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

Riwen – Self Titled

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Making their debut with a furious three track self-titled EP, Riwen is the new hardcore fuelled project of Cult Of Luna guitarist/vocalist Johannes Persson. It is an encounter which prowls a whole new landscape for the musician but on the evidence of the band’s first release, one as passionately driven and explored as anything you would expect from his creative mind and craft. It is intensive and brutally imposing, and whilst the release is not breaking dramatic new ground for hardcore, its ferociously dark and heavy presence veined with sonic and melodic tenacity, makes it potently stand out.

Alongside Persson, Riwen’s line-up is completed by Totalt Jävla Mörker current and former members in respectively Christian Augustin and Fredrik Lindkvist. The band emerged from songs which Persson wrote last year, a clutch of tracks inspired by in his words, “the vein of music that I grew up to and was the influence when I learned to write music about 20 years ago. Think early 90’s hardcore like Integrity, Judge, Damnation AD, Battery, Amce and onward in that fashion.” The result is a presence and sound to the band which takes no prisoners and is ill-tempered in breath and touch but also emotionally transfixing and melancholically hostile.

The EP opens with Nature Calls Us Back, a sonic resonance the spring board for a colossal avalanche of beats and grievous predatory riffs. That wall of sound is soon into a heavily imposing stride blistered with an intermittent sonic 10491081_247638098767358_6414857369916074870_nenterprise. It is an uncompromising and intensive examination yet deceptively contagious, raw grooves and barbed hooks littering the tsunami of passion and intensity guided by coarse vocal squalls. It may not blow the senses from their safety but the track permeates and grows in strength and corrosive rabidity over time to linger and mark an impressive first attack from the band.

The following Values similarly flies at ears though it gets down to business with a quicker and more voracious viciousness from its opening breath. An acidic groove even in its short intrusions makes compelling bait within the sonic and impassioned fury raging around it, before making a longer and spicier impact as the brawl of vocals and rhythms spread their venom with energy and spite to match the rage of guitars. It is a relentless torrent of noise and anger which again grips the imagination with ease before making way for the closing track, Karlsgrundet.

Initially a slower, more lumbering protagonist but with a keen canter to its hungry predation, the song builds up its intimidating climate and intensity until it breaks and careers into a furnace of fleet footed rhythmic animosity and sonic savagery. There is still some rein on it all though which allows an adventurous tempest of enterprise from drums and guitars as the bass prowls with bestial purpose. Though the release is not exactly a ground-breaking exercise within hardcore, the track explores a blackened and heavily unleashed violation which certainly adds new flavoursome twists and endeavour to anything from the genre in 2014.

Ending with a shadowed stringed coaxing which still holds a portentous threat, the song is a drama drenched investigation of ears and emotions which, added to the first pair, provides something as riveting as it is imposing. Riwen, band and EP, leaves appetite and anticipation healthy and eager for more from the project ahead, whilst expectations are now high and greedier thanks to this impressive first offering.

Riwen has now added bassist Christoffer Röstlund Jonsson and guitarist Marita Jonsson Mätlik to the line-up.

The Riwen EP is available on CD and 10″ vinyl from October 13th on Indie Recordings @ http://www.omerch.eu/shop/indierecordings/search.php?pg=1&stext=Riwen&scat=2302&nobox=true

https://www.facebook.com/riwenhc/

RingMaster 13/10/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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

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Patria – Individualism

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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

 

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

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Rages and condemnations: an interview with Jon Bakker of Kampfar

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Norwegian pagan metallers Kampfar is a band which has persistently drawn fans and metal into fully immersive and startling provocations with their sound and releases over its twenty years, but in new album Djevelmakt  has possibly crafted their strongest malevolence fuelled incitement yet, one soaked in riveting imagination and uncompromising artistry. The sixth full-length from the Fredrikstad band is an enthralling soul stealing oppression for ears and emotions alike, a pestilential fury to fear or embrace. We strived to find out more with bassist Jon Bakker who kindly shared time with us to talk about Kampfar, their excellent new Indie Recordings album, and plenty more dark corners…

Hi Jon and thanks for talking with us.

Kampfar is at the beginning of its third decade since forming, can you take us back to those first days of the band and how it came to life?

Kampfar came to life after the separation of Mock in 93/94. Dolk had visions of a Black Metal band with elements from the Nordic heritage. He met a guitar player with a complete different background than himself, and they started composing. They remained a duo for almost 10 years, releasing 2 full lengths and a couple of EP’s. Kampfar became a quartet in 93, playing the first live show in 1994. The second wave included the albums Kvass and Heimgang, recorded in a local studio. Several tours followed both releases. The third wave in Kampfar’s cycle started with Mare, a fresh start both soundwise and lyrically. We found the right sound in Abyss Studios and followed up with the fresh released Djevelmakt. Between those albums, Thomas, the guitar player for the last 18 years quit the band. Ole was found after a long search and the match was perfect. Stronger than ever before we are now ready to unleash Djevelmakt.

What was the biggest spark or trigger to move from existing bands into starting a fresh adventure with Kampfar?

The previous bands were more or less stagnating; individuals with different priorities in life. Dolk wanted to go all the way!

How would you describe your sound and the band itself back then in comparison to the Kampfar who has just released the excellent Djevelmakt?

The two first albums were very right for the time. Dolk had a strong idea for the sound and what he wanted for the band back in the early 90’s. The second wave came with Kvass and Heimgang, they experimenting a lot with compositions and sound and with still plenty of folk references in the music. With the third wave came the anger. Mare was a more direct and right in the face album with very clear messages. The follow up with the fresh Djevelmakt continue where Mare ended, with even sharper melodies and more direct lyrics. We brought in elements like flutes and strings, but nothing in a jolly way. Just pure anger!

You have mentioned the three waves of Kampfar, can you explain and elaborate on that for us?

Photo © Sebastian Ludvigsen

Photo © Sebastian Ludvigsen

 

The first wave was Kampfar in the early stage, being a duo for almost 10 years; the second becoming a quartet and the third moving outside the comfort zone in every way, including the change of the main composer. Every cycle was right for the time, and Djevelmakt is Kampfar anno 2014 in every way.

Do you see those ‘waves’ as chapters in the band’s evolution or more dramatic turns, like restarts?

Both. The evolution of the band is of course certain, but unpredictable things always happen and coloured the band along the way…personal challenges, changes in line-up, getting more experienced and older of course.

Can we look at Djevelmakt more closely now, your sixth album;  it is fair to say that every one of your albums has evolved or stretched the band’s sound and creativity, how do you see that development with your new full-length in relation to its predecessor Mare?

Djevelmakt is in many ways a natural follow up of Mare. The biggest difference is the change of the main composer and guitar player, but still everyone in the band wanted to push it as close to the limit as possible with Djevelmakt. There are elements that are not to be found on any previous releases. We took a good look at ourselves, taking things all the way, unknown territories but still very confident that we were on the right track.

I believe Djevelmakt was written in the first half of 2013 with its release this past month. Was the rest of the year taken up solely with the recording or were there interludes in its emergence?

The second part was filled with recording and finding all the right elements for the record. Photo sessions, artwork, dealing with partners and making visuals for promotion etc… Putting an album together is a huge job, and we’re proud that we fulfilled all our visions

You are a band and musicians who spends intensive time on every minute aspect of your music then?

Every day there’s duties to be done within the band. Not only musically, but also promotion and dealing with partners, live appearances and press. We’re not living close together, so we meet for weekend rehearsals. We talk together every day though, thanx to the www.

Tell us about the songwriting and its general working process within the band.

There’s a lot of sharing files and ideas. A composition is changed many times before the final result where everyone is satisfied. A song has to fit both live and on record and we always aim for perfection.

1465218_10152005407195490_102457038_nWhat is the theme behind Djevelmakt and the spark which inspired its premise for the album.

The main message is condemnation of everyone that doesn’t follow the rules. The Church dooms you to eternal purgatory if you choose not to follow their word, and it’s the same with the dark side of Christianity. This goes for most religions as well as society in common. Be a sheep, don’t ask questions and follow the stream. Well, fuck that and fuck them! We tell you that it’s ok not to follow the masses. Make your own path! We dig into the darkest corners and the deepest pits of the underworld to picture you that message. It’s an anti-religious, but for sure not anti-human record.

How much do personal experiences contribute to the emotion or shadows of your songs and especially the lyrical content?

All of it is very personal!

With a rich dark breath consistently bringing shadows to devour thoughts and emotions in your music, has or is your songwriting in any way a cleansing of emotional issues for the band and equally a canvas to lay thoughts and experiences out to investigate and work through as well as dealing with more world, Religious, and society bred situations?

Very much so! Everything surrounding us has impact on the way we think and behave. We are able to use our music to fight that trend. It’s a lost battle, but we still have to speak up. At least we get some of our anger out!

Is there any particular moment or aspect of Djevelmakt which has you going ‘Oh Yeah!’ inside?

I have many of those moments listening to the finished product, but when the chorus of Swarm comes along, the warm shivers run down my spine.

As we mentioned at the start Kampfar has been unleashed dramatically provocative and feistily satisfying music for twenty years, looking back how do you see the journey of the band to this point?

The journey has been breath-taking. From being an underground band with many visions and goals, to become a touring band is very satisfactory. Being able to release records through good working labels and being on the road with great bands is what we were and are aiming for.

How has the metal scene changed in relation to the band and its personal experiences?

The metal scene is mostly about trends I’m afraid. What’s hot and what’s not. Many good bands disappear with those changes. Kampfar started early with folk elements in the music, but the Ompa happy Metal ruined that whole style very thoroughly. That’s just all very sad.

Obviously you are proud of previous albums etc. but do you look at them now and instinctively see elements or aspects you would have done differently second time around or see them as they are and only look ahead; and will you be looking at Djevelmakt the same way in the future do you think?

Personally I have never been as satisfied as with the last two albums. I really believe that will stay. The second cycle of Kampfar I can for sure pick out some aspects that we would do different, but they felt right at the time.

Excluding Djevelmakt from the memories, what have been the most inspiring and thrilling moments with Kampfar for you over Kampfarthe past two decades?

Being on the road, playing some of the biggest metal festivals in the world and meeting people that truly admire our music is way beyond inspiring. The whole trip from the basement and up to where we are now is the perfect adventure.

…And the forgettable or regretful ones?

We seldom regret, but there are for sure some places we’ll never visit again and some people we’ll never work with again. Impossible to sort those out some times, but we learn.

What does 2014 have in store for and from Kampfar?

There’s going to be massive work after the release of Djevelmakt. A tour in March/April is already announced. Several festivals are confirmed and more trips are in the planning.

Once again thanks so much for sparing time with us. Any thoughts you would like to leave us contemplating?

Follow your own path and keep your banners high!

www.kampfar.com

Read the Djevelmakt review @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2014/01/27/kampfar-djevelmakt/

Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review 18/02/2014

 Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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

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Woland – Hyperion

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    There is a depth and presence to Hyperion, the debut album from Finnish post black metallers Woland which just cannot be conveyed through words and description, a mental and physical magnetism which simply enthrals and immerses the imagination in a creative and thought provoking journey. Consisting of eight progressively intensive and thickly evocative explorations with more warmth and sun lit imagination than any other recent black metal proposition, post or not, the album is a captivation which steals every aspect of the listener in its maze of sound.

      The quartet from Helsinki state in their bio that their ‘music and lyrics are not tied to any specific events or follow any single dogma, they are heavily influenced by some of the modern world’s most prominent philosophers and writers as well as inspired by mythology with its gods and heroes.’ It is an intent or heart which expands compellingly into the diversity of their invention, no boundaries set and no limitations entertained within its strikingly varied flavouring and bold, highly successful fusions of textures and sounds. Formed in 2010 the band drew strong attention with their double single made up of the tracks Conquer All and Live Forever in the following year. The eagerly consumed songs bred high anticipation in a great many for the band’s first full-length and without doubt the Indie Recordings released Hyperion feeds and goes beyond expectations and hopes lying in wait for it.

    Conquer All brings the album into view, a sonic breath soaking pores and senses initially as hungry rhythms, caustic riffs, and Woland_Hyperion_Covera melodic entwining of sonic temptation close in on the imagination. Heavy dark rasping vocals unveil the lyrical narrative to appealing effect, their appearance first skirted by an impressive and virulently alluring groove before being immersed in a drama wrapped shadow of keys and guitar. The continual switching of the two is a magnetic incitement but only half the picture as band and track rigorously twist into further imagination fuelled ventures to leave the listener and their thoughts bewitched by unpredictable fluid invention. The song merges dark climates and warmth soaked adventures emotionally as strikingly as its duelling sounds, the track a scintillating entrance into the creative landscape of Woland.

    The following Art of Ascension is equally as riveting in sound and ingenuity, the blackened prose of the sonic beckoning ripe with heated radiance and contagious temptation. As its predecessor, the track never settles in gait or tone, its wonderful almost agitated blaze of contrast littered design a mouthwatering and close to being bewildering, but persistently successful inspiration to thoughts and emotions. Equally like the first, the song is a provocative ‘dance’ which intimidates and seduces to extremes, something its successor Living Water replicates though seemingly favouring the darkest climes. A stalking provoking of the senses with a swagger and addiction feeding groove to enlist instant submission into its heavy coaxing, the song soon fully commands attention. Once in that position the rug of assumption is ripped from under the feet, an elegant expanse of melody sculpted calm with an emotive flamenco colouring leading to a powerful sonic narration for the imagination. The original intensive endeavour seems even more imposing and voracious with its return to conclude the track, a proposition which without challenging the previous song and one to follow provides strong bait for its recipient.

    None comes in next to take best track honours and confirm the album as a real challenger for classic status. A true artistic predator from the opening notes, the song preys upon and pushes the senses to their fearful limits but all the time is weaving grooves and sonic laces of infectious invention around the intrusive provocation to entice and unerringly tempt the imagination. It is a glorious and ingenious mesh of flavours and startling brilliance which defies any real labelling, something sure to frustrate those who need to do such thing. Technically and emotively the track is aural alchemy, a tsunami of original and fertile ingeniousness as good as matched by Extacy and Rapture, the next song unveiling greater antagonism in its metal bred sinews and potency in its sonic lassos of virulence. As the last song, it provides variations in sound, texture, and structure to invite the strongest appetite from any heavy and groove metal to black and progressive metal enthusiast, Woland breeding their own unique soundscape once again.

    The brief instrumental Honey in The Lion, a piece with a piano solo performed by guest Risto Tiihonen, gives a breather to the listener, a calm before the storm of Live Forever which is another ravenous and extensive foraging of thoughts and emotions not forgetting senses. Like the closing Elevated Existence, the track does not inflame the passions as powerfully as the earlier tracks, something indefinable missing but both still seduce thoughts and imagination with unreserved success. The pair provides exhaustive landscapes of unrelenting and inflammatory invention, neither allowing time to settle and digest any moment before thrusting the listener into another impacting and evocative twist, both protagonists impressing more and more with every lengthy declaration.

    Hyperion is an outstanding and unique encounter from a band which is destined to become a major force. To be honest though the album, complete with additional guest appearances from artists like Geir Bratland (Dimmu Borgir), Mathias Lillmåns (Finntroll), and Janica Lönn (Black Sun Aeon), suggests that Woland is already there.

Upcoming Woland Tour dates:

22.02.14 NOR Bergen @ Blasfest

10.04.14 FIN Helsinki @ On The Rocks

06.-08.06.14 HRV (Croatia) Zadar @ Underwall Festival

www.wolandmusic.com

9/10

RingMaster 16/02/2014

 Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Kampfar – Djevelmakt

Kampfar_Press_1

    Ever had a nightmare where a pestilential like presence is suffocating everything around you, then you turn to the one solace and place of safety you can be assured of and that also feeds on you extinguishing all hope and escape?  Whether yes or no, Norwegian pagan metallers Kampfar gives the imagination a pretty strong sense of the experience with new album Djevelmakt. Oppressive and frighteningly uncompromising in presence and artistry, the eight track exploration of black and pagan bred metal is a breath-taking, soul stealing immersion into a malevolence fuelled incitement soaked in riveting ingenuity.

     2014 sees Kampfar marking its twentieth year and no stronger an impressive fall into the jaws of their filth soaked depravity from the blackest realms as explored upon Djevelmakt could you wish for. The sixth album from the band follows the acclaimed Mare of 2011, continuing the ‘third creative wave’ of the band. The years up to 2003 saw the band as a duo releasing a couple of EPs and the 1997 album Mellom Skogkledde Aaser followed two years later by Fra Underverdenen. Enlarging to a quartet Kampfar introduced a live aspect to their presence in its second cycle as well as two more well-received full-lengths in Kvass and Heimgang in 2006 and 2008 respectively. All the time the band’s sound has grown and explored darker intensive areas, each album an evolution and challenging venture which their latest album takes to yet another level and depth. Forged around the theme of condemnation, the Jonas Kjellgren recorded and Peter Tägtgren mixed Djevelmakt is an enthralling and impacting provocation which only leaves the healthiest intrigue and satisfaction breeding in senses and thoughts.

   The Indie Recordings released album opens with Mylder, a dramatic and sinister narrative of keys casting menace and magnetic Kampfar frontcover WEBtemptation into the air. It is a brief but potent coaxing into an immediately insidious brew of astringent rhythms and tempestuous riffs which consume the ears whilst driven by serpentine squalling tones from vocalist Dolk. Melodic acidity and ravenous causticity merge to create a storm which seduces and threatens before allowing the former trait to make a full invitation with great clean vocals, keys sculpted melodies, and an expressive welcoming ambience. It’s free reign is soon tempered though as scowling riffs and belligerent rhythms punctuate the continuing to lure folk radiance lighting the way. It is an immense start to the album which only gets stronger as subsequent tracks ravage the imagination.

    Both Kujon with its predacious stalking from the opening second and Blod, Eder og Galle, cement the capture of emotions aligned to an eager appetite for the release. The first swarms over the ear but with a premeditated reserve which simply accelerates its potency and venomous intent. Vocally too the track has a restraint to its ruinous persuasion which adds to the intimidation and intensity of the unremitting pestilential nagging. An undoubted impressive scourge it makes way for the second and an excellent electronically spawned intro. As with the first track that unexpected beckoning is soon under siege by a rasping intensity and concussive tsunami of energy and disturbing sonic provocation. Though not quite as commanding as the previous songs it agitates and ignites the imagination superbly with another vexatious soundscape.

     Swarm Norvegicus is another track which does not quite spark the passions as other songs, mainly because of their towering individual successes upon Djevelmakt, but with its dark stringed opening enticement and demonically honed spoken vocal delivery within a weave of acerbic sonic enterprise and a voraciously heavy and addictive bass temptation, the track can only excite and impress. Arguably with its again smouldering yet bestial like build up the track provides the most vivid evocation for thoughts to explore and delve deeply into and over time with patience it should be said that the song provides another exhausting but rewarding venture.

      The keys control and provide the strongest alluring flames to Fortapelse, just one more song in which Kampfar impressively entwine melodic and melodramatic beauty with a pit bred hostility, before the album dives to darker depths and higher plateaus through first of all De Dødes Fane. A dirty scuzz kissed riot of heavy rock riffs punctured by tank slapping rhythms provides the springboard to the expected but expectations avoiding fury of blackened rancor which simply abrades and abuses the senses. Twisting and wrapping those early aspects into its ravenous core of pestilence, the track is pure contagious devilry and invention, a sonic plague to fear and embrace greedily.

     The album comes to an equally scintillating conclusion through firstly the annihilistic stomp of Svarte Sjelers Salme and the anthemic yet destructively corrupting Our Hounds, Our Legion. Both provide a corrosive legacy to an exceptional album which devours and lights up the senses and imagination through to emotions. Twenty years is a long journey to get where Kampfar is today, a place on the evidence of Djevelmakt that lies on the frontlines of extreme metal.

www.kampfar.com

9/10

RingMaster 27/01/2014

 Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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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

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