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

In Vain – Currents

Just a handful of weeks short of five years back, Norwegian metallers In Vain released the ear gripping Ænigma. It was a release which brought and honed all the potential and impressive attributes of its two predecessors to one seriously striking head. That triumphant encounter has now been swept away in the creative eddy of the band’s fourth album Currents, a proposal which lustily roars In Vain as being one of metal’s finest and most exciting propositions.

Since emerging in 2003, In Vain has grown within and persistently ascended the European metal scene with their adventurously imaginative progressive extreme metal. Their 2007 debut album, The Latter Rain, swiftly stirred keen attention and critical praise, and a reputation for craft and sound which the more variable Mantra nevertheless only reinforced.  The Jens Bogren (Opeth, Dimmu Borgir, Katatonia, Devin Townsend, Kreator) produced Ænigma simply sparked the imagination as it built upon and pushed the traits of those before. It all pales though before the majesty of Currents, a release which surprises at every twist and enthrals at every turn. Intricately woven yet as organic as the passion which drives it, Ænigma not only takes the In Vain sound to a whole new level, it brings progressive metal a fresh landscape shaping breath.

Seeing Bogren united with the band once again, Currents contemplates “the colossal shifts and changes of our time” looking at the currents behind major events and changes across the modern world from “Migration of people across continents and borders, cultures merging and the dramatic shifts in lifestyle from one generation to the next.” It also features guest appearances from the likes of drummer Baard Kolstad (Leprous, Borknagar), vocalist and former band member Kristian Wikstøl (From Strength to Strength), and vocalist Matthew Kiichi Heafy (Trivium) among various more.

Currents opens with Seekers of the Truth and immediately entwines ears in steely vines of guitar as beats bite. Andreas Frigstad’s raw throated vocals soon prowl the engaging lure, rhythms and melodies colluding in a web of threat and intrigue around him with the song’s climate imposingly bracing but equally infectious  as the guitars of Johnar Håland and Kjetil Domaas Petersen almost dance on the ear. The progressive nature of the band’s sound subsequently infuses the track’s aggressive intent, varied strains of extreme metal merging with melodic enterprise for a captivating trespass.

Even so it’s potent and ear grabbing entrance into the album is soon eclipsed by next up Soul Adventurer. Within its first breath as keys rise, grooves are writhing around the imagination, their earnest exploits matched by the superb clean vocals of keyboardist Sindre Nedland. It is instantly compelling, increasingly so as the song gets right under the skin with resourceful harmonies and rolling rhythms only adding to the richness as the guitars spin a web of creative temptation. It is the superb vocal blend across the band though which brings it all together for easily one of the best tracks ever spawned by the imagination of In Vain.

That is a height though regularly equalled from hereon in staring with Blood We Shed, the track a wall of predacious intent and tone led by Frigstad’s vocal threat. Riffs and grooves soon collude in their own menacing enterprise, the bass of Alexander Bøe a thick grumbling incitement but from within their dark nature a ripple of melodic suggestion becomes a heated, harmonic serenade. There is plenty more going on too as keys and voices take the stage before falling under the incoming rumble of those earlier imposing textures, an array of imaginative moments which seem to reveal more with every listen.

Currents comes in two editions, the Special Edition offering two additional tracks with And Quiet Flows the Scheldt the first. Like a developing landscape, the song grows by the second as vocals and guitars shape an atmospheric flight through suggestive sonic scenery. The track does not have the snap of its predecessor but infuses a drama which draws the imagination right into its heart, vocals again as stirring as the music with the flames of sax a captivating heat in its evocative climate.

The funkier tapestry of Origin and the inviting mystery of En Forgangen Tid (Times of Yore Pt. II) bring their own enthralling reflections to ears and thoughts next, the first a robust yet considerate confrontation masterfully blending contrasts in power, aggression, and tone not forgetting flavours. This is an ability In Vain have never been lacking but as so many other things it has breached a new pinnacle within Currents as the second of the two confirms. Sung in the band’s native tongue, the song is glorious. In no time melodies vein a portentous air, dark and light wrapping round each other as a kaleidoscope of vocal and atmospheric intimation entices from within the magnetically tempestuous vortex.

Ghost Path is the second song found only on the larger edition of the album, the track sharing its own mysterious shadow haunted realm. The imagination is taking on a stroll through an underworld of fear, despair, and increasing creative ill-intent which comes to a head in a rhythmically driven, rapaciously fuelled predation of sound and intensity. The song is pure creative theatre, and reason alone to go grab the bigger version of the album as you really do not want to miss out.

The album concludes with firstly the similarly enthralling infestation of As the Black Horde Storms. Its blackened assault has a folkish tinge to its melodic undercurrent, death bred traits soon as prevalent as the track consumes the senses and begins spinning another web of striking imagination and sound where, as throughout the release, every moment brings surprise and invention to absorb and impress. Its successor, Standing on the Ground of Mammoths, smothers ears with its dark air and slightly corrosive texture whilst again gripping attention with is aural enticement and vocal dexterity. More a song with its creative tenacity and enterprise understated compared with other tracks within Currents; every dive into it brings them closer to the surface though its slip in a thoughtful melodic seduction mid-way is a beguiling caress from the first moment.

It provides an end to an album which simply excites from start to finish. Setting a new marker for not only the band but extreme progressive metal, In Vain has become one of the most fascinating and enjoyable propositions within world metal.

Currents is available now through Indie Recordings digitally and as a normal and special edition on CD and Vinyl.

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

Pete RingMaster 04/02/2018

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright