Listening to the mighty strains of Syrach is like experiencing Doomsday firsthand. Celebrating over 15 years in existence, the compelling Norwegian band has now unleashed a collection of grim hymns entitled A Dark Burial on Napalm Records. We recently spoke to vocalist and founding member Kenneth “Ripper” Olsen to find out more about their astounding sounds from the icy doom underground…
Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Syrach, and how long the band has been together?
Kenneth: Hi Ken… I am the vocalist in Syrach, the only founding member left, – and I started the band way back in 1993… so it’s been a long and dark journey… so to speak…
Where is the band from and what is your local music scene like there?
Syrach hails from Bergen/Norway, a city known to many famous bands actually… you probably know those bands better than me, – so I won’t mention any names, hehe… the music scene in Bergen is in my eyes unique, – everybody knows everybody and there is always a helping hand, -if you should need a rehearsal room for a couple of weeks or anything else. Maybe it’s the atmosphere in the city (Bergen) between the 7 mountains that makes Bergen rich of metal bands, I don’t know, – both as told, many great bands spawn from this dark and rainy district.
Where did you get the ideas for some of the lyrics on A Dark Burial?
I think the lyrics from this album reflects on human’s darker sides… the path which we sometimes choose to take… we have everyone been there, – making the wrong decisions – choosing the wrong paths… I think we all have a dark mind, – hidden beneath in every person… some never go there, some go there in periods of their life… and some live on the dark path all of their lives… but on the album we have songs about “looking through a serial killer’s eyes” (A Dark Burial), – betrayal (In Darkness I Sigh) and nightmares (The River’s Rage)… and of course it’s pure fiction… or wait a minute… hehe…
How does A Dark Burial compare to your previous releases?
I personally think that A Dark Burial is a much better album then the ones we have done before… I am supposed to say that… hehe… no, I think that this album shows a better band, the songs being written by the members that play on the album, -so it’s a more solid statement from Syrach this time. I also think that the sound has improved a lot on this release… a more clearly better sound, without losing the heaviness.
How surprising was it when Reichborn left the band after the recording of the new CD, and has a replacement been found?
For us it was no surprise at all that Reichborn left. We had all seen this coming for a while and it did not affect any of the recordings on the album. Of course it’s never a good thing losing a member, but in this case I think it was for the best for both parts. We will bring with us a new guitar player on the tours now in Sept. (headliner tour)/Oct. (supporting Pentagram and Trouble) in Europe, -a guy named Andrea from Italy, – so let’s see after the tours if he will be a permanent member of the band.
Hjarandr has also apparently left the band to be a chef? Is he a good cook and do you still keep in touch with him?
Hehe, Hjarandr is a good cook and a really good bass player as well, we have to keep that in mind, – hehe… he made a really nice meal for us at the press party at Capt.8’s cabin in June, – pictures from that event can be seen at our Myspace site… and if you spot the food there, – you can almost feel the taste of it… ;). Sure, we still keep in touch with him, – he’s still a friend of the band and I predict that our paths will cross in the future, somehow. We have a new permanent bass player among our ranks, – Øystein, – we’re very pleased to have him as a crew on the Syrach ship… he’s been with us as a session member on one tour, so we know each other quite well… and he is an awesome bass player and a really great fellow.
Has Syrach ever played in the States or do you plan to do so in the future?
We have never done a show in the States, – and it’s one of the countries I would love to tour. If we have the slightest chance to come over, we’ll be the first one in line… so hopefully we will do some gigs in the US in the near future.
What could one expect from a live Syrach show?
I guess you can expect a bit of a rock’n’roll show, filled with energy and heaviness… and I bet you will go home with a smile on your face. We’re trying to transfer the atmosphere on stage onto the audience… we’re always having one helluva time on stage… and hopefully the audience will feel a little bit of that too.
You recently had your 15th Anniversary show. How did it go and did you ever think your band would be around for 15 years?
Well… I will not call it recently, hehe… we had the anniversary show on the 15th of September 2008, – so it’s nearly a year ago… but it was a really good night for us… of course we celebrated ourselves in big style, – first onstage a version of Syrach anno 1993 playing old songs from the first two demos, – second onstage, – bands making their own versions of Syrach songs… great for us to hear… and final… Syrach anno 2008 onstage… playing old and new songs… so a great night of Doom. No, I did not think back in 1993 that I would play in this band for 16 years now… but we have always been a band that never gives up… and I’m really proud of that. We do not play any kind of trend music and have always done our own music and style… so being alive for 16 years… that’s good, hehe.
Where do you think you’ll be 15 years from now?
Haha… 15 years from now?? We have probably taken over the world and being the biggest band ever coming out of Norway… kicking A-HA big time… haha… I had to mention them, they need free PR like this…no, I will probably still be working with music, maybe on another level.
What did Grutle of Enslaved contribute on Days Of Wrath, and what was it like to work with him?
Grutle did one verse on A Death Tear… and I wasn’t even in the studio when he recorded… Grutle is for us just a normal guy and a friend of the band.
How did you wind up contacting Aaron Stainthrope of My Dying Bride for the artwork on Days Of Wraith and who did the artwork on A Dark Burial?
I had seen some of Aaron’s work, both his MDB artwork and the things he doing on his own… I love his work and we just asked him if we could have the chance to work with him… his work Christs fitted perfectly for our album. Martin Kvamme (Mike Patton, Fantomas, Tomahawk, Turbonegro) did the artwork for A Dark Burial, – it’s just an amazing piece of work, I think the cover is some of the best metal covers I have seen around this year… I really hope that we have the chance to work with Martin again. We’re a big fan of what he’s done.
Are you or any other Syrach members involved with any other bands or projects?
We’re all, in one way or another, involved in other projects and bands… I have just started a new studio project called Among Gods, – a three-piece band doing some kind of funeral doom style… but with other influences as well… you will probably hear me sing with clean vocals on that project… so prepare yourself for the end of the world, haha… But these projects never affect Syrach in any way…
Any messages for metal fans here in the States?
I will send my warmest (or coldest as I’m in Norway) thanks to all in the States that have supported us over the years and those who will now buy our new album and hopefully Days Of Wrath as well… I would love coming over to the States giving you a taste of Norwegian Doomsday Rock’n’Roll!!
(Interview by Kenneth Morton)
Napalm Records Website