The four-piece, Oslo-based act Oberst started embarking on a continuous sonic journey in 2015. Initially formed out of mutual love and passion for music, the quartet then found common interest in bands like Mastodon, Baroness, Converge, and Cult of Luna. Their music is mostly a combination between hardcore, post-metal, and progressive metal, strongly characterized by atmospheric riffs and intense vocals resulting in captivating resonances.
Having received critical acclaim on their self-titled debut EP, the band has received a lot of media coverage as well such as being featured on the Norwegian TV series Unge Lovende and having their EP played by the Norwegian national radio.
They had just released a new single “Invisible Hands”, which would be a part of their upcoming album “Toil”. The album is a result of three years of hard work, which delivers the purest form of sounds that transcend the boundaries of traditional rock and metal.
Contributing writer Ralka Skjerseth, on behalf of the Ghost Cult editorial team, had the chance to conduct an interview with Oberst this time, covering a lot of topics ranging from experiences in shows, favorite influences, to songwriting journey.
RS: Hi, Oberst! Congrats on the release of “Invisible Hands”. I’m actually looking forward to the release of your debut album which I heard would be out via Indie Recordings. Can you tell me the main premise of what the album is all about?
Thank you! We’re looking forward to releasing it as well, it’s been a long time coming.
‘Toil’ is – in short – our rage outward towards the sorry state of the human condition. Be it things like oppression, stagnation, hate, and all the despicable things we humans do to each other. But the album is also an expression of some of the band members dealing with real depression, and how very hard life can be. In writing the album, we kind of mistook our own rage outwards as just that, rage outwards. But in fact the whole album is birthed in a pretty extreme and negative inward state. We’ll talk more about it when we release the album though!
RS: Indie Recordings is actually one of my favorite labels to note, featuring releases from notable acts such as Kvelertak, Wardruna, and Enslaved. Do you have any favorite releases from the label?
Dennis: We agree, it’s a great label, and it’s pretty surreal to be on the roster ourselves! Some of my favorite albums:
– Kvelertak – “Kvelertak”
– Purified in Blood – “Flight of a Dying Sun”
– Cult of Luna – “Vertikal”
– Shining – “Blackjazz”
– Vak – “The Islands”. Great melodic and progressive sludge stuff.
– Blomst – “Blomst IL + ekstraomgang”. Very catchy rock.
– Addiktio – “Anthem of the year 2020”. Really cool progressive instrumental music. Reminiscent of old Shining stuff at times, like the album ‘Grindstone’.
RS: You named Converge as one of your musical influences. Do you, again, happen to have any favorite rosters from Deathwish Inc?
Dennis: Deafheaven, Oathbreaker, Doomriders and Touché Amoré are great.
Johan: Doomriders and Oathbreaker for me too. Drinking beer and listening to Doomriders is never wrong. Cult Leader’s ‘A Patient Man’, and Birds in Row’s ‘We Already Lost the World’ are also fantastic albums.
Tarjei: I love Umbrae Vitae. Also Birds in Row!
RS: As a fan of Baroness, you probably are familiar with the fact that John Dyer Baizley is also a visual artist (who has worked for fellow Norwegians Kvelertak in terms of album art). Are you familiar with his visual works as well?
Johan: We’ve been fans of John’s work for a long time actually! We’ve even considered contacting him for doing artwork on our own releases, but I bet we figured the line would be very long, hehe. And we also know great artists here in Oslo, so.
John’s art has an extremely strong identity, and I bet there aren’t many fans of metal that don’t recognise his stuff at this point. Lush and soft art-nouveau-esque stuff combined with more ‘metal’ and hard hitting themes. What’s not to like? Fits his style of music as well, the guy is a pretty complete artist.
RS: Do you have any favorite show experiences? If you do, with whom/supporting whom?
Dennis: We really enjoyed playing Summer Breeze Open air last summer! We played there with some awesome bands from the Indie Recordings roster. Vak, Eradicated and Vorbid.
Great gigs I’ve been to:
Baroness in Stockholm 2012. We met the band, which was great. Great guys.
Feed The Rhino (support)+ Gallows John Dee, Oslo 2012.
Russian Circles (support) + Mastodon, Hollywood Palladium 2017
Johan: Agree with Dennis on the Gallows and Feed The Rhino– gig at John Dee in 2012. We all lost it completely and headbanged our heads off. Especially at Feed The Rhino, what a hard hitting live band.
The first time I saw Mastodon, in 2006, was also pretty unforgettable.
My favorite types of gigs are gigs where I get to sit down though, at the local jazz venue here in Oslo. Getting old you know.
As far as our own gigs, Summer Breeze was awesome, and a little scary. And the release gig for our first album ‘Paradise’ at Vaterland in Oslo was great.
RS: Who would be the visual artist whose artwork you would like to have on your future album covers, if there is any?
Johan: Mu Pan, who did this coming album, is truly an amazing artist, and I think we’d hire him again if we got the chance. His work is both brutal and beautiful, and has a huge scope. Others I like that I feel fit our music are Johannes Brander, Joe Becker, Allison Schulnik and Albin Siggeson.
Dennis: Agreed on Mu Pan. Also Robert Høyem, a great Norwegian designer, illustrator and artist. Really elegant stuff.
RS: And what series/film would you like your music to be featured on in the future, if there is any?
Johan: I don’t think I’ve thought about that very much. But I do know that I can’t wait to watch ‘Mad Max: Furiosa’ this year. Some harsh hardcore/metal would probably suit that universe.
Tarjei: We’re pretty inspired by the visual vibe of the Fargo movie and series, and we’ve been using it as a reference for some of our own visual content as of late. But I think an episode of Fargo with our music in it would be pretty weird, hehe.
RS: Last question: Crack the Skye or Leviathan?
Dennis: Crack The Skye!
Joakim: Actually not that into Mastodon!
Thank you for the time and the correspondence, Oberst!