Interviews : Enslavement of Beauty
Enslavement of Beauty
With Ole and Tony
I don't have many favorite bands. On the contrary, I only listen to 10-12 bands on a permanent basis and am of the opinion that everyone who does not like the bands I like has shit for taste. This said, Enslavement of Beauty has been one of my favorites since I first heard Megalomania. A creation of two musicians, Ole Alexander Myrholt and Tony Eugene Tunheim, Enslavement of Beauty transcends genres. While the band's backbone is still firmly rooted in black metal, the band seamlessly combines Gothic metal and classical elements to create a musical amalgam that, while overly catchy and at times over the top, is unique.
In 2007, after a six year hibernation, Enslavement of Beauty is back with Mere Contemplations, an album that has been in my playing rotation ever since buying a copy from a local music store. I urge everyone into melodic black metal to purchase Mere Contemplations, Megalomania, and the band's first album The Traces O' Red, and find out for themselves how great Enslavement of Beauty is.
Welcome back! At one point it was questionable whether Enslavement of Beauty would return as a band to record and release a new album...
Ole: I actually published a press release stating the demise of Enslavement of Beauty [in] the late spring of 2006. This was a mutual decision then...but 4 months later, after a phone call from Tony asking me if I would be interested in doing an album, we just bulged with creativity. Six new tracks were finished in one week and we decided to complete an album with those tracks and 4 older ones. Hence Mere Contemplations...
Was the band broken up or just did not have any creative juices flowing at the time? What caused the band to go into the so-called hibernation period?
Ole: As I mentioned, we had discontinued the band. But during the years prior to the demise there was some sort of creativity. Not so much directly aimed at EoB but I guess we needed that break to get it right. Cause now it is fucking awesome.
What gave reasons to the "comeback"?
Ole: The phone call from Tony. And the first ideas he sent me. It's hard to explain and there's so much filth lurking in the past that I won't go into but the conversation we had then backed up by the following tracks I received convinced me to the fact that EoB is indeed magic. Pure fucking magic. One could never replace either of us. There's something there that other people couldn't repeat. Something unique.
Are all the songs on Mere Contemplations brand new, or were any recorded before the band went on hiatus?
Ole: There are 4 older tracks. The vocals were rerecorded during the same period as the rest but the music was recorded earlier. The whole idea with this album was to get something out to the people. Too many years had passed and I believe we needed to rid ourselves of these tunes to go on.
How did you approach writing new songs? Certainly, the lengthy layoff must have played a part in some rustiness in songwriting? What creative obstacles did you have to overcome to write Mere Contemplations?
Ole: Neither of us ever stopped doing the shit. I have been doing quite a number of other bands and projects and Tony never stopped composing. This is something that to us is bigger than life. A need we could never suppress. Even if we never did get the chance to release anything we would still be composing music and/ or writing poetry and literature in general. The stuff that has been released this far is just a small part of the actual composed material from both me and Tony.
Mere Contemplations is also the band’s first DIY release from start to finish. I am talking about the fact that you released it on your own label, INRI Unlimited. Did you shop the new songs to a label or did you decide from the start that you wanted to go on your own?
Ole: It was never an option to release it through anyone else. We actually broke the contract with HNF/VME to do it on my label. And we will continue to do it through INRI Unlimited. I was so sick of bad communication and unnecessary bullshit.
It is quite a serious step in the band’s career, especially for a band that has been dormant for nearly 6 years...
Ole: Freedom is a fucking bliss...we still do business with the greatest. The End for USA and Canada, Hellion for South America and AMG for Russia and stuff. Haven't been that active on the European distro but I'll get there.
Compared to Megalomania, Mere Contemplations is shorter, contains fewer songs, and overall, if I may say, more accessible, which works to its advantage. Was less really more in the instant case?
Ole: I guess it's just a natural progress. Nothing was planned. We just do what feels right. That's what we've always done. And that's what turns out best. No boundaries, we just pour our hearts out for all you muthafuckas to enjoy...
The new songs have a more upbeat, almost a rock-n-roll feel to them. Was this intentional or a just something subconscious?
Ole: Nothing is intentional. We just create what we think sounds cool...
Mere Contemplations signifies the band’s return to a drum machine yet, it does not take away from the music. Still, why not recruit Asgeir Mickelson to drum for you again?
Ole: It just felt right to do it like this...the next release will also be with programmed drums. After that we'll see...we might hire a drummer. And we might not.
Ole, for those of us who experiment with home recordings, what digital drum equipment did you use to record Mere Contemplations?
Ole: I use EZ drummer for the other stuff I'm occupied with but when it comes to EoB this is really a question for Tony since he does all the instrumental composing for us.
Tony: First of all I have to say that I have not been too up-to-date in the last couple of years; only just recently got a decent home studio. So I downloaded a random program called Beatcraft, and just started making the first 6 songs on the album, because it was easy to use, and I was in the creative state of mind! I had not yet discovered the real good drumkits to use for programming out there, because I had got used to the habit of just using my drumkits from my Roland synthesizer. On our upcoming EP there are Major improvements though, thanks to ezdrummer/addictive drums etc, and our mixmaster Henrik Ryösä.
The sound on Mere Contemplations is still unmistakingly Enslavement of Beauty, but the songs are more catchy. My two favorites right now are “An Affinity for Exuberance” and “Impressions.” What is your favorite song on the new record?
Ole: I don't really know. I'm satisfied with the release. That's what matters. It is what it is. But the next release will kick it's ass. Simply because we mature.
Which of the new songs was the most difficult one to compose?
Ole: Difficult? Is it difficult to compose? Tony?
Tony: "Impressions" was finished notated January 6th, 2002, and I had started working on the song on my guitar during the holidays. That tune was probably worked with the longest period of them all if I'm not mistaken. "Nostagia Grows" was worked with, and finished an afternoon in the spring of 2005, based on two old themes from our demo period in the 90's, so I can almost not remember to have worked on that one. "I Raise My Craving Hands" was finished April 1999, and was intended for Megalomania. But that song came easy I remember. "11:23 pm" was made during the winter of 1999/2000 sometime, as one of many creations from that period. I just added some keys on the piece in the autumn of 2005. When it comes to the first 6 tracks, I just worked continuously for a week in September of 2006, gathering themes I had come up with, and put them together. I feel the most difficult, or time consuming now is to perform my playing right on the keyboard, since I am first and foremost a guitar player.
I must say that I expected to hear some of your clean vocals on the new record, like those on "C17-H19-N03-H20" which are absolutely flawless. Did you consider using clean vocals for any of the new songs?
Ole: That wasn't even me...I never planned any clean vocals for this album apart from the female parts. It'll be more female stuff on the upcoming material.
Staying with that song, I have always wanted to ask this, what does the title “C17-H19-N03-H20” stands for?
Ole: It's the chemical formula for Morphine.
The band has been quite active lately. Your new EP, The Perdition, will be out in the summer. What can you tell us about this release? Are the songs in the same vein as those on Mere Contemplations or are there different elements incorporated this time around?
Ole: "The Perdition" EP will be a double release consisting of an EP and a DVD. The audio CD will contain 6 completely new tracks performed by Tony, Lisa and yours truly. The DVD will contain a couple of promo videos and a short film. Tastefully wrapped as always. A new album will be done this autumn/winter. And released when we feel the time is right.
Considering that the band just keeps getting better and better, what does the future hold for Enslavement of Beauty?
Ole: We'll keep pouring our hearts out cause this is fucking rock n roll!