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Marking the release of the band's 9th full-length released yesterday, and fast- approaching 20th year anniversary, SOL mastermind Emil Brahe spoke at length with Klamerin over the band's history.

Interview with Sol.
"SOL is a Danish, primarily solo, project that entered the Doom scene in 2007, a period of relative stagnation idea-wise for the genre - right after it had exploded into a popularity which ultimately brought many bands that were just following in the footsteps of the big names. This landscape, already showing fatigue, was taken quite by surprise by SOL, which proved the genre can still sound fresh and the well of ideas was far from dry. And from there on - the band has only reinforced its originality with a large discography marked by many stylistic changes and a single thread that binds releases - darkness and a grim outlook for mankind.

Since next year marks the 20th anniversary of the band - we thought it only suitable to talk about all things past, present and future with the mastermind behind SOL - Emil Brahe - who kindly answered all of our interviewer Klamerin’s questions in depth and detail, and provided all the pictures and captions."

Emil, Ván Records promo photo.

Hi Emil, I hope you are well, and life is treating you well.Thank you for taking the time to give this interview!

Thank you.

Since this interview marks the 20th anniversary of the band next year, let’s start from the very beginning - 2004-2006 - the “dark ages” for your band in terms of information - a period not documented even on metal-archives that lists the band’s origin as 2007.

Can you shed some light into the band’s activity during these years - what form and what intentions did the project have before you started composing the debut album? How did you even decide to form SOL and where did the band name originate from?

SOL as a concept started in 2004 when I attended The European Film College. At that time I got my first PC and I was experimenting with recording lots of different music. I was blown away by the opportunity to record multiple layers. It was never an option before; if I wanted to record something multitrack I had to get a friend with equipment to do it. I only had a Sony cassette recorder that I wore out from recording all sorts of obscure jams.

So yeah, I had played in a black metal band with my good friend Trúa, and he started a doom metal project at that time called Mørkheim which I thought was a great project. I hadn’t paid much attention to doom metal before that. Of course I listened to Black Sabbath and the olden doom, but in those days I was more into black metal.

I wanted to make a doom project, so when I got my first PC I started making the earliest SOL tracks, and in 2005 I had made my first selection of songs, an album called “Stilke af Død” (which I don’t quite know how to translate into English). I got offered a record deal with that album, but I wasn’t quite satisfied with it, so I recorded a new album called “Europa” - a 44 minutes crushing doom album, rather harsh as I remember it, haha - but the record label backed out due to some financial stuff after releasing a Grívf album. So the label contacted the German label Ván Records, which was rather new at the time, and they wanted to release “Europa”. But once again I wasn’t quite satisfied with the album as a whole (I think it was something with the production), so I started recording what would become “Let There Be a Massacre” which was released in 2007.

SOL - the band name - I think was kind of a dualistic statement.

For the cover of "Europa", 2006.

So we have lost doom albums we should grieve over. Do you still have them? Do you plan to release them in some form any time in the future?

In my humble opinion the 2005 album is not worth anybody’s grief. There were a few interesting ideas but that’s about it. “Europa”, on the other hand, I just listened to again while answering these questions, and I am not so disappointed with the sound now as I was in 2006. Maybe “Europa” will be integrated in something, or partly released or whatever one day (not all the tracks are to my liking, but it’s a pretty intense sound, hehe). So yeah, I still have those two albums on a dusty harddrive.

By the way, does the name "Europa" have anything to do with your fellow countryman filmmaker Lars von Trier and his Europa trilogy and specifically the Europa movie? Are you familiar with his work?

I love von Trier’s Europa trilogy. Especially “The Element of Crime”. I actually think those three movies are his best. But no, the album title refers to a mixture of the Greek goddess Europa and the geographical Europa. The lyrics on that album were in Danish, but the writing style was a bit similar to “Let There Be a Massacre”.

Ha! Now that I sit here and think about it there is actually a connection to von Trier’s trilogy. I was very inspired by the atmosphere of the song in the ending of “The Element of Crime”, which is a German version of the Danish song by Lulu Ziegler called Den Sidste Turist i Europa (The Last Tourist in Europe), man, it’s beautiful lyrics. And the German version is perfect too.

So in the beginning it was “Let There Be a Massacre” which put you on the forefront of the Doom scene and rightfully so - it's impressive for a debut - it is very coherent in terms of sound but also in the atmosphere and lyrical themes. And it's a crushing album - both in terms of pure heaviness and the feelings it permeates. Tell us more about its composition - it sounds quite mature - did you take a long time to write and revise it or it just came to you in this form in a burst of inspiration?

I don’t think it took that long to make “Let There Be a Massacre”. Back then I recorded all the guitars first to a click track, and then I would record the bass (which was in fact just a guitar pitched an octave down since I didn’t own a bass back then, haha) and then texture layers like the accordion or noise fx, and then lastly drums and vocal.

It all went pretty fast; I had a clear vision of how the sound should be, and I knew I wanted to experiment more with guitar harmonies. I think the compositions of that album were very much improvised on an intuitive level. I would find a riff I liked and then just try different leads over it until I found one which matched the atmosphere I was going for. But I remember I wanted something grand and, I don’t know, epic.

My studio equipment was very limited, and so were my production skills at that time, but somehow it just shaped itself like I wanted to. I have always worked well with limitations, and I think the massive limitations of my studio and recording possibilities helped to create the sound of “Let There Be a Massacre”.

Well, you certainly managed to make the best out of these limitations, as it not only sounds heavy, but also has a very authentic tone to the instruments which makes its impression even more direct. And you already answered to a certain extent to my next question - how did you achieve such a perfect production on that album, which was quite surprising for a first effort given you did all the recording yourself. Actually it seems that you already had some experience in this regard and production was an important point given that it was production that sealed "Europa"'s sad faith.

I think I shall not go too much into the details of the production, gotta leave some mystique, right? Haha.

Some live photo from somewhere.

“Beast of Riddles, Monster of Light” on the other hand, an EP composed shortly after and intended to be a follow-up came out much later and got some criticism as a step back, since at the time of its release it was surrounded by albums that really broke boundaries. It is very much a stripped- down version of the debut and the purest Doom album you've put out - with long drawn-out riffs and without any additional instruments apart from the core guitar, bass and drums. I love it exactly because of this. The misanthropy in it seems a bit tamed, as it is bleaker and does not count on such intensity but rather on drawn out notes. But why didn't this album come out when originally intended? Why did you decide to make it a more stripped-down version of the debut? And are you happy with its place in your discography?

I’ve always looked upon my releases as documents of a certain time and a certain mindset. Some of the mindsets I’ve been through don't resonate with my present mindset, but it is still a documentation of the way I perceived the world in that specific time.

After releasing “Offer Thy Flesh to the Worms” I remember people writing me and asking what the fuck I was doing, haha. They wanted another “Let There Be a Massacre” and all that, so I dug up some sessions meant to be released after the debut, but I never quite got the lyrics and vocals right. Then in 2011 I wrote new lyrics (in a three beer session at a local brewery) and did new vocals.

The stripped-down approach was to give it a different atmosphere than the debut. I wanted something more raw, I guess, to the core. SOL’s music in its purest form. It was an experiment that at the time seemed right to do. But the irony is that the album got criticised for being too much like the debut, but on the other side people wanted something more like the debut. Haha. Can’t win ‘em all.

Am I happy with its place in my discography? I don’t know. It was the right album for the right time and mindset.

Next came the first sign the band won't rely on the established successful formula and produced an album that stands singular in your oeuvre - in terms of sound and in terms of message. Once again “I Am Infinity” mostly deals with negativity but the subject matter is megalomania, the sound is the most Black Metal infused it would ever be and it's a stark departure from the debut especially considering the intro and outro tracks.

Was it a conscious decision to create something different from the acclaimed debut? Were the Black Metal elements particularly chosen, or simply the right vessel to convey the mood you were trying to achieve? And most importantly - was it considered as a one-off from the very beginning or was there a chance that SOL actually takes this path long term?

Being my second (released) album I wanted “I Am Infinity” to be different from the debut. I wanted it to have a different flavour. And as I mentioned earlier, I had a background in a black metal band, and I wanted to incorporate that into the album. It was also the first SOL album to feature a variety of collaborators. Some guitar parts of the album were made with Kasper and Martin (from Woebegone Obscured and Gespenst), and a lot of the bass work was done by my oldest friend, Kim, whom I’ve been playing in lots of bands with. Also Trúa did some vocal parts, and Per did some additional electronics. It was extremely inspiring to just sit for hours and come up with riffs together with other people; it shaped the music of that release. In that sense “I Am Infinity” is not the most personal SOL album, if you can use that word. It is much more of a “band effort”.

The lyrics however were very personal. I didn’t think of it as a one-off OR a new path - music-wise it was a documentation of the music that interested me at the time. The lyrics were of a weirder size; mainly centered around some out-of- body experiences I had which were very powerful and cosmic and shook me to the core.

In 2006 I recorded a SOL album called “Vanvid” (which is Danish for madness), and that album was an experiment with power electronics, ambient noise and deluted soundscapes. The album was never properly finished, so I made a collage of some of the tracks into the intro and outro of “I Am Infinity”.

Recording The Storm Bells Chime; Emil & Tor.

As for the collaborative effort, when so many different individuals are involved - do you sit all together brainstorming ideas, or was it more different one-on-one sessions focusing on different aspects of the music? How did the collaborative way of work evolve over time?

We would sit in my studio with a guitar and pass it around, and if someone came up with a solid riff then I’d record it. Then we’d add the bass (which was an actual bass this time), drums and vocals. Very productive days.

So this was more of a typical band effort. The collaborative way of working has changed a lot since that. I like the people who contribute to my songs to improvise over the “backtrack” (if one can use that word), and then I spend a lot of time on producing, editing, arranging and rearranging until I think it fits the atmosphere or mood. Instead of asking someone to play a riff I’ve already written, I like the person to add his or her personality or soul to the song. Sometimes it fits like a glove, other times it needs a bit of work or a lot of work.

First came the part split/part collaboration with Blóðtrú, whose mastermind Trúa was already involved in the previous SOL album and would be involved in the future as well. How did you know Trúa, he seems to be from your hometown, did you get together around music, or you knew him from the past? How did you decide to work together and more importantly how did you decide that some of the tracks would be pure collaboration - as we know collaborations are more difficult and rarer than pure split releases? This album also leans in Black Metal direction, so coming from the previous question - was this another step in a possible path of sound, or was this simply because of the stylistic approach Blóðtrú has? And finally, how did the idea behind the vocals in the first track Alone emerge, I'm sure they caught everybody off guard?

Truá is an old friend from my childhood city, and we had played in many bands and projects together. I also played on some of his Blóðtrú records, and I guess we just liked the idea of this split/collab album. So we made “Old Europa Death Chants”.

We had already made the final track “Death Chants for Old Europa” which was originally intended for a conceptual album about the four horses carrying the riders of the apocalypse. But while working on the split we found that this track would be a perfect ending of the record.

Then we wanted something in that style for the opening track. At the time I was listening a lot to Henry Purcell, especially his “O Solitude my Sweetest Choice” so we decided to cover it. Trúa came up with the idea of singing it in the deeper register, which I thought fitted the song and the album just perfectly.

Then we knew we wanted to have two tracks each (to call it a split). Prior to this release I had the idea of making a whole album in the style of the “Crippled by Emotions We Die in Solitude” track - droney guitar with furious drumming and multilayered vocals. But the project never quite got more than one song, so I decided to use that for the split as well. It was interesting working with the vocals for that track. I wanted to have these wave-like distortion guitars just going on forever, and then OUT OF THE BLUE, having these furious drums. It was Danny (from Woebegone Obscured) who played the drums. He complained a lot about my crappy drum kit, I remember, hehe. Maybe he was right. But I still like the atmosphere of this song. Also Trúa’s two songs were very inspiring to me. The way he used electronic beats on “The Dusk of Man, the Dawn of the Beast” was mind-blowing to me at the time.

The other split was with another big name in the underground quality Doom scene back then - Grivf, a band that also has its own twist in the form of lack of drums that give them a sound of their own. This album seems like back to basics I must say. A very fitting style split-wise - we have simple and wonderful Funeral Doom still infused with folk instrumentation and amazing accordion sections.

Was this style again influenced by an intention to make a coherent album despite the split format? And about Isar – who is also from Aarhus, did you know him from before? Seeing you were from the same town and making similar music the split makes perfect sense. And since this split was the last album he did with Grìvf - do you still keep in touch, can you shed some insider info if he stopped making music entirely?

Isar and I were old friends. Trúa had produced an album for him, and so did I (I seem to remember). It was around that time we started talking about a split release. Actually Trúa, Isar and I were working on a collaboration album together before Isar and I lost contact. I think he is on a different path, I don’t know, I haven’t spoken with him in years.

I cannot actually remember so much about the recording of this split. I remember wanting to use more “Dungeon Synth”-layers, and using more synth on the album. Isar and I used to joke and call my side of the split for the Gong record, haha, because I had this nice recording of a gong that I wasn’t afraid of using on those tracks. Also I used a more folky scale in the guitar work. I think that was inspired by Isar and Grìvf’s music.

What I liked about split recordings back then was the chance to get inspired by the other project. Trying to make a bridge between my sound and visions with the other projects’ sound and vision.

SOL live; Emil & Peter.

I think this marks the first era of the band. No matter how diverse the material was, metal was always at the core of the music.

“Offer Thy Flesh to The Worms” - in a discography where almost every album provided some rather unexpected elements and approaches, it was nonetheless always to a certain extend grounded in Doom metal. This album proved that SOL was not to be confined to the metal genre entirely. You've already mentioned that this is rather a collection of experiments, an attempt to achieve SOL atmosphere (and I would guess intensity?) using mostly or solely acoustic instruments. Since the compositions spanned several years, this means this was not decided on a whim, but is rather an approach you actively chased – is this correct? I think this is the first time that you'd give up the vocal duties entirely. Btw, I always found some avantgarde and improvisational jazzy feel with all these unexpected moments, do you agree?

“Offer Thy Flesh to the Worms” has always been one of my favourites. It also marked the beginning of a certain way of “writing” the music: It is more of a collage in a way. I really enjoy working in this way, and have done it on basically every SOL record since (more or less).

Even though there have sometimes been longer gaps between the releases, I never stopped recording. I have a lot of material, unreleased albums, jam sessions and songs that were discarded. So on writing and producing “Offer Thy Flesh to the Worms” it was an amazing period of putting different takes together to form the music, almost like a piece of clay or something. In a way this record was actually decided on a kind of a whim, so to say. The idea at least. It took me maybe a couple of months to finish it.

You are not mistaken about the “jazzy” or avantgarde approach to the record. I have always been a fan of experimental music, and music that tries to break its own rules, and I listen a lot to improvised music and free jazz.

At the time of producing “Offer Thy Flesh … “ I was very inspired by Sunn O)))’s “Monoliths and Dimensions”, which to this day still is one of my favourite albums. I love the way they use a wide selection of instruments to texturize the sound. So for me “Offer Thy Flesh …” was the start of a deep texture in SOL’s music. My approach to the album was not so much about making an acoustic doom album, but more an abstract drone album with doomy tendencies.

I love the way Sunn used the trombone on their track “Alice”. I am also a huge fan of Alice Coltrane’s music, especially “Turiya Sings” and that period of her music. Sometimes it feels like it is not her music, that she is just channelling the music from somewhere else. Like someone or something is playing through her. It is an approach I try to do too when I make music. Trying to find a language or a sound that is more intuitive and abstract. Being open to the subconscious influences, and to be a medium for ideas that aren’t always easy to explain… because in the moment it feels pure and undisturbed. I like to be as true to these ideas as possible. When all that is said I wanted to implement the trombone on “Offer Thy Flesh … ” and that can of course be seen as a tad “jazzy” I guess.

The two tracks on the album that feature vocals were done by Trúa because I always loved his vocal style. Also I wanted the album to sound “new”. Like something I hadn’t done before. I wanted it to be a new path for SOL to follow. Not in terms of the musical style, but workflow.

The same year you released “Black Cloud of Becoming” - probably the bleakest in an already not-too-happy oeuvre. There are less guitars than before, and the vocals are changed – a bit shouty but drawn out and somehow manage to convey even more suffering than before.

How did this album come to be? What was your state of mind during this time, did it reflect its rather gloomier nature and what do the title and the artwork actually mean?

In 2011 we started a band called Bone Altar. We only made one song before the band stopped. One of the guitarists of that band, Mikkel had prior to this band introduced me to Toad Liquor’s “The Hortator's Lament” and I became very inspired by the desperate raw vocals on that album.

After the quick death of Bone Altar, Mikkel and I started working on “Black Cloud of Becoming”. I tried out the more desperate shouty vocals, and recorded them through distorted guitar amps or megaphone. Even though the album is a bit black metal in its sound, it was never thought of as a black metal album. We wanted to create something that was kinda gnawing, like when you listened to it it should be like listening to a knife in the mind, haha. We spend a lot of time making these long guitar phrases to sound as desperate and compressed or claustrophobic as possible.

Sometimes I have a hard time listening to “Yielding to the Sound of Clouds”. Not because of the music or production, but the period I was in while writing the lyrics was not my best period haha. I was extremely restless and kinda caught in my own mind. I felt like a fierce animal.

The music on the last track “Becoming Black Cloud” was written by my good friend Andreas, who would also participate on the later albums, and join the SOL live outfit which was started from the ashes of Bone Altar, also in 2011.

It is not an album I revisit so often, it is a bit tough. But as said before, it is a documentation of that period of my life, and a channelling of those ideas and constructs. The lyrics and album title was centered around this nihilistic feeling of everything never amounting to anything. From an existential point of view. We are all just absorbed into a black cloud, a black hole slowly deteriorating our minds and our existence. This feeling made me so goddamned angry, and at the end of the day incredibly sad and disappointed. Like the last lines of “Yielding to the sound of clouds”:

Drunk in the nectar of anger
I stand before thee
with one hand filled with time
and the other trembling with melancholia.

I think that summons up pretty much my state of mind those years. The album cover is a photograph I took from the forest next to my childhood home. They had cut down a large part of the forest, and one day when I was walking by this area the clouds became incredibly dark and massive over this battlefield of trees. Luckily I had my camera with me. This picture described my mood perfectly, so I decided to use it for the cover.

Recording The Storm Bells Chime; Christian doing field recordings.

Then came the rather boutique release of “This Realm Is Free and Remains Eternal” which was later re-released as “And The Mouth Of Time Is Open” with two new tracks in the same vein. This is the last album that really tries to sound as filthy and full of hatred as in the early days. Is SOL a band too mature for such primitive sound nowadays, can we expect similar intensity in the future? And what made you write such an album in the first place. Judging from the albums preceding and following - there is a clear shift in resignation / apathy / higher understanding that seems to have come to terms with the world as it is. And here we have something raw and unwilling to accept or swallow the hatred. Are these observations accurate and do they reflect the intention behind the songs?

I don’t think I thought: I want to make a filthy album like the early days, haha. It was just the right sound for the right mindset. “And the Mouth of Time is Open” was kind of a split with myself, haha. There were the three tracks from “This Realm is Free and Remains Eternal” which was recorded together with Andreas, and then there were two tracks from a session I did with Trúa. The things these songs had in common - besides from being recorded in somewhat the same time - was the change of lyrical perspective. You may speak about them as filthy or full of hatred, but I think of them more as an opening, a frail hope for something better - and ultimately the disappointment when nothing changes. For example the last lines of “Ceremonial Rot”:

This realm is free
and remains splendid
and Sane.

It is of course with a certain bitterness and sarcastic approach, but I do think there is a small shimmer of reaching for hope, I don’t know. Like this verse from “Hill”:

Forever and eternally
this world with all its grace and deformity
with all its subtle despair
and blood soaked glory
is truly brighter than Death.

I think it is - as you say - a different understanding of life, and a step towards a different path. I don’t think it’s a complete surrender to coming to terms with the world as it is, it is more an exploration of the multilayered aspects of life and the human condition.

So is SOL too mature, hehe, I don’t know. Yeah, I have grown older - and a lot of the hatred and self loathing I felt isn’t so present anymore. But the darkness is there. Always. Some of the lyrics can maybe also be seen as a faint and somewhat impossible promise to myself. Like the last line of “And the mouth of Death is open: “And fear shall own you no more” which is just repeated over and over again.

So can you expect a new Death/Doom album anytime soon? I don’t think so. But you can expect intensity - in whatever form it will appear to me. Nowadays I have fired myself from the vocals. 20 years of SOL has not taken lightly on my voice, haha, and also I like to work with different vocalists who interpret my lyrics in their own unique way.

Actually I have always seen the repetition of “And fear shall own you no more” as a sort of lullaby of solace in the form of the hopes of death release. And speaking of the lyrics in this album - the lyrics from the first song - “As The World Burned'' feel a bit autobiographical. What is the significance of the dates - is 1985 the year you were born and metaphorically step out in the rain while in 2004 stepping in the fire, tearing your heart out signifies the birth of SOL as a channel to let go of some deep feelings? Is this interpretation correct?

Well, you could also see it that way. And it wouldn’t be wrong. It is in any case a wish for release, either through death or through apathy or whatever numbs the darkness.

There is something autobiographical about “As The World Burned”, but it is not to be taken so literally. I was born in 1985, and a lot of shit happened in 2004. It is two important dates, I guess, in my life.

SOL has always been a channel for the darkness to get out so that the light may stay inside. The 2004 reference in the lyrics is not about SOL though, but about the death of someone close to me.

In between these two releases we have yet another surprise - the second, this time full collaboration with Blóðtrú and one can say that this is as far removed from SOL as it can get, including atmosphere-wise - a pure collaboration that completely transcends the genres of the bands involved.

What's the story behind this, it seems that between the two collaborations you and Trúa did not lose contact as he was still involved occasionally with SOL. But how did this album evolve to the sound it has (do I even hear some post metal in how the middle track goes along?)? And I think vocals are entirely provided by him, right?

Yeah, Trúa provided all the vocals. The split was actually his idea. He wanted to use this poem from the Poetic Edda. He was very much into Norse Mythology back in those days. I, on the other hand, am not so much into that. Or it doesn’t fascinate me, this kind of mythology. Not that I have anything against it, it was just not my choice to use this poem. When that is said, I think Trúa did a wonderful job at interpreting it, and using his voice to give the poem a face.

I was more into the music of that record, but when all that is said I think “The Earth Rises All Green” was more Trúa’s project or concept. I am happy we made it, and it is a fine document of the ideas Trúa and I had at the time.

Recording The Storm Bells Chime; Emil & Christian.

For me the above albums comprise another era of SOL, what I refer to as the middle period, that was quite busy in terms of output. What would follow would be a completely different direction than anything before.

Even if “Offer Thy Flesh to The Worms” had classical instruments it has jazzy feel (to me at least) in terms of the usage of the acoustic instruments - now we have the beginning of the era where classical instruments used in a classical way would be involved in most albums along with even more droney, ambient and discordant overall sound.

In 2015 after a relatively long wait considering SOL usual speed we have another album “Where Suns Come to Die'' that is once again different from everything that came before, released rather appropriately on Cold Spring Records, considering its large portion of ambient and even field-like recordings, both specialties of the label. If the music you created was difficult up to this moment - now it requires even more patience, in order to be absorbed, it is not fit for background listening.

Still, even with this entirely novel approach it manages to keep the darkness, bleakness and negativity so intrinsic to SOL while musically speaking it consists mostly of slow low classically driven music, built mainly on organ notes with entirely spoken narrative.

Once again you give up your vocal duties. Why was there a two year wait period? Was it hard to create this album? Did you have trouble deciding what direction to take and what you want to convey with this release? And what does this album reveal about the artist behind it? It seems to be mainly preoccupied with fate and as usual not from a positive perspective, is this correct?

In 2012 I started a brief friendship with Thomas Bøjden (who has the project Die Weisse Rose) and we had talked about doing an album together. I had an idea for a SOL album called “Beyond this Veil, Silence” which consisted of two 20-minutes compositions of gloomy acoustic drone music.

I had recorded an almost Ligeti-ish choir composition with an opera singer from New York, and I had recorded a cover of Hank Williams’ last song “Angel of Death” in a very religious-insanity version, hehe. But I could not figure out how to do the vocals. So when I met Thomas I asked if he was up for doing them, which he was. And after spending four days non-stop on listening to old religious sermons from the ‘40s to sample in “Angel of Death”, the album was finished.

There was some delay in relation to a record company that I cannot recall at the moment, and I had gotten into the deep end of sample searching from listening to all those sermons, so I started making “Where Suns Come to Die”.

Musically it was an experiment to mix classical pieces from the 1900s with newly recorded horns and pump organ etc. It was a very fascinating period (also because it reminded me of working on “Offer Thy Flesh to The Worms”) just to think of an album as a sound sculpture. Working with textures more than working with actual music.

The process of producing “Where Suns Come to Die” was pretty quick and feverish in its inspiration. The lyrics almost presented themself to me when I listened to the tracks. There was a certain synchronicity in the way the music and the lyrics spoke, and I knew it should be a spoken word album. So once again I asked Thomas to do the vocals.

Then I got in contact with Cold Spring Records, and they were up for releasing “Beyond this Veil, Silence” and wanted to talk about releasing more SOL albums. So I also sent them “Where Suns Come to Die” and for some reason I cannot recall it came out as the first. And for some evening stranger reason the contact with Cold Spring kind of died out.

In my deep sample search I came across this Edison recording, I think it was. This barbershop choir recorded in the early 1900s, which is in the end of the album, had this lyrics:

My heart so lonely
will echo its joy
for sunshine will come one day.

When I heard this the title and the cover automatically came to me. There was something so desperate and naive about it, that resonated a lot with me at the time of writing the lyrics.

The cover painting is an old replica of Joshua Reynolds’ “The Infant Samuel” which was hanging in the house of my childhood friends.

What does this album say about the artist behind it? I guess it’s not really up to me to say. I was very focused on that album, I spend so much time searching for all these samples and get them to fit, and yeah, form a sound sculpture, and it was a bit the same way with the lyrics; they were just flowing out of me, and I was in the lucky position to just get to pick and choose and form them into the sound sculpture.

So is "Beyond this Veil, Silence" yet another album that never got released? Do you still have it, could it see the light of day, the idea behind "Angel of Death" seems quite fascinating?

Yes, I still have that album. I really hope it will see the light of day. I have talked with different labels through the years, and they are all interested but at the end of the day nothing happens. Maybe the album is cursed?!

Recording The Storm Bells Chime; Tor, Christian & Emil.

A year after, a split with Begräbnis was released on Weird Truth - it is in a similar vein in terms of music - bleak deconstructed classical drones, but in terms of vocals the growls return, or we have heavily processed clean vocals.

Are these tracks leftovers from “Where Suns Come to Die”? Why was Begräbnis chosen as split mates and where did the idea come from, as unlike previous splits here it's like a conscious attempt to have two opposites in terms of Doom sound?

I got an email one day from Fumika of Begräbnis sending me a video of one of their live concerts where they started the show with playing “Apocalypse” from “Let There Be a Massacre” as a background to her crawling along the floor looking like an ancient witch playing on these traditional Japanese sleigh bells (or something like that). I was very impressed by the concert and the atmosphere, and very honoured that they used my music in such a doomy fashion.

So after checking out their albums I asked if they were up for making a split, and luckily they were.

The SOL tracks on the split were not leftovers from “Where Suns Come to Die”, they were experiments I had worked on for two years at the time. So when we agreed to make the split these two songs just kind of fitted. I don’t think we spent a lot of time discussing concepts or direction; we had respect for each other’s music and just wanted to make a split. Sometimes it is as simple as that, hehe.

This is a really cool story. I've seen the video on youtube and it's indeed quite something to behold. The song’s initial drum thuds appear like Godzilla approaching while people in the audience are still talking totally unsuspecting. It's a lovely and fitting tribute to this truly apocalyptic song.

“The Storm Bells Chime” and “Before We Disappear” can be grouped together as they mark a bit of a return to the older sound with droney but still slightly active guitars and the usual shouted growls, but is slower and has many ambient piano interludes, clear markings from this latest era.

Was it a conscious attempt to infuse the droney classical tones with an old school sound and see what would come from such a combination? And for me it seems like “The Storm Bells Chime” was a combination of both – as if you poured both ingredients and this was the result, while on the follow-up, after pouring these rather diverse elements you stirred really well so that they are much more integrated than before.

Does this observation make any sense? Both results have their merits – “The Storm Bells Chime” still contains many of the unpolished edges of old SOL that feel so good. But “Before We Disappear” can be rightly viewed as the band’s masterpiece (despite my soft spot for the debut) - everything is in its right place. Are you content with this album, do you feel you have reached a certain destination with it?

“The Storm Bells Chime” was recorded over a weekend, except for the piano which was recorded in Tor’s apartment some days prior to the recording session. I had borrowed an exhibition space at Aarhus harbour. And then I asked four local musicians and friends to help create the album. It was pretty intense, but it was a good recording session.

It was not an active choice to make the songs “return to the older sound”, it was the energy in that room with those four people. I had a strong concept for this album (especially the lyrics and cover artwork), but the music just kind of naturally shaped as it is on the album. The beautiful piano improvisations by Tor of course helped set a mood and were an important ingredient in the structuring of the album, but everyone involved brought their specific touch to the release, and I couldn’t have done that album without them.

In that sense “The Storm Bells Chime” differs from “Before We Disappear”, since that album was recorded over two-three years, and the production was much more similar to “Offer Thy Flesh to the Worms” or “Where Suns Come to Die”. I had lyrics and a general idea of the atmosphere. It was a slow process and great care went into making sure the album didn’t stray from this atmosphere.

It was a dark period of my life, and I wanted the album to reflect on this - almost apocalyptic - feeling I had inside. I am very content with this album, but I don’t know if I reached a destination, as you say, or if it marks an opening or a closing. It was an album I had to make, and once it was out I moved on to other experimentations and explorations of the SOL atmosphere.

Recording The Storm Bells Chime; Andreas.

“Final Seizure of the Light-being” is your last album, it seems like the quintessence of what the last SOL era introduced in its purest form - we have only droney ambient with strong classical elements. It oozes with quiet unobtrusive sadness and comes close to A Silver Mount Zion early work, but bleaker and darker. As far as I understand, it is comprised of outtakes from the last decade stitched together during a 24-hour period heavily inspired by the cover art painting.

Can you elaborate a bit more on this? Where did you encounter the painting? What do you think would be the destiny of these outtakes hadn't it been for this sudden inspiration? And is this a way to close a door, to mark a closure to the past, so that nothing is left and you can start fresh from here?

Don’t worry, there are still many sessions, takes, songs and albums that haven’t seen the light of day yet, haha.

My friend Marc Pilgaard had asked me if I wanted to make some sort of soundscape for an art exhibition he had in this very rough cellar room in Aarhus. Upon visiting his studio to talk about the music and see his paintings, I saw his painting “Rapture” which became the cover artwork (and which I have purchased from him and is at this moment hanging in my studio).

I was so utterly and deeply absorbed by this painting, and from the first second I saw it I knew I had to make a SOL album for his exhibition. It was something about the contortion of the figure. The way Marc was able to paint that figure in a way where it seems like it’s both yearning for the sky at the same time as it’s almost pulled to the ground. The duality of this emotion is something that grabbed my soul and really resonated with the entire foundation of SOL and me as an individual.

So I returned to my studio and produced with feverish inspiration. The workflow was similar to that of “Where Suns Come to Die”, the sound sculpture - I had some classical pieces I hadn’t used for this album that would make the foundation of “Final Seizure …” and I had some parts of the piano improvisations from “The Storm Bells Chime” that hadn’t been used. So I just produced like a madman, haha. I added some newly recorded accordion, pump organ and synthesizers, but most of the horns and strings were from old recording sessions.

After 24 hours of working non-stop I had six or seven compositions that I was very satisfied with. I played them for my friend Danny, who offered to do some rearrangement of the songs to form two lengthy compositions instead. He did a really amazing job on the album.

The weird thing about this release is that the week it was completely finished was almost the same time as I finished the production on an album I’ve been working on for ten years. It is strange how time can seem so relative, haha. And with that said I didn’t think of “Final Seizure …” as a closure, but more as an opening or a transition to the albums I am working on at the moment.

I am surprised you compare the sound to A Silver Mount Zion. It is a band I have been listening to a lot since I bought their debut around 2004. It has also been an inspiration on many levels, but I don’t think it was an active choice to be inspired by them for this album. Maybe it was just lurking somewhere in the darkness, like a gecko on the wall.

Recording The Storm Bells Chime; Danny, and Danny's studio set-up.

And this inevitably takes us to the most important part - what is the future of SOL? You mentioned you've been working on an album for the last 10 years and it is finally complete and waiting to be released.

I am working on three albums at the moment. Some have been under construction for a long time and some are fresh. I guess the future of SOL is to keep making albums and maybe play some concerts. And yeah, there is a new album coming out hopefully soon which took me ten years to complete.

Let's just begin with some technicalities - do you have a title, release date and a label yet?

The album is called “Promethean Sessions” and it will be released on I, Voidhanger Records at the end of this year or at the start of 2024.

I was able to listen to this album and I can say it is one of the biggest surprises I have experienced. You've never wanted to repeat yourself and as you mentioned always pushed yourself in order to reinvent SOL sound, but this album seems as if it is taking an entirely new direction.

It takes some time but once you get past your own expectations, you realize it is actually quite a stunning accomplishment. Every track is so different in terms of sound and structure but on the other hand each track is completely fulfilled and can represent an entire individual album in terms of how fully realized in itself it is. The songs are not just fragments, and one can see where this 10 years work went. Each one represents an entirely different approach at expressing the same feeling, which is the only thing binding these diverse songs together. So one can say that it is a mirror image of your discography - just like your discography is composed of different albums that convey an ever evolving darkness in a different form, here it is on an even lower level but nevertheless it manages to take you on a journey while sounding very deliberate.

So please tell us you came up with all of these. During its composition you've released quite a lot of other albums, did the sound of Promethean Sessions evolve as well, or was it always reaching for the same goal and the same result?

I started a live outfit for SOL in 2011, and we did a lot of new songs intended more for the stage than for an album. In 2014 the songs had evolved and we decided to do a recording session. I asked my friend Mikko if he would be up for recording it together with Andrew (who also did a lot of the vocals for Promethean Sessions and joined the SOL live outfit for a lot of the shows). It was the first time someone else recorded SOL.

We recorded six songs; all rather dense Doom with the shouty vocals I used at the time. Then I started producing the album and adding some synthesizers and the hammond organ. But there was something not quite working, and I spent four years or so experimenting with different types of vocal delivery. There were shouty vocals, growls and even some spoken word versions. But I was never satisfied with it. Don’t know why. It just felt like it wasn’t the answer, but at the time I didn’t know which direction it should take. So I put the album on a hold. Then one day I was hanging out with Mikko and Andrew and they told me to finish the album and offered to co-produce it with me. That kind of sparked some inspiration. After many years of being a “faceless” album I started to see how it could be done. So I discarded three of the original recordings that I didn’t think fitted anymore, and decided to use some more ambient or acoustic sessions I’d done through the years. The song “A Choir of Teeth” was done with Stine on vocals, and that kind of opened up the possibility of having different vocalists on the album.

I then spent a couple of years re-producing all the songs, adding a lot of different instruments to texturize the sound. Tor had supplied backing vocals for the early recordings, and it felt right to have “clean” vocals on the album, to work more with melodies. Andrew did the vocals for three of the songs, Stine for two, and Rikke (who also did the church organ for “Before We Disappear”), sang the last song on the album. It was a thrilling process, I would record almost every day, and once a week I met up with Mikko and Andrew to produce the finished album.

Since this process was so long, there were many different songs that made it to the album, but then were taken out again. Some of these songs fitted together, and are presently being produced for a follow up to “Promethean Sessions” called “Siamese Wound”.

Promethean Sessions is made up of even more collaborators than usual, but if we take the vocalists - as far as I understand each track is performed by a different one - how much did they shape and influence the song style and mood? You already mentioned that you like to work with different vocalists who interpret your lyrics in their own unique way - but does this extend only to the vocal delivery or the collaborations with different artists were what ultimately gave these songs such a different shape?

The different vocalists on the album shaped the atmosphere a lot. They helped to give the album a face again. And all the people who contributed with their instruments of course also helped to shape the sound.

When dealing with so many musicians it is important to keep the vision and not to stray from the path you’ve laid out … To form an album that works as a whole (even though the songs may have different approaches to the atmosphere).

Recording The Storm Bells Chime; The Exhibition Space.

You say that you leave the vocalists to shape and paint the music but everything seems very much in control. And rightfully so, if it wasn't in full control this might lose coherence pretty easily and sound like a random compilation. Is this control conscious or did you decide to let go and let the creativity go free no matter what direction it took. Did you take active efforts to make it a coherent whole, is this something that you care about, especially in terms of the approach you enjoy - to create sound sculptures by binding pieces together?

There was great care taken in shaping the atmosphere of the album, and to make it a coherent whole. I think it is important to lose control while recording an instrument or working with a vocalist or instrumentalist. To create a room where everything is possible and it is safe to experiment. The important job - when the track is recorded - is to find out how to make it work within the vision of the sound. That can take time, for example ten years as it did with “Promenthean Sessions”.

Still, it has to be admitted that it is a difficult album, even though many of the songs themselves are actually easier on the ear than the usual SOL output, you probably realize that right? Does this worry you? There are a few projects that have opted to use different vocalists for each song, but rarely has anyone opted to use different styles for each song.

I don’t see it as a difficult album. But I will agree with you on the fact that the sound isn’t as harsh as it sometimes can be. We used a lot of time producing the album - also due to the fact that there were so many layers and instruments on each track that had to be tamed in order not to overtake the entire picture, so to say.

Also I don’t think there is a different atmosphere for each song. I think of it more as three doomy songs and three droney songs, hehe.

What does the title mean? Since it was 10 years in the making the "Sessions" part makes sense, as I believe many sessions were needed to reach its form, and "Promethean" in a sense that you rediscover your creativity? Or promethean in the sense of defiance to authority or the limits imposed?

For many years the title of the album was “Hang Me From This Void” which referred to the three more doomy tracks on the album (and is taken from the lyrics to Where The Trees Meet The Storm). But as we came closer to a finished album this title didn’t really fit so well anymore. I had the idea to use the name Prometheus in some manner, since the name is also present in two of the songs:

I am standing in the shadow of compassion
like a dying Prometheus longing for the chains.


Alas Death does not move
He’s asleep in house of woe
Dreaming of famine
And universal despair
As a karmic retribution
hovers in it’s flesh coloured spaceship
You will not see it nor can you touch it
Your promethean hands hold no flame.

I have always had this fascination with the idea of Prometheus. The duality of him being half-god and half-titan. He created humanity from a piece of clay, and when the Gods took back the fire he stole it back for the humans. This resulted, as you probably know, in him being chained to a mountain where an eagle would eat his liver each day, and then during the night it would grow out again, and next morning back came the eagle. What a horrid fate.

I guess this album to me, in terms of inspiration, has had many faces. Sometimes during the ten years it also lost its face. I kind of thought of this album as SOL’s Prometheus. It kept dying in my hands, but somehow it kept on living. This album was a struggle, on many levels. But sometimes the more you struggle with an album the bigger the reward when it’s finally done.

In an early premix listening session with my friend Danny, he called it a jazz album, haha. I think it was actually him who came up with the idea of using the word Sessions in the title.

SOL live at Trøjborg Beboerhus.

Do you plan anything special for the 20th anniversary? Perhaps a re- release of old material, or something new to mark the occasion?

I would like to play a show at some time during this year. I have some albums I’d like to get out; some hopefully on labels and some I hope to release on SOL’s bandcamp.

I don’t have plans for re-releases of old material yet. But one never knows what the future holds, hehe.

Now I would like to dwell a bit on the artistic and stylistic decisions behind the albums.

I love the medieval feel of “Let There Be a Massacre”, this combined with the extremity of the tone of the album makes it even more believable bringing you to a time where the death of mankind feels more realistic. Who did the artwork and who chose this direction?

My girlfriend at the time, Else M.Rasmussen, painted it in watercolour. She is a great artist. I seem to recall that I had seen a somewhat similar motif in a book with medieval paintings, and that was what we were inspired by. I think the head was added for maximum impact. But also this medieval plague-like atmosphere; Death comes for us all, no matter how sick, crippled, strong or holy you are. Also we wanted the cover to be in bright colours. Don’t remember why, but I remember it was a choice.

We already discussed “I am Infinity” - which stands on its own also in regard to the artwork, can you elaborate more on this and the inspiration behind this cosmic theme?

As we talked about earlier this album is - in terms of lyrics - based on this cosmic out-of-the-body experience I had, that really made an impact and changed certain aspects of my understanding, and my view on the world. I wanted the lyrics to be like an insane person’s diary. And maybe it was, haha. So I hand wrote all the lyrics in the booklet.

The cover illustration and the booklet illustration were once again drawn by Else. (The sun on the front cover was actually a perfect circle, but when Ván Records pressed the cover, something went wrong and the circle was stretched, weird … )

The two Blóðtrú collaborations share very similar aesthetics that also fit perfectly. Who was the driving force behind these artistic choices?

I started a stop-motion animation company in 2006 with two friends, and one of them was a good photographer; he took the cover photo of “Old Europa Death Chants”. It just made a lot of sense to Trúa and I to use this photo. It captured the atmosphere perfectly. Then when we did “The Earth Rises All Green” we wanted something a bit similar, but this cover photo was taken by Trúa on a bike ride through the forest. It had a more obscure feel, almost a bit “faded” … I think that went well with the concept of the album.

Portrait of Emil.

Then we have the stark simplicity of “Offer Thy Flesh to the Worms” and "And the Mouth of Time Is Open" which both seem to represent something that transcends humanity, the latter of them is especially striking and always made a deep impression upon me - who came up with these (admittedly different) designs.

The cover of “Offer Thy Flesh …” was made by Trúa based on the Hieronymous Bosch painting “Ascent of the Blessed”. I had asked Trúa if he would make the cover for this album, because I didn’t have so many ideas concerning the cover. So he chose it, and I think it fits perfectly.

The cover for “And the Mouth of Time is Open” is a wood engraving done by Else. I cannot remember if she did it before the album, and I just wanted to use it, or if she made it for the cover of the album. Anyhow I loved that wood cut. The abstract nature of it suited the music, I think.

I cannot skip “The Storm Bells Chime” - the artwork initially appears rather random, and one cannot make a connection to anything, until sometime later you make out what the opening lines of “Greet the Dawn (For F)” really are and it all clicks. And it's a rare thing to have lyrics so directly reference the album artwork - how did this idea came to be, what was first the lyrics or the artwork?

The lyrics came first. I had a strong idea of the direction of the album. It was very much themed around childhood and loss and how the two merged. Like the dedication on the back of the booklet: “The Storm Bells Chime is dedicated to the memory of those who showed me the true face of loss. May you wear the stars till the end of time”. Especially the loss of our family’s German Shepherd.

I asked my mother to send me some old photos of our dog, and one of the photos she sent was of me (around the age of ten) sitting on a haystack with my dog, and the barren fields in the background. This photo just somehow summed up the entire feeling and atmosphere of the lyrics and album. Like the last verse on the title track:

Never mind
The rain falls all over the world
The storm bells chime
beneath a conference of clouds
beneath a wide empty
And sick dogs wear the stars.

“Before We Disappear” is maybe the most forlorn of all albums and the artwork reflects this - it has a sense of a bygone era, reminding everyone of the only outcome, that even memories of us will fade and pictures would never bring us back. Or alternatively the blackened faces might stand for the void inside each of us? Which interpretation is closer to the truth?

A year or so before “Before We Disappear” was released my beloved grandmother died. I remember having this talk with my mother, about how we remember people and how people are remembered. The sum of this talk was how a person - like the actual person - is only remembered for two or maybe three generations. For example my grandmother. My mother remembers her, her personality, her quirks and her certain ways. I also remember her in that same way. But when I die the memory of my grandmother is gone. There will maybe be photos or written stories. But her true essence will be gone, because no one actually remembers her for who she was.

This feeling reflected on the cover. We have these persons in the painting. But who were they? Who really knows them? And who really cares? That was the idea behind blacking out their faces. For every person dying there’s a black hole in history. No one remembers that person’s soul. There might be documents from that person; books, records, films or whatever - things we leave for the persons who come after us, or things we leave to be remembered. But no one will ever remember us truly.

What about the lyrics – they seem to play a pretty big role in the overall picture, and they are usually masterfully written. Do they come easy for you? Do they precede the music or vice versa?

When I write - lyrics or poems or just notebook scribbles - it is just flowing from a subconscious stream. It is somewhat similar with all the music I do. And then sometimes there’s a specific zone appearing where some words and music connect. That’s where I start shaping the concept for - for example - an album, or an art exhibition or a film or whatever. When the right ideas suddenly match, the concept sometimes presents itself without a lot of effort.

A lot of my ideas start in writing. And the fact that SOL is and has always been a very personal project, I pay a lot of attention to the lyrics.

SOL live at Doom Under Sonnesgade.

Let's talk specifically about the vocals and their role in the compositions. You are most well-known for the blackish growls, conveying both suffering but also hatred (aren't they always bound together?). But a couple of times you gave up the vocal duties entirely. Curiously it is mostly when it is spoken word or chant-like singing. As these are vocal deliveries you are certainly capable of - what is the intention - you write the music with a specific vocalist in mind, tonally speaking or?

Right tool for the right job, hehe. Some songs almost cry out for another vocalist. Like when I ask someone to play the hurdy gurdy or the clarinet, it is because that person’s way of playing or interpreting the music is vital or enriching for the atmosphere. It is the same with the vocals. As Arvo Pärt says it so beautifully: “The most sensitive instrument is the human soul, the next is the human voice”.

Even though I can do some types of vocal, some people just have another “tone” or another expression or another way of interpreting my lyrics in a way I hadn’t thought of. I like to work with that. I think it enrichens the overall sound and mood of an album.

A question asked many times, but I still cannot ignore it - the number of instruments that you can play is really impressive and even more so because they all have a valid and meaningful role in the albums, they do not sound like simple gimmick. The most striking for me was the accordion - never did I thought it can sound that doomy, with its slowly unfolding notes it can sound heavy as hell – how did it came up, when did you realize its potential in this aspect? As far as I know you are self-thought. Do you master a particular instrument because you want to use them as musical expression or your mastery of them allows you to use them as musical expressions?

I always loved the sound of the accordion. When I started SOL I didn’t have one, so when I recorded the albums prior to “Let There Be a Massacre” I used the melodica. Luckily my good friend’s father played the accordion, and agreed to lend me one of his Weltmeister Accordions. I don’t think any instrument is per default “silly” or “wistful” or “doomy”, it depends on how you play it and in which context it is put.

I like to learn new instruments because it opens a door to new ways of experimentation. A lot of my friends from the metal scene laughed at me when I started using the banjo. They thought it was a silly instrument. But at the end of the day I think it depends on how you play it, you know. Just because your average banjo music is country or bluegrass it doesn’t mean you cannot use it in doom? Are there any instruments who can ONLY be used in one genre? I don’t think so, and I think my friends from the metal scene lack imagination if they think of an instrument (like banjo or accordion or hurdy gurdy) as a one trick pony. Everything that can produce a sound can be used in as many ways as your imagination allows you.

Let’s discuss your output from a more general perspective. You also have the well-respected dungeon synth project Moth Tower. Can you tell us more about it? How did it come to be, are you a fan of this style in general?

Moth Tower actually started when I needed a soundtrack for an art exhibition I held. I had also talked with my friend Danny who runs the dungeon synth label Gondolin Records about releasing a tape. So we put out “Sharpen thy Knife, Curse the Sky” in 2018.

I always loved the keyboard intros on the black metal cds I bought. And I have always been a huge fan of Vond’s “Selvmord” and Burzum’s prison records. So when dungeon synth came to my attention it lit an old flame, and it was natural for me to start a project.

And since your albums are so diverse - have you ever considered using different projects for some of the albums that are radically different from usual SOL - for example “Where Suns Come to Die”. Is this how Moth Tower came to be?

SOL is - for me - not so much a genre as it is an atmosphere or a state of mind or an outlet for certain emotions. “Where Suns Come to Die” is a true SOL album and a very personal one at that. I think that as an artist your highest purpose is to be true to yourself and your vision and gut feeling.

I could try to repeat the atmosphere of, for example, “Let There Be a Massacre” every time I wanted to record a new album, but that album already exists. It is important for me to move forward. As long as I am true to the atmosphere of SOL - and not a genre - I keep getting inspired and albums will keep coming out. I know that maybe people who love the debut won’t necessarily like “Offer Thy Flesh …” or “Where Suns Come to Die” and the other way around, but all these albums are made by me and within the SOL atmosphere. So why confuse people with loads of obscure side projects when the albums are a channelling of one atmosphere? If I did a techno album I would probably make it under another name, haha.

In your previous interview for doom-metal.com, you mentioned that there is an unreleased SOL album called “Great Nihil” – but that was another story. I was not able to find any information about this, so it seems this story was never told. Would you follow-up on this and give us some details? Was the material re-used for some other album since then? Is there a chance it would see the light of day and what is the reason it is unreleased - due to the style of music, its quality, or for another reason?

There was an album called “Great Nihil”, and I think it was three long songs as I remember. It was only drums, multiple distortion basses and accordion. Can’t remember if I got to record the vocals. The projects got lost when an old harddrive died. One of the albums that got away.

SOL live at Trøjborg Beboerhus.

In the ever-evolving SOL journey we find darkness painted in different ways from the crushing misanthropy of the debut through dark neo folk and the bleak and drawn-out riffs or ambient sections of the middle period to the barren and deconstructed barracks of the late era. At the center of it there is always darkness evolving. How does it evolve and what is the main factor behind it? Is it the search for next musical way of expression or change in the music you enjoy; change in the worth you see in a certain musical expression? Or your changing world view plays the bigger role, your outlook, your mental wellbeing? We always find negativity towards man and civilization in SOL but while it was pure hatred in the beginning it turned to more of a resignation or higher understanding with time. Was it the same with your world view?

As mentioned before SOL is a project I started as a channel for certain emotions. When we released the debut I was in my early twenties and very angry with the world (and myself, I guess, for being a part of it). The way you see the world often reflects how you see yourself - at least that’s how I always felt - and the way you see yourself is often the way the world also sees you. I always loved the way Michael Gira put it in the Swans’ song Blind:

I was younger once, and I created a lie
And though my body was strong,
I was self-diluted, confident, and blind.

Feelings like hatred, loathing and misanthropy are heavy burdens to bear. And it almost broke my back. The narrow-minded black and white way of seeing the world is a crushing companion. The albums I made in this period were very much a channelling for these desperate hateful emotions, at least in terms of lyrics. But I think age comes with a bigger understanding, a broadening of horizons and ultimately a more complex way of seeing the world. Well, at least it did for me. Not that I feel that much wiser, but I think I’ve gotten more experience - both in terms of writing lyrics and music but also in terms of reflecting on myself - and that experience helps me to see things on different layers.

I do believe that there is a certain atmosphere in my music. For example, the last track on the debut “Apocalypse” could easily lead to the intro- and outro track of “I Am Infinity” which could lead on to “Offer Thy Flesh …” and all the way up to “Final Seizure …”. I guess the darkness that is always present is what goes through my albums, and the feeling of being trapped outside reality; kind of like a shadow or an echo from something I cannot make out or see clearly. It’s a melancholic feeling.

What literature and cinema do you enjoy and find worthy?

My favourite book has always been Nietzsche’s “Thus Spake Zarathustra”. The language it is written in blows my mind and drives me to tears every time I read it. I also occasionally read William Blake. I also like to read St. St. Blicher and Jeppe Aakjær. William Burroughs’ “Naked Lunch” is an intense shot of inspiration anytime.

And David Cronenberg’s version of “Naked Lunch” is a film I watch often. As a film nerd, of course I also appreciate Kubrick and Lynch (even though I am much more fascinated with David Lynch’s art than his movies). I always look forward to what Harmony Korine is making. “Gummo” and “Trash Humpers” are amongst my favourite movies.

In terms of inspiration for SOL I love Bela Tarr’s movies. “Werkmeister Harmonies” is maybe the most brutal and beautiful film I have seen in a long time.

Recently I just revisited the Yuri Norstein animation “Hedgehog in the Fog”. Holy shit! The atmosphere of that movie is simply sublime.

Emil in Kongressikoti Hotel, Helsinki.

Your music is always nihilistic and dark, but can you be a nihilist in your daily life, to what extend the feelings found in your music are seeping into your everyday thoughts? Someone once said philosophy cannot be part of everyday life, it is always separate as it needs deeper reflection which would be inadequate in our daily life events, do you agree with this?

I wouldn’t call myself a nihilist even though I have a lot of nihilism in my thought patterns. The darkness - as I said before - is always there in whatever form it chooses to appear before me. But I wouldn’t identify myself as a dark or depressed person. Nor a philosopher …

But I do work a lot and I would call myself a productive person. In periods where I have a lot of SOL inspiration, my thoughts seem to darken a bit and the mood I have to get in to write and produce an album is also dark and isolated. Then it is important to work with something at the other side of the spectrum … for balance. I do comic books when I need to create something lighter and I do art exhibitions when I need the light and the darkness to meet in some sort of expression.

What kind of music are you mainly listening to nowadays?

These days I am listening to a lot of A Silver Mount Zion, Anna von Hausswolff, OM, Current 93, Nurse with Wound, Cyclobe, The Wyrding Module and a lot of free jazz like David S. Ware, Arthur Doyle and Sun Ra Arkestra. I have also been listening a lot to Der Blutharsch recently. “The Philosopher’s Stone” and “The Cosmic Trigger” are two of my favourite albums. Within the metal scene I am recently listening to Ildganger’s debut release “Wanderer of Fiery Planes”; it’s the most inspiring black metal album I’ve heard in years, and it somehow reminds me of Kvist’s “For Kunsten Maa Vi Evig Vike” which is an album I’ve always loved.

Thank your very much for taking the time to answer these questions. I’m definitely looking forward to what SOL has to offer us. Any last words you wish to add?

Thank you for the interesting journey it has been to do this interview.

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Interviewed on 2023-11-25 by Klamerin Malamov.
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