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.

May 08, 2016

Classic tracks: Hell's Rock & Roll

'Hell's Rock & Roll' has been a popular song among Countess fans ever since it was written - especially live. In this post, Orlok takes a look at the creation of this anthemic track.

The studio version from 1997

"We were rehearsing some time in June 1996 and Zagan showed us a couple of riffs he had. We all liked them so we set about to make a song out of them. While playing the parts, we quickly came up with a song structure. The next step was, of course, writing lyrics. I thought about that for a while until the rather rocking nature of the song inspired me to name the track 'Hell's Rock & Roll'. The lyrics quickly followed: a rather cartoonish tale about the devil inspiring men to create metal. It was meant as a sarcastic response to those people who always claim that heavy metal is the devil's music: yes, of course it is! The devil made us do it!
When a few people outside of the band heard the song, they were quite surprised because it sounded somewhat different from most of our other songs (this was before 'black & roll' really was a thing, as far as I am aware). They did like it, though. So we decided to include it in our set for the recording of the live album in November 1996. The audience response to the song was great and we all realized that this could become a real live favourite. Since then, it has been played at every Countess show.

The live version from 1996

Early in 1997 we decided to record an EP. Since 'Hell's Rock & Roll' hadn't been released yet, it was obvious it was going to be on this EP. In fact, we made it the title track. I don't really recall why we did that, probably because we thought it was a cool title.

When we returned to playing live in 2014, it was a given that 'Hell's Rock & Roll' would be included in the set. Unlike in the nineties, however, when we usually played the song somewhere in the middle of the set (except once in Hillegom, where we opened with it) we decided to make it the closing song, immediately following another classic, 'Bloed In De Sneeuw'. This proved to be a good idea: these two songs turned out to be perfect closers for a Countess show.
Of course, 'Hell's Rock & Roll' also had to be included on the compilation of new versions of our personal favourite songs we released in 2014. Since 'Hell's Rock & Roll' has proven to work best as a live song, we opted against recording a new studio version and instead included the version we played at 'Metal Magic' earlier in 2014."

The live version from 2014