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En net als je denkt dat je het hoogtepunt van het jaar hebt gehad met de release van 'Eparistera Daimones' van Triptykon, krijg je een maand later nietsvermoedend een cd binnen die zich in principe zo naast dat album kan scharen in mijn beleving. Schijt aan conventies en gewoon je eigen koers volgen is kennelijk het motto van het Duitse black metalgezelschap Valborg, waarvan de leden overigens ook actief zijn in andere bands als Woburn House, Klabautamann, Ordo, Gruenewald en het door mij bijzonder gewaardeerde Island, wiens album 'Orakel' mij een paar jaar terug al hevig had verrast. Omdat er een 'Triptykon-connectie' in zit had onze hoofdredacteur besloten om mij het tweede officiële studio album van Valborg op te sturen. 'Crown Of Sorrow' heet het album en zanger/gitarist Christian Kolf mag direct aan de slag om de vragen van Lords Of Metal te beantwoorden na zo'n overweldigende ervaring als Roadburn…

Door: Wilmar | Archiveer onder black metal

Valborg has been around for quite some time now, but for our readers it could be a first introduction. Could you tell us something more about Valborg, what your motivations are and why you for instance chose for the Swedish term for Walpurgis Night?
Valborg was founded in 2002. Jan came up with this name. It was just an old female name and we liked it. We were searching for something obscure. Just the sound of the name fit. At this point we were not aware about the swedish folk festival. It was just coincidence and that's good. Because witches have always been around since the beginning of Valborg. Well, our motivation: When we started out it was just all about being an extreme and nature-related metal band. The most important thing was and still is, that it is a medium to express our pain, it's also a life's work.

In 2007 you released 'Songs For A Year' and last year the album 'Glorification Of Pain' was released. Yet you speak of your current release 'Crown Of Sorrow' as your second release. Should we disregard 'Songs For A Year'? Or do you consider this as a demo?
Yes, it's a demo, or an album. The thing with Valborg is, that nothing will ever be concrete and engraved in stone. Nowadays, when we talk about our albums, we only speak of the stuff we recorded at the Stonehenge Studio.

What strikes me about the sound of Valborg is the total disregard for 'rules'. You play a variant of black metal, but you don't seem to care about the unwritten rules for black metal and you just play the music you like. For instance: 'I Am Space' sounds more like a song from Aldo Nova which develops into a more ambient black metal track nearing the end, something that black metal purists might dislike. What lead you to this unusual choice of music?
We really don't care about genres and purists. We are thankful for the people who dig our music without being nerds who always need to criticize something about the music. At the moment we are planning our 4th album and it will become something very disgusting. We are not dependent on fans, record sales or money. We are no whores and we do what we like to do. That's artistic freedom. The secret is that there's no secret. We are just following our feelings. We don't see Valborg as a black metal band or a progressive band. I don't know who came up with these terms? For me the only thing that makes sense is that we play some kind of psychadelic death metal rock or whatever. You could also use the good old term from the 80ies "Independent". We will never be stuck to a certain

You got a very special fan in the person of Tom Gabriel Fischer of Triptykon. How did you meet up with him and why did he support you by writing about 'Glorification Of Pain' on his blog and inviting you to the Roadburn festival?
I'm in contact with Vanja, the Triptykon bass player. We met her and Tom at a Valborg show in Switzerland and that's how we met up with Tom. He just liked our music very much and so invited us to the Roadburn Festival. We feel very honoured by that.

I am actually a bit confused. Should I see you as a band or as a project of five musicians who together form Zeitgeister Music, a label on which all bands you partake in publish their music? Valborg is not the only collaboration, there is also Island (love the 'Orakel' album), Klabautamann, Woburn House, Gruenewald, Orbo, need I go on? Would you explain this as a band/project for every aspect of your musical development, or is there a deeper complexity we mere mortals don't understand?
Valborg is a band. That's for sure, because we play regulary and it has a constant line-up. The other bands are more like projects right now. And those bands all came to live because of just human circumstances. There was a time where Valborg just existed as a project and in this time Island and Woburn House came to life.

The cover art of 'Crown Of Sorrow' is mind-blowing. Triptykon released an album on which the visual art was in total league with the musical content, but Valborg has done the same trick again: the cover is a visual representation of the musical content. Are you guys Gesamtkunstwerkers?
Good to hear, that you like it that much! Our good friend Peter Boehme is responsible for the artwork. And because he is a very close friend the work is really smooth. When he starts working on the artwork he get the music and some words about our imagination. The rest is just Peter and his phantasy. We don't have to talk much. He just does it the right way, because he's the man.

'Crown Of Sorrow' was recorded in December of 2008. Why did it take till April 2010 to release the album?
We had some difficulties with the release of 'Glorification Of Pain'. The work with Vendlus was not that good so we had to sort out that first. And we didn't want to release the album too fast. We wanted to give 'Glorification Of Pain' some time to grow.

On the album you state that 'Crown Of Sorrow' is recorded live. I dare to challenge that, since I heard some clear overdubs of guitars and I wonder how you play keyboards and guitar at the same time. I bet that the basics are recorded live. Is that a way of working that suits Valborg best, or is it a way to conserve the energy of the performance?
We record the basics live. That means drums, one guitar and bass. 2nd guitars, lead guitars, synths and vocals are overdubbed. All the power emerges out of this trio performance. Overdubs are mostly for creating deeper atmospheres.

On the part of visuals, you present the band as a black metal band with corpse paint and grim faces on the bandpics. Of the few clips I found on YouTube, I saw that you don't use this imagery in your live performances. What's the point then of using corpse paint and grim faces?
On stage our appearance is sinister and angry – if you ever witness Valborg live you will attest that. We perform our music with full power und brutality. Within a live show, we have plenty of space for showing our powers – optically and acoustically. Regarding the photographs – we just have one single moment to display all the hatred, sorrow and madness – using facepaint is a way to amplify these aspects. It's certainly not an image that we follow, it's a ritual we do from time to time. Categories are for suckers, we all know that.

band image

On 'Crown Of Sorrow' the drums are performed by Florian Toyka, but on your previous albums by Patrick Schroeder. Why did Patrick leave Valborg?
Patrick is involved in this main band Centaurus-A and he has a lot of stuff going on. So he didn't have the time to continue Valborg. But maybe in the future, when the time is right, he will return.

'Songs For A Year' is stated as sold out, is there probably a re-issue coming?
Yeah for sure. We will re-issue the recording and also some other songs which we created before 'Glorification Of Pain'. This material will partly feature Rafael Calman on drums. We did some really strange and intense songs with him.

You have worked three times now with producer Oliver Weiskopf. Apparently he has a style of producing that appeals to you. What does make Oliver so special in your opinion that you want to work with him on three albums in a row, and even for two tracks on 'Songs For A Year'?
He is a true friend and a master in analogue recording. He knows how to push you and get all emotions out of you. He supports the madness and doesn't just sit around like a robot. For Valborg it's very important to work with open minded people. The two tracks "Cornelius" and "Salamander" were the first songs that we recorded with Oliver. And back in 2002 there was a certain magic going on. There was no question which studio we would use, when it came up to record 'Glorification Of Pain'. It was a dream that we wanted to realize: to record an album at Oliver's Stonehenge Studio live on analogue equipment. So we fullfilled it.

In January you already recorded the follow up to 'Crown Of Sorrow' called 'Barbarian'. After that there is only darkness. By that you probably mean that no material is written for a possible fourth/fifth album. How do you see the future of Valborg?
The darkness - that means that the follow-up album to "Barbarian" will become very dark and disgusting. We have a lot of ideas that we want to realize. So the future for Valborg looks very bright and dark at the same time. You will hear a lot of music from us, maybe music that people don't like. First of all the band is still a medium for us, to express our feelings. And as I said, this is so important for us, that we don't care what others think. We need it to survive.

'Crown Of Sorrow' got a very high score on Lords Of Metal (95/100), so it might be an album that people want to hear. Are the releases of Zeitgeister Music available in record stores, or do people have to order it from the website?
Yes, its only available via our online-store. Due to the bad experiences we made, we now concentrate on releasing the stuff on our own. It's more money that we have to spend, but less stress and more artistic freedom. And look at the time nowadays. People know how to order an album via the Internet. It has become very easy. So there's no need to work with a small label anymore. We continue to work with Paradigms Records, because Duncan is a very cool guy and he has the same attitude as we have.

Are there any plans for touring? If so, do these plans include The Netherlands more than just the Roadburn appearance?
We would love to play more concerts, especially in the Netherlands. It's always a nice place to stay. But we are at the beginning. I hope we will get more connections and offers in the future, so that we may play intensively all over Europe. Because we do everything on our own we don't have the best connections yet. I guess this will grow the longer we exist.

When can we expect 'Barbarian' to hit the streets? Will it be possible for Valborg to come over and play all three albums in a row?
Barbarian will be released in spring 2011. And yeah, why not? Would be really challenging to play all three albums in a row. When the right event is there, we would love to do it!

Final question: would you give up your own record company Zeitgeister Music if you could sign with Valborg to a bigger label, or do you consider the artistic freedom you experience on your own label too valuable to sacrifice?
We would sign to a bigger label, if the offer is good and fair. If not - why should we do this? Freedom means a lot for us. And we are very realistic about the situation in the music business. We are not out for the hunt to become big rockstars. We just like to play music. And we will continue this until we are too old to play.

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