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The Dark Metal Artistry of Ulvånd

The Dark Metal Artistry of Ulvånd

Photo Credit: Cédric Haté

The Dark Metal Artistry of Ulvånd

Ulvånd is a dark metal collective based in Toulouse in the southwest of France whose gripping tapestries are wondrous to experience.  The Origins is the name of their debut EP. featuring songs that will tantalize the senses in the grand and glorious tradition of Tristania and Lacuna CoilHighwire Daze recently interviewed the core Ulvånd trio to find out more about the vibrant metal artistry contained within the auditory world of The Origins.  Read on…

Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Ulvånd, and how long the band has been together.
Béran: Hi and thank you for inviting us for this interview in Highwire Daze magazine. I am Bérangère, the female singer of the band, in which also Wilfried (programming, guitars) and Serge (vocals, bass) play. We come from Toulouse, France. Our band exists since 2018 as Ulvånd, but we have known each other for 20 years and we’ve had other projects before (In Lupus Pacis, Leiden). After a long break without music, we felt the spark again and decided to start this new project and produced 2 titles for fun, and then we felt the need to develop the project further. We chose to record an E.P, which seemed like the best format. We are now preparing for live events, which will have to wait until the end of the lockdown…

Where is the band based out of and what is the local music scene like there?
Wilfried: We are based in Toulouse in the southwest of France. To be honest, there aren’t too many Dark Metal bands around here. But in other styles, we have a prolific metal scene! I could quote Sidilarsen and Psykup who have been real pillars of French metal for 2 decades. We are proud to have them as representatives of French metal and as friends, we have a common past with our former group Leiden. I advise you to go take a look at their latest clips and albums. I could also tell you about Gorod and Leahtan who are powerful and are often on tour.

Is there any overall story or concept behind The Origins EP title?
Béran: We’ve met a long time ago and we’ve been involved in In Lupus Pacis, the band Serge created in 1996 (yes, 24 years ago!). We took separated paths afterwards and then met up again in 2018 in Ulvånd. We are back together as before even though each of us has evolved. « The Origins » represents our common past, this indestructible link which binds us together. This also corresponds to the lyrics which deal with History or feelings, which are the keystone of the human being.

Select two songs from The Origins EP and what inspired the lyrics.
Serge: « Human Zoo » is a tribute to Abraham Ulrikab, an Inuit from Labrador in Canada who was exhibited, he and his family in human zoos of the 19th century’s Europe. They wanted to know other people, to discover other cultures, they unfortunately only found illness, suffering and death.

« Una Vida » addresses the tragedy that has been unfolding for years in Syria, the pain of its people and the denial of the international community. The text tells the story of a father who finds his lifeless children in the rubble of his house. The child we can hear on the intro is a little boy who lost his entire family in a bombing attack.

Brett Caldas-Lima did the mastering of The Origins. His credits include bands such as Septicflesh and Killswitch Engage. How did he become involved with Ulvånd?
Wilfried: We were looking for someone who had experience in the metal style. So I simply prospected on the internet. When I saw his references, I found his profile very interesting. In addition, the Tower Studio is based in the south of France, just like us. So I contacted Brett and we did a test on a title from our demo. We liked it. So we naturally decided to continue working with him for our first E.P.

Who did the cover art for The Origins and how much influence did you have on it?
Béran: Wilfried himself designed the cover. He’s a graphic designer. We gave him “carte blanche” and were delighted with the result, which is very mysterious. As the composer of the album, he was the best person to transcribe our music in a visual. We are very fortunate to have him in the band, there are many strings to his bow (he is also the one who recorded the E.P.)

What has it been like to release an EP in the middle of a pandemic?
Béran: For sure, it did not facilitate the promotion (long delay in CD delivery, queue at the post office, closed magazine editors, delayed magazine releases, canceled radio programs…) but it is not essential.This period was particularly difficult for everyone, fortunately, we did not lose loved ones but it could well have happened, this virus is very terrible…The situation seems to be improving but we do not yet know if we get to the end of the tunnel. In this period of lockdown, we mainly took care of our families. It was also an opportunity to refocus on the essentials and to remind ourselves that we are almost nothing in this universe. Humanity must question itself and realize that we cannot continue to live as before, at a frantic pace, over-consuming and not respecting nature and ecosystems.

What could one expect from a live Ulvånd show?
Béran: We have not yet been on tour with Ulvånd but that will come once the lockdown is lifted. We produced out 1st E.P in March and we were rehearsing our set list for a few concerts, before the pandemic stalled us… Overall, we can’t do as many shows as we’d like because we have jobs and families. We will grab on to the best opportunities, to rise in the best conditions available and let our universe be discovered . We had the opportunity to be in a good number of concerts with our old set up, so we are not newbies either.

If Ulvånd could open for any band either now or from the past, who would it be and why?
Béran: Personally, I will see us open for a band like Lacuna Coil. We have a lot of similarities (I’m not just talking about the female/male vocals), they also have this gothic side and I find that they combine old school and modernity like us. Their latest album is amazing!

Serge: I would say Led Zeppelin, for everything they brought to Rock. We would have learned so much from these fantastic musicians!

Wilfried: For the dream, I would quote Rammstein, Samael at the time of “Passage” or Therion at the time of “Theli” in a big festival! At the moment, it would be an honor to open for Rotting Christ, Moonspell, Orphaned Land, My Dying Bride, Paradise Lost, Kreator… Because all these fabulous bands are major influences for my part, it would necessarily match.

Are you currently involved with any other bands or projects outside of Ulvånd ?
Béran: We are exclusively dedicate ourselves to Ulvånd. Our family lives being full, we do not have time to disperse. We do not exclude a guest appearance if the opportunity arises.
Wilfried had an electro-pop-metal project (FTHU) but it is currently on standby.

Has anyone from Marillion heard and commented on your cover of The Space? What made you decide to cover that song?
Wilfried: No, we sent the cover to their management but we had no reply. That’s not a problem because we know they are very busy and they have other things to do. I am a fan of Marillion since the age of ten when I discovered “Script For A Jester’s Tear” thanks to my older brother. I like the Fish period as much as I like the Hogarth period. I recently saw them in Paris at la salle Pleyel and they were as magical as always. « The Space » is a cult song for me of « Seasons end » and I shared it with Bérangère and Serge. After we had a break in the recording of the E.P. (because of incompatible plannings), Bérangère and I had the idea of recording this cover because we were listening to the song over and over again. Serge put his trust in us and we did it. In hindsight, I hear errors on the mix but what is done is done. I hope we haven’t messed it up. In any case we are proud to have paid tribute to Marillion.

What’s up next for Ulvånd?
Béran: We are now preparing for live events, which will have to wait until the end of the lockdown. The next step for us will be the live (as soon as concerts are possible again of course). We have not yet performed live with Ulvånd and we are looking forward to meeting our audience and share our universe.

Any final words of wisdom?
Serge: Lets’ be straight in our values, honest and respectul towards one another and ourselves. Let’s try to make this world a better place all together, every day, side by side. I hope we will learn the lessons of this disastrous pandemic situation. Unfortunately, history shows man doesn’t learn lessons of the tragedies.

Wilfried: I share Serge’s words and a big thank to you!

Béran: Take care of your loved ones and pursue your dreams!

Béran: chant
Serge (auteur): chant, basse
Wilfried (compositeur): programmation, guitares

(Interview by Ken Morton)

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