The new work of the Austrian pagan folk metal band Bifröst is just released. The band was formed in 2005 and “Tor in Eine Neue Welt” is their third full-length album so far. I find it for sure their most complete and mature work ever, much better than both previous albums. So the time was perfect to contact Ragnar and see what he believes about this new album and ask him everything about the band.
- Hello. First of all I’d like to congratulate you for your new album. Since it’s quite a new work, what are the first reactions you get so far? Both from fans and press.
Hello there! At first, may I introduce myself: I’m Ragnar, the frontman of Bifröst and I want to thank you for your interest in our band and especially for the nice words concerning our new album “Tor in Eine Neue Welt”. As you can imagine the reaction of fans and press was huge, due to the fact that there were three years of silence around us. In general it can be said that the feedback was and is still very good and that people seem to be really impressed by our release. We get new feedback from fans and press every day, so it´s really hard to remember certain particular words, but overall the album seems to be “fantastic” or “totally amazing”. Press reactions were also especially nice. We mostly got somewhere between 7 and 10 points out of 10, even from reviewers who are not so much into melodic death and pagan metal – so I think we did a good job with “Tor in Eine Neue Welt” and we of course can´t wait to perform the songs live on stage to convince everyone out there from our live performance qualities. But there was also some negative feedback. Some people complained that the album is simply too long, containing too many songs. Well, the more songs you put on an album, the more often people have to listen to it to get familiar with each track. Releasing a longer album always requires more time, in producing as well as in listening. When deciding to put so many songs on the album, we were just thinking about releasing the best material that we have written during the last three years. Of course another goal was that we wanted to show people that it´s still worth all the money to buy an honest album. I think we were able to achieve those goals by releasing “Tor in Eine Neue Welt”. It has a playtime of over 72 minutes. Of course this is pretty much, but this is Bifröst and you get something for your goods here, right?
- How would you describe your music in “Tor in Eine Neue Welt”? How would you introduce your band to someone who has never listened to you?
Personally, I would describe our music as avant-garde, modern, melodic pagan, death black-thrash… Of course this was a joke haha! In this times where every band wants to reinvent their genre, making up a new sub-genre, often by just adding completely random words that sound cool, it’s difficult to describe your style of music, without sounding boring or outdated. I would just say that we’re making melodic death metal – of course with some pagan influences (especially old material). So if you like heavy riffing, catchy melodies and leads, hard battery work and harsh vocals including various styles of screams and growls – Bifröst could be exactly satisfying your needs and ears!
When releasing “Tor in Eine Neue Welt”, we also did a promotional campaign, where we published some tracks on YouTube before the album was released. By doing so, we wanted to give people the chance to take a close listen at our work before buying it. You can basically compare this to buying a car. Before you buy it, you want to have a test drive, do you? So we made it possible for people to take a listen to our work and then decide on buying it or not.
- What has changed in this new work? I find it very different than your previous efforts. Much better in my opinion. What are the new elements in your sound?
Actually there are not so many new elements. We have used traditional instruments and keys also on the previous album, but I think that song structure and arrangement simply got better and more suiting to all the different instruments, sounds and styles. Of course another new element is my voice – it’s a bit harsher than the old vocalists one and therefore adding a bit more “black metal” style to our music, which as we think fits perfectly to Bifröst. Also the guitar sound is totally different than on the last album. It’s way more direct and sharp this time, which we are very satisfied with – recording the guitars was really impressive. Overall we can say, that this album and the tracks on it fit better together than previous ones!
- You use several acoustic traditional instruments in this work. Would you like to give us some info about them? I think they made your sound much more interesting and rich.
We used many, many different traditional instruments on the album, like for example a bouzouki, an accordion or various variations of flutes, pipes and even a harp. Those instruments are very expressive and transport certain emotions that support the special feeling of a song in a great way. They are a wonderful way of making songs more spicy and of course they are great fun to play. Matthias played all the folk instruments and keys on the album and did a really great job there!
- There were many line-up changes lately. Is the current line-up permanent, or are there more changes to come? Tell us a few words about the new members and how have these line-up changes affected your sound.
Yes, the current line-up is permanent and we are very proud of finally having found a group of musicians, who are sharing the same attitudes and goals in making music and who are willing to be a part of Bifröst in long terms. Matthias asked me if I wanted to do the vocals for the upcoming album, which didn’t have a title at that time and I decided to take a listen to his work. I was completely convinced by the material he showed me and so I started listening to it and writing lyrics for it. There existed the plan that I should simultaneously perform guitar while singing, but after thinking about opportunities, it was a clear step for me to ask my former fellow band-member Nordolf to take my guitar part at Bifröst. Further on, we were looking for a drummer and due to the fact that I had been friend with Severni Veter for a long time, I decided to ask him to become a member of Bifröst too. After taking a listen to the new songs, also he was convinced to walk with us. So we were able to complete our lineup, by recruiting two good friends to get ready to perform our music live on stage again, which we are already really looking forward to. We do now have a perfect crew for the future of Bifröst together!
- Is “Tor in Eine Neue Welt” a concept album? What are its lyrics speaking about?
No, “Tor in Eine Neue Welt” is not a concept album. It deals with various topics like feelings (“Kaltes Herz“, “Tor in Eine Neue Welt“, freedom (“…um Frei zu Sein“ or self-discovery (“Die Suche“ but also contains some fantasy stories of a kingdom (“Hofnarr 1+2“. Also we decided to continue the story of the monk from the song “Der Mönch” of the previous album “Heidenmetal”, which was great fun to write. I think people are going to laugh a lot about “Die Rückkehr des Mönchs” – that’s the spirit of this track. Also it can basically be said that compared to previous releases, common mythological themes or heathenism are not part of the lyrics on “Tor in Eine Neue Welt” anymore.
- Has everything gone as planned on the recording process of the album? Any information, details or funny happenings you’d like to share?
Everything has gone as planned so far. We recorded the music at Stefan Traunmüller´s Soundtempel Studio and did the vocals on our own at home-studio – this was quite easy, due to the fact that Matthias and I have studied audio-engineering. After this was done, Matthias mixed the album together with Stefan. When they were finished, we were looking for some mastering-engineer and got a recommendation for working together with Krystian König (KK-Studios). This was one of the best decisions we have ever made, because Krystian really did an amazing job at mastering “Tor in Eine Neue Welt”. He managed to create a very powerful and pulsing sound, without maximizing loudness to the limit. So the product was a very dynamic album, sounding alive and really honest. We are very proud of that and I can just fully recommend Krystian to every band that needs a mastering engineer for their recordings – he is genius. One funny detail: We also recorded one additional English track but unfortunately we weren’t able to put it on the final master, due to a lack of space on the CD haha. So the album was really too long and we now have one track left to publish. We are already making plans about when and how to release this additional 14th track. So be prepared for “Rock´n´Roll Vikings” and believe me – haters gonna hate
- What do you remember from the first years of the band? Bifröst were formed in 2005 with an almost completely line-up. How did it all started?
Well to tell stories from the beginning of Bifröst, I might be the wrong interview-partner, but the thing I know is that no matter how it all started, it’s great being at this point where we’re at now. So the way must have been right. We have just released “Tor in Eine Neue Welt”, which is a really passionate album and we are free to write new songs together now. Also we are looking forward to all the upcoming shows in 2014 we are going to play – especially for the Dark Troll Festival 2014 in Germany! Be prepared folks, we’re going to have a blast there.
- In 2006 you self-released your debut album “Schlachtklänge”. It was a quite limited release and hard to find. Tell us a few words about this album?
Like every band does, you write songs in the beginning and at some time you get to the point of recording and publishing it, so you can bring your music to other people too. That’s what has been done at “Schlachtklänge” and that’s how everything started at Bifröst, just to finally give an answer to your last question. “Schlachtklänge” is simply the first release that Bifröst has made. We don’t play material from this release anymore, except “Ragnarök“, which has developed and changed over time, so today “Schlachtklänge” is kind of irrelevant, although it’s of course part of our band history.
- In 2010 you released your second album “Heidenmetal”, this time with a label behind you, Einheit Produktionen. I think it was a landmark in band’s history. What do you remember from this time?
Of course releasing an album via a label is always kind of a milestone in a band’s history. Especially for Bifröst it was, since Einheit Produktionen is still our partner and label. We are in good contact with Olaf, the head of the label and at the moment absolutely satisfied with his work. Personally I got to know Bifröst by listening to “Heidenmetal” when it was just released, so I think that this album was really important, because it was the first release of Bifröst that got quite famous and put the band on people’s radar. Since that time we progressed a lot – not only in musical, but also in personal way. The result of all those progresses is our new release: “Tor in Eine Neue Welt”.
- Your new album “Tor in Eine Neue Welt” is also released by Einheit. How different are things with a label? What are your expectations from this release?
Having a label behind you makes promotion and financial things a lot easier of course, but it’s also important to have someone you can rely on and ask for help or opinion in certain situations. That’s what a label should be doing. I think it is very important for bands to get a proper label where serious people are working and of course also a label that really appreciates what you are doing as a band as well. Believe me, it’s not all about getting a label and the leaning back to relax. You still have to do a lot of work on your own – that´s how things work. Well haha, my expectations of the release… It should be a step forward for Bifröst and I hope that people are going to like it and listen to it many times, even in future. Also I hope that we will play a lot of shows with the new material, because I can’t wait to perform it live and feel the music of this album on stage. Another point is that I’m really excited about how we will progress in the future and where we are going to be in five years – no one knows, but at least I hope we will still be writing on material for the maybe second or third next album at that time? We will see. Of course we will try to do our best in any way
- Do you plan any gigs to promote the album? Are there any confirmed shows you’d like to share?
Of course we are going to play a lot of shows, most of them are yet not ready to be officially confirmed. The next upcoming gig is the Winterschlacht Vienna on the 11.01.2014 at Escape Metalcorner Wien. This gig will be very special and I’m already awaiting January with anticipation. Playing in the city where I have studied and of course spent a lot of time is always exciting, although I’m quite frequently in Vienna, due to other bands I participate at. Another gig I can yet confirm and want to mention here is the Runen der Nacht Festival at the Phönixsaal in Attnang Puchheim on the 21st of June 2014 – it’s going to be a great festival, so please support it and be there!
- How is Bifröst on stage? What should your fans expect from you in your shows? Do you use traditional instruments in your live performances?
Well, due to the fact that the Winterschlacht in January is going to be our first live-gig with the new lineup, we are also very excited how Bifröst will be on stage. But so far I can tell you that it’s going to be quite awesome – at least rehearsing together is great fun already and we’re going to set up a special show for the gig in January. When we play live, we use backing tracks for all the traditional instruments, because it would simply be too much to have all of this on stage. This technique is quite claiming of course, since you need a drummer who is able to play exactly in time, but Severni Veter is already used to this technique and is a really good experienced, talented, professional drummer. Another benefit of that technique is, that we will be able to create exactly the same atmosphere live as we do on the album.
- Does any of you play in other bands too? Would you like to tell us a few words about any of them?
Yeah, of course we play in other bands too. I play the guitar in the Austrian black metal force Selbstentleibung and also have some other smaller side-projects, which are not worth mentioning here. Matthias is the head of the band Harakiri for the Sky too and Severni Veter plays drums in various projects, including the folk-band Nornensanc and the old death metallers of Kagan! Nordolf does not have any other active projects at the moment, but he was also – like me – a member of Flammensturm, a band which we decided to disband in 2013. So, we are all not new to the metal-scene of Austria and quite well experienced!
- What is the next big step for Bifröst? Are there any plans for the future? Any bigger ambitions you’d like to fulfill?
The next steps for Bifröst are rehearsing, rehearsing and again rehearsing. We need to prepare in best ways for all the upcoming shows and beside of that, we are of course trying to write some new material too. The next big step is also about organizing a tour. I’m currently working on this project and more details about that will follow within the beginning of the next year! So be prepared.
- Thank you very much for your time. Last words are yours.
I’d like to thank you very much for your interview and time. Everyone out there, keep supporting the metal scene and continue visiting concerts – also the smaller ones. Those events keep your local scene alive! Also a big thanks for all your feedback concerning “Tor in Eine Neue Welt”, no matter if via various platforms on the web, email or face to face. I hope to see you in front of the stage soon – have a nice week!
Bifröst @ Facebook