As one of the founding pioners of the viking metal genre, Helheim has a carrer that spanns two decades.
20th of January sees the release of “landawarijaR”, the much-anticipated ninth full-length album from Norwegian HELHEIM. “landawarijaR” contains seven tracks, all of which bear the hallmarks of HELHEIM’s traditional Norse heritage.
I asked some questions to V'gandr (Vocals, bass).
BRS – First of all I want to thank you for answer my questions. Helheim is about to release a new album in the beginning of 2017, entitled “landawarijaR”. What the meaning of this name?
V'gandr - Sure, my pleasure. The meaning of the title is actually an old pre-norse runic inscription meaning the protector of lands. It’s one of the oldest runic inscriptions ever found just as the previous album title “raunijaR”.
BRS – Can you tell me the meaning of the title songs of this album? Is it a concept album?
V'gandr - It’s not a concept album this time around, that’s for sure. All tracks have their own individual approach. Ok, the titles in no particular order:
Ymr- the name of the first Jotun, or ancient giant if you will.
Baklengs mot intet- Backwards towards nothing
Rista Blodoern- Creating the blood eagle (or something of the likes)
landawarijaR- Protector of the lands
Endadagr- The end of days
Synir af Heidindomr- Sons of heathendom
Ouroborous- An ancient symbol depicting a serpent or dragon eating its own tail and hence in Helheim it represents the Midgards serpent
BRS - The band always had album releases in a row, minus the period between 2011 and 2015. What happened in that period?
V'gandr - It was just an era where we created music and tried to “find ourselves” or re-invent ourselves in a way. Nothing more dramatic than that. Every band goes through some rough times from time to time, and I guess this was one (of many) for Helheim. We always return stronger though.
BRS – Three of the band members are playing together since 1992. How did you met in the beginning?
V'gandr - Myself and H’grimnir have known each other since the age of 6 and created Helheim back in 1992 as we both were addicted to music. We shortly after got introduced to Hrymr and the rest is history. We’ve all been good friends ever since and I consider them all my brothers as they mean the world to me. Just fantastic people in every sense of the word. If we ever have any difficulties we always solve them through our mutual respect for each other. There’s no bullshit rock ‘n roll star attitude in Helheim.
BRS – How it was the black metal scene in 1990’s? You were there since the beginning. What were your major influences?
V'gandr - It’s been some years since the nineties now and to go back and re-capture that feeling is impossible and futile. Let’s put it like this; it was an interesting era and we were all very young. We all listened to BM and sucked in a lot of the atmosphere these bands created back then. We first and foremost listened to Norwegian BM. It was the genre we felt strongest connected to. There were no bands in particular but more the overall mysticism and dynamics the whole genre as a whole gave us.
BRS – What do you think of the role of labels like Dark Essence Records in this musical style?
V'gandr - DE is one of the strongest independent metal labels out there and they do a really great job. We’ve been on the label since 2006 and I guess that says a lot.
BRS – Dayal Patterson is doing a great job of showing what the black metal genre is. You appeared in the book "Black Metal: Into The Abyss".
How did this experience come about?
V'gandr - Well, he basically just contacted us. That’s it. Dayal is a great guy and journalist and I think he portrayed Helheim very well in that chapter. Was an honor being part of the book.
BRS – The edda poems play an important role in the lyrics of the band. What influence do you think these poems have on black metal?
V'gandr - I wouldn’t know as I don’t pay attention to what other bands do, to be honest. Being that said it’s basically the Haavamaal that have had the biggest impact on us and especially on the album "Heidindomr ok motgangr". Apart from that it’s more the science of the Norse that I find interesting as portrayed on the album The journeys and the experiences of death. Then the runes and its mystery and overpowering enigma is something that I find highly fascinating.
BRS – Tell me how it was to record this new album at the Conclave and Earshot Studios. Is this studio the best for the sound you want for your music or is it the closest to home?
V'gandr - Bjoernar is a good friend of ours and he’s become the sixth member of the band in many ways as he’s really learned to understand us as a band and what we want with our albums. Yes, he’s close to home which makes things easier for sure, but also as being the management and part of the label makes the circle complete in a way. There’s definitely studios out there that would have been cool to record in, but as of now we’re content with Conclave.
BRS – When will we be able to witness the power of a Helheim concert here in southern Europe?
V'gandr - Hopefully during 2017. Either it being at festivals or tours. Some stuff’s already been booked, but I don’t wanna say anything as of yet.
Helheim site: http://www.helheim.com/