In Vain

Interview with Johnar Håland of Prog Death Metal act IN VAIN

PoM: Here’s a chance for you to tell our readers about your new album Currents. But could you please start off by introducing the readers to the band and give a short version of the biography?

(Johnar): In Vain is a Norwegian band that plays progressive extreme metal and was formed in 2003. Andreas (vocals), Sindre (vocals) and myself (guitar) are the founding members, while Kjetil (guitar) joined the band in 2009 during the recording of the Mantra album. Our bassist Alex has been around since 2013 and we currently have a session drummer. So far we have released four albums and two EPs. Our latest album Currents was released on 26 January 2018 and we just came back from a european tour with Orphaned Land, Subterranean Masquerade and Aevum.

PoM: And now onto Currents… track-by-track, what inspired you, what topics are you dealing with, what do you want to express with this song etc.

1. Seekers of the Truth:

(Johnar): Seekers of the Truth has a very direct musical approach, which goes well with the lyrics and the song title itself. First, In Vain has always been seekers of the truth. By that we mean that we have always stayed true to ourselves, and we have never made any compromises in our art. Thus the song title reflects upon us and the artistic vision we crafted more than 15 years ago. Secondly, the lyrics also speak about standing up against all sorts of conformity, daring to walk your own path, to gain knowledge and uphold a healthy scepticism to what media, leaders and politicians want you to believe. We have released a lyric video for this track, made by our cover designer Costin Chioreanu.

2. Soul Adventurer:

(Johnar): This song has a real atmospheric feel to it. I really like the verses which has an intricate, yet catchy rhythmic riff with some soaring melodies on top of it. Matthew Heafy from Trivium is a guest singer on this one. This is also the first In Vain song ever to basically only feature clean vocals. We felt that clean vocals were the ones that worked best with the riffs. The lyrics are in short about exploring our own potential, looking into your soul and the answers that are inside you.

3. Blood We Shed:

(Johnar): This is a real badass death metal headbanger which also incorporates a beautiful and melancholic acapella singing part. The lyrics are about our very own real-life experiences from being in a band for more than 15 years. In Vain has had our fair share of trouble, struggles and fights throughout the years.

4. And Quiet Flows the Scheldt:

(Johnar): And Quiet Flows the Scheldt is one of my definite favourites from Currents. It is a doomy and melancholic hymn that works really well as a breather between the more up-tempo and aggressive songs on the album. The lyrics are special to me as they relate directly to my time spent living in Antwerp during the autumn of 2007. The river Scheldt is the river that runs through Antwerp.

5. Origin:

(Johnar): I have read that many hold this as their favourite from the album. It is a song that merges a lot of different subgenres in metal, lots of different vocal techniques, etc and it has a very cool rhythmic beat that acts a red line through the entire song.

6. En Forgangen Tid (Times of Yore Pt. II):

(Johnar): This song is a continuation of the song Times of Yore from our album Ænigma (2013). The lyrics are this time in Norwegian, but deals with the same theme. It is a slow and powerful melancholic hymn about a bygone era.

7. Ghost Path:

(Johnar): Perhaps the most avant garde song of the album. It has a real eerie feel to it with gloomy guitar passages combined with quite experimental vocals. The song also has a mid-section with what is in my opinion some of the very best guitar riffs of the entire album.

8. As The Black Horde Storms:

(Johnar): This is the ferocious black metal attack of the album. The song starts off very intense, but later breaks open into a more accessible chorus and a melodic part with the most catchy lead guitar on the album in my opinion.

9. Standing on the Ground of Mammoths:

(Johnar): This is a heavy and groovy track which is a perfect ending to the album. It also has a really nice and quiet jazz part, with a guitar and a saxophone in a nice duet.

PoM: Could you please tell us a bit about the artwork – who made it etc. and how important do you feel it is to have a cool artwork?

(Johnar): Costin Chioreanu designed the artwork and he did an absolutely amazing job! The album title, Currents, reflects on the colossal shifts and changes of our time. The present world is characterized by continental flows of people, traditions, and cultures. Migration of people across continents and borders. Cultures merging. These are all currents – movements that distort old patterns, create tensions as well as new opportunities. This topic exists in both the lyrics and the music. However, we touch upon it in an abstract way with a top-down view. It is important for me to clarify that we do not have any direct political views on this matter reflected in our lyrics.  When it comes to the music we have got more twists and turns than ever and you can look upon these as musical currents. For the cover we had a vision of visualizing people on a migration, and in addition we wanted a wave as a symbol of the album title Currents, which also links to the musical currents the album has to offer.

PoM: Who and what has inspired you musically on this album?

(Johnar): I am influenced my all kinds of music and I have a very wide musical taste. Besides that I am influences by life in general, other kinds of art, travels, etc. There was no particular artists that influenced me more when I wrote the music for Currents.

PoM: Is there any track that means something special for you on the album?

(Johnar): They are all special to me, but I cannot really say that there is one track that means more than the others.

PoM: How different is your latest album in comparison to your previous ones?

(Johnar):Our musical playground has been very big since the beginning. We have songs that are borderline black metal, songs that are death metal and also doomy songs, plus most of our songs utilize a wide range of subgenres combined. I do not think you can find one In Vain song and say “this is In Vain in a nutshell”. You would need several songs to give a proper representation of us because our music is very diverse and the songs differ materially from one another. I do not believe Currents is that much different from our previous work, but there are some changes. The production is more organic. There are some songs that are shorter. Finally, there is more death metal and clean vocals, and less black metal.

PoM: Why did you decide on two versions of the album (the bonus tracks included on the special edition are a must-have imo)?

(Johnar): We had nine tracks recorded and our label and some of us felt that one hour of music might be too long. From time to time in the past, we sometimes got the impression that 1 hour of music is a bit too much to digest. Especially for reviewers and people who are new to the band. That said, we knew that our long-time fans wanted as much music as possible and that is why we decided to make a special edition with all nine songs included. From the outset we were very clear in our communication that the special version is the real album. The two extra tracks were not left-overs, if so they would never been released at all. In fact, one of them “And Quiet Flows the Scheldt” is perhaps my favourite track from the whole album. In a retrospect, I regret releasing two versions. It seemed to have created confusion and many fans never heard the special version, but only streamed the normal one unfortunately.

PoM: The list of guest musicians joining forces with you on this album is massive. How do you feel they contribute to the overall sound of In Vain? Can we expect new guests or familiar faces from previous albums on future albums?

(Johnar): Actually the guest list is much shorter time around than on our previous albums. We have always had guests and brought in extra forces where we feel it is needed. So you can expect that to continue if we feel there is a need for that.

PoM: What’s next on your list, any upcoming tours and gigs planned?

(Johnar): We just came back from a European tour with Orphaned Land, Subterranean Masquerade and Aevum. We covered London, France, Spain, Arnhem and Essen on this trip. Our hope is to do another tour later in the year where we cover the countries we did not have the chance to go to on this tour. Besides that we will play some shows in Norway and some festivals.

PoM: Thanks a lot for your time. Any last words for your fans and our fellow readers?

(Johnar): Thank you very much for your support, we appreciate it! To the readers; keep supporting great music, have a go at our new album “Currents”, and stop by our FB page at https://www.facebook.com/InVainOfficial/ for news, music, tour dates and other stuff.

Discography:

Currents - 2018
Ænigma - 2013
Mantra - 2010
The Latter Rain - 2007

Current Line-Up:

Johnar Håland - Guitars, synth pads
Sindre Nedland - Lead vocals and clean vocals
Alexander Bøe - Bass
Kjetil Domaas Petersen - Solo guitar
Andreas Frigstad - Vocals

About Tommy Sonne Skøtt 1814 Articles
I began my writing career in the year of 2012 due to my love for the metal community, and have since moved onto a second role as the Tech-Wiz of PoM - taking good care of our website. My favourite music genres are Progressive Metal in all its different shapes and Melodic Death Metal.

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