Koldbrann: Pure Norwegian Black Metal Devastation
Koldbrann unleash their own take on Pure Norwegian Black Metal, and the results are nothing short of mesmerizing. Vertigo is the name of their latest masterwork of sonic devastation, now available from the folks at Underground Activists / Season Of Mist. In existence for over a decade, Koldbrann is destined to pummel the worldwide metal masses with their malevolent compositions. Here is a recent interview we conducted with two of the members to find out more about the mighty Koldbrann and their blackened hymns. Read on…
Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Koldbrann, and how long the band has been in existence.
Kvass: I wield the six-stringed axe, chisel out pandemonic compositions, and write depraved poetry for KOLDBRANN.
Mannevond: Vocals, founder of KOLDBRANN in the year of 2001.
Where is the band based out of and what is the local music scene like there?
Mannevond: We’re based in Oslo, the capitol and the hell of Norway, but originally we’re from Drammen, Buskerud, a city about 40 minutes of driving from Oslo. There’s not so much happening on the music scene there, and we have never had much relations to it, but we have been close to Hønefoss Militsen for a long time, Hønefoss being another city in the Buskerud county, with bands like URGEHAL, ENDEZZMA, VULTURE LORD, BEASTCRAFT etc.
Is there any overall story or concept behind the title Vertigo?
Kvass: The album is not a concept album as such; it is a very varied album in respect to both the aural expression and the style of the lyrics. There are however some overarching themes that permeates the album, and which is directly connected to the title. As you know, vertigo is a condition where you get a sense that the world is revolving and moving around you in an uncontrollable manner.
Our take on it, is that it represents a feeling of directionlessness, a feeling of not belonging in this world. These feelings are something we have explored in several of the songs on the album. Furthermore, Vertigo may also symbolize the invisible powers that control your life and which you can never triumph over. Such as, living under the burden of a totalitarian regime; being commanded by rigid, old thought systems; the ever approaching face of death. These feelings are also enhanced by the album´s artwork, which is purposely given a very threatening and imposing look.
Please select two songs from Vertigo and what inspired the lyrical content.
Kvass: You have the song Stolichnaya Smert, which is a quite straight-forward, but admittedly weird story about a guy who goes on a criminal rampage in a car from Ukraine to the autonomous republic of Transnistria, and ends up killing his girlfriend in an act of twisted love. Let´s say it´s the dirty travesty to Nick Cave´s beautiful murder ballads. I wrote the lyrics about the same time as I read Siberian Education by Nicolai Lilin, which gave me some insight on how life is in Transnistria. I also wanted to capture some of that dangerous, and gloomy picture that was depicted in the book. And the song Goat Lodge, was written when I was sitting in a remote lodge on an island near the Arctic Circle. It reflects some of my own troubled thoughts at that time, and I wanted to capture a feeling of trying to seek utter solitude. The “cormorant in the distance” is something I really saw, this large black bird standing on a pole out there in the ocean.
Your last full length I believe was released in 2006 (Moribund). How frustrating was it to wait so long to release another full length, and why the long wait?
Kvass: True, Moribund came out in 2006. We were quite busy with touring between 2006 and 2009 promoting this album, and in the same period we also released a mini-album Stigma – På Kant Med Livet, and a 7“ single named Russian Vodka. After this touring cycle, there was a small hiatus due to some turbulence leading to line-up changes, and a growing desire to reinvent our musical expression. After we recruited two new members in 2009, guitarist Voidar and drummer Folkedal, we started songwriting from scratch, with heavily involving the new members in the process. We created a lot of songs in 2010 and well into 2011, and finalized the recordings in mid-2012. Due to a lot of paperwork and the process of signing with Season Of Mist, the release was set for January 2013. It has been a long wait, and many tribulations along the way for sure. But we are quite persistent and patient people, and along this path, I always had a good feeling about the outcome. Most of all, it is just satisfying to finally have the album out there.
When you look back on your two previous releases, what do you think of them now as well as your professional relationship with Twilight-Vertrieb?
Kvass: We were quite young while making Nekrotisk Inkvisition, but it certainly had a sharp edge to it, and there are many people who still hold it in very high regard. There are highlights there, but also a couple of songs with lyrics that are well, not that good. On Moribund, I was very satisfied with the lyrics, and the song structures also showed improvement, but to me the production sounds a bit rushed, as the studio time was somewhat limited. About Vertigo I have no regrets so far, it is just great in my ears. Our relationship with Twilight-Vertrieb was fair enough, they did a lot for us in terms of getting our name known, but in the end, their reach and potential was somewhat limited. And when they went bankrupt last year, it wasn´t all bad, since we got the masters from all the first releases back into our hands. Now we could finally approach Season Of Mist, which we had been in contact with now and then for several years already. It was very pleasing for us when the deal with them was finally sealed.
What could one expect from a live Koldbrann show?
Mannevond: I’ll simply quote TULUS on this one; Pure Black Energy
Has Koldbrann ever played here in the States or plan to do so in future days?
Mannevond: No, unfortunately we haven’t played in the US yet, but that’s surely something we hope to change real soon. Both I and Voidar (guitars) have toured in North America with other bands, and it would be great to return with KOLDBRANN.
What was the experience like touring with Marduk and were they cool to hang out with?
Mannevond: The MARDUK guys were great; down to earth, relaxed and easy to work with. But the tour itself was not that successful, as we only got to do five concerts before finding out that the “booking agency” had fucked us big time and hadn’t even booked the rest of the dates. So we were stranded in Poland and both we and MARDUK had no choice but to return home.
What was the experience like playing Summer Breeze, and do you prefer the bigger festivals or the tours?
Kvass: We have played there twice, in 2007 and 2009. At the time we played there in 2007, it was one of the biggest venues we have played at, and that was of course a special feeling, and very memorable to me. I prefer both festivals and tours, really. Playing on big stages can be an exhilarating experience. On the other hand, on a tour you get a bigger sense of intimacy, both with the people you travel with and the audience along the way. And after some time on the road, you become really tight as a band, as you enter this thing that we call the ‘turne-modus’ – “tour-mode”.
Why do you have such a distaste for triggers and do you intend to place a notification about it on Vertigo?
Kvass: No, we have not used such a notification this time around. It was a gimmick that was mostly initiated by our previous drummer Fordervelse, and the gimmick became even bigger when ENDSTILLE decided to call our tour with them „Anti-trigger tour“ back in 2004. We don´t have that big a distaste for triggers in itself, but we have a distaste for bass drums that are way too high-pitched, and are too obviously tampered with in studio to sound perfect. That is why we advocate dynamics in the music, let it shine through that there is actually some living creature playing the instrument, you know.
What is your favorite Norwegian beer and why?
Kvass: That must be the beer I´ve grown up with, and the beer I´ve been drinking the most over the years, Aass draft beer. Made by Norway´s oldest existing brewery, the iconic Aass brewery, the pride of our Drammen!
What’s up next for Koldbrann?
Mannevond: We have kept ourselves in our cellars, working on the album during these last couple of years, so now that ‘Vertigo’ is finally unleashed we are eager to come out and to perform our new material. So far we have a handful of festivals booked in Europe, but we are ready to make a move on the US if the opportunity comes!
I can also mention that our previous efforts; “Nekrotisk Inkvisition” (2003), “Moribund” (2006) and “Stigma: På Kant med Livet” (mini album, 2008) will all be re-issued by Season of Mist, later this year. Re-mastered, with bonus tracks and new layout.
Do you have any messages for Koldbrann fans here in the States?
Mannevond: Hails for the support, and keep stalking our activities on http://www.facebook.com/koldbrannofficial!
For those who don’t know us: be sure to check out ‘Vertigo’ if you’re into QUALITY Norwegian Black Metal!
Kvass – guitars
Mannevond – vocals
Voidar – guitars
Folkedal – drums
S.G.J. – bass
(Interview by Kenneth Morton)
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