Windir
Sognametal

So what exactly is Sognametal? Well, it’s the name of this DVD, but more importantly it’s the name Valfar gave to his special symbiosis of folk and metal. It’s important because this DVD is a tribute to the Sognametal and the man and behind it, with the added chance of the band he created disappearing out of the history books with a bang. And what a bang it is.This DVD has two parts; the concert taped for the specific purpose of the release of this DVD, and all the extra material taped by Windir and the people around them through the 8 years they’ve been playing together. The concert would be the one they played on the 3. of September 2004 (should have been Valfar’s 26th birthday) after the tragic death of the main Viking Valfar (Terje Bakken), causing an even more tragic loss of an amazing band. (Yeah, I’m biased.) First I’ll go ahead with a look at the concert part of the DVD, then I’ll attack the extra material.

Right off the bat it’s the technical competence that hits you. Concert DVD’s have become more and more popular and as a by product of that the recording process has evolved. So the sound is like taken off the CD and the picture is as good as it gets on a DVD. (I saw the entire concert DVD on the computer, but also checked it on a Playstation 2 DVD player just to see how it would look on a proper DVD player.) In other words, you get the full experience in the comfort of your own home, and although I would love to have been there, the quality of the recording makes it a worthy substitute. Now on to the concert itself, it’s probably what you all want to hear about anyway.

The set list is as follows: “Sognariket Sine Krigarar,” “On The Mountain Of Goats,” “Svartesmeden og Lundamyrstrollet,” “Stridsmann” (last song written by Valfar for Windir), “1184,” “Blodsvik,” “Fagning,” “Krigaren Si Gravferd” (taken from Sognariket, the first demo Windir recoded), “Byrjing,” and “Arntor, Ein Windir.”

Personally I would also like to have seen “Dauden”, “Martyrium” and “Kampen” on the set list, but everyone has their personal favourites and you just can’t make everyone happy. In here you will also find the tribute to Valfar and Windir’s own tribute to themselves. The tribute for Valfar would be “Krigaren Si Gravferd,” which means “The Warriors Funeral.” Add that to it being from the first things ever recorded by Windir and you have a powerful tribute to the man who started it all. The tribute they put on for themselves is “Arntor, Ein Windir” as the end to it all. It should be noted that during the intro to “Arntor”, also known as “Byrjing”, pictures of Valfar in particular, but also the band is shown on the wall behind the stage.

The band is, of course, all the regulars in Windir with Sture, Cosmocrator (from Mindgrinder) and Vegard (Bakken, Valfar’s brother) sharing the vocal duty. And this would be the only point where Windir suffers. All the other instruments are played perfectly, as they should since it’s the same guys who were a part of recording it in the first place. As I said; The vocals are the lack. Vegard (who is one big fucking dude by the way) does a few songs; “Sognariket Sine Krigarar”, “Blodssvik”, and “Krigaren Si Gravferd”. And I would say myself happy about him not doing most of the vocals. Sture, who then becomes the one who does all the other scream/growl vocals, does a much better job and is closer to what Valfar himself sounded like than Vegard. Not to say that Vegard is a bad addition to it, he does a fairly good job and has some comments in between the songs that are superb plus just the look of the guy makes me want to say something nice about him in case he reads this. Cosmocrator does all the epic vocals on; “1184”, “Blodssvik”, and “Fagning”. I don’t know too much about him, other than him being a part of Mindgrinder, a band I have not heard enough of. It does seem, from the sound of it, that he also did those vocals on the albums.

So as you might tell, it’s Windir and at least I like that. And anyone with an affinity for Windir will enjoy seeing that show over and over again. Full of strength and adrenaline (I would also guess beer) the guys give up what has to be one of the highlights in their career. A superb concert, and once again I am beating myself up for missing it.

Then there’s all the extra stuff, which includes: Live clips filmed by the crew around Windir from various concerts since they became a full band in 1996, photographs, backstage filming done by members and friends of the band, and an interview done by NRK (Norwegian TV station.)

The live clips are form concerts since the band became a full band, not just Valfar and his session musicians, till the last official show with Valfar. The clips are what is said, just clips. Ranging from full songs to small 30 second to 1 minute clips from the show the grand total is close to one hour. They are of fairly poor homemade quality, both in sound and picture. Which wasn’t expected and the sound is workable though, except for in two. Here the bass got some interference, and I thought for a minute that my headphones speakers had blown, but it seems that this is the way it sounds. Anyway here’s the list of places, times and the songs the clips are off; Stallen, Gaupne; 1996; Market Sin Fyrste
Meireiet, Sogndal; 2000; The band being Ulcus doing a cover of Ending with Valfar on vocals
Meieriet, Sogndal; 2001; The Spiritlord
Betong, Oslo; 2001; Heidra John Dee, Oslo; As a part of Inferno Metal Festival 2002;
Dance Of Mortal Lust* Meieriet, Sogndal; 2002;
1184* 1001 Watt Festival, Skien; 2003; Despot.
This was to be the last official concert with Valfar. The other extras are the photos. Which are both promo and private, of Vlafar and the band. This is extreme fanboy stuff to be honest, but those that are will find it very interesting. Other than that there is the backstage filming done by the band and the people in their travel network. This is much more interesting and shows off the guys having fun together. The filming is from the Likferd studio recording session, their 2003 US concert at the Milwaukee Metalfest (includes some concert footage), backstage at Moshfest, Halden; 2003, and at last backstage Garage, Bergen, 2003. Total running time is once again close to the hour, the US segment is a long one. Finally there’s the interview done by NRK (Norsk Rikskringkasting), which is one of Norways three large TV stations. Unfortunately it doesn’t say what program and when it was made. But it appears to have been done right after the recording of Arntor, Ein Windir. It shows Valfar as the sole musician he was at the time, and the interview is a fairly good one for being 15 minutes. I would have said something about the subtitles, how true to what is said and all of that, but my copy doesn’t have subtitles since it’s only to be distributed in Norway at the time. I will say this though; It should have been subtitled for Norwegians as well. I’m from the western part of Norway and get the dialect fairly easily, but I know from experience that anyone from further north or east in Norway will have a hard time understanding the dialect.

To sum it all up; A great concert made into a great DVD. I only have one huge complaint I haven’t vented yet. I know it’s the big Windir DVD, and a culmination of all you have done so far. But couldn’t you have added the other bands performances from the Heidra Valfar concert somewhere in the extras. I would love to see Mindgrinder, Finntroll and Enslaved covering some Windir songs, especially after hearing what Finntroll and Enslaved did on the Valfar, Ein Windir album. It doesn’t destroy anything on the DVD though, and it’s still an outstanding quality product, but it did get me a bit disappointed.

I don’t want to end this review in a bad way though so, here’s to Windir and Valfar; “HEIDRA, matte minnet om Sognamettalen aldi da!” (translation; may the memory of the Sognametal never die!)

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Martin Ferkingstad
June 20th, 2005

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