» Daniel Bryntse - Isole
« back

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 Forevermore debut.

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].

Lord 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 guitarist.

Lord 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 Ruins?

  • 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.

Lord 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".

Lord 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 here."
  • 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 back.
  • 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.

Related links: