Formed from the ashes of black/folk metal heroes Windir, Norway’s Vreid have not only proved themselves to be one of metal’s most consistent and hardworking bands, but also one unwilling to stand still creatively.
Despite regular touring and live appearances – with a short UK tour starting this week with Keep Of Kalessin and Vredehammer to help celebrate their label Indie Recordings’ 10th anniversary – the band have recently completed their seventh opus, the decidedly black metal-leaning Sólverv, one of their strongest and heaviest works to date.
Inspired this time – unusually – more by personal history than that of Norway itself, the record was written by bassist and central driving force Hváll in Sogndal, the location where he grew up and one rich with personal memories, memories that have clearly impacted heavily upon the final record. Such a decision may account for the stylistic shift contained within; having utilised thrash, rock and prog overtones in the past, the songs on *Sólverv *offer something of a return to the roots, with black metal elements coming to the fore throughout. Over a rather crackly connection, we spoke to the man himself to find out more…
Tell us a bit about the new album; how are you feeling about it now and what led to this move toward heavier, darker and more unambiguously black territories?
Hvall: “We’re extremely satisfied I must say. It’s an album that reflects our whole career as musicians. Usually when I write an album I sit down for three or four months and create new music but this time I used a lot of old ideas, old text lines, old musical ideas that I had forgotten all about or said, ‘No, I don’t want to continue with these’. The oldest of these songs are actually about 10-15 years old. At the same time, things started coming back in my memory and I spent a lot of time just seeking inspiration from the memories of what we’ve done together as a band, personal things. Maybe 30 percent of the music is made from things I’d been working on in the past and so in a sense it’s an album that represents what we’ve done over the last 20 years, not just something I’ve written over the last few months.”
It’s been stated that the lyrics to *Sólverv *were very inspired by your home town of Sogndal. Can you tell us a bit more about the lyrical theme for this record?
“Well it’s not that much based on historical events anymore, it’s a lot more personal and dealing with the duality of life and death, the sweet clichés of love and hate, but I used the nature to put these ideas together to try and explore it lyrically. Most of it was written when I was staying in my family’s cabin so the whole surroundings and the feel of the album was defined by that – if I was writing on tour, the feel of the album would be completely different. I don’t see them as lyrics written about a theme, they are rather echos of how I’m feeling at the time. A lot of the lyrics deal with looking back at memories, although to speak of that too much takes away some of the magic for me.”
Is it a nostalgic feeling the lyrics are summoning?
“They are nostalgic but they are also very much focused on the present and the future. I am a person that is a lot inspired by the past – as you know, history is one of my main interests – and though looking back at things like that can make you inspired, I don’t dwell on the past at all in my present life, I always look forward. That’s why I don’t really collect anything, I don’t want the past to get in my way. But I like to reflect now and then.”
When you did your first interview for Metal Hammer you were still working as a teacher. By taking care of everything in the band you’ve made it possible - even necessary – to have a full time career in music. How easy do you think it is for musicians to do that generally these days, given the current trajectory of the music industry as a whole?
“I think it’s very hard to make a living as a musician today if you are just playing guitar or drums in a band. It’s about how much you handle your product, if you can handle more crafts in relation to your product you will have more control over your income but if you are just a musician and you think you will become a millionaire, I think those times are long gone. So many musicians think they will be big rich and famous one day and that is one of the first things I want to say to them – it’s not going to happen that way. It’s not happening any more for 99.9 percent of musicians. Then again, you meet some young musicians with an extreme passion who are willing to work 20 hours a day just to make ends meet and that is something I really respect.”
Vreid play at Damnation Festival, Leeds University on November 7
Vreid also head out on an Indie Recordings 10th anniversary tour with Keep Of Kalessin and Vredehammer for these dates
November 8 – The Cavern, Exeter
November 9 – The Garage, London
Check out a new Vredehammer track, Spawnhammer, from the band’s forthcoming album Violator here!