Archive for Norse

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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Amon Amarth – Deceiver of the Gods

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , , on 11th June 2013 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Amon Amarth
Deceiver of the Gods
Released 24th June 2013
Melodic Death Metal
Released via Metal Blade Records

Amon Amarth have been raiding, plundering and pillaging their way through the metal scene since 1998, making a name for themselves with their melodic riffs and Viking-themed lyrics, as well as some truly epic artwork. Deceiver of the Gods is the band’s ninth chapter in their metal renditions of the Norse myths.

The chilling guitar passage of the title track, Deceiver of the Gods, opens up the album before unleashing the fury of the Norse with faster, heavier riffs and Johan’s signature growls. The track is made complete by a near majestic solo. The second track, As Loke Falls, sounds bipolar – switching from roaring guitar sections and heavy vocal lines to monumental, dulcet guitar passages. The album from heavily grandiose pieces to the semi-brutal tracks with memorable choruses and poignant hooks. Johan’s vocals are as gruff and Nordic as they can be, whilst the drums have a certain liveliness to them, given the album a new feel that’s not so familiar within Amon Amarth’s studio material. The bass work thunders down like Thor’s Mjollnir crushing the head of a jotun.

There are more than a few bland songs on the album that fail to entice the ears, Under Siege being the most lacking song – Whilst it’s not a bad track, it misses a lot of the daring excitement and raw energy as found on previous releases. Blood Eagle, the track that follows Under Siege, begins interestingly enough with cries of pain and the sound of body parts being severed but as the track progresses it sounds more like a repeat episode of the previous track. Hel, named after the apparent goddess of the dead and daughter of Loki, has a completely different sound to the rest of the album, using haunting backing vocals and a slower pace for the music. The guest vocals, as provided by Candlemass’s Messiah, also add to the cold and foreboding atmosphere of the song that one would associate with a grim deity like Hel.

Warriors of the North, despite being the final track on the album, is a breath of fresh air on an otherwise stale album. Everything seems to have been taken up a level, from the sharp melodies of the guitars to the titanic bass lines and crushing drum passages, combined with the commanding and bloody vocals and the Iron Maiden-esque riffs. Whilst Warriors of the North is an anthemic way to end the album, one does have to wonder why most of the album isn’t in the same vein as it.

Amon Amarth have become predictable in their sound and their work and Deceiver of the Gods is solid evidence of this. The tracks are good and are typically of Amon Amarth’s style but at the same time they point to how repetitive the band’s music has become. Hopefully this isn’t an indicator to the future sound of Amon Amarth.

2.5/5

Nico Davidson

Amon Amarth online:

http://www.amonamarth.com
http://www.facebook.com/OfficialAmonAmarth
http://twitter.com/amonamarthband
http://deceiver.amonamarth.com

Second part of Amon Amarth’s three-part mini-documentary, Forging Mjölnir, now online

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , , on 4th June 2013 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

In anticipation of the release of their ninth studio offering, Deceiver of the Gods, Swedish death metal tyrants Amon Amarth today unleash the second of their special three-part mini documentary. Fittingly titled Forging Mjölnir, the crisp black and white film was directed by Luke Daley and offers up intimate interviews with the band.

Watch the latest fifteen-minute segment where the Amon Amarth collective recall their earliest metal memories as well as the band’s primitive beginnings via their microsite at this location. Having blasted onto the Swedish melodic death metal scene with 1998’s Once Sent from the Golden Hall, every Amon Amarth album has arrived bursting at the seams with power, melody and immersive storytelling centered around the richness of Norse mythology. Deceiver of the Gods captures the quintet at the peak of their powers.

From the moment the title track explodes in a haze of thrash-flavoured aggression to the final mournful passages of epic closer Warriors Of The North there is not a wasted moment, the band bombarding the listener with ten tracks of compulsive and electrifying metallic fury. Whether they’re attempting to remove your face and separate your vertebrae with the deranged attack of Blood Eagle or carrying you on the back of the mammoth grooves driving We Shall Destroyand Father Of The Wolf they hit with decimating force, all the while unleashing ruthlessly captivating melodies. With the aforementioned thrash elements creeping in, as well as the old school metal and doom accents lending added depth and scale to standout track Hel, guitarist Olavi Mikkonen admits this time out the band were not afraid to wear their influences on their collective sleeve:

We decided fairly early that we should go all-in on the song writing for this album. If we had ideas or riffs that were perhaps a little too thrash oriented or traditional-metal sounding for Amon– or that were maybe too Amon or perhaps similar to what we had done in the past – we would still keep them as long as we really liked them. A few years back we would pass on those ideas and riffs, while now we feel it was right to just go with it. I think the result is that the songs are wider, they have stronger melodies, they are better composed with lots of dynamics in them, and there are no fillers or blanks on there. Everything is as good as it can possibly be, and reflects just how driven we were to make this a great record.

Deceiver of the Gods was recorded at Backstage Studios in Derbyshire, UK, produced, mixed and mastered by Andy Sneap (Opeth, Megadeth, Exodus, Arch Enemy, Killswitch Engage) and comes adorned with another outstanding Tom Thiel-created cover portraying a mythical battle between the Norse figures Loki and Thor. As an added bonus, Messiah Marcolin (Candlemass) makes an appearance as guest vocalist on eighth track, Hel.
Deceiver of the Gods will be released in the UK via Metal Blade Records 24th June.

Catch Amon Amarth at Download 2013 on Sunday 16th June, 2013.

http://www.amonamarth.com
http://www.facebook.com/OfficialAmonAmarth
http://twitter.com/amonamarthband
http://deceiver.amonamarth.com

Amon Amarth post first part of mini-documentary: Forging Mjölnir

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , on 29th May 2013 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

As previously announced, today Amon Amarth unveil the first of their special three-part mini documentary titled Forging Mjölnir. Filmed and directed by Luke Daley, the up-close-and-personal clip – which includes stunning black and white nature footage and Norse artwork – celebrates the imminent release of the band’s ninth studio offering, Deceiver of the Gods.

The six-and-a-half minute segment; where vocalist Johan Hegg and bassist Ted Lundström elaborate on the mythological themes found within their latest epic; can be found on the band’s microsite at this location. Not many bands can claim their ninth album as the most powerful, dynamic, and plainly aggressive of their career, but then Amon Amarth have consistently upped their game with every successive release. Having exploded onto the Swedish melodic death metal scene with 1998’s Once Sent from the Golden Hall, every album has arrived bursting at the seams with power, melody and immersive storytelling centred around the richness of Norse mythology. Deceiver of the Gods captures the quintet at the peak of their powers. Vocalist Johan states:

Every time we start working on new music we begin with the idea that we’re going to write the best album ever. We knew we wanted a more aggressive, live feeling to this record but there’s no formula behind what we do. We just try to write something that takes us a step further than the last record, and is something that will excite us and our fans. Deceiver Of The Gods is the result.

Sample the album’s fourth track, Shape Shifter now streaming here, at this location.

Deceiver of the Gods was recorded at Backstage Studios in Derbyshire, UK, and produced, mixed and mastered by Andy Sneap (Opeth, Megadeth, Exodus, Arch Enemy, Killswitch Engage). The follow-up to the band’s critically adored 2011 Surtur Rising full-length offers up ten maniacally heavy battle hymns rife with the band’s absorbing harmonies and Hegg‘s commanding Viking roar. Deceiver of the Gods comes adorned with another outstanding Tom Thiel created cover portraying a mythical battle between the Norse figures Loki and Thor. As an added bonus, Messiah Marcolin (Candlemass) makes an appearance as guest vocalist on eighth track, Hel.

For special Deceiver of the Gods pre-order packages as well as a stream of the title track, go to this location. Deceiver of the Gods will be released in North America via Metal Blade in the UK on June 24th.

Amon Amarth Summer 2013 European Festival Tour:

06/01 Forta Rock Festival ˆ Nijmegen, NL
06/06 Sweden Rock Festival ˆ Solvesborg, SE
06/07 Rock Am Ring ˆ Nurburgring, DE
06/08 Sonisphere ˆ Sonisphere, FR
06/09 Rock Im Park ˆ Nurenberg, DE
06/11 MeetFactory ˆ Prauge, CZ
06/12 Eter Club ˆ Wroclaw, PL
06/14 Copenhell ˆ Copenhagen, DK
06/15 Noval Rock ˆ Nickelsdorf, AT
06/16 Download Festival ˆ Donington, UK
06/21 Nummirock ˆ Nummijarvi, FI

Amon Amarth

http://www.amonamarth.com
http://www.facebook.com/OfficialAmonAmarth
http://twitter.com/amonamarthband
http://deceiver.amonamarth.com

Amon Amarth release details about ninth studio album

Posted in Featured, News with tags , , , , , , , on 16th April 2013 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Swedish Viking-themed death metallers Amon Amarth recently unveiled the details of their ninth studio album. Titled Deceiver of the Gods, the epic offering of Viking-styled death metal was recorded at Backstage Studios in Derbyshire, UK, produced, mixed and mastered by Andy Sneap (Opeth, Megadeth, Exodus, Arch Enemy, Killswitch Engage). The cover art was, once again, completed by Tom Thiel and depicts a mythical battle between the Norse deities Loki and Thor (Editor’s note: The artwork looks partially like a scene from the movie, Thor). Fans will also recognize a special appearance on this album with Messiah Marcolin (Candlemass) providing guest vocals for eighth song, Hel (Whom in Norse mythology is the goddess of the dead and ruler of Helheim). Deceiver of the Gods will be released in the UK via Metal Blade Records 24th June, along with the rest of Europe and the album will be released in Germany, Austria and Switzerland on 21st June.

The band’s vocalist Johan Hegg comments:

We feel very excited about this new album, and personally I feel that Deceiver of the Gods is the strongest album we’ve ever done. By far! I’m confident that all our fans will enjoy this ‘punch-in-the-face-of-a-record!

Opening title track and first single, Deceiver of the Gods is currently streaming at the band’s official Metal Blade page, where you’ll also find special pre-order info. You can also listen to the track below.

Deceiver of the Gods Track Listing:
01. Deceiver of the Gods
02. As Loke Falls
03. Father of the Wolf
04. Shape Shifter
05. Under Siege
06. Blood Eagle
07. We Shall Destroy
08. Hel
09. Coming of the Tide
10. Warriors of the North

Described as a compelling synthesis of buzzsaw riff work, melodic harmonies and soul-severing rhythms punctuated by vocalist Johan Hegg’s callous Viking roar and gripping accounts of Norse battles and treachery, Deceiver of the Gods is the follow-up to the band’s critically lauded 2011 Surtur Rising full-length. Finding placement on multiple charts worldwide the record is among the band’s fastest-selling albums to date. Surtur Rising sold approximately 15,000 copies in the United States in its first week landing the band at #34 on the Billboard Top 200 and #1 on the Billboard Top Hard Music Albums. Around the world Surtur Rising also charted in Germany at #8 on the Top 100 chart, #19 on Canada’s Top 200 Chart, #12 on Austria’s Top 40 Chart and Switzerland’s Top 100 at #20.

Amon Amarth will be opening the main stage of this year’s edition of the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Fest set to commence June 29th in San Bernardino . Prior to that they’ll be at the 2013 edition Download, sharing the stage with the likes of Airbourne, Rival Sons and Limp Bizkit!

Amon Amarth’s summer 2013 European festival tour dates are as follow:
06/01 Nijmegen, NL Forta Rock Festival
06/06 Solvesborg, SE Sweden Rock Festival
06/07 Nurburgring, DE Rock Am Ring
06/08 Amnéville, FR Sonisphere
06/09 Nurenberg, DE Rock Im Park
06/11 Prague, CZ MeetFactory
06/12 Wroclaw, PL Eter Club
06/14 Copenhagen, DK Copenhell
06/15 Nickelsdorf, AT Nova Rock
06/16 Donington, UK Download Festival

Amon Amarth online:

http://www.amonamarth.com
http://www.facebook.com/OfficialAmonAmarth
http://twitter.com/amonamarthband

 

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