The volcanic eruption of Skálmöld
Skálmöld was two years in the northern land of Iceland. The next year they were sign to faroese label Tutl and within four months time they recorded and released their debut album "Baldur" which quickly caught the attention of Napalm Records. Which in turn will release their debut worldwide. Skálmöld combines icelandic folk with heavy melodic viking metal. Just returned from their headlining tour of Iceland and Faroe Islands. The future seems bright for this young icelandic with an planned appearance at Wacken Open Air festival. When you listen to their debut "Baldur" one thing comes to mind Iron Maiden meets Amon Amarth meets Ensfernum.
Good evening brothers how you doing today? first I would like to know how hot it is in Iceland?
Good evening to you as well. I'm doing pretty good today. Skálmöld just came back from a mini-tour in Iceland and the Faroe Islands and now I'm just resting and enjoying some quality time with my family. We did a two week tour with our friends and label mates from Tutl, who first released our album. The tour was great fun. It was the first time Skálmöld played in the Faroe Islands and it's always great to play in front a new audience.
As for the weather. It's quite nice for an Icelandic summer. Calm, 11°C even though it's close to midnight. So I can't complain.
August 9th Skálmöld is going to release the debut album "Baldur" in the USA. How excited is the band right now, about your album coming out in the states?
We are very excited. Just like we are as well with the album being released in Europe. We really don't have a clue on what to expect so it will be interesting to see how metal heads in the U.S. react to an Icelandic metal band. Not so many bands from Iceland have gotten the opportunity and I guess very few in the U.S. are familiar with Icelandic music for that matter. So interesting times ahead, indeed. Now we just have to hope that we will get the chance to follow up on the release with some shows in the states as well.
The band was created in 09, then you guys got signed to Napalm Records. That's not bad for a band that's two years young?
You're absolutely right. It's not bad at all. Things have been happening pretty fast for us as a band since we met up for the first rehearsal. I guess it's a bit of luck, 'cuz there are certainly more than a handful of great bands out there that will never have the chance of releasing their music through a big label which will support and promote their material. But we are most fortunate in that manner having Napalm by our side in future battles.
But we will also like to believe that our music is good. And that the quality of our music has something to do with it, rather than just pure luck.
When you first started Skálmöld, did you expected the band would make progress this quickly?
No, absolutely not.
When we formed the band it's was more for the fun of it. We have all been metal heads since we were young and have played in all sorts of bands over the years, metal and non-metal. Skálmöld was just for us to have a great time, get back to our metal roots and hopefully release an album we could be proud of when we are old. To have our album released worldwide by a well-respected label was never our intention. But we are loving every minute of it.
It says in the band's bio that each of the members came from various musical backgrounds. Can you elaborate a little more on that?
Like I said, we are all born and bread metal heads and when we were starting our musical career as teenagers we played in all sorts of metal and punk bands. But over the last few years the members of Skálmöld have also been involved with all kinds of music. Folk, pop, rock, classical, punk etc. But most of the bands are not known outside of Iceland. Probably the best known band would be Ampop, which our drummer, Jón Geir, was a part of. But we like to think we have gains so much from playing other music than metal. Our songwriting most certainly gains from it, it makes our album so much more varied and hopefully more interesting as well.
Can you tell the readers about the album, the story behind the album "Baldur"?
Snæbjörn, our bassist, writes all our lyrics. And they are pretty damn good to tell you the truth. The lyrics have gotten Skálmöld some attention from outside the metal community, they're even used by some teachers up in Iceland when teaching poetry, which is pretty cool.
"Baldur" is a concept album. Telling the dramatic tale of the Icelandic viking, Baldur. Baldur is a wealthy man who loses all when a demon-like creature brutally attacks his home, destroys all land and houses and kills everything in sight. We then follow Baldur on an epic quest for revenge where he travels through the cold and harsh Icelandic landscape, fighting all kinds of demons before finally getting the chance to fight his sworn enemy.
Snæbjörn uses the traditional Icelandic rules of poetry when writing his lyrics, as well as using our old and rich history for inspiration. The old Icelandic Sagas and Norse mythology for example.
I like to know how the band manage to attract the attention of Napalm Records. Were there any other labels interested in Skálmöld at the time?
Our album was first released by the Faroese record label Tutl, who have earlier in their career worked with Týr. Through Tutl we came in contact with Napalm and signed a contract with them in April this year. It's a deal that both parties can be satisfies and the co-operation so far has been great. And I believe that with a strong label like Napalm at our side we can stretch this adventure of ours even further.
As for other. No. At least I didn't hear of it. We had some booking agencies discussing possible co-operation, but when the deal with Napalm came into the picture it was all thrown aside since they have a good booking agency themselves.
To tell you the truth, Skálmöld is the first band I heard that ever came out of Iceland. I really didn't know that there was a metal scene in Iceland, even a metal band! Tell me about the metal scene and how supportive the fans been toward the bands?
Yeah, Icelandic metal has most certainly been in the spotlight of the metal scene. But I find that a shame. Icelandic metal is alive and well and we have some great bands up here. And the scene has been growing really fast for the few years. Our local metal festival, Eistnaflug, is always getting bigger and bigger and is starting to draw some well known acts such as Napalm Death and Triptykon. And the metal magazines are starting to show up to follow the festival and spread the good word.
We have had some bands signing to foreign labels in the past years, Sólstafir and Beneath to name a few. Hopefully we, Skálmöld, will at least bring some attention to the metal scene in Icelandic, 'cuz the world is missing some world class acts.
Name of the bands you listen to and influential to you growing up as a fan and musician?
Iron Maiden, early Metallica and Slayer are probably the most influential. Those are the bands I grew up listening to and still do to this day. I also got into the Death Metal scene in the early '90s and I still enjoy Death Metal. The Swedish scene was certainly my thing. Dismember, Entombed and Unleashed to name a few were influential as hell when I was a teenager.
As for bands that have gotten my attention over the last few years I could mention Opeth and Primordial. Such a great talent in those bands.
Not too long ago there was a volcanic eruption in Iceland, how far were you and your band mates from the volcano. I bet it freaked you out?
Me and my band mates all live in Reykjavík, or neighboring towns, and Reykjavík is about 200-300 kilometers from those volcanoes. Here in Reykjavík you didn't notice it that much. We had almost no ash falling here in the capital. But you could of course see the cloud of ash on the horizon. It got much more serious the closer you were to the volcanoes and some farmers lost a lot.
But it did not freak us Icelanders out. Volcanic eruption happen quite frequently over here, and luckily the majority of them are of no immediate danger to the inhabitants.
I think that Europeans were more freaked, due all the flight delays and cancellations.
What are the bands plans in support of "Baldur" as far as touring or local shows goes?
The album was released here in Iceland and the Faroe Islands in December 2010 . Since then we have played a lot of shows in Iceland to follow up on the release. And so far it has been going really well for Skálmöld.
In August we'll play Wacken, the biggest metal festival in the world. That will be a great opportunity for us to perform for metal maniacs in Europe. It will be great fun and it's an honor for us as a band to be invited to play this festival.
In October we will participate in the Heidenfest tour, along with well known bands from the same genre. That tour will span eleven countries, 24 cities, in Europe. That will also be a great platform for us to show what we have to offer.
Apart from that nothing has been decided.
Also, we have started to try out some song ideas we have and I certainly hope that we won't have to wait too long for a new Skálmöld release.
Interviewer: Paul Lewis
Jul 23, 2011
Jul 23, 2011
Next interview: Nocturnal Fear and the obsession for weapons and death