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HAVAMAL's Kjell Gilliusson: "Standing on the battlefield with us, if you like, and all the horns and strings we use really help us achieve that effect! We want the listener to really step into our world..."

Interview with HAVAMAL from Kjell Gilliusson
by Eric Poulin at 28 June 2021, 9:50 AM

Metal Temple writer Eric Poulin recently sat down with Melodic Death Metallers HAVAMAL from Sweden to talk about their latest record titled "Shadow Chapter," and we talked about their musical influences, the recording process of the new album, how it compares to their other works, as well as dream lineups and touring plans.

Could you talk a bit about the name of the band, its significance and importance to the band members?

Havamal is an important part of the old sagas, as it is one of the early written texts about the old traditions and myths of the vikings. The word Havamal basically means "Words of the high one", and refers to Odins words, where he gives people the wisdom to live right and just. For us, the name has the meaning to always think over your actions, and how you can be a good person. Treat other with respect, and just in general, don't be an asshole :)Seeing as “Shadow Chapter” is your second full length release, how does it differ or resemble your previous album “Tales from Yggdrasil” ?

I think there are a lot of similarities to Tales from Yggdrasil, as we wanted to keep our main sound. But there are also many many differences. For example, we have found more inspiration this time when listening to movie music. For example listening to Hans Zimmer or Two Steps From Hell has had quite a bit of impact on us this time. Apart from that, all the members in the band has really stepped up their game on this album, making it a much more professional production in the end. Credit where credit is due, we also worked with more skilled people this time around as well, for example Simon from Wolf/Soilwork, and Mike from King Diamond. So we where aiming for a more full sound, and as far as we know, we succeeded :)What were the biggest challenges in recording this album, especially in this completely different period with the pandemic?

As everyone else, we have been heavily affected by the pandemic. We have been lucky in that way that all the time we would usually put on gigs and preparing for show, we could instead put on finishing the album. We where also lucky enough to have top notch engineers in the studio that already had had Covid, so we could pretty much carry on in the studio. Apart from the pandemic, the biggest challenge for us was to get all the orchestrations in place. We use quite a lot of them on this album, and its a pretty big task to get it all properly mixed and such. But again, we worked with the best so they managed just fine :DWhat would you say are your favorite songs on the album or the ones that have more meaning to you personally?

That is such a difficult question! Its like choosing which of your children you love the most haha. But if I have to choose, I think perhaps Empire of the Ashen Sun, or Nornirs Call. Empire, as it is the one song that maybe pops out the most, using different kind of melodies than the rest. And Nornir because it is just a great kick in the nuts, and the middle break with the keyboards are just awesome :DWhat are your most important musical influences and how are they portrayed in your music?

All of us in the band have quite different influences actually, and we all have a bit different backgrounds. All the way from black metal, death metal and power metal. But I think that is a strength, when we combine all of our preferences into what is the Havamal-sound. Overall I think you can hear quite a lot of Finnish melodeath in our music, as well as the more orchestral sound of Nightwish, Sabaton and Dimmu Borgir.

One thing I noticed was the high presence of effects and a more symphonic approach to the songs on the album, is that a musical direction you wish to pursue on other releases or is this more specific to this record?

We definitely love the more symphonic sound! If anything, my guess would be more rather than less in the future. More is More haha I can say that this is a choice we did on purpose, and one of the many reasons behind this is that we want the listener to feel that they are a part of the sagas. Standing on the battlefield with us, if you like, and all the horns and strings we use really help us achieve that effect! We want the listener to really step into our world, and I hope that we made it happen :)If you had a chance to choose the perfect bill for a live tour, which bands would you select?

We have had this discussion many times, and its really hard to choose! But names that usually pop up in this discussions are Ensiferum, Amon Amarth, Powerwolf. There are so many great bands out there, so all of them! :)What do you think is the most important musically in order to standout in the melodic death metal genre?

The melodic death metal genre has quite a few different subcategories as well, and many kick ass bands. I think that its important to find your own niche that separates you from others. Also, for upcoming bands I think a clear image is really helpful as well.

Could you talk about the relationship the band currently has with Arts Gates Records?

We have been working with AGR for a few years now, both for Tales from Yggdrasil and The Shadow Chapter, and we are extremely happy with our cooperation. When we got closer to finish the new album, there never really was any debate about who we wanted to work with to spread the music! For anyone not familiar with the label, i recommend checking out the bands on their rooster!

Could you tell us a bit about the artwork of the album, who designed it and what it represents?

The artwork turned out just as amazing as we had hoped, we are really happy with it. It was created by the artist Alex Rommel at Aerroscape, in cooperation with the band, and he did such a great job! The theme of the album is mainly about the monsters of the norse Mythology, for example the wolf Fenris, the dragon Nidhoggr and the serpent Jormungandr. Those are the beasts that is visible on the front artwork, being summoned in a northern light by a shaman. The overall feeling and atmosphere of the artwork is just so damn awesome! All cred to Alex Rommel!

Even though this release is still quite fresh, do you have any ideas for the next album or perhaps other projects you would like to pursue?

First of all, we miss meeting our fans and friends on the stage! That is our first priority, to get back on the road, but until then we will make good use of the time, and start writing new songs and bouncing new ideas back and forth. It's a bit early to have proper plans yet, but we do have loads of ideas to keep the music flowing. Stay tuned for more! :D


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Edited 02 December 2022

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