effect Kult Ov Azazel?
No. I do not think climate has any influence on black metal. I think this form of music is created from within oneself and not by how hot or cold it is. Although this is my opinion and I can't speak for others playing this form of music I can tell you that the swampy tropical climate here has no influence on this band. We draw influence from our surroundings, our thoughts, our ideology.

Why did you become a member of the Church of Satan? How has it helped/hindered you, if at all?
No this has not helped or hindered us at all. I became a member of the CoS out of respect for what LaVey had done. I grew up reading his works and they had a get inspiration on how I developed mentally as a person so my joining was giving back to what was given to me.

You've specified anti-monotheism as a theme several times. How is polytheism better?
It's not and I never said it was. The belief in many gods is no different than the belief in one supreme god. Both put faith in fairy tales and non existent beings.

You seem to enjoy alcohol and drug abuse. Does this tie in with your nihilism and / or avowed rejection of humankind? Is it a suicidal precursor, or just debauchery?
It's a little of everything. Obviously by partaking in such activities it lessens my life expectance so in that way it can be thought of as suicidal. It's also debauchery since it is something I like to indulge in and yes it all ties in with my nihilism.

You say that your lyrics are always written after the music, and that they are based on the emotions which the music invokes. What do you think would happen if you reversed the process?
I don't know. This is just the process in which works best for us. Maybe one day the process will happen like that but to me it's the riffs that command the lyrics and not the other way around.

Your ideologies seem to rest with the eradication of the present. What are your thoughts on the future, if any? Do you "live for the moment"?
Of course I live for the moment, living in the past or thinking about the future is worthless. All I can say is I foresee the future only getting worse than what we have witnessed in the past and what we experience at the moment.

Has Arctic Music Group had anything to do with your successes / failures as a band?
Arctic Music has helped us out tremendously but our success rest solely on our shoulders. We are the ones that have gotten ourselves to where we are today and nothing else. Their have been those along the way that have helped and those that still help today but without us pushing our propaganda ourselves we would not be where we are right now.

KOA lyrics are simple yet strong, and seemingly more exoteric than many other black metal bands. Any insight into this?
Do you mean esoteric or do you mean exoteric? If you mean exoteric, I don't find our lyrics to be strange at all. If you mean esoteric then this is because these things interest both Xul and myself. I have been following the left hand path since I was a teenager at the age of 12 and currently I am 31. So the lyrics on my part come from extensive knowledge from over the many years I have held these things of interest. They are a direct output of my inner self and thoughts.

[I meant exoteric, as KOA lyrics seem more accessible than most other black metal bands'.] Do your day-to-day moods effect how you write for the band? i.e. produce better material when angry/worse material when distracted by mundane realities etc.
Yes they do but other things also affect my writing but all in all I tend to write when I feel it. It doesn't have to be because I am angry or pissed off. When I feel or hear the riff that's when I write. I don't force myself to sit down and write, just when the possession of a riff comes over me that's when I tend to produce the best material.

If there was one thing you could go back and change about Kult Ov Azazel, what would it be?
Not a single thing. Why fix something that is not broken?

Production-wise, what do you consider to be the most essential part of KOA recordings, as well as black metal and metal in general?
I don't look or care for production in black metal. If a band has a good production but plays the style of black metal I like then great. If they have a necro production that's fine by me as well. I don't care what others do with their music, if I like it then I like it. As for Kult ov Azazel we aren't going for a necro sound or a polished sound either. We like to walk the middle ground and go for the raw sound with a clean production. I think with all our recordings we have achieved this.

You've mentioned that you'd prefer not to burn churches and thus sit in jail. If there was one person that you could legally brutally torture and murder, who would it be and why?
Too many to narrow just down to one. The German bastards that ripped me off for 800 Euros are currently at the top of my list.

Can you see yourself playing this type of black metal in 5 years? 10 years? Beyond?
Honestly I can't look that far into my existence, I could be dead tomorrow so it's only today that matters to me. But if I'm still alive in 5 or 10 years you can bet your soul I'll still be playing black metal.

Links of interest:

Kult Ov Azazel
Arctic Music Group