Swedish melodic metal icon BloodBound released a new album in early July. Before the release of the album, the band announced that the new album will be slightly different and musically more sophisticated than the previous albums. I admit that I was very curious about the new album, so I prepared some questions and arranged an interview with keyboardist Fredrik Bergh. So, in the following interview, you will read more about the album, which Fredrik described in detail, what performances they are planning for the release of the album, but also whether they still remember the concert they played in Slovakia.
Hi. After two years, you are releasing a new album. The previous album was excellent, so what can we expect from the new album?
Tales From The North is our tenth studio album and I think the songs on the album are more fast-paced and closer to some of our earlier stuff like ’Moria’ and ’Nosferatu’, but have more complex arrangements. Compared to the predecessor ‚Creatures Of The Dark Realm‘ there are heavier guitars and some deeper sounding keyboards. We have also incorporated some traditional nordic folk music instruments to fit the concept of the album. It`s still pure power metal but we’re trying to take it to the next level.
Tales From The North already says in the title that the themes will be about Norse mythology. What inspired you to compose?
We felt that it was about time to write an album about our nordic roots!
Do you compose music and lyrics together, or is it a matter of a few members in the band?
Regarding the music I can say that we constantly work on song material. We are three main songwriters in the band, Bergh/Olsson/Selleby. We collect song material and ideas between our album recordings and when the time comes to start preparing for a new album we have lots of ideas to choose from, and we then pick out the best 10-12 song ideas we have and then start the work on the lyrics/concept and the musical arrangements and so on.
Show us the album track by track.
Tales From the North
This song is about the foundation of norse mythology and cosmology. It describes the 9 worlds of Asgard and how the god Heimdall, how was the keeper and protector of bifrost (the rainbow bridge) and cound see everything. He carried all the stories and tales from the north. This song is based around a fast open pull-off guitar riff i had been working on for quite a while. I wanted it to be a fast full on power metal track, yet with a very melodic chorus. I think the inspiration goes back to the old Helloween era.
Drink With the Gods
The song is about the belief in an afterlife in the great halls of Valhall. It was a strong motivating force for the Viking warriors going into battle. To drink with the gods in Valhall was the highest honor. Only the fallen warriors that the god Odin deemed brave and worthy enough could reach Valhall. This belief shaped the way Vikings lived their lives and honoured the fallen. This song is inspired by old nordic folk music and the traditional festivities of sitting around the long table and singing drinking songs before raising the glass.
It's about how the vikings worshipped and prayed to the god Odin who was the all-father. He received the fallen warriors in Valhall. He was the wisest of all and provided mankind with knowledge and wisdom. Also known as the one-eyed. This song is a little bit more progressive than our ”normal” tracks. I wanted to write something a bit more challenging and add some dark twists to it.
The Raven’s Cry
This is a song I had been working on for quite a long time. I wanted to write a chorus that was in a different phase compared to the rest of the song. I actually did a couple of different choruses before I came up with this chorus that sounds a little bit like an old church hymn. I wrote the basic music and the vocal melodies to this one and Tomas (Olsson) came up with the folk music-ish theme and most of the arrangements. I like this one a lot! The lyrics are about the viking rituals and traditions to honour the fallen and to keep their legacy alive. Odin's ravens Hugin and Munin oversees everything and reports back to their god.
Mimir’s Crystal Eye
This is one of my favorite tracks on the album. I wrote this one together with Tomas. It’s a very energetic track with an almost ABBA-like chorus. My vision was to make a hard stomping energetic track with some killer melodies all over the place. Also a track where I re-wrote some parts of the song before I was pleased. It had originally a different verse that I wasn’t 100% happy with and I came up with the verse you hear now instead. This is about the giant Mimir who lost his head and was inprisoned by Odin for 109 years by the roots of the world-tree Yggdrasil. He had access to the well of knowledge, and after Odin sacrificed one of his eyes, he could give him the answers to any given question.
Between the Enemy Lines
This is a song mostly written by our singer Patrik J Selleby. My only contribution to the track is that I wrote the middle eight section in the song! It’s a great song with some “Beast in Black-ish” influences I believe. Great energy in this one! This is the story about the battle-duell between Odin's son Thor and the stone giant Hrungnir. In a race with Odin he was accidentally shown the way into Asgard. He was slain by Thor's hammer Mjölnir.
Land Of Heroes
This is a song Patrik Selleby wrote some years ago as a matter of fact. Originally the song had Swedish lyrics. When we were doing pre productions for “Tales from the North” Patrik played this song and we all liked what we heard. After doing some additional work on the song and writing new lyrics in English it turned into a great song that I like a lot! This song is about the cold and harsh living conditions up in the freezing cold and unfriendly north. It was a constant struggle to stay alive and survive the long and dark winters. Sometimes not seeing the sun for months.
Sail Among the Dead
Another song that I co-wrote with my long time songwriting partner Tomas Olsson. As usual I wrote the basic chords and the vocal melodies and Tomas worked out the arrangements/guitar parts and the lyrics. On this one I guess you can hear that I come from an AOR background. The chorus flirts a little bit with 80’s melodic rock. It's about the norse symbol "Web of Wyrd" which to the vikings served as a reminder that previous choices influence the present, and current actions influence the future. It symbolized the connection between them and their gods.
Stake My Claims
This was one of the first song that was written for the new album. I had the folk-ish theme melodies and the rest of the song with vocal melodies written. I then sent it to Patrik Selleby and he worked out most of the arrangement structures. Tomas wrote the lyrics later on and added his guitar ideas to the song. I think this a cool track with some Nordic folk music influences in the melodies. This song is about the dark side of the viking raids and conquests, often leaving behind a trail of blood and destruction wherever they went. The stakes were high and they were prepared to pay with their lives and never looked back.
Sword and Axe
This song was mainly written by Patrik Selleby and our drummer Daniel Hansfeldt, Tomas Olsson did the lyrics. This is the first time Daniel has contributed to material on a bloodbound album! Daniel and Patrik had a couple of songwriting sessions together at Patrik’s place and this song is the result. It’s a cool power metal song. I like it! A battle hymn about the fearless viking warriors and how their wild and free spirits took them over lands and across seas. Allways in an endless search of conquests and the unknown.
1066 was the last song written for the album and it is a very fitting song to close the album, both musically and lyrically. I sent Tomas my rough idea with the vocal melodies and the basic music. Tomas did a great musical arrangement of it and he also wrote the middle eight and the lyrics. The vocal melodies on this one are also influenced by traditional folk music. I really like Irish folk melodies mixed with rock/metal and I am a fan of Thin Lizzy and Gary Moore and those guys, those artists are a big influence on me. This is one of my fave tracks on the album and a perfect song to close the record. It's about the battle of Stamford bridge in the year 1066. A massive viking fleet sailed to avenge their warrior brothers. This epic battle has traditionally been said to be the symbol of the end of the viking age.
The first reviews of the album are already appearing. Are you interested in music criticism, or is feedback from fans more important to you?
Both are important I would say.
You are definitely planning a tour after the release of the album. Tell us what festivals you will play, or do you already have dates for some autumn concerts?
We just came off the european Tour we did in march! …so no dates are planned for a proper full lenght tour for the new album, but we have some festival shows coming up after the release. We just did Karmoygeddon in Norway and Sweden Rock Festival and we will do a show at Rockharz festival in Germany on the same day as the release (July 7!). We will also do a big "release show" at Masters of Rock in the Czech Republic the week after Rockharz! But a proper tour is coming in one way or another! And we will also go on a shorter tour in Spain in the near future since we had to cancel the previous tour dates in Spain. We hope to come to Slovakia again too. The last time was in 2009 when we toured with Hammerfall and Sabaton!
Are you also planning a special show at the concerts?
The festival shows will be a bit special since they are release shows for the new album. We will have some cool events there with signings and so on. We also plan to film our show at the Masters Of Rock festival.
The band has been working for almost 20 years. Do you devote yourself to it full time, or do you still have your own jobs in addition to the band?
We all have day jobs on the side of the band. I think we could live from the music if we toured more or less all the time, but we feel that we like to have a balance between the rock star life and the „normal“ life since we all have kids and families.
You certainly have your own interests. What do you do in your spare time?
I really like fishing, travelling and spending time with my friends and family.
Thank you for your time to answer my questions. Finally, I have one personal question. I have seen your concerts several times and I always like to visit your concert. What are your requirements to come to the concert?
Thanks! I am happy that you have liked our concerts! I hope to see you if you visit Masters Of Rock this year! To be able to do a concert we would need a decent fee and a well organized show.
And finally, do you have anything else you would like to say to Slovak fans?
We really want to come back and play in Slovakia since it’s been so long since we played there! If you have a great metal festival there we would love to return to Slovakia! We want to thank our fans in Slovakia for their great support over the years!