The North Star leads us to Einherjer
Following the review of “North Star” we reached out to Frode Glesnes (Grimar) for an interview about the release. Their take on the music, the pandemic, and everything in between follows.
Following the North Star
Hi guys, congratulations with your new album. It received almost the maximum points at Folk-metal.nl. Are you satisfied with the album so far?
“Thanks! That’s awesome!!
Yes, I’m very happy with the album! I usually am when we’ve just released an album, but this time it feels even better than it usually does. I think we’ve done something special this time. Releasing an album is still a pretty big deal. Even after all these years. Too bad we can’t promote it with some proper live shows, but I guess we just have to be patient.”
Starting in 1993 and still releasing albums is quite unique. How do you manage to keep on going all these years.
“Einherjer is a result of a close friendship and a mutual interest in music. Both factors are still valid today. Gerhard and I have known each other since we were kids. I moved into the house next to him in early 81, when I was six years old. Partners in crime ever since! We discovered music together and we developed our musical taste together. Everything from classics like Kiss and Status Quo to the extremes of Immortal and Master’s Hammer.
I guess that’s why we’re such a great musical match today. We always agree if something is suited for Einherjer or not. This is the DNA of the band, and that is impossible to replace. We’re both in this until the end!”
What made you decide to return to Napalm Records after all these years.
“The contract with Indie Recordings was fulfilled with the release of “Norrøne Spor”, so it was time for us to shop around for a new label. Napalm was on the shortlist and we quickly came to an agreement. I’m really happy being back at Napalm. They have grown to be a big label with a strong presence, and I’m confident they can push our music out to the masses better than the smaller labels. We love what we do and we want to share it with as many people as possible. For us this is a step up and it allows us to communicate on a larger scale.”
With the pandemic in full swing and a lot of the songs on your album having subtle social commentary, what was the mindset like that brought North Star into being, and how did the process compare to previous albums?
“We don’t really change the recipe much from album to album. I think we’ve continued the path we started on “Norrøn”. The basic idea is the same; to make the best Heavy Metal album possible. Add the special sauce that makes it “Norse”, the inspiration we draw from Norwegian folk music and composers like Edvard Grieg and Geirr Tveitt. Mix it with a touch of influence from the classic extreme metal bands and there we are. Full blown Norse Heavy Metal. We started writing new songs immediately after “Norrøne Spor” so the transition from one album to the next felt very smooth. A natural development.”
Music and Lyrics
Many of the songs appear to invite the listener to search for answers, from the regular mention of casting runes to some debatable astrological undertones in “Stars”, do these have any specific relevance beyond the surface?
“Well, people can add whatever meaning they want in our lyrics. Some songs are concrete in their content while others may need more than a bit of scratching the surface to get the whole message. Like I’ve said numerous times lately, we’re still wrapping things in a Norse wording but that doesn’t mean that the theme is anything Norse or viking related. We are broadening our horizon. At least a tiny bit…”
I could pick up some transcendent spiritual themes on tracks like “The Blood and the Iron” and “Ascension”, did the landscape of the pandemic shape these themes at all, and if so how?
““The Blood and the Iron” is not spiritual themed. It is a state of the world address type of lyrics. If anything it is as close as we get to environmentally engaged. I think we covered a lot of ground this time. From the darkness of “Listen to the Graves”, which is me looking at the world from a very dark place, to the celebration of our home turf with “West Coast Groove”. Gerhard wrote “Ascension”, so I’ll let him chime in here:”
Gerhard: “We’re brawling our way into the future. There’s no stopping to see what’s around the next bend. Who knows what may be lurking there. It’s like the story of The Red Riding Hood when she walks around in the dark woods. All those “evil” eyes staring at her are dragged out into the light and exposed. That’s what we do as humans, we demystify the world. Things that once were a legend, is now science. I think if we can pull our shit together (and don’t wipe ourselves out), there are no limits to what we can do.”
We’ve discussed the lyrics a fair deal so far, but let’s shift gears to the music itself. What did the composition and recording work, has it been affected by the pandemic?
“Well, again we used my studio; Studio Borealis. Every album from “Norrøn” and onwards has been recorded in my studio. The last two albums have been both recorded and mixed at Studio Borealis. It’s a semi-pro setup with great gear and really good rooms. Mastered by our very good friend, Jaime Gomez Arellano at Orgone Studios, UK.
Covid-19 didn’t really affect the process that much. It just delayed the whole process a bit. The recording sessions for “North Star” started in February 2020. We were half way through when everything closed down in mid-March. The whole situation with home tutoring and home kindergarten kind of killed the rock n roll vibe for some weeks. Luckily we record at my studio, so that allowed us to work even with the virus at our doorstep. With the drums already recorded, I could continue laying down bass, guitars and vocals. Ole did most of his solos at his place and I just re-amped them in the studio. A lonely process to record an album this time, but we managed to get some good energy going anyway and I think that reflects on our work. The release date was pushed from October to February, but that didn’t really make any difference to anyone.”
I keep bringing up the pandemic, but by many accounts it really affects musicians across genres, but albums still get made, and bands find ways to cope. What has kept Einherjer active during these times?
“From the pandemic struck in march up until we delivered the finished master in November, we were busy with the album. Aside from the band, we’ve been busy with our day jobs. We all have jobs and we’ve all been lucky enough to have something to do during the pandemic. Bored out of our minds of course, but what can you do? I like to spend time boating. Fishing and stuff. Excellent way to forget all troubles and just relax.”
Do you have any other remarks about North Star that we haven’t gone over?
“I think “North Star” is a very strong album. Probably among our best albums to date. I want to add that we also did three really cool music videos for the singles. “Stars” was shot in a concert hall in Haugesund. The album opener, “The Blood and the Iron” was shot in a boat house at the Viking village at Avaldsnes, just outside Haugesund. Amazing location! It was used in the first season of the Norsemen series. Both videos were done by fellow Haugesunder Thomas Mortveit. We also did an animated video for the home turf tribute “West Coast Groove”. Artist Costin Chioreanu who also did the front cover and the rest of the artwork did an amazing job with this. Great details that mean a lot to us, but also lots of really cool elements based on stuff he experienced the times he has been to Haugesund. Check out the videos on YouTube. Shouldn’t be too hard to find.”
Finally, do you have any closing comments for our readers?
“Thanks! Just an encouragement to all you metal lovers out there. We’re all fed up and tired of this shit. We want it all to end, and it will end someday. Until then a lot of bands really need a bit of extra support. The whole industry is suffering a serious blow. Touring is at a standstill, with no indication on when it could safely pick back up. If there is a band you admire, go to their website and buy some merch directly from the band. It will be very appreciated!
And when the smoke clears we’ll be ready to be rockin’ all over the world again. Stay safe!”