Archive for Norse mythology

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

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Interview with Erik Grawsiö (Månegarm)

Posted in Interview with tags , , , , , , , on 4th July 2013 by izaforestspirit

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The Swedish Viking black metal group Månegarm is one of the most unique and diverse bands in the scene. Iza caught up with their singer Erik Grawsiö to discuss the new album Legions of the North, Viking mythology, line-up changes and movie soundtracks.

Iza: Hi Erik!

Erik Grawsiö: Hello!

I: I’ve read that Månegarm refers to a wolf in Norse mythology that swallows the moon at Ragnarok. Could you explain why you chose that particular name and what it means to you as a band?

E: Yes, that’s right! We had another name when we first started up the band but after only 1-2 months we changed to Månegarm. Jonas was the one who found it and we all thought that it was a better name for the band (than the earlier name) especially since we sang in Swedish about the Norse mythology. The wolf for me is a powerful animal that stands for strength, pride and wisdom. “ It’s better to live one day as a WOLF (originally: lion) than a thousand years as a lamb”.

I: Your music is an interesting mix of styles ranging from black metal, Viking metal with some folk and pagan influences. Which of these styles would you say represents Månegarm‘s music the best?

E: I don’t know really… When people ask I usually just say that we play “metal” or Rock n’ roll. We’re definitely more of a metal band than a folk band but I think that Månegarm‘s music is represented by all of these styles that you mentioned. The diversity and mixture is the strength of Månegarm I think.


I
: What are your thoughts on the tag ‘Viking metal’? Does the genre exist in your opinion? Should it exist?

E: We don’t care much for tags and labels at all. When we started playing this kind of “metal” there were no Viking or pagan or Viking/folk metal; it was just us and a couple of other bands that played the kind of music that we enjoyed playing. This is no problem for us though and if these tags/labels help people get a better picture of a band or categorizing bands, then it is fine by me. The problem nowadays is maybe that there are like thousands of sub-genres/labels and that just makes it all confusing. Let’s put it this way; people can call our music what the f**k they want as long as they like it!!

I: Are there any bands in the Swedish metal scene that interest you? If so, which ones and why?

E: No.

I: Let’s talk a bit about the new album Legions of The North. Was there any specific inspiration for this album or any particular themes that you wanted to portray?

E: No, there is no stated concept or theme that runs through the album but if I remember correctly we first had the idea of a theme which was pretty much “death” from different points of view. Even if we didn’t follow that path totally it maybe stayed in our minds on a both conscious and an unconscious level, because almost all songs came to deal with war and death in different ways, influenced by the Nordic mythology. photo Erik_zpse9c17607.jpg

I: Some of the instrumental tracks on there such as Vigverk sound like old folk songs? What are they based on?

E: Vigverk is a short instrumental piece that can be seen as an intro to the following song Sons of War. The name Vigverk comes from Eddan and can be translated into something like “great deeds” or “great achievement” in English. It is no traditional old folk song; it’s just a song that I wrote since I wanted to have some shorter acoustic tracks on the album.

I: Legions of the North is your 7th album. How do you think it compares to its predecessors, particularly the last one Nattväsen?

E: I think it sort of continues on the same path as Nattväsen but we have worked more on the arrangements and the structure of the songs and especially we have put a lot of effort on the refrains on this album. On the earlier albums (like the first 1-2 albums) our “composing strategy” was to sit down with the guitars, put a bunch of riffs together in a descent way and yep… We had a song!! That’s maybe quite charming and cool in a way but today I think that we “think” music in a better and more serious way and we try to compose “real” songs!

I: Your violin player Janne Liljekvist left the band last year before the album was completed. Has this had any effect on the recording process or the way the album turned out?

E: The biggest effect on the recording process was that the new violin player (Martin Björklund who is a friend of Jakob‘s) only needed 1.5 days in the studio to get all violin parts done instead of Janne who often needed 3-4 days… Janne didn’t write any songs in Månegarm; it’s Jonas and I who write the songs and it’s usually me that writes the melodies for guitar and violin, so him leaving didn’t have any effect on the final result I think.

I: If Månegarm could play a show anywhere in the world without any restrictions, where would you choose and why?

E: I would like our own festival; “Månegarm Open Air” or something like that. It would be cool to start off in a small scale and then turn it into the greatest festival ever!! That’s quite a dream uhh… but you said without any restrictions.

I: If you could replace the sound track to any movie with your music, which one would it be and why?

E: I know it’s a long shot but maybe some of our songs from our acoustic album Urminnes Hävd – The Forest Sessions could serve as a nice soundtrack to a scene in The Lord of the Rings. I don’t know which song would be best and I don’t know for which scene, but when I listen to that album and seeing these films I get sort of the same feelings and emotions…epic freedom, mysticism, grief, joy and emotions like that. I better call Peter Jackson right away!!

I: Do you have any final words for our readers and your fans?

E: Keep your eyes and ears open for our new album Legions of the North! You just can’t miss it, it’s a killer!!! See you all on the road!!

Månegarm online:

http://www.facebook.com/Manegarmsweden/
http://www.deaf-dumb.com/manegarm
http://www.manegarmsweden.com
http://www.myspace.com/manegarm
http://www.youtube.com/Manegarmofficial

 

Interview with V’gandr [Helheim]

Posted in Interview with tags , , , , , , , on 15th November 2012 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Helheim have been a lasting and destructive force on the Norwegian metal scene, while not achieving the same amount of commercial success as other black metal acts from Norway such as Dimmu Borgir or the infamy achieved by Varg Vikernes, the band have continued their reign of Norse-influenced terror in their own way. Regarded as pioneers of the Norwegian Viking Metal scene, Helheim have been apart of the scene for 20 years and with the release of Heiðindómr ok mótgangr last year, the band show no signs of slowing up.

Nico: Helheim is the abode of the Norse deity Hel, daughter of Loki. What inspired you to adopt this as the band’s name?

V’gandr: We adopted the name back in 92 after numerous of other names. We wanted to have a Norse approach to our lyrics where we had focus on the darker and more sinister parts of the Norse mythology and thus we chose Helheim as our name.

N: Heiðindómr ok mótgangr is the band’s latest album, what are the main lyrical concepts behind the album?

V: The main focus are circled around the four viten & mot parts which are based on the words of the wise (Odin) and his håvamål. Other than that the lyrics deal with human nature and its lacking of truthfulness towards the pagan. It’s all about longing as well as restrained hate. Heathendom is resistance and that’s what we’re all about.

N: What would you say are your favourite tracks from Heiðindómr ok mótgangr and why?

V: I’m proud of the whole album and every song got its moments, but the opening track kind of sets the mood and standard, so I really like that one.

N: Helheim have been a dominating force in both the Norwegian metal scene and the international metal scene. What do you feel has been the key to the band’s long-lasting career?

V: A dominating force? That’s the first time I’ve heard that, but thanks, hehe. I’ve always felt a bit aside the scene as we’ve never strived for fame or acknowledgment, but rather being truthful towards ourselves. Well, we’re a little family now and none of us are ready to leave it just yet. We have no recipe to how, we just have been around for 20 years and we have more to say.

N: Even though Heiðindómr ok mótgangr was released last year, do you have any plans for a new release?

V: Oh yes. All the material for our next release is ready and we’ll record it next year. Beware!

N: As we’re nearing the end of 2012, does the band have any plans for 2013? Providing the world doesn’t end on 21st December.

V: Release a new album and continue playing live. No more, no less.

N: What song do you feel defines Helheim as a whole?

V: Hmmm, a hard one. I can’t only pick one actually. There’s a few tracks that kind of adds up Helheim and that is: Jormundgand, Jernskogen, Dualitet Og Ulver and maybe Åsgards Fall 2.

N: When it comes to writing new material, where does the band draw inspiration from? And how does songwriting happen for Helheim?

V: We are our own inspiration believe it or not, but for Åsgards Fall MCD we were directly inspired by Bathory. Myself and H’grimnir creates music pretty much the same way we did 20 years ago and that is with and none-amplified electric guitar, hehe. And so the writing begins. Inspiration come from the inside and one song or idea can lead to another.

N: If you could replace the soundtrack to any film/movie with your own music, which one would it be and why?

V: That movie haven’t been made yet.

N: How would you describe your music to new listeners?

V: Passionate, serious, dark and beautiful. A view into the Norse.

N: As Helheim have been around for 20 years, you’ll obviously have a wealth of experience and wisdom. Is there any that you’d like to pass on to the new bands that emerging on the scene?

V: Nah, not really. Bands should do what the fuck they think is right for themselves. We learned the business the hard way and got nothing for free and I’m glad it was like that. It made us rise up and keep on going and learning from our mistakes. I think this is the right way for most bands to do it as then you see who got it and who’s not. Well, that was an advise after all…more or less. Hohohooo!

N: If you could be any hero or deity from Norse mythology, which one would it be and why?

V: I really can’t answer such a question as it wouldn’t make any sense. I never look to heroes or deities or gods or whatever. That’s what we’re trying to say in Helheim, you know. The gods are the tools of the trade.

N: Is there anything you’d like to say to our readers?

V: As I’ve said before, I say again; heathendom IS resistance. Remember that kids, now go eat a kebab.

For further news and updates about Helheim:

http://helheim.com/
https://www.facebook.com/helheimnorway
http://www.myspace.com/helheimnorway

 

Interview: Jonas Albrektsson [King Of Asgard]

Posted in Interview with tags , , , , , , on 24th September 2012 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Since forming in 2008. the musical warband that is King of Asgard have seen nothing but success, inking a deal with Metal Blade Records in 2009, followed by the release of their debut album [Fi’mbulvintr] in 2010 and the release of their latest album …To North earlier this year. Nico has a quick chat with the bass wielding warlord Jonas Albrektsson about the new album, the meaning behind the band’s name and Norse mythology.

Nico: Is there a meaning behind the band’s name; King of Asgard?

Jonas: The first and foremost reason for picking this name up was just that we wanted a brand that at its first look tell what we’re dealing with so to say. King of Asgard is one of a thousand names for one of the major Gods in Norse mythology, of whom you all probably already know; Odin, the mightiest of the æsirs. The band name somewhat represents our musical approach and even more targeting our part lyrical concepts as well as it is sure a powerful [image of] what to expect, a first quick impression of what you’re imagining or rather what you’re about to explore. We thought it well represented and worked as a band name and that’s all behind it actually. So there’s no deeper meaning or thought that is to be revealed in its first direct approach. Also we want the abridgement, KoA, to work as our name which kind of comes natural as people want to write as brief as possible.

N: What are the main themes and concepts on the new album “…To North”?

J: On …to North we continue in the tracks we started to stroll with Fi’mbulvintr, no bigger differences really. A continuation and furthermore a broader way of presenting it as well as we have taken another step away from the direct and obvious theme/concept presentation. But for sure our main source of lyrical inspiration is based upon Norse mythology, legends and sagas and thus the majority of our songs still deal with such concepts. There’s no absolute concept in King of Asgard or on …to North specifically that we’re bound to follow nor is the albums content strictly characterized by only one subject. There are main themes that is Norse mythology based, prehistoric tales and/or believes as well as, of course, more to that. It could be retelling of such or simply reflections of destinies and the struggles of the specific era. Still we do not limit ourselves on just these topics so there are other matters to reflect upon and we do. It is probably or certainly the name King of Asgard that has kind of made us pain ourselves into that corner, no doubts on that but we‘re aware of it. There are already lyrics that extend outside the subject on both albums but maybe more on …to North where for example one of mine, Plague-ridden Rebirth is more or less a plain black/death metal lyric. Anyway, we’re open for almost whatever as long as we can stand behind it and present it under the King of Asgard moniker, limitation is futile, and thus our tentacles reaches far!

N: How do you feel that …To North differs from the debut album Fi’mbulvintr?

J: Well it’s not really breaking any boundaries nor is there any greater key changes; it’s rather protecting the ways of old which is something we’re focusing on! The base of King Of Asgard is the same, both musically as lyrically, but the album as a whole is way much better than Fi’mbulvintr when one really gets into it though.

When we started working on the songs for …to North we just let creativity flow and didn’t set any boundaries. We appointed some small goals of what we wanted to accomplish and achieve, such as building atmosphere, power, aggression – alone or combined. We wanted to build sensations and more of a feel to the songs of …to North and hopefully, I our eyes a success, we delivered it in such a way as well. So the base really are just making strong songs that we can all stand behind and from there it goes in different directions, which also was the case on the predecessor, Fi’mbulvintr. What differs ..to North from the debut is basically as I said, that it is a much better album and the songs are much more thought through as well as worked through. We’re proud of our achievements on this one and feel we’re doing something out of satisfaction and worth both for us and our fans.

N: Where do you see the band in five years?

J: I never look very far into the future to be honest but sure some speculations on possibilities could well fit in here. I guess King Of Asgard, if nothing drastically changed,  probably would be around releasing its fourth, astonishing, album. Hopefully followed by a promotional tour this time around, meeting up all the King’s followers. Well, what more… our sound will of course still be close to origin but surely there will be things happening there as well, we’re talking five years which is for sure a long time. Hope our future look bright and interesting, with kept heart and devotion… the one who liveth may see.

N: As King of Asgard‘s lyrics deal with Norse mythology and all things Viking, what would you say is your favourite Nordic myth or folktale?

J: The mythology as a whole I would say if so. I believe all the myths and mythological elements are of importance, as far as my interest goes, based upon the Poetic Edda for example. The mythic past, present and the future, covering more or less everything. From the inception of the universe until its very destruction. Could be that the more destructive and darker moments get more personal attention though if I should be more precise. I’m far from any expert or oracle on these subjects and thus maybe this vivid and wide answer.

N: If could replace the sound track to any film, which one would it be and why?

J: Hrafn Gunnlaugsson’s Icelandic film trilogy Hrafninn flýgur (the Raven flies), Í skugga hrafnsins (the shadow of the Raven) and Hvíti víkingurinn (The White Viking) would for sure be honourable to be featured in and probably very appropriate at certain moments as well. That’s what first comes to mind at least. The TV series, Game of Thrones would probably be Karl’s sound track of choice at the moment I believe, which would provide additional authority to the scenes set in the north illustrating the frostbitten landscapes and such…

N: Are there any plans for a UK tour in the future?

J: We always try to do as many shows as possible it’s just that we have fully booked private lives as well to say it in short, especially lately. We’ll try our very best to come out as much as possible as the music of King Of Asgard is one that really is powerful with a live setting. Easiest for us is one off shows like festivals and such but we sure want it to happen as often as possible! So, hopefully we’ll make it to UK within the near future but for now there’s none on schedule unfortunately. Actually there are a short one on request in UK but still nothing we can confirm. So keep your eyes open.

N: As Norse mythology was written down by Christian scholars, do you find it challenging to separate the actual myth from the Christian influence when writing new lyrics?

J: Ah, no not really, never seen upon this as a problem or something that is bothering when writing lyrics. Christianity has for sure had great impact and twists in a lot of these matters unfortunately and has harmed way more than just the mythological writings. This could bother me more or rather does but it doesn’t affect my lyrical writings. Sure, if it should be to the core one need to think twice maybe but the lyrics for King of Asgard isn’t really the ones going to the depths in that sense, they’re rather retelling, reflecting or exploring, which still of course could be or probably are affected anyhow, whether you like it or not. They get their share in return, lest we forget! As said in the song; Snake tongue, “ See through the lies of the snake tongue.”

N: Is there any you’d like to say to our readers?

J: Well not more than thanks a bunch to you and all the Valkyrian readers and the followers of the King – for supporting King of Asgard! If you haven’t checked us out, our albums and channels, make sure to give it a try! Hope for some shows ahead, to meet our followers and that the album get the attention we believe it deserves. Horns up!

King of Asgard’s new album …To North is out now via Metal Blade Records and can be ordered here.

http://www.kingofasgard.com/
http://www.facebook.com/kingofasgard
http://www.metalblade.com/kingofasgard/

Interview: Alex Brandsen [2011]

Posted in Interview with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 14th July 2011 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Nico sits down with the “Dutch Drumming Machine” Alex Brandsen, talking about Cryptic Age’s tour and other things.

Nico: Good evening, Alex. Thanks for taking the time to speak with us today. You’re a drummer in two bands, Ravenage and Cryptic Age, how do you find it drumming for two bands? Is it something that’s naturally easy for you or have you, at times, struggled with it?

Alex: I really enjoy being in two bands, because even though Ravenage and Cryptic Age are relatively similar, I can express different styles and a different overall feeling in the two bands, with Ravenage being more straight, aggressive and fun drumming and Cryptic Age being more subtle, symphonic and ‘intelligent’ if you will. I generally don’t have any problems with drumming in two bands, although I did accidentally started drumming a Cryptic Age riff at a Ravenage rehearsal once…

N: That must have being embarrassing. Speaking of Ravenage, you’re due to tour with them [and Cryptic Age] later this year on the “Warhorns over Aengland” tour. Are you excited about it or are you feeling nervous?

A: Very excited! Really looking forward to touring with Nothgard, and doing some gigs outside of Yorkshire. Not nervous about it really, the nerves usually only kick in 10 minutes before a gig!

N: That’s usually the worse time for the nerves to kick. You recently played Metieval Requiem with both Cryptic Age and Ravenage while sharing the stage with Hecate Enthroned and Skyclad. How was it for you personally to share the stage with two big name bands in the underground metal scene like them?

A: It’s of course a great honour to play with big bands like them, especially Skyclad, as they practically invented folk metal.

N: Speaking of folk metal, Cryptic Age are unique within the folk metal scene due to having a female vocalist. Since the scene is more male-orientated, do you feel that this might be help Cryptic Age become more known?

A: Well there are a couple of folk metal bands that have female vocalists (e.g. Arkona), but the thing that makes Cryptic Age special in my opinion is that Jenny’s got a very wide vocal range, and sings entirely clean. We don’t use any harsh vocals, and that is quite unique I think. I definitely think this is something that works in our advantage, and may well get us some more fans along the road.

N: Cryptic Age recently released the “Homeland” EP. Is there any sort of concept or theme running through the entire EP?

A: Well there isn’t an overall theme or concept to the album, but most of our songs are based on either fantasy and/or mythology, especially Manx mythology and folklore.

N: Is there any reason for the influence from Manx mythology and folklore or is it just something that occurred naturally?

A: It definitely came naturally, although the main reason for the Manx influence is that Jenny is from the Isle of Man. We didn’t really have any influences or themes to go on before writing the songs on the EP. The first part of Homeland (sung in Manx Gaelic) was originally going to be a 1-min intro to the EP, and by then the lyrics of Homeland hadn’t been written yet. Then we put it at the beginning of the track and when we did that the rest of the lyrics about Jenny missing her homeland fell into place. We’ve sort of kept the mythology thing going ever since. Also, instead of writing songs about Norse mythology like most folk metal bands, Celtic mythology comes more naturally to us because it’s closer to our origins, and gives the songs a unique twist I think.

N: Well, Celtic and Manx influences certainly are refreshing for some who are bored of the whole Viking based form of folk metal. Just a few more questions now. Before joining Cryptic Age and Ravenage, did you play in any other bands?

A: I was in a mathcore band for a couple of years when I was still living in the Netherlands, but had to quit that band because I moved to York for my degree back in 2009. I didn’t play in a band for a year, but when I finished my masters in the summer of 2010 I wanted to play live again, and started looking for a band. I found Cryptic Age on gumtree, and soon joined Ravenage as well via Tom, who just joined as their new bassist.

N: You certainly don’t look like a mathcore drummer. Regarding Cryptic Age, are there any events you’re looking forward to partaking in with the band? Aside from the EP release show.

A: We’ve got the Metal 2 The Masses final coming up on the 24th, quite excited about being able to play in front of the Bloodstock judges, and really hoping to win it of course. And then there’s a gig with Old Corpse Road in September, which I’m really looking forward to, as OCR are one of the best local black metal acts out there in my opinion.

N: Sounds like it’s going to be a great year for you and the rest of Cryptic Age then. Final question, are there any bands from both the UK and Dutch underground metal scenes that you’d recommend that our readers check out? Or at least keep an eye out for? Also, thanks again for taking the time to talk with us today, Alex.

A: Except for Old Corpse Road mentioned before, I’d recommend giving Onheil a listen, a blackened metal band from the Netherlands. For a band in the local underground scene, I’d recommend Lost Effect, a melodic metal band from York, who will be supporting us on our EP release gig this Friday.

Cryptic Age will be performing at Stereo in York tomorrow night [15th July] with support from Windrider and Lost Effect. £5 OTD. Doors open at 7.30pm