Archive for Poetic Edda

Interview: Jonas Albrektsson [King Of Asgard]

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

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 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.

FORTID–Voluspa Part III: Fall of the Ages

Posted in Review with tags , , , on 9th June 2012 by Nico Solheim-Davidson, the North Sea Poet

Voluspa Part III: Fall of the Ages
Released on 26th March 2010
Folk/Viking Metal

Released via Schwarzdorn Productions

Fortid were formed in Iceland a decade ago, as the solo project of Einar Thorberg, with the main purpose of putting the Voluspa, one of the most famous pieces from the Poetic Edda, into musical form. Fall of the Ages is the final part of the musical trilogy that is Voluspa.

The sobering sound of Ancient Halls starts the album eerily with a combination of synths, guitars and the sound of waves crashing on the shore. The sound of ravens cawing adds a very grim, archaic feel to the atmosphere that is emitted from the music. Of course the song isn’t all slow as it takes a change in pace towards the end, which also alters the atmosphere of the track. The second track, Ragnarok Army From The East, has a gloomy intro before turning into a force of black metal styled riffs and overwhelming drum patterns. The vocals are raw, raspy and callous, sounding similar to the vocal style of Shagrath (Dimmu Borgir), only not as refined, which I find to be a good thing for the track. The use of more laid back riffs with atmospheric choir sections adds a certain distinct feeling to the song, giving it that tragic edge. The rest o the track is full of horde-like aggression and a subtle use of cleaner vocals that do work well with the riffs. The track does end with the aforementioned laid back riffs and choirs, however which leads brilliantly into the destructive stylings of the third track, Fall of the Ages, which is also the title track. There is a strong presence of black metal influences throughout the track, with sly hints of Bathory here and there.

Equilibrium Reclaimed differs from the previous tracks due to it’s more grand, majestic yet partially sinister sound that is emphasised by the use of clean vocals and death metal styled growls. The synth section, almost halfway through, brings a very aphotic sound to the track before proceeding back into murky yet epic sounds that preceded it. The acoustic stylings of New Dawn follows next, creating a dense atmosphere of sombre feelings, something that is added to by the strong use of clean vocals and synths. Fortunately for fans of the heavier side of music, there are some slight uses of heavier guitars, though they’re partially drown out by the other instrumentation and vocals. Heltekinn blasts through with a very noticeable august power metal sound, which is a surprise, especially when it’s combined with a heavy use of black metal screams. The synth sections make the song feel and sound more dramatic. Some of the riffs on his track are noticeably more melodic than any of the riffs on the rest of the album. The album comes to its end with The Future, a ten minute song that has a fierce sound with a touch of hopelessness thrown in for good measure. In a sense, the song is virtually a doom metal epic, but as whether Einar intended it be so is a completely different matter.

I’ve read the Poetic Edda a fair few times, especially Voluspa and while I’ve never envisioned it to be set to a mix of black and Viking metal, Voluspa Part III does do the poem justice. There are some parts that could be worked upon, such as the sound quality of some of the vocal parts and certain instruments being drown out but all in all, Voluspa Part III: Fall of the Ages is a damned good album full of Vikingtastic riffs and vocals harsher than a jotun’s wrath.


Nico Davidson