Encounter the grand and glorious compositions of Valknacht, Heathen Black Metal from Canada that will make you want to take on the world at large! Their latest magnum opus is entitled Le Sacrifice d’Ymir, a staggering collection of sonic hymns well work seeking out – now available from the folks at PRC Music. We recently caught up with founding member Thorleïf to discover more about this epic band on the rise, ready to take the world by storm. Read on as we explore the sonic terrains of the mighty Valknacht!
Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Valknacht, and how long the band has been together.
My name is Thorleïf. I’m the founder, composer and lead singer of Valknacht. The band was born January 1, 2005. At the first I created Valknacht as a solo project. I was a drummer at that time. Nevertheless, I soon realised that guitar and me were not made for each other, despite my father’s effort to teach me the basics a long time ago, as a guitarist himself. It’s in 2009 that Valknacht had its first line up. Matoleos – our drummer – and me are the only « original members » still in the band, from that initial line up. Our actual line up was set two years ago and I hope to keep the things the way they are now. It was a long and hard road, but you know, there’s no gain without pain.
Where is the band based out of and what is your local metal scene like there? Are there any local bands you could recommend?
We’re based out in Quebec City, Canada. Quebec is the hometown of plenty of really good black metal bands as Monarque, Forteresse, Chasse-Galerie, Haeres, Délétère, Crépuscule, Sanctuaire, Ephemer, etc. Our local scene is very active. Yet there’s not so much of pagan black metal bands around here. I believe we are the only one. But there is a lot of folk metal bands like Nordheim, Trobar, Folkyria, etc.
How did you wind up signing with PRC Music?
Me and Remi (PRC Music’s owner) have known each other for several year now. He used to own a metal music shop in Montreal. We met for the first time when I went to his store to drop some CDs. Last year, as we were working on ” Le Sacrifice d’Ymir “, Remi listened to a non-mastered song that we uploaded on Youtube. Shortly after, he made us an offer.
Is there any story or concept behind the title Le Sacrifice d’Ymir?
For as long as Valknacht as existed, I hoped I would have the chance, someday, to write a song about this part of the Vikings’ mythology. For them, Ymir was the first being, born from the fire of Muspelheim and the ice of Niflheim. He was mighty and of course terrible. But as the legend said, the sons of Bor, that is, Odin, Vili and Vé, worked to kill Ymir. In fact, they wished to sacrifice him and used his body to build a new world. So they braced themselves, took their weapons and struck down the First Giant. It is said that it was a wild and bloody battle.
Select two songs from Le Sacrifice d’Ymir and what inspired the lyrics.
First, I’ll pick up “Sur les ruines de Rome“. With this song, we definitely leaves behind Medieval times to bring our fans deep into Antiquity. Back in England – which was called “Britain” back in these days -, the song tells the story of the Celtic uprising led by Boudica, queen of the Iceni tribe, against the Romans. For this song, our former flutist, Vervandi, embodies the Celtic warrior-queen and releases her anger as soon as the first cry comes.
My second choice is “De murmure et de givre “, my favorite. It was a dream who inspired the lyrics. I was brought into the deepness of Helheim. There, alone and surround by a cold blackness, I saw Hel, Loki’s daughter and mistress of the underworld. Then my alarm clock woke me up. I ran into my office, took a pen and wrote down my dream and more. In this story, Hel grow weary of her situation and decide to call upon her undead armies to invade Midgard, land of Mans, then Agard, land of Gods.
Who did the artwork for Le Sacrifice d’Ymir and how much input did you have on it?
The cover was made by the renowned Kris Verwimp. This guy is simply awesome. Really kind, really motivated (and motivating) and, at last but not least, he’s insanely talented. We exchanged together by e-mails to set the basics and after that, Verwimp gave birth to something that was really over my expectations.
How does Le Sacrifice d’Ymir compare to the previous Valknacht releases?
Personally, I find the new album more mature musically talking than the others. We took more time and that’s the key. For example, it took four or five months just to compose, set and mix the orchestral tracks.
What could one expect from a live Valknacht show?
A sore neck, a few bruises, but you will come out with your heart and mind filled with war hymns.
Has Valknacht ever played here in the States or plan to do so in future days?
Till now we haven’t play in the States, but we want to go there as soon as possible. It will be a new and great experience, I think.
Any strange or scary happenings on the road or at a Valknacht show?
I remember that during an aftershow party, we were in a fan’s house and we were making a lot of noise (like the drunken bastards that we were this night). Suddenly, one of the roommates of the fan that I mentioned before got out from his chamber and started to shout at us that he wouldn’t hesitate to use his rifle to pacify the area if things should start to degenerate. That was really awkward. But nobody got injured, nobody except our livers!
If Valknacht could open up for any band either now or from the past, who would it be and why?
Bathory. With his music, Quorthon opened my eyes. Without him, Valknacht still would be just but an idea. May he rest in peace.
What is your favorite Canadian beer of choice and why?
I’m a big fan of Quebec microbreweries, especially Simple Malt, Dieu du Ciel et Trou du Diable.
About this, I have an anecdote : during a trip to Germany, my wife and I took part in a beer of the major breweries in Munich. Our guide was an Irishman. During the visit he revealed to the tourists around him that it was in Quebec that he had drunk the best beer. Fuck yeah!
What’s up next for Valknacht?
As I said before, we want to go in the States and in Europe. It’s definitively the next step for us. Also, PRC Music will released our first musical strike, “When the might of the storm becomes mine“, who as been sold out for the last three years. Furthermore, I am still composing new riffs and melodies for Valknacht. The wheel of creation never stops!
Thorleif: Vocal, Compositeur et parolier/vocal, music and lyrics
Matoleos: Batterie et Percussions/drums
(Interview by Ken Morton)
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