After a few years of silence, Sulphur is back with their signature brand of technical, blackened death metal. “Omens of Doom” traverse the twilight between the brutal and the epic, and vary from being the soundtrack of destruction to the soundscape of the aftermath. The band has once again worked in Conclave & Earshot Studios with longtime collaborator Bjørnar E. Nilsen (Taake/Helheim/Vulture Industries) for the production, while Herbrand Larsen (Enslaved/Gorgoroth/Audrey Horne) mastered the album.
Comprising past and present members from bands like Gorgoroth, Aeternus, Enslaved and Vulture Industries; Sulphur is a force to be reckoned with. The band started out from nineties BM outfit Taakeriket at the turn of the millennium, intent to follow a path set between death and black metal, spiced up with a progressive mindset. As a quartet, they recorded the demo “A Relic for the Damned” in October 2000. This lead to playing live support for Aeternus and a slot at the Hole In The Sky Festival 2001.
After a couple of dormant years Sulphur returned to life in 2005, this time with a reinforced line-up and their second demo “Outburst Of Desecration”. This demo lead to a deal with Osmose Productions and the band started to work on their debut album. Following a second Hole in the Sky festival performance in 2005, the band entered the studio to record “Cursed Madness”. The album was released to great reviews in 2007.
In 2009 Sulphur returned with the more challenging than ever “Thorns in Existence” to great acclaim. This lead the band on tour Europe together with Taake, Helheim and Vulture Industries. With main songwriter Øyvind Madsen being very occupied with Vulture Industries this was followed by a period of low activity. Fortunately, the cauldron never stopped boiling, and the band is now back with their 3rd album, "Omens of Doom".
1. Please Introduce the band.
Thomas: Sulphur is a Norwegian metal band that has existed for about 20 years and was started under a different name, Taakeriket, in 1996. Under the name Sulphur three full-length album and two demos have been released. To name the full-length, we released “Cursed Madness” in 2007 and “Thorns in Existence” in 2009 and now recently “Omens of Doom”. Sulphur has had quite a few different members over the years, but currently we are Øyvind Madsen, Thomas Skinlo Høyven, Erik Heggernes, Vegard Hovland and Martin Lynn Ytrøy. Øyvind has been in the band from the start and was one of the founders of the band. He is also the “mastermind” behind our music. I started as a vocalist in Sulphur around 2001. Erik and Vegard started right after the “Cursed Madness” release and Martin started about three years ago.
2. Your first name was Taakeriket, why did you change it to Sulphur?
Øyvind: Under the name Taakeriket our musical style was more straightforward black metal and over the years our musical style started to change and became more progressive and death metal influented. As a result of this a name change was needed to describe our new musical style, Taakeriket gives me typical black metal assosiations and it would sound wrong if we had choose to keep that name.
3. You define your music as Brutal, Blackened, Death Metal - which are your biggest influences and why did you choose this style?
Øyvind: Back in the days I litstened a lot to band like Dissection, Satyricon, Emperor, Ulver and Immortal, all these band have given me lots of inspiration to create music. Nowdays I listen to all kinds of music to get inspired and right now I listen to artists like David Bowie, Mastodon, Ghost, Kvelertak and Frank Zappa. I think it important to expand your musical influences and not just listen to the same over and over again, than you have a better fundament as a musician in my opinion. I remember beeing very fasinated by the whole black metal thing in the early 90´s so there was no doubt that I was going to play black metal when I started my first band.
4. Your new album “Omens Of Doom” received great reviews. Tell us about the process of songwriting and composition and if your expectations were satisfied.
Øyvind: It was a quite long and challenging process, because during the last couple of years I have been very busy with my other band Vulture Industries and that took a lot of my time and maybe a reason why it took so many years between Thorns in existence and Omens of Doom. I started the song writing process around 2011 sometime I think and it was completed in late 2013. I write all the music and record pre productions in my homestudio. When a song is finished I share it with the other guys in the band and they learn their parts at home before we meet up at our rehearsal place to test it out, sometimes we make adjustments at rehearsal but usually the song are pretty much finished before we start rehearsing them. Erik recorded the drums for the album in November 2013 and we were supposed to start recording the guitars in January 2014, but things got dealyed due to different reasons. Our new guitarist Martin Lynn Ytrøy don´t live in Bergen like the rest of us and that naturally slowed things down bit because it was not always easy to make the time shcedule fit for everyone. The guitars were finished during the summer, Thomas finished his part in the autum and finally Vegard did the bass in November.
Thomas: As for the lyrics on “Omens of Doom”, there is a theme running through the whole album. It is as the album title describes, different omens of doom. I chose to concentrate on the not so unfamiliar apocalyptic theme on this album. The devastating effects of natural disasters as volcanos and great storms where mother earth tries to get rid of us all. Other lyrics are about nuclear wars and the aftermatch where humans and the earth suffer the deadly and unfertile landscapes, causing plagues and famines to rule the lands. The writing process for the lyrics was very hard. First of all, I had to find a theme. Second I needed inspiration. I used books, films and old apocalyptic paintings as source of inspiration. It is suddenly very much easier to describe a landscape when you have it as a picture in front of you. I did write most of the lyrics when my girlfriend was pregnant with my son so it was quite disturbing and depressing to write such devastating and apocalyptic lyrics as I was waiting for his birth. Today though, I am very happy with both the response and the result of the album.
5. You are working with Dark Essence Records - how did that come about and how is the relationship between the label and the band?
Thomas: After our first full length “Cursed Madness” was released through the French record label Osmose Production, we ended the cooperation with them and signed with Dark Essence Records for our second full length “Thorns in Existence”. We know most of the people behind Dark Essence Records quite good and they are situated in the same city as us so it was an easy choice for us to sign with them when we got the offer. The relationship between the band and the label is very good. Øyvind play in the same band as one of the guys from the label, Bjørnar, in their band Vulture Industries and they have known each other for a very long time so yes, the relationship is good.
6. In Bergen there is a big Metal scene and there are so important festivals. Is there any band you think your fans should know about?
Thomas: There are many great metal bands in Bergen and many of them are signed to Dark Essense Records as well. Many of the bands are well known to most like Taake, Helheim or Aeternus. If I were to name one of the smaller bands which I like very much, I would say Galar. Galar consists of very good musicians with connections to classical music which they use in their music. That is one of the great things I like about them.
7. After releasing the new album which are the plans for presenting it – are there any plans for a tour?
Thomas: We are always interested in playing as much as we get opportunity to do, but all depends on our time to do so and the costs. We are still a small band and don’t get to many offers to play, but we do try to make it happened. We are going to play at Phantoms of Pilsen in October this year and we plan to get a couple of shows in correlation to that. It will most likely be a couple of shows in Germany.
We are very eager to play out there so don’t hesitate to contact us if you are interested in getting us to a place near you;)
8. Have any festivals been confirmed so far?
Thomas: So far only Phantoms of Pilsen in Czech Republic.
9. Any interesting story you want to tell to your followers?
Øyvind: Since we have not been very active over the years and not releasing an album since 2009 there has not happened too much interesting im afraid. We hope to do something about that now with our new album and hopefully we will have many interesting good stories next time you ask.
10. Anything else to add?
Thomas: Yes. First of all, we would like to thank Staticage Magazine for 10/10 and an amazing review!
Then I would encourage all your readers to listen to our new album. Have in mind that is not an easy listening and that it will need time to revile its structure. If you do give “Omens of Doom” a chance, I am sure you will get an album to listen to for a long time with music that will grow every time you give it a new spin.
Cheers and thank you very much!