Archive for Iceland

The Vintage Caravan confirm UK dates

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , on 10th December 2013 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Iceland’s answer to the likes of Black Sabbath and Led Zeplin, The Vintage Caravan, are finally making their way across the oceans to introduce the UK to their own brand of riffs. And bunny-licking. The three Icelandic youngsters, who are aged 19, 19 and 20, will be touring as support to Grand Magus, in March next year. Their debut album Voyage will be released via Nuclear Blast in January 2014. Bassist Alex comments:

We are so incredibly excited to finally be touring the UK with a great band like Grand Magus, meeting British people, drinking British ales. This is going to be one hell of a trip!

There has been a huge resurgence of ‘retro rock’ over the last few years, but these boys have explored a path that no one else has found yet. Youth is on their side, they have drawn musical influences from the greats of our generation and added to them their acid laced, trippy lyrics, relatable to the silly side that’s hopefully still in all of us. If not, these guys will certainly help you find it!

Tour dates are as follow:

March 12th – Manchester, Sound Control www.seetickets.com
March 13th – Dublin, Voodoo Lounge www.ticketmaster.ie
March 15th – Wolverhampton, Slade Rooms – www.tickets.com
March 16th – London, The Underworld – www.seetickets.com

The Vintage Caravan online:

http://www.facebook.com/vintagecaravan

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Icelandic psychedelic rockers The Vintage Caravan release video for Midnight Meditation

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , on 27th November 2013 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Icelandic psychedelic rockers The Vintage caravan recently unveiled the video for their new single Midnight Meditation, which is taken from their forthcoming album Voyage. The trippy video offers an insight into the band’s sound. The new album, Voyage, is set for release on 13th January via Nuclear Blast. The video can be viewed below.

The Vintage Caravan online:

http://facebook.com/vintagecaravan

 

Interview with Þráinn Árni Baldvinsson and Jón Geir Jóhannsson [Skálmöld]

Posted in Interview with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 23rd October 2013 by vmteam

Shuffling over to the other side of the greenroom, Jon tiptoed in amidst laptops, assorted wires and beer cans to sit next to Þráinn Árni Baldvinsson (pronounced ‘throw-an’), lead guitarist for Skálmöld, and drummer/vocalist Jón Geir Jóhannsson. The majority of Skálmöld are vocalists themselves, and their sound is an atmospheric blend of death metal with traditional Icelandic melodies and time signatures, featuring epic lyrical sagas about the Norse gods and historical wars. For fans of Tyr, Skálmöld is a perfect opener, and throughout the tour this relatively unheard of band has impressed the European masses.

Jon: Have you been to England before? I swear I’ve seen you once before here.

Þráinn: Yes! We played here once before in 2011 on the… Heidenfest tour I think it was. In the HMV Forum. Absolutely awesome- probably one of my favourite shows ever.

Jon: How do you find fans in England, are we crazy?

Jón: Oh yes, they were crazy then!

Þráinn: At that concert they were absolutely amazing, yeah- and the Forum has a lot of history as well. All of the bands play there, so personally we were really excited to get to play there as well. Before the show we got together and just said ‘let’s do this just for us’. Our intro started, and the whole place erupted – we were like ‘What?’ Nobody knew who we were. The crowd was amazing. Probably one of my favourite gigs ever, and I mean that.

Jon: I know a lot of bands say places like Mexico or Japan are awesome, but no one ever says England.

Jón: Well, we’ve never played Mexico or Japan before! We have a fanclub in Mexico, though. But, uh, we can actually tell you that in Italy, Hungary and Romania, the fans are pretty awesome – the bassist from Týr is coming into our interview!

Gunnar: Hi!

Jon: You’ve already said your piece about the new album and now Týr don’t have a singer because of it!

Þráinn: Did you talk about our new album?

Gunnar: Of course we did! You’re so rude!

Þráinn: So as we said, yes in Italy, Hungary and Romania, fans are really crazy – Italy have the greatest fans ever, man. But that particular show back at the Forum was great.

Jon: Now you use Icelandic poetic structure in your songs. Is this hard to stick to or do you prefer to structure your lyrics like that?

Jón: We prefer to use it. Our bass player who writes all the lyrics is a bit of a poetic nerd in a way. In some ways it’s more like mathematical problems, because you have to put certain letters at certain places and have rhymes at certain places, so it’s kinda like a linguistic Rubik cube that you have to solve. So it’s a challenge. And because of those rules, it’s more rhythmical. You say sounds at similar intervals, it’s easier to sing, and for people who don’t speak Icelandic, it’s like listening to an instrument. When we signed to Napalm Records, some people asked ‘are you going to sing in English?’ And we said ‘no way!’ Of course we were going to stick to our native language. In our songs we have an English story which you can follow as you listen to the lyrics.

Jon: Your latest album Börn Loka

Þráinn: Yes, Children of Loki!

Jon: Why did you choose to write about this concept?

Þráinn: Basically we had an idea

Jon: Because he’s cool? [Editor’s note: Loki is not cool – Vidar is though]

Þráinn: Yes but don’t connect this with the Marvel thing! Basically we had three ideas, all the ideas were about two children travelling, and in the end our bass player had the idea of naming them after two of our kids…

Jón: We think the Children of Loki are really cool characters, and they are part of our Icelandic heritage, part of the old Nordic religion – mainly they’re just really cool characters. Especially the three famous ones: Hel, Fenrir and Miðgarðsormur. So, it’s a fictional story but we take parts of the old mythology and sagas and squeeze them in, but with different main characters.

Þráinn: We grew up with this; this is normal stuff when you’re growing up.

Jón: You learn about it in school, in kindergarten. It’s something children are taught as a part of their cultural history – you learn about where you’re from and as part of what your ancestors believed – not, like, ‘you have to believe in Odin’, but as cool stories.

Þráinn: But we didn’t have to make this cool, because ninety percent of everyone back home respects their history and thinks it’s quite cool anyway. We actually have kids wearing our t-shirts with our logos on, singing our songs in kindergartens.

Jon: That’s amazing!

Þráinn: Yeah, but I would have thought that kids in the UK would listen to Iron Maiden songs in kindergarten…

Jon: If only!

Þráinn: I thought you would be singing about Alexander the Great or Invaders or something!

Jon: If only we did! I think that should definitely be on the curriculum. I know you started off as Týr did, using folk music blended in with metal – do you still use that concept now?

Jón: When we started the band, the original idea was to have it a bit more folky than it turned out. In the first rehearsals, Baldur our guitar played flutes and mandolins and stuff, and then it kinda didn’t sound right, so he began to play the electric guitar as well. Today, we’re just playing heavy metal.

Þráinn: We don’t really think that we have to be ‘this type’ of metal, like folk metal. It just happens. For me, we’re just another Iron Maiden cover band!

Jon: I’m really interested in Norse mythology, but I’m really lazy and I don’t read at all. Could you recommend any reading that fans of Nordic metal can pick up to learn more about the history?

Þráinn: You have to read from the Völuspá and the Eddas, the beginning of the universe according to Nordic mythology. And then I think you should go into the old Icelandic sagas and the stories of the settlers. That’s awesome and brutal.

Jón: A bunch of people killing each other all the time.

Þráinn: Everyone who is alive today in the Western world is a pussy compared to the guys who were originally Icelandic settlers.

Jon: One day I promise you I’ll read the Eddas.

Jón: Do it! That’s basically where it all comes from.

Jon: Obviously I was interviewing Týr over there, and I asked them to teach me something in Faroese. Could you teach me something nice in Icelandic? Because Terji taught me some words that I couldn’t really say to anyone.

Þráinn: If you wanted to say something nice, to a beautiful girl or something, then you can say ‘falleg’, which means beautiful. You can also say ‘þú ert falleg’- you are beautiful.

Jon: What’s next for the band? Börn Loka was released last October, so have you started any further work?

Þráinn: We have started to write… It will be the best album ever! Our next task after we finish his tour is to do a couple of gigs with the Icelandic symphonic orchestra- we’re doing both of our albums and three shows that are sold out in a huge auditorium – 1800 seats!

Jón: So that’s going to be a lot of work, and hopefully we’re going to release that as a DVD. Hopefully it will be released just before Christmas; we’re doing the gigs in November.

Þráinn: And then we have theatre work!

Jón: We basically have December, January and February off, and then we’re going to start rehearsing to make our first album into a live theatre production: there’ll be actors and re-enactments on the stage of the stories in between the songs, and hopefully we’ll record an album next summer!

Jon: I love everything you’re doing- so many bands get stuck in a rut of recording an album and then going out on tour, and it seems like you’re really creatively branching out. Thanks – I think that’s everything!

Jón: They better bloody well start teaching Iron Maiden songs in kindergarten!

Skálmöld online:

http://www.skalmold.is
http://facebook.com/skalmold

Finntroll w/Support @ The Garage, London

Posted in Gig, Live with tags , , , , , , , , , on 21st October 2013 by vmteam

Týr, Skálmöld and Finntroll
The Garage, London
6th October 2013

I first started listening to Finntroll when I was 15. My mum took me to a Heidenfest show for my 16th birthday, and I guess you can say that was my slow descent into the underworld of folk metal.

The line-up tonight is one I’ve been excited about for a long time, and one that personally I think fits very nicely together: Skálmöld from Iceland with their melodic, relentless chug you can bounce around to singing in ancient Icelandic poetic metre; Týr showcasing their new venture Valkyrja, an album-worth of fast, genre defying metal; and the legendary Finntroll, revered in folk metal circles from Mexico to Australia. Their new album Blodsvept was released in March this year, and it follows on from the dark-carnival Danny Elfman-cum-black metal Nifelvind. Blodsvept is no less eclectic: surprise kazoos and banjos mix in with brutal guitars and lead troll Vreth’s rich vocals. Always ready for a party when these guys are involved, I prepared myself for mayhem.

From seeing them again on this tour, Skálmöld, who open for us, receives a warm welcome from the audience. Despite only having 30 minutes, the band makes a distinct and explosive impression. Featuring mostly songs from their new album Börn Loka (Children of Loki), Skálmöld  open with the grinding and dark Fenrisúlfur, before keyboard anthem Gleipnir thunders out to a rapturous reception. The much more synthetically folky song, Kvaðning, and the only song from 2011 debut album “Baldur”, ends their stay on stage- and the crowd are left gasping and chanting for more. [4/5]

“Are you ready for Týr?” Skálmöld lead singer Björgvin screams. ‘Ready’ is a brilliant understatement; Týr is arguably my favourite band of the evening, and since seeing them in York, I’ve waited for them to tour again anxiously. The lights dim after a few moments, and their set begins slowly, the red haze overhead throbbing until the clash of the mighty crowd-pleaser Hold the Heathen Hammer High leads to the band striding on stage. The setlist has changed very little over the tour; however, Heathen Hammer and scream-along Valkyrja single Blood of Heroes have remained constant, one after the other whipping up the crowd. I may have nudged lead singer Heri Joensen into performing my favourite track off the new album live, and being the gentleman he is, he doesn’t disappoint- and even manages to make Lady of the Slain better than it is on the album, galloping along with neck-breaking speed, and providing my favourite track that evening- even with the prog-metal magic of Sinklars Vísa. An acquired taste for some, Týr have been consistently good every time I’ve seen them, and with this performance at The Garage they cement themselves as a must-see. [5/5]

After a half-hour wait at the bar, pressed arse-to-chest with strangers like sardines in a net, I break free and run to the front as the Blodsvept starts, the crowd surging forward as the all-too familiar forms of Finntroll– steampunk-clad and pointy-eared- take the stage and bear down over us in glee. After a punchy start, dressed to impress and lapping up the energy, they begin Nifelvind opener Solsagan, evil to the core. The combination of songs from all of Finntroll’s manifestations smash the misconception that Finntroll is just a ‘fun’ gimmick band. They switch alternatively between crunching black metal dug up from the darkest depths of the earth and jumpy dance favourites like En Mäktig Här, famous for steel-pan snyths, and the jig-inducing Under Bergets Rot. Finntroll leave no room to catch a break, and a few songs in the room is stifling, with smiles plastered on drenched faces. Catching sight of flashes of bare chest, Vreth refers to those in the middle fondly as ‘those naked guys’, before calling for an even bigger moshpit. At their last UK gig, Finntroll made sure some oldies were on the list- and they seemed surprised at how much their back catalogue was appreciated. Knowing that we like them, Svartberg makes a comeback with much arm waving and swaying, and Jaktens Tid itself with its added joking is forever a firm favourite, starting snakes of conga lines around the venue.

Lest I die an early death from heat exhaustion, I leave before what I’m sure is Trollhammaren evidently shutting the place down. I consider myself now a Finntroll veteran, but this is a gig I will fondly remember as being one of their best. The crowd was ecstatic for all bands, and funnily enough for an easily-annoyed bastard, the pit was a fun, sweaty, elating experience. [4/5]

If you’re looking for a good time when this assortment of mythological creatures and long-departed warriors trample through the UK, you’d better go and see them. And if you’re staunchly ‘too cool’ for dress-ups, heroics or swords and sorcery, you’re missing out on an awesome time.

Jon Geirson

Fortid founding member issues statement about upcoming album and other projects

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , on 6th July 2013 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Einar Thorberg, the founding member and frontman of Norwegian Extreme Pagan Metallers Fortid has issued an update on the progress of the band’s fifth full-length album.

“The drums have been finalised, and we’re well into the pre-production stage and happy with the way things are progressing.  With this album I didn’t want to make a repeat of 2012’s Pagan Prophecies or any of our other albums come to that, so there will be more diversity in tempo, and maybe even an occasional flirtation with pop/rock, but not enough to upset our fans.  The lyrical concept of the album deals with the quest for knowledge and a deeper understanding of oneself and the universe through Nordic tradition and the story of Odin.  The lyrics will be in Icelandic, which is my mother tongue and allows me to express myself more personally and deeply than I could in any other language.

Thorberg formed Fortid in Iceland in 2002, essentially as a solo project, and released the first two parts of the Völuspá Trilogy, the full-length albums Thor’s Anger and The Arrival of Fenris, before moving to Norway and releasing the third part, Fall of the Ages.  By this time Fortid had a permanent line-up which today includes Thorberg on guitars and vocals, Øystein Hansen (ex-Thornbound) on guitars, Rikard Jonsson (Forcefed Horsehad, ex-Deject) on bass and Daniel Theobald (Curse, Den Saakaldte, Etherial Forest, Sarkom) on drums.

As well as Fortid, Thorberg has a number of other projects he is involved in, one of them being Midnattsvrede which has largely remained dormant since 1994, but is now active again, and set to release a split album with another of his projects, CurseMidnattsvrede’s contribution will be 4 tracks, one of which will be a cover of Ved Buens Ende’s Carrier of Wounds, a song that Thorberg is particularly excited about, having laid the groundwork for it back in 2007.  As he explains:

Finally the piece is going to come to light, and we’ll be interpreting it in a whole different way.  The track blends perfectly with Midnattsvrede’s own material and if you know VBE you’ll get some kind of idea of what to expect – but only partly!

Curse’s contribution will be one very long song which is divided into four separate tracks dealing with a blend of philosophy and science. It won’t be in the Black ‘n Roll style of Curse’s last album, but will hark back to the more atmospheric style that the band used on the split with Skydom.

In July, Thorberg will hit the stage at the Eistnaflug Music Festival in Reykjavík, Iceland, with Potentiam, the band that he fondly refers to as “the slowest working band there is”.  Despite this, after 16 years Potentiam is still going strong, with drums and half the guitars already recorded on what will be the band’s fourth full-length album which will feature eight tracks in the gloom-laden style for which Potentiam is known.

If Fortid and three other projects were not enough, Thorberg has also finished recording an album with Gudmundur Óli Pálmason from Sólstafir for Unknown Circle, a band he calls his new “experimental pet project”.   No decision has yet been taken as to how to proceed with Unknown Circle, but the album is ready and waiting.

Fortid online:

http://www.facebook.com/fortid
http://www.youtube.com/FortidNorway
http://soundcloud.com/fortid
http://fortid.bigcartel.com/
http://www.reverbnation.com/fortid

 

Fortid begins work on fifth studio album

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on 5th May 2013 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Extreme pagan metallers Fortid have begun work on what will be the band’s fifth full-length album.  Recording is set to take place in the early summer, and, whilst not wanting to give too much away, the band have revealed that all the lyrics for the album will be in Icelandic and that they already have a lot of material, more so than for previous albums.  The as yet untitled album will be the follow up to 2012’s much lauded Pagan Prophecies.

Formed in Iceland in 2002 by Einar Thorberg as a solo project, Fortid’s reputation was firmly established following the release of three full-length albums. Collectively known as the Völuspá Trilogy, the three albums, Thor’s Anger, The Arrival of Fenris and Fall of the Ages, were released between 2002 and 2010. Between the release of the second and third parts of the Trilogy, Thorberg moved to Norway where he recruited a permanent line up and Fortid became a fully functioning studio and live band.   Aside from Thorberg on guitars and vocals Fortid’s current lineup includes Øystein Hansen (ex-Thornbound) on guitars, Rikard Jonsson (Forsefed Horsehead, ex-Deject) on bass and Daniel Theobald (Curse, Den Saakaldte, Etherial Forest, Sarkom) on drums.

Fortid is set to play the remaining three dates of the Northern Darkness Tour in May along with Sweden’s Gra and Finland’s Antagonist Zero.  Dates as follows:

Thu 09 May, PRKL Club, Helsinki, Finland
FRI 10 May, Taidetehdas, Porvoo, Finland
Sat 11 May, Club Tapper, Tallinn, Estonia

Fortid online:

https://www.facebook.com/fortid
https://www.youtube.com/FortidNorway
https://soundcloud.com/fortid
http://fortid.bigcartel.com/
http://www.myspace.com/fortidofficial
http://www.reverbnation.com/fortid

 

Skálmöld – Börn Loka

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , on 28th October 2012 by underthenorthernstar

Skálmöld
Börn Loka
Released: October 26th
Folk Metal
Napalm Records

Skálmöld, the Icelandic folk metal band, have just released their second album, Börn Loka, following the critically acclaimed Baldur of 2010. They’re an interesting band; instead of dressing up in furs and kilts, like a huge margin of the Folk/Viking/Pagan metal scene do, they play in the guise of unassuming, smartly-dressed guys, who just happen to be playing songs about Vikings. They are unique, especially in this particular scene.

Well, this album. It’s pretty impressive how different Skálmöld manage to sound without actually differing too much from the archetypical Viking Metal sound; they sound somewhat… bigger. The album doesn’t often branch out into the realms of the 9 or 10 minute song (Only the epic closer, Loki, does this), nor does it feature huge orchestration. It does, however, feature 3 guitarists and 4 members who regularly do vocals, with (the fantastically named) Björgvin Sigurðsson being the main vocalist – not to mention a keyboard player, who often uses choir or even Hammond organ (such as on Gleipnir) to boost the sound’s vastness.  It’s really immersive without being pretentious, or, indeed, very slow.

As for musicianship, the band members are absolutely splendid musicians. It was a joy to listen to these songs, it made think about what was going on, while carrying me through the story of the album effortlessly. A folk melody here, a vast choral passage there, a thrash riff thrown in for good measure… there are many twists and turns on this album, which, instead of making the album inconsistent, seems entirely appropriate.  Another thing that the listener should be acutely aware of is the flawless production; the album sounds clean, but also organic, in the sense that there feels like the album has not been meddled with using technical studio wizardry. The mix is good too, nothing feels lacking, nor anything overbearing.

Overall, damn good. It’s just a shame that the album came out at the same time as the colossally hyped new Wintersun album (admittedly a fantastic album, but nonetheless), as it is unlikely to get the attention it very much deserves. I’d advocate the listening of this album very highly; Folk Metal done seriously, done without cheese, done (dare I say it) right.

4.7/5
Alasdair “Scotch Egg” Dunn