If you haven't been paying close attention, there's been a band out of Norway that's been releasing stellar black metal over the last few years, yet they seem to be flying just under the radar of most extreme metal fans. Well, with Kolossus, Keep of Kalessin will no doubt be a much sought after act, as it's a release filled with black metal fury, epic symphonic passages, power metal swagger, and plenty of kick ass songwriting. Sea of Tranquility Publisher Pete Pardo caught up with guitarist Obsidian Claw to talk about this 'colossal' album...Kolossus!
SoT: The band just completed a US tour with Dimmu Borgir and Behemoth, just prior to the release of 'Kolossus'. How did the tour go, and did the band play any of the new material at these shows?
Obsidian Claw: The tour was great! I think it was the best tour we've ever done. As we only had 30 minutes, we only played 4 songs, but still managed to include "A new empire's birth" from Kolossus in our set. The response from the crowd was awesome and we're really looking forward to coming back in October/November!!
SoT: Kolossus is a pretty bold & strong statement, even considering how solid your back catalog already is. Was the band really trying to make this release count, especially considering how hot black metal seems to be these days?
Obsidian Claw: We wanted to make an even bigger and more epic album than Armada so we also needed a colossal title. I think it says alot about the album which definately will take you through many different musical landscapes.
SoT: How long did the writing & recording process of Kolossus take?
Obsidian Claw: In total I guess it took about 2 years. It was 2 years since Armada was released and we started writing songs immediately after Armada was out. We spent 3-4 months in the studio to record the album, but in that time we also wrote lyrics and did all arrangements etc.
SoT: The new CD has a lot of variety, from raw and ferocious old school black metal, to more symphonic & progressive songs. How important is it to mix up styles on albums these days, and essentially, how hard is it to come up with a CD's worth of material that touches on many elements like you have done here with Kolossus?
Obsidian Claw: I think many times there are too much mixing of the genres going on today, because alot of bands seem to forget about the real songwriting. I'm focused on creating the best possible songs and not add all the great parts or riff that I have made the last two years. But still it ends up being very diverse. I think the best thing with Kolossus is that it takes you through so many different moods. Creating alot of different parts is very easy, but creating good songs with a solid structure is alot more difficult. And especially if these songs has many different elements. Sometimes you can loose yourself and be left with just a line of great parts....which is not a good song, if you know what I mean. So the most time-consuming thing is actually arranging all the different riffs and parts into solid songs.
SoT: Does the band tour with a keyboard player, seeing as you play them on the CD, or do you use samples?
Obsidian Claw: We've never used keyboard or samples live, but we're thinking about adding some samples in the near future. I think it might increase the show a bit, but I'm also kinda reluctant to be totally dependant on some backing-track or something. I like the live atmosphere and I like the fact that it doesn't sound like an album when you play live. But many people expect that from a live-band these days, which is why alot of bands use backing-tracks.
SoT: Other bands in the genre have created some wild videos, as well as released some stirring live DVD's. Does Keep of Kalessin have anything planned in the video or DVD medium in the near future?
Obsidian Claw: We've just released the video for the track "Ascendant" and we're thinking about releasing a DVD, but that might take some more time, I think.
SoT: Who are some of your favorite bands on the scene at this time?
Obsidian Claw: In the metal-scene it would be Immortal, Bal-Sagoth and Exodus.
SoT: Describe your opinions on some of these acts:
Obsidian Claw: Great guys and a solid live-band that draws alot of people to any show.
Obsidian Claw: Amazingly good band, with amazing people! Total respect for these guys!
Cradle of Filth
Obsidian Claw: One of my favourite bands some years ago. But lately I haven't paid too much attention. Great people!
Obsidian Claw: Probably the most respected black metal band. And they totally deserve it!!
Obsidian Claw: Played with them for 5 years and did some great tours and festivals with them. I used to love their early albums, but lately they have grown too boring for me.
Obsidian Claw: Has released some great albums, but never really lived up to what they did on "De mysteriis dom sathanas".
Obsidian Claw: Never paid attention to these guys.
Obsidian Claw: Respect!!!
Obsidian Claw: Never paid attention.
SoT: If you could tour with any 3 bands that are currently in existence, who would they be and why?
Obsidian Claw: Hmm....let's see. Maybe Immortal, Emperor and Dimmu Borgir. It would definately be a tour that would draw a crowd!!
SoT: How as reaction been to Kolossus so far?
Obsidian Claw: It's been abit diverse I think, just as the album. hehe. I think alot of reviews looks like they really haven't listened to the album either. Kolossus is a much more diverse album than Armada and if you're expecting the raw underground black metal, you'll be dissappointed. But it has alot of variety and truyl some uniqe kind of music on it which I think people should see after a few spins. I think it will be the same with Kolossus as Armada, that we really don't see the result of it until at least a year after it's released, because this is not an album that you'll listen to death on the first week. It takes time and will stay with you for years to come.
SoT: What are your plans to support the new CD now that the tour with Dimmu & Behemoth here in the US has finished?
Obsidian Claw: We're going to do some festivals in Europe this summer, then we're headlining a UK tour in September, new north American tour in October/November and then a big european tour in Nov/Dec and also hopefully a new european tour in early 2009.
SoT: How would you descibe the music of Keep of Kalessin to someone who is somewhat familiar with the extreme metal scene but has never heard your band before?
Obsidian Claw: I would say it's epic extreme metal. It's big and melodic with a unique style of riffing. It's definately something different than all the other bands out there, which in itself is a reason to check it out!