After much eager anticipation I have gotten a few of my questions answered about Skälmold’s latest album, Sorgir. We heard back from Þráinn Árni Baldvinsson, the band’s lead guitarist. It turned out they were more then willing to answer a few questions. The conclusion of this interview, which has been in the works since the release of the album can be read below.
Could you give readers a brief description of your latest album, Sorgir, and what went into its conception?
“Our new album is about four stories, told from both sides. Song number one is about the light/fire which keeps the family warm, the light dies and the father leaves to get fire, meanwhile Skotta (song number five) arrives and kills everybody so when the father comes home everything is frozen and dead. So, the songs tell stories from both sides about the same thing. This is our darkest album, it´s brutal and miserable. Not a nice thing to find I´m afraid.”
I understand Sorgir means sorrow. What is the significance of the title with regards to the content of the album?
“This is the best possible title we could find. Like I said before, this is not a nice album regarding content of the lyrics. It´s all death and terrible things. I think the title summons up all the songs and their meaning quite well.”
Sorrow and Sadness
The album, for the most part, seems to be toning up all of the musical characteristics that are present in your music across albums. That being said, did you have any specific goals for Sorgir from a songwriting perspective?
“We never decide what to do except for the fact that most of the time we have thought about what the album will be called and the main story. We knew we wanted songs about people´s sorrow and sadness and then the reason for it and that´s where the ghosts and creatures came in, we have a lot of folk tales about these bastards here in Iceland, so, when we knew the main story about the songs we started writing. Writing is very natural to us, as soon as we finish an album we start thinking about the next one, we have already started talking about the next album. So … I don’t think we set goals except that we want our next album to be better than the previous one etc etc “
In comparison to some of your other releases, there were some tracks on the album which featured riffs and segments that felt somewhat more like traditional Metal than folk, which begs the question, did you have any unusual influences for this effort
“Nah, I don’t think so. Maybe we were a bit more angry, I don’t know. We still listen to all kinds of music but maybe us listening a lot to Behemoth and Rotting Christ and Deicide is finally -kicking in … hahahaha, traditional metal? I think this album is our least traditional but I have no clue since I´m too involved, I love reading other people´s comment about our music.”
Compared to your previous album, Vögguvísur Yggdrasils, there is a difference in the role of folk instruments. Is there any specific reason why, on some albums, you employ folk instrumentation more extensively, while, on others, you opt to simply use song structures reminiscent of folk songs?
“All coincidences. We don”t think that deep!!! We are just doing what we do because we love it and it´s a lot of fun. That´s why it´s great to listen back to our previous albums, they all have different characters yet they all sound the same but our fans have their opinions and everyone has different ideas on what is our best one, what is our most folky etc etc.”
Do you have any closing comments?
“Be kind to one another, be safe and live healthy, beautyful life. Looking forward to see you good people on the road, let´s have a beer or two and have fun, talk about music after the show and just enjoy life.”
Personally, I find there to be two very simple takeaways from this conversation. Firstly, the brothers Grim clearly have nothing on Iceland and secondly I have to stop trying to find complicated causation everywhere I look. Regardless, Sorgir has been released for long enough now that it has become available on several different streaming platforms. If you feel inclined to give it a listen after hearing some background information it’s definitely worth it.