Haljōrūna is an exciting, relatively new, two-man pagan black metal project with members based in both Norway and Sweden. The band recently released their second full-length album “Haustblot”, a more than worthy follow-up to their incredible debut “Midvinterblot”.
The reason I wanted to interview Haljōrūna, aside from my utter appreciation of their music, is that I’d noticed very little information is available about the band online. Therefore, I thought it would be a great time to shed some light on the project and bring them out from the shadows. Enjoy!
BAZ: Thank you for taking the time to talk to Blessed Altar Zine today. I’m excited to dig in and learn a little more about your incredible project Haljōrūna. I’d also like to do something special for this interview. Because the band has enjoyed such a positive reception from underground metal supporters, I thought it would be interesting to have some members of the online metal community pitch in and ask their own unique questions. So, let’s jump in.
Firstly, congratulations on the release of your latest album Haustblot. It is a truly phenomenal release and seems to have been received well by listeners, earning plenty of praise online. This is your second full-length album so how are you feeling about this milestone? Have you received much feedback yet?
Víðarr: Thank you for having us and glad you like the album. Considering we do all of this by ourselves without any label or marketing, simply because we enjoy it and believe in what we are doing, I’m amazed by the feedback. To realize there are so many like minded people who can relate to Haljoruna is very rewarding.
Orm: Haljoruna is special to us and we like really like working on it. We thought no one would listen when we first released “Midvinterblot” so we just pleased ourselves and kept on working. “Haustblot” is for the most part recorded right after “Midvinterblot” in early 2020 and the Windir cover back in 2019.
BAZ: For anyone who hasn’t heard the band can you explain your sound?
Orm: Haljoruna is synth based folk metal/neo folk with soft and aggressive vocals and lyrics about overcoming great despair. Also Odin !! Ahahaha !!
BAZ: As I understand it, Haljōrūna is a collaborative project that crosses the border of Sweden and Norway, which seems like a unique arrangement. This leads to our first question from the metal community. This one comes from Harald, an authority on Norwegian metal, extreme music aficionado and all-round legend (Twitter: @HaraldKvassheim)
Harald: How did you come together to start the collaboration? And how is the writing process?
Víðarr: Hej Harald! I had a few demo songs like Urds Kjelde and a rough idea what Haljoruna was about. Orm heard it and filled all the gaps. Since then we are equally involved in the creative process.
Orm: Thank you for always having our back and supporting us Harald !! Yeah we get along great and have the same visions for the music. It also helps that Víðarr is a musical genius and a professional. Learned a lot already from him.
BAZ: Did the band make any big changes in the creation of this second album, creatively or technically?
Orm: Not any big changes but we are always developing and being influenced. The main idea behind the project is national romantic folk metal with songs about mountains and wolves, though “Haustblot” took a little different turn lyrically on some songs 🙂
Víðarr: Pretty much the same process. Technically I didn’t even change strings on the guitar.
BAZ: Ok this next question comes from Sílvia, a dedicated underground metal fan, enthusiastic supporter of Haljōrūna and beloved member of the online metal community (Twitter: @Silviamaiden666; Instagram: silvia_metalhead).
Sílvia: Well, I’m curious about what are the things (or themes) that mainly influence the band when creating music, and the sources of inspiration?
Orm: Nature in its majestic beauty, just thinking of big Norwegian mountains, its the best ahahaha !! Old folk tales and mythology is important, but also the horrors of being alive in 2021 is good for lyrics. I wont lock myself in a box and only sing about how wise Odin is, besides we already have a song like that 🙂
BAZ: Now I’m going to pass a question over to Toby, ex-vocalist from Australian metal act Scythian Fate and fierce metal champion (Twitter: @metalranga; Instagram: metal_ranga).
Toby: My question would be, are your inspirations taken from both Norse mythology and actual history or just one of those? What’s your favourite tale to tell?
Víðarr: Handing over the question to Orm, I just got busy checking out Scythian Fate. Cool sound!
Orm: I got you covered ! 🙂 The story of Balder made a big impact on me as a child. I grew up with Norse mythology and our mum read the stories to us as kids. All the roads we grew up in had names from Norse gods. Norse mythology is layers upon layers of imagery. It is hard to unlock the true meaning. There is also a lot of practical wisdom. I can never learn enough about it and its important that this cultural heritage is kept and passed on to the younger generations.
BAZ: You have a couple of incredible cover songs on the new album “Lokk” by Storm and “Journey to the End” by Windir. How do you go about choosing a band or track and do you both share similar musical tastes? Additionally, are there any particular artists that have had a profound influence on you over the years and perhaps helped to form your sound?
Víðarr: I think we have a similar taste. Black Metal is obviously something we have in common but also traditional Nordic music. Influences come from everywhere but for Haljoruna I’d say the main inspiration comes from nature, freezing ice cold winter winds, and obviously our heritage and mythology.
Orm: This is the right answer !!
BAZ: Do either of you currently have any other projects or collaborations happening, outside of Haljōrūna?
Víðarr: Bang Bang Rouge where we make some kind of dark pop rock and I also play guitar in a black metal band. Besides that there’s a constant stream of different projects. Right now I’m working on a new release with the German band Urfeind.
Orm: I am currently cheating on Haljoruna with “Nattland”, a band I just started with the “Livløst” guys in Oslo.
BAZ: Has the band played live at all? Have the recent COVID-related restrictions had an impact on the band in anyway?
Víðarr: For Haljoruna it hasn’t made any difference at all. Living in different locations we work remote anyway. We haven’t even discussed playing live. An acoustic gig deep in the Scandinavian woods with just a few invited people would be cool tough…
Orm: I love the thought of bringing our drum machine on tour. Like sisters of mercy !!
BAZ: I’ve noticed that Haljōrūna are only active on limited social media platforms. Do you think that social media is an important tool for artists? Also, what are you thoughts of the online metal community?
Víðarr: I prefer meeting people in person but they are a great way to post updates and occasionally chat with people from all over the world. Some of these platforms are getting too powerful though. It’s not up to any publishing platform to filter out and decide what’s good for me to read. I’m fully capable of doing that on my own.
Orm: We do Instagram, Twitter, Youtube and Facebook. After we got on there we sold a lot more records, to people from all corners of the world. Its been amazing. I almost had a heart attack when Possessed followed my personal account. Its so weird but also incredibly awesome, they support the metal underground for sure.
BAZ: As an artist do you have a preference as to how your music is consumed? For example being purchased as digital or physical media or on a streaming service? What about you as a music lover, how do you consume music?
Víðarr: A stream is just for the moment. A physical release remains. In a few years time when you coincidentally find some album in your collection it will remind you of a specific period in life and bring back memories. Maybe you will even search for a cassette or CD player in the basement in order to listen to it. I like things that are timeless. That goes for anything by the way, not just music.
Orm: Totally agree with my Haljoruna friend. Will add that after we got our deal with Old Mill Productions I want people to listen only on cassette. The tape saturation does wonders for synths. It does sound worse then CD but way more alive !! Cassette !! Prepare for a crazy release of “Haustblot” from Old Mill with Wolf Teeth and Axes !!
BAZ: For our final question we will throw back to Sílvia, who would like to know: “if (hopefully) the band have more stuff going on, or at least more musical ideas haunting their heads”. So, what’s next for Haljōrūna?
Víðarr: Good question. Any suggestions? There are no detailed plans but it doesn’t feel like we’re done yet. I guess we’ll get together at some point, write songs, have some fleinsopp i fantoftaasen and something will magically will happen… hopefully.
Orm: Thank you Silvia, dear friend. The future for Haljoruna new record that we spend eternity recording and hopefully produce a record that will be good enough to warrant a vinyl release. So we will make sure it is the truest we have ever been to our original vision for the band. It will be a while until the next record, at least a year or maybe even more. We will release some stuff in the meantime.
BAZ: Thank you for taking the time to speak with us today and congratulations once again on the release and success of Haustblot. All the best with your work and we at Blessed Altar Zine are looking forward to your future releases! Hill Óðinn!
Haljōrūna: Thank you for talking to us Blessed Altar Zine and for your wonderful review.
And big thanks to all the people who have helped us and supported us. It means so much to us. I have a big box full of letters and things that people and other bands have sent us and it is a direct source of my happiness these days ahaha!
BAZ: It was my pleasure chatting with you today! Thanks again. Proua Metallist.
**Please support the underground! It’s vital to the future of our genre.**