Wednesday, 17 December 2014

INTERVIEW: Ancestral Legacy

Norwegian metallers Ancestral Legacy recently released their fantastic second album Terminal and were kind enough to spare some time to talk to Femetalism and give us an insight into the band, into their new album and their plans for the future.

Can you introduce us to Ancestral Legacy?

Eddie: Christmas 1995 Eddie (Risdal, guitar, vocals etc) and Kjell-Ivar Aarli (bass, vocals) formed a band that later transformed into what now is Ancestral Legacy. No big plans, just the idea to make and record songs inspired by some bands we liked at the time. In 1998 I think, the band got a more symphonic approach and the original band name Permafrost felt inappropriate, so a friend of ours suggested Ancestral Legacy. After two demos the other members of the band left in 2002, and I continued with new members and a new style, as we for the first time had a female vocalist, and did not replace our keyboardist. The line-up has never been stable over a long period, which may explain why a band like Ancestral Legacy could exist for more than 15 years and still only have put out two albums. As where we live is an area with smaller towns and few musicians to choose from, we have usually recruited new members among people we already knew, or by word of mouth.

Can you tell us a little about each member of the band?

Eddie Risdal - The only original member of the band. Main role in the band is guitarist, vocalist (screaming/growling) and songwriting. Also plays additional instruments when recording demos. Really dislikes writing lyrics.

Christopher Vigre – Drums. Joined the band in 2006, Just before the recording of Nightmare Diaries. He also plays in a band called From Below (Nor) together with Jon Rune.

Isadora Cortina -Singer, live keyboards and local chica latina, joined in 2008 after moving to Norway from Mexico. Hopes to compose even more in the next album.

Jarl Ivar Brynhildsvoll – Bass player who joined the band in 2010 and is also the founder and owner of Whispering Voice Records.

Jon Rune Førland - Joined the band on guitar in 2013 to give Christopher some competition on who's the hottest guy in the band.

How did you decide on the name Ancestral Legacy?

Eddie: As briefly mention in the first answer, a name change was more or less necessary as the previous name did not fit the style our music changed into. At the time Cradle Of Filth were at their peak of creativity and quality, and it was a friend of ours who found "ancestral legacy" or "ancestral legacies" or something in one of their lyrics and thought it could be a cool band name, so we used it. So thanks to both our friend and CoF for that. :)

You sound has changed and developed since you were first formed. How would you describe your sound now?

Eddie: That is definitely a hard task. A lot of tags has been used over the years, dark, doom, gothic, black, progressive metal, we probably have elements of all, as genres are not a big issue, the important thing is if we like what we make or not, wether it is within this or that genre. As for the moment I'd say we cover most of those aforementioned genres. :)

Isa: I feel like we’re a good mix of things, we can be brutal yet soft and also quite progressive at times, Christopher has a tough task there. We’re not commercial at all because we don't go by the verse-chorus rule, we like to change within a song and create unexpected passages through a theme.

Can you tell us more about Ancestral Legacy’s recent album Terminal?

Eddie: Even if there is no red thread through the lyrics on the album, they are more or less all dealing with the more dark issues in life, thus the title "Terminal" was fitting the overall feeling of the lyrical themes quite well. And also the cover art backs up this nicely I'd say, as three of the songs are named "Lethe" (parts 1-3), taken from the name of one of the rivers of Hades in Greek mythology. So what you see on the cover could be a girl about to drown in Lethe. A rather loose "concept", but in my eyes it works rather well. All images were made by the Bulgarian digital artist Vanesa Vicheva-Garkova, and in fact I think none of the images were made after she got the job, still they all display the vibe of the songs in a great way. In this age of downloading it is more important than ever to make a physical version worth buying, so that the ones who actually spend money on a CD gets full value for them. I find little or no charm in an mp3, even if I listen to mp3s on my phone or laptop every day I also like to have the cover and study pictures, lyrics and credits as well.

We were lucky enough to have a lot of poems written by a friend of ours, Shawn Tuck, from USA. I am not comfortable with writing lyrics at all, so it was nice to have this opportunity to fill out the blank spots where need. Isa is much more creative lyric wise than me, but still we used Shawn's lyrics for half of the songs, including the three Lethe tracks. It was just as easy as with our own lyrics to adapt his poems, as we were completely free to cut, add and rearrange them to fit our songs in a best possible way. I wrote most of the music, as usual, but (former) guitarist Tor Arvid Larsen did some of his best songwriting ever as well, and also Isa did her first music for the band. The more songwriters, the more options and a better chance of getting a great result. We did not have any big focus on change or developing our sound, the main issue was to make as good songs as we could. I felt that the main issue with "Nightmare Diaries" was that we allowed a few ideas that should have been better, so this time our priority was to make sure that every riff and every melody in all songs were as good as they could be. No leftover ideas would be tolerated. And I think we achieved our goal.

You signed with Whispering Voice Records for the release.  Can you tell us about this? 

Jarl: To be honest we were set to sign with a much larger label, but due to some computer-problems at that label (not to name names) communications took too long and we did not hear from them until after the signing with WVR. We thoroughly discussed whether we should to a self release or not, but then I already had a plan in motion to start my own record-label and thought it would be a nice experience for me to start that up with releasing Ancestral Legacy as my first band. And with some help from Phivos in Pitch Black Records we released on 29th of September.

You have played gigs with the likes of Sirenia and Theatre of Tragedy.  If you could tour with any other artist, who would that be?

Eddie: If I could choose any band to be on the bill with, then I would maybe go for Rapture (Finland). That would probably also mean that they needed to put out a new album, just about time I'd say, as their last album was released in 2005... One of the bands that flavoured our style change in 2002 the most, alongside Opeth, Lacuna Coil, Novembre and The Gathering.

Isa: As Eddie I'd love to tour with The Gathering. I could add Tristania, Katatonia, Insomnium.

What do you enjoy most about playing live and which songs do you most enjoy?

Eddie: To meet new and old fans and friends is the biggest reward of a concert, definitely. As for favourite songs, I have a few, as songs in general, but I don't think I have ever thought much about which songs are most fun to play live... "The Shadow Of The Cross" never manage to bore me, and from the new album I think I would say "Transient Pale Days", even if is damn heavy to play, power chords for 7 minutes makes my left hand pretty numb.

Isa: Before the album was released, my favourite songs live were Separate Worlds and Perhaps in Death. Now I also enjoy Transient Pale Days because of the cool keys I play there and Terminal because I just connect a lot with the song while I sing it.

If you could tour anywhere in the world, is there a venue or particular city you would like to play?

Eddie: There are indeed some famous venues around the world, but I don't think I've ever had any goal to play this or that place. If I need to name a venue though, I'd go for Shepherd's Bush Empire, it looks like a special location. Paris have welcomed us warmly the two times I've played there, awesome audience. Sadly I can't say I have the same impression of the rest of the city...

Isa: FINLAND!!! And I'd love to have the opportunity to play with the band in Mexico, my home!

What motivates you as a band to create your music?

Eddie: In our earlier days it was directly other bands that inspired me to make music. It did not always show in our songs I guess, what I have in my head is at times very different from how it turns out in a finished version. More recently I seem to be less dependant of musical inspiration to trigger my creativity, my ideas come more out of nothing I guess, or if I work on some of Isa's piano ideas that she sends me every now and then.

Isa: I get very inspired by autumn and its dark, music and things I experience. When I was writing the lyrics and ideas for Bone Code I was specially inspired by winter and a book I was reading at the time by Haruki Murakami. For me it's important to create things that are beautiful and melodic and it's awesome when Eddie comes and brutalises it all, it's a good mix. He’s also been very good at doing some atmospheric stuff lately.

Norway has a rich, far reaching metal scene.  Can you tell us about your experiences within the Norwegian metal scene?

Eddie: Yes, there are definitely a lot of bands here, a lot of good bands even, many metal concerts and it seems like more and more big foreign bands also make Norway a destination for their tours. But as we are only 5 million people living here, the metal community is only counting a few thousand, and everyone can't go to every concert, and not everyone can like all bands, understandably. So the funny thing is that a lot of Norwegian bands that are high up on the bill on European festivals, don't draw that much attention when gigging in Norway. The day after our release gig for "Nightmare Diaries", which was attended by around 100 people, a well established act like Susperia sold less than 30 tickets at the same venue. So it's a highly unpredictable business. Even if my impression of Norwegian metal press is that they are very supportive and proud of Norwegian bands and the standing they have in the rest of the world.

Isa: As a foreigner I find it quiet, people in Norway really stare at you and listen to the music and it's both scary and cool, because I feel like I can't fuck it on stage but when you come down and talk to the people they really can comment on the music and they are open and nice about it. I have specially felt that in the band's hometown. I guess Norwegian metal heads have a deep connection with what they listen.

So what’s next for Ancestral Legacy?

Eddie: We have plans on releasing an EP in not too far future, and also try to put together a small tour in North-Western Europe this upcoming Spring. So it should be enough to keep 2015 busy as well!
Isa: And we also have some new ideas done for next album. So keep your eye on us!

Huge thanks to Jarl, Eddie and Isa for taking the time to talk to Femetalism.  We have really been enjoying Terminal here at Femetalism HQ and are looking forward to hearing more from you with the EP as well as hearing about all the great bands through Whispering Voice Records!

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Originally posted by Emma Sheridan on Femetalism.