Thyrfing | Interview with Patrik Lindgren

Long heralded as one of the most significant and influential groups dwelling on Pagan/Folk Black-Metal, Sweden’s Thyrfing are about to release their six full-length record “Hels Vite” through Regain Records. The follow-up to their successful 2005’s work “Farsotstider” marks the debut of new vocalist Jens Rydén formerly of Naglfar following the departure of their long-time singer Thomas Väänänen. Guitarist Patrik Lindgren explains us how Thyrfing have managed to overcome the loss of two key elements.

Guess it were difficult and turbulent times for Thyrfing considering that guitarist Henrik Svegsjö have also decided to follow Väänänen’s decision to leave the band, during that period did you felt like giving up completely?

“Not really. Of course losing two members is tough, and it's sad both on a personal and musical level. But on the other hand, the four remaining members (which were also the original members), always felt confident and motivated enough to go on with the band. There might have been a passing thought now and then, but it was never anything that we seriously considered.”

Meanwhile, it didn’t take Thyrfing too long to find a suitable replacement in Jens Rydén, formerly of Naglfar and the force behind Profundi. What made you decide that he was the right man for the job?

“We knew Jens in person from before, and were obviously aware of his skills and experience as vocalist and front man. Also he lives in the same town as we since five years, so it was a natural choice, and he was also the first person that we tried out.”

How would you describe his adjustment to the band’s working ethics and musical evolution?

“Even though Jens is a person who does things to 100% and wants to be a part of composing and rehearsing, he approached the band with fullest respect and I think the chemistry was perfectly right from the beginning. He came up with many ideas for arrangements and also composed some music and lyrics. So even though it was nothing that we demanded or really expected, he became an important part of writing the album, something that we are really pleased with. Jens is well aware of the domains where Thyrfing operates musically and never really tried to change anything in that, just brought ideas and some new energy into it.”

However, Thyrfing have decided not to incorporate a new guitarist for the time being, relying solely on the services and guidance of main composer and founding member Patrik Lindgren for the recordings of new work “Hels vite”. Do you think that from now on, Thyrfing will function only as five-piece group recurring to the services of sessions members for live performances?

“I don't know, time will tell. We have not been actively searching for a permanent member, but things might change for the next album.”

Do you feel comfortable working as the sole guitarist in the band, not having another guitarist in the rehearsal room to exchange ideas or do you it might eventually limit the song writing process to some extent?

“I think there are two sides to it. On one hand it could be more inspirational and you get more feedback if you have two guitarists during the composing and recording process. On the other hand, you can get some more consistency and you can play all the guitars yourself on the album if you are alone, ha-ha! And when it comes to composing and feedback, both Jocke and Jens (and of course Kimmy) can play guitar too, so it was never really a problem in our case.”

Anyway, the loss of some influential elements of Thyrfing didn’t hinder the band’s evolution neither gets reflected throughout the new record. “Hels Vite” is a highly strong and mature release, displaying a confidence and excellence that surpasses their previous and wonderfully crafted works “Farsotstider” and “Vansinnesvisor”.
What were the most challenging elements and motivations for the creation of this new record?

"Thank you sir! I think every new album gets more and more challenging as you have more "good stuff" in your back catalogue to surpass every time. However, I think we somewhat eased up the boundaries and pressure this time, and just decided to go with what we liked ourselves. So I think compared to for example "Farsotstider" it was a slightly easier process this time.”

What does “Hels Vite” stands for? Can you give us an insight of lyrical themes you’re dealing with on the new album?

"The title can be translated as "The Penalty of Hel" or "The Fine of Hel", where Hel is the goddess and guardian of the kingdom of death in Scandinavian mythology. The lyrics can be stories from mind and thought, usually expressed through metaphors to make it more interesting for the overall experience and to go along with the atmosphere and feeling of the music.”

The band has also opted to include two new songs written in English on the new album, “Isolation” and “Becoming the Eye”. Did it convey these songs a better ambience to be singed in English?

“There is really no reason for the two English lyrics. Jocke just happened to write two that worked well for us. We have never been very consistent when it comes to the language of the lyrics.”

Thyrfing due to their personal and professional commitments is a band that doesn’t tour extensively in promotion of their records. Was there a time that you felt that you could be a professional musician, as opposed to someone that plays music as a hobby?

“Maybe. However, I think that we can operate somewhere in between. I mean, Thyrfing is more to us than what the word "hobby" usually refers to. There is also an artistic freedom and time for inspiration and recreation if you don't have to see the band as your main provider economically. But yes, there are moments when you think about it that way, I can't deny that...”

Nevertheless, I believe the band will make some appearances in festivals and occasional dates in selected countries, so what exactly are you planning to do following the release of the new record?

“We have a few festivals and gigs booked (see for up-to-date details). Thus far, it's mainly in Germany, but we some other stuff coming up too ... so hopefully it will be extended soon.”