Apocalypse Orchestra are a folk/doom crossover band from Sweden formed in 2013. I have never really been a fan of folk metal, it being a genre I tended to shy away from, but I love the whole concept of doom, and thought the mix of the two would be interesting, if not unusual. When their debut album “The End is Nigh” landed in the Ever Metal inbox I was lucky enough to not only be able to review it but also to do an email interview with the band. I hope you enjoy learning a bit more about the band that is Apocalypse Orchestra!
“Hi, I’m Dawn King from Ever Metal! I would like to thank you for taking the time to talk to us and I hope you are all well? For those who haven’t heard of Apocalypse Orchestra before can you give us some history about the band?
[Erik] Well, Mikael, Andreas and I have played in various bands prior to AO, and when our most recent, a folk rock band, went belly up, Mikael came up with the idea of trying something different. Building on our love for medieval music and culture, he asked me if I would like to try to mix actual medieval tunes, alongside our own contemporary melodies, and fuse them with metal. Slow metal, since most folk metal acts tend to go in the other direction. Given that we like quite a few doom bands this felt natural. And when we tried some combinations of medieval melodies with this kind of metal, we knew we were on to something!
Where did the name ‘Apocalypse Orchestra’ come from?
[Mikael] We sought long and hard for a name that suited us. Finally we found one that worked. In medieval times the thought of the apocalypse was ever present, be it through famine, pestilence or of a more divine nature. Also, the word apocalypse means “to reveal” which we interpret as, even if it’s the end of the world as we know it, it might also be the beginning of something new.
Your debut album “The End Is Nigh” was released in May of this year. How is it being received so far?
[Erik] We have been dumbfounded by the amount of positive receptions! Even though we are very proud at what we have accomplished and created, we couldn’t believe that our album, especially being a debut, could spread as far and wide so fast. It has also been really humbling to read all the good natured reviews.
[Mikael] I find it very satisfying that people seem to have really listened to and understood what we wanted to achieve, that we’re not doing “traditional” folk metal but something different.
Before that you released a demo, “The Garden of Earthly Delights” back in 2015. What made you decide to use tracks from that on the album and not write completely new material?
[Erik] We started out composing songs to make an entire album. Along the way, there was suddenly a demand for some sort of release. People wanted to buy CD’s at gigs and whatnot, so we were about halfway through composing for the album, and thus we released what we had at the time.
There is an obvious medieval theme to your music! Is history something you are all interested in or is it the influence of just one person?
[Mikael] We all have some kind of historical interest. Several of us like medieval faires and medieval/folk music. We even have a black smith in the band who knows a lot about medieval smithing.
[Erik] Yes, and we have a great love of medieval art and other cultural expressions as well. Many of our influences can be found in the actual era.
Likewise, your lyrics deal with some very dark themes. Who comes up with these ideas and do you collaborate as a band when writing material?
[Erik] Usually one of us spawns the idea, the better part of a song’s lyrics, and then we throw it back and forth among us. It can be a bit tricky of course, especially when Mikael writes the most part of any song, and it is I who will have to sing it and make it work melodically, haha.
[Mikael] Yes, sometimes the first drafts of any lyrics would require a rapper for it to work.
I watched the video to your track “The Garden Of Earthly Delights” and it was set in a stunning location! Where was it filmed and whose idea was it to shoot the video there?
[Mikael] We looked at several locations to find the perfect one. We even checked an old copper mine but when we found Vasaborgen (The Vasa Castle) in Uppsala, only 100km from our home town, we instantly knew it was the one. The contact at Vasaborgen immediately loved the idea and was very helpful in making it happen.
[Erik] The location is a part of the greater castle area, an unrenovated part of the castle grounds with its original 16th century interior and is now used as a museum. It was monumental to be given the chance to film there, and it left us in awe of being in a place where so many have gone before us. It was also cold as hell that day, which you can clearly see in the video when we exhale!
You all play a vast array of instruments on the album, such as Hurdy Gurdy, Lute, Bagpipes and Rauschpfeife! How important was it to include those authentic sounds when recording and does it present any issues when playing the material live?
[Erik] It is key to have them on any recording. They are a part of our sound, our soul. Live we try to incorporate as much as we can, but depending on the venue and gear, we also have parts of the music playing from the computer. But it’s more fun when can go all out live, like recently when we had our release party, guest musicians, all kinds of weird instruments, and our friend in the choir performing live with us!
[Mikael] Wooden instruments, and traditional strings, always pose a challenge when playing this kind of music but it has worked out well so far.
As much as I don’t like to pigeon hole bands, your music has been classed as Folk Metal meets Doom Metal. Do you think that is an accurate description and if not how would you describe your music?
[Mikael] Someone said we sounded like Contemporary Medieval Metal and we think that fits rather well, but we don’t mind being called folk metal either since we share several elements with that genre.
[Erik] I also get the doom element, since you can most likely hear that we like and listen to a lot of doom bands. But on the other hand, you can as easily find other elements as well…
Which bands and artists have influenced you as individuals and collectively and are there any current bands that you admire?
[Mikael] The bands that started my interest in medieval music were Garmarna and Falso Bordone. Bands and artists that influence me now are Amorphis, Myrkur, Anna von Hausswolf and Obsequiae to name just a few.
[Erik] I agree with Mikael with most of his name dropping. Add Paradise Lost (which all of the band love) and other folk metal acts like Lumsk, Myrkgrav, Otyg combined with different kind of bands like Type O Negative, and you can imagine that we get our inspirations from a wide variety of ‘genres’.
Most of us have musical guilty pleasures, perhaps a band or genre of music that doesn’t fall into what people might expect you to listen to. Who or what are your musical guilty pleasures?
[Mikael] I think we’re too old to be embarrassed anymore ha ha. I listen to a lot of electronic music. My favourites right now are Christian Gabel and the soundtrack to Stranger Things.
[Erik] Haha, probably many that others would label ‘guilty pleasures’, but I am not ashamed of any of them! We can go all the way from 70’s and 80’s AOR to nu-metal to the most horrible kind of eclectic folk music… I like way to much music for my own good. But, for the sake of it, one band that I listen to a lot right now is one of my childhood heroes, Def Leppard!
What was it like to have Per Nilsson, of Scar Symmetry and Kaipa fame, mix your debut album ‘The End Is Nigh’?
[Erik] Like a breeze! He had a really good grasp of our sound to begin with, being a friend of the band. So he simply took our recording and refined it, made it grow, and transformed it into something so much more than we would ever have been able to do ourselves. Still it’s fun that we also could give him a challenge, since we use all these bizarre instruments, and also due to the fact that sometimes our arrangements are well over 100 channels… Still, he is a champ, and as he himself listens to and plays many different kinds of music, we were never even worried.
Are there any plans for a tour? Are you likely to hit British soil?
[Mikael] We would love to, playing live is a reward in itself to us. Meeting listeners and spreading our plague! We feel confident that we will visit your shores in the future as more and more discover our music. We have no shows booked this summer since the album was released a bit too late to play the festivals but hopefully we’ll get to do some concerts this fall.
There are some hugely diverse and major music festivals around the world! If you could play one of them which would it be and why?
[Erik] It is impossible to pick just one, since so many are so good, and between them the diversity in itself makes the choice impossible. We have played both in the “natural metal scene” as well as other non-metal events, both with positive feedback, so we are not necessarily bound to either one. We could just as easily show up on a renaissance fair as well as on a big metal festival, or maybe one day we will just throw a theatrical medieval metal epos in a setting like Alhambra in Spain, Dalhalla in Sweden, or why not the above concept as a traveling show in medieval castles through Europe?
[Mikael] I agree with all of the above. It’s not so much about the festival as it is with a location that magnifies the music and the show.
Is there anything you would like to add before we finish?
[Both] Thank you very much for taking your time and interest with us, it is much appreciated, and we also thank you for helping us spreading the plague. Stay folk!
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the guys at Apocalypse Orchestra for their time and also for their rapid response. I hope to see more of this great band, both on record and on the stage, in the near future and if you haven’t checked them out…..Go and do so!!
Thank You so much
Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Dawn King, Ever Metal and The Metal Asylum. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to do adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities
Originally posted on Ever Metal