Interview conducted March 20 2009
Interview published April 26 2009
You're already depressed. You're
in a worthy doom metal band, but can't seem to move beyond the demo stage,
your sound neither the riff-heavy wailings of your US counterparts, nor
the funeral/drone psychoses of fellow European outfits. You're more Candlemass
than Catacombs, more Solstice than Scepticism, so where do you go? If
you're Sweden's Forlorn, you stay where you are, tweak the levels a bit,
and emerge as Isole, a band that's been on a constant upswing since 2005's
After the sophomore Throne Of Void,
Napalm comes calling, and Bliss Of Solitude spreads the thickening gloom
over the doomscape even further. Thankfully, the tale doesn't end there.
A pounding, pristine meisterwerk of truly epic proportions, Silent Ruins
is album enough to give any doom heavyweight a run for their money. Founder
Daniel Bryntse lurks behind the shadows
Lord Randall: I thoroughly enjoyed Bliss
Of Solitude, but while it often turned what could've been a potentially
annoying sunlit day into a more comfortable darkness, I felt the dynamics
were a bit lacking, as was the vocal range you displayed in the past.
The peaks and valleys were there, but they just weren't as noticeable
as they could've been. There wasn't that "At The Gallows End"
or "Opaque Divinity" moment, if you know what I mean?
Daniel: Yeah, I understand what you mean. Bliss
Of Solitude, while being an album we're proud with, turned out to
be lacking some of the dynamic and variation we actually wanted. Some
of it could probably be blamed on the production being too thick perhaps,
burying some of the intended detail. I still think it's more varied
than Throne Of Void, though. The vocals turned out the way they did
simply because that was what fit the songs; dark, mellow, harsh and
brooding. I personally think "By Blood" is one of our better
songs ever, although not that much of a typical hit, if the term "hit"
really can be used when talking doom metal [Laughter].
Randall: That said, from the first moments of my initial spin of
Silent Ruins, I was annoying everyone I knew via AIM with unexplained
cries of "They got it! They finally fuckin' got it!". The big
riffs were there, your vocals were on point like never before. I'd go
so far as to call this the first Isole album where the Doom and Metal
elements worked with such synchronicity.
Daniel: [Laughter] Wow! Thanks! I don't really
know how to respond to that, but we have just continued writing songs
the way we always do. [It was] a natural evolution, and maybe we learned
a bit from the past along the way.
Lord Randall: I was talking to JB from Grand
Magus awhile back, and we were talking about how the first album to honestly
be called Doom Metal was undoubtedly Candlemass' Nightfall. Sure, Sabbath
was the most known of the early doom bands, and Americans St. Vitus and
Trouble furthered the genre, but Nightfall was the true birth of the two
forms into one. From then on, precious few have succeeded. Silent Ruins
does. Was there a conscious effort to give the songs more bite this time?
Daniel: Yes. We wanted to do a more accessible
album this time, and that usually means throwing some more uptempo
rockers into the mix. Actually, come to think of it, I really think
Candlemass' Epicus Doomicus Metallicus was (and is) pretty much doom
metal as well.
Lord Randall: You've also expanded your
vocal range this time around, with a greater emphasis on variation within
each song. Paul Kuhr's [November's Doom] lower singing register comes
to mind, as does a few places approximating early Robert Lowe. The voice
is still recognizable as yours, though. What steps do you take to ensure
that you can remain clearly influenced by someone without becoming derivative?
Daniel: None, really. I have my voice and my
way of singing, and that should be enough to keep me from becoming
a clone of anyone else. Okay, sometimes we may rework vocal lines
if they tend to be too similar to something else, but the main thing
is to sing something that fits the guitar work and lyrics. Our fairly
frequent dual vocals and choirs should make us stand out/differ from
most other doom metal bands, I'd hope.
Lord Randall: Back in Forlorn, you held
down drumming as well as vocal duties. I know it's going back a way, but
what brought about the transition when Isole was formed, and how do you
feel you've grown as a guitarist over the years?
Daniel: I did play the drums up until and on
the debut album Forevermore as well. Since we need two guitars and
people started asking for live appearances, we had to make a decision
whether to recruit another guitarist or another drummer. Since I also
have vocal responsibility, I felt it would be better if we could find
ourselves a drummer. [It's] much easier to combine vocals/guitars
rather than vocals/drums. I've been playing guitar on and off since
long before I even touched a set of drums, and have always considered
myself more of a guitarist. I've never been into practicing scales
and techniques, but I feel confident and satisfied with being a rhythm
Randall: The guitar work on Silent Ruins is the first time I've
seen you stretch yourself quite to the degree that you did, and it resulted
in what I believe is your best playing ever. How do you and Crister contrast
each other in style, and could you imagine Isole as a single-guitar band?
Daniel: I'd say Crister is the more vivid guitar
player and plays with more feeling, while I am more "German"
[Laughs]. I just try to just keep it tight and on beat. Considering
that most songs are composed for (at least) two guitars, I can only
imagine Isole in that way. Also, I should mention that we have two
guest solos on the album. One is in "Forlorn" by Torbjörn
Weinesjö from Veni Domine, and one in "Dark Clouds"
by Per Nilsson from Scar Symmetry.
Lord Randall: I know you've long been a
fan of Iron Maiden's guitar work, but I think this is the first time I've
been able to hear the Smith/Gers/Murray comparisons quite so easily. There's
a bit of Mercyful Fate in there too, unless I miss my guess.
Daniel: We had some Iron Maiden-flirting on
the song "Moonstone" (from Forevermore) as well, but since
all of us are Maiden freaks, the influences might have shined through
more than usual this time, especially since we're trying some more
uptempo, melodic songs.
Lord Randall: Was it intentional that you
waited this long before releasing a song titled "Forlorn"?
Daniel: We actually had a song back in the
early '90s that was entitled "Forlorn", but that was a completely
different ballad-like composition with totally different lyrics. It
didn't work too well, so we kind of scrapped it and haven't really
thought about it since then. Henrik (who wrote all the lyrics this
time) probably thought the title fit the lyrics and that it would
be a nice homage to our past.
Lord Randall: For an album pushing the hour-long
mark, there's always the danger of songs dragging on well beyond the point
they should. Of course you want the song to say what it came to say, as
it were, but there's still an economy that needs to be adhered to, otherwise
it stops becoming a song and starts becomes a series of wandering ideas.
How did you combat this, because I didn't hear any wasted space on Silent
Daniel: It's a difficult task to make these
mammoth songs, but it is even harder to make a radio-friendly song
(in terms of playing time) that still contains all that we want a
song to contain. I think the most important part when doing a long
song is to keep a red line, a flow throughout the composition by using
riffs that have a similar mood and/or execution. It is also important
to keep the song fairly interesting all the way through, a difficult
balance act that only can be overcome by careful composing and arranging.
So, the answer is thinking through what you're doing and battle the
urge to throw in X number of riffs just because you can. If you somehow
venture too far within one single song, at least try to wrap it up
nicely in the end. That said, we have been experts in going to far
with this riff-o-mania in the past. The earlier mentioned "Moonstone"
might be an example of this. And with that said I really enjoy both
long, monotonous songs quite common in the funeral doom scene as well
as intricate compositions ala Opeth. There are probably no rights
or wrongs as long as the final product works.
Randall: The full album title is Silent Ruins: Redemption Part
1. The image evoked (for me, at least) is of a deserted structure, desolate
and wrecked. From there, really, I believe is where true redemption starts
- from the absolute lowest point. Is there a search for salvation in the
album, or is the music, mood of Silent Ruins the redemption in itself?
Daniel: I'm not sure where Henrik plans to
take this story in the future, but the concept of this album deals
with a person that wakes up to a totally devastated and desolate world,
being the only human left and with no memories whatsoever of what
has happened. During the course of the album memories start to reemerge
finally leading to...well...we will see on Redemption Part 2 (or possibly
3). It's basically just a story told by a bunch of doom metal maniacs.
Henrik likes the lyrics to be a bit abstract, leaving room for the
listener to come to their own conclusion.
Lord Randall: From Black Sabbath to St.
Vitus, to Candlemass, religious imagery and/or symbolism has often been
employed, be it in lyrical or visual content. What do you think it is
about the classic, epic doom style that is drawn to the spiritual? Maybe
the universality of suffering?
Daniel: I think it's the accessibility and
an easy starting point. As you mentioned, many of the "grandfathers
of doom" had lyrics dealing with religion in one way or another.
It's easy to just follow in these footsteps and continue the legacy.
Since doom metal in itself often has these sacral tonal progressions
and atmosphere, the lyrical themes probably adhere to this. The universality
of suffering. Well put!
Lord Randall: Of course one of the most
popular (and most narrow-minded) misconceptions about doom metal bands
and fans is that we spend our days in blacked out rooms making nooses
and hating each breath more than the one before it. Tell us one thing
about yourself (a favorite pastime or activity you enjoy) that proves
that thinking wrong.
Daniel: Does being a sci-fi fanatic count?
Or just hanging out with friends a friday or saturday night doing
all kinds of crazy mischief? I'm also often seen screaming and singing
in the crowd on the local football (or as you crazy Americans call
it "soccer") team's matches. Hell, the only time I'm actually
hating each breath more than the other is when I am at work just waiting
to go home and play some computer games, watch a movie with my girl,
or just lie down on the couch and enjoy doing nothing at all. [Laughs]
It's probably a quite common "disease".
Randall: Having not seen the band in a live setting yet, how do
you feel the material carries over? Though pummeling at times, there is
a definite melodic sensibility that may be lost onstage.
Daniel: [That's] probably true. Some of the
songs are impossible to reproduce on stage, but we just have to make
the best of the two guitars, bass, drums and dual (triple counting
growls) vocals we have at our disposal. Live shows aren't really supposed
to sound just like a record, do they?
Lord Randall: Is it a struggle to get that
balance of crushing doom and pristine moments that is so integral to the
sound of Isole? Do you ever find one threatening to outweigh the other?
Daniel: Perhaps Bliss
leaned too much
towards crushing, but then again, that's what we wanted to do with
that album. I don't see a real threat as long as we have the opportunity
to do what we want to do. The next album might be over the top melodic
or painfully slow and crushing, but then that's what we wanted to
do with it. Now, I don't think that will be the case, as those two
parts of our sound somehow always seems to turn out fairly balanced
in the end no matter what we aimed to do from the beginning. I guess
it's a law of nature.
Lord Randall: If you could, list 10 songs/albums
that you feel shaped you as a music fan. Just a band name, song/album
title/and a short description of what it means to you.
Daniel: I only choose one album from each band,
although there are several bands that easily could have two or more
albums on this list (Candlemass, Bathory and Iron Maiden, for example).
Anyway, in no particular order these are the ones I've decided to
include on this list:
- Morbid Angel - Altars of Madness
- Simply the ultimate death metal album. I was totally blown away the
first time I heard it. "Immortal Rites" is still the best
damn death metal song ever!
- Saxon - Crusader
- The title track. Wow! Now, that is epic! That tom roll somewhere in
the beginning of the song always gives me goosebumps.
- Iron Maiden - Piece Of Mind
- The first album I purchased myself. I listened to the album until
it totally wore out, then bought it again and did the same thing. Praise
CDs and their durability!
- Bathory - Hammerheart
- The one that really got me into the epic thing.
- Death - Leprosy
- No comments needed.
- Garmarna - Vedergällningen
- Is it possible? Can folk music really be this heavy?
- Entombed - Left Hand Path
- "What did you say? From Sweden? No way! We only have gay bands
- Candlemass - Nightfall
- As a late epic metal bloomer, I discovered Candlemass at the same
time I fell for Bathory's Hammerheart. Boy, was I blown away by "The
Well Of Souls"!
- Mercyful Fate - Don't Break The Oath
- I borrowed it from a friend of my big brother. He had to steal it
- Accept - Restless And Wild
- I got it from my brother at my 7th or 8th birthday, I believe. It
was my first own album (I had only listened to my brothers collection
of Kiss, Saxon, and Rush, etc. prior to that). It has always had a special
place in my heart although I don't listen to it that much nowadays.