Interview with Simon and Þórður of Ophidian I

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Interview by Jason Guest

Jason: Hi. Congratulations on your debut, Solvet Saeclum. It’s a very impressive album. (Ed: Jason’s review is here.)

Ophidian I: Hi Jason, Simon and Þórður here. Thank you so much!

Jason: To begin, can you tell us about the history of the band?

Ophidian I: Ophidian I was founded in 2010 by Þórður(bass) and Símon(guitar) at Iceland’s largest annual metal festival, Eistnaflug. We had recently become close friends and realized that we shared very similar musical tastes and wanted to bring this type of tech death to the Icelandic metal scene. After completing the line-up and recording a demo we were picked up by Russian brutal death metal label SFC Records and through them we released our debut full length album, Solvet Saeclum this summer.

Jason: Solvet Saeclum has been out since June. How has the reception been so far?

Ophidian I: It has been great, very positive reviews and nice comments all over the internet.

Jason: Can you tell us about your lyrical themes and where you get inspiration for them from?

Ophidian I: The lyrics of Solvet Saeclum follow human history from start to some conceivable finish, praising human innovations and successes as well as bashing its shortcomings, and throwing in a couple of extinction events and doomsday scenarios along the way. It’s generally a topic of interest for some of us and we feel that it suits the scales, riffs and general feel of the music very neatly.

Jason: Can you tell us what the album title means and how it relates to the themes and ideas in the music?

Ophidian I: “Solvet Saeclum” is a Latin phrase from an 800 year old poem that describes the rapture called “Dies Irae” (the day of wrath), we found that it’s lyrical theme sort of reflected ours and decided to refer to it with our album title.

Jason: The opening riff of ‘Mark of Obsidian’ is repeated at the end of the album in ‘The Discontinuity of a Fundamental Element’ and so bookends the album but also makes the album feel like a continual cycle. Does this relate to the lyrical themes across the album? Is there a unifying theme or narrative thread that runs through the album?

Ophidian I: Right on! It’s definitely supposed to give the feeling of a repeating pattern. I wouldn’t say it has a direct link to the lyrics but the album is definitely structured that way with slight lyrical hints at it. For example, the song ‘Ellipse’, which lyrically describes an infinite cycle of repetition has an intro that sounds somewhat similar to ‘Mark of an Obsidian’ too, along with the intro and outro of the album referring to each other like you had noticed, all done on purpose of course.

Jason: When you were writing for Solvet Saeclum, did you have any specific goals in mind?

Ophidian I: Well, we wanted to introduce our music to metalheads all over the world and figured a full length album is what would get the most distribution.

Jason: Do you have any favourite tracks on the album? Are there any that, for you, mark a high point for the band in terms of musical achievement?

Ophidian I: Personally, I (Þórður) would say the’ Discontinuity of a Fundamental Element’ because it’s the first song written for the band and listening to it brings back great memories, but on a whole we all feel that ‘Solvet Saeclum’ and ‘Shedyet’ really capture the essence of what we all wanted the album to sound like.

Jason: Given the highly technical aspect of the band, how do you work to balance your technicality ability with the high levels of brutality in your song-writing?

Ophidian I: We had a rough idea about the general vibe we wanted our music to give off so creating the flow and structure came quite naturally to us when writing this album. Generally, we strive to use the technicality to create a certain atmosphere rather than just to show off and when we feel like it fits the flow of the song to have it more brutal then that’s what we do, it’s all about personal taste how much technical and how much brutal you want your music to be and we are all satisfied with the outcome of Solvet Saeclum.

Jason: Is the band’s writing process a collaborative effort or do you write individually?

Ophidian I: For our debut, Þórður (bass) wrote most of the music (Simon wrote one song and a few licks/solo’s) and all the lyrics, but lately we’ve been thinking about writing more together and the second album will definitely be more of a collaborative effort.

Jason: Ophidian I’s sound is very diverse, particularly in your choice of scales. Who are the band’s main influences?

Ophidian I: Thank you! We are mainly influenced by other tech death bands such as Obscura, Necrophagist, The Faceless and a whole bunch more.

Jason: Are there any scales that the band likes working with?

Ophidian I: There are a lot of oriental scales along with classical harmonies, blended with some good old death metal scale patterns in between so as to not miss out on the brutality.

Jason: Can you tell us about the artwork? What does it represent and how does it relate to the album? Who’s the artist? What was it about their work that made you want to work with him/her? And how much freedom did you give him/her in its design?

Ophidian I: The artwork was designed by Marco Hasmann, we had seen other artworks he had done (such as Fleshgod Apoclypse’s three releases and more) and we really liked his style. He is also on the SFC payroll and has done a few artworks for them in the past so choosing him was a no-brainer. The artwork itself represents the lyrical content and raging force of the music of Solvet Saeclum and we couldn’t be more satisfied with the outcome! We explained to him the general concept of the album and gave him our lyrics and the freedom to design the artwork any way he liked (with a few pointers from us) and it turned out great!

Jason: For a band that has just released their debut, the internet must play a vital role in your presence in the music scene. What are your views on downloading music?

Ophidian I: Personally, we are not against people downloading our own music and we were thrilled to see how many more times it had been downloaded than we expected before the release on various music blogs, it has helped us a lot in gaining more attention around the world. But of course we encourage fans to buy a physical copy as well if they like it!

Jason: Because of the ease of making music available, how do you think the internet has affected music?

Ophidian I: In our opinion it has had a great effect on music, and especially non-radio-friendly genres like death metal and such because it’s such a great tool for distributing music cheaply and getting in touch with other people who share your passion all over the world. Music doesn’t need a huge industry anymore and that’s a great thing.

Jason: Which do you prefer: vinyl, CD, or mp3? And why?

Ophidian I: I would say mp3 and CD because we rely so much on viral distribution rather than selling our album at record stores.

Jason: Do Ophidian I have any tour plans? If so, will we be seeing you in the UK? And what can fans expect from an Ophidian I show?

Ophidian I: We have no tours planned right now, but we are constantly looking around and trying to find a good one. We would love playing in the UK! Our shows consist of a lot of headbanging and having fun on stage; we always try to deliver a good show for everyone.

Jason: What’s next for the band? Do you have any goals in mind for future recordings? It’s early days, I know, but do you have any material in development for your next album?

Ophidian I: The writing process for our next release has not started, but we are thinking a lot about what our next material should be like; what we can do to improve our sound/style and such.

Jason: Again, thanks for taking time out for this interview. Do you any closing words for our readers?

Ophidian I: Thank YOU for taking this interview! Everyone check out www.facebook.com/OphidianI and buy our album at http://sfcollector.bigcartel.com/category/ophidian-i!