Among the first Dutch black metal bands in the early nineties, Countess have always set themselves apart from other bands by a fierce loyalty to their old school influences. For two and a half decades, while fashions came and went, Countess stayed true to their vision and thus earned a worldwide cult status in the metal underground.

In spite of their sworn allegiance to metal orthodoxy, Countess have never shied from innovation. In 1994 they created the first black metal song with Dutch lyrics (Bloed In De Sneeuw) and in 1997 were among the first bands to take a rocking approach to the genre (Hell's Rock & Roll).

Over the course of 25 years and 15 full-length albums, Countess' sound has evolved from the raw black metal of the early releases towards a more traditional heavy metal-influenced style. The band's most recent offering, Fires Of Destiny in 2016, being a powerful example of a seamless integration of heavy and black metal elements.

In 2014 the band returned to the stage after a long period of not having played live. Since then, Countess have performed impressive shows at numerous prestigious metal festivals in their own country, Belgium, Germany, Denmark and Finland.

The core of Countess consists of long-time members Orlok (vocals, bass) and Zagan (guitars) who both have been involved with the project since the nineties. They were recently joined by Mortüüm (drums, 2015) and Häxa (keyboards, 2016) to complete what is probably the band's strongest formation to date.

October 01, 2015

'Ad Maiorem Sathanae Gloriam' released twenty years ago

Two decades ago today, Countess' third full-length 'Ad Maiorem Sathanae Gloriam' was released. Time for Orlok to take a trip down memory lane and write down some recollections from the creation of this classic record . . .



"In September 1994 I took a trip to Regensburg to deliver the master tape of 'The Return' to Opyros, who would release it on Nazgul's Eyrie Productions. The trip included a visit to one of Elisabeth Bathory's castles, Lockenhaus, where the pictures for the booklet of 'The Return' were taken. Upon our return to Regensburg, we wrote the lyrics to 'The Wrath Of Satan's Whore' together on a napkin in a Spanish restaurant and altogether this journey proved rather inspirational. So when I got home again, I immediately began working on new material.

Before long, I had enough songs written for a new album. I recorded these as demo's and sent them to Opyros (this was before 'The Return' was even released, mind you). He was quite enthusiastic about the new stuff and suggested it might be interesting to record the new record in a real studio this time. Hammerheart recommended 'The Nick' in Mheer for these recordings, where he had just been to record the first Bifrost album 'Pagan Reality', so we booked the studio for late January 1995 and prepared for the recording sessions.

What made these proceedings really special was the fact both Opyros and Demonos Sova came over to the Netherlands to be there. Two days before we went to the studio they arrived and we went to see Bifrost's album presentation show that night, where Demonos got so drunk Opyros and myself literally had to carry him outside after he had puked all over the place . . . I remember he traded some rare 7" with The Unsane for a couple of beers.

When we arrived at the studio we met Nick Hall, the owner and engineer, who turned out to be a cool guy. He was some kind of pop singer (he had a minor hit single in the 70's or so) and didn't understand my kind of music but he did try to understand it, which I appreciated. He was very constructive during the whole process.

We had 16 digital tracks to our disposal and on the first two we laid down the drums I had programmed in my Yamaha RY10 or 'Count Yamaha' as we used to call the thing. After that I put down the bass parts, playing my Aria Pro II IGB-50, through a small amp and a Boss bass chorus, and before we knew it the day was done. The next day I recorded the rhythm guitar parts, playing Nick Hall's Steinberger (which may be extremely ugly but is still by far the best guitar I have ever played). The guitar was plugged straight into the mixing desk through some advanced effects processors but when I could not get the sound I wanted this way we inserted an old Boss DS-1 distortion which helped a lot to get a really raw and filthy guitar sound.

The iconic album cover. The picture was taken by Othalaz at the 'Burcht' in Leiden.
By the time all the rhythm guitar parts were done the first two days of the recording were also done and since we only had the studio for three days this meant the final day would probably a be long one and indeed it was . . . first I did the acoustic parts which was not really easy since I was not used to playing a huge classical guitar, then I did the guitar leads – improvised, as usual – and finally the keyboards. At first Nick Hall tried to do the keyboards through a computer to save tracks but when this didn't really work - because apparently he was not very familiar with his software - we just put down the keyboard parts on tape, having plenty of tracks anyway.

Now only the vocals were left but, as always, these didn't take very long. When I was done Demonos and Opyros did the backing vocals on the intro and when that was done we went out for a bite before starting on the mix. When we came back we ran into the engineer's daughter, a gorgeous chick all dressed in black and wearing fishnet stockings, which made it kind of hard for us to keep our minds on the mixing. Of course, we were also all rather tired by then and there were some misunderstandings. For example, the engineer figured I was mad when I kept saying I wanted more bass in the mix, because he thought I was asking for more low-end, but what I meant was that I wanted the instrument to be more prominent.

The mixing, during which Demonos was emptying the engineer’s liquor cabinet, took all night and if I remember correctly we were finally ready around four in the morning. Of course, it would take a while before the record was released because 'The Return' had only been released a month prior to the recording of 'Ad Maiorem'. We did however release one song off the album - 'The Wrath Of Satan's Whore' - on tape just prior to our German tour with Mortuary Drape in March 1995.

In October 1995, the album itself was finally unleashed upon the world. Initially I wasn't too happy with this album, thinking it sounded too clean and not exactly like I had intended, but I slowly grew to like it. The sound may be a little clean but it's a very distinctive, original sound that fits the music very well and the guitars are raw as Hell. Surprisingly, the album also gathered rather favourable reviews . . . who would have thought that after the first two albums?


Now that it's been twenty years since the record's release, it's safe to say 'Ad Maiorem' has become a classic as well as a firm fan favourite. The album is home to two songs that have emerged as a couple of our most popular tunes through the years: 'The Priest Must Die' and 'The Wrath Of Satan's Whore'. In celebration of the album's twentieth birthday, so to speak, we decided to release videos for brand new versions of both these tracks, featuring both old and new live footage."