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Interview by Commodus

Stormkeep is a force of the supernatural, a wind flowing through the crumbling ancient ruins of a lost land, buried by legend and mystery. From the athenaea of old came the acclaimed underground mini-LP “Galdrum,” an homage to the golden age of Black Metal and harkening back to the dark ages of history filled with mysticism and magick. Now Stormkeep brings forth their debut full-length album “Tales of Othertime.”

The penultimate tome of fantastical Dungeon Metal Symphonia from a world beyond, “Tales of Othertime” presents six majestic hymns of triumphant, cold and fierce Medieval Black Metal. Sail across the frozen worlds of Elda and travel into a land of myth.

This Is Black Metal talks with Isaac Faulk (Otheyn Vermithrax) (Drums (2017-2019), Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards (2017-present) about this great project! Enjoy…

This Is Black Metal: Hello Isaac, thank you very much for this interview. How are you doing during these strange times?

Otheyn: Doing all right here in the United States, it’s opened up a little bit so at this time we are now you know gearing up for various concerts with our other bands. So, I guess not as dire as it was a year ago or whatever. So yeah, we’re just using the time to build new projects or various writing and all that sort of stuff.


TIBM: Sounds creative, and fantastic. So, since this is the first time we’re speaking, I would like you to tell us how and why have you formed this band?

Otheyn: Yes, Stormkeep was formed around the year 2017. It was a product of my kind of interest and devotion to a certain style of Black Metal. So even from the beginning, it was intended to be almost in homage to mid-90s, medieval Black Metal, many of the bands that I’ve liked for many, many years. Those were all things that I was very passionate about. And this band was kind of an opportunity for me to expand on that. You know, that influence that I’ve always had in my music. However, it has evolved, and I think through having a band and not just one person in the project, it has evolved into its own kind of entity. And now, since then, it is, you know, kind of taken on its own form. That of course is rooted in that era and that style but has also taken on its own form.




TIBM: So, after one Demo (Promotional Tape MMXVIII) and one EP (Galdrum) you finally released your first album, Tales of Othertime! How is the response from fans and press so far?

Otheyn: The response has been great. It’s been probably more than I would have ever expected but I did have an idea when we were writing and recording the new album that it was going to be something unique there are no other bands really going right now that are fulfilling this specific niche. So I knew that you know, anybody who’s into the same sorts of things that I am, which is ultimately what our bands and you know specifically Stormkeep is all about is playing the music that we want to hear. So if there are other people that want that, then you know, of course, it makes sense that it would be successful, but that’s not you know, that’s not why we do it. It’s not for success or whatever. It’s really just it’s a self-indulgent sort of thing like we make this music for ourselves first.


TIBM: You made a video clip “The Serpent’s Stone”. Why have you chosen this song among others?

Otheyn: I believed that this was the centerpiece of the album in a way the serpent stone I mean lyrically, and within the story is kind of a climactic point the in the storyline of the album, and the song contains all of the different elements that make up the album. For that reason, I thought it was the best way to present the sound of the album from the get-go.


TIBM: The album is rich with sounds such as acoustic elements, Ambient, Black Metal riffing, Dungeon Synth and others. Can we say that this album has a concept?

Otheyn: Of course, yes, the album is a concept album. The lyrics are all tied together in a storyline that was created within a mythical realm called Elda which I created, and so all of the lyrics and the liner notes detail the storyline within there. So every song within its place in the album is very important where it is and how the story progresses and the music reflects that as well.


TIBM: You have just told us that everything exists in a world that you have created named Elda. Where can we find any info about this world?

Otheyn: If you get the vinyl edition, which I know it’s sold out pretty quickly and actually the CD. Both have a map and storylines within them. So you know, of course, those things sold out pretty quickly there will be a repress, but all of the information is within the packaging.



TIBM: So, can we expect your new work to be a continuation in this world?

Otheyn: I can’t really specify that at this time. But in my mind the band I mean, even the EP really did take place in the same world. And I can’t see that forever, but at least for now, is going to be within this realm.


TIBM: One of my favorite moments in the album was acquire on the serpent stone, whose idea was this one and how you implemented that?

Otheyn: It was very important to me that there was another voice and another kind of style of vocals. And of course those vocals are throughout the album, but they are most represented on Serpent Stone. And so that was really my idea of elevating the music beyond just you know, your regular Black Metal band because a lot of my favorite, not just Black Metal, but other metal bands utilize this kind of singing, and so I enlisted a good friend of mine. He goes by Shield Anvil, he’s in Caladan Brood and also Visigoth and a lot of other bands. He’s a very talented singer, and he had done vocals on our previous release, he did the vocals on “Of Lore…” from the EP, and so it made sense to bring him back to really elevate this song to another level and he did an amazing job. And yeah, it is also one of my favorite parts of the album as well.




TIBM: Your lyrical themes have a point of reference to the Medieval times, magic and fantasy in general. What attracts you to these themes?

Otheyn: I studied history in university, and it’s always been kind of a second passion of mine besides music, and specifically medieval Europe has always interested me just because of how it was such a chaotic, you know, time but it was also this kind of like really interesting. The castles and all this stuff, it evokes a certain part of my imagination. I’ve also always been interested in fantasy, of course, you know, Lord of the Rings, but also Ursula K. Le Guin and Earthsea, even stuff like Dune. I mean, it’s not strictly fantasy, but you know, fantastical worlds have always interested me. So digging into Medieval Fantasy was always something that interested me and Stormkeep as a catalyst for that made the most sense because Black Metal already has this medieval sound and a feeling especially going back to Satyricon’s “Dark Medieval Times”, or you know, Covenant’s “In Times Before the Light”, you know, albums like this, they kind of evoke this medieval darkness has always been really important to me and always struck me with like a very deep feeling. So for me, it made sense to make a band that kind of consolidates all of those things into one thing, including, you know, Medieval Folk, Dungeon Synth. All of those things even Power Metal. I think those all can be connected into the same realm, which is, you know, medieval fantasy.


TIBM: Something that went straight into my mind when I saw this album cover was the cover of Emperor’s first album. Based on that, your sound and the fact that Mortiis was a member of them (who later played Dungeon Synth among others), may I presume that you are a fan of them?

Otheyn: Yes, definitely. It would be foolish for any band that plays Black Metal with keyboards to deny the importance of Emperor; they’re probably one of the most important bands in metal in my opinion. And so yes, of course, Emperor is a huge inspiration. I think that’s kind of where the initial influence of the band really goes down to, but at the same time, I don’t think that I would ever want to try to write an Emperor album, you know, I’m not going to try to copy emperor or make a facsimile like what they did because they already you know, in four albums really banned the entirety of Symphonic Extreme Metal. And so, to me, it was important to deviate a little bit just from Symphonic Black Metal and create something of its own. And even though yes, of course, I mean, it’s Black Metal with keyboards and Emperor’s is probably the number one band in that sub-sect. It was important for me to delineate that we’re not just a cover band, you know what I mean?



TIBM: Yeah. So if you are an Emperor fan, what is your favorite Emperor album?

Otheyn: I know some people disagree, some people will agree but in my opinion “Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk” is kind of the pinnacle of Symphonic Black Metal “In the Nightside Eclipse” is a close second but I would probably put the EP up there as well. I probably listened to the Emperor EP even more than “In the nightside…” but “Anthems…” really takes the top slot for me. It was an important record in my life in my upbringing and learning about Metal and it was one of the albums that I bought with just having seen the album cover and knowing the name of the band, but I went in just, you know, blind I had never, I mean, this is before the internet was really taken over. And so it was, I learned to just go in and just find out if I liked something or not and that was a very integral album, even the first time I heard it, I didn’t really understand what was going on because of the production and the way that the album was written, but over, you know, 15-17 years, whatever, it’s it every time I listened to it I hear something new. So that’s, that’s definitely my top one.


TIBM: It’s my Favourite as well. So, in your album, you are blending fine Melodic Black Metal with Dungeon Synth. What is there in common between these two genres in your opinion?

Otheyn: Yeah,  of course  we use the term Dungeon Synth as a broad umbrella because I think there are so many kinds of Dungeon Synth there are many I mean, in a way I would almost also call it Medieval Ambient or Fantasy Ambient, but Black Metal and Dungeon Synth, of course, as you said, have the tie of Mortiis going back you know even to the early days of the scene, and so they are definitely tied together and there are plenty of Black Metal bands that probably didn’t call it Dungeon Synth, but they utilize Ambient Synthesizer Music within their sound you know I mean, even early Behemoth records have like a keyboard track here and there. You know, it was a pretty common thing in the early 90s, mid-90s to have a keyboard track or a couple of keyboard tracks as interludes or outros or whatever. And I always really enjoyed those parts of Black Metal albums. And I’ve always enjoyed Mortiis. I’ve always enjoyed stuff like Jim Kirkwood, and even like, you know video game soundtracks and stuff like that. And I think they all kind of tie together in the way that they are expressing the same atmosphere. And so even if, you know, a Mortiis album has no guitars on it, you still get the same feeling that you would listen to, for example, as you know, a Sacramentum album or something like that, you know, it gives me the same feeling and so to me, it was a logical extension to combine these things because Symphonic Black Metal in my mind has been kind of overdone to the point where like a lot of modern bands don’t are kind of like focusing too much on the keyboards and not enough on playing a Black Metal song. And so it was important to me to kind of make a band that was it was focused on the guitar and the Black Metal aspect first, but then to incorporate these Dungeon Synth and Symphonic elements in the way that bands back in the 90s did.



Otheyn: That’s a tough one. But I mean, Emperor would be one of them, but I would probably say, Obtained Enslavement. Is one and then… that’s a tough one. There’s so many let’s see. Yeah, probably Dimmu Borgir I’m gonna have to say yeah, it’ll probably be Emperor, Dimmu Borgir, Obtained Enslavement. Those would probably be the top three picks.


TIBM: Fantastic, thanks. Another tough question for you; Which are your 3 favourite American Black Metal bands?

Otheyn: Oh, that’s even harder! I would probably have to put Absu in there. But I’m trying to think I mean, that’s the thing for me is that I’ve never really liked the American Black Metal scene. I think of course there are good bands. I’m not going to talk down on anybody that you know, but I’ve never connected with a lot of the American bands as much because there’s always been something about the European scene. So I mean, yeah, so like to answer your question the asking about the European bands. There are almost too many to make a list of three. But in America, there’s almost not enough to make a list of three. So I mean, I would probably I mean, I would say Absu Yeah, I don’t know. I mean, there are some good bands, but I wouldn’t necessarily say they’re my favorite bands. I mean, Dragonlord is cool. Yeah, I don’t know. It’s, that’s a tough one. I might have to just put give you that.




TIBM: Let’s go to a more philosophical question; what is Black Metal for you?

Otheyn: Here’s the thing. You know, people ask and of course if we had to put Stormkeep under an umbrella. Black Metal makes the most sense but in the truest sense of when it was first created in the early 90s. I would probably say that Stormkeep doesn’t really classify as Black Metal in that way. So I guess it just kind of depends on your own personal perception of what Black Metal is because many people will say, “Oh, you know, Black Metal died in the late 90s”,  You know, it’s whatever it is now is just mainstream, sell out, whatever it is and even the bands that like of course, there are true evil, Black Metal bands, whatever you want to call it, that still go today. But in my mind, it’s more about the approach and the atmosphere and the feeling you know, it’s when you hear it,  what you know, that it’s the real thing. It’s hard to pinpoint in words because it’s such an intangible thing, just a feeling that is not really it’s hard to put into words without actually hearing the music or seeing, obviously to me, the aesthetic is very important to the way it’s presented. And all those things are very crucial to how and what we call Black Metal what it is. So, for me, it’s definitely the Black Metal that I listened to in the Black Metal is important to me, is definitely more in the 90s. You know, probably up into the early 2000s, but mostly the 90s. And that’s really the stuff that has the real atmosphere and has the real feeling. And that’s not to say that any band that’s happening now can’t do that. It’s just what I’ve noticed is that it’s harder to create that mysticism that esoteric feeling, when you can look up the band on the internet, it definitely like changed, how the genre was perceived and of course, many people I mean, I definitely came a little bit after that. But, you know, I found out about Black Metal through, lords of chaos, the book, not the movie and so, there’s a difference now I think, especially with the internet that it’s like, what Black Metal is it’s even harder to pinpoint if it’s actually Black Metal or not now because it’s almost like our collective perception on you know, has kind of infiltrated what Black Metal is. So, for Stormkeep, it was important to me to remove the social media aspect from the band and try to be as close to how things would have been obviously, that’s basically impossible to replicate the feeling of not hearing a band until you buy the album, that sort of thing, but it was important to me to try to maintain that. And one band that I think does that the best these days is a band called Mare from Norway, And I watched them perform in a cave in Norway, and I would say that that was probably the most Black Metal thing I’ve seen in modern times. It was one of the few times that I actually felt like I was watching a real Black Metal band. And that’s, you know, I’ve seen a lot of Black Metal bands, but that was like, one of the first times that I felt like I was experiencing something unique and special, much like what people might have felt at a Mayhem performance in the early 90s or something, which of course, I will never know exactly what that was like.


TIBM: What are you doing in your free time except playing music?

Otheyn: My main vocation at this time is being a musician. So that’s what I spend most of my time doing. But if I have free time, other than that, of course, i enjoy going into nature here in Colorado and spending time with my girlfriend and my cat and all that stuff, but I spend almost every day doing something related to music.


Isaac Faulk


TIBM: Can you share with us your future plans?

Otheyn: Yeah, Stormkeep is a project that I definitely foresee playing and performing live we have done so before, but it will probably be a little while until we actually get to that point. So in the future, I foresee that there will be more recordings, definitely. And, of course, live performances when we can I think our goal is to make it to Europe and perform at some very special and maybe curated festivals. But it is also very important to the band to create a an environment and a special event that is not just at a bar, you know, and so it’ll be important for us to make sure that those performances are taken care of in the right way.


TIBM: All right. So Isaac, I would like to thank you very much for your time and tell us a message to our readers.

Otheyn: Thank you for the chance to talk about Stormkeep.


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