Congratulations on the new single: it took a while, but to me it was worth it. Why is the new single 'Totalt Sjelelig Bankerott' perhaps the best black metal release of this year if you had to answer that question?
Kvass: Thanks! Well, probably because it is a single with a lot of energy in it, and two great songs that hit you in the face like a knuckle. I believe much of the secret lies in that we have taken our time to chisel out the songs to make them sound just the way we wanted, and that we have been quite picky about which ideas we considered to be good enough for these compositions. We have also focused on not just building a song around a plain riff with minor variations, over blast beats that run almost all of the time, which so many other bands seem to do. We have used dynamics and variations in a very conscious matter, alternating faster and some slower parts, and we have used riffs that rock, all the time. Also, the lyrics, the vinyl format and the original artwork adds to the overall qualities of the single, of course.
The other track, my own favorite, is 'Kasjtjeijs Svøpe': now who is Kasjtjeij, what is the thought/idea behind this title?
Kvass: The title in English would have been 'Koschei's Plague', or 'Koschei's Curse'. Koschei the Deathless is the archetypical antagonist in many slavic folk tales, an evil old man with a skeletal appearance. He is also a shape-shifter, and very hard to kill. The lyrics are quite classical and mythological, a story about how this figure goes about his sinister business, plaguing the land wherever he rides. We felt that this kind of lyrics fitted well with the mood of the song, which is quite atmospheric and epic. I have some books about Russian folklore, and got some inspiration while reading in them.
A single like this 'Totalt Sjelelig Bankerott' creates massive expectations for the new album 'Vertigo'; will the two songs on this single also be on the new album, or did you manage to write an entire album more of deadly songs like these two?
The A side, 'Totalt Sjelelig Bankerott', will also appear on the 'Vertigo' album, the B side is exclusive for this single. We feel that 'Vertigo' is an album with very strong compositions all the way. We started out with 14 songs and chose 8 of them to make it to the album. We wanted from the start to create different kind of songs, with distinct feel and identity for each of them. Some of the songs are fast and right in the face, some have turned out more gloomy and claustrophobic. Some even have more progressive elements and layers of analogue synthesizers.
When I saw the new logo and considered the long wait for the new material I was afraid that the musical course might have changed, also because of the line-up changes. Yet it turns out that this is an example of what real black metal is about. Why the new, modern artwork to confuse the fans?
Mannevond: I am really tired with all these bands doing their covers based only on how they are supposed to look, within this genre. We wanted the cover to stand out, and we wanted a hard and authoritarian feel to it, with sharp edges and strict lines. We also decided to do a new logo, so that it would be a whole new visual expression, to mark a new beginning for Koldbrann. We gave the assignment to Trine &Kim (known for their work with Mayhem, Virus, Ulver and so on), and we are utmost satisfied with the work they presented us.
Basically since the last release Folkedal from Den Saakaldte has taken over the drums from Tom Fordervelse and Vidar "Voidar" Ermesjø who has already been with the live line-up as well are now official recording members. Why did you have to replace Tom and Geir Antonsen, who have been in Koldbrann for quite some years?
Kvass: There was a time when there was not the best atmosphere in the band, and Koldbrann decided to part ways with Fordervelse. It's just one of those things that happens, and there's not much more to say about that issue. Shortly after this, Geir chose to step back from his position as guitarist as well. After some consideration, the rest of us decided to carry on and recruit new members.
Voidar and Folkedal have since 2009 been full members of the band, not just for recording, but for composing as well. Voidar has brought more of those droning and doomy elements of his into Koldbrann. Folkedal creates great guitar riffs, often with a progressive twist to them. The creative influx has been very positive for Koldbrann, no doubt.
It has been very, very long since the previous full length: 'Moribund' is from 2006, and in January 'Vertigo' will be released on Season Of Mist. Finally, but why did it take you so long to come up with a full length? I mean, seven years is a lot, some were already wondering whether Koldbrann was still alive..
Mannevond: I am sure we could have released an album earlier, but then we would not have been satisfied. We were clear to ourselves from the beginning, that we would take the time needed. The process of recording the album all by ourselves did create some delays, but we never considered to compromise our work, just to get it out.
The good news is not so much that there is finally some new music from Koldbrann, but it gets even better: there is a new album coming up in January called 'Vertigo', and it will be released by Season of Mist. What can you tell the readers in brief about the upcoming album?
Kvass: 'Vertigo' is the result of countless hours of hard work, and we have invested a lot into the album emotionally. The result has become a full-blooded album that we have become proud of. Some of the songs point back to our earlier works, while others explore new musical ground for the band. It still sounds very much like Koldbrann, but with more finesse than before, more variation, and stricter arrangements. The individual songs are strong, but together they form a whole that is even larger than the sum of its parts. And this singular whole, is what we have chosen to be entitled 'Vertigo'.
How did you get in touch with Season Of Mist? It is hard to get a label these days, let alone for a band that has not released own material for several years (the ' Stigma: På kant med livet' EP from 2008), and then a respected label like Season Of Mist...
Mannevond: Actually, Michael (the head of SoM) first approached us when we played support for Mayhem in Norway, some 7-8 years ago. It didn't result in anything back then, but I would later run into him a few times while playing with Urgehal, as they released their 'Ikonoklast' album on SoM, and we talked some more about the future of Koldbrann. That was at an early stage of the work that would become 'Vertigo', and we still had a deal with Twilight Vertrieb, so we decided to finish the album and deal with the business later. By springtime this year we had the album ready, and Twilight had just gone bankrupt, so the timing was perfect. We were free to do whatever we wanted and SoM presented us an offer we could not refuse.
It looks like the band is burning with ambition: I just read on the Facebook the message that from now on ICS will do your bookings, the same agency as Kampfar has for their European tours (and which resulted immediately in some more and bigger touring). I understand that it is hard to book a decent tour across Europe on your own. How and why did you get in touch with ICS?
Mannevond: Yeah, we are eager to perform our new material and to see some action again. It is indeed hard to book a decent tour, but we hope that with the help from ICS we will be able to do some concerts in 2013. I knew one of the guys there from before, so I got in touch with him and presented the album, and luckily they were ready to take us on.
Do you focus on Germany especially with an agency like ICS, or is their European network the key to the band?
Mannevond: We would like to bring Koldbrann to as many places as possible, so we are looking towards the whole of Europe. Germany is important to us, and it is by far the country where we have played the most, but we hope to expand our reach now.
Any idea as to when the cooperation with ICS will result in several shows abroad, be it in Europe or elsewhere?
Mannevond: We are working on a tour next spring, but we cannot reveal any more, at this moment. We have been announced by a couple of festivals for next year, and we expect to see some more coming.
I think that it is normal to build up the exposure to the release of Vertigo: you just released a video for 'Totalt Sjelelig Bankerott' with singer Erlend from rising stars Kvelertak (a person that Mannevond worked with on Djevel), any other special events planned to make sure no one forgets about 'Vertigo', apart from doing interviews like these?
Mannevond: It was important to give people a taste of what's coming, with the 'Totalt Sjelelig Bankerott' 7”. That's why we also decided to do a music video. The reception has been very well, and we are very satisfied with the outcome of both the single and the video. I can now reveal that Effektor has been approached once again, meaning that a second music video is in the works.
Have you already thought about what to do after the release of 'Vertigo' or do you intend to cross that bridge when you get there and is the release of 'Vertigo' pretty much the only thing you are focusing on as a band?
Kvass: At the time of writing, 'Vertigo''s release is imminent, so there is a whole lot to focus on as a band that is related to organizational tasks. Some of us in the band are control freaks, so we like to have an eye on most things that are going on. Following this release, the main objective for us will be to get back into the live and touring business again.
Anything essential we forgot to ask, yet that you want the readers of Lords of Metal to know about Koldbrann?
Kvass: Not at this point. Thanks for the interview! Those who wish to stalk our movements further may do so at our Facebook page.