Archive for Skálmöld

Eluveitie and Turisas live in Tampere

Posted in Gig, Live, Metal, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on 6th December 2015 by izaforestspirit

Barren Earth, Eluveitie, Turisas
Pakkahuone, Tampere, Finland
5th December 

A stormy winter’s night in Tampere. It had been raining all day and there was some strong wind blowing as I headed down to the venue. I haven’t been to Pakkahuone for years… Last night was good occasion to venture out into the stormy weather for a chance to see some folk metal.

Ok… So the first band on wasn’t actually folk metal. The Icelanders Skálmöld had their show cancelled for some reason.  This meant that the first act was the Finnish progressive melodeath band Barren Earth. These guys reminded me of Opeth and just as with Opeth I couldn’t really get into their music. There was just too much of the experimental, progressive elements and not enough melodic death metal for my liking. 2/5

I’ve been meaning to check out Eluveitie for a long time. Turisas may have been the headliner but this was actually the show that I was looking forward to the most. Luckily for me, they didn’t disappoint. There’s something about folk metal that makes it sound great live. The combination of folk instruments such as flutes, hurdy gurdy, bag-pipes and fiddles with metal is so incredibly catchy that I reckon that even fans of mainstream music styles would enjoy it. Eluveitie also have a good stage presence and they really know how to agitate a crowd. The highlights for me were ‘Call of The Mountains’ and my personal favourite ‘Inis Mona’. 5/5

Folk metal, “battle metal” and even “party metal” or whatever you wish to call them, Turisas are a bit of a gimmick these days. I’ve seen them live once before, many years ago when they toured with Alestorm. Back then they were all about the warrior costumes, war-paint and they had an accordion player. Fast forward a few years and they still wear their war-paint; only now their singer has swapped his armour for a leather jacket and the accordion player is gone. Apart from that not much else has changed, their music is just as catchy and cheesy as it was the first time that I saw them. It’s the kind of stuff that sounds best once you’ve had a few drinks. Then you can truly start to enjoy their hit tracks such as ‘To Holmgard and Beyond’, ‘Battle Metal’ and the cover of ‘Rasputin’. 4/5

 

Overall it was a really enjoyable evening. I’m so glad that I finally got to see Eluveitie. Turisas were everything that I expected them to be. I’ve never been a massive fan but they always put on a great show. As for Skálmöld, hopefully I will get another opportunity to see them live at some point.

Iza Raittila

 

 

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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

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