Aurvandil – Throne of Games

Tuesday, 6th May 2014

Aurvandil’s name comes from the giant who was carried by Thor in a basket across the Elivagar rivers. And that’s the great thing about Norse mythology – the imagery and storytelling is fantastic, and it provides a litany of potential band names. For the French black metal outfit bearing said moniker, it’s part-and-parcel with mountainous, climatic black metal, coated with illustrious melodies and challenging song structures. What was started with 2011’s mammoth, near-unbeatable Yearning, has been complemented with this year’s Thrones. Whereas its predecessor was cold and calculating (and, 2011’s undisputed best black metal album), Thrones finds itself more in line with traditional BM escapades, where long, expanded song structures and wooden acoustic guitars force the pace. At four long, but convincing songs, it’s harder to digest than its predecessor, yet the rewards in the end are worth it.

Being that DR was wanting to shower the band with praise for Yearning for three years, the opportunity was nigh to corral Mr. Aurvandil for a quick chat. As you’ll read below, the man is every bit as cerebral and inward as the music he creates… 

Dead Rhetoric: Going back, I cannot stress how excellent of an album Yearning was. It was equally atmospheric as it was melodic and challenging. Now that you have three years behind you from its release, what are your thoughts on the album?

Aurvandil: Yearning was made of the very first songs I wrote about seven years ago, finally recorded in MMX. It was a youthful journey, a search for worthy archetypes in a world that offers none. With hindsight, and in spite of the album’s painful recording, I still find it enjoyable and meaningful, as it captured a precise moment, and momentum.

Dead Rhetoric: I’m sure you’re not the type of band that ranks its songs, but, “A Guide to Northern Scapes” is simply fantastic…and your best. Do you share a similar sentiment?

Aurvandil: This particular song does display in a very primeval way the very nature of Aurvandil, and the relentless Winds it paints. It personally isn’t my favourite off the album (as “Reign of Ice II” would be), although I would argue Yearning stands as a whole and not as a collection of tracks.

Dead Rhetoric: Along those lines, are you the type to reflect upon your accomplishments? As in, you go back and listen to your albums and admire your work?

Aurvandil: I forge the black metal I wish to wield.

Dead Rhetoric: The three years in between Yearning and Thrones…what was the band up to?

Aurvandil: Crafting tunes, suffering delays, living. I did not wish to force things, but in the end, Thrones emerged naturally. Further delays carved the distance.

Dead Rhetoric: I read (and correct me if I’m wrong) that you added a new drummer in Fog. What does he bring to the table?

Aurvandil: After W. kindly provided session drums for Yearning, I invited Fog (of Angmar fame) along on this northbound and inward voyage. He brings tidings of doom and fucking warhammers, is what he does. Fog has grown to be a brother in arms, through his utmost dedication, hard work, pertinent input as well as sound engineer experience. Now Fog walks with me, truly.

Dead Rhetoric: Do you enjoy any sort of collaboration? Or, do you work better by yourself?

Aurvandil: I enjoy close collaboration with kindred spirits, but those are few and far in between; for the better, as I find it hard to work along others most of the time. Still, it is challenging to overlook these trifling shortcomings to create something that is more than the sum of individualities.

Dead Rhetoric: Going into Thrones, what was the approach? Obviously, these four songs are all long, so they’re certainly more epic than what you had on the last album…

Aurvandil: There was no defined approach; I wanted to avoid shattering the work in many songs, but each of the songs naturally developed on its own, so scattering wasn’t an issue, as heralded by the monolithic outcome. The only horizon I aimed for was to create a funereal rite of impenetrable coldness and austere ire, and that horizon was duly reached.

Dead Rhetoric: This album, one would think, takes more to get into than Yearning. Does it feel that way to you? If so, why?

Aurvandil: Different perceptions and experience. Thrones might be slightly more hermetic because of its harsher and colossal nature.

Dead Rhetoric: The process and/or atmosphere in the studio: What’s it like?

Aurvandil: A bitter toil. Recording seldom gives the same satisfaction of actually unveiling the melodies, or delving the final result. For Thrones, drums and first guitar were recorded live, then second guitar, leads, acoustics, bass and voices were captured, in that order. Being well-rehearsed, this did not take too long. Fog had just gotten back from a small tour with Angmar, and performed remarkably well considering the sheer length and speed and the songs, as well as his state of extreme weariness.

Dead Rhetoric: Do you need much time to get things recorded and to your liking?

Aurvandil: See the above answer. I usually take a bit of time; being a perpetually-unsatisfied perfectionist AND an average strings player isn’t exactly a winning combination. Careful rehearsing sped things up. Vocals require a bit more attention to details, but in the end the voices on Thrones sound rather even.

Dead Rhetoric: Being that the band doesn’t play live, will this help accelerate the writing and/or recording process in the future?

Aurvandil: I’m afraid not. As precised in the presentation of Thrones:

All yearning embittered, the flesh is shed, the Journey ends. AURVANDIL returns with “Thrones” carved in stone and snow, distilling the essence of soaring, northern purity throughout four hymns of Iron and Ice, four funereal storms summoned.

Interpret it as you will. There might be future material, but when and under which form, I know not.

Dead Rhetoric: Finally, what’s on the agenda for the rest of 2014?

Aurvandil: Promoting Thrones, mainly, and carrying on with music and life, reading, perpetually searching. Thank you for the tribune.

Aurvandil on Bandcamp