Thorns 1988-1990 : Stigma Diabolicum

I would like to speak about Blackthorn. You might know him better under his actual name – which does not lack irony in the realm of Black Metal : Snorre Westvold Ruch.

Snorre is not a Black Metal superstar ; by many who know his name, he is merely seen as the “man in the shadows”, a second-grade character in the grand show of the 90s Norwegian scene. And yet, he is the man who coined THE Black Metal sound we all know. We owe those sinuous, tremolo-picked complaints that inspired so many artists and carry such a large emotional palette, all to him.

I would like to tell you of his saga. I will not be telling you the days of high adventure, but merely the sad story of treason, abuse and profit. The story of Black Metal. The story of Thorns.

Snorre, aged 18, creates his first band Stigma Diabolicum – which will be renamed to Thorns a year later – with a bunch of other adolescents ; first comes Marius Vold, quickly joined by Harald Eilertsen, and a certain Bård Eithun.

As many teenage musicians in those pre-Internet times of tape trading and bootlegging, they all worked, composed and recorded themselves with whatever modest means they had, most often remotely from each other. And anyone who already drove down the sinuous, mountaineous landscapes of Norway has a sense of what ‘distance’ means in this country.

Therefore the sound of their very first demos is, as expected, trve kvlt utter shite. Compositions and execution are approximative at best, and the scribbles on the demo tapes are embarrassing to say the least.

All apologies for this moment of cringe then. But an attentive ear can spot a little je-ne-sais-quoi about the riffs, in this sonic porridge of punkish drums and rattling noises. Something that will eventually stick later on.

Stay tuned, this will get better, I promise.