(Vratyas Vakyas)
Gioele Nasi


RockLine.it has interviewed one of the most mysterious and noticeable charachters in the Viking Metal scene: Vratyas Vakyas talks with us of his last album Heralding The Fireblade, revealing more details about his production...

G.N. - Hello Vratyas! Let’s start the interview talking about your new album, Heralding the Fireblade. I have read lots of good reviews by the critics and was the “Album of the Month” on our site in December. How is the global response of your fans? And what are your feelings about your new record?

Vratyas - To me the album is nearly 100% what it was meant to be since more than ten years already, I am very pleased with the result indeed. The reactions by the press I cannot rate, as I do not care about review too much to be honest. The feedback I received straight from the listeners was pretty good so far, and that´s mainly what I care about in the end.

G.N. - Most of the songs featured on the album are taken from your demos, and some are re-recorded version of old “classics”. Have you written any new material for this album or everything was already written?

Vratyas - Not really, all the songs are taken from the original Fireblade album, that was meant to be recorded and released more than 10 years ago, except for the bonus song, which was taken from one of the demos. Unfortunately the recordings went really bad back then, and I had to stop the session due to the bad equipment of the studio. Lateron some of the songs made it on the other albums, like Laeknishendr or Heathen Foray, but most of the material is unreleased and therefore new to the listeners.

G.N. - In your opinion, which of the tracks gained more from the “restyling”? I think that the new version of The Heathen Foray absolutely shines and overcomes the ...Magni Blandinn Ok Megintiri… version.

Vratyas - In the end all songs were recorded exactly the way they were meant to sound ten years ago already, and I tried to change as less as possible about the structures and arrangements. The example you gave about Heathen Foray, well, the new version sounds better indeed, the version on ...Magni Blandinn Ok Megintiri... was not exactly what it was meant to be. The “restyle” like you called it is nothing but the original way the songs were composed.

G.N. - The production (and also the mixing) on your new album is just superb. It’s very clear and powerful; every instrument gives the 100% of its potential, while on your first two albums the production wasn’t that clear. I guess you’re satisfied about the newer sound: but what about the elder? Was that a forced choice or did you want a rawer sound? Do you think that the production on ...En Their Medh Riki Fara… still fits the music of that cd?

Vratyas - First of all I have to say I am 100% into the albums the way they are. This doesn’t mean I’d not like to make things different if there was a need the rerecord the songs of course, but there is nothing I totally regret. Of course on all the albums, including also the last two ones, there are aspects I’d like to change, I am never satisfied to the maximum. In the end it´s been a really good decision to chose the Tidalwave Studio for the new recordings, and Patrick Damiani is one of the best engineers for metal in Germany without doubts.

G.N. - What about Skaldic Art Prod? Some months ago I read that it was put on ice. Is that true? Why did you choose to do that? Were you forced to close down the label or was it a free choice?

Vratyas - When ever I start working on something, I want to give 100% , no less. Lately I could not invest the needed time anymore, and that´s why I put Skaldic Art on ice for now. There were talented and ambitious bands like Vindsval, Furthest Shore and Rivendell signed to Skaldic Art, and I did not want to see them suffering from a lack of time I can invest in them. As soon as there´s more time left again, I may decide to get Skaldic Art back to life.

G.N. - On your last two records you are no more the only player and singer in the band. Has Falkenbach transformed into a real group or is it still a one man project with some guests?

Vratyas - Boltthorn, Hagalaz and Tyrann appeared on the last two albums as guests. They did not participate on the song writing process, and they are not real band members in the end. But I am glad to see them featured on the last two albums, as they are both, skilled musicians and outstanding characters. They will focus on their own project(s) in the future, but I hope they will continue helping Falkenbach out at the studio.

G.N. - What can you tell us about the choice of leaving the role of screaming-vocalist?

Vratyas - Tyrann is simply on of the best shouters in the whole genre, and beside that someone I really wanted to see featured on the album. He has been a big help and enriched the album with his skills.

G.N. - Let’s get back to the Ok Nefna Tysvar Ty era. It took five years to release that album: why did ot took so long?

Vratyas - There were several reasons, also private ones. In the end a lot of people told me that such a long period of silence could harm the sales of a band, but to be honest I do not give a shit about sales. People who are really into what Falkenbach stands for do not forget about it just because there is no new album every one-two years, and that´s what I care about. I prefer to wait as long as it is needed to feel time is right to release a new album, this can be only one year, and it can be six years. Too many bands nowadays release one album after another, there is so much average stuff, probably by reason of labels and distributions telling bands they have to act like that.

G.N. - Although Falkenbach has always kept its style and just evolved over the years, Ok Nefna Tysvar Ty showed a different version of Falkenbach: the sound was less Black Metal-oriented, there was plenty of acoustic guitars and flutes and the music overall was more folkish. The screaming voice was almost disappeared too. Now you’ve just released a record with old songs, with the screaming voice back in his place, and aggressive electrical guitars. Now, what is the Falkenbach-sound at the moment? Will you continue with an Ok Nefna Tysvar Ty-sound or a more back-to the roots” one?

Vratyas - There is no “sound of the moment” about Falkenbach, because Falkenbach is exactly the mixture of what ever has been released under this banner. I cannot say how a new album could sound like, I never make plans about such things. Songs just come to my mind, and I try to keep inspiration as pure as possible, without changing too much by mind.

G.N. - All of Falkenbach’s album covers are wonderful, and the Heralding the Fireblade one is as good as its predecessors. Do you personally choose them? What do you consider while choosing an image for your albums?

Vratyas - Yes, the layouts (except for the one of the new digipack) are chosen by myself. It´s just like searching weeks and months, and when one day you face the right picture, you know “yes, that´s it”.

G.N. - Which kind of music to you usually listen to? Which 2005’s record have you played the most? Have your musical tastes changed since you began to play metal music in the end of the 80’s? Do you listen to any kind ok folk music? Is folk music an ispiration, while writing a song?

Vratyas - Well, the albums I listen to mainly are the Falkenbach recordings to be honest, including the tape materials. My taste of music did not change, I still prefer classical music like Wagner, Groothe or Grieg etc., and if it comes to metal mainly demos and self produced albums. Folk music is something I never listen to, it´s not my cup of tea so to say.

G.N. - How is a Falkenbach song created, technically speaking? Do you firstly write riffs on guitars or melodies on the keyboards? Do you add the lyrics when the song is already finished?

Vratyas - The first step is always the pure idea. This doesn’t happen while playing an instrument mainly, but in daily situations. Sometimes I try working on that idea first on guitars, sometimes on keyboard, but it doesn´t matter in the end. The lyrics are added when a song is finished mainly.

G.N. - Who is the female vocalist [which represents Skadi, I think... The lyrics refers to the the Skirnismàl, isn’t it?] on the song Skirnir? She’s not listed in the booklet. Will you extend the use of female vocals on the next Falkenbach releases?

Vratyas - Well, it´s one single spoken part we are talking about here, longing a couple of seconds. I needed a female voice due to the lyrics, and the girlfriend of the sound engineer just gave a try. It did fit, and we took it, that´s it. Female vocals will not play any important role in the future of Falkenbach, no, the only exception my be short a short spoken part like this one.

G.N. - What are you currently working on? What kind of projects do you have for the future of Falkenbach?

Vratyas - At the moment there are plans for one-two small concerts, but there is nothing fixed yet. Beside that the release of the two albums An Homage To Falkenbach I and II. Details about this you can find on www.falkenbach.de

G.N. - Your music is defined as Viking Metal. What are your thoughts about nowadays’ Viking Metal Scene? Which groups do you appreciate the most?

Vratyas - I am not in touch with any Viking metal bands, nor due I know a lot about any scene in general, so I am probably the wrong person to talk to about something like that.

G.N. - Let’s talk about the concepts and lyrics of Falkenbach. Your music is very influenced from the Nordic Mythology, and all the quotes from the Edda in your lyrics prove it, i think. When and why did this passion begin?

Vratyas - The lyrics of Falkenbach are about western and northern European traditions, cultures, mythologies etc., so the famous “northern mythology” is just one out of many influences for the Falkenbach lyrics in the end. A lot of people do not have insight knowing about such topics, and do not differ between western and northern germanic aspects unfortunately. In the end it´s not a passion, but a part of my life, as it has been a part of my education, a part of my childhood, a part of whole myself.

G.N. - You can finish the interview as you prefer! Thanks for your patience and for dedicating us your time. Best wishes for the future.

Vratyas - Thanks a lot for your support and greetings to the people of the Roman Empire!

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