Swedish folk metal outfit Grimner are celebrating their tenth anniversary with the release of album number three and their first ever UK tour in March. Graham Matthews fired a few questions over to chief flute player Johan Rydberg.
Looking like they stepped off the set of Vikings, Sweden’s Grimner can be judged fairly accurately from appearance alone. Mixing traditional Nordic folk with the speed and aggression of heavy metal with lyrics (now in Swedish) covering folklore, Norse mythology and more, they fall nicely in with their contemporaries in Turisas, Korpiklaani and others.
It’s a formula that’s worked though and here they are, ten years on since their formation having released their third album Vanadrottning in February and set to undertake their first ever UK tour starting at Hammerfest in March.
ZT: How did the writing and recording go for Vanadrottning?
Johan ‘Rambo’ Rydberg (Flutes, Mandola, Bagpipes): It went well, although it was also very intense!
Did you do much differently to your previous albums?
We did plan everything a bit more with our experience from the previous album. One somewhat larger change is that I joined Ted [Sjulmark, guitars/vocals] for the writing of the lyrics for this album.
How has Martin Welcel settled into the band and what does he offer to Grimner that you didn’t have before?
He has settled in very well! He is a great guy and he really fits in well with the band. He brings both great guitar playing as well as his great vocals and a lot of enthusiasm.
What inspired some of the lyrics and song themes on the new album?
For this album we wanted to do something different from the last album which was a concept album. So for this album we wanted to do individual songs with their own feel and themes. So, some of the lyrics for this album are inspired from mythology, history as well as some folklore.
And what about that cover?
The cover depicts a scene from the title track ‘Vanadrottning’. The song tells of one of the first wars where the Asir gods and the Vanir gods were fighting. In the end the queen of the Vanir Gullveig was captured and was sentenced to be burned at the stake. But when she was burned she kept resurrecting from the ashes and was once again sentenced. So in the end she was burned and resurrected three times before a truce between the gods was settled. And the album depicts Gullveig newly reborn from the ashes.
Your style is firmly in the realm of folk metal. Why do you think these two genres go together well?
Hard to say. I guess it gives you the tools to make something really fun and interesting. You could go for the fun and jaunty parts of folk music or use it to set a native and ambient feel. And pretty much everything in-between.
Would you say most of your fans are more into metal or folk? Is there really much of a crossover?
I would probably say metal. I think there are some fans of more traditional metal that really like our music, but I’m not sure people who only listen to traditional folk music would like us as much. In the end, we are a metal band.
Some of your early songs were in English. What made you decide to switch to Swedish? Would you go back to singing in English?
Yes, in the beginning of the band some the songs were in English. I think it was a bit of a leftover from Ted and Henry’s previous band [Mortum Hatred]. Pretty soon they switched to Swedish, since it fit the feeling and the lyrical themes much better. I don’t think we will go back, at least not to sing only in English. But who knows, sometime we might release a song in English.
You have an imminent UK tour, excited?
We are bloody excited! It will be the first time we visit the UK and we are very much looking forward to this. Timing feels perfect with the third full-length album recently released and the band celebrating our ten year anniversary.
Finally, where do you see Grimner in another ten years?
Hopefully, in ten years Grimner will still be going strong and has had the chance to spread the word and play a lot of shows around the world.
Grimner’s UK tour dates are:
15/3 – Hammerfest, Wales
16/3 – The Fulford Arms, York
17/3 – The Angel Microbrewery, Nottingham
18/3 – Nambucca, London