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Thyrfing - The songs of madness - November 2002


By now THYRFING without a doubt are an established part of the Viking Metal scene, with by now four great albums. "Vansinnesvisor" is their latest effort to date and it already is a tradition, the guys get a whole catalogue of questions around their ears, in this case for the second time in a row guitarist Patrik Lindgren, and this is his strike back!

Hej, min vänner, Alex from "The Metal Observer" here, how is it going up there in Sweden?

Hi Alex. Well, the first snow has just arrived, so there's an eerie, cold evil atmosphere up here. All parents have given up the idea of giving their children Christmas presents and instead they are trying to decorate the most evil Christmas tree, with pentagrams, inverted crackers and a Christmas tree stand with rivets. So I am really excited and restless these days, hoping to find a new Black Metal-CD under my tree… And now I am ready for our third (right?) and longest feature in "The Metal Observer".

"Vansinnesvisor" is your fourth album by now, so you are an established band, which goals and expectations do you have for the album?

I think we've already reached the goal: to make a great album that we are totally satisfied with. Then if people will like it or not, if it will sell 50 or 50,000 copies … we just have to wait and see. Anyway, response has been nothing but great this far, so I'm not complaining.

How do you see the musical evolution compared to "Urkraft" and do you already have a kind of plan for the future musical direction of THYRFING?

There's more power and balls in the music, it sounds darker, heavier and more mature. "Urkraft" was a lot of messing around, maybe making things harder than necessary. On this album it's more "bam!" … straight to the core. It sounds more focused and there's absolutely no fillers this time. It's really hard to tell how the next album will sound, as it's a long progress and things will evolve all the time. From the first riff-making, 'til the final mixing of the album. But I think it will sound more "Vansinnesvisor" than "Urkraft", definitely.

You have completely dropped the clear vocals, which had been one of the unique things on "Valdr Galga" and even more so "Urkraft". Why that?

What? The clean vocals are there for sure, maybe they are more "baked in" to the music, while it was more obvious before … but just listen to for example "The Giant's Laughter"… you just can't miss it.

Could you please give me a few words on the lyrics and the music of each song?

Draugs Harg: This song is about the contempt for humanity of today, and a foreboding prophecy about what awaits them when they die. All written with metaphors and references to the Northern mythology. 'draug' is a ghost or living dead, and 'harg' is an heathen sacrificial mound. Musically, this is probably as fast 'n' aggressive THYRFING will ever be. It's really grabbing you from the first second, and I just love the middle passage, with the orchestral megalomania, and vocal effects.
Digerdöden: If we were on Sony or EMI this would probably be their choice of video or first single track ha-ha. It seems like this is most people track of choice, and the chorus line has quite some hooks, right? I'd say it has a foreboding atmosphere through the whole track even though it's very catchy and memorable. The lyrics are about "The Black Death", the plague that ravaged Europe during the 14th century.
Världsspegeln: ('mirror of the world') We were all quite shocked when hearing Thomas' vocals on this one. It was a nice little surprise he had planned for us. Some people might think Daniel laid his hand on this, as it's honestly pure STRAPPING YOUNG LAD-vocals. However, according to Thomas it was all his ideas, and with the Swedish lyrics, and general atmosphere of the music it turns out very original. This is simply a good song, which holds a few surprises… Lyrically, it's a suicide-note from a man staring a little too deep into the ocean, just as with the rest of the album, including a lot of mythological references. ("Ett sista offer för Njord" = "a last sacrifice for Njord" etc.)
The Voyager: If I had to choose one song from this album, representing the "older" THYRFING in some way, it has to be "The Voyager". The lyrics are most in the line of what people calls "Viking Metal" with the facto de standard sailing dragons, furious winds and lust for exploration. However, there is a darker twist of death and angst in the end… (starting to spot a governing idea Alex?) The main theme melody was originally written for guitars, but we re-arranged it with a keyed fiddle taking the lead, leaving the guitars in the background, and also adding a synth harmony upon all this. Turned out to be an excellent pre-chorus, adding a haunting atmosphere to the song.
Ångestens Högborg: ('stronghold of angst') This is the long, mid-tempo song, which in some way reminds me of the "Valdr Galga"-era. Also here we spiced it up with the keyed fiddle playing the original melody for the synthesizer. Some people in Sweden has referred this part to the cheerful folk dance music, reminding them of Sweden at Midsummer Day-celebration in Sweden. Hehe… even though it was not our intention, I must agree it brings forth a smile on your face when hearing the tunes. The lyrics are, just like "Draugs Harg", a question to the mankind of today … what the hell they are doing …
The Giant's Laughter: If you are getting sick of hammond organ, clean vocals and progressive vibes, you should stay away from this track, even though the song has it's pounding Metal parts as well. The lyrics is an interpretation of a Swedish poem called "Jätten". Just as with the rest of the lyrics, it's anything but merry, and shows a new and darker side of THYRFING.
Vansinnesvisan: ('the song of madness, insanity, fury') The title track, which also is a bit diverse. I think it really captures the aggressive and desperate essence of the lyrics, the arrangements are odd, and the song sounds "unstable" just like the mind of a man who's gone completely insane. The original vocal line of the last part was accidentally deleted just before the mixing, so Thomas had to run into the vocal booth again, to redo them. He made it in one take, and the vocals are aggressive, really aggressive.
Kaos återkomst: ('return of chaos'). This is an epic closure of the album you could say. The lyrics is about Armageddon, the physical end of the world, still written in a more poetical manner, than the usual "die-kill-destroy-with-nuclear-power" way. Musically I'm extremely satisfied with this song, as we put a lot of effort to the acoustic intro and outro. I hope people get the feeling that they would like to hear more after the tunes have faded out. As you know … we are not done yet!

The cover has been done by Niklas Sundin and definitely looks different than the usual Metal-cover. What exactly does it show and what do you want to express with it?

The cover is an extension of the music, lyrics and overall album concept. It shows a man, anything but nice and sane, which could be seen as a resurrected warrior chieftain, bloodthirsty berserker, a fed-up dying warrior, or just a computerized picture consisting of THYRFING-members, stone, mud and clay … We thought it was time to challenge all you art critics this time …

You again picked a rather unusual title, after "Thyrfing", "Valdr Galga" and "Urkraft" you now have "Vansinnesvisor". What do you choose the titles from?

We have always (except for the debut) chosen the title after one of the tracks. Simply the one who was best suited as title for an album, and could represent the whole thing in a good way. On "Thyrfing" it was more lack of fantasy I guess …

How important are the folky melodies and the keyboards for the THYRFING-sound?

I think they are very important. Basically we are a Metal band, but without those elements you mention, I think we would loose some our identity and unique parts of our sound.

Are there any other members in side-projects?

Henrik has two projects called ERASERHEAD and EXORDIUM, and that's about what I know of them at this stadium… Kimmy plays in HATEWORK, which is some kind of AT THE GATES/PANTERA-hybrid. They are technical, tight, and really worth watching on stage. Jocke and I had another project with a friend, quite melodic unlabable music. I've fled the band for a while, but I guess there will be something coming out of that as well.

Back then when you started out with THYRFING, which goals did you have, which hopes?

To get something on tape, and to one day touch Samantha Fox.

And do you think that you have achieved them and which goals are left for you?

Ha-ha... the first one at least. Nah, to be serious… I think we've reached everything and more that we ever hoped for with THYRFING. To release albums, play festivals and go on tour was science fiction for us back then … so everything that comes along is just a bonus for us.

Could you please describe the personality of each member with a few words?

They will probably beat me up and crucify me outside our rehearsal-place if I tried to bring their most inner and morbid personalities into the light, but I could try to give a brief analysis. Thomas is the "bad guy" of the band, puking blood on concert and training to get in better shape than MANOWAR. He is also our secret link to the media, as he is working at one of Sweden's biggest Metal magazines. Henrik is the diva, the teenage girl's favourite, and is taking care of the groupies, so that we won't loose our faces, and Rock star reputation. Kimmy is the band's hippie, the lonewolf, and creatively, a positive antithesis to the rest of us when we are building songs. Peter is a musical genius … if he would play at a circus, that is. Jocke is the whiskey-addict who set the bpm's and is probably our best lyric composer. And then finally me, who is trying to take care of all the business-shit and arrangements. I wonder why that is, since I am the most oblivious and scatterbrained person in the band. All our trips and flights usually turns out chaotic due to my paranoia and questionable authority…

What do you do outside of THYRFING in your spare-time?

Beside THYRFING and my work, I do layout for a magazine ("Metalwire"), managing some websites, spend time with my girlfriend, drink beer, watch a movie or reading a good book.

As I guess that you cannot live off THYRFING, what do you do to earn your daily living?

We are all slaves on the big ship, either in the private or public sector…

Did you ever have problems with Viking-symbolisms that had been and still are abused by Nazis?

No real problems actually, but there will always be people asking about that... I guess we have to live with it. THYRFING has nothing to with nazism, fascism, or any other political ideologies for that matter.

Many bands use the Vikings and Nordic mythology for their bands and names. What do you think holds this great appeal for this? In general and for you as a band in particular?

For me as a Scandinavian, it's the ultimate and most fascinating source of inspiration. Also, the God vs. Satan-theme, has been used to absurdum in Metal and Rock music through the years, and it's not surprising that people are looking for new myths, metaphors and symbols. And it's not only this recent and narrow scene labelled "Viking Metal" that has drawn inspiration from here … already Wagner and the fellas back then. For us, the northern music and legends has always been a great influence, even though we are trying to evolve it, and avoid stagnation and repetition.

What do you think about bands that use their music as a vehicle for political ideology, as it often happens in the Viking and especially Black Metal-scene?

When you write lyrics and music it's impossible to be 100% objective, it will always be coloured in some way, regarding your personality and opinions. However, I think it's boring when people exaggerate and mainly use their music and reputation for political goals, instead of seeing their creations as pure art, open for interpretation. A positive example is SKYCLAD, which does (did?) it in a brilliant manner, with word games and fantastic lyrics, bringing forth humorous and sour comments and questions. A Grind/Noise/Punk-band screaming out their hate, anger and opinions in 0:32-minute songs usually just makes me sigh…

Could you please give me your opinion about:
HAMMERFALL

I must say I liked their first album when it came out, before this Power Metal-thing exploded and it just became to much. I think they are overrated, and quite mediocre if you compare to, for example, a band like LOST HORIZON.

Sweden

Well, it's my homecountry. I have nothing to compare with, but I guess it's quite a good place to live in …

Swedish Metal

Regarding our population (about 9 million), I think we have a fantastic scene when it comes to Metal. A lot of my favourite bands are Swedish, and especially in Death Metal, we most be counted as one of the leading countries. Also when it comes to producing and studios we have a great reputation.

Fantasy-lyrics

Well, just as there is good and bad music, there is also good, and even horrible fantasy lyrics. I think even the most fanatic must have grew tired of the "…fly, …sky, …die" rhyme by now.

IN FLAMES

When I first heard their album "Lunar Strain" I thought: "Kewl, a band mixing up Death Metal with melodies and Heavy Metal". Then, just as with most popular styles, it just exploded and the genre itself became watered-down and predictable. Still I think IN FLAMES have hold a high standard as pioneers and forerunners. They've had their up and downs, but they are one of the best bands in the genre for sure.

MESHUGGAH

I've never really listened to them, and I find the music too complex and not in my line of taste. Still you must admire them as musicians, and just as IN FLAMES, leaders of their genre.

File-sharing softwares?

Let's make one thing clear: I use it myself so I'm really not in position to criticise it. Still, I think it's a big dilemma for the music industry and I can't for anything in the world figure out how it's going to work out. I mean artists, producers and labels have to get paid, otherwise they cannot produce any albums, and then there will be no new music to spread through these programs. This is a big issue, and I am glad I'm not the one who have to solve it…

And my traditional last question of an interview: What is your favourite question about THYRFING that you have never been asked before, but would finally like to answer?

None has ever asked me why I didn't chose Hagar The Horrible as my stage name, and the answer is that it was already taken! Damn…

Discography:

1998: Thyrfing (CD, Hammerheart)
1999: Valdr Galga (CD, Hammerheart)
1999: Hednaland (CD, Unveiling The Wicked)
2000: Urkraft (CD, Hammerheart)
2002: Vansinnesvisor (CD, Hammerheart)

Alexander Melzer



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