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Vallenfyre

Vallenfyre almost appeared from out of nowhere, but soon it became clear this Century Media signing has some special members. Driving force is Paradise Lost guitarist Greg Mackintosh. The band also has Paradise Lost drummer Adrian Erlandsson and My Dying Bride guitarist Hamish Glenncross in its ranks. But it's not about the names, it's about the music. And 'A Fragile King' is a great death metal album. We talked to Greg about his new musical adventure.

By: Pim B. | Archive under death metal / grindcore

I think we could say that the debut album 'A Fragile King' is an album of grief. Could you tell us a bit more what triggered you to create Vallenfyre and the recording of 'A Fragile King'?
During the winter of 2009 my father became ill and ultimately died from cancer. In the immediate aftermath as part of grief therapy I began to write down how I was feeling and what I was thinking on a daily basis. Over the next couple of months I began to shape these words into lyrics and eventually songs. My reasoning was that music makes me happy, especially the music I grew up with ,and that it would be more helpful to be productive. This was very helpful for a time but after a while it made me too much of a recluse, so I asked some friends of mine if they would like to turn this into a band. It turned out to be the right thing to do as we had a great time and when we were asked to do an album, the recording was a joy to do.

You stated that you wanted the band to consist of friends, was it hard to find these guys and was it easy to convince them with this particular style of music?
It was quite easy to find them as I already had all their telephone numbers ;-) It was most important for me to have a band where we were all good mates so we could have a laugh doing it. They had to be friends that grew up with a similar musical background to me so that this type of music represented us all. Oh and they all had to be able to play an instrument of sorts. It was never an intention to create some kind of super group as some have said. It just happened that way because I have been in the music industry for over twenty years and most of my mates are involved in bands to some degree.

I would say that you probably drew influence from bands you listened to in your youth. To me it comes across as a mix of the Swedish death metal sound from bands like Entombed mixed with Celtic Frost and also some early Paradise Lost. Care to comment on this?
Yes, Vallenfyre is completely the sound of my youth. I saw a review saying that this is nothing new. I had to really laugh at this because I have said from the start that this is a mixture of all the bands I loved between '84 and '91. Amongst those influences are some Swedish stuff like Nihilist and Carnage, some UK crust like Antisect, Amebix and Extreme Noise Terror, some grind like early Napalm Death, US death metal like Death, Autopsy and Repulsion, along with bands like Celtic Frost, Candlemass, Trouble, St Vitus and of course because I am playing on it, early Paradise Lost.

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Before the album you released a 7” on Imperium Productions. Why did you release this 7” on a different label compared to the full-length on Century Media?
I had always wanted to release a 7" which I never got to do with Paradise Lost, but also Scoot our bass player pointed out that it might be better if we released something anonymously first so that no one was biased either way. I think this was the right choice because the people who listened to it at first, listened without prejudice. No expectations, no history, just the simple task of whether they liked it or not. I guess it was put out on Imperium because this was a risk for Century Media, but because the 7" was received so well then it was ok to release the album on Century Media.

One of the more striking aspects are your vocals. Was this the first time you tried to sing like this and why did you decide to sing yourself. You could have asked another vocalist, right?
When I began this I hadn't even considered doing vocals myself. I tried to think of friends who were vocalists in bands that would suit the music but I kept drawing a blank. At the same time the lyrics were so deeply personal that slowly I began to realise that I couldn't foresee anyone else saying these words, so I rehearsed until I came up with a style that I thought fit the music and that I felt comfortable with. The rest of the guys thought it sounded cool so I ended up becoming the vocalist.

The production is really great on the album. Could you tell us a bit more on the recording session and the studio you used?
The recording for the most part was very DIY. I knew before I started what I wanted the album to sound like so all we needed was someone to record it well and then someone to mix it. All guitars and bass were recorded at a sound engineer (and sometimes live Paradise Lost sound guy James Dunkley) friend of ours house. It was all done in a couple of takes. We didn't want to over analyse it. It was more about getting the right vibe than getting perfect performances. The drums and vocals were recorded at Parlour Studios UK by James again and the mix was done by another mate Russ Russell (known for his work with Napalm Death and Lock Up amongst others) at Parlour again.

Vallenfyre is a 'weird' name, can you tell a bit more what it means and what it stands for?
It is weird I guess because it isn't a real word as such. I was reading a book on the old English language from around 1000-2000 years ago and noticed various words. Vallen meant "strong" and Fyre meant "fire". I just really liked how the words sounded together.

So are you planning to perform live with Vallenfyre too? If so, won't it be difficult to sort things out with all these different schedules?
Yes, we can't wait to do some gigs. We have already been offered a couple of shows in February and a couple of festivals. I guess we have to see if anyone likes the album and wants to see us first.
If they do then we'll be there. It will be a little more complicated with everyone's schedules but it's nothing we can't work around.

That's it from my side. Anything else you might want to add?
Hopefully some people will like the album when it's released on Halloween. If so nag your local promoters to book us some gigs. Cheers!

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