Skálmöld Heidenfestinterview

By: Dorien
Photography: Dorien

The Icelandic band Skálmöld is what you can call a rising star. Well rising, it’s more fired like a cannonball. Folk-metal.nl spoke with Þráinn, Jón and Baldur at Heidenfest 2011 about their success.
At first I congratulate them with their album. And I’m wondering how it’s possible they’ve joined a tour like Heidenfest while they have just released their first album.
The guys admit they were surprised by this as well. Their album was launched in Iceland and Faeroe islands, but before that they were already confirmed for Wacken. maar daarvoor waren ze bevestigd voor Wacken. ‘It was a bit odd, we didn’t have and album and did only three shows.’ Things are happening fast with Skálmöld, that’s for sure.

But then, you’re famous in Iceland, but how to move on? Baldur tells us the metalscene in Iceland is rather large. There’s a festival (Eistnaflug) every year and the fans drive easily 10 hours to get there, they drink and listen to metal. It feels like a big metalfamily. Besides this the metalscene is still growing. There are more and better bands with every year. But it remains difficult to reach the mainland from Iceland.

Skálmöld started on the Faeroe islands with the label Tutl, which releases the album of Týr as well. In april 2011 they signed with Napalm Records and reached the mainland. With success. After two weeks at number 1 in the charges at Iceland they got nice reactions in Europe as well.
Such a strong start, what can you do? They have to laugh about this. There are countries enough left to conquer, says Baldur. ‘But we have to make a new album for sure. A better and heavier album!’ They burst of creative ideas and material for another album. Þráinn can’t wait and would like to start with a new album right here and now. Fortunatelly he has the patience to finish the interview first.

About the album itself, Baldur is a concept album. Every song describes a phase in the life of the by Skálmöld created personage Baldur. It’s written by the strict rules of the Icelandic poetry. I wondered who’s specialized in this because it doesn’t seem easy to me. It turns out Baldur is. ‘He’s probably the best of Iceland when we’re speaking about Icelandic poetry.’According to Jón it’s really a kind of maths. You have to start with the right letters, have the right amount of syllables and use the right rhymes. And it has to be a song as well. It explains why the lyrics sound pleasant to listen to. The rhymes are made for this.
When I ask them if they’re going to use this on their next album, they confirm this immediatelly. They will never quit using this. It’s their style and they will never sing in English. It can be done to put the rhymes in English but that’s not how it should be done. ‘We like to transfer our backgrounds to the songs.’
There are some remarkable thing on this album. For instance: what is the crying baby in the song Draumur doing there? It appears to be the Gunnar, the keyboardplayer’s baby. The tooths were coming through and they recorded the crying. What it has to do with Baldur? At a certain point in his life, Baldur has a nightmare in which he witnesses all people who he loved get murdered. It’s a very painful memory from his youth. Now I now this I think the crying fits perfectly in the concept.
At the end of the album Baldur shall die, after he has slain the beast which killed everyone he loved. He shall be taken to Valhalla, where he can drink, fight and feast all day. This is the Skálmöld likes for themselves. I ask them i fit isn’t a bit too much of a male-dominated World, they have to laugh and admit the World is nothing without (walkure). A remark which makes me happy.

How did they come up with the name Skálmöld? You can translate this as Time of War or Time of Swords or something like that. In Icelandic it’s a rather unusual word, not a lot of Icelandic people know it. About six thousand years ago there was a big war in Iceland between a few clans. And this time is still spoken about: ‘Skálmöld was raging.’

Heidenfest 2011 has a varied line-up. This is of some influence to the band but they keep following their own path. But some things are taken with them to the next album. A larger audience is not the goal, but is could turn out to be the result. They don’t want to be put in a box but just make music.
Besides this the members have all different a background. Varying from classic to rock and punk. The songs are influenced by this for sure. Baldur couldn’t even play the electric guitar until recently. He learned this because acoustic guitar didn’t really fit with the style of the band. Now they released an album they know what they like and want for themselves. When they started the band they didn’t know they would be on tour soon. The only thing they wanted was to make a metal album, so they could be proud later on in their lives.

I thank Skálmöld for the nice and cosy interview.
Do they want to say something to the Dutch fans? While Þráinn tries to radiate all his metal into my voicerecorder, Baldur says: ‘Buy our album, the next one will be great and come and watch our show. I hope we’re back soon with a tour of our own. And stay metal!’