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HELHEIM: Heathendom And Resistance As Slogan

Interview with bassist V’ganðr of Helheim by Vera in July 2011

One of the Norwegian Viking forces is Helheim. They have been around since 1992 and late May they have released their excellent seventh studio album ‘Heiðindómr ok mótgangr’. We caught up with bass player V’ganðr to talk about the past, present and future of one of those innovative, epic outfits of the country with blackened fjords.

You have been around since a long time (since 1992) as Viking/pagan/black metal band, but last years I think one can notice a growing interest and popularity for Helheim. What do you see as main achievements for the band since former album ‘Kaoskult’ came out in 2008?
Of course the latest album. This is by far the best we’ve ever done and we’ll definitely continue down this road for our next album, especially the integration of timpanies and French horn.

Could you support that album with touring as much as likely in your opinion?
No, there should most definitely been more touring. But hopefully there’ll be one in November.

The new album was preceded by a MCD called ‘Åsgards Fall’. Can we consider this as a kind of herald/forerunner of ‘Heiðindómr ok mótgangr’?
In a way, but still it was a release that stood on its own feet. This was us wanting to pay tribute to Quorthon of Bathory as he’s got to be the sole inspirer of Helheim. The album would’ve also been too long adding Asgards Fall 1 and 2. We also wanted to use it as a promotional vehicle towards the album to make people aware that something new and different’s going on with Helheim.

Can you translate the title ‘Heiðindómr ok mótgangr’ and tell a bit more about what it means for you?
It means `Heathendom and Resistance`. It’s a slogan I’ve been using for years now and it defines the core essence of who I am and how I consider the Norse mythology. Heathendom IS resistance, and the four songs `Viten og Mot` (Knowledge and Courage) deal with these topics where total awareness of the I is of great importance, and the matter of resistance can also be seen here.

A tendency already noticeable on ‘Kaoskult’ was your moving towards all Norwegian lyrics. Why this choice?
We’ve always been singing in Norwegian (except The journeys and the experiences of death), but with some English lyrics here and there. It was a conscious decision to only have Norwegian lyrics this time… and for the next albums to come.

And in this respect, can you go a bit deeper into your personal approach of the mythological themes on ‘Heiðindómr ok mótgangr’?
It’s about my own feelings towards our society and lack of divinity towards our Norse heritage. It’s about longing as well as wanting. It’s about loving as well as hating. I can’t take all eight lyrics and analyze them as it would take too much space, but I’ve given you an idea.

A semi-concept should be centred around the song ‘Viten Og Mot’ and I found out that you used some quotes/words of Odin? Can you tell a bit more about that?
`Viten Og Mot` are based on the Words of the Wise, Odin, and are merely guidelines on how to live a fruitful pagan life. It’s words where the four corners; pride, attentiveness, stillness and consciousness can be achieved. They are not rules on how to live, but rather good advises. I see a lot of importance and value in those words and find them highly inspiring.

I think that ‘Heiðindómr ok mótgangr’ sounds more grim and cold than ‘Kaoskult’, although the degree of epic atmospheres is huge again. Do you agree with that?
Yes. That was the whole idea as we felt that `Kaoskult` sounded a bit too warm.

I noticed that the return of keyboardist Lindheim has been not for long (only on ‘Kaoskult’), why did he leave?
He wanted to play the guitar.

But you used other extraordinary instruments on this record, like timpani (what is it?) and French horn? Please tell us about your decision to use them…
Highly inspired by the track `Ìnnocence And Wrath` by Celtic Frost. A Timpani is an orchestral drum that just sounds fucking brutal and majestic. We wanted to have this doomsday feeling over it all and these two instruments give the perfect balance.

Several guest musicians/vocalists add a zest and special timbre to the record. Can you tell about all the guests?
Hoest is a personal friend and we felt his voice fitted that part of the songs. The other guys are people that we know through music and we felt that their voice timbre would fit our sound and visions.

With Taake and Syrach you have a special bond. Can you tell our readers about the links between you and these bands…
I play in Taake. Noralf used to play in Syrach. That’s it.

One of the great features on the album are the melodic, somewhat atmospheric leads of “new at ‘Kaoskult’” guitarist Noralf. I guess he feels right at home in Helheim by now?
Oh yes, indeed. He really added what we missed and his insight and ideas are really important to the final sound of Helheim. We deeply respect him and hope he stays with us until the end.

Maybe a few words about the Bergen based recording process as well…
Nothing special really. The same old story… Boring to tell and even more boring to read.

H’grimnir did the artwork again. Can you tell a bit more about its symbolism please?
I answer that for him as we both carry out the ideas for the cover. The Othal rune symbolizes Odin and his presence. The ravens represent mind and thought. Needed to observe as well as execute. The flames represent the flame in us, the pagan light.

Does Helheim have two logos?
No, we’ve had several logos, but the new one is from now on the only one.

You are going to play at the Hole In The Sky festival end of August. That shall be a special event, isn’t it? A bit sad it is going to be the last festival… what are your feelings about this upcoming gig?
We’ll do something special for sure. I think it’s sad that it’s the last festival, but I totally honour the board to take this decision. Will truly miss it and the last week of August won’t be the same again.

Are there any other tour plans in the pipeline?
Not in the pipeline, but maybe in the future haha. In November.

You have shot a video clip for ‘Dualitet Og Ulver’. Can you tell a bit more about the clip and the making of?
Done at Fløyen mountain here in Bergen. Shot in one weekend. A highly satisfying experience where we really went back to mother nature for a visit.

Which bands/musicians have had a huge impact on you and inspired you in the nineties to found a band of your own, Helheim?
Bathory is the sole inspiration.

Which music do you like to listen to these days?
All kinds of music, really. The latest album was Pink Floyd ‘Atom Heart Mother’. A fucking masterpiece. Other than that I think the new Necros Christos album is good. Apart from the obvious metal genres I’m also into bands like The Cure, Tom Waits, WASP, Depeche Mode, Alice In Chains…. The list is endless.

Thank you for this interview! Let’s round off with your famous words…
Remember people; Heathendom IS STILL resistance!!!!

Geplaatst door Vera op maandag 15 augustus 2011 - 10:57:56
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