“Extreme Metal is meant to be extreme. It’s meant to be rebellious and provocative. It is meant to sound and appear menacing.”
I was introduced to “Odes” which is a marvelous work of art by Apocalypse that was remastered recently. Apocalypse is an Extreme Metal act from Italy. Originally starting off as a power metal band, Apocalypse has since then adopted a more extreme sound. After some line-up changes in the band, multi-instrumentalist and mastermind Erymanthon took over the band and continued on his own.
A major influence on their sound is the Swedish legendary act Bathory, intending to pay tribute to and continuing the musical legacy of Quorthon. The band has incorporated different influences and personal touches into their music, without ever losing sight of their Bathory inspiration.
The band has released five full-length albums to date, and for a special treat, their entire remastered discography will be remastered in Stockholm, Sweden at MiMo Sound Studio, where the legendary Bathory recorded their last albums.
I had the honor of interviewing Erymanthon to get to know more about his recent work, influences and musical journey. This is an Ode to the Last Twilight.
This year marks the 4th anniversary of your third album, ‘Odes’. When you look back on the album, how does it feel?
I think “Odes” was an excellent album in the sense that we were able to show our Bathory influence without it sounding just like a carbon copy of Bathory albums. There are plenty of different influences and sounds on the album, so it shows a new side of us compared to the debut album, which was much more intended to be a Bathory tribute, hence the similar sound.
It was a very introverted and depressive record because it was written and recorded in a time of great personal sorrow, and it comes across in the music and lyrics. I don’t listen to my music often and this one has some especially painful passages, but I think it is a strong album.
The album was remastered at the same studio in Stockholm, where the legendary Bathory recorded the ‘Nordland saga’ and ‘Destroyer of Worlds’. Please tell us how did you come to this decision?
Well, it wasn’t really my decision, but our paths crossed. I first came in contact with Micke, the owner, around two years ago, I think. He was a good friend of Quorthon’s besides being his colleague, so I was always very discrete and respectful when talking to him about my music and my passion for Bathory and all of that. When ‘Pedemontium’ came out on CD, I mailed him a copy of it. He ended up loving the album, so when I travelled to Sweden this past summer he invited me to visit the studio, I walked in and within the first minute or so that I was there, he went “So, do you want to be on my record label?” Ha ha ha!
Micke is just a great guy. When we met, the chemistry was there right away. We went out for lunch together and had a great time. And of course, he knows this style of music very well after having worked with Quorthon for all that time. He knows what to do to make it sound at its best. So I accepted the offer and joined in. I couldn’t be happier right now. If you listen to the remasters, they sound amazing, and we are working well together, we get along great.
Mikael “Mimo” Moberg and Erymanthon at MiMo Sound Studio in Sweden
What are your memories of working on this remaster? How was the experience?
We didn’t really have the opportunity to work on it side by side because I still live in Italy currently, and I didn’t have the time to travel there regularly. He would send me samples and I would tell him what I thought, what to change and what to keep, and when both of us were happy with the result, we went on with the release. This is the way we work with all the remasters right now.
Of course, I went to the studio in August, and it was an incredible experience. He let me play the same acoustic guitar that Quorthon used on those Bathory albums. He showed me around the studio, the rooms where everything happened. We listened to some of my music together and started thinking about what to do with the remastering. It was moving. It’s an experience that I will never forget.
One of the most popular tracks from the album is ‘Ode of Last Twilight’. Can you tell us more about writing the track?
I have very distinct memories of that one. I took the intro from another song I wrote for Apocalypse, which appears on the debut album, and I played it a little differently. Then added a couple of heavy, slow, doom-sounding riffs, that are still overdubbed with two or three additional acoustic guitars that play some arpeggiated sequences to add atmosphere. Then choirs, solos, vocals, everything.
It’s a very classic-style Epic song. It’s not very original but very effective, and it works very well. In retrospect, I just think the vocal melody could have been better. I remember the day I was in the studio to work on that recording, I lost a sense of time and I ended up missing the rehearsals I had scheduled with another band I played in. Ha ha ha!
Do you have a favorite track from the album?
Not really, no. They all have their meaning and show a different facet of the album. I don’t think I can pick a favorite.
The album cover looks old-school and nostalgic for this age. How did you go about designing it?
I never think about what is going on already while creating music. The same is true with the album covers. I don’t want Apocalypse to just be a part of this or that trend. So, when I design an album cover, I just pick or make an image that I feel reflects the music the best. In this case, the album is very majestic, but at the same time nostalgic and melancholic.
I grew up with the mountains near me, and they are the quintessence of majesty to me, and if you ever sit down beholding the twilight, you then know for sure that it has this aura of melancholy to it. So, that was the perfect combination.
I found this picture of a mountain that is near where I live, and it was perfect. So, I asked the photographer if I could use it for my album, and he said “Sure”.
Tell us more about the reason for steering away from being a Power/Gothic Metal band.
When I created Apocalypse in 2015, I was listening to a lot of Nightwish, Yngwie Malmsteen, Evanescence and so on, so that was the style of music I drew most of my influence. I wrote around a dozen songs in that period, but I was never able to complete them with that bunch of assholes that were the original band. They didn’t even rehearse their parts. I think we had one or two occasions when everybody actually showed up in the rehearsal room. So, I ended up giving ‘em the kick out of the band and aborting the whole thing.
By the time I picked up our old name to start a new project, my interest in music had broadened and changed, so I naturally wrote different-sounding music than what I was writing earlier on. But you can still hear the gothic vibe in some of the passages I write nowadays, and some Yngwie influence in how I play the guitar.
What is the reason you think it didn’t work out with your band members?
They were terrible; they were terrible! Ha ha ha! The first drummer we had would play the same beat on every track. The bass player would play his stuff on max volume and not listen to anything that was said. When he switched to drums, he would fuck around and behave like an idiot, throwing drumsticks around or sticking them into the ceiling. The next bass player had never held a bass in his hands before. The guitarist had been playing for years, but he was never able to play his parts because he never practiced. The singer was off-pitch all the time, and many times she wouldn’t even start singing when she had to. They just never put the effort in. They came up with all these ideas like “Oh we should not play Metal, let’s play this or that instead” when I made it clear from day one that I wanted to form a Metal band.
It’s my fault too, though. I was what… 14 or 15 years old, had no previous band experience, and no contacts in the scene whatsoever. I just called in some buddies that I knew somewhat played an instrument. Most 15-year-old kids never have big ambitions. You know, I was the crazy one; I was driven; I skipped parties and never hung out to stay home and play the guitar instead; I wanted to do music, record albums and play live and all that, and they did not. I just called them in because at the time I had no better alternatives, nobody at school played music, and I didn’t have many friends, so it was difficult. But they were the most inadequate bunch of freaks to be in a band! I actually asked this girl to join the band as the singer solely because at that time I had a massive crush on her, I knew damn well she never sang before, and she could not sing for shit, ha ha ha! Good times, when you are 15… Ah well, she’ll never know. I don’t think she reads my interviews, anyway.
As one man project, what are your thoughts on the current state of extreme metal?
Aaaahh… I would rather not make enemies here, but Metal nowadays is, for the most part, really fucking boring, at least with mainstream metal. It has become just another trend. You hear any band that comes out on big labels, they all have the same fucking drum sound, the same guitar tone, the same lame-ass plastic-sounding hyper-polished production. C’mon, is this Metal or what? Then you realize they all use the same gear, they are all endorsed by the same guitar brands or whatever, they all play the same preset on their digital amp emulator, and they all play the same down-tuned riffs on their ten-thousand-strings guitars.
They all do the super low growling vocals in the verse and auto-tuned pop like vocals in the chorus that sounds like teen-aged Justin Bieber during a hormonal crisis. I wonder what happened to the original Metal attitude, do it your own way, be rough and fuck off. When you heard the original Metallica, you knew it was Metallica right away. When you heard Pantera, you knew it was Pantera. And the same is true for Type O Negative, Bathory, Malmsteen, Motorhead, Slayer, At The Gates, and I could go on.
Now you pick 10 “modern” CDs off the “Metal” shelf, and they all sound the fucking same, and it is really fucking boring. I’d pick a rough and gritty production one million times instead of a lame, sterile “modern” one. Same thing with vocalists. I hear no passion in a lot of today’s vocalists, no feeling, no screaming your lungs out and pouring your heart into it. If you want real Metal nowadays, look in the underground. There are plenty of crap bands, but there are numerous great ones too. The attitude is still there, it’s authentic and not tampered with by what’s the “flavor of the week”. Check out Kormak, Lilith Legacy, Bloodshed Walhalla, Dark Passage, to name a few. They are all great.
I also think that Extreme Metal nowadays has become too “safe” and “politically correct”. You can’t sing about this, you can’t use that symbol, and bla bla bla. Personally, I don’t give a fuck about supporting any political ideology, it has nothing to do with my way of viewing music, but I think censorship sucks. Art cannot be censored by political correctness and cancel culture.
Extreme Metal is meant to be extreme. It’s meant to be rebellious and provocative. It is meant to sound and appear menacing, it’s a way of letting steam and rage off, the same way as horror fiction novels and movies. Now the world is too concerned about offending some paranoid snowflakes’ feelings. To hell with that. Fuck political correctness and fuck censorship. And I’ll say it again: I stand for freedom; I do not stand for any political ideology at all, so anyone who speculates differently, they can fuck right off.
Talking about Extreme Metal, could you please tell us your favorite albums of all time?
Well, when it comes to Extreme Metal, I can say among others, Hammerheart by Bathory, De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas by Mayhem, Filosofem by Burzum, Slaughter of the Soul by At The Gates, As a Song in the Harvest of Grief by Forest, Arntor by Windir. But I like other styles of Metal too, and other styles of music in general as well. Some others of my favourite albums of all time are Wishmaster by Nightwish, Rising Force by Yngwie Malmsteen, some CD’s I own with Bach, Beethoven, and Wagner’s music, Camminando Camminando by Angelo Branduardi… Now that I think of it, I don’t actually listen to a lot of Metal music, except for a few bands or a few albums by some bands that I really like. I love to play it, and I love to write it, but I don’t actually listen to it that much. Every so often a friend will lend me a CD, and I’ll play it, or I buy one and listen to it. I own maybe a hundred CDs, 10 vinyls and some tapes, but I am very slow with that. I don’t understand why that is, ha ha ha! Furthermore, I do go to local gigs sometimes though, I have friends who play in absolutely kick-ass bands and I like to support the underground.
Does Apocalypse intend to perform live anytime soon? If yes, Is there any country or city that you would love to perform in?
No. I don’t think so. I don’t think Apocalypse would work well on a live stage because most of it is very arranged, with many instruments, and I don’t want to go through the hassle of finding one million musicians or playing with backing tracks. Though we have a drummer now who is meant to help us out with drums on future albums, he is a friend of mine.
I’ll say nothing more for the moment. But I would really love to do a meetup with all of our fans, to talk to them, meet them personally and shake their hands. It has happened here locally sometimes, but I would really like to meet them all and say thank you, wherever they are from in the world.
I believe that you are currently working on new music. What’s next for Apocalypse? What can we expect in the near future?
And you are right, ha ha ha! Well we have… let’s see, well, first of all, we are remastering our whole discography up in Sweden and we’ll put all records out again within the first months of 2023. Apart from that, I think two albums are written, one is almost finished, and we are toying around with some new ideas too. One of them is fast, fast as hell, and really heavy and brutal. If you think ‘Collapse’ was fast, go fuck yourself. That’s how brutal it is.
Another one is very atmospheric and more oriented towards Black Metal, it was finished around one year ago, but we did not put it out eventually because Black Metal is becoming too ‘trendy’ lately and we don’t want to be part of the trend. But it was a good album, so it’s in the archives, we’ll see what to do with it. Then we have yet another one where we try to mix in some Gothic, Symphonic and Neoclassical sounds and influence with the more Epic style of music we have done so far.
It’s not so easy right now because we are trying to come up with a personal musical identity and to go our own way, we are trying different things and seeing what works and what doesn’t work. We are attempting to change a bit and make it sound fresh and original but still sounding like Apocalypse, this is also the reason we didn’t put out a record for almost two years now, but something new will come hopefully next year. I’m still not sure what record will be released first of the ones I mentioned or even if we will release them all, but well, time will tell. Something we will do for sure.
Finally, do you wish to add anything?
Aha, I want to thank all of your readers who took the time to read this interview, and I would like to salute all of our supporters worldwide.
I raise my hail and gratitude to all of you.
Keep Metal at Heart.
“Hail the Hordes!”
Band Links & Social Media:
Apple Music: https://music.apple.com/it/artist/apocalypse/1459212709