The twisted Norwegian ensemble known as Koldbrann is undoubtedly one of the most interesting and morbidly engaging black metal acts out there today, and their impressive back catalogue as well as their intensely aggressive and perfectly maniacal live shows speak for themselves and have garnered them a reputation that many of their peers would die for. December last year saw the release of the filthy and memorable Den 6. Massedød (Manna fra en Annen Himmel) via Dark Essence Records, and this scribe was blown away by how utterly sinister, supremely confident, and well-written its two compositions were. Catching up with the talented Koldbrann mastermind himself, namely bassist/vocalist Mannevond, to hear more about the upcoming album titled Ingen Skånsel therefore seemed like the only logical thing to do. We were also fortunate enough to have guitarist Kvass join our little chat and chip in with a few interesting thoughts and perspectives on the lyrical aspects of the upcoming record, which is scheduled for release in late August.  

Photo by Christoph Voy

Greetings, and thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to us today – much appreciated. Could you start out by telling us what is happening in the cursed Koldbrann camp these days and perhaps also let slip a few wicked details in relation to the upcoming full-length album of yours? What can your fans and listeners look forward to?

M: Hey! Thank you very much for the interest and the interview. It’s only a few days since we released the first single from the upcoming album with an accompanying music video shot at this year’s Inferno Metal Festival. The cut is called ‘I Unaturens Vold’, which translates to ‘In Unnature’s Grasp’. It’s a fierce, energetic, and melodic track with clear references to classic Norwegian Black Metal – and perhaps a little more so than the album itself. We always aim to be varied, you know!

If I were to describe the new album to any long-time and trusted followers, I might say it’s a devilish blend of our first three albums. It’s got the raw and primitive nerve from the debut combined with the darker and more matured elements from Moribund and then topped with the diverse and more modern twists of Vertigo. Compared to our last album I could also say it’s more “back to basics”. On Vertigo (2013) we introduced some new elements like vintage synthesizers, prog-influences, more English lyrics, various guest appearances, etc. Those elements very much fitted that album’s songs, sound, and atmosphere, but the new material generally has a cruder and more primitive feel to it, and it was natural to leave those components behind. There are still some more atmospheric and unconventional songs on the new album as well, though.

I’m now serving as the main songwriter myself for the first time, while Voidar, who joined the band in 2009 and played an important part on Vertigo, also contributed a few cuts. Relentless stuff, I might add! There’s one song by Kvass as well, who of course also wrote all the album lyrics in his unique and clever style of Norwegian. And this time it’s all Norwegian lyrics again, as you might have guessed. There will be translations in the LP- and CD booklets. Lastly, we have a track by John Grave and me. John Grave was the first guitarist in KOLDBRANN for a short while back in 2001 before he eventually re-joined us about five years ago.

I also must credit the young and talented Leonid Melnikov, of course, who joined us in 2021 and recorded the drums on the new album. So, there you have a quick introduction to the line-up as well.

I thoroughly enjoyed the harsh and memorable Den 6. Massedød (Manna fra en Annen Himmel) 7-inch vinyl released by the ever-reliable Dark Essence Records. Musically and stylistically speaking, it bears all the characteristics of a Koldbrann release, but the band sound even more confident and determined than ever before, and arguably also catchier come to think of it. Is a huge part of that down to the strength of the current line-up?

M: Thank you! That’s great to hear. I think the key factors lie in the song- and recording work. Me and Voidar made quite thorough and elaborate demos of all the songs before we started rehearsing them with the full line-up, and we invested quite a lot of time rehearsing all the songs properly and working out all the details before the album recording. Then we of course took the time needed to make the recording and album production as good and satisfying as possible. But yeah, the strength of the line-up also has a lot to say – definitely. The core of the band consisting of me, Kvass and Voidar obviously has some years of experience now, and combined with Melnikov’s high-level drumming, topped with some additional guitar work by John Grave, I think we have a killer setup here!

Speaking of Dark Essence Records, those guys are a bunch of cool dudes and gentlemen but also highly professional. On top of that, they have a lot of killer bands on their roster, meaning that Koldbrann fit in rather nicely. How did the cooperation come about and was it something that you had been discussing for a long time or was it more of a recent thing?

M: Indeed! I reached out to Dark Essence about a year ago, shortly after we had the album master ready. We knew we weren’t going to continue working with Season of Mist, and I was mainly looking for a Norwegian label this time. Dark Essence had been on my radar for quite some time, and they seemed like a good fit for our size and style, so we asked around a bit and heard nothing but good things about them. They were really into our new material and offered us a fair deal, so that made it an easy choice. The cooperation has been very good so far, and we’re eager to see what they can do for the upcoming album.

If we go back to the very beginning, when and where were Koldbrann formed and what was the initial motive and reason for launching the twisted outfit in the first place?

M: I started KOLDBRANN back in 2001 while still living in Drammen, which is a city a little outside of Oslo for those non-Norwegians out there. I was 16 and had briefly been singing in another Black Metal band, with the aforementioned Mr. John Grave – or Dragev as he called himself back then. The style of that band wasn’t truly for me, and I was really set on making a more raw, cold, and ugly output with Norwegian lyrics and a more primitive attitude. At that time there weren’t really many others doing that style, at least not in Norway, and that also served as an inspiration, of course. John Grave and I then made a couple of songs, including the song ‘Koldbrann’, which was later re-recorded both for our demo and for our first album, before he shortly after left Drammen and the band, heading back to the north of Norway. Luckily, I then got in touch with Kvass who joined on guitars not long after. Kvass also brought a great knack and intuition for songwriting, riffs, and melodies – not to mention his excellent lyrics – and he’s been with me in KOLDBRANN ever since, serving as an extremely important part of the band! The last main piece of the line-up in those early years was Fordervelse, who joined in 2002 and did the drums up until 2009. He also played an important role due to his experience and distinctive style of drumming.

Given that it has been quite some time since we were last subjected to a complete onslaught by you guys, I was wondering if Koldbrann ever ceased to exist as such or whether it was merely lying dormant for a short while with you guys focusing on other bands, projects, and priorities? I guess what I am really asking is whether the songs for your upcoming LP were written quite recently or whether some date back four, five, six or perhaps even seven years and have been a long time in the planning stages up until now?

M: Well, yes, most of the songs were made in the period ranging from 2019 to 2021, but some of the material dates back to 2015-2018 and a couple of riffs even further back than that. We were quite busy with the band during the “Vertigo years” (up until 2015-2016), but there was a period of less activity in the following few years. We went through some changes in the band, as our former drummer Folkedal, who had joined in 2009, moved back to the west coast of Norway, eventually leaving the band. It was hard to make it work with him having to do the extra travels to rehearsals, live performances etc. At the same time Kvass was stepping down from the role of songwriter, and I was spending quite a lot of time on other bands – a little too much time as I later realized. DJEVEL was getting more and more busy, and I was also involved in NETTLECARRIER, FURZE (live), FAUSTCOVEN (live), and some other stuff at various stages. We never ceased to exist or anything like that. We were working on new material with Folkedal, and we did record some stuff during that time, but we ended up never releasing it back then. Maybe we’ll do something about that after the new album.

Tell us a bit about the actual process of writing and recording songs with respect to Koldbrann; do you try things out in rehearsals and jam the ideas before collectively arranging the compositions or do you write separately and then present something resembling a finished piece to the others?

M: We have done bit of both in the past, but for the most part, and especially on the upcoming album, everything concerning instrumentation was pretty much laid out and arranged in advance by the respective songwriter. All the way down to drum beats, tempos, and certain details. However, the drummer is always free to add his signature, of course, namely fills, details, special techniques and so on. It’s just impossible for me to not think drums when I come up with new riffs or when I’m arranging songs. The same goes for the bass and additional guitars.

I am curious as to what things in life that inspire you to craft songs and pen lyrics to them – could it be anything from observing the world and society around you to things that you read or absorb via films and TV? A rather charming song title such as ‘Inhumanitær Inngripen’ does lead one to think that anything from global death to nihilism and further on to the destructive nature of mankind are themes and motifs that crop up in your lyrics.

M: Let me transfer you to Kvass on this one.

K: Generally, I would say that I aim to write lyrics that push the boundaries for the Norwegian language in the context of Black Metal while still retaining an expressive power. When it works well, it sounds better than any English lyrics ever could in my opinion. So, I am always on the lookout for powerful Norwegian words and phrases from all kinds of sources such as books, society, AI, psychology, you name it. The ‘Inhumanitær Inngripen’ lyrics were put together rather quickly and somewhat late in the process for our new songs. They turned out pretty nihilistic and blunt – in keeping with the punkish riffs in that particular song.

What does 2024 look like for Koldbrann in terms of gigs, tours, and festival dates? Will there be any “release party” shows in conjunction with the promoting and unleashing of your new record?

M: 2024 and 2025 look very promising so far. We have always done a fair number of concerts, especially around new albums, so it’s good to already have a few lined up. I still feel the live performances are as rewarding as ever. The pure black energy you channel and give the songs is something truly special.

We just returned from Montréal, Canada, where we performed in North America for the first time with KOLDBRANN, and in a couple of weeks we will return to Czechia before continuing with festivals in Poland, UK, Austria, Romania, and Switzerland – with more to come! As for a release party, we have nothing planned yet, and we currently don’t have any new dates in Norway, but we’ll see . . .

Let us go back in time for a wee bit to when you first discovered hard and heavy music. What were some of the groups and outputs that you fell in love with when you were a teenager, and do they still inspire and influence you to this very day?

M: I guess it’s the classic story for my part. My cousin introduced me to METALLICA and NIRVANA when I was around 10. From there it soon went to SEPULTURA and not so long after that over to Black Metal with DARKTHRONE, DIMMU BORGIR, SATYRICON, EMPEROR and all the classic stuff. And then my soul was sold to the Devil!

I still remember when and where I bought many of those albums, spending every ‘krone’ of my weekly allowance, of course. Among those that made the deepest impact was definitely when I got the CD version of SEPULTURA’s Bestial Devastation. Max Cavalera is the reason I started trying out vocals – and Nocturno Culto, of course! Eternal inspirations, for sure.

What specific bands and albums have you been immersing yourself in at home these past few weeks and what would be a typical LP for you to crank up loud on a Friday or Saturday night?

M: As for new stuff, I’ve lately been listening to the new albums from STRESS ANGEL, HELLBUTCHER and FURZE, and I’m still spinning last year’s excellent albums from SYN, MALOKARPATAN and SPIRIT POSSESSION. But I must admit that I’m more often returning to my old favourites, and that’s what I crank up when it’s beer-time, too; DESTRUCTION, GORGOROTH, SKITSYSTEM, AUTOPSY, NIFELHEIM, DARKTHRONE etc. etc.

Thanks once again for the chat and for your time. Any words of discouragement to the readers? 

M: Thank you, Sir! Our new album will be out August 23rd! Ingen skånsel!

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