Reapers of Souls

An interview with Hallgeir Skretting Enoksen, Norwegian metal powerhouse Purified  In Blood’s vocalist, and lead guitarist Sander Sagblad Loen.

Let’s start with an introduction.

Sander: Hi, I am Sander and I play guitar in Purified  In Blood.

Hallgeir: And I sing in Purified In Blood. We started the band in 2003, Sander was not in the band back then; we wanted to be a band playing extreme music but with a message. With our first EP, Last Leaves of a Poisonous Tree… Back then there were two singers. When the second singer quit, we got Glenn (Reaper), our guitar player, to do the vocals with us. Sanders joined the band in 2004, right after we finished our first US tour. We started creating a whole scene around the band, some kind of DIY hardcore scene with the same ethics that we saw in other bands of the same genre.

Which part of Norway are you from?

Sander: We are all from the west coast of Norway. The area where we grew up is called Stavanger, it’s not very big and it’s very different from Oslo. Oslo is a horrible city, if you come and visit the Stavanger area and cities like Bergen, where the landscapes are very intense, you will realise how ugly Oslo has become; it’s like a totally different planet. We have always been very inspired by our surroundings and the power of nature. Oslo is too grey and looks more like a German city; there is no space as there are tall buildings everywhere.

Hallgeir: I need to detach myself from the City, I like to surround myself with nature and its purity.

So how did you all come together to conceive Purified In Blood in this powerful, nature-infused contest?

Sander: We started out in the hardcore scene but we soon started playing Slayer-inspired thrash.  Because we were very young when we decided to put a band together and we were listening to all sort of metal, we also got inspired by metalcore somehow.  That’s why initially we were called a metalcore band; our first full length album, Reaper of Souls, was labeled as such.

Do you think that such label was given to Reaper Of Souls because of the vocals?

Sander: Yeah, I think so. And the riffs, the way they turn melodic. I thought that it sounded very unique in its genre, and even if it was considered a metalcore album, it was definitely inspired by super thrash bands like Kreator.

Hallgeir: I think that the music elements got combined with the attitude we had as a band; we were a strong part of the hardcore scene. So when you have metal and hardcore, you are immediately recognised as a metalcore band. It’s just talk anyway and when we came back after a hiatus (from 2007 to 2008) with our second album, Under Black Skies, we did not have any of the early elements in our music; there was nothing metalcore in it. We do not want to be labeled metalcore now, we are not a metalcore band at all.

Hallgeir: It’s funny when people start calling you something… that sticks with you for a long time. All you have to do is to listen to the album and, if you know about music and you know about genres , you also know it’s not metalcore. I do not care to be honest, people can think what they want.

When I first heard the name Purified In Blood, I thought you were another Norwegian Black Metal Band. Why did you go for this name to identify yourselves?

Hallgeir: The name is actually taken from an Italian band called Purification. They had a song called Purified In Blood and we added our own meaning to that; we thought it fitted us perfectly. Lyrically we focus on the bad sides of society.

Sander: And injustice, all over.

Hallgeir: I would not say we are an anti-capitalist band, we do not have that label, but we are against a lot of the ways that society is using resources and how it is treating human beings and animals. There is a lot of social anthropology in our lyrics and there is a lot of criticism against how we choose to live our lives here and how we end up separating ourselves from nature. The name Purified In Blood means that by seeing all those things you need to take a step back and start taking responsibility for your actions, so that instead you can start separating yourself from what is wrong. There is a deep meaning behind the name, it’s not easy to explain it but this is what I feel best clarifies our band name. I also think that this is the way most of the band members feel.

Sander: We do not all agree on everything, but we have the basic punk rock attitude as a band.  There is a lot of anti-establishment in what we want to represent with your music and with the way we choose to live our lives, by evolving into doing something better.

Hallgeir: We used to be a straight edge band, which we felt was good for us at that period in time. We felt that as we were so political as a band, we also wanted to have clear minds to choose our actions.  Being straight edge made us feel stronger and more connected to each other. But then things evolve, for some of us being straight edge was not an option anymore. Me and Sanders are definitely not anymore, I do not want to have any label on myself anymore; you cannot really define your life with a label, it would limit the mind too much. Instead, it needs to be open to allow greater thinking. You have the embrace the life for what it is, it’s not always written in stone what the right thing to do is.

Sander: Musically, we do not want to repeat ourselves. We will never do the same album that we did in 2004. In 2012, we had a new album, Flight Of A Dying Sun which is totally different and the next one will be even more different. I am not even sure we play metal now, we just play heavy music.

What was it like to suddenly going from playing small shows in the Stavanger area to perform in foreign countries?

Hallgeir: Before we split up in 2007 we did a lot of touring; we were so young, and when you are that young you do not remember everything that happens as it all happens so fast. We were just living all that was happening to us, we did not really have a plan or anything like that, we did not even a manager!


Hallgeir: Yeah! We just went everywhere we could play live. Purified In Blood has matured a lot since those early days…which is a good thing.

As a matter of fact, your latest album Flight Of A Dying Sun clearly defines the essential evolution of Purified In Blood.

Sanders: Thank you, we really appreciate you saying that. We think that our changes are pretty visible on this album, we are more mature both as individuals and also as band, and our personalities affect the music a lot. Having the break-up that we had in 2007 really helped us find ourselves. Before that, we were so young and so full of anger.

Where was the anger coming from?

Hallgeir: From living in a country like Norway, which is built on the blood money coming from the oil industry. Statoil, the biggest company in Norway is raping the planet: all those people that work for them and have a nice car and go to church have more blood on their hands than anyone selling amphetamine in the street. The concept of progress in a capitalistic society means making one dollar into two, then three, then four, without thinking about the consequences. This does not mean living a sustainable life, which means to take what you can and give back. And this is not the way we live in Norway. This is a good reason to be angry. Norway has one of the highest suicide rate in the world, people are too stressed all the time in order to be up with this pace. My first job was in the oil business: I remember going to a meeting and my boss was explaining how the company would have had to move the indigenous people from that particular area  to follow a development plan… so I quit. Now besides being in the band, I work with kids with drug and behavioral problems. Sanders works in a kindergarten; we all do something that means for us.

It’s admirable really. I wish all the best to Purified In Blood, hope to see you live again soon.

Sanders: Thank you. In the meantime check our latest video, Inspired. That has a lot of our message in it.


Purified in Blood will be performing at the Inferno Festival together with bands like Satyricon, Taake, Deicide, Dark Funeal and Solefald. The legendary metal event will take place in Oslo, Norway, from 27 to 30 March. For tickets and travel information check out Stay tuned!!

Fabiola Santini