Ereb Altor was founded by Mats & Ragnar in 2003 when we decided to breathe some life into some old songs that we wrote back in the early 90´s in the band Forlorn. We chose the songs that we could transform into Bathory worship compositions and we recorded an official demo called “Awakening” in 2003. It was heavily influenced by the works of Quorthon and the idea of Ereb Altor was at first to be kind of like a tribute band. We chose the name Ereb Altor which is the name of a fantasy world in an old RPG game from Sweden because back then we had an idea of writing songs about Dragons and Wizards and stuff like that but that never really happened since we have focused on our inheritance and I have been writing lyrics strongly connected to where we come from. Nonetheless we kept the name anyway and it reminds us about our youth when we played that game.
We are based in Gävle a rather small city in Sweden, the south parts of Norrland.
Fire Meets Ice, your fourth, full length release is a really powerful, varied, satisfying album, which feels meticulously crafted and honed. But there must have been some difficulties throughout the journey. What would you say was the biggest challenge with this album, and how does it feel now that it’s complete?
Well thank you!
Actually I had most of the album rather clear in my head long before we recorded it so things went rather smoothly. I have the luxury to work with excellent musicians also i.e the drums were recorded without rehearsals, we just listened a little bit on some pre-recordings I had done by myself with programmed drums and I just discussed some parts with Tord before he sat down behind the drumkit and we recorded the drums.
The biggest challenge as always for me is to find the time to spend in the studio or the rehearsal room since I have a family with 2 kids and a regular fulltime job.
The cover art for Fire Meets Ice is attention-grabbing and highly original. Can you talk about how important it is for your releases to have interesting and meaningful artwork? Also, do you think album art in general is losing its effect due to the increase of digital downloads?
I think artworks still is important but it has lost its effect to a lot of people I suppose. Gustavo Sazes did this cover art in a close co-operation with me, I wanted it to be symbolic and symbolize the creation of the world according to our old religion, the Nordic Mythology.
The world itself is a big ash tree called Yggdrasil and it’s built up by 9 smaller worlds. And according to the Norse mythology the world was created when the 9th world Nifelheim which is the cold world from below met the world of Fire up high (Muspelheim). The frost of Nifelheim was turned to mist by the warmth from Muspelheim and in the void between in the mist was the very first giant Ymer was born. Later the Gods; Oden, Ve & Vile slayed Ymer and his blood became the ocean and his hair became the trees and so on…
The world tree “Yggdrasil” in the middle and the cold world of Nifelheim at the roots and the Fire of Muspelheim at the top of the tree is a rather symbolic image and I think Gustavo did an excellent job on the cover.
Your Swedish heritage plays a very important role within your lyrics. Can you please talk about the importance of holding onto the history of your country and people, and communicating your pride and devotion through your music?
I like history in general, not only our history. I think the old myths are fascinating and it’s a part of our inheritance and sadly we don’t study the Nordic mythology that much in school. So even here in Sweden people in general don’t know much about it and that’s a pity. So hopefully our music will enlighten some people and make them interested to learn about the old Gods of the North.
Can you please explain to what extent Bathory influences your music? Also, can you please describe what feelings and emotions you experience when listening to Bathory? I’m under the impression that a great sense of wonder, awe and respect still remains years after that first ever discovery.
Bathory is THE REASON we started this project which later became a real band. Bathory is therefore a big source of inspiration and the first time I heard “Hammerheart” back in 1990 it made a huge impact on my musical interest. I remember I could almost feel the waves rock the boat when I heard “Shores in Flames” for the first time. I will always have big respect for Quorthons work, in my opinion he almost created two different genres in metal (Black metal & Viking metal), it’s not many people who can say that they have accomplished that.
I mostly love the epic albums especially Hammerheart and Twilight of the Gods and there is no other band in my opinion who ever came close to these masterpieces. Nowadays the Viking metal genre sounds very different to these works and this is where I think Ereb Altor will fill an empty void for those who loved the old style.
Though Ereb Altor is sounding less and less Bathory for every release and I try to create our own unique identity but the atmosphere and the spirit of Bathory is something I try to preserve.
Technology is advancing at a mind-blowing speed, and it’s often hard to keep up with the changes. Do you personally find it all a bit much? Do you manage to keep up with the constantly shifting wave?
I am very old school when it comes to technology and I can’t keep up at all. But now I feel like I’m catching up just a little bit since I recently got my first smart phone to be able to work with the band without being in my “office”.
Where do you stand on sharing music digitally, and what is your personal preference when it comes to collecting music?
I think you have to use the internet these days to spread your music, sadly the money in the music business don’t end up in the pockets of the artists anymore.
I use spotify at some occasions but if I find something I like I will most likely purchase the actual album also to have it in my collection.
Is there a particular album that you find yourself returning to time and again for pleasure and/or motivation? What is it about this release that fires you up?
In the past few years I have one special album which I have returned to over and over again. Watershed by Opeth is an album that has been spinning very often. I think the album has almost everything, it’s so close you can get to the perfect album (in that particular genre that is). Everything is so well planned and to me it seems that a lot of work is behind this album and the compositions are so complex. There is nothing to complain about, also the production is perfect, it suits the music so extremely well. The musicians in Opeth are also extraordinary.
If you had the ability to change something about today’s music industry, what would it be?
Well, in the end I think that downloading of music for free should never had happened. Only purchasing music digitally and that a fair amount of that money would end up in the pockets of the artists.
What music have you been listening to recently? Do you actively hunt out new bands or do you prefer to surround yourself with the old greats?
I prefer to surround myself with the old greats of mine. I listen a lot to Opeth, Landberk, Gåte, Anathema, Iron Maiden, Candlemass and of course some Bathory.
On a professional and personal level, how would you define success?
The first step is to make music that you can be proud of and that will last for years. The dream and the real success are to be able to make a living on music alone.
In my opinion, Fire Meets Ice is a stunning success. I’m sure it will go onto influence and inspire musicians and fans the world over. Have you had any thoughts about future releases? I imagine that all of your focus is currently with Fire Meets Ice, but perhaps there are flickers of ideas already?
For the first time in the history of Ereb Altor my mind is a bit blank when it comes to the future. Directly after all the previous releases I almost had the next album in my head already but not this time.
Perhaps that’s a good thing and I will put more effort promoting and doing live shows after Fire Meets Ice instead of wandering around with all these ideas and the constant attraction to bury myself in the studio to try out new material.
What can people expect from a live Ereb Altor performance?
A varied set with songs from all albums and an atmosphere built up by all the choirs. And with a great stage presence we will create a massive wall of sound from the cold North.
Where on the web can we find Ereb Altor, and do you have any up and coming gigs that we should know about?
Our website: www.erebaltor.com
Our official Facebook page: www.facebook.com/ErebAltorOfficial
We are working on getting our asses back on the road again but the only gigs I can confirm at this point are 3 gigs in Ireland and Northern Ireland.