Tides of change: Talking Currents with In Vain

Photo by Jørn Veberg

There have already been some truly striking releases in 2018 and maybe no more so than the new album from Norwegian metallers In Vain. Currents is a progressive metal adventure which surprises at every twist and enthrals at every turn. With big thanks to him, we recently had the pleasure to explore the album closely with guitarist/songwriter Johnar Håland and the band, getting to its heart, its journey to release and much more….

Hi Guys, many thanks for sparring your time to talk with us.

It is fair to say that it is a busy time for the band with the recent release of your new album, Currents. Have you had time to sit back and reflect on its initial success and plaudits yet?

Hi! Thanks for your review and for taking the time to do this interview. Things are quieting down a bit now and as you say, the feedback has been really good. However, I am not really a person who looks back. My thoughts are more focused on the next album.

It seems that you have spent a long time in its creation, that time certainly reflected and heard in all its honed intricacies and bold adventures. What is the time scale for its creation?

Our previous album, Ænigma, was released in 2013 and there seems to be people who think we spent five years writing this album. That is not the case. There are several reasons for why this album was delayed. Personal issues forced me to put composing on halt for almost a year, and with me being the only songwriter in the band that forced the whole process to a standstill. In addition, I was working on the debut album of my other band, From Strength to Strength, which is a hardcore band that will release its debut album some time during 2018. On top of that I spent the majority of my spare time reading for the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst), which is a self-study in finance I have been doing the last three years besides my full-time job. The album was actually finished in June 2017, but we could not set a release date until we had a proper tour booked to support the release. So there are many reasons for this long delay. Hopefully it will not take five years until the next album!

I am sure you will not disagree with us when we say it is your biggest, boldest, and most imaginative release. Did you have any specific aims when writing and creating Currents or it just organically evolved into what we hear?

I am not really sure to be honest. Our debut album The Latter Rain (2007) was also quite bold. Back then we were a totally new and unknown band who released an album of one hour with grandiose and complex music supported by 20 guest musicians. So that was definitely a brave musical undertaking.

In all aspects, we feel Currents eclipses its acclaimed and also richly enjoyable predecessor, Ænigma. Where do you see the biggest evolution?

To be honest, I am not a fan of comparing music. In my opinion, Currents is another strong album in our catalogue. It is a very diverse album full of contrasts and has high-quality music with longevity. I take it as a sign of quality that there are different opinions with regards to which of our albums people enjoy the most. I do not believe Currents is that much different from our previous work, but there are some changes. The production is more organic, there are some shorter songs and it is less black metal compared with our previous releases.

Currents embraces the widest array of flavours and styles in your sound yet, a truly expansive landscape weaved around bold yet often delicate contrasts but it still has that signature In Vain breath. Did you have to concentrate on keeping that character or it again just naturally evolved as indeed that broad tapestry of sound?

I think it is just a natural evolution to be honest. I do not really think that the music is that much different from our previous releases, however there are some new elements. For instance we have one song, Soul Adventurer, with mainly clean vocals. We also have a song with acapella choirs, Blood We Shed, and that is something we have not done before.

You linked up, as for the previous album, with producer Jens Bogren. It is fair to say he gets your sound and imagination but what does he especially bring to the mix which you feel adds to the realisation of your ideas?

We were very pleased with Jens’ work on Ænigma. We did not really have any other alternatives at hand and decided to go back to him. We wanted a much more organic sound this time around though, and I think we achieved that. Jens usually knows what we want and I think we have the same views on what sounds good and not.

Give us some insight into the recording of the album.

All the guitars and bass were recorded in my home studio, except for some lead guitar solos that Kjetil recorded at his home. Vocals and other instruments were recorded in Strand Studio in Oslo. Everything was re-amped by Jens Bogren and he also did the whole mixing and mastering of the album. However, we were never present in his studio and only communicated with him via email and phone.

We have had the real pleasure of having an insight into the lyrical side of the album ahead of its emergence. Can you share some of the themes and inspirations to the songs?

Currents is not a concept album in the traditional sense, however there is a topic and a red line in the music, lyrics and artwork. Currents, reflects on the colossal shifts and changes of our time. The present world is characterized by continental flows of people, traditions and cultures. Migration of people across continents and borders…Cultures merging. Dramatic shifts in lifestyle from one generation to the next. This topic exists in both the lyrics and the music however we only touch upon it in an abstract way with a top-down view. It is important for me to clarify that we do not have any direct political views on this matter reflected in our lyrics.  Besides that, the lyrical themes are varied, ranging from personal experiences and struggles, to contemplations on nature, philosophy and the historical and political development of this twisted world we´re living in.

Was there a particular process to the writing of songs for Currents?

The process was the same as previously. I write the songs alone and present complete compositions to the rest of the band. Later on I involve Sindre in the preproduction, as he also lives in Oslo. All members are free to add their personal touch to the songs and to give suggestions, but as the songwriter I have the final word.

It also sees a few guests such as drummer Baard Kolstad (Leprous, Borknagar), vocalist and former band member Kristian Wikstøl (From Strength to Strength), and vocalist Matthew Kiichi Heafy (Trivium). Were these happy happenings or thought of early on in the album’s creation?

This was something we decided on during the preproduction process. All the guests added their personal touch to the album and we are very pleased with their performance.

I know as for so many bands finances make a major part in decisions and possibilities in keeping going let alone forging ahead with releases, tours etc. for In Vain. How did this put restraints on Currents and do you see crowd funding as a feasible way forward?

We are fortunate to be able to record albums of the quality we prefer. The total budget for this album is around 50 000 EUR I guess, so hopefully people understand that they need to support us financially if they want to hear more In Vain albums in the future. We have not paid anything out of our own pockets. The label pays and we are also fortunate to get some financial support from various grants in Norway. However, the label obviously needs to get in break-even before we will get any part of the potential profit. Touring is more challenging and a tour costs a lot of money. Financing definitely puts a limit on how many tours we are able to do.

As with your previous albums, Currents is available through Indie Recordings. How have they helped, apart from the obvious, in bringing the album to our ears?

We have been with Indie Recordings since 2005 and we are actually the first band they ever signed. We have a good relationship with them. Obviously there are things that could be better, but that is always the case.

For those new to In Vain can you tell them about the beginnings of the band…the early days?

In Vain is a Norwegian band that plays progressive extreme metal and was formed in 2003. Andreas (vocals), Sindre (vocals) and myself (guitar) are the founding members, while Kjetil (guitar) joined the band in 2009 during the recording of our second album Mantra. Our bassist Alex has been around since 2013 and our drummer Tobias joined us recently. So far we have released four albums and two EPs, and we signed with Indie Recordings after releasing our second EP Wounds in 2005. Our latest album Currents was released on 26 January 2018 and we just came back from a European tour with Orphaned Land, Subterranean Masquerade and Aevum.

What is next for In Vain, shows etc. and once the dust of its triumph settles ahead?

We just came back from a European tour with Orphaned Land, Subterranean Masquerade and Aevum. We covered London, France, Spain, Arnhem and Essen. Our hope is to do another tour later in the year where we cover the countries we did not have the chance to go to on this tour. Besides that we will play some shows in Norway and some festivals.

Once again big thanks for giving us your time. Any last words you would like to share?

Thank you very much for your support, we appreciate it! To the readers; keep supporting great music, have a go at our new album Currents, and stop by our FB page at https://www.facebook.com/InVainOfficial/ for news, music, tour dates and other stuff.

Check out the review of Currents @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2018/02/04/in-vain-currents/

http://www.invain.org/     https://twitter.com/invainofficial

Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review 07/04/2018

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Aevum – Impressions

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Listening to Impressions, the debut album from Italian gothic metallers Aevum is pure theatre, every track an adventure which at times has ears and emotions in bliss and in other moments seriously challenged and unsure. For all its undulating triumph and uncertainties though, the album is one seriously compelling proposition which persistently ignites the imagination.

The seeds of the band began with the meeting of vocalist Evelyn Moon and pianist Richard around the changing of 2007 into the following year. The first twelve months saw the release of Celestial Angels EP and the first showing of the band’s fusion of diverse sounds. Though tagged as gothic metal, Aevum transcend a multitude of styles with their creativity as proven with Impressions and its expansive diversity. Various changes in personnel came with subsequent years before a stable line-up emerged around two years ago. 2012 also saw the released of the Nova Vita EP, again as the previous offering a self-released encounter earning good attention. Last year the band signed with Wall Records for the release of acclaimed single My Vampire before the Turin quintet converged on the studio to create Impressions. Mixed and mastered by Ettore Rigotti (Disarmonia Mundi) and released via Fuel Records, the album is a tapestry of sound and shadow fuelled emotions; the exploration of opposites using a perpetual weave of startling flavours and provocative invention upon a neo-classical and gothic metal bred symphonic canvas.

As soon as the ghostly wails and electro tempting of opener Il palcoscenico della mente grasps ears, imagination and intrigue is yanked from their slumber, the brief instrumental a haunting of sinister and captivating potency. Building a portentous air through rising harmonies and symphonic seduction, the piece soon grows into an epic and imposing electronic provocation, slipping into the mellower yet still intimidatingly textured lure of Blade’s Kiss next. The second song in no time is striding with combative rhythms and shadow cloaked sonic colour, the entrancing play of Richard against the more expansive soak of synth enterprise cast by Ian magnetic. The formidable rhythmic antagonism of drummer Matt and bassist Violet are soon laying down their thick bait too as the operatic squalls of Moon pierce the landscape, joined soon after by the potent tones of Hydra. In no time it is a maelstrom of fascinating drama and unpredictable turbulence, spoken tones from Violet and rapacious growls uniting in the eventful and resourceful bluster of individual flavours. It is a challenging proposition, more vocally than musically, but one becoming more persuasive given time and attention. The electronicore and industrial elements of the song provide further transfixing and exhilarating temptation, adding to a song, which as the album, has plenty to excite and enthral but a few moments which worry personal tastes, which maybe something as varied and experimentally imaginative as this was always going to come up against.

Intermezzo is another bewitching instrumental, its melancholic flame of brass sounding keys dour but spicy bait before The Battle takes over with a sorrowful caress of piano cast melodic a0417005191_2emotion embraced by an evocative synth crafted atmosphere. Hydra adds his croon to the poetic landscape next and is almost immediately joined by the rich throated narrative of Moon. As the music is ever evolving across songs, the band presents each narrative in a web of primarily English and Italian presentation, both languages interlocking seamlessly. Bulging rhythms push the walls of the track outwards as a great vocal mix almost toys with the listener whilst the guitar of Lord Of Destruction sculpts its own gripping adventure into the engrossing soundscape. A spellbinding song which just gets better the further into its virulent thirteen minutes you go, it sets a fine plateau for the album which the classical beauty of Il lamento della ninfa cannot match but certainly adds a fresh vein of masterful exploration to the release.

The swift shadow lit kiss of Impressioni leads to the outstanding Lost Soul, an imposing and voracious roar of a track which charges through ears like an adrenaline fuelled lover equipped with an armoury of the folkish vivacity and death bred savagery and undertaking a do or die mission. It is a blistering predator of a track, every second either musically or vocally an experiment of tenacious invention and sonic experimentation. The song leaves ears and passions bruised and blissful as it forges the album’s pinnacle.

To Be or…to Be in its smouldering individual way is another track which brings new surprises with every twist and melodic swing within in its creative emprise. Irresistible classical and jazz seeded persuasions settle easily in ears just as the ruggedly melodic textures and more blackened metal essences seducing from within the bold drama. As the album, it is a track which takes a few listens to reveal its majesty but rewards relentlessly once understanding is found, much as after the dark menacing skies of the album’s instrumental title track, the mighty Monsters. Dark clouds instantly smother ears as the soaring tones of Moon scythe through their intimidating ambience, but within the tempestuous climate the band continually switch from a forceful stride to a ravenous charge unleashing a kaleidoscope of almost salacious sounds and fiery ingenuity which colours the explosive theatre of it all.

Finishing on Adieu à la scène with its music box like waltz, Impressions is not going to be for everyone and definitely needs proper attention and time given to it. Its first touch left us rigorously unsure but compelled and it was only over numerous plays that the songs and Aevum’s imagination found clarity in thoughts and emotions. There are still parts which fail to convince but for the main Impressions is a thrilling and hypnotic adventure all gothic, symphonic, and avant-garde metal fans should have a go at.

Impressions is available now via Fuel Records http://www.fuelrecords.it/?wp_releases=impressions and digitally @ http://aevumopera.bandcamp.com/album/impressions

http://www.aevumband.com/

RingMaster 11/12/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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