Tag Archives: Enslaved

Ice Dale speaks: interview with Arve from Enslaved & Audrey Horne

I’ve had the pleasure of encountering quite some of the people who make the music I love. One of them was Ice Dale, legendary guitarist for Enslaved and Audrey Horne. Also known for the project I with Abbath, Demonaz, Ov Hell and many, many more.

I ran into Arve Isdal, which is the real name, after Dynamo Metal Fest 2016 at the Blue Collar Hotel and for the very first time in a long while I bravely asked for a photo. Later I got in touch and asked if he’d answer some questions for on here.

Now, Ice Dale is an interesting guitar player, coming from the black metal scene. He’s also a producer and works with many smaller bands. His stage presentation is unlike most black metal musicians and much more inspired by the great rock guitar gods. Legs spread, hair waving in the air and just chugging out mighty riffs. It was very esciting for me to do this article and to have it on here.

Interview with Arve Isdal

Since you are involved in quite some projects, what are the bands you’re currently working with and what is happening there?
I´m only involved in 2 bands now and that is Enslaved and Audrey Horne. Both bands are working on new albums at the moment and playing gigs in between. Enslaved will do a European tour starting late September and also Australia and a festival in Japan this autumn. Audrey Horne will play some shows in Norway and focus on writing new material.

How do you decide what projects to say yes to and which to say no to. In other words, what are you looking for in a new musical project in order to join it?
-As a musician I haven’t really had time to do much else then Audrey Horne and Enslaved for the last years. Both bands are touring and putting out albums every other year so it keeps me busy. As a producer it of course has to be a band or music I like for some reason or something I feel I can contribute to. I haven’t really produced recently but I have been teaching about music production at a school here in Bergen and that’s a lot of fun.

Audrey Horne-1
Arve performing with Audrey Horne at Dynamo Metal Fest 2016 @Paul Verhagen

Next to being a musician, you’re also a producer. Do you find that you’re a diffferent producer than a musician outputwise? Or how has it influenced your musicianship?
You always learn things from every session you do in the studio cause they are all different. What works in some sessions might not work at all on the next one, so that keeps it interesting and you cant just do the same every time. You learn a lot from working with other musicians and also producers and sometimes they are doing something that just sounds really cool and you can adopt that into your own playing and producing.
I also have recorded a lot of demos with younger, local bands and that’s very inspiring too. They got the spirit and enthusiasm you had when you started playing and its such a big deal for them to get their own demo and you can see how proud they are when its done. That makes me appreciate more what i´m doing and to remember that in the end this is all about having fun and the love of music in between all the hard work.

What is the most rewarding to do for you nowadays? Producing or making music?
Definitely making music! Its fun to record other bands and artist too and be a part of making and maybe forming their albums, but it will always be more personal to write your own music. At least for me. I like to do both though cause if you have been writing a lot for a period, its nice to just be the “ears” to someone´s songs and help them get where they want musically and production wise.

Enslaved has been your band for a long time, all the way from the pagan black metal days to the more progressive times now. How did you get into black metal in the first place? What did you listen to?
I grew up listening to more Rock n roll/ Hard rock and progressive music and bands like Kiss, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Metallica, Black Sabbath, Guns n Roses, Faith No More, King Crimson, Yes, Pink Floyd and those kind of bands. I didn’t play extreme metal before I started playing with some friends of mine in a band called Malignant Eternal in the mid 90´s and it went on from there.

Arve Isdal performing with Enslaved at Roadburn 2016 @013, Tilburg @Paul Verhagen

Nowadays you combine work in Enslaved with Audrey Horne, two completely different bands. Are you experiencing a difference as a member and in the way you perform?
I have always played a lot of different music and in different bands, so I´m used to changing my playing and feeling a bit. Its more like a psychological thing I think. In extreme metal you usually have a more aggressive approach and that attitude and that “feeling” musically can be just as important as what you play technically. If you play for example punk and are supposed to have a chaotic and “fuck off” attitude, you cant all play in perfect time and play all the notes and chords perfect cause that wouldn’t sound chaotic at all. That said I have always had a more rock n roll approach to my playing in Enslaved and other metal bands I played with, so its really not that different. Its another style and another way of riffing and building up the arrangement but both bands are practicing a lot and try to play as good together as possible so its kind of the same only a little different;) Sometimes the most straightforward riffs and music can be the hardest to play cause then all the notes you play count more and there are no room for mistakes or being a little of rhythmically.

What was it like to play in the band I and how did you get involved with it? Will there ever be more work from that group of people joined?
– I met Olve (Abbath) at a local pub called Garage, which was the bar all the musicians hang out in Bergen at that time. We started hanging out and became friends. I had a homestudio and after Immortal took a break, he asked if I could help him record and work on some ideas he had. We didn’t have a band or album in mind at that time so we just hung out and played and recorded stuff for a year or two before we decided to put together a band and make an album. I already played with King in Audrey Horne so I suggested him on the Bass and Abbath wanted to try Armagedda, who was the first drummer in Immortal, on drums and it worked out great. Of course Demonaz had to write the lyrics so suddenly we had a band. We all became close friends and we had a lot of fun making the album. I don’t think there will be another “I” album, or at least I cant see that happening right now.

Of all the music you’ve made, what would you like to be the production or album to be remembered for?
I hope that album is yet to come! I´m proud of everything I have done cause it reflects the time and period in my life when I did it. After every album you do, it always feels like the best you have done so far. Its natural cause its fresh and you have worked on making it as good as you can for a long time. When the album is finished and “borned”, you are very proud and its impossible to have an objective opinion on it. Its supposed to be that way. After a while you start getting inspired again and think that you can make even better songs and an even better sounding album and the circle continues. I think that the day you feel that you have made the perfect album and cant possibly do it any better, that’s the day you should find something else to do.

I’ve heard you mention in an interview that you need a guitar that feels right. What makes a guitar the right one for you?
I found my guitar a long time ago and it’s the “Black beauty” Gibson Les Paul Custom. I use a lot of different guitars in the studio and for writing but live that will always be my main guitar. Its more about the shape and the way it looks and feels than the sound really.

What does the future hold for you and what plans do you have?
Writing more songs, playing more gigs and making more albums. Basically doing more of the same

All pictures provided by Paul Verhagen, check out his website

Sounds of the Underground #35

Boy, what records to be found in the underground this time, with Downfall Of Nur, Skuggsjá, Cormorant and Fuath. Great music for great listening!

Downfall Of Nur – Umbras de Barbagia
Avantgarde Music

source: bandcamp

Seldom have I heard music, blending folk and black metal, that feels so full of yearning for something lost as I did with Downfall Of Nur. The band is a one-man project by Sardinian musician Antonio Sanna, who moved to Argentina and there started making his music, inspired by the Nuragian society, which inhabited the island of Sardinia since the old days and still show some traces in the wild central parts of the island. So, the band is based in Argentinia where the young Sanna released a demo, an EP and this full lenght.

The music is a mixture of two styles, but balanced in such a way that you hardly feel the transfers from one to another. The production is phenomenal and the sound completely captures the forlorn spirit of its topic matter. The eerie screams of Sanna are haunting in the sometimes completely overwhelming waves of bleak, black metal. The special touch is the folk instruments, which start the album, but also help it to close of in a similar manner. This way the album becomes a unity, instead of a collection of seperate songs. It’s an absolute masterpiece, that combines the best of the atmospheric black metal bands of nowadays and folk music.

 Skuggsjá – A Piece For Mind And Mirror
Seasons Of Mist

source: bandcamp

The magical collaboration between Einar Selvik (Wardruna) and Ivar Björnson (Enslaved) was already succesful in its limited run of live shows. I had mixed feelings when it came to an album version of it, due to its temporary and unique nature, It was an event, a once in a lifetime thing, but now there’s an album. I have to retract any objections, because this is a music for the ages. With many collaborators on this piece of heathen heritage appraisal, it’s a work like no other. The Norwegians have tried to captivate its essence on this recording.

Though labeled as a blend of metal and folk, it feels more like a ritualistic bit of music. The changing of Selvik is combined with the riffing of Björnson en Grutle Kjellson. Mystical foggy fjörds are being painted with words and music. Through the mist of traditional instruments you journey into the Norway of a long forgotten past. It’s music that makes your heart pound, that makes you look at the stars with a new sense of wonder and embrace the forgotten past. The wide range of instruments comes together for something monumental and grand, but also dreamy and nostalgic for a time in the past. Thre’s hardly any true metal in the music, which is surprisingly not making it lack in power. It’s hard to really go into it, because it knows no equal. I’m for one very glad this music is available on vinyl now.

Fuath – I
Fortriu Productions/Neuropa Records

source: bandcamp

I’ve had this record on my shortlist for reviewing for a while, but somehow dropped it for a while, due to its musical nature. The post black metal that praises the land of the Britons has often represented in my reviews so I let it simmer for a while. That did not diminish anything of the beauty that Fuath has to offer. Andy Marshall knows how to make this kind of music. The Scot was also responsible for the work of Saor, Falloch and various others. Where Saor and Falloch are mellow, representing the wide heathers and hills, the music of Fuath is more harsh, more overwhelming and seemingly more about the deep forest.

The name Fuath translates as ‘Hatred’ in Gaelic. That tells you quite a bit already. The sound is more streamlined than the previous efforts and relies on that stream to create an atmosphere of a misty forest and being lost in its foggy depths. It invites you in, takes you into its warm embrace. Only then you feel the eerie cold and the fury behind it all in icy riffs and cold, distant drumming. Vocals are howls, raw and filled with hatred, in the background. Ever seen that scene in the old BBC Robin Hood serious where Guy Of Gisborne runs scared through the haunted forest? This was the soundtrack of that bit.

Cormorant – Dwellings
Self released

source: bandcamp

Yeah, this is something else. Cormorant is a black metal band that can trace its roots to the melodic and grandiose sounds of Emperor and Satyricon in the early days of the genre. Where the focus of bands is lately much on returning to its roots, like the Icelandic and Nidrosian scenes, this band returns to its mystic, fantastic origins. Think Bal-Sagoth, but without the cookie monster gutturals and and He-man like landscapes. The Bay Area band of Americans have released this album in 2011, but it crawled up on bandcamp for a bit and I had to check it out. I was amazed.

You think progressive usually takes a more agressive, extreme angle, but interestingly enough these San Francisco boys have taken it to a more traditional folk/heavy metal direction. More riffing, more soaring guitar parts and that galloping rhythm you’ll find in the power metal corner. Maybe even a bit of Iron Maiden? It creates a unique sounding band, that unites the cravings of angered D&D players with the need to stand bare-chested in a forest wearing corpse paint and wielding swords. It is not filled with hatred, but with longing for that other worldliness. On top of that, they do what they do in a magnificent manner. What an album! They did release a new one in 2014, but I’m most keen for more.


Sounds of the Underground #1

I listen to music, so you don’t have to. You can decide if you want to check out what I’ve been checking out by reading what I thought about them. I’m usually pretty honest. I do tend to listen to what I like myself though.

Regarde Les Hommes Tomber – S/T

Gritty post-black metal/sludge from the city of Nantes in France by what I’ve perceived to be quite a young band still. The omnious sound takes up the topic of ‘The Fall’. Not in the way that you fall and hurt your knee, no it’s much bigger. The fall of humanity, the biblical image of the fall, atleast that’s what I get from the whole imagery of their sound and artwork which refers to the tower of Babel and such. They make it sounds great. Long, dreary guitar wails, heavy hitting drums that sound like giants dragging their feet, vocals that bark the inevitable despair of loss. A great record for a sunny sunday in it’s twisted way.

Godflesh – Decline And Fall

I’ve developed a love for the raw sound of urban decay of Godflesh. Their iconic imagery and typical sound of Justin K. Broadrick’s crew has maintained it’s relevance throughout their almost 20 year existence. A new EP in that case is always good news. There’s the industrial beats and the rasping riffs. The vocals express either the weary feeling of being in a daily rut, or the frustration that comes with urban life. The constant tension, boredom and restlesness. Four songs that express this current state of affairs. Blending industrial with metal has always been a tricky thing, but no one knows or defines how it works as much as these guys. I’m not sure yet what is the best time to listen to this record though. It’s not comfortable listening music, that’s for sure.

Default decline ruled by dead fires
Don’t wait, think last, act now, destroy

Enslaved – RIITIIR

The album ‘RIITIIR’ is by now two years old but still filled with brimming and biting energy of a whole new level than the first records of the band from Norway. Part of the black metal wave, the band quickly turned it around and became a genre on their own, pushing the boundaries and possibilities. I got to see them live on their ‘Vertebrae’ tour in 2008 or 2009 and their majestic sound was nothing like I anticipated. The rasping vocals of Grutle Kjellson are the last bit that betrays the roots of what can now be called a black/death blend with avant-garde pretense and prog fuelled riffing. The sound is clean and well produced, the artwork is beautiful. Truly captivating sounding music is produced by these guys by now and I wholeheartedly recommend checking it out, even when you are scared of extreme metal. Not without reason where they named as a band pushing the genre forwards by Sam Dunn in that final episode of Metal Evolution.

Lantlôs – Melting Sun

Though formerly known as a black metal outfit, the Germans from Lantlôs have exchanged that grim sound for a more shoegaze/postrock feeling on their new EP, which lasts about as long as a regular album. Soft, colourfull soundscapes are produced by the three bandmembers, It’s music for dreamers, slowly floating through the air in unity. The name of the band means ‘without homeland’ and it truly feels like the music takes you away from such earthly things as nationality. Peacefull sunrays fall on your face as you float away, this could be the soundtrack of ‘de Droomvlucht’ in nearby theme park ‘The Efteling’.

I’m well impressed with the sound of these Germans, who give beauty to a style so often described as gloomy and dark, this is music of light.