LEGACY OF EMPTINESS is a Norwegian symphonic black/extreme metal band that have returned with a new album now. So what better reason to check them out? Anders Ekdahl ©2017
Every band has to introduce their music to new people. What is it that you want people to get from listening to you guys?
-Hi and thanks for the interview request. We are a three piece band from Norway, Øyvind Rosseland on keyboards, Kjell-Ivar Aarli on bass and myself, Eddie Risdal, on guitars, programming and vocals. We are not a very lyrically band with an agenda or messages in our texts, our main focus it to create the best music we possibly can, accompanied with fitting lyrics, to create a good atmosphere and hopefully a good time for the listener.
How hard was it for you guys to pick a name? What had that name have to have to fit your music?
-We have quite a different story than most other bands, so ending up with Legacy Of Emptiness was kinda coincidence mixed with creativity. When Kjell-Ivar and me first started making music together was when we formed the somewhat nekro bm band Permafrost back in 1995. Later, when Øyvind joined a few years later, we took a more melodic and symphonic direction and the name no longer fitted. A friend of ours suggested Ancestral Legacy and we went for that. Then after our two first demos in 2000 and 2002, Kjell-Ivar and Øyvind left the band for their personal reasons, and I decided to continue with new band members. Since Øyvind had been the main composer in the band, most songs had been made on keyboards, but now it was me who had to take that role, composing mostly on guitar, and that of course changed the direction of the music. So when the original trio decided to reform in 2010, Ancestral Legacy still was around (and still is in 2017), so we couldn’t just pick up that name again. After a period of brainstorming Kjell-Ivar came up with the brilliant Legacy Of Emptiness, which kept half of the band name, and also the name of our second demo was Emptiness, so, it couldn’t be more fitting. Personally I like it when you only by the band name more or less can determine if you’d like them or not. For me Legacy Of Emptiness sounds both a bit big but somewhat cold, and we try to make our music sound massive, but still maintaining some coldness to it, we don’t want it to be too cosy, he he.
Everybody is influenced by certain things. What band(s) was it that turned you on to the kind of music you play? What inspires you today?
-In the very start, with Permafrost, it was bands like Darkthrone, the first Ulver album was just released, the Swedish scene was really having a blast with the Gothenburg scene and others too, so we listened much to In Flames, Dark Tranquillity, Unanimated, At The Gates, Dissection, Mörk Gryning and basically anything we read about that could match our taste, and that we also could afford to buy and get hold of from some post order record store. Remember this was before everything was just one click away on the internet. Then a bit later when Øyvind joined, we obviously draw some influences from bands that had keyboard driven music, like Cradle Of Filth, Covenant, Arcturus, Dismal Euphony and Bal-Sagoth. Crematory and Moonspell could probably also be mentioned.
Today the composing formula is much the same as back then; Øyvind comes up with the basic ideas and Kjell-Ivar and me are structuring and arranging it into proper songs. But what inspires us has become so much different and more. Øyvind probably gets more influence from film music and game music, while us other two have broadened our musical horizon a lot. Still I think that it is set in stone that the base of Legacy Of Emptiness is some kind of melodic and symphonic extreme metal, although we are not afraid to throw in whatever ideas we have, even if it doesn’t “fit” into the standard.
When you formed did you do so with the intent of knowing what to play or did you do so from the point of having a band name and then picking a sound? How did you settle on the name/sound combo?
-In the start with Permafrost the style and band name came more or less at the same time. It was so damn important for the black metal scene to be mysterious, true, evil, not sellout and all that, so we thought, what could be more true and cold than a band called Permafrost, with 11 inverted crosses in the logo? For our part it was all a joke of course, we could barely play in the start, ha ha. And over the 20+ years that have passed it has became obvious that the old BM-scene was more a gimmic than a kinda cult. Those guys were more or less like any other guy in their teens/early 20ies, at lest behind the image they tried to show in public. The reasons for the name Ancestral Legacy and Legacy Of Emptiness has for the most already been explained earlier in the interview.
I believe that digital is killing the album format. People’s changing habit of how they listen to music will result in there being no albums. Is there anything good with releasing single tracks only?
-If you are right with your statement I think it is sad and a great shame. For me it would be unthinkable with music without the album format. Single tracks are mostly for commercial music, while albums are for genuine music lovers, regardless of genres I’d say. On the other hand, this doesn’t mean that it’s forbidden for a metal band to release one off songs, it all depends on the context. As something to give their fans while they wait for the next album, if it’s some kind of one-off, like a re-recording, a cover song or something that doesn’t fit on an album. But again, for me the ultimate music experience is when I can put on a damn good album and play through from start to end.
What part does art-work and lay-out play when you release new recordings? How do you best catch people’s attention?
-We have received a lot of good feedback on our cover art this time, like last time. The packaging of physical format has always been important for me; in particular in the 90ies I often bought albums unheard just because of the cover art, in particular if Andreas Marschall or Necrolord was the artist, he he. Well, the history behind the cover art is partly found, or at least triggered by, the song “Four Hundred Years”. The song deals with Norwegian history, the “dark middle ages” when we were ruled by Denmark. The black plague is estimated to have killed as much as 2/3 of Norway’s population, so it took it’s toll and the country became an easy prey also since the royals were much inbred. The cover picture is an imaginary Norwegian mountain village during the black plague, in all it’s misery. The artist Alex Tartsus was really easy to work with and made a fantastic image. To reward people who still pay for physical releases I see it as important to give them value for money, rather than to make things simple and effortless just to save time and money. I have done the layout for most Ancestral Legacy albums plus the first LoE album, and I am very focused on details and the aesthetic. Even if I felt a bit nervous about letting the layout for “Over The Past” in other hands, the end result is very satisfying.
Has social media re-written the rules on how to promote your music? Or do you go about doing promotion the same way?
-I would say that it has given some additional ways to promote and distribute music. Like mentioned earlier, back when we started we often had to buy unheard albums from post order catalogs, just trusting our instincts on what our favourite reviewers in the metal magazine wrote. Today basically all music there is ever created is available in some form on the internet. It’s a gift to all those bedroom bands that can record everything at home and release it themselves. Not that fun for most record labels though, but the most greedy gets as deserved. There are still a lot of smaller labels and distros around, and I admire them a lot. I see how well our album has been handled by our label Black Lion, the guy there work his ass off for all his bands and deserves a lot of credit. I still read printed magazines and still sometimes discover new music that way, but nowadays it’s more often recommendations from friends sending me a Youtube link. Like I said; for all bands that wouldn’t get a record deal 20 years ago the situation today is pure gold, for the listeners/consumers I think it can be a bit owerwhelming and difficult to keep the focus and interest in the hordes of bands, there are probably some small bands around that goes unnoticed simply because their music need more than 2 minutes halfway attention on Youtube or Spotify to sink in.
When you play in a band, does that make you feel like you are a part of a scene, of something bigger and grander?
-For many it might be like that, but for me/us it never was like that in the start, and since LoE is not a live band it’s still not socializing events with other bands. For Ancestral Legacy it’s a bit different and we have of course made some connections over the years. On the other hand, our hometown Arendal is very small and thus the scene is also small and in a national and international perspective; insignificant. So part of the local scene, yes of course, but nothing really bigger than that. I have been collaborating with some international acts though, both me participating on other bands’ releases, or foreign artists have contributed on our albums, and that is of course fun and cool.
How much of a touring band are you? Is touring/gigging still a great way of spreading the word of the band?
-Like I briefly mentioned in the last answer, Legacy Of Emptiness still haven’t entered the stage, and to be honest I don’t think that day will ever come. We’re only three in the band and would either need a lot of playback, or two or three session musicians to pull off a live show, and we think that both are bad ideas. The first will simply look too strange, and the second would be too much job educating session musicians from scratch, maybe for one or a handful gigs. Also they would most likely have to be paid, and to sacrifice so much time and money for playing for a handful of people isn’t that interesting. The live scene has also become much more difficult than it was just ten years ago. Then we managed to pull of an European tour at least (with my former band V:28), now it seems more or less impossible being an independent band.
What will the future bring?
-Who knows? We have nothing set in stone, but will continue to record Øyvind’s ideas, structure and arrange them and if we feel it is worthy a new release then there will be a new release. If it’s not good enough then it’s no point. If it takes two, five or ten years until a possible third album is of course still in the blue.