Archive for Wardruna

Liv Kristine: “I’d love to further cooperate with Simone”

Posted in Interview with tags , , , , , , , , , on 9th January 2016 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Nico interviewed Liv Kristine, the charismatic and Valkyrie-like frontwoman of Leaves’ Eyes in Sheffield on their UK tour, in support of the new album King of Kings.

Nico: Hi Liv, how are you?

Liv: Very good, how are you?

N: I’m great, thanks.

L: Good to see you again.

N: Good to see you too. How has the tour gone so far?

L: Really really well. We’re on the UK leg of the tour now and we have one third of the tour still to play. That’s going to be for the UK only. The first leg was for the rest of Europe which was really nice too. Paris: awesome, Belgium: awesome. But the UK is always something special, we have a very big and strong fan base here. We have fans and friends who follow us for every gig and that’s a privilege. I see that the market for our kind of music is growing here, and that’s maybe not the case in Germany. So it’s very good to be back, we’ve already played three gigs and it has been absolutely fantastic.

N: You’ve released a new album recently: King of Kings – which you’ve based on Harald Fairhair. Obviously Scandinavian history, old Norse history in general, is full of fascinating characters like Eirik Bloodaxe.

L: That’s one of Harald’s sons. You’ll find him in the first or second bonus track, it’s called Trail of Blood. That’s a song about him. So who knows what the next Leaves’ Eyes album is going to be about. We know that Harald had many sons and daughters.

N: There are so many other characters like Erik the Red or Leif Erikson. What is it about Harald Fairhair that stood out from the rest of all these great characters and infamous villains? What made you want to do an album based on his life and his legacy?

L: Because I grew up with the legacy of Harald Fairhair. The decisive battle that made him become the king of Norway took place in a fjord called Hafrsfjord, which is my birthplace. So Harald Fairhair has always been there. I’ve always been interested in history and it happened exactly two years ago, over a morning cup of coffee that Alex came up with this idea: what about king of kings? I started digging through all my books and I contacted my mother in Norway to collect stuff at museums and libraries. So it has been amazing to study Harald Fairhair’s life and to divide it into twelve chapters. Parallel to my studies, Alex and Thorsten composed songs at the studio. We’ve been very busy, it has been a very intense process but highly creative. We had so much fun and it means a lot to me to have this album released. It’s definitely a milestone in the career of Leaves’ Eyes. And as I said, it happened at my birthplace so.

N: I highly praised the album for Valkyrian Music..

L: Thank you very much! I read it, of course.

N:Good! Obviously it’s brilliant to see that you guys got back to how you originally started with tales of Viking warriors, going forth into battle, exploring lands and so on. How would you say that King of Kings compares to the rest of the Leaves’ Eyes discography?

L: I’d say King of Kings has a connection to The Vinland Saga, which was thematically about Leif Erikson and his discovery of America. So if there is a link to any other album, I’d say The Vinland Saga. You already mentioned the folky instruments and the folky touch and the orchestra and everything so it has been there all the time but every album has been different. Now King of Kings happened, it was great to see how everything came together. We worked on every song as if it were one individual piece of music. We added any instrument from London Voices to White Russian Orchestra, cello, flutes…everything. We worked on every song until all three of us, Thorsten, Alex and I being perfectionists, said okay let’s go for the mix, its fine.

N: On this album you added Simone Simons from Epica and Lindy-Fay Hella from Wardruna. What was it like working with those two women on the two tracks that they featured on?

L: Absolutely amazing. Of course I know of the series Vikings and I just thought the music is amazing, the soundtrack is amazing! Who is that girl singing? I found out she’s from Bergen! Through a common friend of mine and of Wardruna, I got Lindy-Fay‘s contacts. I contacted her and she said “of course, I know you and I would really like to work with you”. So I sent her Blazing Waters and we were blown away. A couple of weeks later I flew to Bergen and met Lindy-Fay. I presented her Blazing Waters and she loved it, it was definitely golden. She’s a lovely girl and a great musician.

Simone lives one hour away from us so it was about time to invite her to come to our studio. She’s been at our place before but it has been quite a while. She’s a mother now so she’s busy, but she came by and she listened to the song and…I’d say we are a perfect match. Lovely, lovely to work with her.

N: Obviously Epica and Leaves’ Eyes, despite falling into the symphonic metal genre, have got two completely distinct styles. Do you think there will be any sort of crossover between from the recent collaboration between you and Simone?

L: I don’t know. I have no clue, we’ll see. I love Simone and her work, she’s a lovely girl and we are both mothers… We live one hour away from each other so who knows. I’d love to further cooperate with Simone. It would be great.

N: Going back to Harald Fairhair. You obviously studied his saga, his life story quite extensively for the album. What would you say is the most fascinating aspect about the man?

L: We got a few facts about Harald through Snorri, but Snorri came about a couple of hundred years later. Next to that we got the sagas and the tales of the Norwegian kings, where you can find a lot of interesting written words about them to honor them. I think it is absolutely amazing to read the different approaches to his person, because he must have been exactly as unruly, wild like his son Eirik Bloodaxe. He must have been exactly like that himself. In many of the tales or poems about Harald it is told that he was beautiful and that he could have had any woman: he was very glorious. It’s fascinating to read other stories like the battle of Hafrsfjord; about blood being everywhere and the fjord burning or different sceneries, a different Harald.

N: He certainly sounds like an interesting figure. As a fan of both Vikings and Game of Thrones, which one do you prefer?

L: Vikings. Last time it would have been Game of Thrones but it’s Vikings now because of the music. Of course because of my friend Lindy-Fay who’s in there. Although it’s made in Hollywood, I think it’s very nice. It’s very nice to watch those great actors. I love it. And also because I’m Norwegian.

N: That’s very good. Thank you for your time. Have a lovely show tonight.

L: You’re welcome, thank you very much and thanks for coming.

Leaves’ Eyes online:

http://leaveseyes.de 

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Leaves’ Eyes – King of Kings

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 29th September 2015 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Leaves’ Eyes
King of Kings
Symphonic Metal/Gothic Metal
Released: September 2015
via AFM Records

If you call yourself a symphonic metal fan and you’ve never come across Leaves’ Eyes, then clearly, you live under a rock. Formed by former Theatre of Tragedy vocalist Liv Kristine, Leaves’ Eyes have become an established act known for their fusing of folky elements, crestfallen symphonies and straight up metal. Following their arrival at AFM Records, King of Kings became one of the most anticipated albums within the symphonic metal genre this year.

Sweven opens up the track with an almost mournful composition that clearly shows traditional elements of Norse music. The soaring vocals of frontwoman Liv add to the mourning emotion of the song. The title track, King of Kings, marches with a regal use of orchestral compositions, that bolster the ranks of the song while the differing use of vocals – choir, Alexander’s and Liv’s – make the song ever more enchanting.

Halvdan the Black lunges forward with a tragic sounding choir and the rune-binding voice of Liv. Alexander’s bestial voice adds a fierce, war-like edge to the song, joining the antagonistic riffs and narrative symphonies. The Waking Eye dances ever so gently with its alluring concoction of different elements, each note more winsome than the last and the vocals sound so sirenic during this track.

Feast of the Year acts as a good-natured interval before the more Celtic-orientated waltz that is Vengeance Venom enters the ballroom. The Celtic-styled melodies bring an upbeat atmosphere to the album while the lyrics, poetically sang, appear to be of a darker nature. Sacred Vow has all the makings of a heroic piece: A powerful story involving the love of a fair maiden, a war between clans and awe-inspiring music. Everything just seems to fall together, as though this song was meant to be.

Leaves’ Eyes have been known to have guest appearances on their albums in the past, so it comes as no surprise that Edge of Steel features none other than Epica vocalist Simone Simons. The track comes across as an anthem of war, one to be sung by Nordic warriors as they charge into fray armed only with an axe and shield. The orchestral aspects of the song sound quite lion-hearted, adding renewed vigor to the vocals and potency to the already snarling guitars. Simone’s saintly voice cuts through the track like a knife through butter – The duet between herself and Liv Kristine is better than imagined.

Haraldskvædi – which appears to be based on the Old Norse poem Hrafnsmal (Raven’s Song) – combines both English and Norwegian lyrics with eerie whispering, low-spirited vocals and traditional folk elements, with flows smoothly from the previous track and into the next song. Blazing Waters also features a special guest, Lindy-Fay Hella, who is best known for her work with Wardruna.  The song begins with the alluring sounds of traditional folk instrumentation and hypnotic vocal lines before the guitars and drums jump forward, roaring like Fenrir at Ragnarok. The contrast of three vocalists with the differing elements of folk and metal really shows the adaptability of Leaves’ Eyes both in talent and sound.

The album finishes with Swords In Rock, another song that makes a powerful use of Celtic-inspired medleys. The pace and feel of the song makes the listener want to jump up and start dancing some sort of Irish jig, while guzzling whiskey or something of the like from a horn. A fine way to finish the album.

With King of Kings, Leaves’ Eyes appear to have gone back to their earlier roots – not just with the Viking inspired lyrics but the folk influences as well though there are a lot of new aspects for the band found in the album as well. King of Kings is a testament to the continuing saga of Leaves’ Eyes as well as their talent and adaptability, clearly they’re a band that won’t stay within the borders of their safe zone when there are new musical lands to be discovered and conquered by these fine warriors.

5/5

Nico Solheim-Davidson

Leaves’ Eyes online:

http://leaveseyes.de
http://facebook.com/leaveseyesofficial
http://twitter.com/leaves_eyes

Árstíðir lífsins – Aldafǫðr ok munka dróttinn

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , on 22nd February 2015 by izaforestspirit

Árstíðir lífsins
Aldafǫðr ok munka dróttinn
Released 11th December 2014
Pagan Black Metal
Released via Ván Records

‘Aldafǫðr ok munka dróttinn’ is the third album from the Icelandic pagan black metal band Árstíðir lífsins whose name translates as “The Seasons of Life” in English.

The opening track ‘Kastar heljar brenna fjarri ofan Ǫnundarfirðinum‘ features a long, ambient style intro enhanced by narration, Icelandic chanting and the melancholic sounds of what appears to be either a violin or a cello. It’s not until well into the second minute of the song that the guitars finally enter the fold followed by the pounding drums and black metal screams. Despite this, the melodic ambient and folk-style elements remain an integral part of the Árstíðir lífsins’s unique sound.

This pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the album. All the lyrics are in the band’s native Icelandic, and the songs are long and complex just like any good saga should be. The storytelling narrative reminds me of Wardruna; yet unlike their Norwegian brethren these guys combine this with black metal. Their music maintains a very delicate balance between the two styles; the beautiful and melodic Icelandic folk tunes and the harshness of black metal. The structure varies depending on the song, for example ‘Þeir heilags dóms hirðar‘ actually starts with the harsh black metal guitars before a pause for some narration accompanied by the sombre sounds of the cello.

Each track sounds like it’s a story. The black metal guitar riffs and screams mimic the sounds of a battle or the start of a voyage while Mársel’s deep, melodic vocals and the cello act as a reflection on the aftermath and the long journey home. One noteworthy track is ‘Tími er kominn at kveða fyrir þér‘ which features more narrative along with Icelandic chanting, and the beautiful yet sombre sound of the violin. This is also the only song that completely omits the black metal elements and puts an emphasis on to the folk style. Once again the use of their native tongue works to their advantage as it fits the music perfectly. The rest of the album marks a return to black metal, though the folk elements are still present along with the narration.

Overall this album has been an absolute pleasure to review. Árstíðir lífsins is not the first pagan black metal band that has caught my attention but they are definitely one of the most unique within the scene.

4.5/5

Iza Raittila

Sweden’s Shining debut track from new album

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , on 28th August 2013 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Sweden’s Shining, who are fronted by the infamous Niklas Kvarforth, have debuted a track from their upcoming album 8 ½ – Feberdrömmar I Vaket Tillstånd which is due for release through Dark Essence Records. The album features tracks that date back to the band’s Livets Ändhållplats and Angst era. 8 ½ – Feberdrömmar I Vaket Tillstånd is described as a rare foray for the band, in that all the tracks bar one, feature vocalists hand picked by Shining founder and frontman Niklas Kvarforth. Some of the tracks are sung in the native language of the guest vocalists that have taken part in the album. The fourth track, Selvdestruktivitetens Emissarie, of the six track release features Gaahl (God Seed, Wardruna, ex-Gorgoroth) on vocals and is currently being streamed by Metal Hammer at this location.

The tracks on 8 ½ – Feberdrömmar I Vaket Tillstånd are still in their original pre-production format to which have been added newly recorded bass and guitars, as well as keyboards by  Lars Fredrik Fröslie (Angst), whose sound is a relatively new addition to Shining‘s releases. , having not being used before the sixth album. The track listing plus guest vocalists are as follow:

  • 1. Terres Des Anonymes featuring Famine of Peste Noire
  • 2. Szabadulj Meg Önmagadtól featuring Attila Csihar of Mayhem and Tormentor
  • 3. Ett Liv Utan Mening featuring Pehr Larsson of Alfahanne
  • 4. Selvdestruktivitetens Emissarie featuring Gaahl of God Seed, Wardruna, Trelldom, ex-Gorgoroth
  • 5. Black Industrial Misery featuring  Maniac of Skitliv, ex-Mayhem
  • 6. Through Corridors Of Oppression featuring Niklas Kvarforth himself

Shining online:

http://www.facebook.com/shiningofficial

Sweden’s Shining announce tracklisting and guests for new album 8 ½ – Feberdrömmar I Vaket Tillstånd

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , on 8th August 2013 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

After a lengthy wait, Sweden’s Shining have revealed details about the guest vocalists who will be appearing on 8 ½ – Feberdrömmar I Vaket Tillstånd. Annoucned earlier today, it’s not surprising that Niklas Kvarforth has chosen some of the most iconic frontmen to ever grace the extreme metal scene, as well as some other interesting choices. The tracklisting and guest vocalists are as follow:

1. Terres Des Anonymes featuring Famine of Peste Noire
2. Szabadulj Meg Önmagadtól featuring Attila Csihar of Mayhem and Tormentor
3. Ett Liv Utan Mening featuring Pehr Larsson of Alfahanne
4. Selvdestruktivitetens Emissarie featuring Gaahl of God Seed, Wardruna and formerly of Gorgoroth
5. Black Industrial Misery featuring  Maniac of Skitliv and formerly of Mayhem
6. Through Corridors Of Oppression featuring Niklas Kvarforth himself

The six tracks that appear on 8 ½ – Feberdrömmar I Vaket Tillstånd date back to the Livets Ändhållplats (2001) and Angst (2002) era of Shining’s career and will be in their original pre-production form but with the addition of newly recorded bass and guitars as well as Lars Fredrik Fröslie (Angst Skvadron, Wobbler, Asmegin) on keyboards which the band didn’t start using until their sixth studio album; VI – Klagopsalmer.

8 ½ – Feberdrömmar I Vaket Tillstånd is scheduled for release on 23rd September via Dark Essence Records and will be available in both CD and limited edition black or white 12” vinyl versions, with linear notes by Shining’s frontman Niklas Kvarforth. All three versions are available for pre-order from Dark Essence’s BigCartel store at this location.

Shining founder and frontman Niklas Kvarforth has wanted to do this project for many years now, and he allowed all the vocalists free reign to interpret the songs as they wished and also to sing in their own native languages.  Something that Dark Essence’s Martin Kvam feels fits right in with the label’s ethos of mixing tradition with innovation:

With 28 ½ – Feberdrömmar I Vaket Tillstånd, Shining  has really encapsulated what we enjoy doing most as a label, looking back as it does to an earlier period, but with a completely fresh approach and different interpretation of what have now become classics in the field of Extreme Metal. Shining fans are certainly not going to be disappointed when they hear what this album has to offer.

Shining online:

http://www.shiningasylum.com
http://www.kvarforth.com
http://www.facebook.com/shiningofficial
http://www.shininglegions.com
http://www.soundcloud.com/shining-official
http://www.youtube.com/OfficialShining