Ereb Altor – By Honour of the FatherMonday, 26th August 2013
Nearly ten years have passed since Bathory founder Quorthon (real name: Thomas Forsberg) departed his earthly corpse and ascended to the great golden hall in the sky. His impact is all over extreme metal, having helped get black metal off the ground and perhaps a bit more intrinsic to today’s landscape, Viking metal. The Hammeheart and Twilight of the Gods albums are arguably the two pillars of what has come to be known as Viking or epic-themed extreme metal, and while several bands have fallen in Quorthon’s footsteps, few are bigger fans than Sweden’s Ereb Altor.
“The first time I encountered Bathory was when Hammerheart was new and I remember not having heard anything like it,” begins vocalist/guitarist/bassist Mats. “It took my breath away; it was exactly the kind of music I had been searching for. I remember I could almost feel the dragon ship rock in the waves of the ocean when I heard ‘Shores in Flames’ for the first time. It has to be that this man at least to me created two genres within the metal scene. It’s not many men living or dead that can say that. He really deserves a great seat in Valhalla.”
The spirit of Hammerheart-era Bathory can be found in each of Ereb Altor’s releases, but it is their fresh Fire Meets Ice album (Metal Blade/Cyclone Empire) that resonates the most. Playing a fertile blend of extreme epic metal laced with melodic doom, the band’s newest effort could be seen as both an extension of 2012’s Gastrike, as well as a step beyond their nascent days as a self-admitted Bathory-worship band.
“It´s more like our own interpretation of the old school Viking metal sound,” states Mats. “I think we were focusing more on a tribute to Quorthon in the early days. But it’s no secret that Bathory is one our main influences as you said, and in my opinion, there are no bands sounding like the old days of Bathory. I hope we can fill that void somehow at the same time as we will try to honor the memory of him somehow.”
Now that the Bathory/Quorthon chatter is out of the way, DR pondered what Ereb Altor’s approach was to Fire Meets Ice now that once set-in-stone plans to fold the band have faded…
“The goal with Fire Meets Ice was to unite the history of Ereb Altor,” answers Mats. “To make it understandable that there in fact are many connections between Gastrike and the first two albums [2008’s By Honour, and 2010’s The End], although Gastrike was kind of a concept album with lyrics about old ghost stories and dark legends from the area where I live, that’s the main reason why the sound was darker and harsher. But as I said, I think there are still many connections between the albums and I hope Fire Meets Ice is the proof of that.”
And what about our tagging of the band’s sound as doom-laden Scandinavian extreme metal? “To me it’s a rather fair statement,” acknowledges Mats. “I simply call it ‘Scandinavian metal’ because that is our main focus, dealing with our inheritance and our history. Musically, I want the compositions to be grand and I try to create atmospheres that will remind me of Scandinavia.”
Speaking of atmosphere, 2/3’s of Ereb Altor does time in Isole, a band whose 2007 Bliss of Solitude is a Swedish doom must-have. Many musicians have proven quite adept at juggling two bands who are active on the live and studio front, but Mats says the needle is pointing toward Ereb Altor at the present time. “Lately I have focused more on Ereb Altor since we have been much more active with releases and I have a really good feeling when we are doing the live shows with EA,” he notes. “Always a great a connection with the crowd and I’m proud that we have been able to do the majestic and grandiose compositions justice on the stage as well as on the recordings.”