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   KEEP OF KALESSIN :  interview with Obsidian C.

keep of kalessin      


face to face  by dalia di giacomo ___    

Metal Fest in Pratteln

organized by gryphonmetal,  Irascible distribution and Obsidian C.





Travel dimensions for eternity




Compliments for Kolossus! I like this album very much...

Obsidian C.: Thank you very much.

I like it because it is not only brutal and fierce, but is melodic too, with good compositions. Do you think the fans like this album more than „Armada“...or less than "Armada"?

I know that a lot of fans who were into „Armada“ like „Armada“ so much that they need some more time to get into „Kolossus“. But I also know that „Kolossus“ has gained us a lot of new fans. I think that „Kolossus“ is a very diverse album and you need time to get into it, but once you get into it... Actually all the fans that I talked to said that they liked „Armada“ better the first time they heard „Kolossus“, but after they got into „Kolossus“ they only listen to that album now. So that proves it takes a little bit of time, but both albums are albums that will stay with you for a long time, because they have a lot of different elements and aspects. So it's not one of those albums you throw away after you have listened to it five times or something.


So is it a kind of satisfaction for you and the band in general?

I'm satisfied with it, but I also know that there are a lot of sleepers out there that would be potential Keep of Kalessin fans if they just listened to us or if they gave us enough time for an album, as I said, it is not an album you listen to five times and then throw it away. You spend a bit more time with it. And so we are satisfied with it but we also know that we can go much further than this.


I heard in a video interview with you that the next album will be more brutal. Is this true? My question is also: why must an extreme band be in search of brutality at any cost?

That is a very good question actually, because we are actually not a band that is in search for brutality, no matter the costs. Because I don't like albums that have only brutality. So when I'm talking about our next album, saying it will be brutal and maybe a bit darker, I am not saying that we will abandon what we have built with the last two albums. I mean, we did „Armada“ and then we did „Kolossus“, which is a bit softer than „Armada“ at some point. But it also, the aggressive and dark parts on „Kolossus“ are darker than on „Armada“. But „Armada“ maybe had a more black metal feeling over all through the album. But I think that „Kolossus“ was a necessary step for us; it was a necessary album for me personally to do, because I wanted to do an album like that, which was very melodic but still very fast. But the next album.. I don't want to repeat myself on the next one. Each one will develop. We are playing a lot more live – and once a band starts playing that much live you notice that you need more than blastbeats. Even though I'm a huge fan of blastbeats, I love bands that have blastbeats all the time. But in a live situation you need more variation to your drum beats and stuff like that. And I think that for the next album we will make an album that will sound more direct, that's what I was meaning with a bit more dark and brutal, that's maybe a bit more direct – and a straight in your face kind of album, instead of an album which is very much out there. Maybe you don't need to spend as much time on the next album for you to actually get it. But I think that it will still sound very much Keep of Kalessin. We have our own sound now and we're not changing that. I think that the guitar riffs will still be very melodic, but they may be a bit more direct, I think.


„Kolossus“ was recorded in the .... Studio in Trondheim...

That's correct. (laughs) A lot of Germans say „Trondheim“ but we say „Tromheim“.. but you almost said it like we say it in Norway, so that's very good.

Thank you...and the instruments were taken in real time. What does that mean exactly?

We decided to record the album and not edit it too much and keep the organic feeling to it. Because I often mention is that it is easier to hear what kind of producer or which studio you are using for the drum recordings than who is actually playing drums, these days. With most bands it sounds all the same – everyone is sound replacing with „Drumkit from hell“ or whatever. But we decided to keep the human part of it, so it sounds very organic and it sounds very real – and this is how the band is playing. So we decided to leave out the modern editing techniques and stuff.


Do you consider yourself a metal virtuoso on the guitar...


...what does that mean for you?

Right now I'm very happy that I'm able to do what I do and keep playing guitar and play a lot of live as well. I wish I could only play guitar – because a band at this stage without a manager is a lot of work...

...without a manager?

...we don't have a manager. So we're doing all the work ourselves. And it's a lot of work. And I'm also producing the albums and writing some of the songs, the lyrics – doing a lot of work. I'm hoping for the day when I can actually focus on just playing guitar and making the songs. But then again I love much of that other work as well. But, concerning your question: I don't consider myself like a... I just play what I want to play. And I know that I have developed some kind of different riffing techniques than most of the other guitar players out there. And my riffs don't sound the same as other guitarists do, so I'm very happy with that and that I have a unique style. But I know that there are like millions of guitarists who are much better than me, technically. And especially solo-ing is something that I never really focussed on, so I don't consider myself as a top-notch solo guitarist or anything. The thing that I think is most important is having your own style. With all the bigger guitarists you can hear which one is playing. But when you are just a very technically guitarist, I think the atmosphere gets lost along the way. And I'm focussing on just writing atmospheric riffs and creating the Keep of Kalessin atmosphere.


And this has been lasting for more than 10, more than 15 years...

(laughs) Yeah, we've been slow. I mean, we didn't start focussing on making this a living before maybe 2004 or something. That's when we started deciding: ok, let's go for it. I wish I had done that before, but there were so many people who were against me at the time, so it was impossible to actually get the stuff done. So finally, when I had the proper line-up... which was from „Armada“, that was when we really started nailing it. And since then, things have gone really upwards and hopefully we will be continuing to do that and we have a very good line-up now. I think it will be interesting to see how things go in the future.


Keep of Kalessin seems so young, so new...

This is the first time we had a proper line-up and most people see us as a new band, because it was really „Armada“ that got all the attention. So I think that we are not forgetting about our past, but I also think that finally we are starting to get somewhere and we can focus on creating the music and playing for the fans instead of all other bullshit that is holding you back all the time when you have people in the band who are not focussed on the same thing.


This year you have played live a lot. Now the band is on European tour with Morbid Angel, Kataklism and such big names. How is this tour going?

This tour is very good. I mean, Rock The Nation, who is organizing this tour is also our new booking agent in Europe now and they are doing great work. I mean, on top of everything, it's so well organized and have very good conditions on this tour. But as far as the fans go, I think that there are a lot of death metal heads on this tour, so I think we're struggling a bit to get the death metal fans into Keep of Kalessin. much enthusiasm...

Yeah, today was really good. And there are a lot of people every night, so it's a very big tour and we're very glad we're a part of this package now.


A question about the video of „Ascendant“: seems a bit mystical...

...mystical? Yeah, maybe it has a lot of different undertones and a lot of underlying subjects. The video is shot in Sweden with Patric Ullaeus and I think the video turned out good. But there were actually some things that I wanted to change on the video, but most of the people around me and the label said: No, we don't have time, we just need to get this out there. It's a strange thing, because the comments I see on Youtube – it's the same stuff I actually wanted to change in the video. So I kind of regret, actually.. because I'm very focussed on keeping control of how the band is portrayed outside, but I think on this release I let some stuff go to easily. Because there are a couple of things  in the video I'm not satisfied with. But then again, you learn along the way and next time we'll do better. Even though, I think the video is still very cool and it's also very different, you can see that. The thing I don't understand, though, is that people comment the video and say that this is not black metal. And I'm like: Who the fuck cares if it's black metal or not? I mean, if people think that we are a black metal band, they need to... I mean, we come from the black metal scene, but we are much more than a normal black metal band today. But then I really don't care what kind of label anyone puts on us.


Do you have side projects?

Me and Vyl and Wizziac have a project called the „Headspin“ which is a thrash metal project. We have recorded a full-length album but we are missing the vocals on it, so it has been over a year since we have recorded the album, because we are busy touring and making the album with Keep of Kalessin so we don't have time to actually get the lyrics and the vocals done. But we have our studio, so we hope to finish it sometime really, really soon. But we have said that for the last year, that we hope to finish it soon.. so. I'll leave it up to the other guys because I have written most of the music with Vyl as well. And I hope that Wizziac can just finish the vocals really soon.


Is success the „Mark of Power“?

I understand what you mean. In that sense, I don't think it's what we intended. But if you look at the cover, it's very connected to „The Rising Sign“. It's like the whole album has this long story. And the „Mark of Power“ is actually this mark and it's just the growing house that is the mark of power...


I meant in general: success could be a „mark of power“? In a wider meaning...

Yeah, of course it could be. But as far as the title goes, it was not our intention to...


I saw the title, I knew it was something different, a story bound to the rest of the album. But I thought: Mark of Power, Keep of Kalessin is having much success, could success be a „mark of power“?

I see. Well, I think that we are definitely a growing band. And from all the Norwegian bands that have come out the last 10 years probably one of the most successful ones. But I still think that we have a long way to go. So we will not rest yet! (laughs)


I wish that you don't!

Thank you very much.


What kind of music do you listen to normally?

It's so much different right now. I am currently totally hooked onto this EP that a band  called Luciferian released in 2003 or something. I heard them a couple of times before, but it wasn't until this tour that I really started listening to that album – and now it's the only thing I listen to. Everyday I listen to this album and I think that any fan of death, black or thrash metal should check it out because it has a lot of atmosphere, it's a very, very good EP with great instrumentalists, it's very good.

And besides that I listen to so much different stuff, it's everything – from thrash metal and older black metal, but also some heavy metal. And the classic ones – I started really listening to the older Iron Maiden albums. And I listened to a great trance band that is called Infected Mushroom and I listen to a lot of Muse, the English rock band. But I would say that Infected Mushroom and Muse are probably my two favourites right now. And they're not metal at all (laughs).


I found out these lyrics, I think you have written them: „Through time and space we travelled...“ - that is so beautiful!

I'm glad you think so! Well, the meaning of it was that the whole album is coming to a closure by „Ascendant“ and this is like the explanation of ascending to a higher state of existence. It's like you're freed from your human body and travel dimensions for eternity.


Do you think metal can help to do something like that? Do you think it is possible to achieve such abilities?

Well, I know that we only use a small percentage of our brains, so there's a lot of things that we cannot explain. But as far as having a soul or something that will actually ascend from our human, mortal body – I don't think that is possible. And even though I'm a fantasy fan and a science fiction fanI mean, I like stuff like that! I'm fascinated by stories, like for instance Stargate has a lot about this... I like series like that. But as far as I believe it? No. (laughs) But it's great stories!


Perhaps in a very far future, man can find the key...

I think that science is the key. But not religious ways or changing the physics of the world we actually live in. But I think that science... I believe that some day we might get spaceships and travel, and stuff like that. But, then again, it depends on what happens on this planet.


Did you study science?

I studied a bit of computer science. I used to be a computer programmer, actually. But I haven't done that lately because I don't have time for it.


I studied Biology, so I understand.. I think that science is still too much bound to politics. It's not as free as it could be.

Yes, and the business world is bound to profit and the biggest profit possible. I think that moving science as fast forward as possible is a struggle. We could easily move a lot forward with how far we have come today. But we are being held back by the fact that all business needs to have profit.


The last question: The last question for Gryphonmetal is usually what we call „The Game“.When we interview a band more times, the game changes. For a band we interview the first time, I propose the „Game of the Tower“.


A very high tower. On the top of this tower, there are three bands waiting for you. And you can push down two of these bands, saving only one.


So ...the three bands for you are: Kataklysm, Marduk and Satyricon.

I would.. this is a hard one, since I'm on tour with two of them! I would kick down Satyricon and Marduk, because they are in my genre and we might see them as competition in our genre. Kataklysm is a totally different thing from us, so.. I'd probably say that... would "save" Kataklysm  ;)!


A message for the fans:

We just hope that the fans enjoy our albums and hope that they will come out to all the shows we have. It's very important now to support the bands on tour, because the touring industry is also affected by the financial crisis. And then we hope that people will buy merchandise and keep supporting the band all the way they can. And we will have a new album out in October 2009.



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