Darkhearts, welcome to Napalm Flesh! Mother Nature decided to remind us this week that it is, in fact, still winter (what a bipolar bitch, am I right?). But we have a secret weapon up our sleeves to chase away that gray-sky gloominess: an interview with the mighty darkness that is Vildhjarta! The Swedish prog-metal geniuses talk to us about their new album Maastaden, their striking and unique history as a band, and how the internet was completely to blame for them ever playing a live show together. Also, we have the usual weekly event rundown and reviews from Cannibal Corpse, Arbogast, Azaghal, Krang and Les Discrets.
Tonight, recent Deathwish signees Loma Prieta and Birds In Row (who we interviewed a few weeks ago) will be at The Underground (3994 S. 300 W.). Locals KWNGU, Treehouse and Bomb Squad open up the show. $7, 7:00 PM. All ages.
On Friday, March 9, check out Xibalba, Take Offense and Soul Search at Four Square Church (1068 S. Jefferson St.). $10 gets you in.
Also on Friday, Burt’s hosts Nine Worlds, Jesust, Sure Sign of the Nail and Jesus or Genome. Music at 9 p.m., $5, 21+.
Saturday, March 10, Skimask, Ravings of a Madman, Meat and Sugar Bone play The South Shore Bar & Grill. Music at 8 p.m., $5, 21+.
Also Saturday, Club Expose hosts the Sonic Slaughterhouse or Metal Night hosted by “The Butcher.” Come listen to your favorite metal tunes and let the Butcher know what you want to hear for no charge. (21+)
Monday March 12, 3 Inches of Blood performs with locals Merlin’s Beard and Jesust at Mojo’s Café in Ogden. Tickets are $12 in advance, $14 the day of the show, open to all ages.
Interview with Vildhjarta guitarist Daniel Bergstrom
Swedish progressive death metal is a genre growing in popularity, with many bands taking up the mantle of their brave forefathers like the unmistakable Meshuggah. Lines of “djent” metal bands are drowning the masses—some are pathetic half-assed attempts, some are quite successful…and then there’s Vildhjarta. Hailing from Hudiksvall, this 7-piece force of darkness has just released their first full-length album, a heavy, incredibly complex concept work called Maastaden that was written over years and hundreds of miles, with the band communicating and writing via email, releasing small EPs that drew metal fans from around the world like a pack of rabid dogs, hungry for more. Rallying behind the war cry of “Thall,” which fans affectionately bestowed upon them as almost a second band name, they finally got together for their first live show only a few years ago to play the epic works they had written so untraditionally. Napalm Flesh had the opportunity to speak with Daniel Bergstrom of Vildhjarta about their art, their unusual career thus far, and what might be in the band’s future.
SLUG: You guys have an interesting history. Your members were spread all throughout Sweden, which led you to write your album in pieces and email it to each other. Tell me how you guys got that to work so successfully, and how you progressively added more members to the band this way. And how did Daniel, Jimmie and Johan find each other in the first place?
Daniel Bergstrom: We do work a lot over the Internet on the things we collaborate on— the artwork and concepts for example. Pretty much all of the music is written by me, though, so that’s not a very collaborative process. I do try to get the others involved though. Calle [Thomer, guitarist] wrote a few things for the album that turned out sweet. The vocal department I don’t touch—[Daniel] Ädel and Vilhelm [Bladin] do all that.
It seems that we always kept adding more members. The band I had before this was a quartet, so my initial idea was to get more people involved this time to even out the work and have a more intense idea flow on how to deal with things and which directions to take. I’ve been playing music together with Johan [Nyberg, bass] since we were kids, so it was him and me who found Jimmie [Åkerström, guitar] shortly after disbanding our previous project.
SLUG: And another fun part of that history: it was your online fans of the project that got you guys to actually come together to play a live show for the first time. What an amazing experience to have. Can you tell me how that first show was? Were you guys nervous to play together, or had you rehearsed beforehand?
Bergstrom: We had all been onstage before, but yes, of course we were nervous. We had a little hype, so we didn’t want anything to go wrong. Had some tech issues, which we always seem to have, but we managed—it was great fun. We hardly ever rehearse—we try to, but it’s so boring.
SLUG: Listening to your new album, it’s easy to see how you gathered fans even with small demos and songs online. Vildhjarta, in a word, is hypnotizing. The cohesiveness in your music makes your origin story all the more surprising. Tell me about your writing processes: is it difficult to keep that continuity in the vision when you’re writing in different times and places? Does the song go through a lot of cutting and re-writing, or are you guys hitting the sweet spot right away?
Bergstrom: This album took years to write, so continuity of vision and motivation was always hard to keep up with. Life goes through many phases, and when writing for that long, I think that really ends up reflecting the moods of the material a lot. I always wanted this record to be very intense, full of mood swings and turns, and I think we succeeded in that. The listener hardly ever gets any chance to breathe or question whatever is going on. Same deal as in life, you just have to roll with and accept whatever comes along. Sometimes chaos. Some songs took four weeks to write while some have sections that are five years old. There’s really no typical way I write or how we collaborate as we always force ourselves to try new things and do things differently.