Fierce and Cold. The Northen Twilight of Iskald
Heavy Music Artwork had a chat with Norwegian melodic black metal band Iskald. A band that has delivered their terrorizing music for ten years and has released maybe one of their most epic album to this date “Nedom og Nord” with album art to die for. Iskalds founding member Aage Krekling shared his thoughts about the bands past, present and future.
HMA: You’ve been around since 2005. How much has the band evolved since you started?
Iskald/ Aage André Krekling: I think we have developed quite a lot, both as musicians and on other levels. From starting a band not really knowing where to go, just a simple wish of playing black metal, the road has been long, but always inspiring and interesting. As soon as a stable line-up was in place we started to realize what we wanted and what opportunities lay ahead. With a little help and luck along the way, we found our thing, developed upon that, and eventually brought us to the position we’re in today.
HMA: What were your main influences for Iskald when you started?
AAK: Back then we looked up to bands like Immortal and Windir. We didn’t want to sound like them though, but I guess most of our sound can be traced back to the first songs we wrote, and then things eventually developed naturally for us.
HMA: How would you describe a typical Iskald fan?
AAK: A typical Iskald fan can be anyone into metal or anything really, hehe. We have met a lot of different kinds of people with totally unique music taste, and being a fan of us at the same time. Hard to tell really. But we appreciate people that truly understand our music and are being honest. In the end, our music is most important for us I think, but it’s really nice to have so many supporting us and get all these different kinds of feedback.
HMA: Your latest album ‘Nedom og Nord’ is a tight packet with only 6 songs yet all of them are over seven minutes. Was this intentional when songwriting started?
AAK: After “The Sun I Carried Alone”, we talked about trying to go a bit back to our roots, focusing more on the riffs and the atmosphere. Even though TSICA turned out as an important record for us in many ways, it can be a bit too complex and technical for someone. Even ourselves. But that’s a result of developing as a band and musicians, wanting to try something new. I’m not saying Nedom og Nord is a step back in any way, it’s just different. Still, it’s rather complex and needs a lot of spins to really settle in, but that’s important for us and is a result of high ambitions and a long writing process. Overall the new album offers a lot more atmosphere than before, and that’s something we wanted right from the beginning. And that eventually turn into longer and more epic songs, perfect for those lyrics going on there.
HMA: Should bands do tighter albums in your opinion?
AAK: Depends on the music and songs really. I would much rather hear 6-7 long, really good and interesting songs, instead of 13 short tracks not bringing anything special to the table. Much more possibilities and ideas can come to life when working with a longer track. It’s important for us to make it sound interesting all the way through. Even though the songs are longer, you should want to play it again right after to maybe discover new elements.
HMA: Simon and yourself are the founding members, do you still do all the songwriting?
AAK: Simon does all of the songwriting while I and he arrange them all together in many different steps. Lyrics are brought into the process by me and a good friend of mine. Been like this for almost 10 years, and I see no point changing that as long as we’re around.
HMA: Where do you find the ideas for the songs and the lyrics? What is the main inspiration for Iskald’s music?
AAK: As for the music I guess it’s a mix of inspiration from other bands and at the same time wanting to bring something new to the music. Lyrics vary a bit, but themes like Norse-mythology, doomsday and war epos has been quite central in our songs. “Nedom og Nord” is a good mix of it all, but this time we also wanted to send out a tribute to our home region the things that surround us and in a way affect our lifestyle and music.
HMA: You have songs in English and in Norwegian in your albums. How do fans outside Norwegian react to Norsk lyrics?
AAK: They like it and find it interesting. I know people abroad who study Norwegian just to get a hang of the Norwegian black metal phenomena and lyrics. It has been important for us to write Norwegian lyrics from the start. Sometimes things are just better said in your mother-thong. Hehe. And I feel that those Norwegian songs always have a special atmosphere and meaning to us.
HMA: Norway is well known for its metal culture, what do you think is the current state of it and how does Iskald fit in?
AAK: The current state is still very good I think. What changes are the number of bands and a different approach to the whole music industry? Touring is much more important these days for bands to survive and grow. We haven’t been too lucky on that part, but hopefully, we can have a breakthrough on that matter too. It’s good to see that both new and old bands are still putting out quality records. Of course, the live scene is indeed much more of competition these days if you put it that way, but I believe we should be able to join that race on a larger scale and get our music out there onstage too. At least I feel that we still have something to offer and have a name we want to live up to.
HMA: Your album covers are simply amazing. Could you tell how the process of album art goes in Iskald?
AAK: Thank you, I agree. We have worked with Robert Høyem for almost 10 years now and I think that will never change for us. We have kind of developed as artists and in style together. We give him some ideas and lyrical concept beforehand and from there we just want to see where it’s going. It might seem hard to fit the whole thing together, but it has always turned out amazing and close to what we wanted, but always with a little twist.
HMA: How would you describe the main concept of the album cover for your latest three albums?
1. Nedom og Nord
This artwork represents kind of what the first two songs are about. Those people on the front cover find themselves lost in an “end of days” scenario where life, as we know it, is fading away. We wanted to bring forth a feeling of despair and hopelessness. On the other hand, we wanted to make it look like the scenery of the surroundings we are a part of.
2. The Sun I Carried Alone
TSICA is a concept album where we follow a warrior/soldier thrown into the battlefields. We follow his journey and thoughts in a kind of modern war epos. So it felt natural to put “him” into the artwork and the whole dark setting.
3. Revelations of Reckoning Day
On the front cover, you can see the “judge”, the one sentencing our world towards the end. This is what the last song on the album; “Dommedag” is all about.
HMA: In days of digital music, is a good album art still an important part for bands?
AAK: I think it’s really important. It’s something that completes the whole package and in a way defines you as a band and product. And no matter if you have the booklet in your hands or see it on a screen, it should bring out expectations and emotions.
HMA: Do you have favourite album covers from other bands?
AAK: A bit hard to point out a favourite really. But I would say Robert Høyem has some other really awesome stuff out there too. I’m also a big fan of Trevis Smith’s work.
HMA: What are your tour plans for 2014. You just finished touring with Kampfar and Hate but are you also going on your own?
AAK: The tour with Kampfar and Hate was a great success, but no other tour plans for the rest of the year. We have some personal responsibilities to take care off, but once we hit 2015 we are ready to conquer new shores.
HMA: When do we have the pleasure to hear your next album? What is your writing plans?
AAK: Still no plans for the next album. We’re actually celebrating 10 years as a band next year so hopefully, we can do something about that first and foremost. We plan to do an anniversary show and maybe a release of some sort.
HMA: Thanks for the interview, keep up the good work!
AAK: Thanks for your interest and for taking the time to read this interview. Hails from the North.
Interview by Pete Alander – Copyright 2014 © Heavy Music Artwork. All Rights Reserved.