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

Immension – Love Never Dies

Immension - 'Love Never Dies' Single Cover_RingMaster Review

Earlier this year British metallers Immension released their highly anticipated and impressively enjoyable debut album In Vain. It was an encounter wearing the Sheffield band’s influences openly on its sleeve whilst tempting ears with their own specific craft in songwriting and sound. One of the many highlights within the stirringly enjoyable embrace of familiarity and fresh imagination was the track Love Never Dies, a song now having its moment alone in the spotlight as Immension’s new single. It certainly stood out through its dramatic originality and emotive intensity amongst all the other successful persuasions within the album and fair to say it has lost none of its power as it tries to ignite another wealth of attention the way of the band.

Immension Promo Shot_RingMaster ReviewFormed in 2008 by Jake Kearsley (vocals, guitar, bass and piano) and Tim Dolan (lead guitar), Immension have blossomed into a band persistently grabbing attention and praise. Straight away their sound seemed to draw on inspirations ranging from Bullet For My Valentine and Metallica to In Flames and Avenged Sevenfold, a mix stirring up a quickly growing fan base live and through a self-titled EP and subsequently its successor The Enemy Within. 2011 saw the addition of drummer Jonni Sowter to the band’s ranks, a final piece of the puzzle found in many ways leading to the creation and acclaimed release of In Vain a few months back. 2015 has definitely been a strong year for Immension and is set to end on a high for them through Love Never Dies.

An initial and distant sigh of keys leads ears to the emotively charged piano of Kearsley, his fingers painting a melancholic picture as a similarly toned reflection escapes with his impressive voice. It is an alluring start becoming more potent as portentous shadows quickly cloud the song’s atmosphere; that springing punchy rhythms and a throaty lure of bass in tandem to contrast and accentuate the melodic and harmonic beauty also shared. From within that creative merger, a fiery climate brews too, veins of sonic enterprise and emotive drama wrapping the Metallica scented ballad as it arouses and seduces the senses simultaneously.

The song is a blaze of emotional angst and mesmeric beauty within a just as gripping tempestuousness. Certainly its character and body has a strong familiarity to it but not as potent as the creative theatre and anthemic prowess unique to Immension. For newcomers Love Never Dies is the perfect doorway into the band’s impressive qualities and rich potential, for fans it just confirms why they have taken the band to their breast.

Love Never Dies, with a great video as company, is released 11th December.

https://www.facebook.com/immension  https://twitter.com/immension   http://immension.co.uk

Pete RingMaster 10/12/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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STUNNING NEW VIDEO SINGLE FROM IMMENSION RELEASED

Immension Online Press Shot

Steel City metallers ‘Immension’ continue their climb with the brand new video single for ‘In Vain’ which is taken from their debut album of the same name and out in stores now.

Watch ‘In Vain’ right here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9poeYC-qeXY

By pulling from a host of sources, but namely the layered webbing of ‘In Flames’ and the accessibility of ‘Trivium’ and ‘Arch Enemy’, Immension have carefully crafted a sound that cunningly blends the fundamentals of contemporary and metal; the end result is absolutely exhilarating.

Immension were originally formed in 2008 in Sheffield by founding members Jake Kearsley and Tim Dolan. Drummer Jonni Sowter entered the fray in 2011, and the aspiring riff beasts soon set to work on honing their sound. It wasn’t long before the Steel City crew hit the road and toured throughout the whole of the UK. The band then went on to record and self-release two EPs. Both records sparked extensive praise and support from Kerrang!, Rock Sound, Total Rock Radio, Terrorizer and Powerplay Magazine, all helping to catapult the band to a national level.

Immension’s debut album, ‘In Vain’, has just been nationally released and it sets a clear marker, drawing a definitive line in the sand for the trio. The riff slingers now lift the album’s namesake as a new video single and are set to charge forward. The single is an energetic assault on the senses that will undoubtedly pull you in, while highlighting the band’s maturity and careful texturing through perfectly woven guitar work and thoughtful arrangements. The Yorkshire metallers are here and are poised to reach new heights.

– IMMENSION’S VIDEO FOR ‘IN VAIN’–

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9poeYC-qeXY

https://www.facebook.com/immension https://twitter.com/immension

Immension – In Vain

Immension Press Shot

Continuing where their previous EP left off whilst showing greater rigorous invention and accomplished songwriting, British metallers Immension release debut album In Vain to reaffirm the potential of their already potent emergence. It is not an encounter destined to leave ears awe struck but certainly it is an album merging familiarity and fresh imagination in one persistently enjoyable proposition.

The Sheffield bred Immension was formed in 2008 by Jake Kearsley (vocals, guitar, bass and piano) and Tim Dolan (lead guitar), and soon began earning local attention with a sound seemingly Bullet For My Valentine inspired, certainly on the evidence of their self-titled first EP. Its successor The Enemy Within increased the band’s ever growing fan base whilst sparking a more national awareness too, its arrival also revealing a more Metallica influenced creativity and air was blossoming in the band’s sound and again part fuels Immension’s first and increasingly pleasing full-length. With drummer Jonni Sowter, who joined the band back in 2011, the trio are set to awaken the strongest and broadest spotlight yet with In Vain, with expected success.

Carrying a presence which is like nineties era Metallica meets Trivium, In Vain opens up with its title track and an enticing of guitar which in turn leads to a robust and skilfully tangled weave of melodic endeavour and rhythmic incitement. The vocals led by Kearsley, similarly have a tenacious and full presence, and like the music carry a Hetfield and co ring to them in varying ways. Rigorous in some moments, more energetically composed in others, the track grabs ears and attention with ease with Sowter a commanding and resourceful presence within the web of enterprise cast by Dolan’s guitar.

Immension Album Cover Art   The rich start to the album continues with The Fantasy, Sowtor’s heavy swings again instantly incendiary bait as riffs and grooves unleash a fiery magnetism against the dark swing riffs of bass. As the rest of the album, there are plenty of recognisable aspects to the song, of others and the band’s previous releases, but equally a new adventure is explored too via more provocative sonic textures and Middle Eastern spices. It is a climatic and richly satisfying encounter, its mix of deliberate prowling and ruggedly enthusiastic charges a contagious persuasion reinforced by the creative imagination and ever impressing vocals within all sides of the band.

All That Remains follows with a mellower and more restrained if still fiery character, vocals and guitar caressing ears as rhythms provide a sturdier framing. Impassioned energy flows through the heart and narrative of the song though, ensuring its more placid nature is always on the edge of emotional eruption before it makes way for the skilfully crafted and dynamic Lost & Forgotten. Neither track can match the persuasion of the first two on the album, and both also begin to reveal a surface similarity in certain areas between tracks within In Vain, but each has ears and appetite enthused for more with their also present elements of individuality, and again duly offered by In The Dead Of Winter and Shadow Of Yourself. The first of these two opens with an ominous yet regal ambience around dramatic beats before being further infused with wiry melodic hues of guitar. There is a rampancy to it which is just as highly persuasive as the ever evident technical and thoughtful potency going into songs. It is one of the loftier peaks of the album, a height its successor tries to emulate with its familiar inventive route clad in thoroughly engaging sound and creativity.

For maybe the first openly dramatic time a major twist of originality comes with the piano led and vocally harmonic Love Never Dies. Its opening charm and beauty is mesmeric but aligned to portentous shadows through the heavy tones of bass and firmly jabbing beats, it all gripping the imagination as much as ears. Continuing to evolve and expand its character and creative colour, the song becomes a blaze of melodic and emotional angst, sublimely capturing pleasure and thoughts before the just as excellent The Enemy Within uncages its barbarous and exhilarating turbulence. The track is never as aggressive and volatile as it might be due to the excellent smooth tones of Kearsley, but it thrills a treat with an enticing which is inviting and barbed simultaneously. The two tracks provide further pinnacles to the album before closing track The Father You Will Never Be offers a final imposing croon and emotional ferocity restrained by melodic temptation.

The song is a fine end to a consistently and increasingly enjoyable release. Immension are still a distance away from finding a truly unique sound but In Vain shows that in craft and sound they have taken big and impressive steps. This is not an encounter to be surprised by or find brand new terrains through but as a proposition to simply spend forty five minutes or so enjoying potent melodic metal, it is a success many other bands will envy.

In Vain is available from June 15th through all stores.

https://www.facebook.com/immension https://twitter.com/immension

RingMaster 15/06/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard on Reputation Radio @ http://www.reputationradio.net

 

The RingMaster Review’s Metal/Rock Best of 2013

In a year of breath-taking rapaciousness and passions igniting sonic aggressiveness from the extensive depths of metal and rock in all its various rabid disguises, it is not easy to select the best albums to have eagerly  and skilfully savaged the senses. Nevertheless The RingMaster Review has applied intensive thought and time consuming deliberation over the tempest of thrilling releases it has covered in 2013 and chosen it’s Best of the Year based on the most potent lustful submission and overwhelming contagious toxicity bred by the intrusive treats covered on the site over the past twelve months.

1. Bovine -The Sun Never Sets On The British Empire 255275_477420662275813_1151896898_n

Brawling, squalling, and impossibly contagious, The Sun Never Sets On The British Empire is an album which charms and harms the senses for easily one of the most thrilling and exciting albums this year….

https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2013/04/13/bovine-the-sun-never-sets-on-the-british-empire/

coverhigh2. Sofy Major – Idolize

…has defiantly emerged as one of the most frighteningly impressive albums of the year so far. The release is a beast of a record, an album which can only be declared as carnivorous, in sound and intent…

https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2013/06/01/sofy-major-idolize/

3. Cult Of Luna – Vertikalcol-vertikal-jpg

…a colossal journey and an intense emotional narrative which transports the listener into a place of stark beauty and oppressive grandeur whilst wrapping its recipients in the dystopian canvas upon which the immense and riveting structures of the album are built…

https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2013/01/26/cult-of-luna-vertikal/

packshot-1500x15004. Bear – Noumenon

…sonic alchemy which leaves exhaustion and lust bred satisfaction raging rewards…

https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/bear-noumenon/

5. Shevils – Lost In Tartarus1424384_730606523620529_1143928494_n

The ten track fury of invention and passion is a monster of a release, a brutal yet ingeniously sculpted confrontation…

https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2013/11/08/shevils-lost-in-tartarus/

475_russkaja6. Russkaja – Energia!

Sounding like the bastard offspring of the Austrian Strauss Brothers with a bent for insatiable adrenaline fuelled folk metal and exhausting jazz…

https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2013/04/10/russkaja-energia/

7. Lord Dying – Summon the Faithlesssummonthefaithless

…tsunami of rapacious riffing, deliberately antagonistic rhythms, and sonic ferocity wrapped in melodic fire…

https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2013/07/11/lord-dying-summon-the-faithless/

cover-0018. Arceye – At First Light

…devours with imagination, craft, and a devastating predacious invention that takes the listener on one of the most enthralling dangerous aural journeys lying in wait this year…

https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2013/08/08/arceye-at-first-light/

9. Coilguns – Commuters02_front_cover_web

…pushes the boundaries of band and extreme music beyond their limits with skill and startling imagination…

https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2013/02/07/coilguns-commuters/

overcoming-the-monster-album-cover10. KingBathmat – Overcoming The Monster

…a compelling flight of melodic fire, rhythmic provocation, and sonic beauty all wrapped in an ingenuity of craft and thought which leaves the listener quite breathless…

https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2013/07/22/kingbathmat-overcoming-the-monster/

11. lo! – Monstrorum Historialo_mh_cover_square

…imagination of the band a greater open malevolence which leaves only undiluted sore pleasure and invigorated intrusive satisfaction in its caustic wash…

https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2013/04/22/lo-monstrorum-historia/

hellsdomaincover12. Hell’s Domain – Self Titled

…one of the freshest and invigorating thrash releases to come along certainly this year and a marker for other bands to aspire to if they want to permanently enslave the passions…

https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2013/09/24/hells-domain-self-titled/

13. Abysse – En(D)Gravea2430544694_2

https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2013/10/04/abysse-endgrave/

…an extensive exploration of bold adventurous lands and emotions; ventures fraught with warriors and bravery, shadows and danger but all brought forth with a potent sinew driven narrative that leaves no emotive intensive stone unturned and inventive imagination untapped…

Following closely in the wake of the above are also highly recommended…

The Ocean – Pelagial

https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2013/05/01/the-ocean-pelagial/

In Vain – Ænigma

https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2013/03/13/in-vain-aenigma/

Code – Augur Nox

https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2013/11/27/code-augur-nox/

Circles – Infinitas

https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2013/10/14/circles-infinitas/

The RingMaster Review 28/12/2013

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

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

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