Few days before their shows at the Demon's Gate Festival that will take place in Athens, Greece from 30/9 to 1/10, Daniel Bryntse/Ragnar and Crister Olsson/Mats of the Swedish epic black-metallers Ereb Altor and classic doom-metallers Isole, speak to greek webzine RockOverdose.gr.
Read below their answers to Angelos Katsoura's questions and prepare for unique moments!
RockOverdose: Hello guys, it’s so nice to host you on Rock Overdose. We would like to know how we find you nowadays and what you have been up to lately in general at first.
Let’s start with Isole camp. It’s been recently 3 years since “Dystopia” came out. Are you satisfied with the way the album turned out? It introduced some new elements, how did people react on the material? I personally saw some very praising opinions.
Daniel Bryntse/Ragnar: So far I have never been fully satisfied with anything I’ve ever recorded. It’s more of a “can I cope with this?”-moment when deciding upon approving a take, a song, a mix, a master. It sometimes takes years before I can listen to a recording without getting hang-ups over small imperfections or things that could have been done differently. Now, 3 years later, I think we did an overall good job with the album, though.
I’ve seen all kinds of reactions towards it. From those that only want us to do the first two albums over and over again, to those who actually think it is the best album we’ve ever done (so far). Most of what I’ve seen or heard has been leaning more towards the positive side, which is nice, of course.
RockOverdose: You have been extremely unlucky with your studio flooding. We would like to know if you lost any material and what the current state of the studio is. Obviously it postponed the release of the new album, do we have a possible date of release?
Daniel Bryntse/Ragnar:Keeping in mind what could have been, we were quite lucky. Nothing super important were damaged or destroyed. Judging by how everything looked when we were allowed inside, the water level in the building were at its highest at about the same plane as the floor in our rehearsal/studio room.
Carton boxes and other porous material placed directly on the floor were the only real losses. There were, however, quite a lot of condense water accumulated in our gear. But since this is pure water we let our stuff dry for quite some time before plugging them back in. It was an “exciting” moment starting up the studio computer a few months later…
Anyway, since then we have moved to another building in a different part of the town and now have our place safely up on the second floor. The next album is all done and ready. I’m not sure we have a release date set yet, but it should be during Q1 2023.
RockOverdose: The new album will come with a new contract with Hammerheart. Was it something like a payback with what you went through? Do we have a title and any clues on the direction? You said the melancholy will be back, should we expect something slower for example?
Daniel Bryntse/Ragnar: I wouldn’t call it a payback exactly, but it was a convenient solution considering we’ve successfully worked with Hammerheart before with both Isole and Ereb Altor.
I’m still too close to this recording (see previous answer as to why) to have a somewhat objective view about things. My feeling is that the new album might be a bit darker and heavier overall relative to “Dystopia”. I can’t give you the title just yet, but an announcement is due relatively shortly.
RockOverdose: Sweden always had a tradition in doom metal, with Candlemass being the band recognized as the fathers of all. How does it feel when you read that Isole continued the legacy of Candlemass the last 15 years? Did you expect to have such an impact on people?
Daniel Bryntse/Ragnar: Well… Candlemass is still around, continuing their own legacy. I myself would never dare compare us with the mighty behemoth that they are in this style of music. But it is humbling hearing and reading such nice words.
Did I expect it? No. Never.
RockOverdose: Many fans worried that with the rise of Ereb Altor, Isole were a bit left back. Do you have anything to declare regarding the future of Isole?
Daniel Bryntse/Ragnar: It is true that Isole were placed on the back burner for a while when Ereb Altor took off. As gig request etc. started pouring in more for one than the other we would be stupid not to strike while the iron was still hot. What the future holds, only future knows.
RockOverdose: Let’s go to the Ereb Altor camp now. Needless to say, the first two albums brought back the epic era Bathory feeling like nothing else. We would like to know how you feel the impact of his personality still to this day, being Swedes also, how did you live the fact of his influence back then in the glory days?
Crister Olsson/Mats: Since many years I think Ereb Altor have developed its own unique sound and the latter albums might not have as much in common with Bathory especially compared to the first albums. Still, I can’t deny I am a big Bathory fan and Quorthon’s music will always have some sort of impact on me.
RockOverdose: “The End” was supposed to be the last Ereb Altor album, hence the title. What made you change your opinion? The response of people? Maybe a thought that you had to go on honouring Quorthon’s legacy? It still remains a frequent question nowadays.
Crister Olsson/Mats: Ereb Altor was not a band back then, more like a fun project of Daniel and myself. At first, we decided to blow some life in some old compositions with an epic Bathory feel. We had material for 2 albums and that was the goal. Just to make these old songs of ours some proper justice with real recordings and release them.
We didn’t really expect that people would love these songs and the response were bigger and better than we expected hence the reason of the continuation and also the creation of a real band with a full line-up.
I would also say that the inspiration started to thrive when we were digging throughout our old demo recordings from the 90’s and it was simply no choice but to follow the inspiration and it seems that we got stuck with this “side project to isole” in the end.
RockOverdose: Did you feel you completed your vision of the more epic Bathory sounding era with the first two albums so you changed the direction in the more “Blood Fire Death” vain style? Or did it just happen naturally?
Crister Olsson/Mats: I had some old black metal songs from back in the day laying around and I had never really played in a black metal band before and saw the opportunity to maybe implement this in Ereb Altor as well. When I look back at Gastrike I sometimes feel that we made the leap to abrupt going from rather slow epic music directly into the world of black metal. I think we have found a very good balance nowadays with both elements seamlessly united together somehow. It took some years to really find the right balance and the unique Ereb Altor sound.
RockOverdose: “Vargtimman” is another great album in your catalogue, how do you feel about it seven months after its release? For some reason it sounds as if the band doesn’t age at all, in contrary, there is something like a renewal in the whole approach. Do you feel you did something different or is it the vibe it transmits to the listener?
Crister Olsson/Mats: I am kind of like Daniel in these matters. It will take a few years for me to really be able to look back at Vargtimman with an open mind. I always hear the things I would do different and the flaws 😊. I always try to explore some new elements and new approaches with every release. For instance, this time we started to use Hammond organs and also played around with some more disharmonic chords.
One thing I could say about Vargtimman is that the balance between harsh and epic is in my opinion better that ever and the nice production Tord was able to create suits the album pretty well.
RockOverdose: As mentioned above, Ereb Altor turned to be your priority compared to Isole and albums followed each other really fast. Did you feel it came more easy to write Ereb Altor material compared to Isole material? Or did you want to push the limit as much as you could?
Crister Olsson/Mats: Yes, it’s easier for me to write an Ereb Altor album compared to an Isole album. I work a lot together with Tord in Ereb Altor. He starts to produce the music in an early stage and we discuss a lot of things back and forth during the whole process. We kind of like enter a bubble and get very focused on the task. In isole on the other hand I work more or less alone when I am writing music and the fact that all members in isole is not living in the same city also makes us not getting together as often as we do when it comes to Ereb Altor.
RockOverdose: Some general questions if you please. Both your bands continue the glorious Swedish legacy in metal music. What makes your country so productive in all genres? We know you learn an instrument while being on school, do you believe it plays a significant part to your evolution as musicians in the future?
Daniel Bryntse/Ragnar: The music lessons in elementary school is probably more about music history and singing kids songs rather than actual playing. But there are voluntary, open and free for all municipal music schools if you are so inclined. I never really went to any of these. I believe I made it to two or three lessons, but it was mandatory to first learn to read simple sheet music and play fipple flute before choosing an instrument of you liking. I wasn’t up to that.
However, I think it boils down to two or three things.First, boredom...there isn’t much to do during the dark months of winter, unless you’re into winter sports like skiing or ice-hockey. And I’m not much of an athlete, so… music.
Second, availability… many youth centers has a music room, fully equipped with a typical rock/pop backline for kids to borrow. It’s also fairly easy to get contribution/handouts from various educational associations if you have a “music ensemble”
And third… perhaps general safety and a well developed social security network. As teenagers / young adults we really don’t need to worry much about how to survive day to day, and have all this time making/doing “stuff”. Be it music, arts, sports, video games or whatever.
RockOverdose: Both your bands are an example of working hard by playing something non commercial, and still achieve respect for what you do. What would you advise a new band that looks up to you to do when it comes to their start? What should they be careful about? Have you faced difficulties that could maybe bring you down so far?
Crister Olsson/Mats: My first advise is that you really have to believe in what you do and try to do it from the heart. People will hear that its not fake then. You also have to be ready to put a lot of time and effort in the band when it comes to all areas. In the non commercial scene there is a lot of DIY and you must be prepared to learn new things and take care of most things by yourself.
RockOverdose: When you start composing, do you already know it’s gonna be an Isole or Ereb Altor song? Has it ever come for a song to change band while being structured? What is more important to you in composing? Honesty? Heaviness? Make it out of the heart? All or none of the above and maybe something we haven’t thought about?
Crister Olsson/Mats: Yes, I always know if it’s gonna be Isole or Ereb Altor. I kind of enter an isole mode or Ereb Altor mode and enter my bubble during the process. To me, the musical languages between the bands differ a lot and there is no doubt for me if it sounds isole or Ereb Altor.
Most important for me as a composer is to please myself and my own needs. The music must be intriguing to me before I can bring it out in the open. I would also say that making out of the heart is important as well.
RockOverdose: It would be interesting to know your plans in general with both bands. Do you try to find a way to tour with both bands If possible or maybe Ereb Altor takes over a bit in the end? How much did the pandemic affect your albums, the one that came with Ereb Altor and the one that comes with Isole?
Crister Olsson/Mats: We had a headliner tour planned this year with Ereb Altor but unfortunately it got cancelled. We will still try to go on tour with both bands if it will be possible although there are hard times ahead with inflation, wars and viruses.
Nightliner prices have gone sky high and also the flights are getting very expensive and that is not good for underground bands from Scandinavia since we have to fly almost every time. Metal clubs have had a hard time during the pandemic and everything is very uncertain but we will do our best to as many shows as we possibly can.
I think the pandemic struck both bands album pretty hard. We did make an European tour with both Dystopia and Järtecken. But all the festivals EA had scheduled for Järtecken got cancelled or postponed which is a pity. Now the focus on our shows will be on Vargtimman but we will try to shed some light on the songs from Järtecken as well.
RockOverdose: Let’s come to the Demon’s Gate Festival. It’s been a while since we saw you in Greece. You know we love you and we know you love us. There is an undeniable bond between Greek fans and your bands. Why do you believe this happened? Do we understand your music better maybe? Do you feel more yourselves and relieved while being in Greece? What should the Greek fans wait from your bands’ performances?
Crister Olsson/Mats: Yeah, finally ! It’s been far too long and we have also had a good time in Greece. I don’t really know why but I guess Greek fans like our Scandinavian touch or something or perhaps Greek fans simply are the best 😉.
You can expect us to enter the stage with 110% heart!
RockOverdose: Last but not least, we would like to thank you for your time. We apologize for the length but we thought it was a good chance to combine your thoughts and present both bands equally. We leave the last words to you and the last we’d like to know, is the merch you will bring with you specifically if possible, as many people are interested and want to support both bands, with many bands present in two days, people want to arrange their economics so any help from you is welcome. Congratulations for what you have offered us so far with both bands. We love you and always will.
Crister Olsson/Mats: Thank you ! Horns up and keep the flame alive !
We will bring as much merch we can on the flight. LP, CD, patches, t-shirts and hoodies.
See you soon and lets have a blast together!