Interview with Obsidian Claw & Thebon - Keep of Kalessin, November 2011

Power of Metal: How's the tour going so far? That was a good show I think.

Obsidian Claw: It has been pretty well. Shows have been good, but the first few days our transport didn't arrive so we had trouble with renting cars and driving ourselves. So, first few days were stressful but now we have our transport here and we are starting to get into the tour. It's really getting better and better.

PoM: This is your... 4th day of this tour?

OC: This is the 5th show, I think.

PoM: Oh is it? And this is your 2nd time this year in North America correct?

OC: Yes.

PoM: How many times have you been to the States overall?

OC: In total I think we have been here... [pauses] This is the 5th time we are here. First with Dimmu Borgir and Behemoth and then we did the tour with Kataklysm, then with Nile. In May we did another tour with Sepultura and now were are here.

PoM: You have such a unique style of flutter picking. It's reminiscent of the Emperor - Ihsahn style and yet it seems more dominantly thrash. Was there a specific thought process that you went through to create it? An inspiration or it simply something of "oh that sounds cool."?

OC: It's both, I think. First you start just jamming out some riffs and then you kind of start developing your style. But once you realize that you're on the path of doing something different, you start to be very aware of it. So now I'm very aware of what I'm doing and I always think about it and how I want stuff to be. But like you said, it's a little bit of Emperor in there. There's a lot of the early Norwegian black metal bands, but still a lot of new developed styles as well. Also a lot of heavy metal and more 80's thrash metal as well now.

PoM: Your right hand technique and abilities are spectacular.  Does your picking style influence the way you write songs?

OC: Definitely, because my picking style enables me to do melodic stuff as well as rhythmic on the guitar. So I definitely think that the picking technique, there is a lot of emphasis on the picking technique. And also that makes it like I said, easier to write these kind of riffs that sound different.

PoM: It was unconscious on your part  to make the cover of Kolossus look staggeringly similar to that of the game Oblivion... has the game or do games in general influence you in writing your music as well?

OC: Yes. It wasn't a conscious choice when I was thinking about the Kolossus cover. We had this idea and then when I saw the cover, I looked at it and thought: ' Hm, I have seen this somewhere before'. And it got to me, 'Fuck, this is a total rip-off of Oblivion'. Then I also thought that, I see it as our tribute to the best games I ever played. And we play a lot of computer games. We are definitely inspired by it both in lyrical, how we write music, and the atmospheric rate in our music.

PoM: There will be a new Elder Scrolls  game - Skyrim. It will be out next...


OC: It's next week.

PoM: Yeah. Obviously you'll be getting the game?

OC: Yes, but I will wait until we get back from the tour. I'm probably going to get a new computer and the computer game. Just sit at home and play this game all Christmas, I think.

PoM: That sounds good. Let me go back to asking you about your guitar playing again...
Looking back, how do you think you came to achieve such speed and endurance during your earlier years as a guitarist? And will you ever have a 2nd guitarist?

OC: [Laughs] I'll answer the last one first. We've thought about having a second guitarist, but it's not as easy as one would think because it needs so much dedication. So much sacrifice to do what we do and it's really hard for people outside to sacrifice this much for something like this, if it's not your band. But then again... [Pauses] We have found a way to make it work now and I think this is working out okay. A second guitarist will cost more money and it's not like it will cost just a little bit more money because when you think about hotel rooms, we are 4 people in the band. If you have 5, you will need 3 hotel rooms instead of 2. If you take a taxi, you can fit 4 people in 1 taxi. If you have 5 people, you suddenly need 2 taxis. When you're travelling and shit, it costs a lot more to have one extra member. So, we would never be touring this much if we actually were 5 members - then we wouldn't have money to do it. Right now it has been working okay with the last couple of tours with one guitarist, yeah.

PoM: So it was more about financial...

OC: It's a lot about financial. But then again, it's also about having the right kind of atmosphere inside the band and also the symmetric on stage. We have a good stage presence now with 4 people and 3 in the front. If you add 1 in front... [pauses] I think it looks better, it feels better right now. Maybe a second guitarist could be a good thing but right now, we have found that with the stereo guitars I do now, we often get a lot of people saying that it sounds like there are two guitarists even though there's just one.

PoM: Who decided for the band to take part in Eurovision?  Has it allowed you to do more music, given you more exposure?

OC: I decided it. It was a mutual agreement inside the band though, because I asked the rest of the band and everyone was, 'Yeah, we just have to do it'. It has been good for the band in many ways. Of course, in this scene, it's not only positive feedback. But we can not be controlled by what other people think about us. We did this for ourselves. It was something we thought could be fun to be a part of and it was a great experience for us, so we are really glad we actually did it. It opened a lot of doors in many ways. Maybe not for Keep of Kalessin per se, but also we have a lot of contacts now. If we are going to do something else in the entertainment industry or whatever I want to do later in my life, I have contacts I can use.

PoM: You referred to your sound as 'epic extreme metal' in the past... combination of black, death and thrash...? How would you define Keep of Kalessin's music as of today and how it progressed?

OC: I think it's still epic extreme metal. Maybe we have more thrash metal now than we did earlier, but I still think it's epic extreme metal because it's still a lot of death, black and thrash with even more heavy metal now. So maybe in a way we are closer to extreme heavy metal, but still it's so much thrash metal and black metal in the music. Even on Reptilian. There's so much of that, so... I think the epic extreme metal moniker still fits that.

PoM: What kind of elements do you think you have buried in your music that makes it different in comparison to what's out there?

OC: I think there is more melodic stuff compared to extreme metal. Like I said, we are closer to heavy metal bands than we are to extreme metal bands, death or black metal bands, at least. There's a lot of people coming up to me and saying, 'I don't like death metal, I don't like black metal, but I love you guys', and I take that as a big compliment because I think death and black metal scene is too narrow and I don't want to be held back as a musician.

I think we have different elements with different kind of melodies and more diverse music, I guess, and different kind of riffing techniques than any extreme bands.

PoM: You've maintained a story line over the past few albums. Where are we in the story? Is there a certain inspiration for the story? What happens if or when the story ends?

OC: Mostly it was Armada and Kolossus that had these kind of stories and we felt that we left it where it was. I don't think we will continue to write the same story and continue the same story. I think we have done that. Maybe we'll do some concept album or something at a later point but right now Reptilian is more individual songs instead of like Armada and especially Kolossus - it was like one story all over. I think now it's more the individual songs (that) have their own theme, thematics and lyrics. Who knows... We have plans of some very epic albums. We have plans to write some really really big, epic shit with a story going, but we'll see.

PoM: I was just about to ask you about that because you want to release an album every couple of years, I believe you said?

OC: Yeah, something like that.

PoM: Could you perhaps let us in on what is to come or is that all you're willing to give us for now?

OC: We have decided to do at least one more album. It will be out in October 2012. We have some new ideas for the new album. The next album will be a little bit like Reptilian I guess. It will be a lot of thrash metal but even bigger and better production and more epic at the parts where we do epic...

PoM: Has it been written already?

OC: Some of the stuff is written already.

PoM: You'll be producing it once more?

OC: Yes, but I will focus on this from January. The first to sixth month of the year will probably will be just focused more on writing songs and production, then we will release it in October. And after that, we are not quite sure what's gonna happen, if we will do more albums or whatever. We're at the point now where we... I don't know, we're going to do one more album and we'll take it a bit more easy. [Laughs]

PoM: You've been touring for most of this year... What are your plans for the future of the band? What's happening after this tour?

OC: After this tour, we will take it a lot more easy. We'll do some festivals next year. Some shows, but not much. We will not do any kind of major tours. We will focus on the new album and then we just take it from there. We have actually decided not to do tours like this anymore.

PoM: Uh-oh. Why is that?

OC: Because it takes too much out of us. I've done it for ten years and it's not bringing back enough for us anymore. It used to be when you were 23, it was all about fun and stuff, but now I've been doing this for 10 year and it's like, 'Okay, I need to refocus, I need have something else in my life'. I still love the music that we do and we will probably focus on doing not so many shows, but maybe bigger shows. So hopefully, we'll do more big stuff. Doing 4 day shows and playing like shitholes all over, it's not so fun anymore. [Laughs]

PoM: How about your other band, Headspin. Could you tell us a bit about that?

OC: Well I've said it like the last 5 last years now that it's gonna be out. But this year I  I don't want to promise anymore. We should be finished with the album. We have it ready but we need to redo the vocals now because we're not happy about the vocals. So hopefully we can do that when we come home and this time I feel quite certain that we will have it out in 2012.

Now I'm wrapping up so many things.  New Keep of Kalessin album, we have the Headspin album, Chton album that I produced, Bloodthorn album that I produced and we have a project that I'm involved in. It's called Mera. And all these albums I think will be out next year.

PoM: You've been busy.

OC: For me, I've been working on the side of touring and doing Keep of Kalessin for the last couple of years. So it will be so nice for me to get all these albums off my chest and have them out there, so then we'll see what happens.

PoM: Your vocal style seemed to have evolved over the course of Kolossus, Armada and Reptillian. Has this change been intentional? Did you sit down and try to fine tune your lungs? Or would you attribute it to touring and the standard wear, tear and abuse of your vocal chords?

Thebon: Through the recordings of the albums, we always tried, kind of everything we can pull out of my voice. Every style there is for every line and we kind of do whatever would fit in that actual part, but I guess we've been open more and more for every album because we used to be very black metal. Very narrow and now it's open more for me. I come from the opposite world. I come from classical and musicals and all that shit.

PoM: You listen to Symphony X.

Thebon: Yeah.

PoM: I was a bit surprised by that.

Thebon: They're a good band.

PoM: Yes, yes, they are.

Thebon: Good musicians...

PoM: You've heard of their newest album?

Thebon: Yes, I was just listening to all of it.

PoM: Really?

Thebon: It sounds good.

PoM: The one line from the lyrics of Kolossus is still missing. If you check the lyrics, it is always skipped.

Thebon: Are they on the song?

PoM: Yeah...

It goes something like: I reaped the _____? for me it was the only path?

Thebon: I reaped the world on reptilian wings. For me it was the only path.

PoM: Ah, I got it.

Thebon: Yep

PoM: You're aware that those aren't included in the lyrics anywhere online?

Thebon: Yep. A lot of the Kolossus album, a lot of the parts aren't actually written. And we had a contest about this, about who can get the lyrics...

PoM: Has anyone won, yet?

Thebon: No, nobody has got them yet. A lot of people are very, very close, but nobody has done it yet.

PoM: What is Middle Earth like?

OC: What it's like? Why haven't you seen the movies?! [Laughs]

It's probably pretty awesome from looking at the movies...

PoM: Have you taken part in the return of Lord Sauron's ring to the volcano?

OC: What? No, I haven't taken part. I don't think so.

PoM:  Any last words to your listeners and our readers?

OC:  Check us out and like us on Facebook. That's actually very important now that fans like us on Facebook. Check out our websites for info and our music of course. Keep supporting the band, that's the most important part for us.

PoM: Thank you so much.

OC:  Thank you.

Keep of Kalessin - Reptilian

Label: Nuclear Blast



Thebon - Vocals

Obsidian Claw - Guitar

Wizziac  - Bass

Vyl - Drums


The Divine Land (2011) Single
Reptilian (2010) Full-length
The Dragontower (2010) Single
Kolossus (2008) Full-length
Armada (2006) Full-length
Reclaim (2003) EP
Agnen: A Journey Through the Dark (1999) Full-length
Skygger av Sorg (1997) Demo

Through Times of War (1997) Full-length

Interviewed by Haydee G.