EMV interview – Svartmálm

It’s been just over two months since a new Faroese band, barely past its embryo stages, brought about staggering sonic wrath and grand atmospheric radiances across the small venue of Perlan in Tórshavn, at the fourth edition of the Faroese Wacken Metal Battle. Svartmálm (previously Svartideyði) is a cloaked formation put together by Deyði, Pest, Hungur and Kríggj. The band has already started an intriguing metamorphosis at the basis of a black metal aesthetic foundation, something of a revelation on The Faroe Islands. It is with great enthusiasm that I present this interview. Check it out and be sure to catch the band at the Wacken Metal Battle finals in August.

For starters, let’s rewind time back a month to your first live performance, which was at the Faroese Wacken Metal Battle. How did you experience the show?

The performance went well. We achieved what we set out to do in the first place, to get a sense of what Svartmálm is in its essence. The concert has also served as a fundament in our future path and what we are aiming to do in the studio when we’ll record our debut album.

The individuals that make up Svartmálm have performed in numerous different music genres. Does it feel in any way different, when performing this form of extreme metal?

Partially, to some extent yes. Still, it’s music all the same but this kind of art allows us to get in touch with emotions that we usually don’t get to express in daily life with the other projects that we work on. It’s certainly a different expression, which creates a balance within us as human beings when we take on the guises in Svartmálm and implement the sounds and atmospheres.

Photo Credit: Eija Måkivuoti Photography

Shortly after being announced as winners of the Metal Battle, as Svartideyði, you decided to change into Svartmálm. Why this decision? 

The decision was made, mostly based on practical reasons. When we entered the metal battle competition, we were aware of the Icelandic band named “Svartidauði”, a great and pioneering band by the way. Naming our band Svartideyði, we felt it could be the Faroese take on black metal, without it leading to complications regarding name similarities. After talking with people, the judges from the competition and also internally within the band, we came to the conclusion that it was unnecessary to have such a similar name next to a country that has many similarities to the Faroe Islands, which in the end could easily lead to people thinking that it’s the same band.

My next question, and you’ve partially answered this already but I thought it’d be interesting to go a bit deeper, what is the purpose of starting a band like Svartmálm?

To create a balance in our existence, that’s what this kind of band is able to give us. When performing within different genres of music, which aren’t tied to darker, heavier styles of music, performing as Svartmálm generates an energy filling the somber and sinister emotions that we all bear inside. We’ve all wanted to play in a constellation like this for a long time. Initially we started talking about it after the first Faroese Wacken Metal Battle back in early 2012 but it wasn’t until a few months back that we made the decision on forming the band.

There’s bound to be some mysticism connected with the art of black metal. Svartmálm also works with secretive and cryptic levels. Is this an important part, to keep this veil of otherworldly characteristics tied with the concept?

It’s important yes. The aim is to keep things conceptual. The music is the key focus and not the players performing it, it’s not the standard rock concert but rather a ceremonial act onstage that draws you into an enveloping realm. It feels honest and appropriate for us to hold back on shedding too much light and leave more room for interpretation in a time when everything in music is slowly being de-mystified.

Photo Credit: Eija Måkivuoti Photography

You mentioned that the music in the key focus, let’s talk music. Are there any black metal releases that have been used as a source of inspiration for the songwriting in Svartmálm?

There are a few sources of inspiration; “Transylvanian Hunger” by Darkthrone, “In The Nightside Eclipse” by Emperor, Gahl era Gorgoroth, Wolves In The Throne Room, “Sunbather” by Deafheaven and Yob, a stoner doom metal from the states. Black Sabbath of course, is an undeniable inspiration as well.

I felt a bit of a post metal vibe during the concert? Would that be another well of inspiration when it comes to songwriting?

We do listen to bands like Neurosis and Godspeed You Black Emperor, both being rooted in the post metal/rock genres. We also relate more to those bands on an ideological level, especially a band like Wolves In The Throne Room, where you explore the darker aspects of existence rather than practicing it in real life. We don’t identify ourselves with the Norwegian black metal scene from the nineties, which fostered a lot of rebellion and hatred with destructive patterns based on an explicit antichristian fundament.

What about the Faroese metal scene? Do you have any views on how it’s shaping itself?

It’s an exciting scene in development, but that can be said about a lot of Faroese music as we have a very productive and special musical landscape. Hamferð should be cited as a source of inspiration as far as Faroese metal bands are concerned, they’ve done some pioneering work.

There’s an album in the making. What can people expect from the debut of Svartmálm?

It’ll be a dark affair that much is certain. We feel that we have some strong and special material ready, it will have a coherent flow and will be presented as a conceptual composition. At the same time, we’re not bound to any dogmatic approaches regarding songwriting.

How far are you into the album process?

Most of the material is ready. We haven’t started recording yet. We’re searching for a date and once all the schedules are in place, we’ll start recording.

You’re scheduled to perform at the Wacken Metal Battle finals at the Wacken Festival in the beginning of August. Do you have any gigs lined up before that happens?

Something is in the works but nothing is ready to be announced at this moment.

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