Thundra - Interview
Thundra are probably best known for containing a few ex-members from Enslaved and Einherjer. However, if one takes the time to listen to this Viking juggernaut, one will find a whole new emerging concept rising strongly forth in the Norwegian scene. Playing healthy Viking based tales is no mean task and Thundra seem to carefully grasp the formula of true-Viking metal with ease. Whereas other Viking outfits have been knocking on the door of the perfect equation, Thundra open up the door and say ‘hello’. "Blood of Your Soul" is their debut release and it’s a harsh and beautiful release through eight epic songs. I caught up with Harald Revheim of Thundra, responsible for drumming and choir vocals throughout the debut album.
Firstly, thanks heaps for taking the time to answer my questions. Obviously, you guys formed together to play Viking associated metal, do you consider yourselves black metal as such, or do you think Thundra has something extra to offer non-black metal fans?
Well we didn’t start out to be what they called Viking metal, but with our background and musical taste we all had it just felt natural to do what we liked best. I know our label has got us down as Black Viking metal, whatever that is. No you can’t call us Black if you consider our lyrics, but some associations are there musically. If we have anything to offer the non-black metal fans, I don’t think that the music is commercial enough to catch the masses (he he), no I mean we have some melodic parts that I have heard that have caught the attention of non-black fans and such. But basically, and this may sound like a cliché but, we make music for ourselves and that’s it. We are a very egotistical bunch.
Thundra is composed of famous Viking outfits such as Enslaved and Einherjer... does this really help bring good outside experience to Thundra?
It helps in that degree that they are well established and have made a name for themselves but musically, definitely no. That was why we started Thundra to do our own thing. But we can’t deny that this has helped us ahead in scene.
"Blood of Your Soul" was released in 2000 and is a really diverse Viking/black metal release in what may be considered a stagnant genre. What are your views on where Viking/black metal will be in five years time?
Well, we see a definitive tendency to use folklore and folk tune in today’s scene, which I find, is excellent. As you probably has figured out from the album. But when you see the some of the bands in the scene now like Thyrfing, Vintersorg, Finntroll and such they are all more melodic and not as brutal. So maybe that’s where it’s headed, but for my taste these are great to combine... as you will hear on our next album.
Will bands such as Dimmu Borgir and Emperor still be setting the benchmark for music then?
Well, the last I heard is that Emperor is breaking up so they will most likely live on their old masterpieces, but Dimmu just released a killer album. But in creating of great albums there will always be bands that want to do the same, with different results. But it is an evolving music scene so it’s not easy to label something black-metal anymore. I think with the money and equipment that’s available today there are few limits if you have a powerful record-company behind you. Some of the fans see this as treason to the real scene, but it isn’t free to give out records. You lose some you win some.
On the record "Blood of Your Soul" the CD booklet lists three vocalists, yourself, Steven and Tor Erik Helgesen. I really commend you guys for using three vocalists on the album, as it is quite a unique feature of the record and helps add real diversity. Where does each of you sing on the record?
The vocal was made in studio, and Steven has the powerful clean voice and so called growling, Tor Erik has the scream vocal and I only have the choirs and some clean vocals. I have always had a taste for mixing these three vocals so it just felt natural to do when we made the different parts.
What are your favourite tracks on the album?
I will have to say ‘Frozen Ground’ and ‘Blood of Your Soul’ since they contain most diversity.
I really think the track, ‘With Power and Might’ summarises what "Blood of Your Soul" creates: epic, operatic and heartfelt music. Any thoughts on that?
Well I can’t say anything other than thanks.
Have you seen the 13th Warrior? The reasons I ask is that it’s a very Norse/Viking associated movie and few of your tracks would fit in quite brilliantly in the more dramatic proportions of the movie.
Yeah I have seen it, maybe you are right. Except for the parts where the Arab is swinging his toothpick, we should have seen more of the Norsemen. They kicked ass.
What music influences Thundra? Releases such as Bathory’s "Hammerheart" or more removed music from the immediate scene you’re involved in? Folk stuff...?
Well that’s a difficult question; we all have different musical tastes. But the folk related metal as always appealed to us cause it’s a big part of our heritage. But we always had a shinning to the prog-metal scene. So I really don’t know what to say. Quality metal in general!
What albums are spinning in your CD player at the moment?
Right now there is a new signing on a sublabel from what we are on, called Spikefarm, I received it today. They are called Shadow and they play a kinda Gothenburg metal ala In Flames and Dark Tranquillity. It’s good.
Do you still keep in contact with Enslaved and Einherjer, check out the stuff they bring out?
Yeah the Einherjer guys live close by so we party regularly together, haven’t heard from the Enslaved camp for a while but we are all good friends. And their new albums are excellent.
Comprised of acts such as Einherjer and Enslaved, do you get compared to them much? If so, does it weigh heavily upon your minds to innovate and try to remove yourself from their shadow?
Well I have never experienced anything other than positive things to come from our relations to our former bands, so I cant say that it has been a problem. So I don’t feel that there is a problem since we do our own thing, completely different.
How did Thundra come together?
Me, Stein and Nils started Thundra while me and Stein where still a part of the Enslaved and Einherjer camp, basically to do our own thing. We quickly understood that this is what we wanted to do. For Rune and Steven that was people we had played with before so we where friends from before so it felt natural to ask them. Tor Erik is the latest addition.
The lyrics written by you and Stein really tell good tales through each song. Was it intended for each song on "Blood of Your Soul" to tell stories or did just happen to come together like that?
I won’t say that all our lyrics have a deep meaning but it reflects our thoughts and feelings described in a more adventurous form, to make it more to our own liking.
Any touring coming up or are you working out a new album soon?
As we are all in full-time work, we don’t have time to do too much touring. So we basically just have to make the music whenever we get together. It would be fun to do more gigs than what we are doing but the days aren’t long enough. So it’s either a new album or gigs and we chose to make music. We also made this very clear to Spinefarm so they haven’t been to keen to send us on the road.
Any major concept forthcoming for the next Thundra album? When can we expect you lads to go into recording for the new album?
The album is nearly ready; actually we are doing a demo right now so we can work on the vocals probably. But I am leaving the country for a while so there won’t be a new album until next year, but this gives us a chance to work probably with the material since the last album was a hurry project.
With the addition of Tor to Thundra that will make you a six-man outfit, which should lead to a lot of creativity with the upcoming release. What can we expect from the new album?
It’s going to be more powerful and a bit harder. And I am really looking forward to recording this album. And Tor has much to offer so it’s going to be good to work with him cause it has been so far.
Thanks again Harald for working this interview out with me, good luck with Thundra. Are there any words you’d like to say to your loyal Thundra fans out there?
Stay true, see you out there. Cheers.
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