(This is Karina Noctum‘s interview of Sindre Solem, guitarist/vocalist of the Norwegian death metal band Obliteration, whose new album Cenotaph Obscure was released by Indie Recordings on November 23rd.)
Since I moved to Oslo I have been fortunate to be able to attend several special shows, including one for the release of Obliteration’s new album. It was an energetic gig and the band gave it all they had, in a completely heartfelt way. I have always had the band in my mind when it comes to old school oriented music, and there they will remain now more than ever with their new release because it fulfills my expectations.
Years have gone by since their last release, and everyone in the band developed musically without losing their essence. I think that is an important quality to applaud since many bands go in pretty strange ways as the years pass by. Cenotaph Obscure is true to the core of what Obliteration represents, and that is the Norwegian old school blend. I have to mention that they are influenced by the Kolbotn scene, and with that I mean Darkthrone, and that’s a huge advantage that you notice here and there in small details for all the audience’s pleasure.
I think they have a more mature and improved sound now. Skills and composition have now reached another level. Pretty delightful and interesting to see the development of the song structures. I have been quite obsessed with Nocturnal Graves from Australia for a long time now, when it comes to old school thrash and death blends, and now I will add Obliteration to that excellent list. What a great addition!
Taking into account all the aforementioned, I had to interview Sindre and quench my curiosity on the following matters:
Why has it taken this long to give out a new album?
We’ve been working on several projects, and playing in a band is not exactly our day job. For us, the music needs to be perfect, thus it takes its sweet time. Quality over quantity.
In which ways has the sound developed from previous releases?
I feel it’s taken an even darker turn, maybe wilder in some senses. Very little room for fun. It’s in many ways a more intense and complex record, in my opinion.
You know that when it comes to any old school oriented sound many bands try to either use old gear or try to keep a particular way to record or produce. Have you taken any particular considerations in this respect or are you going to change things, try something different this time?
Well, the most important tool is your ears, and how you choose to produce your music. On our part, intense, few takes have been essential, focusing on the vibe instead of perfection. But of course, using gear that sounds raw helps you reach the goal. We went to another studio, in another country, and used a lot of equipment we haven’t used before, mainly old stuff. Most of it is stuff that pre-dates metal, in many ways.
Do you have any guest appearances on the album?
No, we do not. Konie, the producer, added some noise and synthesizers though, but other than that we did everything ourselves.
How would you describe the sound of Cenotaph Obscure?
A bleak traverse toward the great nothingness.
What are the lyrics all about?
The lyrics are very dystrophic and are disconnected lyrical pieces. They deal with the meaninglessness of being, and the soul/intellect/thought’s travel/search towards death and damnation.
Are lyrics important to you? Do you spend much time researching/writing them?
Yes and yes and no.
Which bands/genres/subgenres have influenced you and had an effect on the composition process?
We try to NOT focus on musical influences when we make music anymore, just focus on the vibe and atmosphere of the riffs and music. Our musical tastes vary a lot, and we have a vast backbone of influences that are embedded in us, that range from old school death metal, punk, black metal, doom, thrash, psyche, prog, zeuhl, postpunk, heavy metal, electro, soul. Whatever sounds dark and weird.
What are your ambitions after the release?
No ambitions. Create more good music, play some shows that don’t suck.
…and what are the actual plans?
European tour with Aura Noir and Vorbid, some Norwegian shows with Aura Noir, Maryland Death Fest, Beyond the Gates festival, Tons of Rock, Chaos Descends festival, Old Grave Festival etc… Probably more to come. Or not.
What’s the process behind creating a song for you? Do you have a rough idea of what you want, or does it come to be as you rehearse/develop several ideas?
It varies a lot. Some songs are made beforehand, a lot happens at the rehersal room, someone brings a riff here and there, other stuff accrues during jamming, etc. But it all has to go through the slow churning wheel that is Obliteration, in order to mature and become an Obliteration track.
Your house is burning, and you can save just 10 albums out of your entire collection… what those albums would be?
Difficult. In no particular order:
Repulsion – Horrified
Slayer – Hell Awaits
Magma – Udu Wudu
Samhain – November Coming Fire
Cultes Des Ghouls / Sepulchral Zeal split 10-inch
The Devils Blood – The Graveyard Shufle
Darkthrone – A Blaze in the Northern Sky
Autopsy – Retribution for the Dead
Incubus – God Died on his Knees 7-inch
Black Sabbath – Master of Reality
What are the main differences between the recording of Cenotaoh Obscure and previous efforts? Has it been easier?
The main difference is that we recorded in Studio Cobra in Stockholm, instead of recording ourselves at Kolbotn with our old shitty equipment. It was a much more intense experience, and very different working with a producer/technician like Konie, who has a very different way of looking at music than we do. It was maybe easier to record, but harder to mix.
Do you feel you have to meet certain expectations with your new album now that you have gained a place in the scene through the years?
Maybe. I don’t know. Try not to think about it. We just try to make good records.
What’s true metal to you? Does it exists at all?
Yes. Music that feels honest, authentic, that has soul and flair, that’s true metal to me. You can hear it right away if something is soulless or has the “wrong” focus, in my opinion.
Anything from the underground Norwegian scene that you like and wish to recommend us?
Void Eater, Ritual Death, Mare, Reptillian, Sepulcher, Inculter, Knokkelklang, Kosmos Brenner, Nachash, Execration, Diskord, Black Viper, etc…
And last… what do you think of Beaten to Death’s song “The Obliteration of Nekromantheon”?
Beaten to who?