From the misty fields of the past, a lonely warrior rides towards the unknown future, carrying the secrets of the eternal wisdom of the ancient gods.
Helrunar are here with another glorious new album to give us a tiny breath of these secrets, the nature, the skies, the past. Helrunar are here to discover us the dark, the cold and the tales which are forever true.
On that forsaken land called Earth everything is vanity.
– Greetings, Marcel! Great to have you on Blessed Altar Zine! How are you on the threshold of the release of your smashing new album?
– A little excited of course… we´re looking forward to the release and to our European tour with Empyrium and Sun of the Sleepless in September/October. Let´s see how people like the new stuff, we have a good feeling about it.
– Let’s talk a bit more about the band first. The core of the band has always been Marcel and Sebastian, a powerful bonded duo…
– Well, we had a guitarist who also was a core member, but he left the band back in 2008. It was no disaster for us… since that we can even more truly express and do what we want. Sebastian and me often share similar ideas and similar goals… we are very much into the same kind of music. Sometimes I write some lyrics for a new, yet unknown song and then he shows me a new song he recently composed… and the lyrics fit perfectly! A kind of magic, maybe.
– Almost twenty years since the foundation of the band, what is the biggest learn you took?
– We learned so much… hard to say what´s most important. Of course we learned how the whole music-business works, regarding releases, touring… but more important maybe our development as artists, regarding music and lyrics and all the interesting people we met and made friends with.
– For that period, you have only five full-length albums including the new one (but what albums!). Why are there such pauses between the albums?
– Sadly, you cannot make a living simply by doing music nowadays, not even if you are more or less popular. We simply had to work in our jobs, and that drains time and energy that cannot be used for writing material then. I guess that is the main reason… another one might be that we write our material quite carefully.
– I find a lot of magic in your music, how do you achieve all this rawness, melody, fog, darkness and that so sweet mystic breath, that mystic taste from the old times?
– There are sources of inspiration… for us it´s mainly the old Norwegian Black Metal from the nineties, a kind of music that created unique dark and spiritual atmospheres. Other sources of musical inspiration are also oldschool Death Metal, Doom Metal, or even classical and soundtrack music. To create intense and atmospheric music always was our main goal. Regarding the lyrics, I draw inspiration from old sources…. Myths, folklore, historical stuff, but also from modern, expressionistic and surrealistic poetry. Maybe this special kind of mix helps creating these feelings.
– How would you describe Helrunar for those who find the band now or via this interview? What is your message to them?
– I would describe our music as mythological Black Metal, drawing inspiration from the musical and literal genres I mentioned, but also from the experiences of life and the reflection on the human psyche. I don´t know if we have a message… if we have, it´s anti-ideological. To find true freedom, by the wisdom hidden in myths, the reflection on the true self, the re-integration of the dark, archaic side into our being.
– Why black metal and what are your main musical inspirations and influences?
– As I mentioned… when it comes to bands it´s old Darkthrone, Emperor, Mayhem and Burzum, Dissection also has a big impact on our music. Doom like Candlemass and old Cathedral, oldschool Death Metal like old Entombed, Dismember and Morbid Angel. Metal classics like Slayer, Metallica and Iron Maiden also left a mark on us, surely.
– You brand new gorgeous “Vanitas Vanitatvm” will be released by the end of September. Over an hour of misty magic! Tell us more about it.
– Regarded musically, Vanitas Vanitatum is somewhere in between Niederkunfft and Sól… it is faster and more dynamic again, with more Black Metal-elements. Lyrically it draws inspiration from the history of late mediaeval and early modern times, but this time the focus lies more on the modern world we live in, a world full of vanities and narcissism.
– Is it a successor of “Niederkunfft”, meaning in the same stylistic framework?
– Regarding the language, yes. I used an older version of German (from the 17th century) again for some of the lyrics. But Niederkunfft was far more a kind of historical album… this time, we go deeper into symbolism and human psychology again.
– Where did you get inspired about “Vanitas”. Can we search some roots in the Ecclesiastes and your thoughts about the book?
– It was mainly the poetry of German Baroque that was the inspiration for this… Andreas Gryphius is, for example, a very important poet regarding that period. Other sources of inspiration were antique myths, folklore and historical sources and also the bible – materials that our whole culture is based on. The rest is observation… observing what´s going on in this world.
– Is everything a vanity in the material world?
– Not necessarily. Mankind also created things of great value… beautiful works of art, science and reason, great deeds of compassion and tenderness. But let´s say the material aspects of this world always breed the danger to be mislead. The conflict between the material and the spiritual world may be as old as mankind itself, and so is vanity. Now, we live in an age where vanity is present everywhere and where it unfolds absolutely shameless. This is the time for narcissists, liars and the brash guys with the big mouth. They are on the upwind.
– Is it more obvious in the present times that the vanity just comes to fill in lack of mind of the people?
– I think so. If one would pause to reflect on his life and his being, this would most surely be a good antidote against vanity. But the world we live in seems to support shallowness and vanity instead. There are, however also other movements and forces at work… let´s hope people come back to reason again.
– Did you record the album as duo again?
– Yes. Sebastian played all the instruments (he is a far better instrumentalist than me) and I did the lyrics and vocals.
– The artwork? What is the message behind?
– Beauty and death. Memento mori. And to dust we´ll return.
– Who are the other guys who help you with the live performances?
– Árni is a young, very talented guy from Iceland, he is playing the lead guitar live. Stefan, an old friend of us, is playing the rhythm guitar. I am also active with these two guys in Árstiðir lífsins, an epic Norse Metal-band. Rainer is playing the bass… actually he plays in the German Death Metal-band Abrogation.
– Are you planning a tour already? What can we expect in this direction?
– Our European tour will start on the 26th of September. We will mainly play gigs in Germany, but also in France, Poland, Switzerland, Austria and Belgium. Some more festival gigs will be done in 2019.
– Do you have any preferred/favourite band/s you would like to tour with?
– Huh, I did´nt really think about that… some of the great old heroes of Death- or Black Metal would be just fine. But now we tour with Empyrium and Sun of the Sleepless, great bands, fantastic music and good friends of us. Couldn´t be better I guess.
– Great line up indeed! Did we miss something important? Anything else you would like to share with us? Your message to our readers?
– Take a book with you to bed. Books don´t snore.
– Once again, thank you for this interview! It has been a real pleasure to have a word with you! From the entire Blessed Altar Zine team I wish you success with the new album and in all your future plans! Definitely we keep a close eye on everything you are doing!
– Thank you very much for the interview, your kind wishes and your support! All the best for you, too!
Interview by Count Vlad
Please make sure to check our review of Helrunar’s brand new album “Vanitas Vanitatvm” here
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