From distant Iceland, an island with no more than 300 thousand inhabitants but with landscapes that seem to be taken from another world, the band Ophidian I comes to us. Founded in 2010, the band is currently made up of the members of Helfró, Ragnar Sverrisson (Azoic) on drums and H Símon Þórólfsson on guitars. They are joined by John Olgeirsson (ex-Lord of War) on vocals, Þórður Hermannsson (Lightspeed Legend) on bass and Daníel Máni Konráðsson (Azoic, Malignant Mist) on guitars. The band has to date a demo from 2011 and a studio album "Solvet Saeclum" (2012) so this would be their second album and breaks a 9-year silence, with a renewed line-up and a more refined sound compared to the one. debut, something we can see from the new logo and the excellent cover of Eliran Kantor. Because of the release of "Desolate", we had the chance to ask the band some questions about this new album and the Metal Scene in Iceland.

Lee la entrevista en castellano aquí: Entrevista a Ophidian I

DARGEDIK: First of all, thank you for taking the time to answer these questions. We are Dargedik Webzine from Latin America. How are you? And how is the situation in Iceland considering the pandemic that we still have in many countries?

OPHIDIAN I: Thank you as well for taking interest in the band! We are doing quite well at the moment. Most restrictions have been lifted and about 80% have already been vaccinated. Therefore, life is slowly getting back to normal these days and it’s shaping up to be a lovely summer - all things considered. While Iceland definitely had its fair share of difficulties due to COVID, we were still a lot better off than many other countries in the world so we can’t really complain. Things have been pretty good, for the most part!

DARGEDIK: On July 16th, Ophidian I is releasing its second album “Desolate”. I can see that it took around 9 years for you to release another album. Why did it take so long? Also, what are the differences between this new album and “Solvet Saeclum” (2012)?

OPHIDIAN I: Not long after releasing the previous album the band went on hiatus (minus a few chosen shows here and there). The members went on to work on different projects and each member was able to sharpen his individual skills while working on other music. As our interest in technical music was always there, after a few years had passed we decided to start the band anew with a different set of members, material and concept. We got together and found we were all on the same page musically and shared a common goal in our musical careers. We quickly started to spend our days in our rehearsal space and work on the interplay between us and new material. After becoming content with the state, sound and material we went into the studio to record the 10 songs that were to become ‘Desolate’.

The previous iteration of the band has little to nothing in common with the current one. Both are very tech oriented, but the sound, songs and feel of the band is completely different. We ourselves view ‘Desolate’ as the beginning of a new band essentially.

DARGEDIK: Now, this is your first album with Season of Mist. How are you feeling about working with this label? 

OPHIDIAN I: It has been an absolute pleasure to work with them so far, and we look forward to continuing our work with them. Season Of Mist has an awesome team backing us up so we couldn’t be happier.

Releasing our music on a full-fledged label like Season of Mist we consider to be crucial in an effort to get our music out with as much spread as possible.

DARGEDIK: Let’s talk about your sound in “Desolate”! I listened to the album, and it simply blew me away! I like the way you made the songs very technical but without losing the sense of melody and emotions. So, we can say that these merciless attacks of riffs, solos, voice, drums, sound coherent which is an aspect that I appreciate a lot. How was the process of composition in order to achieve this sound? What are your main influences for your music and lyrics, of course?

OPHIDIAN I: That’s awesome to hear. Thank you!

Yes, those attributes are all very intentional and were all part of the idea that brought us together initially. We wanted to make very technical and brutal music, but garner all our attention to the songwriting aspect. We were looking to build a very dense world of sound that is very coherent and pleasing to listen to. Effectively traditionally arranged songs that rely on hooks and harmony as the focal point throughout each song. Fully realizing the songs this way gives them way more character and makes the soundscape into an even bigger environment. We then wanted to use our technical traits as methods of getting even further with that goal; even more melodic, hookier, brutal, epic.. We spent a lot of time working on the songs and material as we had decided to make no compromises when it came to our feelings towards the material. We wanted to go into the recording process with material we felt was strong in all aspects, regardless of the medium it’d be delivered.

As for influences we mainly were looking to our initial idea and concept for inspiration during the making of the album. However, as our abilities all build on top of our knowledge and individual tastes in music you could of course say our influences unknowingly play their roles. Our influences range from the tech death bands that have ruled that genre over the years, Necrophagist, Spawn of Possession, Psycroptic as well as bands and artists from various other styles such as The Smashing Pumpkins and Charlie Parker.

By using more traditional methods when writing the album, we were able to unlock many different sounds that are generally not heard in the genre. After fine-tuning our sound, we were able to directly apply ideas and influences from the whole musical spectrum. This was very liberating to do and felt like coming full circle as we are musicians that have played all sorts of music over the years.

DARGEDIK: In my opinion, this is the case when a good album is reflected on its cover art. What can you tell us about the cover art in this new album?

OPHIDIAN I: The cover art by Eliran Kantor came out fantastic. The idea was basically to mirror the world we’ve built in the lyrics. 

Most of the lyrics are matters of personal nature that are conveyed through the use of allegories. Many of them set among the harsher lands of a world not unsimilar to the one we recognize here in Iceland. The trials and hardships that come with maneuvering across such lands are paralleled in our personal difficulties as well as the sound of the band. We feel the band sounds very Icelandic (although that wasn’t really intentional), so we wanted to embrace that aspect of ourselves also.

DARGEDIK: After the releasing of “Desolate”. What’s next? What are your plans for Ophidian I? Are there chances for touring? Any streaming event?

OPHIDIAN I: At the moment we have planned to follow-up with the album digitally as much as possible. We have a lot of content and materials both done and, in the making, so you’ll start to see a lot more of us in the coming months. Once physical shows are possible, we’ll definitely be bringing ‘Desolate’ to where we can. 

There are no streaming events planned at this time I’m afraid.

DARGEDIK: I am curious about the Metal Scene in Iceland. How is it? I had the chance to listen to great albums released in the last years by Helfró, Cult of Lilith, Auðn and of course Sólstafir. Is this the best period for Metal in Iceland?

OPHIDIAN I: Yes, I would definitely say so. In the early 90’s there was a pretty booming death metal scene, but that didn’t really translate to other parts of the world. Iceland is now a force to be reckoned with in metal circles across the globe. We have artists in most subgenres whom are making and delivering world-class music. This current era is absolutely the best period in my lifetime when it comes to music in Iceland as the recognition that Icelandic bands are getting is incredible. That being said, it is very deserved. Iceland really has been churning out some quality bands and artists these last 10 years or so, so the interest and recognition is fully backed.

Hopefully this scene that’s being built will stick around and become a staple both domestically as well as globally.

DARGEDIK: Before we finish. Anything you want to say to your Latin-Americans fans?

OPHIDIAN I: We have a lot of materials and content that’ll be online soon so be sure to follow our socials for all things Ophidian I.

We would love to visit your part of the world someday for shows and to see all the incredible sights I know you have to offer. See you one day! 

DARGEDIK: Thank you very much for this interview and congratulations for the new album!

OPHIDIAN I: Thank you!

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