House Of Metal - 2017

Text: Tobias Nilsson Photo: Lunah Lauridsen

I’m not going to lie, and those of you who know me wouldn’t believe it anyway. Vintersorg was THE reason for me wanting, and finally going to House Of Metal in Umeå.
So strap in for a super biased praise ride! Yes, I even do hesitate to call this a review. That word holds some form of legitimacy to it, that I’m not sure I’m going to be able to live up to. We’ll see.

A quick backstory, just to set the scene. I came by Vintersorg’s music by chance back in 1999, after the release of Ödemarkens Son, simply because I felt like listening to metal with Swedish lyrics. After a hesitant start, this was much more black and aggressive than what I was listening to at the time, the album grew on me. Through the years, going through both prior and subsequent releases, Vintersorg’s music has just kept on growing, and I now consider the then solo-project, turned duet, now trio, to be my favourite band.
As a band, Vintersorg has not been touring since 2004 however, which is long before this site was founded. Now, as the band was finally emerging once more, and with the strong possibility that it will be a very long time before it happens again, I sure as heck didn’t want to miss a second of it.
Standing in line, panic thus began to creep in, as the doors weren’t opened until the very last minute…

“Greetings to our friends from all over the world, that are here tonight!”
- Andreas ‘Vintersorg’ Hedlund (vocals/guitar)

I got in just in time to huddle up well in front with friends from near and far, before Rundans was played over the speakers as an intro melody for the gig. We immediately commenced singing along at the top of our lungs. To everyone’s delight, this wouldn’t let up until the show was over.
Now, not only was this concert special in its apparent rarity, but it was also set up with a very special setlist. What we were about to hear, we had been promised, was a special Till Fjälls show, spiced up with some songs from the upcoming sequel album Till Fjälls del II (it’ll come out at some point, as Hedlund commented at the gig). On top of that, as if it wasn’t enough for our hungry souls, the band had written a song especially for this very occasion (no release plans as of yet), called Järnslottet, but more on that later.
Right now, the band should be introduced. On vocals and guitar, we saw the main man himself of course – Andreas ‘Vintersorg, Mr. V’ Hedlund. The guy responsible for all this, as it was him who started it. To his left, the second member of the band, and also on guitar, Matthias Marklund. To Hedlund’s right, and the newest addition to the band, I saw for the first time bassist Simon Lundström. He shares a common history with Marklund, as they both play in the northern death/thrash outfit TME.
Also out of TME, as well as their joint project Fission, Hedlund had recruited Benny Hägglund for the drum position. He’s been with the band in the past as a live drummer, and knew well what he was doing. Much to my preference, the band had also opted for finding a live keyboard player, as opposed to using a pre-recorded track. His name was Mike Israel.
Last, and in certain aspects only, least, there was the female vocalist. Johanna Lundberg was her name, and although I was surprised not to see Cia Hedmark (who sang on the album), Lundberg turned out to fill the role perfectly.

As one would imagine, the song to follow the intro was För Kung Och Fosterland. This is one of my favourites of the album, due both to the switches between pure aggression and more melodious parts, and the highly sing-along friendly actor of the song. That Grieg section of the solo helps as well.
In this we could hear that, although not used in a while, Hedlund still had a firm grasp on using his deeper, clean vocals. Amazing as it was, I would still have to say that they were outshone by his grim vocals, which were absolutely spot on! Even considering the times I’ve seen him sing with Borknagar more recent years, they have never sounded this good and controlled before in a live setting.
Not only was the vocals in place, but the performance was strong as well. Surprisingly strong actually. Again, in comparing with what I’ve seen at the Borknagar shows (and bear in mind that I loved them as well), which admittedly in hindsight had a few, small problems, this show was a wonder in controlling energy. By this I mean that even though the energy was at the same level, this concert showed more focus and determination in the delivery. I can’t say for sure what made the difference. I don’t believe it to be the difference between Vintersorg being Hedlund’s own baby, and Borknagar being a pre-existing group that he has joined, although it could have some small weight in the outcome. As far as I know though, he is just as comfortable in both constellations. My own theory, is as simple as the fact that he also plays guitar here, contrary to Borknagar where he only sings. This gives him something to do with his hands, something more to play around with, and something more to focus on. What I can say for certain, is that I thought several times during the show, that this man should just get a guitar in his hands, be delivered to a stage, and magic will ensue.
Let’s not forget the rest of the band. Musically, as far as I could concentrate what with all the singing going on, everyone delivered just as they should. Hägglund and Israel were both a bit anonymous, but it was a small stage, and they were both forced to stay behind the others. Israel did get to add a personal flavour in the form of some freestyle playing in between some songs.
Lundberg wasn’t with the band from the start, but was only introduced to the stage when we reached Isjungfrun. After this, she stayed on, swaying along to the tunes, and delivering some more musicality to the backing vocals. All in all, a nice contrast to the grim sections of the set, and a good addition to the whole, even if it did mean that the already small space became even tighter.
This leaves Marklund and Lundström. Last, but not least. The only two other members of the band lived up to the role, delivering powerful performances without stealing focus at any point. I had a bit more focus on Marklund, because, and I’m ashamed to admit this, I had at the time forgotten that Lundström was a full-time member of the band. I hope this will be forgiven. It was in fact a very lively show, and more than anything, I felt that all musicians were present in the here and now, and were having as fun a time as us in the audience. It may of course be helped by the irregularity with which they play, but this was not an another-day-at-the-office concerts.

Up next was Vildmarkens Förtrollande Stämmor, a song in which Henrik Myrén (Soijl, ex-Skald) and myself gave an enchanting vocal performance.
Given certain statements made prior to the concert, and the way things were going, I believed that we, in one way or another, would follow Till Fjälls track by track. This was not to be the case, not exactly.
You see, there was the thing with the extra spicing. The extra songs. It all began when we reached the place of the song Till Fjälls. Admittedly, it wasn’t very likely that what goes as the master hit song would slip out this early in the set, not when you could have it close it. So, there was a hole, and this needed to be filled, right? In comes Lavin, from Till Fjälls del II. The first-hand impression of this was a song with immediate likeability. The clean vocals were predominant, with a bit of grim vocals coming to the front towards the end of it. The cleans were light in tone, in the more recent style of Hedlund’s singing. As far as I could tell, there was a notable lack of the more clearly progressive elements of recent years, but a subtler underlying coat could possibly be found with repeated listens.
A little later, a pre-recorded intro for Jökeln began playing, during which Hedlund instructed the crowd in singing along to the “oh oh” parts (you should imagine the feeling of being caught below great blocks of ice, Hedlund commented in directing us towards a good delivery), but here was the trick. The band didn’t play Jökeln. They played Jökelväktaren, also from the upcoming Till Fjälls del II. With the built-up anticipation, this delivered some confusion to begin with, but it didn’t take long to shift gear into listening mode instead. This was more clearly cut old school, musically and vocally. It was raw in tone, and Hedlund delivered some great deep cleans again, fitting it in perfectly with the style of the first Till Fjälls album. My one regret is that it was not fully easy to follow the lyrics. Here’s hoping the album doesn’t take too long in arriving.
That was it for the upcoming songs, but there was more still.
What came next, or close to the end actually, was Järnslottet. This was a song that had been written especially for this show. You know, House Of Metal – Järnslottet (=The Iron Castle). Geddit? Good. After being eased into it by a guitars only intro, we were thrust into a clear-cut riff based song, leaning more to a straightforward metal style, than any specific subgenre. Instant nodding of approval ensued, and upon reaching the chorus, we were given one of those anthemic, sing-along friendly pieces, that the band has developed into perfection with songs like Klippor Och Skär, Polarnatten, and several others. The song took some twist and turns along the way, but never lost track of what it was about. Here’s hoping again, this time that Järnslottet will see a proper release at some point. Hedlund didn’t give a straight answer to our request, most likely because there actually isn’t a straight plan for the song right now, but it deserves a proper recording and release.

Hednad I Ulvermånens Tecken was another one of the original songs that wasn’t played live. It came through the speakers as an intermission between Järnslottet and Till Fjälls. In the spirit of squeezing as much out of this experience as was possible, this was another opportune moment or an epic sing-along. Here, Myrén and I were matched in volume by Cora Gonser, whom you will know as the friendly guest-writer who have provided our site with Vintersorg reviews from the past.
Till Fjälls was, not surprisingly, the epic conclusion that everyone hoped it would be. Finally, I took some notice of the rest of the crowd, all of which turned up the heat at this point with a large and lively moshpit. The band gave it their all, and so did the rest of the hall – there was nothing left after this. Especially not of my voice.

“This is how we’d like every night to be.”
- Hedlund (vocals/guitar)

When there was no more music to be played, Hedlund went down into the security pit to greet people off, and hand out parting gifts – signed leftover band-photos from the meet & greet session earlier in the evening, and for one lucky Chilean soul (here’s looking at you, Dany), Hedlund’s guitar strap that had been used during the concert, and signed with a personal greeting.
If ever there was a moment for feeling like a teenager again (the good parts that is), this concert was surely it, and I regret nothing! Vintersorg was the sole reason I came here, and the band made damn sure the trip was worthwhile in every aspect.


För Kung Och Fosterland
Vildmarkens Förtrollande Stämmor
Urberget, Äldst Av Troner
Jökeln (edit)
Fångad Utav Nordens Själ
Hednad I Ulvermånens Tecken (snippet)
Till Fjälls

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