Interview: Nattverd’s Sveinr Discusses the Band’s Latest Album, I Helvetes Forakt
Last month, Norwegian black metal outfit Nattverd unleashed their fourth studio album, I Helvetes Forakt. It’s a gripping new album from the band that’s equal parts gorgeous, brutal, honest, charismatic, and intense.
Nattverd’s writing strengths shine through in I Helvetes Forakt, thanks in large part to the contributions of Sveinr (bass), Ormr (vocals and lyrics), Atyr (guitars), Aven (guitars), Renton (drums), and now ex-member Serpentr (lyrics). Past and present, these artists have performed with a long list of outfits, including Doedsvangr, Urgehal, Sarkom, TrollfesT, Chinbjer, and many others.
Like his collaborators, Sveinr belongs to so many incredible groups, such as Nebular Mystic and the mighty Nordjevel, whose latest album, Gnavhòl, dropped last year. Considering his body of work, we were excited to sit down with Sveinr I Helvetes Forakt.
I really love the new album, I Helvetes Forakt. Congratulations on its release. Can you please tell me a little bit about the songwriting process?
Atyr makes the songs at home by himself, and then he sends them to us for review. Then, we choose what we want to keep. We have a lot of material, so we only choose what’s best from what he has written. We can have 15 ideas, and we only pick what we want to use. And then, we basically find out together what we want to do about the overall structures of the songs, how to proceed with melodies and the structure for the drums and everything. Then, we enter the studio, and we record. If we have changes, we make the changes there and then. It’s quite easy. I play bass guitar. I don’t listen to the songs before I go to the studio. I just record one by one, part by part, and basically do whatever comes to mind, whatever feels right at the time. That’s how it becomes the final product, basically.
Do you all record separately? It looks like the parts were recorded at different studios.
Yes, that’s correct. We do all our parts separately, so then we don’t have that much influence on the final product for each instrument. Everybody has a say. Everybody puts their final touch on the songs. No one knows how the bass guitar is going to sound. It is a surprise for the rest of the band when they hear whatever I have done in the studio, the same with drums and vocals.
So, in the past, you’ve worked with Tore “Necromorbus” Stjerna, for example, who’s an amazing engineer and has his own studio. He mixed and mastered Styggdom . I Helvetes Forakt was perfectly mixed and mastered by ex-Haust’s Ruben Willem. He has done great work for Djevel and so forth. So, how was it recording bass with him?
He really liked the process of recording it, and that I didn’t have a plan when I entered the studio. He was quite surprised, and he really liked the idea. He also came up with some ideas and thoughts about different things to do. I think he does that also with drums. Ruben has been part of producing the final product. So, it’s not only our ideas, but it’s nice to have a second ear to what you’re doing.
Yes. You mentioned that the final product was a surprise. So, what surprised you most about this album upon hearing it?
I wasn’t too happy with the pre-production, to be honest. I couldn’t picture how the final product would turn out. When I went to the studio, I hadn’t heard the songs more than once. I didn’t memorize anything. And then, after doing my part and hearing the proper drums, not the pre-production drums, everything changed. Then, when I also had the final vocals on top of it, everything changed totally. So, the pre-production is like a shadow of the final product. I was amazed by how it turned out. Yeah, to me, it’s an album that will grow on you. Even if I recorded it myself, it needed to grow on me. And I listened and listened so many times. I heard all the hooks in the songs and all the atmospheres. So, in my humble opinion, it was a great album. I really enjoyed working on it.
It is an amazing album. It just gives you exactly what you want from black metal while also sounding unique and fresh. You mentioned drums — of course, Renton [TrollfesT, ex-Urgehal, ex-Sarkom, ex-Svartelder, etc.] is your newest member. How did Renton come aboard, and how does he fit into the picture? Obviously, based on this record, it sounds like he fits in.
Renton definitely fits with the style. And he’s also a great drummer. He’s a very different drummer. I think that he’s more structured with how he writes the drums. When we went to the studio with Anti-Christian, we did the same as we do for bass guitar. He didn’t hear the songs. He didn’t even hear the pre-production drums. He hears the guitar tracks. Then, he plays whatever comes to mind, and that’s what becomes the drums on the album. We didn’t change much from whatever he did. So, whatever we do is very spontaneous — drums, bass guitar, and also vocals. But Renton wanted to have a plan as far as I understood. He actually made a plan before going to the studio. He didn’t want to show up not knowing what to do, never having heard the songs before. So, yeah, they worked in different ways.
To me, Nattverd is a great representative of Norway. “Det Stormer I Norge,” the second single, came out right in time for Constitution Day — five days before, actually. Was that planned?
No. It was not planned. I think that we scheduled the date based on when we could get our physical products. And, yeah, it’s very difficult these days, you know, there are so many bands that want to press their music on vinyl. We wanted to release the album earlier, but this was the earliest possible for us.
Until recently, I didn’t know that Nattverd’s history traces back to the ’90s. Nattverd didn’t officially form until 2014, so I’ve always thought of Nattverd as kind of a newer band. Obviously, you joined after the first album, Vi Vet Gud Er En Løgner , for the EP, Skuggen , which was the awesome start of the “1349, Black Death Trilogy.” Could you please tell me about the band’s beginnings? I don’t think the info is really out there.
No, it’s not and I think that has been on purpose. For the first album, I don’t think there was a plan at all. The guys just had material laying around, and they just wanted to do something with it. So, they formed the band and recorded. Then, they brought me into the band, and we did the EP and two more albums. We never had a plan to play live. We didn’t want to be a live band. But, in my mind, I always thought this would be the kind of music that actually would be a success if we played live. We got an offer to play Steelfest this year, and we thought that we couldn’t say no to that. So, we decided to go live with this music. After recording this last album, we knew that we had to do this. We had to go live with the band. And, so, we had our first concert, just a small concert, in Oslo just to see how it would feel for everybody — what it would be like to play together, because we never played together other than at the rehearsal room. So, yeah, it worked out well, and we felt that we were ready to take it to the next level. Steelest is a big festival for a band like Nattverd. So, it was a success for us with a lot of good feedback.
I saw a video from Steelfest — you were awesome! It’s great that the Steelfest performance happened. I read on Nattverd’s Facebook that the Oslo gig was the first. That surprised me because this band is, again, so awesome. I was wondering why it took until recently to start getting on the road.
Like I said, we didn’t have a plan about doing something with this band. We all have other bands that are more active. I’m doing Nordjevel. But I did feel that it would be worth trying because I think we could appeal to a lot of people with our style with our approach — you know, a little bit you know Carpathian Forest rock n’ roll attitude and also at the same time a little bit of Burzum-ish atmosphere. If we combine these two, which we have, I think that this can be something that people will like. I think people would like to see us perform this music live.
Yeah, definitely! I would love to see Nattverd live! By the way, you actually performed at Steelfest three times this year, right — with Gehenna and Nordjevel as well?!
That’s amazing! So, obviously, you’re part of so many phenomenal groups, and your bandmates are also involved with a lot of top-notch things. I’m really excited about Renton’s new project, Jordsjuk, with Mannevond and Sagstad. So, I wish him well with that. But, anyway, is it difficult for you to balance your other bands with Nattverd?
No. I don’t think so. We can make time for it. But one of the obstacles is that both our guitar players live on the other side of Norway, so we need to carefully plan whenever we’re going to rehearse or play live. There’s also the financial aspect. It isn’t free to run a band, and it’s not free to play at festivals. And, yeah, we already use all of our resources and time with other bands. So, we will see if we will take it to the next level. We don’t have a plan yet. Let’s see what happens and what offers come our way.
I’m sure that a ton of great things will come your way. Again, I’m really surprised that festivals haven’t been throwing more offers at you, and that things haven’t already blown up in that regard. But Soulseller Records is obviously great to work with, right?
Absolutely. This is our first album with Soulseller, and the communication is great. They are really putting in some hours for promotion and everything. They let us do whatever we want. We have a vision, and they support us 100%.
Nattverd’s I Helvetes Forakt is out now via Soulseller Records. Order your copy here.