Myrkvar explains ‘As en Bloed’

By: Dorien

Myrkvar kept us waiting for four years until they released the follow-up of ‘Als een woeste horde’, but this year they released ‘As en Blood’ finally. We talked with Hrabnilaz (synths, vocals) and Herubern (bass, vocals). I wasn’t really excited about their album at First, but after they explained at lot, I’ve begun to listen to it in an other way.

To start with the new album. Why did you choose a concept-album?
‘A concept-album gives a lot more opportunities, it’s not a collection of individual songs. You can create a whole story and you can even use the artwork in the story. Besides that is more challenging composing the Music this way. You’re stuck with a theme/story and you’re Music has to fit to it.’

Isn’t that restricting your creativity?
‘The answer to that is no, for sure. There’s often to little time to put everything in an album. You can put spheres together in this way and music, to listen to music is a process. You’ll listen to an album as a whole because it has a structure. An easy beginning with a climax like a book or film. Single songs don’t affect me much.’

And why did you choose Ragnarok?
‘Basically Ragnarok is the most chewed topic, but also the most rude story you can find in mythology. We went on this route and have decided to translate it to music in a not to obvious way. When you listen to the album, it’s not like you think ‘Oh, its an album about Ragnarok.’’

How did you work your way around this?
‘Most ideas came from Faber. To his annoyance we often thinks it’s not very good. But in the end some things are very nice actually. You have to listen very well to the album to find out, what’s happening, we had to.’
‘We don’t try to make music which is sounds nice right away, but it has to soak in a little. Perseverance is the only thing which works out then. It worked out in the past, if you stick to it long enough it will work out well. When it’s nothing in the end, it disappears.’

The lyrics are in Dutch. Is there a reason for that?
‘Yes, the lyrics are about Germanic mythology and our target are the Dutch listeners. Despite of the fact a lot of the bands write in English, to choose for English is more odd than it is to choose Dutch lyrics.’
‘Besides this we think it’s a it ‘being popular’ to have English lyrics when you’re a Dutch band. Of course a lot of bands have plans to conquer foreign countries and when you get to that it’s a more obvious choice, but it isn’t a success-factor. Bands like Finntroll and Moonsorrow are popular in the Netherlands as well. We make music for our fans and you approach them in Dutch. If people outside the Netherlands like it, it’s a bonus.’

Don’t you have ‘foreign-plans’?
‘When it happens it happens. We make music we like and if others think alike it’s nice. If people outside the Netherlands know your music, appreciate it and want to hear it live, is cool. But it’s just as cool to play in a loaded pub on the corner of the street.’
‘Suppose you’re invited to go to London, but there are only 5 people in the audience, what’s if good for? The nicest thing for us is a loaded venue, where the crowd is really at it, to have a bond with the audience. Where this will be is not important to us.

Let’s talk about the artwork and title. Both are really good ideas. Simple but catchy, how do you got to these?
‘The title was actually in the lyrics of the song which is entitled ‘Asenbloed’ now. We sat in the car on our way to Summerbreeze and the lyrics were written that day by Roel (drummer). He read is out loud, and mentioned Asenbloed and then we saw the dubble title and there was it!. (red.: in Dutch Asenbloed means blood of the Asen, but when you cut the word in tree As en Bloed it means Ash and Blood). The windshields of the car where instantly bulged of the enthusiasm in the car and the title of the album was born. We often disagree, but this was not such a moment. We were busy for half a year with this title, we couldn’t agree. At the same time it was obvious if the title of the album would be As en Bloed, the title of the track would be Asenbloed.’
‘We tried to get the artwork in line with this. Dark colours and a grimm atmosphere. The artist has also made the artwork for Carach Angren and we liked that a lot. Our mutual favourite is Carach Angren. We told him it would be a concept-album about Ragnarok and we wanted a grimm artwork with fire, ash and red accents. It came out beautiful and fits very well to the theme of the album.’

As en Bloed is an album with a serious theme. Dark colors and a grimm atmosphere. The artist has also done the artworkd for Carach Angren and we liked that a lot. Our mutual favourite is Carach Angren. We told him it would be a concept-album about Ragnarok and we wanted a grimm artwork with fire, ash and red accents. The artwork came out beautiful and we think it fits very well to the theme of the album.
‘As en Bloed’ is an album with a serious theme. Did you leave jokes like ‘Trollen met de prei’ (red. Trolls with leek) behind you?
‘Haha look at us? We’ve chosen to use a very serious subject, but we’re still crazy. There will be a weird cover in the future, but we’re still working on it, so we can’t tell you about it.

Where is the name Myrkvar coming from?
‘It’s a very old Norwegian word, an ancient conjugation of the word obscuration. However it fits very well to this record, it’s in general a name which doesn’t fit very well. It’s also not a Dutch name, but we decided to keep it because it catchy. And the meaning of it, the darker side of mythology is fitting well to the band.’
‘The origine of the name goes back to the origine of the band. It’s referring to the start of the band. We started off as a black metal band, but that line-up is completely gone, only the name is transferred to the new band. Everyone in the original line-up was replaces quickly, and with these changes the style of the music also changed. When the first real recordings were done, the name was fixed to the band.’

Germans and Norwegians were not such barbaric people actually. In common they were farmers and they went on trade-missions, but they weren’t as rough people as they are often written about. Is it a man-thing to sing this stories on stage and let the primal man loose?
‘Metalpeople are really ‘nice’ people actually. It’s a kind of escape of the everyday grind. You loose yourself in the Music and everyone does this in his own way. In this setting you are easely labelled ‘Vikingmetal’? But you’re really living it out in your music. And when this is looking rough, it’s looking rough and when it’s showing nice and small, that’s the fact. But with this music and theme’s it’s easily looking rough. But I doubt it if it’s really that rough.’

What is the nicest thing you experienced so far with Myrkvar?
‘We’re in the scene for a while (2006) and a lot of gigs have found a permanent place in our memory. Hörnerfest in Germany was very nice. The field was filled with jigging people, mostly Germans. It weren’t friend who came by to cheer for you, but random people which enjoying the music.’
‘Besides this our gig at ‘De Affaire’ will always be stuck to our memory. This was during the ‘Nijmeegse vierdaagse’. There were only some 500 people or so, but there were also a lot op people walking by, but standing still to watch for moment. Playing on real Viking ground, they plundered and fought there. Which makes it very special to play there.’
‘Often it are also memories of thing happening backstage and the journey back home. And the whole scene you’re entering. Chilling with other band en playing. If they’re big of just Dutch, it’s always fun.’

‘On stage it’s also very nice, you’re in the flow of the music. And when the audience goes along with it…, there’s nothing compared to that. Even when you’re ill, when you’re on stage you forget it all. Performing gives so much energy.’

What will 2012 bring?
‘We’re already working on a new album. The German mythology will be very important. Sometimes you create a melody and you visualize a atmosphere. You write some phrases which fit the rhythm and this way a song evolves. When you have a theme you can invent a story around it, of when somebody brings on a story we can build on with that. But mostly it starts with the music and the lyrics will follow later on.’

Are you besides in the music somehow involved in German mythology?
‘It started for me with the music. Then I dug in the matter and nowadays my bookshelf gets full with mythology-books. So yes, I’m involved with it all week. But I’m also busy with Myrkvar. You don’t sit down an make an album, weeks go by. Sometimes nothing happens and on some days you have a lot of inspiration and experience a lot. It’s a long process.’

What makes this CD better than the previous one? Often you hear bands say ‘they wanted to change a lot’.?
‘At the previous CD we wanted to change almost everything and now there are only a few thing.’
‘As en Bloed is an album which have to be listened to form the beginning until the end. That’s a shame with mp3 players, which repeat it all after the end. When you should have a moment after the last song, to let it all settle. It should be pointed out, the CD has to be listened to as a whole. We have tried to create a tension. In the beginning it’s very intense for a moment followed by a quieter piece and it bursts out in the end. After this you have to take a little rest.’
‘The last song is entitled ‘Uit de as herrezen’. Ragnarok meant the end of the world. But the end is also a new beginning and you can hear this in this track. A concept-album can also end with an less catchy track. You start easily and build up to ‘Donderslag’ and in the end you’re laid down on a pillow softly.’

How do you create this tension live? You can’t play everything and tell the whole story.
‘You absolutely look at the place of the songs in the setlist. I’m not sure if you need to tell the whole story live. On one hand you want to bring the CD like it is and tell the whole story. But when I’m in the audience myself and the band is playing their CD one on one, there’s no surprise and you can listen to it at home, as well. It’s the variation we think is important live. You want to entertain the audience. Gigs have to be solid as a rock.’

‘I’ve been thing about the questing ‘what makes this CD different’. The first album was a kind of try out. The big mistake, al lot of bands make is creating a melody which causes everybody to play the same thing. When you listen to the new record you’ll hear new things every time. Just the opposite, because we have never doubled. The album is filled with antics and when you keep listening it are definitively no straight lines we drew. It’s nog a ‘pleasing album’, it surely isn’t easy listening at once. Some melodies are but in general it needs time to soak in.’
‘We want to give the listeners the advice to listen to it a couple of times and not to throw it in a corner after the first time. It’s a concept-album so listen it as a whole. At a concept-album you can’t listen to only three songs.’