EREB ALTOR have made themselves noticed the past decade by delivering high-quality Viking metal, deeply inspired by Quorthon and Bathory. The quartet from Gävle in Sweden have now finally made a ‘proper’ tribute to the original master of Viking metal in the shape of the album ‘Blot – Ilt – Taut’, which consists of seven Bathory tracks. Vocalist, bassist, guitarist, keyboarder Mats graciously answers a bunch of questions from Power Of Metal.dk’s Thomas.
POM: First of all congratulations on a very successful tribute album. I really think you hit the nail on the head with these interpretations of the Bathory material. Did you feel a certain pressure from fans or your label to do this album, given your clear admiration for the work of Quorthon?
Mats: Thank you for those words! I wouldn’t call it pressure but during the years I got the question many times why we haven’t recorded any Bathory songs which may have helped the decision to make this album. To be honest I was a bit nervous at first since Bathory hymns are more or less sacred ground for a lot of people. If we should do this we have to do it right, so with a lot of heart put into the interpretations and the recordings of these great hymns we did our best to keep his flame in the music and still make it sound like Ereb Altor.
POM: Was it difficult for you to decide, which songs to include? Did you do an internal voting competition in the band to decide?
Mats: Well, it wasn’t as hard as you might think although there are many great songs to choose from. But the fact that we have already played a few songs at live concerts and that we agreed with our label that it will be a vinyl release we could narrow the selection down a bit. The songs couldn’t be too long due to the playing time of a vinyl and we wanted to more than 4 songs on this release. We also made the decision to only have songs from the really classic albums of Bathory “1984 – 1991”. Of course I had to leave out a few songs that would have been really nice to work with.
It was no internal voting, more or less I chose the songs and a few of them was really natural choices and the band didn’t argue about the selection.
POM: Unfair question: Which song is the best Bathory song ever?
Mats: My heart says “Shores in Flames”, it was the first song I ever heard and it’s the epitome of Epic Scandinavian Metal. It changed my life.
POM: When you started out the band, your affiliation with the sound of Bathory was obvious. Was there any kind of reaction from Quorthon himself back then?
Mats: Ereb Altor was formed 2003 and we released only one official demo back then and he died in 2004 so I don’t think he were aware of our existence.
POM: Did you ever meet Quorthon?
Mats: Nope, I never met him in person, which is a pity of course. I have had the chance to get to know his sister a bit the last years, though, and I got a 2LP orange vinyl of Hammerheart signed by his father.
POM: You have a tour coming up in April (the ‘Northwinds over Europe’ tour with Månegarm and Skyforger). Will you be playing Bathory material only because of the new album, or will it be mostly your own material?
Mats: Of course we will play something from :BLOT·ILT·TAUT: It is our latest release so I think we have to 😉 but since we don’t consider ourselves a cover band we will put focus on our own material.
POM: Speaking of own material: Did you start writing new stuff for the next Ereb Altor album?
Mats: I write music all the time, it’s a never ending process. I have the next album already in my head so when we find the time and energy we will start some recording sessions for the next album.
But I will not reveal anything about the direction the next album will take. You will just have to wait and see.
POM: I can see that you will also be on the road with Isole in April. How do you and Ragnar balance the two bands? From an outsider’s point of view, it seems that Isole suffers under the popularity of Ereb Altor?
Mats: I have always tried to put my heart and soul into both of the bands. I can see your point though and perhaps it’s true. The last couple of years my inspiration for creating music for Ereb Altor has been thriving at the expense of Isole. I don’t see it has anything to do with the popularity, just the fact that I have been finding it harder to make music for Isole recently. When it comes to touring it’s easier of course if a band is more popular and if the band has recent releases out on the market.
POM: If you were to point to one particular myth in our Scandinavian mythology, which one would you choose? I personally always enjoyed the tale of the death of Baldur or perhaps the story of Ragnarok the most…
Mats: The death of Balder is a part of Ragnarök, it’s where the end begins. It’s my favourite story and the most famous one as well. What would Scandinavian mythology be without Loki? And it’s exciting that it’s the end of one era and at the same time the beginning of another.
POM: Mats, thank you for answering my questions! Before I let you off the hook, I’m curious to hear what music you are listening to right now. What are your top five albums at the moment?
Mats: Besides all the Bathory albums 😉
Opeth – Pale communion
The doors – Strange days
Witchcraft – Legend
Landberk – Riktigt Äkta
Gåte – Jygri
Blot – Ilt – Taut will be out during March on Cyclone Empire.
Read our review here.