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Antestor

Death / Doom Metal
Jessheim, Norway

Antestor is a Norwegian unblack metal band formed in 1990 in Jessheim. Credited for starting the northern European Christian black metal scene, Antestor is the only Christian band to have an album released by Cacophonous Records, which has also released records by bands such as Dimmu Borgir, Sigh, and Cradle of Filth. The band's only release on Cacophonous, The Return of the Black Death, proved influential for the Christian black metal movement, and has sold over 10,000 copies.

In 1990, the band was formed under the name Crush Evil by Lars Stokstad, Kjetil Molnes, Øyvind Hope, and Erling Jørgensen in Jessheim, Norway. Paul W joined them as a drummer later on. At this time, the band's music style was a mixture of death metal, doom metal, and thrash metal. In 1991, they recorded and released their first demo, The Defeat of Satan, which contains three songs and an outro. The band is Christian and over the course of their career have received death threats because of this.

In 1993, Vegard Undal joined the band as a bassist and Svein Sander became their drummer. During that time, they changed the name Crush Evil to Antestor, which is Latin for “to call to witness” or “testify”. Despair was their first self-released demo under the name Antestor. The demo starts with an intro and ends with a cover of an old Norwegian hymn, called “Jesus, Jesus, Ver Du Hjå Meg” (“Jesus, Jesus, Be With Me”). Strawberry Records pressed 600 copies of the recording.

In December 1994, Antestor recorded their first full-length album titled Martyrium. Arctic Serenades Records was originally supposed to release that album, but because of unknown reasons that never happened, and the band tried to get another label to release the album. American-based label Morphine Records would subsequently distribute bootleg copies of the album in 1997. In an interview, the drummer Armoth said: “…we were in contact with a label called Morphine Records. But that was about signing a deal for the Martyrium album. But we never signed a contract but that guy, Burrito, made several promotapes and sold every bit of it illegally 'cause he didn't have a contract.” However, the tape copies circulated in up to fifth generation copies and their audience grew fast. Martyrium was the last album that emphasized the band's death/doom direction.

On June 3, 1994 Antestor appeared on a local television program called “BootlegTV” where youth could practice and experience recording and video production. Usually local bands from Oslo played on that program which was broadcast on the television station TVNorge. During the course of this program, Antestor played five songs from Martyrium. On June 6, 1995 Antestor was featured on the Norwegian weekly newspaper Morgenbladet's article about the phenomenon of Christian black metal, surrounding the black metal parody controversy of the Australian unblack metal group Horde's 1994 album Hellig Usvart. In the article, vocalist Kjetil Molnes explains the band's stance on if a Christian band can play black metal: “We identify ourselves as black metal as a music style, not black metal as an ideology or belief.”

In the late 1990s they dubbed their musical style as “sorrow metal” rather than black metal because the black metal movement was publicly affiliated with Satanism in Norway. According to HM magazine, the progressive elements on the debut album, Martyrium, were possibly ahead of their time in the Norwegian extreme metal scene.

In 1997, Antestor recorded a promotional CD titled Kongsblod. The promo-CD caught the interest of British Cacophonous Records, one of the biggest labels with experience in the black metal style and helped established groups such as Cradle of Filth and Dimmu Borgir start their career. Cacophonous signed a record deal for 2 albums with Antestor. In 1998, Cacophonous released Kongsblod under a different name, The Return of the Black Death, and changed the original cover art of a famous Norwegian painting to artwork by Joe Petagno, a well-known American heavy metal cover art creator.

The Return of the Black Death was mostly well received by both Christian and non-Christian black metal fans and critics. For example, the British metal magazines Kerrang! and Terrorizer both gave the album 4 points out of 5. Musically, The Return of the Black Death is a mixture of black metal and doom metal. The album relies on hypnotic, cold atmosphere and showcases influences from Norwegian folk music, which led some to label Antestor as Viking metal.

In 2000, Antestor was signed by Endtime Productions, a metal record label that also helped to start the career of the Norwegian metal band Extol. The original vocalist Kjetil Molnes (Martyr) left Antestor. However, the breakup of another Christian metal band in Norway, Vaakevandring, led to several former Vaakevandring members joining Antestor. Namely, Ronny Hansen, adopting the new moniker Vrede, became Antestor's new vocalist, and Morten Sigmund Mageroy (known in Antestor as Sygmoon) stepped in as the new keyboardist. Ann-Mari Edvardsen, who has sung in the Norwegian gothic metal group The Third and the Mortal, joined the band as a female vocalist. For the first time in their career, Antestor began using the infamous corpse paint masks as a part of their live shows and overall image.

In 2000, Endtime Productions released Martyrium with cover art done by the reputive Swedish metal music cover artist Kristian Wåhlin. Antestor toured the United States with Extol that year, playing small venues and finally performing at Cornerstone Festival. Over the next several years, the band remained somewhat quiet; they did not release any more albums until 2003, when they re-released their two earliest demos on one CD, titling it The Defeat of Satan. The drummer, Svein Sander (in Antestor, Armoth), left the band during this time, and Antestor would not find a new full-time drummer for several more years.

Discography

1993 Despair Strawberry Records
1997 Martyrium (pre-release) Morphine Records
1997 Kongsblod
1998 The Return of the Black Death Cacophonous Records
2000 Martyrium Endtime Productions
2003 The Defeat of Satan Momentum Scandinavia
2004 Det tapte liv Endtime Productions
2005 The Forsaken Endtime Productions
2012 Omen Bombworks Records

Despair

1993 Strawberry Records

Martyr - Vocals
Vemod - Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards
Pilgrim - Guitars
Gard - Bass
Armoth - Drums

  1. Preludium (0:50)
  2. Demonic Seduction (5:59)
  3. Message from Hell (3:38)
  4. Lost Generation (2:30)
  5. Human (4:59)
  6. Jesus, Jesus, ver du hjå meg (3:14)

Martyrium (pre-release)

1997 Morphine Records

Martyr – Vocals
Pilgrim – Guitars
Vemod – Guitars
Gard – Bass
Armoth – Drums

  1. Spiritual Disease
  2. Materalistic Lie
  3. Depressed
  4. Searching
  5. Inmost Fear
  6. Under the Sun
  7. Thoughts
  8. Martyrium
  9. Mercy Lord

Kongsblod

1997 Independent

Martyr - Vocals
Vemod - Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards
Gard - Bass
Armoth - Drums

  1. Vinterferden (1:21)
  2. A Sovereign Fortress (4:54)
  3. Svartedauens gjenkomst (4:42)
  4. Sorg (6:14)
  5. The Bridge of Death (5:31)
  6. Gamlelandet (6:14)
  7. Kilden - lik en endelös elv (6:23)
  8. Kongsblod (5:50)
  9. Battlefield (5:59)
  10. Ancient Prophecy (8:00)
  11. Ildnatten (2:05)

The Return of the Black Death

1998 Cacophonous Records

Martyr - Vocals
Vemod - Guitars, Keyboards
Gard - Bass
Armoth - Drums

  1. Vinterferden (1:21)
  2. A Sovereign Fortress (4:54)
  3. Svartedauens gjenkomst (4:42)
  4. Sorg (6:14)
  5. The Bridge of Death (5:31)
  6. Gamlelandet (6:14)
  7. Kilden - lik en endelös elv (6:23)
  8. Kongsblod (5:50)
  9. Battlefield (5:59)
  10. Ancient Prophecy (8:00)
  11. Ildnatten (2:05)

Martyrium

2000 Endtime Productions

Martyr – Vocals
Pilgrim – Guitars
Vemod – Guitars
Gard – Bass
Armoth – Drums

  1. Spiritual Disease (6:42)
  2. Materalistic Lie (3:13)
  3. Depressed (6:43)
  4. Thoughts (7:09)
  5. Under the Sun (5:00)
  6. Inmost Fear (5:38)
  7. Searching (3:00)
  8. Martyrium (2:59)
  9. Mercy Lord (6:40)