(In this new interview for our site Comrade Aleks spoke with both members of the Swedish death/doom band Saltas about their new album, which was released two weeks ago, as well as the status of the members’ other projects.)
Despite this crazy situation all over the world the metal industry still works, and this month, due to the efforts of Nuclear War Now! Productions, the two-man project Saltas of Gothenburg, Sweden has just released their debut full-length Mors Salis: Opus I. This macabre death doom metal straight from the underground catacombs was created by C.J. (vocals, drums) and N.R. (vocals, guitars).
C.J. succeeds in keeping his personality a bit anonymous though N.R. is Leif Nicklas Rudolfsson himself, founder of the Swedish grim bastion of the extreme doom front Runemagick and half a dozen other bands and projects like Domedag, Necrocurse, and The Funeral Orchestra, just to name few. I bet you have a clue what you may expect from Saltas, we’ve talked with both of the band’s’ members. Here you see result of this conversation:
Hi Nicklas and CJ! Thanks for your time and accept my congratulations on the Mors Salis: Opus I release. How do you feel now? Does the coronavirus panic darken this small celebration of a new release?
NR: Didn’t think about this much. But the Saltas project in its own way is linked to sickness and misery for various reasons. Who knows, maybe the recording of Opus I is what accelerated the virus! Joking aside, I don’t think the virus is affecting the realm of Saltas.
CJ: Greetings. No panic whatsoever. If anything I find this whole circus of mass hysteria rather entertaining in more than a few ways. On a serious note, a potential lock-down could contribute to new Saltas material being crafted sooner than expected. More time in pestilential solitude to dwell in Opus II.
Saltas means “cold” in Lithuanian — did I guess right with the translation?
NR: That would be a suitable translation but it is not something we had in mind. The name can and should be interpreted as one wishes. For us it is the name of our framework. Then there are parallels to early lyrics such as “Salt At The Temple Roots”.
Nicklas, you play in a few more bands at the same time, and your name is associated with Runemagick. Which new opportunities does Saltas bring?
NR: I see it as a creative project where we create as a duo. There are probably similarities to other projects we are involved in, but I still think the Saltas project has its own thing. We do not see that we have any direct boundaries when we create. Of course, there are some kinds of frameworks we stick to, but there is nothing directly predetermined either.
I didn’t find out if CJ takes part in any other bands and projects. CJ, what’s your musical background?
CJ: It’s been coming and going in a few bands over the years but to name a few relevant ones.. Karnarium, Irkallian Oracle, and I also recently joined forces in one of Nicklas‘ old bands.
Currently I’m also working on the debut release of a band called Byrd and I’m about to embark on the journey of the second demo of my solo project Stigma Yuga. And there are some other exciting works on the horizon…
Nicklas, we could say that Saltas is closer to The Funeral Orchestra comparing Saltas with your other projects… Though some parts remind me a bit of Runemagick’s experiments on The Pentagram and maybe Invocation Of Magick. Might it replace The Funeral Orchestra or might it happen vice-versa if you decide to return the latter back to life?
NR: Yes there might be some similarities with The Funeral Orchestra but I still think it differs. In fact, The Funeral Orchestra is fully active now and has recently recorded a new album, Negative Evocation Rites, coming later this year, and we have done several performances this year, and more festivals are booked this and next year.
Great to hear it! There wasn’t big news from The Funeral Orchestra for awhile, so what may we expect from the new material? Will it keep the vibe of Feeding The Abyss somehow?
NR: It is the same style but with an overall darker mood and atmosphere.
You recorded two demos in 2018 as Saltas — Currents and Parasites — so why didn’t you include any of those tracks in Mors Salis: Opus I?
CJ: During the momentum we had when we made those demos I think we both felt that we were scratching the surface of what would become “our sound” more and more. I think we both wanted to start up the project the traditional demo way as well and not rush things. And when we initiated the work on Mors Salis: Opus I we had tons of ideas and material, so the main focus was to develop Saltas further rather than to look back.
NR: We actually recorded a new version of the song “Death Spirit Continuum” but we chose not to include it on the album. It may be released at a later date. The demo recordings were, after all, demos and a way for us to sculpt how the project would form into the debut album.
Saltas – Mors Salis: Opus I
Do you have a common theme which unites all tracks included in the album Opus I?
CJ: Physical and mental decay. Viral trans-dimensional malediction, collapse, death and demise. Obscure slow decomposed death.
Both of you are listed as vocalists in Saltas. How do you share your duties considering vocal recording and lyrics writing?
CJ: Like most other things in our collaboration regarding dividing duties, it has fallen pretty naturally with those decisions. Some songs me or Nicklas solely execute vocals and some we split it up or do overdubs etc. We let the atmosphere of the song dictate what vocal character is needed. Nicklas is responsible for the lyrics thus far. On Mors Salis: Opus I we let two special friends contribute with the lyrics for “Tremors” and “…The liberation”.
What makes Saltas an important work for you? You have a vast discography, so which place does Mors Salis: Opus I take there?
NR: I see it as a “dark experiment” in my creative currents. On a separate inspiration branch.
CJ: I second that. Saltas is an outlet of absolute unfiltered energy in the most pure sense, and has been from day one. A channel for experimentation with personal uncharted musical territories without any boundaries!
Mors Salis: Opus I is a naturally developed “product” based on the work we did on the demos, but consciously unhinged. Meaning that we were aware of the potential this album and collaboration could have and we aimed to go all-in crafting this record and not hold back one single bit. Utilizing our musical skills in combination with perhaps some fairly unorthodox ways of executing certain instruments, creating song structures and atmosphere, etc. And looking back, I think we did, and did it quite well.
You recorded Mors Salis: Opus I separately. Are you satisfied with this collaboration? Did you reach the goals you set before yourself?
NR: Yes I think so.
CJ: Yes, indeed. For my part, the goals we (or at least I) had when we started Saltas in December 2017 are vastly outmatched by where we are at this point. And that is obviously an invigorating feeling in itself, but I’m in no way content, rather more eager to explore further.
How do you see the features of the Mors Salis: Opus I compositions? Can you say you’re glad with the album’s structure?
CJ: Absolutely. After all, sitting here answering these questions it’s about a year back when we finalized the recording of Mors Salis: Opus I. And that brings a certain level of objectivity to this work, and in that light I’m very pleased and proud of the result. And like after finishing any musical piece, one looks back, evaluates, and puts it all into account for the next journey and what obscure madness lies within…
NR: It grew into a kind of demon of noise and dark metallic atmosphere. I am satisfied with the final result.
Speaking about demons – do you feel the composing and performing of this kind of music as a rational artistic process or rather a kind of obsession?
NR: Both I guess.
CJ: Agreed. I’d say it’s about 30/70.
Nicklas, all of your projects, if we look at them from outside, seem to express different aspects of negativity. Do you see them as different therapeutic methods or as different artistic tools?
NR: I’ve probably never thought of my creativity as a therapy, but in a way it certainly is to some extent. I feel at my best when I create and write music. But of course it’s a lot of themes surrounding darkness, “negativity”, doomsday, and so on. But I think it reflects the music well with such themes, moods and atmospheres.
Did you really think that doomsday may be real in the face of the current panic?
NR: Doomsday can be lots of things, or let us say gates to new times or other dimensions.
Do you see a chance to find time and energy in your schedule for Opus II?
CJ: When the time is right, definitely. We both have quite busy schedules, both when it comes to the musical and personal life, but when it comes to the significance of the sonic expression that is Saltas, this story is far from over!
NR: As I said, there are several songs from the same recording session as Opus I that did not appear on the album. We’ll see if we do something with it or if we do something completely new. I don’t think we’ll record new material this year, maybe 2021. But we’ll see what happens next.
Nicklas, you were very busy with Runemagick as well: a pair of singles, The Opening Of Dead Gates EP, the split CD Chthonicmagick with Chthonic Deity, and a new full-length Into Desolate Realms. What’s the band’s current status?
NR: We have a few festival gigs during the year (unless they are canceled due to the Coronavirus). Beyond that, we have no other plans right now. We will not record new material in 2020, that’s for sure. It is enough at the moment with everything new we did last year. A number of reissues of old albums have recently been released and more may come during the year.
It’s said that you also reanimated Sacramentum in 2019. Do you plan to keep it active as a studio project or as live band too?
NR: I quit the band around 1999/2000 if I remember correctly, a few years before the band was put on hold. But last year Anders Brolycke asked if I was interested in playing drums at a festival. I obviously answered yes even though I have plenty to do. It ended with more gigs being booked, and we got more plans than that. As it looks right now, we have booked several festivals during 2020/2021 and there are also ideas and plans to record new material. But I can’t promise anything.
Thank you very much for your time, much appreciated! Any last words to sum up Saltas’ message?
CJ: Saltas is the echoes of the end. Thank you!