Signed to Napalm records, also the home of the mighty Candlemass, Isole have been playing their unique, atmospheric and crushingly heavy brand of doom for over twenty years in one guise or another and last year they were able to celebrate this milestone by releasing the widely revered ‘born from shadows’ album which, apart from anything else, finally completed the ‘moonstone’ trilogy. We were lucky enough to catch up with Crister Olsson, vocalist and guitarist for the band, who talks about his time in the band, the unplanned evolution of the ‘moonstone’ story and the band’s continued desire to bring doom to the masses. A powerful band, Isole take a multitude of influences and intelligent lyrics to craft some of the most compelling doom metal heard in years and for fans of the band, each new album is a dark treat, preferably to be savoured in a darkened, candlit environment at skull-flattening volume. If you have yet to disvocer the band, read on and see what you’ve been missing out on…
Your most recent effort, ‘born from shadows’ completed the ‘moonstone’ trilogy you started some years back can you tell us a little about the formation of that concept and the idea behind the moonstone and shadowstone?
When Moonstone was written back in 1994 we had no plans of making a trilogy, the title was inspired from an old computer game if I remember correctly. Approximately 10 years later the idea of making the opposite to Moonstone and then Shadowstone was born. We still didn’t plan the making of the trilogy at that point. The third piece about the two stones is inspired by a series of books by a Russian author named Nick Perumov and there are no stones but two swords instead in these books so it¹s only symbolic and no real facts. It’s a classic theme with good versus evil, dark versus light. And in the final piece these two great opposites finally unites to bring the end to the world as we know it.
How do you work on composing the music in Isole? Are the tracks the result of the band working together in the rehearsal room or do you bring works to the band to flesh out?
It is both individual AND collaborative. Often one of us has an idea or even a complete song and brings it to the rehearsals. Then everyone puts their own touch to it and comes with suggestions and alterations or as we call it: grind it through the ‘ISOLE-machinery’. This is also the reason why we list
every band member as composers to every song.
What is it about doom metal that inspires you and what acts encouraged you to develop the Isole sound?
I like sad, melancholic and dark music. It makes me feel good and I think it holds a lot of emotions. It doesn’t necessarily have to be doom as long as it’s dark and melancholic, to be honest I listen more to other styles of music like progressive/psychadelica and other styles of metal. I get inspired by bands like Landberk, Opeth, Muse and Gåte for instance and none of these are doom bands.
Lyrically your choices seem to be wide-ranging and ambitious where do you look for inspiration?
Mostly I write about real life experiences, like my own fears and nightmares, or perhaps old memories. I know that Henrik is inspired by literature sometimes but it’s rare for me. And both of us get inspiration from history and religion.
Are there any particular forms of literature or art that inspire you for example?
As I mentioned earlier the trilogy about the two stones is inspired by series of book by Nick Perumov. I think it’s most historical books or fantasy.
Between 2005-9 Isole was very active but then it took a little longer to develop ‘born from shadows’ did the writing process require more effort this time out or was it the pressure of the gig/record/gig cycle that made you need a break?
Both I guess, and I think it was a good decision. I’m not sure that I think two years between albums is that long and I think we will take longer time between our albums in the future, releasing albums every year is exhausting considering that we have other band commitments as well. I have released 5 isole albums and soon 3 Ereb Altor albums in 7 years now and that’s a lot.
We’re more mature in the song writing nowadays and of course we get more skilled every year like everyone else. It’s amazing to be part of a band in such a long time. You get more used to do live shows and we’re getting better at entertaining the audience but I have to admit that I’m still quite
nervous before going up on stage.
You must, also, have seen a lot of changes in the music industry in what ways have these affected your approach to making and distributing music?
In no way at all I think, we just do what we do and the most important thing to me is to please myself and my own needs.
When you first started out as forlorn did you have any idea you’d still be making music some twenty years later? How did you feel celebrating your anniversary last year?
I guess not; as I said earlier it’s amazing to be a part of this. I’m really pleased that we could celebrate our anniversary with a new album and I hope we will continue doing this for at least 20 more years.
What has been your high point of being in Isole so far?
Signing to Napalm was a huge step for us. When it comes to live shows I have to mention the first time we went abroad to gig, it was at Doom Shall Rise and it was amazing, we sold every single CD directly after the gig (like 100 CDs on a festival with 500 people in the audience).
You’ve recently welcomed a new live bassist (Jimmy) to the fold how did he come to be a part of the band?
We needed a new bassist since Henrik decided that he couldn’t be a part of our live shows anymore. We have known Jimmy for years and he’s a good bassist and I think we will work out just fine when it comes to the social parts being on the road with us.
You’ve already announced a few gigs for 2012, any chance we’ll be seeing you in the UK?
We are working on getting gigs all around Europe but it seems to be hard to get to UK especially since we never been there and we lack of contacts in the UK. But if we get a chance to do some gigs in the UK we will not hesitate to sieze the opportunity.
How does the Isole live experience differ from the recordings do you think?
We are heavier and more crushing live. We have a lot of energy on stage and we try to do the songs justice with using dual vocals on stage since there are lots of vocal harmonies in the Isole music.
What hopes and ambitions do you have for the future?
To please ourselves and our need and to make the best Doom album ever and play gigs all over the globe! Then we’ll be millionaires and we could live in luxury (I’m only kidding, doom metal will never be a money machine, it’s all about dedication.)
Can we expect a new album soon?
You’ll probably have to wait almost 2 years for the next Isole album! But hopefully you’ll get a chance to see our perform live in between.
Find out more about the amazing Isole through the band’s official myspace page.