Discussing the state of black metal, Emperor frontman Ihsahn has described the notorious genre as rather watered down these days, much like the rest of metal subgenres.
"I think particularly black metal has gone gray like many other metal subgenres or like music in general, really," he told Noisey. "You start out new as a phenomenon, and there gradually becomes different directions in that. Some people do something new, and then some people copy it, and it becomes watered down.
"It becomes gray," the musician continued. "A lot of people involved in this genre originally do a lot of other interesting stuff. The genre itself has changed, but I think extreme music - it's more a matter of the whole music industry having changed. That's kind of the biggest thing if you take black metal now and then.
Comparing now and then, Ihsahn focused on the mystique factor, saying, "For us being here now against being there then, I guess our whole career is built on this kind of mystique almost. People didn't know sh-t about us. We were just crazy Norwegians from a place that most people hadn't heard of doing this extreme music in this strange makeup. [Laughs]
"So people had absolutely no clue. Whereas today you get in touch with the biggest stars on Twitter or Facebook or whatever. Nothing is private. It's very bad times to be kind of a mysterious black metal artist, I guess. It'd be very hard to build that kind of niche again if you were a young band starting out today. [Laughs]"
Further discussing the matter, the frontman placed the internet among the somewhat negative segments of today's music scene. "If you look at it from an industry point of view, the internet sucks, but you can't really put down the Internet, can you?" he asked.
"There are definitely some up sides as well. It's just changed. There's so much to benefit from in discovering new stuff, but it does challenge people within this genre where back in the early '90s, that was the natural way of going about it and, of course, you have the avid experience from both ends now.
"Metal, in general, has always been very theatrical, and it's supposed to be larger than life. It started in peril in the early '90s with the whole theatrical black metal thing where you had the grunge movement that was kind of very mundane and down to earth. These days you don't have these kind of rock stars anymore, not to the same extent. Which, in practical terms, this is very, very good.
"But at the same time, I love that you still have people like Prince around, who live in their own extreme rock star world. [Laughs] It's just something fascinating about that. It's like when I view a piece of art, I don't give a s--t what the artist had for dinner or if he was at the gym. But the idea is that if it was an illusion back then or now, it was supposed to be.
"I remember as a fan of music myself, when I went to see my first Iron Maiden show, just that feeling of being within the same four walls, even though it was a huge concert, I was breathing the same air as Iron Maiden. I've had the pleasure of meeting some of my childhood heroes, and they're really nice people, but it kind of changes your perspective.
"Sometimes it's just good to have that kind of distance and to have that kind of out-of-this-world type of experience. You don't need everything. When you get a nice meal at a restaurant, you don't want to know the full recipe. You just want to enjoy it. [Laughs]" Ihsahn concluded.