Detroit black metal band Isenblast released its second demo, Forest of Frost, last summer, and plans to release a four-song EP in the near future. Closer to now, the band is preparing for an upcoming show on Dec. 8 with Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Occulation.
The four men of Isenblast, including its two founding members, sat down with Metro Times for our Music Issue. They are Chronolith (guitar and vocals), Lord Kaiser (guitar), AbomiNATEr (drums) and Planet Mars (bass). Lord Kaiser and Chronolith gave their thoughts about black metal in Detroit, world domination and Ronnie James Dio.
Metro Times: Tell us a little bit about the unholy birth of Isenblast.
Lord Kaiser: We have been friends for a very long time and would spend a lot of time playing, listening to and sharing music together. We never really premeditated being in a band, but we both happened to have an arsenal of black metal song ideas and riffs.
So we conspired in a dark, damp and cold basement where we wrote our first song together, which was the self-titled track “Isenblast.” We then showed the songs to AbomiNATEr, who, at the time, was playing in a local punk-thrash outfit [called] Deathskin Razors with some other friends of mine.
Since then we have been challenging ourselves and each other to write songs that will stand out from the swarm of flaccid and uninspired, or overproduced and domesticated, black and death metal.
Chronolith: The idea [for the band name] was to have a prominent theme dealing with nature; I took the words “Ice Wind” and translated them to Swedish (to signify our strong influence from the early Swedish bands) and came up with the name Isenblast. It’s short, catchy and it stands out.
MT: What bands have inspired you, creatively?
Chronolith: We started off playing a simpler, overly melodic black metal style with strong influence from bands like Burzum, Ulver, Darkthrone, Dissection, Judas Iscariot and Celtic Frost.
Since our first demo in 2010, we have been moving toward a more extreme approach, including more death metal elements, with more technical, chaotic-sounding riffs, using more influence from the earlier catalogues of bands like Morbid Angel, Suffocation, Immolation, Gorguts, Demilich and Mayhem.
Lord Kaiser: We both had similar influences to begin with, but lately Chronolith has been incorporating a lot of death metal elements, whereas my writing style is a bit more melodic and dark. For me, writing has more to do with how I feel than what I listen to, but one directly affects the other, sometimes. So one could say my songwriting is influenced by emotions, experiences, philosophies and feelings of nihilism and misanthropy.
Musically, however, my influences include those previously mentioned (Dissection, Celtic Frost) but also draws influence from other late ’80s to mid-’90s black metal and death metal, including bands like Bathory, Tormentor, Rotting Christ, Enslaved, early Satyricon, early Gorgoroth, Autopsy, and, although it doesn’t show in our overall sound, Mercyful Fate and King Diamond are undeniable influences of mine as a guitarist.
MT: Are you currently working on any projects?
Lord Kaiser: We just finished recording a four-song EP that I am very pleased with, which we plan on releasing within the next few months. Following that, we plan on writing much more material in the next year with thoughts toward a full-length album.
MT: So, where do you hope Isenblast takes you?
Lord Kaiser: I wouldn’t say I have goals either in life or music, just to play our music the way we want and have it be heard. I do this band much more as a lifestyle than for a living. If you aspire to play black metal the way it is supposed to be played, you’re not going be seeing much money. I work to make money to support my lifestyle. When you play music to make money, compromises will be made. I want no part in that.
Chronolith: We take our band very seriously and seldom have fun doing it. Our writing process is long and drawn-out — it gets tiresome (hence our small discography). We use Isenblast as a gateway to take the aggression and anger we accumulate daily, and release it at our practices and shows.
We aim to instill fear and intimidation upon those who treat black metal as a novelty, and other mainstream public scum. Black metal has become a trend amongst various subcultures who treat the music as a joke, name-dropping the three bands they know without ever showing real support for bands, shows or the community.
We acknowledge the corruption of our government and society, and are sick of working 40-plus hours to barely afford to support our lives or band. Isenblast is to be feared by all.
MT: Yikes. How about something a little easier, like name which album changed the way you hear music.
Chronolith: Gore Obsessed by Cannibal Corpse was the first extreme album I heard. Before this album was loaned to me in middle school, the heaviest band I was into was Metallica. It was a drastic change and it was downhill from there.
Lunar Strain by In Flames should be noted as well, as that album taught me having a raw-sounding recording could actually benefit the music by adding an element of intensity, which would otherwise be muffled by the hi-fi recording techniques and equipment used in most of the modern music going around now.
Lord Kaiser: There are still albums I discover to this day that change the way I hear music. For me, at least, what we mainly play had to be somewhere along the lines of Enslaved’s Bloodhemn, or Dissection’s The Somberlain, and Storm of the Lights’ Bane or Darkthrone’s A Blaze in the Northern Sky. Finally, everything by Ronnie James Dio has been incredibly influential. RIP, RJD.