(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.
Tell us about yourself, about Khonsu and what made you decide to start this project?
Well, to go really far back in time, my father has always been a hobby musician and when growing up me and my brother Arnt “Obsidian C.” Gronbech from Keep of Kalessin played around with his instruments and recording equipment from a very young age. He had several guitars – both acoustic and electric — a keyboard, and piano, and I think I was 6-7 when I first recorded some of my own music on my his 4 track tape recorder. So listening to music and the joy of making music has always been a part of my family, and without this early environment I would probably never have been a musician today.
My father also felt it would be important to keep learning to play instruments by going to professional lessons, but I didn’t like it very much and he more or less had to force me. I have never been interested in learning to play something someone else has already made, so I came to most lessons unprepared and had not rehearsed. So eventually I quit. I’ve always preferred to improvise and be creative on my own. So I actually have very little knowledge of music theory, and most of the time I have no idea what the chords or scales I am playing are even called.
(We are very fortunate to welcome back our friend Justin Collins (who spends most of his writing time over at Metal Bandcamp) with this guest review of the new album by Oskoreien, accompanied by a very interesting short interview of Oskoreien’s creator, as well as Justin’s equally interesting thoughts about the album’s subject matter.)
It was not even two months ago that we got to reacquaint ourselves with Oskoreien — the excellent but long-quiet black metal project of Jay Valena. Oskoreien contributed two songs to a split with Botanist. (Read my babble about it here.) I, for one, was very pleased to hear Oskoreien again, and was pleasantly surprised to listen to Valena try his hand at a decidedly more electronic sound than what he’d given us on his black-metal-meets-acoustic full-length. So you can imagine my delight when I learned that Oskoreien would be putting out a second album, All Too Human, hot on the heels on that split.
What kind of direction would Valena take this time? My first introduction to the album was a one-sentence description that Islander passed on to me from Valena, stating that, “It’s a concept album about free will inspired by the story of Charles Whitman.”
(We present Latvian music journalist Evita Hofmane’s interview with the Finnish band Re-Armed.)
On September 2016, Saarni Records released The Era of Precarity, the third album by the Finnish Death/Thrash metal band Re-Armed, and in this interview we talk about the new album with Jouni Matilainen (vocals), Jussi Venäläinen (guitars), and Juhana Heinonen (bass).
(Comrade Aleks returns to us with this interview of Scott Penberthy of the Australian band Holy Serpent, whose new release Temples was revealed earlier this fall.)
Australia, with its vast areas, is a hard place to live when you play doom/stoner. You need to survive as the aborigines did, crossing huge distances to find a place where you could stay and play your tribal tunes. However, Holy Serpent have done it successfully since the year 2014 when they recorded their self-titled EP. Scott Penberthy (vocals, guitars), Nick Donoughue (guitars), Richard Orr (drums), and Michael Macfie (bass) continued to practice their hypnotic music ’til they attracted the attention of RidingEasy Records, who released the EP on CD and vinyl in May 2015 and has now released a full-length work, Temples.
Have you seen its artwork? Take a look, it’s really nice. And don’t forget to check the album. Meanwhile, let me introduce you to Scott Penberthy. He’s here to answer a few questions about new albums.
Norway-based metal writer Karina Cifuentes brings us another interview, this time with members of Sweden’s Mist of Misery, whose new album Absence we premiered and praised in a review at our site here.)
So, you guys are by no means amateurs. Tell us about your other projects, and have any of you been to a school of music?
Mortuz: I have several other projects, such as Eufori and Soliloquium, and yes, I have been to a school of music, or rather a school of audio engineering several years ago.
Phlegathon: I also play guitar in Hyperion. For a while I studied various musical courses at The University of Stockholm, but I would not regard it as such a particularly serious undertaking.
(Norway-based metal writer Karina Cifuentes returns to us with this interview of frontman Doedsadmiral and guitarist Nord of Nordjevel (“northern devil”), whose self-titled debut album was released at the beginning of this year, and who recently released an amazing video for the song “”Djevelen I Nord”.)
I think Nordjevel is one of the best new bands that we have right now here in Scandinavia. But the fact that the band has a solid sound and a pretty professional image has a lot to do with its experienced musicians, so please tell us about your background and what elements of your other bands you have brought with you to Nordjevel…
Nord: What do you mean by “pretty professional?” Haha. Well, we have been around the block a couple of times, and we had a really strong vision for what Nordjevel would be. It changed a bit along the way, as visions tend to do, but it was only for the better.
(Norway-based NCS contributor Karina Cifuentes brings us this interview with Sina, the man behind From the Vastland, whose new album Chamrosh was released last month by Immortal Frost Productions.)
You are from Iran, but moved to Norway, tell us about how did this happen?
Yeah, true. Well, it is a long story, but to make it short I can say I had another band when I was in Iran, and back in 2007 one of my albums was released on vinyl here in Norway, and then I got an email from the producer of the documentary film Blackhearts and he told me about his project and how he discovered my band by that release, and then everything started from that point when I got the chance to come to Norway and play my show at Inferno Festival. Later in 2014 by help of the Safemuse organization I moved to Norway to continue my music works here.
(Comrade Aleks brings us his interview of pack leader Ralf Winzer Garcia from the Swiss doom band Wolf Counsel, whose new album Ironclad was released last month)
I bet that fans of right traditional doom metal have heard about the Swiss band Wolf Counsel because of their debut Vol.1 – Wolf Counsel released just one year ago, performing confident and strong doom material in the vein of the forefathers of this genre. But as for me, I almost missed the release of Wolf Counsel’s sophomore work Ironclad, which saw the light of day in September 2016. And you know… this album is an excellent example of flawless doom metal, and after a few listenings I was motivated enough to send questions to Wolf Counsel’s leader Ralf Winzer Garcia (bass, vocals).
Photo by Ann-Helén Moen Nannestad
(On October 28, Dark Essence Records will release Red In Tooth and Claw, the new album by Norway’s Madder Mortem, and in this new interview KevinP talks about the album with vocalist Agnete M. Kirkevaag and guitarist BP M. Kirkevaag.)
K: So it’s been 7 years since your last album, Eight Ways. About freakin’ time don’t ya say? (LOL)
Agnete: Absence makes the heart grow fonder? But yeah, about freaking time! The album has been ready for quite awhile now, so we’re very impatient to get it out there for people to hear.
BP: Feels great and yes, about bleep bleepin’ time! The grey cloud has finally lifted from this album’s shoulder.
K: With this new album, Red in Tooth and Claw, you finally break free of any genre classification (even though you were kinda hard to pigeon-hole before this anyways). Do you find this to be a blessing or a curse?
Agnete: A blessing, definitely! Rock is supposed to be about rebellion, isn’t it? And to me, that means disregarding or at least questioning norms in general. And certainly norms that would place restraints on your creativity. But I can see that there might be short-term marketing difficulties in it too. It’s hard to slap a sticker on the CD case saying “for fans of some other rock band”, since I think the references would be wildly different for different songs.
To be honest, I don’t really know of anyone out there doing exactly what we’re doing and I’m really proud of that. But it has never been our goal. Our music has just ended up being the way it is because it’s what we like and enjoy playing.