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Interview: THYRFING
Title: Dark madness

Their great musical evolution and progression, still with their roots in mind, has given them a wide amount of dedicated fans all over the world. Thyrfing plays their Viking Metal with a Northern touch alongside their Folk- and Symphonic influences, and they are counted among the finest of their genre.

The band was formed in the beginning of 1995, and after two really great demo-tapes they were picked up by Hammerheart Records in 1997. Their magnificent first self-titled album saw the light of day in March 1998. The press wrote, that the album was not a masterpiece, but a warning for what to come. I go a step further: I claim, that „Thyrfing” is one of the very best and strongest debut-albums in Viking Metal ever! Raw produced, but immense strong played. The overwhelming frontcover-artwork from Belgian draw-master Kris Verwimp can also be described at one of his very best works.

Exactly one year after the release of the debut-feast, the second and breath-taking album-strike „Valdr Galga” was released, this time with a massive production by the Tägtgren brothers at the famous Abyss Studios. Sheer not to believe, but „Valdr Galga” (once more with amazing frontcover-art again by Kris Verwimp) was even a bit better as the debut. The album received excellent reviews everywhere and 1999 turned out to be one of the most successful periods of the band.

The fans cried for early stuff, so Hammerheart's sublabel Unveiling The Wicked released also their two demos on a limited and very recommendable CD called „Hednaland”. During the opening of the new dark millennium, Thyrfing unleashed their third long-player. Once again with Tommy Tägtgren, „Urkraft” was put on tape and released in August 2000.

Now the band has recorded their fourth full-length album „Vansinnesvisor”, which will be the most diverse this far. With a darker sound and approach, a heavier and more mature production, and with almost Swedish lyrics exclusively.

Shouter Thomas Väänänen, both guitarists Patrik Lindgren and Henrik Svegsjö, deep-sounder Kimmy Sjölund, keyboarder Peter Löf and drummer Joakim Kristensson created again an true masterpiece of timeless and high-quality Viking Metal with highest possible artistic claim. I‘ve met Thomas Vänäänen at a battle-pause on the shores of revenge.

Thomas, the new album takes all my heart-blood once more! Typical Thyrfing: powerful riffing, thunderous drumming, epic melodies, grandeur keyboard-creations, inhuman berserk vocals, mighty choirs, much involved traditional instruments and as always those exciting and unique medieval Nordic atmospheres. What´s your personal opinion about it?

„I've got to tell you I've never been this satisfied with an album before... we worked harder and longer than ever before with both the creation of the material as well as the actual recording and it was definitely worth the effort. Nothing beats the feeling of being completely satisfied with something you've done, whatever it is.”

„Vansinnesvisor” – a strange sounding title for the new release... What it has to mean? From where it comes – an ancient theme?

„`Vansinnesvisor` means `songs of madness` and we just thought it was a suitable collective name for this album because all the lyrics this time around deal with darker and more negative aspects of mankind and the human psyche.”

Would you describe your music still as Viking Metal?

„Yes, most certainly. I still think Thyrfing has all the elements that are needed in a so called Viking Metal band. We have the folky touches, the genuinely Nordic feeling as well as the epic and grandiose atmosphere. Even though our newer lyrics stray a bit from the most straightforward stuff the poetry too stays in touch with the truly Nordic themes.”

Have the music of Thyrfing in your eyes (ears) to be compared to any band of the scene? I don´t think so.

„It's nice to hear that you think we can't be compared to anybody else because I certainly agree with you. Thyrfing are a unique band – there's nobody else like us on the face of this earth. Even if you pinpoint specific riffs and say `this sounds very Death Metal` or `this sounds very Heavy Metal` I think in the end it all ends up sounding like Thyrfing. Unique and powerful.”

The current line-up – who is new and who is gone?

„The line-up has remained exactly the same from `Urkraft`. We've always had a steady line-up and that's something we're glad about... I don't like when bands exchange members on a steady basis.”

Was there a difference in the chemistry/harmonic within the band to registering between the first both works and the last both albums? I ask about the little difference in the sound; the first both albums own more „battle-atmosphere“ to my mind…

„No, not really... we're all around the same age and have known each other for years before we started Thyrfing, so the chemistry between us as has always been somewhat similar to what it is now. I don't really know why the new album is so much darker than the older stuff... we always write from the heart and go with whatever we like, you know.”

In my opinion your marvellous self-titled debut and the tremendous „Valdr Galga” were/are the best albums of Thyrfing. They own a special and fascinating magical atmosphere, which is able to transform the past into the ears of the listener. „Urkraft” and the new album are also high-class pieces of Heathen Metal music, but they are a bit different to the first both releases. What´s your point of view in this?

„I can absolutely understand people who think the early stuff is the best. I often also like the earliest works of other bands the best. But being in the band I'm definitely most proud of the latest release. Anything else would be madness... if a band doesn't progress in their own ears there's no point doing it at all. Why keep doing music if you don't honestly think you can do something you would be more satisfied with than things you have already done years ago?”

How is to understand the band name Thyrfing?

„According to Norse mythology, it was a royal sword smithen by the dwarfs Durin and Dvalin for king Svaverlame, Odin's grandson. But as the work was done under compulsion, the dwarfs cursed the sword so that it would become the death of Svaverlame, commit three outrages and become a man's bane whenever it was pulled. The man or woman who carried Tyrfing (note that it was originally spelled just like this, without the h) would himself eventually die by it, thus passing the curse on to someone else... I think it was Peter who came up with Thyrfing, but I'm actually not sure. Back then it was more of just a cool name (`a sword that slaid every time it was pulled – cool!` – you know 15 year old guys, heh) but the symbolism is actually pretty suitable. Every time you put on the album you slay somebody.”

Who has written all these new songs? They contain again those typical melodies and charming keyboard-tunes.

„The main writers in the band have always been Peter (keyboards), Patrik (guitars) and Jocke (drums) – but Kimmy and Henke do some riffs as well, and all six of us help out with arrangements and stuff.”

Be so kind and explain the readers all the songs out of your new album! Which are the lyrical meanings behind them? I think, the time for these answers is it worth, because Thyrfing is a band, which has always much to tell out of the historical oriented songs.

„`Draugs Harg` is quite hard to translate but a Draug is a dead person, a ghost if you will, and a Harg was a sacrificial altar of stone. So you could basically say that Draugs Harg is a sacrificial site for the dead. What Jocke refers to though is modern man and their lives. People in these times are pretty much dead in their souls – they wake up, join the soulless ratrace, come home, eat a TV-dinner, go to sleep and then the same thing again. The Harg he's talking about is the big cities of today which most certainly are dead places in many ways and where modern man sacrifices himself. People forget what life really should be these days... something to be experienced – not something you suffer through – and that fills us with contempt. You could basically say that this song is a kick in the face of modern man in general and people who have hardly ever seen the ocean (for example) in particular.

`Digerdöden` is the Swedish word for the Black Death, (the plague, the great death) that struck Europe and other parts of the world in the 14th century and clamed the lives of millions. This is actually one of our better lyrics this far and is extremely well written and poetic.

`Världsspegeln` (`mirror of the world`) deals with personal thoughts about ending your life by your own decision at the bottom of the ocean. It's all set in a framework of mythological words and phrases though, staying in touch with the Viking-concept. The music and lyrics on this one go hand in hand in a very nice manner.

`The Voyager` is very classic Thyrfing-Viking Metal. The song basically deals with the typical northmens love for the ocean and the travelling there upon. The song, of course, has a dark twist in the end.

`Angestens Högborg` (`The Stronghold Of Angst`) actually also deals with how depressing life in the modern big cities can be. I wrote this lyric unbeknowing of the fact that Jocke had chosen a similar theme for `Draugs Harg`, but as the lyrics are very different in nature, this one being more melancholic and pitiful while `Draugs Harg` is more like a kick in the teeth of the modern man we used both ones.

`The Giant's Laughter` is pretty much Patrik's English interpretation of Swedish Poet Esaias Tegner's brilliant poem `Jätten` (the giant). The words paint a fairly depressive view of nationalism and a `lost struggle`... ah, read it damn it!

`Vansinnesvisan` (`The Madness Song`) is basically just what the title says. It's about all those feelings inside when you loose your fucking mind with rage and anger and how you'd like to piss on the graves of those who have ever done you wrong. The most aggressive lyrics I've written so far.

`Kaos Aterkomst` (`The Return Of Chaos`) deals with Ragnarök, Armageddon, the end of the world. It's far from being as infantile as most Metal lyrics dealing with the same subject, but instead a bit more subtle and poetic in its approach. Extremely suitable for the song in question – epic and foreboding.”

Why did you wrote some of the new lyrics in English and not all in Swedish language?

„Well, sometimes an idea just pops up in your head and whether it is in English or Swedish we usually just always go with our gut feeling. Usually the first idea you get is the best one.”

Which were (and still are) the inspirations for the music of Thyrfing?

„Mother nature has always been a faithful servant as far as inspiration goes. Regarding films... this time around, films full of angst and agony like Bergman's `The Seventh Seal` and `Vargtimmen` (I don't know the English title... something like `Wolfhour`) and also traditional Swedish poets like Pär Lagerkvist played a huge role in the depressive mood of the lyrics.”

Why you guys stopped the fruitful co-operation with Kris Verwimp? His breath-taking cover for your debut is still one of the very best the whole Metal world knows!

„Just like the situation with the recording studio we just wanted to try out something new... we still think Kris' covers suit the old albums, but I think the music on this piece demanded something different than the style we're used to from Mr. Verwimp.”

What shall tell the new cover-art from Niklas Sundin to the viewers?

„The cover basically goes hand in hand with the title `songs of madness`... they guy on the cover definitely looks like he's lost all his marbles and gone fucking nuts.”

What has the new logo to mean? Especially the three birds – were they taken out of an very old native Swedish Viking-painting? Who did it?

„We were actually just tired of the old logo. I really like the logo as a symbol, when it stands on its own, but as soon as you try to put into use in a picture, like a cover for example, it just stands out a bit too much. So we just gave Niklas some guidelines on what kind of logo we wanted for the new album and he delivered what we wanted. I scanned those three birds from an old book on medieval diseases I have.”

By the way, who did the first Thyrfing logo with the sword in the middle?

„That was done by Peter, our keyboard-player, sometime before we released our second demo; `Hednaland`.”

How was the time in the Dug Out Studios with Daniel Bergstrand? And how long did you need for the complete production? Are you all satisfied with the end-production of „Vansinnesvisor“?

„It was hard work, I can tell you that. We have never before been in the studio for six weeks. The longest time we ever spent in the studio before was like two weeks. But on the other hand, we've never worked this hard with details before. We spent a couple of days on the drum-sound alone... same with the basic guitar-sound. Daniel really did a brilliant job, and he definitely pushed us as musicians to do the best performances we have ever done and that's the reason we're still extremely happy about the album. There's not a thousand details I'd like to do over, which usually is the case as soon as you get some distance to the album.”

What is your definite artistic goal with the band in the moment?

„The only goal we have is to keep releasing albums and always improving one step at a time – constantly growing as individuals and as persons.”

Live gigs after the newest album-release: anything planned currently?

„Nope, nothing planned... we have promised the label that we're going to some gigs to support the album, but there's no what/where/when set yet.”

Plans for the future?

„To keep delivering high class Viking Metal! Thanks a lot for your tremendous support!”

© Markus Eck, 05.07.2002

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