Ereb Altor have done the unthinkable and managed to be sucessful at it… they released :BLOT·ILT·TAUT:, a tribute album to Bathory, in which they cover seven tracks of the gods! Pest Webzine has had the opportunity to chat with Mats, the mainman behind this project.
The band has reached a cult status… why do Scandinavian bands have the tendency to become bigger than others? Would you like to achieve the cult status that Bathory managed to achieve?
Mats: I think it has to do with the Scandinavian melancholy you can find in our native folk music which often shine through somehow in Scandinavian metal bands. To reach the same cult status as Bathory is almost impossible in the music industry of today but of course I wish that we will reach the same cult status some day. I would be a fool not to aim for that even if I think it’s impossible.
In the first years of the band, Ereb Altor were not as musically busy as in the past 4 years. You’ve been releasing something every year ever since 2012. What happened? Are you more inspired now?
Mats: At first Ereb Altor was a side project for me and I put more focus in the “main band” Isole. Things changed though and my priority band nowadays is Ereb Altor. Actually at first I planned only two releases with Ereb Altor and then it was meant to be the end of the band. But inspiration thrived and I keep coming up with new ideas and material.
“Blot-Ilt-Taut” is Ereb Altor’s way of honouring Quorthon with seven Bathory hymns. How did the idea come up?
Mats: I think the seed of this project album was started by our fans. At several occasions people have confronted me with the demand or the question: “Why haven´t Ereb Altor recorded any Bathory covers?”. Many people have also said that we carry the right vibe and that we are the heirs to his legacy. Remember these words are not from me since I have no right to speak about us being the heirs of Bathory. These demands or questions have been haunting me for some time and I started thinking: Should we enter the sacred ground where Bathory dwells? Should we do this now on his 50th birthday (yeah, I know the album will be released a little bit later than February 17th but that was beyond our control) and even more importantly how are we supposed to do this? The answer is as you know by now, YES we will enter Bathory territory and do this directly from the HEART! It was a mix of spontaneity and planning but all I can say is that I enjoyed every minute of doing this album and it’s done in our own way with a lot of heart put into the songs. We wanted to do a more limited release and make it clear for everyone that this is not a regular Ereb Altor release. That is the main reason why we released it on vinyl only. But for all those people that doesn’t own a vinyl player the tribute album is also released digitally.
Your releases “By Honour” (2008), “The End (2010), Gastrike (2012), “Nattramn” (2015) and “Blot-Ilt-Taut” (2016) all have seven tracks. Is number 7 somehow special for you?
Mats: Yes! It’s a magic number.
Today is born the seventh one
Born of woman the seventh son
And he in turn of a seventh son
He has the power to heal
He has the gift of the second sight
He is the chosen one
So it shall be written
So it shall be done
Which is your favourite Bathory’s track?
Mats: Shores in Flames
Mats once said that it makes no sense in releasing new material if it isn’t better than the previous one… so does this Bathory tribute somehow mean that you think Bathory’s music is better than yours?
Mats: To me Bathory is better than everything else. But this album has nothing to do with Ereb Altor´s musical journey. It was just a tribute album and the I worked on new material at the same time as the recording of :BLOT·ILT·TAUT:
How much pressure did you feel when recording this album, considering that the tracks you were covering were already so perfect? Do you think you managed to successfully cover Bathory?
Mats: We tried to do it directly from the heart and we wouldn’t have released it if we felt that we couldn’t do the compositions justice.
Have you received any hate-mail or threats for the covers you did?
Mats: Hahaha… no, not yet. I have received mails full of praise though.
Are you planning on doing a video for any of the tracks in “Blot-Ilt-Taut”?
Mats: No, there will be no video for any of the tracks.
The band has a few shows and festivals lined up already and people seem to be very excited every time a new date is announced. Have you considered doing a full tour?
Mats: We did a European tour 2016 and we are aiming to tour every year as usual. But right now we are focusing on getting as many festival bookings as possible.
Is there any other band you would enjoy doing covers of?
Mats: Ereb Altor is not a cover band so that won’t happen.
It is not uncommon for the band to play sets dedicated to Quorthon. Why do you feel the need to do it?
Mats: I don’t think it’s very common since we have done that only one time in Finland. We will do it in Madrid so this is something we don’t on a regular basis. We have never considered us a cover band and we don’t have a need to play any Bathory set in fact. We focus on our own music. But since we released this tribute we thought it was okay to do this at very rare occasions.
If you’re such great fans of Quorthon, have you ever considered the idea of starting a religion Quorthonianism? Totally dedicated to the man? ?
Mats: Hahaha… no, I think religion is interesting but I am not a preacher and nor am I a religious man. I prefer to just listen to the music, the legacy he left us with.
This is the 4th release under the Cyclone Empire banner. Are you satisfied with the work they’ve been doing?
Mats: Yes, I have no complains concerning Cyclone Empire.
When will the band start working on new material?
Mats: As I mentioned earlier I am always composing and there is already a new Ereb Altor album waiting to be born.
How does the writing process in Ereb Altor take place? Who writes the lyrics? Who comes up with the melodies and riffs? Do you work as a unit or do you do it separately?
Mats: The latest years we have created the albums by the same formula. I start with a pre-recording of the album myself, it’s kind of the way I write songs and it’s a rather long procedure. Then I present the album and the songs will be run through what I call the “shit-filter” where I get feedback from the other guys. Then it’s time to alter the compositions and try to remove all flaws before actually recording the album for real. So in other words I pretty much write all music and lyrics.
The band usually writes about Northern mythology. Why do you think it is so important to share your cultural heritage? Do you think old traditions are disappearing?
Mats: I am interested in all kinds of myths and legends and find it fascinating. I made a decision back in the days to keep everything close to our heritage and I really think these topics reflects the music very well. It’s a package thing, a soundtrack of Scandinavia.
Most band members are involved with other bands. How do you manage to rehearse and find the time to get together as Ereb Altor?
Mats: I believe Ereb Altor is the priority band for all members and therefore we always find the time to get together. The fact that we all live in the same small town also is very convenient.
Are there any important news about the other bands Ereb Altor’s members are involved in?
Mats: Not that I know of.
The social media has been extremely helpful for many underground bands as it has helped them spread the message. In your opinion, what’s the best and worst about everything being done online these days?
Mats: Well, the obvious thing that the record sales are going down in the grave which means that it’s very hard to make money on the records as a product. The good thing is the availability, all bands have the same possibility to spread their shit and if the shit is good you will have fans and get gigs.
What’s Ereb Altor’s main priority these days?
Mats: To complete the new Ereb Altor album and get as many festival shows as possible!
What’s your man objective as a musician?
Mats: To please my own needs… sounds like a cliché but I truly make music for myself at first hand.
Many thanks for answering my questions. Please share a message with Pest Webzine’s readers and Ereb Altor’s fans. Cheers!
Mats: We will Keep the flame of Scandinavian metal alive and hopefully we will see you all in Romania someday!
Interview by Sonia Fonseca