Meet Attan, a genre-bending metal band poised for success

By Dalton Spangler

Attan frontman Remi Semshaug Langseth performs at Fysisk Fest. Photo by Jessie Shiftlett
Attan frontman Remi Semshaug Langseth performs at Fysisk Fest in Oslo, Norway. Photo by Jessie Shiftlett

“The first EP was a lone wolf chomping at your throat. This is like being chased by a pack of wolves and a bulldozer,” explained Attan frontman Remi Semshaug Langseth.

Langseth discussed the differences between the band’s first EP “From Nothing” and their latest, “End of,” scheduled for release on September 7 by acclaimed Oslo label Fysisk Format. It’s a perfect description, if “End of” is anything like their teaser track “The Burning Bush Will Not be Televised.” Blackish, doom-metal Attan bends genres and has no intention of easing its onslaught against established genre barriers.  

In large part, this drastic change in sound between records is thanks to producer, Christian Wibe, who has been going to Attan shows since the very beginning. Bassist and vocalist Fritz-Ragnvald Rimala Pettersen said, “He found tiny little breathers where you could catch your breath. The music is so intense and we really try to make it intense, as well, but sometimes you need to back off just a little bit to keep that intensity going, you know. You need to give people time to breathe just so they’re alive enough to be desperate.” Jokingly he said, “It’s kinda like waterboarding, the occasional air is kind of important for the overall feeling.”

Attan has a truly terrifying range of chaotic sound to work with when it comes to the vocals. Langseth’s higher register provides blackish metal screams while Pettersen’s deeper, gurgly register is more closely related to death metal artists. Attan takes full advantage of this in their songwriting. “We constantly think that we are two instruments. It’s never that I need to be on this because I am me and I want to be the main vocalist of blah, blah, blah. If it suits the song to have just Fritz as vocals, then that’s what we do,” said Langseth.

Their music is heavily influenced by the remote emptiness of the northern wilds of Norway and the darkness that encompasses the country for half of the year. Langseth said, “When you’re surrounded by nature – especially by nature in its rawest forms like the mountains, the ocean, the cold and the darkness – you sort of become a part of nature at its most vicious. A lot of the time with our songs, when I listen to it, it’s like a force of nature.”

Attan maintains an infectious comradery in the band despite the serious nature of their music. “When you’re in a band, there are so many distractions and time spent on ridiculous things and so many conflicts from various ambitions within the group,” Pettersen said.

Langseth continued saying, “On tour as well, I have friends I don’t see that often and I’ll meet them for yearly trips somewhere to drink, have fun and laugh. But this band is like that at band practice and on tour— it’s like a really fun trip, but we just have to play shows.”

Attan bass player Fritz-Ragnvald Rimala Pettersen at Fysisk Fest. Try his famous Satan God Pizza at his bar/restaurant “Vaterland” right outside Grønland T-station. Photo by Jessie Shiftlett

Although the band is hoping for success, they focus on making music they enjoy and not taking a minute of it for granted. Langseth explained, “I never thought of it, actually, but if the band ended right now I’d still think it was worth it. We had good fun and it’s not like we didn’t reach a goal so it was wasted.”

Pettersen is philosophical about the band. “There are so many people I know that have been in bands for 15 years and they feel like it’s a waste after because they were always focusing on what they couldn’t get. There’s always gonna be another level you want to reach but if that’s the only purpose of being in the band why do it? You’re going to have to be Metallica.”