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Vyl (Keep of Kalessin)

Interview with Vyl from Keep of Kalessin
by Marcos "Big Daddy" Garcia at 17 March 2015, 2:59 AM

The start of a new era for the ephemeral KEEP OF KALESSIN, the release of "Epistemology" is upon us, this time with Obsidian taking the vocal helm. Possibly their most immense piece of work to date, (and rightly so, given the 5-year back between "Reptillian" and now), resident Metal Expert, Marcos "Big Daddy" Garcia" had a chat with Vyl (considerably shortened due to a lapse in communication regarding the interviewee) about the themes of the new album, the new vigor the band has returned with, and Obsidian taking on vocals.

Hi Obsidian. Thanks a lot for the interview. The first question is very simple: why took so long to make a new album? There’s a difference of five years between “Reptilian” and “Epistemology”, so what were the main factors for this delay?

Hi, Marcos. Thanks for having me! The reason for the delay is also very simple. We were getting burnt out. After many years of extensive touring and traveling, we needed a break to re-evaluate the band and our personal lives. We’d been putting in such enormous amounts of work and totally sacrificed our privatel and social lives for so long, without really obtaining the high goals we set for ourselves. So we changed focus for a while, a time-out, if you will. And, you know, after a little while you start to get hungry again. I guess it’s like that when you have a passion. Sometimes you need space to breathe, but it will always come back to you. At least that’s the case for us, and I feel we came out stronger in both ends. Personally and musically.

One question very interesting is how the title of the album, “Epistemology”, is related to KEEP OF KALESSIN music. Is it just a name or has a deeper sense? Please, tell us.

It means “the theory of knowledge” It’s related to us in the sense that we will always look further.  Lyrically, musically and individually.

Well, since 2013, you’re the main singer of the band, after Thebon left. How are the things working for you? Isn’t it so difficult to deal with a technical guitar playing as you usually play, and singing with many vocal tunes as we hear on “Epistemology”?

I’m sure it’s not easy, but you can do anything you set your mind to. Obsidian decided to do the vocals before even trying. He just did it, knowing it was a huge task to do both guitar and vocals at the same time. He just jumped on it. We didn’t even talk about bringing someone else into the band. It was never an issue.  We had a few (literally) rehearsals before he nailed it. I really thought it would take more time, but he surprised me there. And the vocals sounds great too, you know!

There are two bonus tracks on Digipack version of “Epistemology”: “Anima Mundi”, and “Novae Ruptis”. And on “Anima Mundi”, we see thatMAYHEM’s Attila Csihar is singing with you once more, as he did on 2003’s “Reclaim”. How you had the idea of having he singing with you once more? And how was to have him back for some time?

I really can’t answer this one.

Personally, I didn’t saw all “Epistemology” lyrics by now, but since I knew the band’s work, a great part of your lyrics deal with dragons and mythological aspects with them. Of course we know it’s directed linked to the name of the band, for Kalessin is the mightiest dragon from Ursula K. Le Guin’s “Earthsea” books. But on “Epistemology”, it seems that the lyrics are a bit far from it. Am I right? And what are the main themes now? Or the oldKalessin’s power is still there in some way?

I’d say that we started a new chapter with Epistemology. Both musically and lyrically. The lyrics are as always diverse, and touch on many subjects, but we may not utilize the same metaphors as much as before. I think both the music and lyrics matured over the last five years. It’s like a fresh start. And with a fresh start comes fresh ideas. The topics stretch from beliefs and philosophy to hard facts and science. And it’s a deeper look into everything, as the name suggests.

On 2013, after three years of “Reptilian” release, you released a Single, “Introspection”. That’s the reason for the lyrics’ question above, and it seemed then that you’re searching for a new way for your music. And then, when hearing “Epistemology”, it seems that you found it, but expanded a lot the frontiers of what you have done before. Have you considered the question of being singing and playing now, and many other factors, or just did it as the ideas where gathering?

We have always been searching for new ways for the music, without losing the core of what Keep of Kalessin is. It’s an ongoing development. And I think we did sort of a breakthrough with Introspection. It was the first release as a three-piece, and it just felt right. It was a good indicator for the “new” Keep of Kalessin. Matured, re-vitalized and generally a step up. The decision that Obsidian would handle the vocals as well as guitars was decided around the time we recorded the single, yes. If I remember correctly, we shot the video for Introspection before the song was entirely done.

Looking back now, since Keep of Kalessin returned, how do you compare the new album with “Armada”, “Kolossus” and “Reptilian”? Do you believe that it was a process of evolution as musician?

If I must compare I would say that Epistemology is a more mature album than Armada, Kolossus and Reptilian. We finally have the right sound and that special atmosphere that we’ve always been pursuing, that was present before but not to its full extent and potential. It is definitely a result of musical evolution, but also personal evolution, it goes hand in hand. And that proves that our brake was necessary. I’m not saying I’m unhappy with the other recordings, I’m proud of all of them,  but it takes a lot of time and trying and failing/succeeding to get to that point where all the pieces fall into place. And I feel that Epistemology marks such a point.

Well, let’s talk about other matters now, still concerning you. Obsidian, you played in many bands, as Khonsu and Satyricon, both as live musician, and another project, Headspin. You left Satyriconyears ago, but how are Headspin and Khonsu by now?

I can only answer on behalf of Headspin here. We have a full-length album laying on a hard-drive somewhere. It was recorded in 2007 I think. It’s only lacking the vocal-tracks. We tried different singers but it didn’t really work out, and it’s just been laying there. I know what you all are thinking and me alike, “Why doesn’t Obsidian do the vocals?” That’s a great idea!!! Let’s do it! So I guess we just have to get our finger out of our lazy ass and get to work.


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Edited 31 May 2023

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