At the occasion of the release of their highly anticipated new album Downfall and Rebirth, Vic (bass player) took the time to answer some questions, telling us more about the album and the band!
So your new album was just released. It was highly anticipated among viking metal fans, congrats ! Our own reviewer gave it a 10/10 !
Thanks a lot!!! At the end it seems that we left the studio and the world was still there, so we finished before apocalypse! Jokes aside, we have been a bit late but the effort was worth it. We also suffered from an accident that made our drummer stay out of the drumkit for 8 months. After all this work and time, we are proud of our new album and we were very happy to receive a 10 from you, guys!
What echoes did you have for the album so far ?
We have had quite a lot of reviews so far and daily feedback from Northlanders all over the world. We wish we are able to, as they ask, play in each of their countries!
You’re a very popular band among folk metal fans and people who know it a bit, why do you think you’re so popular ? How does it feel ?
There are different reasons. One is that, when our demo was released, there weren’t that many Folk metal bands around, or at least not as many as there are today (especially in our country). A former member of the band made a bunch of copies, went to a Paganfest show in Paris and gave them to the people there. It sounded very underground, and still many people like the raw sound of it. We started to play around Europe very soon, which helped our music travel everywhere. We don’t let people stay quiet during our shows, so they remember us when they arrive home.
Having a band like Northland means a lot of work behind the scenes, but the best part is always onstage and after the concerts. It’s incredibly rewarding to talk to the people who has enjoyed your concert after the show and share some beers with them! It means that you have done all the previous work well.
What makes Northland different from other bands ?
We come from quite different backgrounds within the metal scene and even have played in non-metal bands. I think this results in an interesting mixture that has evolved well because of not rushing things. Some top folk metal bands release a ton of albums from which you really have to pick the good stuff.
We’d like to think that we have our own style and don’t sound like every other Folk Metal band. We got many opinions on youTube saying that our song When the Heroes Die sounded like Ensiferum’s Victory Songs, only WTHD was written before!!!
It also seems you have finally found a stable lineup. I guess it’s easier for work ?
Having played in a handful of bands and suffered from line-up changes in some of them, I have to say it’s one of the most annoying things about music. I’m sure it gets easier to find new members as more money or fame is involved, but there are so many metalheads with bands that it’s hard to recruit trustworthy, skilled musicians when you lose someone on the way – especially free of band or willing to leave one of their 2-4 bands. And when you find someone, the adaptation process is from slow to neverending. So, the bottom line is that YES, we have a stable and commited line-up now, fingers crossed!
Lets talk about the album itself a bit… Can you explain briefly what was your purpose for this new release ? Especially compared to previous one. What changes, what remains…
Northland was released in a rush because we had big pressure from our former label to release it. The mix was done in Germany, as well as the master, and we we not very happy with it. But the label had its schedule, and so Northland hit the streets with a sound we weren’t completely satisfied of. First new improvement to achieve : a much better sound. Of course, it doesn’t sound like a 20.000€ recording, but we’re very glad with the result and both us and Gorka Dresbaj from The Room studio (Barcelona) did a great job.
Another big change is that the flute has been man-recorded these time (by Jordi Clapés, a fast and accurate player!), whereas we got the sound from samplers on the first record. Next thing to come – accordion! (laughs)
I think we still have the catchy melodies with strong, powerful rhythm section but this time, the compositions are a bit more refined and, at times, complex. Duskriders, for example, is my favrourite track off the record for that reason ! Tempo and bar changes, lots of dynamic change, etc.
What about the story it tells in the lyrics ? And the album title ?
Downfall and Rebirth is a concept album, and as such it follows a certain storyline that has to do with the dichotomy between day and night, between light and darkness… It follows the course of a day (When Nature Awakes, Bloodred Sunrise, Duskriders, Moonlight Spell, etc.) picturing the rise of nature against the tyranny of the human race. Downfall of mankind and Rebirth of Nature after its nearly destruction (Newborn Star). Some tracks fall of this line to become struggle songs (Whispers in the Wind), for example. But we really felt the need to do such a track, for it was written during the square occupation movement in Spain (The 15M movement).
I also think there is a certain equilibrium that has been found : one the one hand there is unity in this album, but on the other hand, there are some tracks that are a bit different, such as « Moonlight Spell » with the feminine/masculine singing. Can you explain that ?
We feel there is a slightly different vibe to several tracks, some are more epic (When Nature Awakes, Newborn Star), some more thrashy (Fury’s Unleashed), some have more traditional metal rhythms (Together we die), etc. But the folk parts are what sew everything together into a unified Northland sound.
Moonlight Spell is this record’s Distand Land, which has let a much better taste in our throats than the former. We didn’t enjoy tthe result after mixing of Distand Land, and this was our way of redeeming ourselves. We love acoustic tunes and we felt having Lady Morte (Trobar de Morte) on it would fit excellently. In fact, I think it did ! One thing not many people know is that there was another acoustic song that was left behind (but recorded) from the album, so it most probable will come in the future.
Is there a song you are particularly proud of and why ?
Each one of us has his personal favourite track. As I said, mine is Duskriders, for others it’s Bloodred Sunrise, Together we Die, When Nature Awakes or Whispers in the Wind. My choice is clear : the most progressive one ! What’s great about this album is that all songs are playable live, so it will be hard to pick some and leave others behind during concerts !
Personally I really like the artwork too, which fits perfectly well with your music. Can we have a few information on how it was made and by who ?
The artwork process was especially cumbersome. We asked some friends or contacts to sketch some ideas for our cover with some guidelines : we wanted to show nature rising and wanted something fearful, aggressive. We had some nice ideas but when we asked for changes that artists didn’t finish their homework, so we had to change like 3 times from one to another until we decided it was time to go pro and talk to someone who had drawn covers for successful albums. We found Peter Sallái, the creator of Sabaton’s (among other bands) artwork and asked him the same thing, although the idea of a monster came during the previous process. The result was so amazing that we just asked for some color corrections. Now the hard part will be to translate this art into a T-shirt !!! (laughs)
Where did you get your inspiration for making such a great album ? Are there books, movies, or other bands that really gave you ideas ?
What better source of inspiration than reality itself. The idea about creating this album was born one of these random days when you go philosophic and you start to discuss with friends how mankind is destroying the Earth. Everybody knows that this is a reality and the least that Northland can do is to write an album to rise awareness. If you think deeply about it, you can find the inspiration to write lyrics such as the ones you find in “Downfall & Rebirth”, just think about the power of mother nature and the insignificance of the human race in this universe.
You chose to sing in English, why this choice when quite a lot of folk/pagan metal bands find their identity in singing in their native language ?
We write our songs in English because it sounds good to our ears and, besides, it is easier to get to people from all over the world through it. We love bands like Moonsorrow, but you can’t deny you won’t find a full audience singing along their tunes at concerts. We couldn’t have felt hundreds of people singing « We want Revenge ! » from the stage if we sang in our native language. It connects better with everyone. We had a portion of lyrics of a song from the demo in Spanish, and something in Catalan and/or Spanish may come in the future, who knows ! There are a handful of extreme metal bands in our region, Catalonia (like Vidres a la Sang, Foscor or Setge), that sing in Catalan and we have profound respect for them. It wasn’t easy to make our tongue sound harsh or aggressive and they did tremendously well. We will continue to sing mostly in English, at least for the moment !
I wanted to have your point on view on the Spanish metal scene. As a foreigner I have the feeling there are many many good bands (especially for viking/pagan/folk metal), but most of them remain underground unfortunately…
That’s unfortunately true in most cases. When we started touring, almost no folk/pagan metal bands had crossed our borders. Shortly after, bands like Drakum and Ravenblood started playing at some international festivals and now Celtibeerian are doing a good job, too. Incursed look promising as well. We hope we are this building a strong scene together with more exportable bands. In fact, whereas some Germans say that the Folk/pagan scene is fading, it looks very healthy from here !
Are you planning on a tour to promote the album ? Any hopes for France ?
As I’m answering these questions, our Spanish promotion agency is working on the final dates of our Spanish tour. Although we have toured Spain on different occasions, we feel we have looked more towards the north than south. It’s funny because we live on the northern part of the country, and Germans always ask us who come we are called Northland if we come from Spain, while we have played in more cities in Germany than in our own country. Back on track, as this interview is published the dates will probable be public as well ! We are covering as many points of the Iberian peninsula as we can with this tour, and not just the most important cities like we did when we toured with Turisas, Equilibrium or Manegarm. We hope the response is great !!! Santa Maria Summer Fest in Portugal is included in this tour.
We will most probably visit Russia (alongside Baltic countries if possible) in September, but it’s still very early to know the exact details about the tour.
We are yet to receive an offer to tour western Europe to promote Downfall and Rebirth, so let this be a call to promotion and booking agencies. We are eager to return to France, it’s one of the countries where we have felt best treated, so we’ll try our best to be back !!
And any other plans ?
We are bursting with ideas, but we don’t have enough time nor money to make them all happen at once, so we’ll have to schedule. We have two different music videos (aside from the lyric video we just released) in mind and talks, the recording a gig of the tour, printing new T-shirt models, a secret project we can’t talk about… All will come at the right moment =)
Next album may be a more acoustic or a more party one, who knows ! But that will come over time. We feel that if a band releases a good record, it’s much better to squeeze all the pulp out of it until the process comes to an end. It worked for us on the first album !
- Thanks for taking the time to answer those questions ! I let you have the final word! Morrigan.
Thanks a lot, it has been great to share what’s behind Downfall and Rebirth and Northland itself. We really hope to visit France again really soon, we miss you ! Help our projects become a reality by getting a digital or Digipack copy of our new album on http://northlandmetal.BandCamp.com.
Merci beaucoup, Northlanders !!!!