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Vreid trade common black metal themes for art, literature, history

Black metal music is rife with themes of the occult, Satanism, and misanthropy. Once in a while though, a band comes along that takes a different approach. That band is Norway’s Vreid, who use historical, philosophical and now themes from literature, nature and art in their concept driven recordings.

Vreid

Vreid

“We get a lot of very positive feedback for taking a different approach. You know, not just doing the same old ‘sex, drugs, Satan’ cliché that everyone else does,” said Vreid bassist and principal songwriter Hváll. “Some people might not find these topics interesting at all, but at least we get acknowledgement for doing something that seems sincere and honest.”

To promote their most recent album, Welcome Farewell, which dropped March 5, Vreid launches a 14-day North American tour on June 16 (supporting the Assyrian black metal band Melechesh). Most Vreid fans know that the group rose from the demise of another great band, Windir. Following the untimely death of Valfar, the singer of Windir, some remaining members– Strom (lead guitar), Sture (rhythm guitar), Steingrim (drums) and Hváll (bass)– formed Vreid in 2004. Vreid’s sound is hard to pin down, but the band often uses the term “black and roll” and acknowledges influence from 70s rock and 80s traditional metal as well “true Norwegian black metal” for their sound. Some reviewers have said that the recent album sounds very much like Windir.

“I think it is really hard to describe our own sound. I make the music and let people make the description,” Hváll said. “Maybe when I look at Welcome Farewell, we have kind of embraced things we have done in the past, but it is not something I really think about. I just write the songs as I feel at the time I don’t really reflect that much about how they are going to turn out. Whatever happens; happens.”

While Hváll may let the divine muse have her way musically, the lyrical themes of the songs have definite basis in reality. Historical and philosophical themes have always been important in Vreid’s music. Several of their previous albums have been based on historically accurate accounts of the Norwegian resistance during World War II. Hváll even holds a bachelor’s degree is history and political science and taught these subjects for a few years before completely devoting his life to music.

With Welcome Farewell,  however, he allowed his love of the natural surroundings of his community to speak to him about what the music should say.  Welcome Farewell also derives its inspiration from the writings of Arne Garborg and the art of Otto Valstad, both of whom lived in the same region more than 100 years ago.

01framside“Over the last few years I have been doing a lot of hiking around in the area where I live in Norway. On the start of my usual hiking trip there is a big museum where the artwork of Otto Valstad is on display,” Hváll said. “Valstad has captured the surroundings of the nature of this place where we lived, these forests I have been walking around for years. And while some things have changed, other things are pretty much the same. The timelessness in his paintings is what fascinated me.”

Likewise Hváll said he identified with the themes broached by Norwegian author Arne Garborg.

“He used a lot of Norwegian folklore and mythological stories to illustrate his points. I am not into science fiction or supernatural things, but he used these elements from our history to create his points and a reflection of society from when he lived, and I identified with that,” Hváll said.

Somehow, Hváll found the commonality between a 21st century Norwegian musician and a writer and artist from the 19th century.

“They lived 100 years ago, but I find many similarities in the way they were thinking; it is the same way that I think. In many ways, I have felt a stronger connection to their artwork than I do to more modern literature or artwork,” Hváll added. “It was not a direct subject or a concrete thing that triggered me, it was the atmosphere that I see in their work that inspired me to create the music and the lyrics the way we did this time.”

Although their inspiration comes from Norway, language-wise Vreid’s current albums have been in English instead of the regional Sognamål dialect characteristic of the Windir recordings and some earlier Vreid songs.

“Some people like when we sing in Norwegian; they think it sounds more authentic and they like that atmosphere,” Hváll said. “But by having English lyrics, I can communicate with a lot more people. Also it’s natural for me to write in English, because I tend to read more in English, and I watch movies in English. The last three albums were all in English, but there is no rule about that.”

What is for certain, however, is that future recordings will take shape in Hváll’s own home studio built piece by piece over the last several years.

“When you go into a studio it can be a stressful,” Hváll said. “You have two or three weeks depending on your budget, and you have to be finished by then. When I have my own studio, I don’t see it as a recording session itself.  You have a lot of time to record things and try out things. For me it has been extremely important to have my own little ‘cave’ that no one can interfere with.’

Hváll also said he hopes that in forming Vreid, the memory of Valfar has been honored.

“When I look back at my time with Valfar, I don’t look at it as if he was just someone that I played in a band with—that was a really important thing that we did for many years—but he was my closest friend, so I remember all the great times we had together. Vreid has sounded a bit different than Windir, and we never had the intention to copy Windir, that would be wrong. We created music the way we wanted to do it and had to build everything from scratch again.  I think Valfar would have been really satisfied with what we are doing today.”

Hváll said he and the band look forward to mingling with their North American fans, which he said are “a lot more open and come up to us before and after shows and talk to us about our music, which is different from Norwegians who tend to be more silent. If people are interested in your music and ask about your band, I have a lot of respect for that, I think it is great. These are the people who make our music alive. I love chatting with people when we are on tour.”

Vreid’s tour dates are listed below. Unfortunately, the band reports that, “our rock solid drummer Steingrim has to sit out this tour due to work-related issues. He will surely be missed, but we have been aware of this for a while and have the perfect replacement for him. Tomas Myklebust will join us for this tour. Myklebust is a maestro drummer who did the UK tour with us last year when we toured with Paradise Lost. He did a splendid job then, and has worked his ass off rehearsing the new material. Hope to see you on the road.”

VREID

w/ Melechesh, Lightning Swords Of Death, Reign Of Lies
6/16/2013 The Joint – Los Angeles, CA
6/17/2013 DNA Lounge – San Francisco, CA
6/18/2013 Hawthorne – Portland, OR
6/19/2013 Studio Seven – Seattle, WA
6/20/2013 Rickshaw Theatre – Vancouver, BC
6/21/2013 Pawn Shop – Edmonton, AB
6/22/2013 The Exchange – Regina, SK
6/23/2013 The Zoo – Winnipeg, MB
6/24/2013 Station 4 –  St. Paul, MN
6/25/2013 Mojoe’s – Joliet, IL
6/26/2013 The Smiling Moose – Pittsburgh, PA
6/27/2013 Wreck Room – Toronto, ON
6/28/2013 Foufounes Electriques – Montreal, QC
6/29/2013 Railroad Tavern –  Keene, NH
6/30/2013 Europa – New York, NY

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Burn down our churches for one day you’ll be Norway’s “brand”

Remember when burning down churches in Norway was bad and black metallers were labeled satanists? Well apparently, all is forgiven and the Norwegian government is looking to black metal to become its “brand.” I guess the country finally figured out that black metal is their nation’s top export over what…..herring?

norway-immortalRead this interesting story here.

INTERVIEW: Carpathian Forest prepare for exclusive Maryland Deathfest show

Carpathian Forest embodies everything I love about black metal –grim but beautiful, atmospheric melodies, songs with misanthropic themes and socially biting, often disturbing lyrics. Yet the group couches this “strange old brew” of ideas into infectious rock and roll rhythms that make me want to get up and dance. They also are not afraid to add in unnerving audio samples and keyboards or include a cover song when the mood strikes. Weird? Of course. Disturbing? Sometimes. Awesome? Yes! Carpathian Forest perform Sunday, May 26 at the 2013 Maryland Deathfest, their first performance on U.S. soil.

Formed in Norway in 1990 by Roger “Nattefrost” Rasmussen and John Nordavind, the group established themselves as a powerful force in the second wave of black metal with two demos, an EP and their seminal full-length Black Shining Leather. In 2000, the group experienced a lineup change that has persisted to this day. Among the new members was bassist Daniel Vrangsinn.

Vrangsinn is among the most recognizable figures in black metal with an arresting image of him appearing in photographer Peter Beste’s book “True Norwegian Black Metal”. In the group’s infamous 2004 DVD, “We Are Going to Hollywood For This,” he performs on stage wearing little more than a leather S&M style harness. He cuts a striking and memorable profile with corpse paint streaming down his face and sweat pouring off of his bare shoulders.

Vrangsinn also founded and leads Misantrof, a not-for profit, anti-commercial experiment that releases music (ANTIRecords) and the written word (ANTIPublishing) for free and allows the artists to retain full right to their work. The organization is supported entirely by donations that go back to the artists. Founded on the principal that “without greed or corruption art is set free to remind mankind what it never can be,”  Misantrof is a noble effort and further evidence of his strong character.

Vrangsinn’s generosity seem as big as his physical stature, and he was kind enough to answer my basic questions, which follow. Daniel tells me that he and the rest of the CF crew will be attending the entire four days of MDF so be sure to be on the look out. Buy them some beer or some steamed crabs!

What will be the official lineup for Maryland Deathfest? 

Nattefrost – Vocal
Tchort – Guitar
Bloodpervertor – Guitar
Vrangsinn – Bass
Kobro – Drums
The line-up is the same Carpathian Forest you always get to see. No changes in the past decade.

What do you consider to be one of your band’s most essential recordings? And why?

The favorite album of mine is the first full length Black Shining Leather, but I do consider all the albums essential. Another of my favorites is Defending the Throne of Evil.
How does your band feel about playing Maryland Deathfest? What have you heard about this festival?

We are looking forward to this very much. We arrive a couple of days before our show to see other bands and meet US friends. 
What other bands playing MDF do you hope to see perform?

PENTAGRAM! I also hope to catch Venom, The Melvins, Bolt Thrower and many many more. 
Will you be doing other shows as part of your stop at MDF or is this appearance exclusive?
This is an exclusive concert. We won’t do any other U.S. shows
Will there be any unusual or special merchandize you will be selling while at MDF?

I don’t know yet

Is there anything else you hope to do while you are in Maryland? Eat crabs? Go to the Chesapeake Bay?

Hang out with friends, drink beer and watch concerts. Crab claws do sound tempting though.

Is there anything else you want people to know about your band?
We are slowly working on new material, and we hope to record a new album this year.

Full stream of Vreid – Welcome Farewell

Vreid, the Norwegian black and roll band that arose from the ashes of Windr in 2004, have a new record, Welcome Farewell, set for North American release March 5, 2013. Their blend of black metal, punky thrash and straightforward rock and roll combined with captivating song writing and lyrics puts them into my “what’s not to like?” category. I can put on any one of their albums and listen from start to finish without wanting to skip a song. I only hope a North American tour accompanies this release.

A recent press release about Vreid’s new recording describes the work this way:

Notorious for their well-researched, historically-inspired lyrics, the band’s third and fourth offerings, I Krig and Milorg, were both concept albums based around the liberation work in Norway during World War II. Liberation was also the keyword on VREID’s last offering, V, but placed in a broader historical/philosophic perspective. The lyrics on Welcome Farewell describe a lifecycle through a series of short stories, seen from an existential point of view and, inspired by Hváll’s own local community with its nature, architecture and historical artists such as Arne Garborg and Otto Valstad, are more personal than ever before.

The members of Vried are Hváll – Bass; Sture – Vocals/Guitar; Strom – Guitar and Steingrim – Drums.

www.vreid.no
www.facebook.com/vreidofficial?fref=ts
www.indierecordings.us

You can listen to a full stream of the new album here: 

INTERVIEW with Tsjuder’s drummer Anti-Christian

Anti-Christian of Tsjuder

In the quest to remain “trve kvlt,” Norwegian black metal stalwarts Tsjuder have persevered since 1993. They will perform at the 2012 Maryland Deathfest on Saturday, May 26 in the main room following a string of other satanic black metal bands, making Saturday night something of a “ritual” kind of night for the festival.

Tsjuder is also one of my personal favorite groups in the traditional black metal gene. I don’t remember when or how I came across them, but I was hooked from the first moment I heard them. Part of their charm is that they are not just all blast beats and guitar distortion. Real rock and roll drumming make them stand out. I was very honored when Tsjuder’s beast of a drummer, Anti-Christian, took a few moments to respond to questions via email.

So I believe this is your first time at the Maryland Deathfest. What have you heard about this festival and what do you hope to bring to the audience there?

It´s Tsjuder first gig in USA and we´re looking forward to this. This is one of the few festivals in USA we heard of and the audience will get good old fashion Norwegian Black Metal.

What recordings will you be focusing on to create your set list? 

We are gonna serve some threats from every album.

When do you arrive in the USA and will you be playing any other shows before or after deathfest while you are here? How about other tours, outside of the festivals already listed on your Facebook page?

Nag and I will arrive on Tuesday and we are gonna check out some bars in the states around. There´s no tour or other gigs planed for USA. It would be nice with a tour over there but maybe in the future.

What other groups are you excited to see play at MDF? 

Horna and Brujeria would be cool too check out, but we nearly never get to see anything the day we play a show. I can´t see a band without a beer in my hand, and I can´t play drums with alcohol running thru my veins. Bad combo.

How have American fans reacted to the new recording, Legion Helvete, as compared to other fans around the world?

I really don´t know, but we got some decent reviews as far as I know.

How would you explain explain the origin of the name Tsjuder (pronounced shoe-der) and how you chose the name for the group?

The name Tsjuder comes from a tribe that came to the north of Norway around 1000 years ago. They butchered the Norwegian natives and they where dressed in black leather. How we got the name I don’t know but it’s hard to pronounce for the majority of the world.

What sort of Tsjuder items will be available for sale at MDF, anything unique or unusual?

If things goes like it should, Maryland will get their own T-shirt made special for you. Only 50 shirts from our own design.

What other types of music do the members of Tsjuder enjoy listening to? 
That is a really hard question. I can only speak for myself but everybody likes Motorhead.

Are there books, films or other things that inspire you? 
I´m into Tom Egeland’s writings at the moment and I meditate to Family Guy. Chelsea Cain has got some good books out.

Is there anything else that you want American fans to know or understand about Tsjuder?

It´s our first show in the USA and we are looking forward to sharing some alcohol with our new friends. Cheers. We also would like to know if there´s any good place to party for Nag and me those days we arrive before Draugluin. Let us know on our Facebook page!
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