– Hi, thanks for your time. What are you currently up to? How is everything doing right now with THE ORDER OF ISRAFEL?
Pretty exciting! I actually couldn’t sleep last night, and part of it was getting excited about the fact that our first album has been printed, and will be shipped soon. I’ve had this album in my mind as a dream for over 10 years now, so it means a lot. That and the fact that I saw the finished version of our first music video, and it has tuned out great. Also, we’re starting our first ever tour a month from now. We’re touring Europe with Lonely Kamel from Norway for about three weeks. It’s like all this work is finally gonna bear fruit. It’s almost a tension in the air!
– First off, how did you come up with the band’s name and what meaning does it hold?
Basically, a friend mentioned the name ‘Israfel’ to me once as the name for the angel of music. That really captured my imagination. That music, something that has such a positive, healing, miraculous effect on people should have its own angel really sounded wonderful to me. I combined this with my experiences meeting music-lovers across the world to create the idea of an ‘order’ under the name Israfel. It basically refers to the understanding that music people across the world have with each other, regardless of genre and style. We all have our lives saved on a daily basis by music. It really is like an angel for all of us. So, The Order Of Israfel is made up of every person in the world who truly loves and lives music.
– You have just released your debut album, «Wisdom». What are your expectations on it? How does it feel being just about to unleash your first record? I guess these may be exciting moments.
Yeah, as I said, it was enough to keep me awake all last night! He he! I guess I have two feelings on it. On the one hand, I know what the songs and album mean to us, and don’t really mind what happens to it from now, but another part of me is really hoping that people will embrace the record and the band. It was always my goal to have a band that would put a smile on the faces of people like me who loved bands like Cathedral, Candlemass, The Gates Of Slumber, and Reverend Bizarre. With all those bands either gone or retired from recording, I would love it if we could ease the pain and fill the gap a little for people around the world who love doom metal. And for this album specifically, I would love people to find something kinda magical, uplifting, and headbangin’ in it.
– Digging deeper into this opus; what’s the concept behind it? What are some of the lyrical topics covered here?
I guess there was no over-all concept at the start, because these were just the songs that came first, but you can pretty much put the songs into two categories. One category is songs about life lessons or spiritual themes. About what it’s like to be human. And the second is fantasy or horror-themed songs. For example, the song I mentioned before, ‘Promises Made To The Earth’ is about staying on your soul’s true path and staying true to your hearts deepest desires no matter how dark or dangerous the path may seem. The song, ‘Wisdom’ is about how guidance can come to you when you need it most, whether from signs, or books, or from people around you. And ‘The Noctuus’ is simply the story of a demon child that is born into a village, and the village dealing very unsuccessfully with it. Some of the songs are deadly serious, but some of them have a touch of silliness to them as well. Most of my favourite bands in this style have just a touch of humour in a song or two.
– And what does the cover artwork represent?
I love doom metal with some sophistication or elegance to it, and we wanted something that represented how colourful the band’s sound is. How much light and shade there is. I remember our bass-player, Patrik saying, ‘no skulls or pentagrams!’ He he! We have a lot of sides to us, and the cover has a lot of deep colours which represents that. There’s a lot of plants and nature on the cover as well as the angel, Israfel, along with a demonic gargoyle. I guess having them both on there represents both the uplifting, spiritual nature of the songs on the one hand, and the darker, evil aspects on the other. I’m super-excited for people to see all the art-work, actually. All anyone has seen yet is the front cover, and we’ve already had great responses to that, but there’s so much more once you crack the record open. Each song has an illustration inspired by the lyrics, and all the lyrics in the album were written out by our friend Martin who studies calligraphy. There’s also a huge painting in the fold-out with characters and themes from the lyrics. Our artist, Henrik Jacobson has done an absolutely stunning job.
– You play a quite traditional Doom Metal with Heavy and 70’s Hard Rock influences I think so, what bands could you mention as the most influential ones for the sound of THE ORDER OF ISRAFEL?
Well, Black Sabbath of course. They are the air we all breathe. But Cathedral are as big an influence for me, actually. I started listening to them when their first album came out, and I’ve been obsessed with them ever since. I love all their stuff, but especially the first two LPs and EPs when they were a twin-guitar band. I think I got my love of guitar-harmonies from them. Two albums I was listening to a lot when I started writing songs for The Order were Krux’s first album, and Place Of Skulls’ ‘With Vision’. They were a huge influence, along with Candlemass and others. And then when Reverend Bizarre appeared, they became a huge inspiration too. They were really the band I had been waiting for my whole life. I had the thought, ‘well I guess I don’t have to do The Order anymore!’ Ha! There are quite a lot of just straight riffing, headbanging sections in our songs too, which I guess comes from Metallica and Entombed, two of my other favourites. I’ve also heard people mention Thin Lizzy when they talk about us, and again yes, them and the guitar harmonies and melodies have been a big influence.
– As I said, I think you also drink a lot from Heavy Metal and the NWOBHM, even sometimes with a certain epic and medieval touch provided specially by acoustic guitars. So my questions is; did you have a clear vision of how you wanted the album to sound before starting to compose the album?
Not super specifically, because those songs came together over a period of years. But I think in general it was exactly that kind of classic heavy metal/medieval feel that I wanted. I just love that stuff. And yes, acoustic guitars were always gonna be a part of the picture. From Zeppelin to Metallica, and on albums like Sepultura’s ‘Beneath The Remains’, and Kreator’s ‘Coma Of Souls’, acoustic guitars as intros have been so effective. That juxtaposition of beauty and gentleness and heaviness is awesome.
– You also have a lot of tempo changes and different dynamics, which I think helps getting a more enjoyable final outcome. Was this something you were aiming for? How important is for you, both as composers and musicians, to keep things diverse and interesting?
Now when I look at the songs, I feel extremely glad that we have that kind of variation in the songs, but it’s not something that I decided on or forced myself to include. That’s naturally how I write. I actually really feel that a lot of people have misunderstood doom metal, and have just taken that most obvious facet of the sound, the slowness, and based entire bands around that one aspect. If you look at the godfathers of the genre, Black Sabbath, Witchfinder General, Pentagram, Trouble, Saint Vitus, Candlemass, none of them played at just one tempo. They all were very creative and dynamic. I think that now that we’ve established this as our sound, it will be something we are aware of, and something we’ll want to pursue and continue with.
– And talking about such, how was the songwriting process like?
So far it’s really been me writing all the music and lyrics. I already had almost two albums worth of material written when I met the guys, so it’s been that way. It’s basically me playing guitar at home, and putting the songs together like that. You can hear parts like the end of ‘Promises Made To Te Earth’ where we’ve worked on it as a band, and jammed it to work out how it will go, and I think we’ll see more of this as we start working on more and more songs.
– There are also songs like «Promises Made to the Earth» that have an almost Folk vibe to it. In fact it really transports you to a forest. What could you comment on this song? Moreover I could say the whole album has a certain nature feeling, is it just my perception?
Wow, thanks! I’m really glad to hear that that comes through. I spend a lot of time in forests here in Sweden, and these places are very special to me. It’s exactly that feel that I wanted the album to have. In fact we were gonna put more forest sounds on the album, like running water and stuff, but decided against it. I’m so happy that you can feel it just from the music. I feel most ‘myself’ in the forest, and I wanted the songs to have that same mix of beauty, majesty, and energy. Thanks!
– Overall «Wisdom» is a superb album with an old vibe, is actually a work of art. Do you think setting such high standards with your debut album can be «prejudicial», so to speak, for your future? Will you always try to top over your previous opus?
Thank you, so much! I actually said to Patrik, ‘Christ, what do we do next?’ He he! I’m not sure we’ll try to ‘top’ this when it comes time to record the next album, but I think it will pay to remind ourselves not to hurry, and take the time to really fall in love with each new song, and spend the time on them that they need. I think we’ll just let that creative hunger and drive lead the way. I feel very inspired and creative, so as long as we keep looking for ways to make the songs more and more memorable, rockin’, and colourful, then I think we’ll be fine. One thing I’m really looking forward to expanding upon is the use of harmony singing. Staffan, our guitar-player is a wonderful singer, and he sings a lot of backing vocals on the album. I’d love to do more and more of that.
– All this about «Wisdom» being said; how could you describe it in just 3 words?
Elegant, majestic, uplifting. And forest-y. Which is not really a word. He he!
– And finally, what are your near-future plans?
As I mentioned, we have our first tour starting a month from now. Our first music video should be out any day now, and I think we’d like to do another one if possible. We’re already working on new songs, so hopefully it won’t be too long before we can start thinking about the next album.
– That’s all, thank you once more for answering our questions. If you want to add some final words; feel free to do it.
Thanks to everyone who checks us out. We love what we do, and feel very honoured to be doing it. I hope that the band and this album are something that music lovers and doom metal people can really embrace.