Interview from Lords of Metal
Conducted by Neithan
Also features: Enthroned, Fortid, Triptykon, Keep of Kalessin++
One of the reasons for me to enter the ranks of Lords Of Metal when my previous e-zine called it a day, was the possibility to keep on promoting the most promising acts from the northern regions. As a matter of fact, it’s no secret that there are still a lot of great bands out there that don’t have the possibilities of a big label supporting them. A band I love to listen is Gjenferdsel, a band from Lom (no, not the abbreviation for Lords Of Metal) Norway, near Sogndal. The core of the band is made out of guitarist/ singer Iudex (Latin for Judge) and drummer Invictus. Gjenferdsel plays a mix of black and viking metal and convinces both in the studio and on stage, something I witnessed at the Hub & Heuy Metalfest V in 2008. Recently the band released their second album ‘Varde’: a marvellous album which has been used in some reviews and interviews of mine to prove that viking metal is still alive. And so we got in touch with Iudex to talk about the new album and playing live on stage in the low countries: this interview shows that there is something special to the band to this as well.
First of all let’s start with the reason we wanted to do this interview: the second and new album ‘Varde’. I think it is a perfect mix of viking metal (just without the clean vocals and folklore instruments) and black metal, and at the highest quality around. Do you think that is, without the nuances, a good way of describing what you get when buying ‘Varde’?
Yes, definitely. I would not describe ‘Varde’ as a typical black metal record, but as you say, it also includes a lot of influences from viking metal, and even some Norwegian folk music. I also think that our music is a bit more varied than the typical black metal release. Instead of only using the standard blastbeating, we instead try to include some more melody and atmosphere to our music. Therefore, our music also has a bit of other genres as well, like for example heavy metal etc
The debut was called ‘I’, so I was keeping my eyes open for ‘II’: yet it became ‘Varde’, an old alarm signal from the Norwegian viking era. Why was ‘Varde’ the appropriate title in your opinion in stead of ‘II’?
Actually, the title ‘I’ had a deeper meaning than only the number 1. I'm not going to reveal too much about it now, but it can be read both as the number "I" and as the letter "i". Therefore I never intended to call the next album for ‘II’. This time I wanted to create a darker and more intense record. The old stone monuments ‘Varde’ was used as, like you say, alarm signals. The "Varde" was lit with a fire on top of it, to warn people about danger. That's exactly what we wanted with this title.
Some things on the new album do recall to ‘I’. Songs like ‘Strid’ and ‘Regin’, and also the intro plus a song that is rather catchy. ‘Svik’ was put in prominently on the last album like ‘Illverk’ is on the new album (like a video on YouTube). It almost feels as if you want something as a kind of trademark to make Gjenferdsel recognizable to the fans. Just a coincidence or is that as a matter of fact something Gjenferdsel strives for in order to get some more in touch with the fans?
Well, as I'm more or less a perfectionist myself, I want our albums to have a red line through them all. I want everything we make to be connected to each other some way or another. So yeah, it is definitely some kind of a trademark.
On the other hand, the album also feels more fluent than the debut, at least in my ears. Was the development to more fluency a deliberate move or did it happen because you had the time extra and so worked it all out a bit more, since a musician is never pleased with the music?
The recording was never really postponed. Things looked really dark a while, but everything was sorted out and we went to studio as planned. We have spent about four years working on this album, so I don't think any more time was needed either. I was pretty focused all the time that this album should be more fluent that the debut album.
What also strikes me about the Gjenferdsel-songs is that they all have a duration which is fit for playing in clubs: around four minutes and compact. Since I know you guys a little and know you are everything but the “Ace of Base of black metal”; what is it that Gjenferdsel doesn’t play that lenghty songs. Doesn’t it fit into your way of writing or is it a matter of personal taste?
Personally I like both longer and shorter songs. It depends on style, mood etcetera. For Gjenferdsel I think that I have found what I would call the basic length for our songs. Our songs are pretty intense and straight in the face, and therefore I don't think the songs should be any longer. I will not speak for the future, but for now this is the length I am comfortable with. So for me it's more a feeling I have when written songs, more than anything else.
The album is once more released through Ketzer Records. Now the bad thing is that Ketzer distributes in general quality underground black metal releases, but the funds to do a proper promotion are often lacking. How important is it for Gjenferdsel to promote it by playing live or through the support of others, like bands and fans?
I am not really trying to make this a way of living, so as for now I enjoy staying in the underground. There is no one to push me around, and I can be the king of my own life. This is the good part of being on a small label. Of course we would like to have better promotion and distribution, but I know that Ketzer is working hard. Well, all kind of support we get is really good for promotion, both from fans or from playing live.
Going on about it: how could fans, apart from buying ‘Varde’ (and if you don’t have ‘I’ as well, take my word for it, it is well worth the money), support the band in getting where you want? For a underground band support from the underground is a key…
Apart from buying ‘Varde’, people can also request us at their local festivals or from concert arrangers. Right now we are looking for gigs, so hopefully there are some festivals that want to book us for 2011. Anyway, all support we get is appreciated.
And yes, since we are a Dutch magazine, something about the Dutch connection of the band. You have played twice in the Netherlands (I was really sick when you played with Cor Scorpii, so I couldn’t come), both times through Marcel and Xander, aka Hub & Heuy Agency. What is the main difference between playing your shows in Norway and the Dutch stages, apart from the beer prices for the audience?
Yes, both Germany and the Netherlands have been areas we've put extra focus concerning live jobs. As you say, we've played twice in your country, and both times were really amazing. The last time we even went out in a pub after the gig and talked with a lot of the locals. We definitely met a lot of awesome people there, and would really like to go back there to perform even more shows. The response have been very good, so it's not unlikely that we will play again nearby soon! There aren't really big differences except, what you said, the beer prices and the audience.
Oh well, since we are at it: you have a German label (okay, Alex is a cool guy but has no means for tour support), connections in the low countries and other regions of Western Europe. Any ambitions or plans to come over to this side of the continent to convince the fans over here? I mean, I saw you guys live at Weert and that was impressive, so proving your live qualities might convince some more people…
Actually we have been talking about doing some mini-tours several times, but we never managed to move from plan to action yet. The last year we were very busy with the production of the album, so it was really out of the question then. We will see what 2011 brings, but we would definitely like to do more shows around in Europe. And maybe even play in some countries where we haven't played before, so more fans get the chance to see us live. The gig in Weert was a really great experience for us, and we're glad you liked the show! We don't have any specific plans right now, except for a couple of upcoming shows in Russia.
Okay, the status of the band. It seems like you and drummer Invictus are the heart and soul of the band, and Infestus is the bass player that enables you to perform live. Why isn’t he a steady member, or why do you prefer to stay in control just by the two of you?
It's correct, like you say, that me and Invictus is the core of the band. It have been so since 2005, and the cooperation is working very well now. When Infestus joined he wasn't completely sure if he wanted to become a fulltime member. A little while before recording of ‘Varde’ he told me that he felt he had too little time and wanted to focus on another project instead. Therefore we all decided that if the passion and dedication wasn't 100%, the cooperation had to be ended. Therefore only me and Invictus entered the studio. I think it was the best decision for the sake of the record, and it made me and Invictus work even harder and more focused. Anyway, we still consider Infestus a good friend of the band.
When speaking to the pioneers of the genre, they often come up with lines like “black metal is dead” or “I don’t listen to the younger bands/bands of today”. I think there is plenty of talent in Norway, like you, Elite and Cor Scorpii to name but a few. Don’t you sometimes feel like the pioneers might support their local talent a bit more, or has the scene become that individual?
I'm probably not the right one to be asked about this, as I'm pretty much of an individualist myself..he-he.. But I definitely agree with you that both Elite and Cor Scorpii are two very talented bands. We have played with both of them, and they are really great people as well. When people uses lines like "black metal is dead", I think that's mainly because of all the mystic that used to be back in the early 90s, is more or less gone. I don't consider neither of those two mentioned bands, or Gjenferdsel, as classical black metal bands. None of us uses strictly black metal as a genre, but incorporates other elements as well. Speaking of old school black metal, I don't think think black metal is dead as long as bands like for example Darkthrone still plays.
As we are going towards the end of the questions: I hope it will not take another four years before the third Gjenferdsel album will be released?
Time will tell. As a songwriter I don't want the business to push me to create music. I must find time when I'm in the creative mood, and that is only when time is right. Actually I'm working on new material, but I will still consider it as an early phase.
Those were the questions: any final words to our readers or omissions in this interview that you wish to add?
Remember to check out our album ‘Varde’, and to come and see us when we play some place near you!