This is a pretty new Swedish band. But hey, we here at Battle Helm don’t discriminate anybody no matter how old they are. NORRSKÖLD interview with Henrik Bodin-Sköld. Anders Ekdahl ©2013

Some might know you from Irrbloss but for the majority that doesn’t know anything about you a presentation might be in order.
Well, I´m a muscician living in Gothenburg (Sweden) and I´ve been playing guitar since I was twelve. Electric guitar of course, but I actually favor classic guitar (fingerpicking), something that definitly becomes clear in the Norrsköld music. In 2010 I joined the Gothenburg based black/folk metal band Irrbloss as a rhythm guitarist and songwriter. I stayed in the band for just about two years before I decided to start my own metal project Norrsköld. In this project I´m composing the music, lyrics and mainly play electric and acoustic guitars. In the present state of the project there are, besides me, four session members covering up the other instruments.

Why does somebody leave one band to start a new one?
A general cause to leaving a band, in my experience, is the lack of motivation and energy. In my case I felt that I no longer was developing as a guitarist and songwriter. After two years in the band without having released a single track, I realised that something radical had to be done. Being a songwriter in a band with tons of song material, but not being able to record or play the music live, is directly devastating for the creativity. Being the leader of my own band, the only limits are the ones created by myself. It´s a lot of work but totally worth it since I´m free to play and record whatever music I like, not being restrained by different wills or levels of skills in a band.

How different is this new one in sound? What would you say is the greatest difference?
Irrbloss, by the time I left the band, was basically a folk metal band with black metal vocals based on a viking theme. Norrsköld is a blend of different metal styles, of some called “multimetal”, with many elements of classic guitar arrangements. A great influence, as was the case with Irrbloss, is traditional folk music. Also, the vocal “style” of Norrsköld is still of black metal. So all in all, some songs might resemble the sound of Irrbloss while other songs tend to lean towards black or death metal.
A distinct difference is that the songs are mainly based on folk melodies and harmonies rather than atmospheric, chord based parts. Also, the lyric s are based on folklores and legends from the forests of my home village in the north of Sweden. A great, if not the greatest, difference with Norrsköld is that the music is not written for a specific genre which leaves room for a more dynamic and experimental type of metal, sometimes resulting in purely instrumental songs.

When it comes to influences/inspiration what has been your greatest ones?
I´m careful not to listen to much to other bands prior to writing music on my own. It´s so easy to get caught in a specific genre and this usually results in poor songwriting. Ideally I´m sitting on my own, in my sofa or somewhere in nature, writing melodies on an acoustic guitar. General influences are some of the metal bands I listened to as a kid like In flames, Opeth, Dissection and Vintersorg. In later years most of the inspiration actually comes from classical and instrumental music, often in terms of movie or videogame soundtracks.

You have a band name that is in Swedish. How hard will it be to get people that can’t pronunciate it interest in the band?
I believe today´s metal scene is so full of typical-looking band names that a Swedish name actually might draw some positive attention. Norrsköld is basically a combination of my origin in Sweden (Norrland) and my surname (Sköld). I´ve not experienced anyone this far that has reacted negatively on the name. It´s nothing strange about it and it´s a name that I can truly stand for. When I´m marketing Norrsköld, I strongly believe that the music will speak for itself and will not be limited by the band name.

When you have a name that isn’t in English but in your native tongue how often are you accused of being nationalists? Has the way people look at the use of native words as band names changed over the years?
Honestly It´s never happened! As a matter of fact, that did happened occasionally during my time in Irrbloss due to the viking theme in the band style and the lyrics. Norrsköld could, considering the lyrical themes of folklores, possibly be described as “forest metal”which is a fairly neutral genre.
It´s a sensitive issue though, this discussion of nationalism and such matters in metal music. But I believe it´s more obvious in other metal genres like black metal or viking metal. Possibly, in these genres, changing of band names and lyrics might have occurred in recent years due to misfortunate associations in public or strictly unsuitable intentions of the band itself.

What are your intentions with this new band? What plans do you have?
My intentions are to write interresing music that knows no boundaries, spread the music to as many people as possible and eventually transform the project into a viable live act. There are tons of demo songs and fresh ideas for future releases and there is no doubt Norrsköld will be around for a while!

How into the whole digital download scene are you? How real does it feel to have a physical product in your hand compared to a USB stick?
For starters, I decided to have a real drummer on the recording of Blessings of Winter instead of programmed drums..which certainly is a good sign, right? Since Norrsköld initially is a studio project, not having any live gigs scheduled for a while, digital releasing and promotion is crucial to spread the music. A “real” CD is soon to be released and there is also quite some merchandise available. I have a strong faith in this project and I´m pretty shure it will develop to a live act in a not-to-distant future. So considering the circumstances, I feel this project is quite real!

What kind of scene will NORRSKÖLD belong to?
Being a “multimetal” band, it´s not too easy to classify the band to a single scene or genre. Although Norrsköld is related to scenes like folk or black metal, I (and several fans) still think the project is quite unique in the sense of mixing styles and including a lot of acoustic guitars. A likely scenario in a future where Norrsköld plays live gigs and increases the sales of records and merchandise is, nevertheless, that the band will be placed in the folk or melodic metal scene.

What plans for the future do you have?
The short-time goal is to press and release a physical version of the debut EP Blessings of Winter and to promote the music as much as possible. Some additional artwork based on the lyrical concepts will be distributed during the next couple of months. During late May or June the intention is to record and release another song, probably an instrumental one. The long-term goal is to establish a fan base in Sweden and abroad so that live gigs might become realistic. Most of the session members that appeared on Blessings of Winter welcomes the idea of live gigs so this is not unlikely at all.

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