Mike Wilson (bass/vocals): Tim came up with the original idea for the band. He suggested that we start a folk metal band that focuses primarily on violins. We started around May of 2014 when we brought on Nick and Miles. Tim, Nick, and I worked on the first three songs which really defined our sound.
Tim Regan (guitar/vocals): PaganFest had just come through, and I was inspired to start my own folk metal band having just seen WINTERHYMN. They are proof that Americans can make some great folk metal. So I put up a few ads and got immediate responses. Clearly I wasn’t the only one who thought this could work. Nick and Miles both responded to the ad, and both of them are impressive violinists. Instead of choosing between the two, we just brought them both on board. The first couple times the band got together, we played “In My Sword I Trust” by ENSIFERUM, but we replaced the two lead guitar parts with violins. It sounded amazing, so that really shaped the songwriting for ISENMOR.
2.Recently you have released an ep, how would you describe the musical sound that is presented on the recording?
Nick Schneider (violin/vocals): I guess best way to describe it is as a melodic sort of folk metal of the more serious type. We like to use lots of harmonies with multiple instruments and vocals working together. We go back and forth between harsh and clean vocals, so there is plenty of aggression, but it is tempered with cleaner, often melancholy passages.
3.What are some of the lyrical topics and subjects the band explores with the music?
NS: Like any good folk metal band, we have lyrics that cover battle, death, drinking and Germanic history and Mythology. We have put a special emphasis on historical accuracy and referring to the original source manuscripts for reference (like the Eddas, Tacitus' 'Germania' etc.) We try to cover all Germanic dark age peoples instead of just vikings (as many do), but since there is so much lore about vikings they are hard to avoid. We try our best to include themes in our songs that are still relatable to a modern listener, and try to avoid being corny as much as possible.
4.What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name 'Isenmor'?
NS: Isenmor is a compound of the Old English words Isen (Iron) and Mor (moor in modern English, also translates as wasteland). We thought the meaning "Iron Wasteland" evoked the idea of the aftermath of a battle, a wasteland of broken blades, cleaved helms and hewn mail among the dead and dying. On top of that we felt the name by itself sounded very cool and catchy to us. We went with an Old English as a way of connecting to the dark ages in a way that relates to us being from an English-founded country.
5.What are some of the best shows that the band has played so far and also how would you describe your stage performance?
NS: Our best show so far had to be our most recent one at the Ottobar in Baltimore, MD back in March. We got a great response from the crowd and we played with a lot of energy. Our live performances include a decent amount of historical props and imagery. Since we have a range of fast and slow songs, we try to start strong, bring it down for a bit with some of our somber pieces, and then build back up and end in a frenzy.
6.Do you have any touring or show plans for the future?
NS: The release party for our EP is June 19th at Club Orpheus in Baltimore. That'll be your chance to pick-up the EP a couple days early! We'll also be playing Pocono Folk Metal Fest August 1st and Maryland Folk Fest August 22nd. We haven't got any plans to tour in place at the moment, but we'd like to start playing outside our local area somewhat soon.
TR: We do have some opening slots for some larger folk/pagan bands that we have not yet announced coming up this year as well.
7.Currently you are unsigned, are you looking for a label or have received any interest?
NS: We are not actively looking for a label at this point, but we'd be willing to review an offer if anyone is interested in us.
8.On a worldwide level how has the feedback been to your music by fans of folk metal?
NS: So far, all the feedback we have gotten has been great. We haven't reached too many people yet, but the reviews we've gotten on our EP so far have been even better than we were hoping for.
MW: We're pretty young yet, but so far the feedback for our music has been really positive. We've gotten some pretty good reviews by a few online zines. We're pretty stoked about it!
9.When can we expect a full length album and also where do you see the band heading into musically during the future?
NS: We have about half of the material for a full length written already, and at the rate we're going we expect to have writing done by this Autumn. Assuming none of our members die in battle, you should expect a full length consisting of entirely new material in mid-late 2016.
10.What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?
NS: Our main influences include Týr, Heidevolk, Eluveitie, and Ensiferum. We've all got a pretty broad and varying taste in metal, and we bring varying ideas from all kinds of subgenres to our music.
TR: Aside from the ones Nick listed, lately I’ve been into Falkenbach’s Asa, Blind Guardian’s new album, Iced Earth’s Plagues of Babylon, and the new Nightwish.
MW: As for myself, I've recently been hooked on Devin Townsend and Green Carnation.
11.Does paganism play any role in your music?
NS: We certainly take the pagan religions of the pre-christian Germanic peoples as an inspiration for the music, theme and imagery of our band, and we do our best to represent them as accurately as possible as they appear in the historical record. We do this, however, as a point of historic interest; no one in our band is a practitioner of any reconstructed or made up modern pagan religion.
12.What are some of your non musical interests?
MW: This isn't very in line with folk metal, but I'm a huge tech geek. I'm a software engineer for a living and I play a ton of video games. I love to play with new tech gadgets.
TR: My wife Jenny and I just had a daughter named Arya. If I’m not at work or playing music, I’m being covered in some sort of fluid courtesy of my baby. Though I don’t suppose qualifies as an “interest,” so let’s just say ice hockey, the most metal of all sports.
13.Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?
NS: We hope everyone enjoys the EP!
MW: Thanks for having us. We're looking forward to playing live and working toward the first full length!
TR: Grab our Land of the Setting Sun EP wherever it is you get music (iTunes, Amazon, Bandcamp, Spotify, etc. -- it should be there starting June 21, 2015). Have a drink and spread the word!