1. Can you tell us a little bit about the band for those that are not familiar with you?
Hel is a Pagan Metal Band from Germany formed in 1994. We released two demos in 1995 and 1997, the debut album "Orloeg" was released in 1999. "Falland Vörandi" (2005), "Tristheim" (2007). So we're really one of the first bands that dealt with pagan themes.
2. What is going on with Hel these days?
We're currently recording a new album. We already tracked drums and are tracking bass guitar at the moment. Drums are pounding and the bass ground shaking. For the first time, we pre-produced this album. So song wise all is set, and now we're just recording it seriously. Maybe we're done with it in a few months. We always take a lot of time for everything.
3. How would you describe your musical sound?
We decided to call it "Pagan Midgard Art". We have elements of heavy metal, black metal, folk and symphonic music.
4. I noticed that you change your sound with each album, how would you describe your musical progress over the years and what direction do you see the music heading into on future releases?
Yeah, we're always excited to try new things and don't want to repeat ourselves. "Falland Vörandi" was pretty epic and symphonic with lots of elements settled around the story of the Death of Balder. We couldn't repeat that so we did the opposite with "Tristheim" and release a very minimalistic and dark acoustic album. For the new one we will show our roots a bit more, and that is traditional metal. But of course just implemented in our sound. There will also be a lot of different tracks and some acoustic parts here and there. It's gonna be great :)
5. How would you describe the lyrical content of the music?
The lyrics are rooted in northern mythology and sometimes they are also personal. On "Falland Vörandi" Valdr wrote the lyrics as a concept album about "The Death of Balder" which is a story from the Edda. We did the music after the lyrics on that one. "Tristheim" was full of personal experiences and had not really a mythological context.
6. Out off all the albums that you have recorded so far which one are you the most satisfied with?
I think that's a tough question for all musicians, but I'd say "Falland Vörandi", because it was sooo much work. We put a lot of work in every detail until we were fully satisfied. But I guess when the new album is done then I will name this.
7. How has the reception been to your music so far by pagan viking/black metal fans worldwide?
Well, allthough we're a part of the viking scene, we don't really feel we belong to this new wave of pagan bands. We rather see us in the tradition of the "real" pagan bands like Bathory. When we played our only live concert at the Ragnarök Festival in Lichtenfels 2007 we were surprised that some people from all over europe went there just because of us. They talked to us after the show, and it was mainly older people. Not those 17 - 18 year old guys that like to raise their horns and sing along to stories about strong viking warriors. ;) So I think our fanbase contains of fans at our age mainly. But we also got a lot of good comments on our acoustic album "Tristheim" from all over the world. I think the people that take the time and see a bit deeper like Hel.
8. What are some bands or musical styles that have influenced your music and what are you listening to nowadays?
All of us are fans of the epic Bathory albums like "Hammerheart" and "Blood on ice". But we're listening to a lot of different music, from hardrock to progressive rock to symphonic black metal. At the moment I'm pretty much into "Whitesnake". We also like stuff like "Saybia" and "Katatonia". We even covered a Katatonia song (Cold Ways) for a tribute called "December Songs". So there's a lot of stuff we like and maybe even more we dislike ;)
9. What role does Asaturu/Norse religion play in the music and do you have any interest in any other forms of Paganism?
We don't like the idea of turning Paganism into a religion, because every form of religion means regulations, and that's a thing that we don't want to follow.
Hard for me to describe in English... I rather learn from what's written down in the Edda, and in the end its only things that will come across in your daily life in the end. Weekness of man, betrayal, trust... you name it. So the role it has for me is more like when talking to wise people and learn stuff for your life, but not live by it as a religion.
10. When can we expect the next album?
I would guess we're done within the next 5 months. If we find a new label in that time it could see the light of day in late 2010, but don't take my word for it ;)
We're a slow releasing band, so no hurry for us. What counts is a good result.
11. What are some of your interests outside of music?
Valdr handcrafts a lot of jewelry and ornaments wood and all kind of viking stuff. He's really awesome at doing it, and you will see some of his works in the next bandphotos maybe. My brother Hamar is a photographer and I am a sound engineer, so that's why I take care of the recording, mixing and mastering.
You can visit my studio at http://www.kalthallen.de
12. Any final words or thoughts?
Thank you for this interview! We have a very nice spring day today, and I will go for a walk in the woods with my dog in a few hours and practice singing there. What more can you wish for in life?
Don't forget to visit us at http://www.myspace.com/bandhel or http://www.pagan-midgard-art.de1. Can you tell us a little bit about the band for those that are not familiar with you?