(We present Karina Cifuentes’ interview of Erik Molnar, one of the guitarists in the Swedish band Hyperion, whose 2016 album Seraphical Euphony appeared frequently in our readers’ year-end lists and is indeed damned good.)
I have not made any end-of-the-year list and I probably won’t do it this year neither, because I think it’s difficult to rank albums, so I prefer to stick to interviews at this time of the year. I chose Hyperion this time, an excellent band from Sweden.
Metal music to me is pretty closely connected to my emotions and I really appreciate it when a band gets me to feel something, and even more if it manages to awaken a wide variety of emotions. That’s one of my main criteria for a band to make it to my personal egalitarian list.
Hyperion is just one such band. Their music evokes a wide range of emotions, and I love that. Seraphical Euphony is a pretty interesting album that has a really well-structured composition and it succeeds in giving the listener awesome epic buildups and symphonic elements. Interspersed throughout the album you will find both melancholic and merrier tunes beautifully entwined with powerful Black and Death Metal riffs and a totally relentless and crushing Swedish style of drumming.
Who are Hyperion and which other bands do you guys play in?
Molnar: Hyperion is a Melodic Extreme Metal band from Stockholm, Sweden. The band is comprised of these 5 individuals:
Harry Lauraéus – Vocals
Erik Molnar – Guitars
Mikael Malm – Guitars
Joel Hagroth – Guitars
Anders Peterson – Drums and Orchestrations
Justin Biggs from a Swedish band called Descend also performs live bass with us.
Harry is also a member of his own band called Mudcast, and I also play in another band called Mist of Misery (Joel also performs live duties as a guitar player for that band). Both Mikael and Joel have their own solo projects which they are working on every now and then. Anders is a classically trained pianist and composes his own classical music frequently.
How has the musical evolution of Hyperion been since its beginnings?
Molnar: Very….dynamic I would say. In our meager beginnings as teenagers, we were very much inspired by the Melodic Death Metal scene from Gothenburg, and in particular the golden ’90s era of that scene. This influence is still strongly present with us to this day, but many more ingredients have been added to the mix along the way and thus it has contributed to our ultimate evolution into what we are today.
A lot of influences from more extreme forms of metal have been added along the way. In particular, the glorious days of Black and Death Metal have had a huge impact on our sound. Other than that, every kind of music that we listen to that we consider to convey the right type of emotion, we incorporate into our music in one form or another.
Tell me about the neoclassical/classical elements present in the album…
Molnar: I don’t know if the album contains that many neoclassical parts per say… When I hear the word neoclassical, I think of Yngwie Malmsteen, or the old Children of Bodom albums. I don’t hear a lot of those scales, or musical influences in our music, but I will add that our drummer Anders is also a very dedicated classical pianist. He listens to a lot of classical music and was largely responsible for programming/recording the orchestrations on Seraphical Euphony. His skills and musical taste, combined with the fact that our music demands a certain amount of orchestration in order to convey the epic and grand emotions we want to get across, are probably the most important reasons for the classical elements on the album.
Which songs or albums influenced Seraphical Euphony and why?
Molnar: It would be a meaningless act to list all the songs that inspired Seraphical Euphony, because that list would take up far too many pages and it would simply be uninteresting for anyone to read through it all.
A couple of albums that inspired our debut album, however, would be: Storm of the Light’s Bane by Dissection, The Jester Race and Whoracle by In Flames, Slaughter of the Soul by At The Gates, In The Nightside Eclipse as well as Anthems of the Welkin at Dusk by Emperor, Altars of Madness and perhaps some other albums by Morbid Angel, some of the earlier works of Blind Guardian as well as Iron Maiden and… lots of other stuff.
I’m sure you can find a lot of other influences in the mix as well, such as Opeth, some lot of old school gaming music as well as movie soundtracks, Dark Tranquillity, some old Arch Enemy… a lot of different bands and music in general.
In your opinion, how should a properly epic buildup be made in order to create a climax in a song?
Molnar: I would say that there is no particular correct way to create the “right” kind of climax. Epicness can come in many different shapes and sizes. We like to create epic build-ups in the form of melodies, acoustic passages and interludes, convincing lyrical themes and lines, as well as orchestrations and many other ingredients.
Diversity is also a very important ingredient when creating epic music, as it is in creating many forms of music. As long as you get that… special feeling when listening to music that you can do just about anything and nothing stands in your way because the music radiates such power and conviction, you have achieved epicness within your music.
How did you guys balance the DM/BM parts in the album?
Molnar: Variation and dynamics are key ingredients in the music of Hyperion. We do not have so much of a preconceived plan when composing music, but rather rely on the overall feeling, and we take great effort in fixing every little detail in the song to make it as good as it possibly can be.
In the case of balancing the Death and Black Metal influences on the album, it really boils down to what comes naturally for us and what the song demands. Some songs might require a lot more energy and intensity than others in the form of Black Metal oriented minor chords, and some other song might require some Death Metal oriented riffs. It all comes down to what we feel the song we are working on demands when composing it. We do not have a set of rules that state that we have to include this much Black Metal influence, or this much Death Metal influence in each song. It just comes naturally.
You guys have used melodic transitions between songs, a sort of intermezzo if you will. I think every transition has its own distinctive character. They convey different emotions and some contrast with the song they introduce. Were those composed separately? Were you consciously trying to wake up some emotions in the listener after the previous song?
Molnar: I’m glad that you find some contrast in our music, because that is certainly one of our goals when composing. Again, it is nothing that we really plan so much beforehand, it just happens naturally for us. There was a period in the band where everyone (except for me) thought that the album would contain far too many acoustic passages. But we kept all of them, and in the end, I think they all contribute to the atmosphere and the emotions that each song conveys.
We are always trying to make music that creates that special feeling within you. We want the listener to feel as if he/she is carried away into another world. A world that is populated by the elements that the particular track is portraying that is being listened to at the moment. Or at least, that is what we aim for.
When I listen to music that I consider to be authentic and powerful, it touches me on so many levels and I feel as if nothing else matters, except for the particular emotion which the track in question is trying to convey. That is the feeling we want to create in our music. Whether we have succeeded with this goal or not, is not up to us to decide, but our faithful supporters.
I really loved the rhythmical variety in the album and how it has been layered to highlight different aspects, either instruments or notes. Tell us more about the process of composition and production.
Molnar: The composition process of Hyperion can best be described with 3 words: Chaotic, slow, and thorough. We really like to take our time and make the songs as good as possible before including them in our live set, or before even considering including them on an upcoming release. Almost everyone in the band contributes to the creative process in one form or another, so a huge variety of influences are added from all corners of the vast universe that is our musical taste.
A dropbox folder is usually our main storage of potential ideas that we share and that everyone in the band has access to. We simply throw all of our ideas in there and together, in a very chaotic manner, we create the music we want to hear without any limits, or restrictions. Me and Mikael meet up at times and usually jam and work through ideas at my place as well, and sometimes various ideas can appear out of thin air when we are rehearsing.
It really is a chaotic mish-mash and it is very much about solving puzzles that are comprised of thousands of ideas that eventually turn out to be the songs that end up being material of use to us.
The production process on our debut album was a long and demanding one that could not have been made possible without the guidance of our exceptionally talented audio mixing/mastering guy Sverker Widgren. He basically took over the tracks that we had recorded during the course of about 2,5 years in total and augmented them according to our instructions. For about 6-8 months, we sent files back and forth to each other before settling on the sound that we now have on the album.
The recording and general production process was a long a tedious one and Hyperion truly rested upon a marble statue during those recording sessions, but eventually we emerged stronger than ever at the end and we are glad that we did not falter.
Thank you for the interview!