Heidra – Awaiting Dawn pre-listening

Danish band Heidra unfolds their inner storyteller on their upcoming debut album Awaiting Dawn.
On an informal May evening, with the warm pre-summer sun setting outside, they sat down with friends, fans and media to talk about music, production memories and share a beer or two.

On entering Zeppelin, a cosy rock-bar in Copenhagen, we were greeted by a smiling band which had a friendly word and a hearty handshake or hug for everyone who came by, and after the quick greeting we were ushered over to the bar to get something to drink before the actual event would begin.
The room filled up, the band took its place on the small stage with a large projector band photo taking up most of the back wall (a band photo taken by our own Lunah Lauridsen no less). Guitarist Carlos García Robles welcomed us all one more time and introduced us to the event that was about to take place, after which the mic was handed to vocalist and acoustic guitarist Morten Bryld who shared little titbits of information between each song; be it story related, memories from the production, or song-writing ideas, all was laid bare for us.

Just as the title implies, this was merely a short intro which went straight over to the first “actual” track of the album. Simple symphonic stuff sets the tone, courtesy of keyboardist Danny Svendsen.

Awaiting Dawn
The title track sets of at a speedy pace which we recognise from their demos and the EP Sworn To Vengeance (2012). Bryld offers his black vocals in the refrains and clean epic vocals during the choruses, a theme that would be repeated through much of the album. The lyrics have us listening to the main characters speech to his troops on the eve of battle, where he wishes to outlay the reasons for the coming fight.

This is another powerful song with a similar feel to the title track. It was revealed that this song will be the first single off the album (exactly what this meant wasn’t elaborated on) and that it has a special lyrics video in the making.

Witch Of Prophecy
Without losing momentum, we are now thrust further into the story of how our protagonist visits a witch to learn how he will find the power to defeat his enemy. Some time is spent on speaking about G.R.’s solo which was laid down at around 3 a.m. by a very tired guitarist after too many takes.

Into Cursed Lands
Here Svendsen bids in on the writing of the music, resulting in a more symphonic turn, again without losing the momentum. It hit me that Bryld’s clean vocals wore a slight resemblance to those of A.A. Nemtheanga of Primordial, although still being very much his own.

The Eyes Of Giants
Our hero is off to fight with giants, and what could be more power metal than that? Fittingly, this is the real power metal song of the album, born from a riff created by guitarist Martin Warming Jensen. The lighter mood lends a welcome contrast to the earlier songs.

Going from a lighter mood in the last one, we are here sent directly to a dancing folk metal rhythm, again a nice break from the norm of the album. Jimmy Hedlund of Falconer visits Heidra to lend a hand with a solo, which is very nice. The song has a fade out outro which bothers me though as I feel it disturbs the flow of the storytelling; Bryld takes the blame for this one and excuses it with being pressed for time and not finding a suitable ending which was distinguishable enough from the other tracks.

The Power Of Gods
“A ritual to gain the favour of gods – In the dead of night under moonlit skies – An offering to the almighty ones – A pact to be signed in blood”
The fantasy is strong in this one where we musically venture back into more familiar Heidra territory. The tempo and epic bar was raised a bit from the just finished venture in folk.

Harbinger Of War
The final song of the album sees us lyrically return to the beginning of the album. Our protagonist has now finished telling us the reason why what must come must come, and as the music thunders on, we are all called to arms for the oncoming battle. “It will not be long – We will take their heads” ends the story and the album, leaving us (for now) open to fill in the rest for ourselves.

The pre-listening was followed by a candid Q&A with all the members of the band where they shared stories from the 16 long days and nights spent recording at Andy La Rocque's Sonic Train Studios, a studio chosen in no small part because of their work they had done with Falconer, a production that had thoroughly impressed Heidra.
Morten Kristiansen could tell of how his bass had been tuned so far down that in the end he was barely able to play it due to the string being so loose, and the relatively newly acquired drummer Mikkel Køster shared with us how he had had to soundproof a room in his home to be able to play a lot of hours each day as he needed to catch up with the rest of the band in a writing process which was already moving along at a good pace.
It was nice to hear how they all pitched in with their own feelings and memories, and we all shared many laughs throughout the evening.
Regarding the story (by now you should know that this is a concept album) and the fact that it essentially is a prequel to a coming event, Bryld mentions that it is very possible that the band will return to tell what happened later, but whether it will be with a single song, a new concept album or something completely different there were no plans of at this point.
After the Q&A, there was only one official point left on the agenda, and that was a special preview of the work-in-progress lyrics video for Betrayal, directed by Carlos G.R. The video showed nicely rendered 3D versions of the amazing album artwork created by Dragan Paunovič, and although it was some way from being finished and had some details that might get edited further, I believe it will do good in helping the promotion of the album.

Awaiting Dawn will be released in Denmark on June 16th by Target/Mighty Music, and Heidra can be seen live June 13th at the Copenhell festival where they will have a stock of the album available for purchase and signings.

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