An Interview With Mats From Viking Doom Metal Band Ereb Altor
Swedish viking doom metal band Ereb Altor is made up of the duo of Mats (Crister Olsson) and Ragnar (Daniel Bryntse), who are both also involved with the doom project Isole. Ereb Altor saw the release of their first full-length album in 2008 titled "By Honour." Mats recently shared his thoughts with me on the band's sound and his plans for Ereb Altor in the future.
xFiruath: What made you guys want to do a new project apart from your other band Isole?
Mats: We made some song in the early 1990’s that didn’t fit under the Isole moniker, but we felt the songs were too good to never see the light of day. Most of these songs had some kind of Bathory’s Viking era touch. And an idea for a band that will try to honor the memory of Quorthon was born.
xFiruath: Speaking of Isole, what’s going on with that band at the moment?
Mats: Isole has a few festivals and gigs planned and we are working on getting on tour again. We really want to get out and perform more live. New songs have been written and new ideas for future releases is starting to take form. I think we will wait a bit longer this time though, we’ve been releasing albums every year now.
xFiruath: I understand that that the name Ereb Altor comes from a role playing game. Are you guys gamers or does the music have any connection to the game?
Mats: Yes, we were two role playing nerds, but we haven’t been for many years now. It’s maybe a way to honor our childhood and youth. We also figured that fantasy themes along with some Nordic mythology and some other Scandinavian myths suit the epic music we make very well. So why not a name taken from a fantasy role playing game? Ereb Altor is the world that this game, Drakar och Demoner, is played. A world where dragons and wizard rule the lands and all kind of strange creatures dwell, Much like in Tolkien’s midgård.
xFiruath: How important are lyrics in the overall package of your music? What do the lyrics primarily deal with?
Mats: In the future the lyrics will be more important. On our debut we had some lyrics already written in the early 90’s and we didn’t want to change too much in these old songs, therefore some of the lyrics on “By Honour” isn’t superb if you know what I mean. The lyrics on the first album are more about the Nordic nature along with some Viking themes. We also wrote about fantasy and of course some death, the lyrics are a bit shattered. In the future the lyrics will be more about the north here in Scandinavia and our mythology.
xFiruath: Have you guys played any live shows under the Ereb Altor name and do you have any plans for live shows in the future?
Mats: We did a festival in Greece and one festival in Germany earlier this year. I think it was in Wuerzburg and in Athens. The response on both gigs were truly amazing. We will do live shows in the future as well if the right opportunity comes. But we’re not actually chasing any live gigs. And I don’t think we’ll do many shows. But if there is some festival or a really nice venue that wants Ereb Altor I don’t see any problems for us to cease the opportunity. I don’t have a need to tour with Ereb Altor and we also have to hire guest musician every time so Ereb Altor shows will always be rare, and we will not have more regular members ever.
xFiruath: What’s next for Ereb Altor? I read that you are working on something new that may be titled “The End,” which is rather ominous.
Mats: Yeah, I have been working on a new album with the title “The End.” It’s a slow progress since my time is very limited. But I’m working on it whenever I can. The title is rather ominous and the title track is very ominous. The story is ominous so I guess it’s a fitting name. And the fact that it may be the last effort in a long time for “Ereb Altor” makes the title even more well suited. I will take a break from Ereb Altor after the album is finished, and I’m not sure for how long, it could be forever. But we will do live performances if we have the opportunity.
xFiruath: What first got you into music personally? Any specific band or person that made you want to be a musician?
Mats: I still remember the first time I heard Bathory’s “Hammerheart” and I will never forget it. The first song I heard was “Shores in Flames” and I could almost feel the boat rocking on the big waves and I was sold. Candlemass’ first album also had a huge impact on me. But my first metal album I ever had was Iron Maiden’s “The Number of the Beast.” My bigger brother bought it 1982 and this album has a special place in my heart. My dear friend and companion Ragnar also had a huge impact on me, I’ve been playing and making music with him for 19 years now.
xFiruath: Outside of Ereb Altor what type of music do you generally listen to? Do you have any recommendations on bands or albums for our readers?
Mats: I listen to all kinds of music, preferably melancholic and dark tunes. But every genre almost has something to offer in my opinion. I listen to a lot to 1960 and 70’s stuff, and our Scandinavian folk music is also something that returns to my CD player many times. I could recommend Garmarna with the album “Vedergällningen,” and Gåte from Norway. Of course I must recommend “Twilight of the Gods” and “Hammerheart” by Bathory, two milestones in the epic music world.
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