Exclusive Interview: Vikvanir talk “On The Shoulders Of Gods”!

Last month saw the release of a record some four years in gestation, inspired by Norse mythology and epic fantasy from Vikvanir, the project of Sydney Australian based multi instrumentalist and composer Zachary Carlsson. A Black Metal record adorned by cover artwork from the late wonderful Mariusz Lewandowski and with orchestration from Elise Carpio, β€œOn The Shoulders Of Gods” is one that caught our imagination so here is the first of two conversations…

You first came up with the concept for “On The Shoulders Of Gods” in 2018 but weren’t able to bring it to life until 2021. How did it feel to finally be able to finish the project? “As you say, this project was something I had visualised on a trip through Norway in 2018, but on returning to Australia I never really found the time or inspiration to pursue it. Now when Covid 19 hit our shores, I found myself playing more guitar at home, and started recording some of the ideas I was kicking around. Once I’d put a few songs together it all started to naturally fall in place, and it felt right that this would become the project and song titles I had come up with all those years ago. Looking back now that it’s released it feels great to have accomplished something I’d set for myself by turning an idea from my mind into a reality”

A record inspired by Norse mythology and epic fantasy is something we might expect from Scandinavia rather than Australia so what is it about those things that made you want to paint in that palette? “The Nordic myths, epic fantasy setting and Scandinavian landscapes in general have always been of a high interest to me, brimming partly from my own Swedish family background and having also travelled through those regions as well. I had always wanted to try my hand working lyrically within those themes, so this was the perfect project to manifest these desires”

While the record has Black Metal as its basis there are elements of Doom, Death and even Progressive Metal within the confines of the record, which is just incredible. Who (or what) would you say were your biggest influences when it came to writing the album? “I think the death doom and progressive influences snuck their way into the project from my work with my main project Black Trillium, which is something I’ve been a part of for about 10 years now, so it’s only natural that style would carry over slightly into my compositions. As for the black metal part, this was my first foray writing in the genre, but speaking of influences I have to mention Gaahl and his projects. Vocally, musically and thematically his work is something I always feel a strong connection with, his power to compose and combine beauty with ferocity is excellent. Among others would be the music of Nidingr, Ahab, Enslaved, Vreid and also dark classical compositions and film scores. Lastly, the guitar work of Robert Vigna is a style I look to for inspiration and compositional ideas, his blend of eerie dissonance and melody is incredible and is a mood I tried to echo in my own performances, albeit in a much more simplistic way”

There are some absolutely crushing and intense vocal moments on this one, in particular on “Corpse-Strewn Path To The Citadel”.Β Have you had any vocal training or anything to help you reach some of those bowel clenching lows or is it simply down to practice?Β “I’ve never had any formal vocal training for these styles, it’s all just something I’ve figured out and, as you say, practiced over the years. In fact, my usual vocal style is the guttural death metal vocals I perform during several of the songs, but the main “black metal” voice used is a new method I had figured out and practiced for this project, and uses a different technique to the growls entirely”

The work of a multi instrumentalist never fails to impress but do you have any plans to flesh the project out to a full band for live shows or do you see it as a studio only project at this time? “There are currently no plans to grow this beyond a small personal project at this point, but it’s not an option I’m entirely shutting out either. It all depends on certain circumstances, so time will tell on that front”

What’s next for Vikvanir? “I often tend to visualise a project first, coming up with themes, album and song titles and then writing the music to them. So as was the case with this EP, I have an idea and concept for a full-length album brewing. Hopefully it won’t take another global pandemic to get me into gear and writing it!”

β€œOn The Shoulders Of Gods” byΒ Vikvanir is out now and available over at bandcamp.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *