Keep Of Kalessin is a black
metal band from Trondheim, Norway formed in 1993. The band immediately
caught the attention from several labels with their demo recording "Skygger
av sorg" – which directly resulted in two albums ("Through Times of War"
& "Agnen"). Due to personal issues the original line-up of the band
split up in 2000, but guitarist, composer and mainman Obsidian C. had
set his goals for the band and was determined to continue composing
material for a future release. Obsidian C's guitar services was hired by
Satyricon in 2003 and countless gigs and tours was the main focus for
over a year. All the touring made also room and time for composing and
when Satyricon's drummer Frost heard the new material Obsidian C was
working on, he immediately recruit when he was asked to do the drums on
the EP already in the pipeline. The vocals was done by none other than
the legendary Attila Csihar (Mayhem). When the EP entitled ‘Reclaim’ was
released in 2004, it was a small appetizer of things to come from Keep
Of Kalessin. With it's ultra-fast riffing, brutal, but still very
melodic and epic song structures, ‘Reclaim’ detonated in the metal press
and media like a bomb. This also marked a whole new era for the band and
was the first introduction to the group's new sound and trademark; Epic
With touring as one of the band's main priorities, Obsidian C. recruited
full time members Vyl (drums), Wizziac (bass) and Thebon (vocals). Their
next album, ‘Armada’, was an immense epic masterpiece with its very own
unique atmosphere. Press-wise, ‘Armada’ received standing ovations from
a unison press chore. Keep of Kalessin immediately set their ship
towards the European shores and did four European tours with Exodus,
Hypocrisy, Carpathian Forest, Satyricon and Enslaved in the aftermath of
the album release.
The new album is entitled ‘Kolossus’ (which came out June 9th) and is
anticipated to have a huge impact on the whole metal scene. Recorded in
the band's own studio in Trondheim, ‘Kolossus’ is a natural descendant
of ‘Armada’, and perfectly reflects the unique musical craftsmanship and
the undisputable power of the band. All songs featured on the album are
recorded without any clipping or copy/paste technique and all
instruments are done in real time. The base of the music has still clear
references to black metal, but the band also includes other influences
like death metal and thrash metal, making their style fresh and truly
So with a
new album out we had the chance to talk to Obsidian C about his
new effort, so here we go.
all, how are you?
fine. Very pleased with the new album and exited to talk about it.
latest album ‘Kolossus’ was released today, so of course we’d like to
ask you a couple of questions about it!
you launch into writing the material for ‘Kolossus’ after your previous
album, did ideas come easily so that you just had to write them down or
was it more of a careful composing thing?
It took a
while but we got a lot of things done during the tour. Early on the tour
we wrote a lot of songs and riffs. We already had lots of loose material
and ideas before we entered the studio. We wanted to continue in the
line of the 'Armada' album, I had made a few good songs that we
definitely had to put on the new album. We had been rehearsing in
between tours. And we couldn’t believe that we ended up with about 13
or 14 songs so we even had to choose between songs.
were the goals you had in mind when you started to record ‘Kolossus’,
did you have a certain idea of what you wanted to do, any elements you
definitely wanted to have on the album?
to have an album that could really follow up the 'Armada' album. We
wanted to create some kind of atmosphere that had to go on where Armada
ended. It was all already in my head and we knew what we wanted to
create, It also had to be a very epic album. I think we achieved that.
album contains a lot of influences like death, thrash, and even some
piano en flamenco guitars so that ‘Kolossus” turns out to be a very wide
ranged album. Who wrote the main parts of the songs?
most of the songs and riffs but we did put it together with the whole
We tried to
arrange everything into complete songs and that worked pretty well for
was it to come up with a follow-up on the well-received album ‘Armada’
said, at first I may have thought about it but I just started writing
songs in my mind and on paper and I knew exactly how it had to sound. So
it just happened because we stayed in that kind of vibe.
you think are the main differences between your last album ´Armada´ and
the new one ‘Kolossus´?
people it takes a little time and a few listening sessions before they
really get the album… You have to listen several times to hear all the
details, the music is a bit more complicated.
responsible for the lyrics and how important is it to you that people
pay attention to the lyrics apart from listening to the music?
personally the music is the most important part. I want people to listen
to our music, but we all wrote lyrics together. We write and record all
the music before we start with the vocals and lyrics. So we always try
to match the lyrics with the songs after the songs are done. Even though
the vocals are very much more in the centre of the music now, much more
than before, it’s still secondary to me. So we did build up a unique
atmosphere with the music and the lyrics together. The thing is that the
lyrics can make an album turn out bad or they can enhance it a lot!
way, the ‘Kolossus’ story is a continuation of ‘Armada’, can you tell me
a little bit more about the lyrics and their meaning?
the story about the Armada war stopped we felt we needed to continue the
Kolossus story. It’s also about more fictional things and war but you
could say it’s almost a second part of one big story.
you please describe the implications of the title ‘Kolossus’, what does
it stand for and is there a special meaning behind it?
was one of the first things that came to mind. We wanted something short
and powerful and then my brother mentioned Colossus, we checked the
meaning of it and it sounded metal, but we decided it had to be with a K
instead of C. We developed the whole concept around that word. It’s a
metaphor of the forsaken but more on a fictional level than us being a
satanic band. It’s more science fiction and we developed the whole story
to the next level, from where Armada stopped. It takes the war to the
next level and in the 'Kolossus' track there is a ritual going on for
summoning the Kolossus figure.
about the song writing – how can we imagine you work on new songs? What
comes first, lyrics or melodies? Is it like you sit down and write a new
song because you need more material now or do you wait until you get an
and music always come before the lyrics. Mostly ideas for new songs just
pop up in your head or while rehearsing. We record them so we don't
forget them and then when we want to make a new album, we already have
lots of songs waiting to be unleashed.
your opinion on the black metal scene these days, is there anything
that the scene is very good right now. There are some very big bands in
this genre. But the difference is that the underground scene is not that
underground anymore. It’s like it is more accepted by more people. There
is nothing wrong with that.
songs on ‘Kolossus’ contain some death and thrash metal influences, so
do you see this album possibly appealing to people that wouldn't have
been attracted to Keep Of Kalessin, or indeed, any black metal act
definitely think this album can reach more different metal heads. There
is more thrash, and black metal and some power metal elements. There's a
lot of different elements so there is something there for all kinds of
How did the recording process proceed and how much time did you spend in
the studio? Any difficulties while recording the songs?
rehearsing for a long time, we rehearsed a bit, made changes and
recorded it. We have a very organic production, as opposed to most bands
these days. I think this way we got a lot more atmosphere. We didn’t
take that long in the studio actually.
received any feedback on the new album yet? How do you feel about this
album – are you satisfied with the outcome or would you have liked to
have changed anything in retrospective?
Oh yes, we
had a lot of good comments, but it’s important that people listen to it
more than once. In Europe there were good reviews, in Norway the metal
media said it was a little less than Armada. But I really would like it
if people gave the album a little more time and listened to it a few
times. If they did, they would hear something new every time they played
it. To me, when it’s done, it’s done. No changes, just give it to the
people like it is. When we said the album was done we were all satisfied
with it. So no changes.
have any favorites on ‘Kolossus’, songs that you think are somehow above
that every time I hear the album, another song is my favorite. I guess I
like a lot of songs and can’t really make up my mind yet. But I can tell
you that “Ascendant” is one of my personal favorites and “Escape the
Union” in the middle of the album. But you should play it a few times
and you’ll be surprised. And of cause the title track “Kolossus” is one
of my favorites.
you guys play a couple of times last year, but what I miss is a second
guitar player that can add more aggression in your (live) sound. On the
other hand, your music is complicated so it is probably difficult to
work with another guitar player. Do you have any plans to add one in the
thought about it and tried some guys. But there is so much to it, more
costs on tour, more difficult to plan with all the different agenda’s.
It costs shitloads of extra money if you have one person more. So we
figured out that if we can’t find the right person, long hair, pretty
and doing the shows for free J we will bring our own sound engineer.
It's so much better than not having your own sound guy! This way we can
also take it to the next level. I don’t think people will miss a second
guitar when they see us live.
the US tour with Dimmu Borgir + Behemoth, what was it like to play the
larger venues like the Warfield in SF?
really amazing, it was the best tour we had ever done. The venues were
always completely filled up, even when we entered the stage. The other
bands were great to us and we sold a lot of merchandise. So it was
year you also played some of the bigger festivals, if you compare that
to the smaller gig venues, what are the differences for you and which
kind of shows do you prefer yourself?
have their charms. In small venues you have more personal contact with
the people. The big places are amazing, it’s good fun to play for so
many people in a big place.
personal questions to end this interview with:
such a big fusion of styles in your music, are there any particular
bands who’ve been a big influence in your song writing, metal or
I grew up
with bands like Guns and Roses, Iron Maiden and Metallica, but I listen
now to a lot of different music, I have a very varied taste in music.
would be Iron Maiden and old Metallica and all kinds of different
influences. I listen to so many things, not just metal but even the
strangest things get my attention.
we expect in the future from Keep Of Kalessin?
We will be
seeing you around when we come over again! A good tour soon to promote
the new album.
tell us something more about your (thrash metal) side project I read
Headspin and it’s a project of Wizziac, Vyl and me and hopefully the
album will come out this year. It’s a bit like Exodus, thrash and pretty
heavy! We will see what’s going to happen with our “Headspin”.
seems to have had some sort of Spinal Tap moment during their career
when touring or whatever. Do you have any disasters or funny stories
from the road?
moments happen all the time. Once I couldn’t find the stage when I had
to get on. I ripped my leather pants and the guitar technician had to
tape my ass and so on… Those will not be the last Spinal Tap moments.
Is there anything left unmentioned, any last statement or anything you'd
like to add...
a new video, it’s a very visual and people should check it out!
for the interview!
Times of War (1997)
Journey Through the Dark (1999)
(A.O Gronbech) - Guitars, Synth
Wizziac - (Robin)Bass
Larsen) - Drums
Csihar - Vocals - (Reclaim EP)
Haraldstad) - Drums - (Reclaim EP)
Vocals - (1996-1999)
A.Winther) - Bass - (1996-1999)
(Tor-Helge Skei) - Live guitars