There is a grand world of mystery and intrigue to be found within the folk metal symphonies of the mighty Yggdrasil. Taking the listener on a wondrous journey throughout the mountains and forests of Scandinavia, this Swedish collective has recently unleashed their third magnum opus entitled Irrbloss. A staggering work of metallic art featuring both electric and traditional acoustic folk instruments, Irrbloss is magnificent to behold. In addition to the current Irrbloss, Yggdrasil’s label Grand Master Music has re-released two previous titles from the band as well (Kvällningsvindar Över Nordrönt Land and Vedergällning). Fans of entities such as Moonsorrow, Thyrfing, and Månegarm are sure to discover a whole new world when encountering the thrilling sounds of Yggdrasil. Here is a recent interview we conducted with one of the Yggdrasil membership to find out more about their mystical musical reveries…
Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Yggdrasil, and how long the band has been together.
Hi! My name is Gustaf and I play the bass and write lyrics for the band. Magnus and I have been playing together for ten years now, starting up writing some songs in the spring of 2001, and the current line-up has played together since 2008.
Where is the band based out of and what is your local music scene like there? Are there any local bands in your area you would like to recommend?
We´re located in Lund in the southern part of Sweden and the area has a pretty strong metal scene. I´d, of course, recommend our label colleagues Dibbukim if you´re into folkish stuff; then you´ve got Pandemonium and Trymheim in which Yggdrasil-members are playing.
Is there any story or concept behind the CD title Irrbloss?
No, not really. The lyrical concepts are varied from folk lore and nature to heritage and history but there´s no real red line through the album.
Please select two songs from Irrbloss and tell me what inspired you to write the lyrics?
Bergtagen is a story about a man who was ‘taken by the mountain’ and then seeks to get back into the world of the beings who took him, where he finally dies. The concept of being ‘taken to the mountain’ is an old one in the Nordic folk lore where a person is captured by the trolls, or other beings, and taken into their realm where s/he is dazzled by the beauty and has effectively lost his/her mind when s/he comes back to ‘our’ world. The inspiration came from a variety of old stories; the concept is well used and appears both in written stories and in “my grandfather once knew a guy…”-stories.
Norrland is simply a song inspired by nature. The lyrics contain some references to both folk lore and viking history but it´s basically nature romanticism. It´s hard not to be inspired when you find yourself out in the forests or driving through the countryside. Or maybe there´s something wrong with me… 😉
The sound on Irrbloss is absolutely epic! What was the most difficult part to record while in the studio?
Thanks! We had about equal ‘trouble’ with all instruments, the real challenge was to combine it all to something which we all were satisfied with. It took pain, effort and probably blood but, well, it turned out pretty good, eh?
Your cover artwork is always stunning. Who did the cover art for Irrbloss and how much input did you have on it?
All our artwork has been done by my wife Matilda at Mellergardh Design. We have always had quite a lot of input and she always runs her ideas and designs through us before proceeding. In the end, we´re really happy with it all and people seem to like it as well.
What is a live Yggdrasil show like for those of us who have yet to see you play?
I don´t know, haven´t seen one myself yet! We try to keep the energy up, headbang and drink some beer. Together with our music, it should be a pretty good show, I think.
Has Yggdrasil ever played in the States or plan to do so in the future?
No, unfortunately we haven´t had the chance. We definitely have plans to do so but we need to build up a network over there first.
You also have two earlier albums being re-released. Looking back, what do you think if your work on Kvällningsvindar Över Nordrönt Land and Vedergällning now?
I think they´re great albums. There are bits and pieces we probably would change if we had done it today but it´s no use looking back, forward is the way to go. For my own part, I think the best songs are on Irrbloss but they wouldn´t sound like they do without our two previous releases.
What was the experience like performing at Germany’s Ragnarök Festival and who were some of the other bands on the show?
That one was pretty awesome, at least in retrospect. Big crowd, pyrotechnics and all that. And, of course, technical breakdowns which made it a bit stressful on stage. Benny´s guitar broke down during the first (or second?) song and his amp stopped working just after he got his second guitar on. While trying to fix stuff, I spilled beer all over my hands (and his amp, I think) so I had a somewhat hard time holding my pick for the rest of the show. But in all, that was some of the most fun things I´ve ever been part of and I´m looking forward to more gigs there and on other festivals.
Other bands we met there were Irrbloss (thanks for letting us borrow your gear!), Fejd, Melechesh, Thyrfing, Einherjer, Korpiklaani, Draugnim, and a bunch of other. If you´re into folk/viking/pagan metal, Ragnarök Festival is the place to be!
What do you think has kept Yggdrasil going for ten years now?
It´s hard to say actually, there are a number of reasons. First off, we´re still friends, that counts for a lot, I think. Secondly, we share the vision and we´ve been steering towards the same basic sound with no clashes in that area; and third, or maybe it´s part of the first, we´re having fun.
What is it you’d like a listener to remember the most after hearing your music for the very first time?
The atmosphere. If they picture themselves in a Scandinavian setting with a sword and a shield and some folk-lorian being by their side, we´ve succeded! But seriously, if the listeners have a positive feeling at the end and want to hear it again, we´ve done a pretty good job.
What is your favorite Swedish beer and why? And do you like any American beers at all?
My favourite Swedish beer is S:t Eriks IPA, it´s a fresh, flowery, really bitter IPA with a lot of taste. Generally, I drink loads of American beer; North Coast´s Red Seal and Sierra Nevada´s Pale Ale are two easily available favourites. Great Divide and Flying Dog do quite amazing brews and Anchor Brewing has some pretty good beers too. The micro brewing culture in the states is great and lots of good beer come out of there, as long as you stay away from the big names.
Any final words of wisdom?
Stay heavy, rock on, buy our album, etc. No, but keep your chin up and remember, if you like what you do, chances are that other people do as well. It might take a while to find them but it´s worth the effort! And drop a line (or a buck) or two to the people you like to show your appreciation, it can mean more than you think.
Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions! Irrbloss is outstanding! Hope to see your band in the States someday.
Thank you for your interest and kind words! I hope we´ll make it over the pond someday too.
Magnus O. Wohlfart – Vocals, guitars, keyboard
Gustaf Hagel – Bass, backing vocals
Benny Olsson – Guitars, backing vocals
Jacob Blecher – Drums
(Interview by Kenneth Morton)
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