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

Dalla Nebbia – Felix Culpa

cover_RingMaster Review

An album impossible to fully digest on the first listen, second, and indeed even a few more, Felix Culpa still quickly emerges as one richly fascinating and perpetually tempting proposition. The creation of US based Dalla Nebbia; it is a compelling assault of extreme metal and imagination. The band’s sound is loosely tagged as atmospheric black metal but as Felix Culpa soon reveals, it openly embraces provocative strains of progressive rock and doom metal to present something testing and uniquely enthralling.

Dalla Nebbia first emerged in 2010 as a duo, and now is a quartet with three members living in N Carolina, Minnesota, and Washington, and a fourth with Brazil as a home. Inspirations include music and invention produced by bands such as Agalloch, Nachtmystium, Limbonic Art, and Arcturus, the foursome taking these into their own extensive and epic weaves of emotional and sonic drama. The successor to debut album The Cusp of the Void, it the bringing together of the band’s first demo and self-released EP Thy Pale Form, the ten track Felix Culpa sees the band breaching new depths and levels of imagination and craft. Its premise is a dive into the human psyche, in the words of the band, “a journey through decay and regret, death and suicide, and thorny despair at the hands of an angry god” and its voice a challenge to find a wealth of corruptive pleasure in.

Featuring Norwegian violinist Sareeta (Borknagar, Solefald, Asmegin) across most songs on the album and guest guitarist Aort (Code, Indesinence) on a couple of tracks, Felix Culpa opens with the brief instrumental Memento Mori; the synth and guitar craft of Yixja a swift and entrancing immersion for ears and thoughts. Warm yet feeling more like the lull before the storm even with the magnetic lures of violin, the piece leads the listener straight into the tempest of Until the Rain Subsides, though that too initially has a restraint and gothic invitation that only entices. The raw vocal squalls of Zduhać add to the thick atmosphere and brewing imposing air of the song even with both being tempered by the captivating harmonies that rise within the melancholic beauty of Sareeta’s strings. Ravenous and seductive in equal measure, blackened voracity and progressive calm colluding in a controlled band unpredictable maelstrom, the song makes an impressive full welcome into Felix Culpa.

The more rabid Abandoned Unto Sky takes over next, the brutal drumming of Alkurion a quick violation forging a punishing union with raw unrelenting riffs. In time though, as the bass of Tiphareth spills its own animus on proceedings, song and band infect the storm with melodic and emotive enterprise whilst managing to simultaneously intensify the ruinous nature of the track. Every moment has something within something else, layers within layers, textures revealing their own personal breakdown of essences as the song evolves and twists on its rancorous spine. Growing more riveting and thrilling in its second half, the song epitomises the album as a whole, each minute a bounty of imaginative turns and detours seamlessly woven into fierce tapestries that with every listen unveil new treasures.

Both Lament of Aokigahara and The Banner of Defiance keep ears and emotions aflame, the first from a portentous coaxing venturing into a dank incantation like crawl through smothering intensity and ambience with volatile invention and beauty respectively. Guitars entwine with keys, synths with the melodic incitement of the violin, and rhythms in tender and barbarous skill framing the tempestuous charm and adventure of the track. Its successor is similarly honed but far more physically challenging with its vindictive rhythms and riffs, not forgetting breath. Of course things shift and evolve, the song also slipping into spellbinding moments of vocal and sonic radiance, these at times stemming the tide of hostility like momentary oases in a challenging journey whilst providing their own fresh exploration of the lyrical and emotional exploration. As in its predecessor, it is thoroughly engrossing though occasionally heavy going trying to explore all on offer but with time the songs just get bigger and more impressive as they eventually share their extensive realms.

Not Within the Stone blows a creative wind washed in post and progressive rock daring around a black metal scowl. This gripping fusion smothers a doom seeded gait but by now expectantly also embraces bold flames of contagious hooks, virulent grooves, and inhospitable intensity into the creative melting pot to heavily pleasing effect. Once more ears and thoughts are bullied and rubbed raw whilst kept firmly engrossed in the uncompromising collusion of contrasts that also emerge in the outstanding Felix Culpa (Theodicy Corrupted), a smooth seducing ingrained in a ferociously ravishing volcano of sound and enmity.

The shorter instrumental trespass of Das Gelächter Gottes is a cold dystopian respite next, luring the imagination towards the opening melancholic serenade of Paradise in Flames. A fire of emotional and sonic unrest, the track restrains from erupting into the inferno expected, seven of its nine evocative minutes having passed to inspire and incite before things spew vocal and physical lava, though that again comes with the spellbinding touch of the violin and Dalla Nebbia’s creative bravery to leave only a want for more.

A final instrumental caress closes the album, The Silent Transition a melody driven kiss on the senses wrapped in ever potent shadows and shaped by the open individual prowess of Dalla Nebbia. It is a fine conclusion to a release words barely scratch the surface of. Felix Culpa will not be for all, at times being a real test for many including some black and extreme metal fans, though only in a good way. Fair to say though for all wanting something bold and original which pushes their boundaries as much as the music they have a passion for, a release that works their bodies and thoughts for a constant unveiling of new rewards with each plunge into its depths, then Felix Culpa and Dalla Nebbia is very worthy of a visit.

Felix Culpa is out now via Razed Soul Productions @ http://dallanebbia.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/dallanebbiamusic

Pete RingMaster 15/10/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

For more exploration of the independent and promotional services check out http://www.zykotika.com/

Patria – Individualism

patria

Our introduction to Brazilian black metallers Patria came with their previous album Nihil Est Monastica; an encounter last year which without crossing into new boundaries with its early nineties driven sound was an exhausting and thrilling release. Now having signed with Indie Recordings, the band unleashes their new violation Individualism. As its predecessor the eleven track feeds and ruins expectations, a similar texture and sound as their previous provocation providing the voice of Patria’s sound but veined and underlined by another increase in exploration of the band’s continuing to grow imagination.

The new release is the fifth album from the quintet of band founders, vocalist Triumphsword and guitarist Mantus, alongside bassist WS Vulkan, guitarist Igniis Inferniis, and drummer Abyssius. The band was formed in 2008 and soon forging a reputation at home with their merger of dark Scandinavian ravages and South American designed metal. Their roots continue to inflame their releases as evidenced by their 2013 album and now its successor, but an evolution of invention and experimentation also spices their endeavours. The result, as mentioned in regard to Individualism, is an incitement which stays within the walls of traditional black metal but colours it with inciting designs and vicious seductions.

Recorded in the last three months of 2013, the album was mastered by Oystein G. Brun of Borknagar and features special guest Fabiano patria coverPenna in the songwriting and arrangement of the closing track of the release and the opening instrumental title track, Individualism making its bow with a brief orchestral call held in a cavernous ambience and clad in portentous intent. Its respectful incitement is soon smothered by the raging torrential blaze of Blood Storm Prophecy where rhythms jab and pummel the ears whilst riffs and sonic enticement rampage and intrigue respectively. The track meanders purposely around the senses in between its corrosive spurts of intensity, vocals a spiteful glaze upon the narrative and imposing breath of the track. Though the song is arguably not openly offering anything truly new it easily slips beneath the skin and psyche, terraforming resistance into a submissive and keen appetite soon fed potently by the third track of the album.

     Uncrowned God of Light, as it predecessor, makes a savage entrance. The guitars sear air and flesh with violent rabidity whilst vocals add their own rich causticity to the suffocating mix. It is a welcomingly imposing assault but one which truly sparks imagination and passions when the band uncages thick addictive grooves and a richly tempting swagger. From its ferocious start the song finds a clever restraint which allows colourful melodies and infectious imagination to permeate and expand the riveting adventure. The track is outstanding and holds onto best album moment, though it is often seriously challenged t by songs like the following Outrage, a masterful track stamping its authority rhythmically and inventively from its opening seconds. Striding beats hits the ears first before a maelstrom of acidic hooks and scarring riffs clad a further destructive twist of drum intrusiveness. The sonic lures sweep around and lash the senses throughout to feed a continuing to increase greed for the album, whilst melody bred hues flame and score thoughts impressively within the blistering blaze.

In many ways the album does not get any better than across this pair of songs but thoughtful invention and dramatic exploits are never far from capturing the imagination to keep the album initially a powerful encounter and ultimately an increasingly persuasive and revealing investigation. The next up Orphan of Emptiness epitomises this, its first suasion enjoyable though breeding a few doubts but becoming a firm favourite with its constant unveiling of new textures and ideation over time. The song again parades its wares and intent with an unmistakable confident revelry, grooves and riffs marching boldly before slipping into a reserved but creative prowl. The initial rapacious attack of the song is soon seizing control again, though its shares and switches throughout with its counterpart to strong success as the persistently shifting landscape of the track becomes very compelling. The bursts of power metal like vocals and thrusts at its latter shows further bravery in song and songwriting but do fail to convince though they cannot defuse the strength of the tempest.

The severe consumption of Far Beyond The Scorn brings an enjoyable if underwhelming ravaging in comparison to previous tracks whilst Catharsis reignites ears with its controlled tsunami of multi-flavoured sonic and emotional vitriol, the song careering with a mouthwatering blend of melodic and raw textures which again never settle primarily into one stance to keep thoughts and senses busy and unrelentingly excited. By this point a breath is needed and the band offer the opportunity with the excellent instrumental Epiphany, a track bringing classical elegance together with sinister drama, the union another potent seed for the imagination. Its dark peace allows a steeling of emotions for the venomous squalls of Your Rotten Heart Dies Now and God’s Entombment, the first of the pair a sonic predator stalking thoughts with serpentine melodies and sonic toxicity, both licking air and senses with merciless mordancy. The guitars provide a poisonous web of menace and emotive severity but equally engage and enthral with an overpowering bait within the rhythmic chaining, an enterprise also explored by God’s Entombment but with a more direct abrasing enveloping.

Closing on the expansive yet intimate climate of Requiem For The Ego, another instrumental which permeates every pore and corner of mind and emotions, Individualism is a magnetic and rewarding violation. It is an encounter which builds in weight, intensity, and sheer quality with every plunge into its blackened depths. There are still parts where you are looking for sparks of originality but those gaps with each release seem to become few and far between as Patria continue to emerge as one of the more potent and gripping extreme metal propositions.

Individualism is available on CD/ Vinyl/Download via Indie Recordings now!

http://www.patriaofficial.com/

8.5/10

RingMaster 21/04/2104

 

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard from

http://www.audioburger.com

 

Breaching the aggressive beauty: an interview with Johnar Haaland and Kristian Wikstøl from In Vain

Photo by Jørn Veberg

Photo by Jørn Veberg

We may only be three months into the year but Norwegian progressive extreme metal band In Vain has made a startling claim for album of the year with the stunning Ænigma. The third album from the band is a compelling and inciting tempest of towering imaginative and inventive ingenuity evolving the rich already brewed essences of the band into a new exhilarating inspirational of fresh and sharpened ideas. Beautiful and destructive the release sets new heights and templates for themselves and for others to aspire to. To learn more about the band, their expansive music, and Ænigma itself, we had the distinct pleasure of talking with songwriter/guitarist Johnar Haaland and bassist/hardcore vocalist Kristian Wikstøl.

Hi Guys, welcome to The RingMaster Review and many thanks for taking time to talk with us.

In Vain is back with a vengeance with your new album Ænigma, a release which has taken a fair while to arrive since your last album. Was there any deliberate intent to take your time over this one or was it just how life imposed upon and dictated the journey for the album to its existence?

Kristian: First of all, thanks for a nice review and for taking your time! In Vain have always been about quality before quantity and to use your words, we are back with a vengeance with Ænigma, in my own opinion, our strongest album so far. From the fact that we are 6 members in the band with jobs and different projects in our lives it’s sometimes difficult to make things happen as productive and smooth as our fans would prefer. Kjetil became a father last year, Stig travels a lot in his job and I’m studying aviation in Florida. So yeah, it’s the result of many factors that lead to this.

Johnar: The main reason for the delay was that the songwriting process was interrupted. I am the only songwriter in the band and I had some personal business issues that I had to solve in 2011. This stole all my time and I had to put the songwriting on a halt for almost a year.

Obviously as a band you are confident and proud of the album, and rightly so, but has how it immediately ignited passions in fans and the media in any way surprised you?

Kristian: To be honest, I’m not surprised at all that people are excited about this album. I can say this because before I joined the band 6 years ago, I was a big fan of In Vain. Johnar and Andreas are my good friends and I remember being blown away by the sheer quality of the songs on “Wounds” and “The Latter Rain”. I’m still a fan though it’s always difficult to be objective to your own art and creations. We are thrilled to see that our fans are embracing this album.

Johnar: With the risk of sounding cocky, In Vain has always been blessed with great reviews. But we never take it for granted, and we also know that it has its side effects; people raise the bars for every release. It’s of course much easier to catch people off guard and surprise.

One of the triumphs of Ænigma, of so many , is that though it has the ‘typical’ In Vain sound and imagination which tells us its 424462_10150271525174990_907351002_nsource without the band name being needed, it is still a distinctly different  character and encounter compared to your previous albums. Where so many other bands struggle to achieve this is it something you intently work on or just something which arises organically as you explore your new ideas?

Johnar: I think you are touching on something very important. Personally, I only listen to bands I find somewhat original, and by that I mean that I am able to know exactly what band I am hearing on the stereo, because they have their own unique voice. Thus far, I have been the only songwriter in the band and I think that has given us a consistent sound.

For “Ænigma” the idea was to continue to explore the same field, but to try also to make some shorter songs, in order to have a more balanced album. I find “Ænigma” as a solid representation of everything In Vain has done so far.

Of course the core and heart of your music is extreme metal seeded with many diverse flames of styles burning within the progressive breath of the album. One can only assume across the band there is an eclectic passion for different music which filters into your music and imagination, again is it something with naturally brews its own spices as you write or at times do you deliberately follow a certain flavour to include in a song?

Johnar: All the members of In Vain have a very broad musical taste. Personally, I listen to everything from very quiet and mellow music, all the way to extreme metal. I am also a big fan of rap music. When I make music I try to combine what I consider as the strengths in the various genres that I enjoy. For instance, I blend in the feelings in the blues, the aggression in Black Metal, the heaviness in Doom, etc. When we started In Vain I had a vision of trying to combine all these elements, without making the songs chaotic and non-cohesive.

How does the songwriting process work and once together in the studio is it a somewhat flexible stance for ideas from all leading up to the recording?

Johnar: I write all the songs alone and I prefer to present finished songs to the other band members. Consequently, I make demos where I record/program all instruments. I have a strong opinion about everything, from how the vocals should be, what rhythms the drums should play and so forth. Then I incorporate whatever feedback I receive and the songs enters a phase where I listen to them a lot and try to find areas for improvements. When we record I give each members strong guidelines, but everyone is still free to add their personal touch to the music.

Lyrically like musically, the songs on Ænigma have their equally individual themes and presences but is there any underlying connection across the album between songs, apart from being written by the same author of course.

Johnar: There is no connection between the songs on “Ænigma” or between the various albums. As with the music, we have no limits for what our lyrics can involve, except that we stay clear of direct religious or political messages. On Ænigma the lyrics deal with personal experiences, nature, philosophical reflections and our view on which direction the world is heading.

Photo by Jørn Veberg2

Photo by Jørn Veberg

Johnar: I believe I have a strong personal integrity in my songwriting. I have a profound view on how our songs should be, and what makes a song good or not. For instance, I am very concerned about contrasts. Variation is key because if you use the same tricks/riffs too many times people will notice and get bored. I am also a dedicated believer of the fact that arrangements are way more important than the individual guitar riffs you use. In my opinion, you end up with a bad song, even though it only has good riffs, if you arrange it in the wrong way.

How did the recording of Ænigma differ from your previous albums?

Kristian: The recording of “Ænigma” was more effective than any previous IV album. We are more experienced in the recording process now than ever and we know what to expect at this point. Another huge difference is that all previous IV recordings has taken place in our hometown Kristiansand during summer holidays where there’s been more people in the studio at the same time and, yeah, more slacking off. We recorded “Ænigma” in Oslo and tracked all instrumentations separately. Each member spent only a couple of days in the studio with their respective instruments, except Johnar who was supervising the whole process. A lot of bands, especially young inexperienced bands don’t realize the art and value of being an effective and focused band during the recording process. I’m all about having a good time, but when I enter the studio I wanna bring my A-game and be able to say I did my best for the years to come. I still enjoy hanging out in the studio, crack open a beer and try out all kinds of different stuff, but In Vain is complex music and you have to be focused and prepared when you enter the studio.

Johnar: As Kristian said, we are focused on being effective in the studio. But still, we always leave some time for experimentation and improvisation

How as a songwriter and as musicians have you grown and your approach to making music changed since your first release?

Johnar: For many of the songs on our previous albums I have things I would like to have changed. I think I have gotten more experience and become more “tactical” by age. By that I mean that I know what is necessary and what is not necessary to make a song good or not. Also, I have learned that the arrangement of a song is way more important than the riffs you use. I believe you can make a good song even though there are several less good riffs, as long as you balance everything and get the arrangement right. The most important for me is variation and that everything progresses fluently.

Are there any elements of the early days as a band and in making your records which have changed but maybe you in hindsight miss?

Johnar: I really enjoyed when we recorded our two EPs “Will the Sun Ever Rise” and “Wounds” back in the days. We were younger, things were less serious and we had more fun. For both those albums we just rented a studio for the whole summer and had a lot of fun.

Ænigma was produced by the mighty Jens Bogren (Opeth, Soilwork, Borknagar, etc.), what was it apart from the obvious about his style which you felt would exploit the riches of the album to bring it even more vibrantly to life?

Johnar: We chose to work with Jens because he had impressed us with his previous work. Additionally, we were looking for a crystal clear sound which would allow all the elements in our music to be heard.

Did his input and ideas change anything beyond your initial ideas upon the album?

Johnar: Jens only mixed the album after everything was recorded when he received the files from us. So the answer is no to this

Photo by Jørn Veberg

Photo by Jørn Veberg

question.

In our review we felt the album was seeded in your earlier albums expanding them into a new exhilarating and inspiring canvas of fresh and sharp invention, and as we said earlier stands as something uniquely separate at the same time. Is that how you see it too from the inside of the band?

Johnar: I think “Ænigma” is a very good representation of everything we have done so far. You have more epic and slow songs (‘Floating on The Murmuring Tide’) which could be compared to ‘Captivating Solitude’ from the “Mantra” album, and you have more aggressive and fast songs (‘Times of Yore’) which is reminiscent of our earlier work. Finally, you also have tracks like ‘Image of Time’ and ‘Rise Against’ which has a more fresh and new sound.

Again you have brought in guest musicians for the album including Lazare and Cornelius from Solefald. Though it is an on-going idea across your releases to date have you not had the urge to master many of the instruments these fine artists bring and provide them yourselves?

Kristian: Having guest musicians on the album is good fun for both us and the fans but also a way to ensure that you have the best man for the job. It would have been too time consuming to learn how to play the violin, cello, sax or whatnot only to play on a couple of songs. These musicians are amazing and have spent years mastering their crafts. It would have been like using a plumber to operate on your legs or a surgeon to fix your plumbing. When it comes to Lazare and Cornelius it just felt natural to work with them since In Vain and Solefald will be teaming up this year on the stage. They are two great musicians and artists with a unique style and pitch to things and it would be plain wrong to try to imitate them instead of inviting on the album.

 The vocals on your releases and especially Ænigma just blow us away, the mix of extremes and their fluid union is always so impressive and another major aspect for us alongside the startling sounds. I have to ask though is there any rivalry over parts in songs as they are written?

Kristian: Since we all have very different vocal styles it becomes natural who’s doing what. I know my strengths and limitations when it comes to vocals and I’m not even gonna try to do Andreas shivering BM vocals or Sindre’s clean vocals. As with the former question; the most important thing is that you have the best man for the job. With varied songs, you also need variations in the vocals.

Since forming in 2003 has it become easier or harder as a band over the years, and has your gained experience along the way made it easier to deal with obstacles and arising problems within the music business?

Kristian: I think it becomes easier the older and more confident you get. As a band we are tighter, better and more comfortable with each other than ever and I think that comes as a natural consequence of us having matured and gotten more experienced. I haven’t seen the ugly side of the industry yet, but I know it exists. There are shady people in just about any business though. A lot boils down to how you let these people treat you.

April sees In Vain touring with Indie Recordings label-mates Vreid and also Solefald. Will you include the whole of Ænigma within your shows and what else is ahead live wise for the year?

Johnar: Since we don’t tour that often we will also play some old songs. Also, a big number of our fans really love the “The Latter Rain” album, so we will play a couple of songs from that disc. But the majority will be from “Ænigma”. Since our songs are quite long there is a limit on how many we can play unfortunately.

Again many thanks for sparing time to tell us about In Vain and Ænigma. Any last words you would like to share?

Thanks again! Big thanks and respect to all the supporters of real music out there! Keep buying albums and go see a good ol’ rock show every now and then. Hope to see you all soon on a stage near you!

And finally for the tour what are the sounds you most likely will take to help ease all the traveling between venues?

Kristian: I listen to just about anything within music, I don’t really care about norms or scenes anymore, only quality and passion. If you want name droppings: Neurosis, Deadmau5, Converge, Shai Hulud, Kendrick Lamar, the Roots, Radical Face, the last Deftones album is nice, Totalt Jävla Mörker, Hans Zimmer, Thrice+ a thousand more!

Read the review of Ænigma @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2013/03/13/in-vain-aenigma/

The RingMaster Review 23/03/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard from

http://www.audioburger.com

In Vain: Ænigma

In Vain 2013

    It has always been known or certainly suggested through their previous albums that Norwegians In Vain were masters at merging conflicting extremes, the release of third album Ænigma is the undisputed truth of that thought and declaration. The album is a compelling and invigorating tempest of opposites, beauty and destruction, peace and overwhelming sonic consumption, simplicity and inciting creative ingenuity. The release is arguably not stretching new boundaries but instead honing the already explored and distinct reaches of the band into their most impressive and intrusive piece of grandeur yet.

From their debut album The Latter Rain in 2007 which saw a rich and expansive blend of guest musicians and vocalists adding to the creative shock to the system for progressive metal, the band has reaped strong critical acclaim. Its successor Mantra three years later made an equal impact though for some was a mixed bag of tracks within what was still an ultimately thrilling and provocative release. The album confirmed the creativity and sound of the band as something apart from most other bands with similar musical intent and placed In Vain amongst the most respected melodic extreme metal conjurors. The Jens Bogren (Opeth, Soilwork, Borknagar, etc) produced Ænigma focuses all the already impressive elements and invention of the band into a towering and imaginative maelstrom of uncompromising pleasure, the album in many ways summing up of all that came before and was seeded in the earlier albums and expanding it into a new exhilarating and inspiring canvas of fresh and sharpened ideas.

As their previous albums, Ænigma is released via Indie Recordings and takes mere moments to awaken and perk up thoughts and Invain_front_highressenses. Against the Grain emerges from a sonic provocation with instinctively pervading intensity from the rampaging riffs and ravenous rhythms soon consuming the ear whilst the individual vocals squalls of Andreas Frigstad and bassist K. Wikstøl, the first venomously serpentine and the latter a hardcore bruising, ignite further primal pleasure through their impressive union. Once the clean vocals of Sindre Nedland join the now magnetic lure of the song, submission to its invitation is complete, the beauty and the beast persona of the track irresistible and incendiary for the passions. The expressive voice of the guitars of Johnar Haaland and Kjetil D. Pedersen soak the senses in courting and intimidating mastery, evoking and provoking reactions from emotions and thoughts throughout the continual senses searching imagination of the song.

The track as soon to be the whole album, has precise intentions with its  thought leading sounds and songwriting, which holds an inviting lyrical poise, but allows and invites the listener to spark their own unique feelings and visions to feel fully involved and part of the whole process of Ænigma. As progressive winds swarm through and around the ear within the often predatory extremes within tracks such as Image of Time and Culmination of the Enigma the band secures an addiction from offering inspiring and unpredictable variations within the also impossible to predict harsh torrents of annihilatory storms. Individually songs like the sublime instrumental Southern Shores or the elegantly malicious Rise Against offer an inspiring and emotionally inflammatory experience unique to themselves but part of the full album become another beast and encounter to devour and thoughtfully respond to, something which arguably may have been missing on previous releases, a consistency which brings a different fulfilment to taking songs as singular pleasures.

The pinnacles of the album come through Times of Yore and To the Core, the first an almost rabid yet reserved prowl of the listeners psyche with drummer Stig Reinhardtsen opening the gates to his most vicious rhythms and energy and vocals preying on the damage with spite and greed. With contagious acidic grooves and almost questioning melodies the track is immense, a furnace of passion and craft employing the richest essences of the band and their invention from its deepest most intrusive shadows whilst employing an infectiousness of melodic temptation. The second just gnaws on bone, senses, and emotions with yet untapped vehemence and an unrelenting savagery of riffs, rhythms, and vocals. Bestial and primitively violent, the track is a mighty lasting sonic pyre with glorious melodic flames of vocals and guitar enterprise.

Ænigma also impressively finds extra irresistible persuasion with each visit, from being impressively invigorating it reaches a higher stature over every encounter to become one of the essential hungers for the passions. In Vain have left a bench mark for all progressive extreme metallers to aspire to, we wish them luck.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/In-Vain/65782594989

9/10

RingMaster 13/03/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard from

www.audioburger.com