In terms of invoking a true sense of pride and honour through intense Black Metal, I can think of few bands who do it as successfully as Germany’s Hangatyr. Made up of highly competent, creative musicians, this legendary band from Thuringia have been around for more than fifteen years now. During the last two decades Hangatyr have built up a formidable reputation as arch followers of the pagan path. As individuals who wear their hearts on their sleeves, every day, every year.
In an age of shit, where values, morals, philosophy and true joy have been ‚replaced‘ by shallowness, superficiality, widespread political corruption and incompetence, and lest we forget, an ever-present religious lunacy, it is refreshing in the extreme to listen to Hangatyr. Theirs is soaring black art that elevates the heart, mind and spirit above the filthy human morass to lofty, remote places of desolate beauty. Take their latest album Kalt for instance. An epic masterpiece of Pagan Black Metal that matches the very best from this genre, matching bands like the might Djevel in their intensity and fierce sense of purpose. It is heart-warming, icy art at its very best. It takes the spirit to a better, more honest place.
I met up with vocalist Silvio to talk about Hangatyr’s magnificent contribution to Black Metal, and the ideas that drive this great band. It was a very interesting and rewarding conversation.
You have been playing as a band now for a long time. What were the original ideas behind Hangatyr, what were you aiming to convey through Black Metal?
The idea behind it was simply to continue making music together. Ali (guitar) and I didn’t want to stop writing songs after the break-up of „Schwarze Stille“. We still had too much energy and joy in being creative. We didn’t think much about what we wanted to convey at that time. The only aspiration was that we liked the music and that everyone could relate to it. Time then brought us nearer and nearer to Black Metal.
Why did you settle on the name Hangatyr? I understand that it is another name for Odin, but why this name particularly?
When Hangatyr was founded in 2006, the pagan metal wave was just at its peak. At that time we listened to a lot of music from that direction. Therefore, it was also a name that should come from this genre. Hangatyr is the name of Odin in the rune song. Always in search of knowledge and wisdom, he hanged himself in the Yggdrasils for nine nights. And as a reward he received the knowledge of the runes. You can perhaps understand it like this. You have to be willing to give up a part of yourself in order to come across something new. Pain and suffering accompany you and you don’t know where the path will lead.
I really liked the raw, sinister energy on Kalt, which I think is a magnificent album. How did this album come about, what were the ideas behind it?
Thanks for the compliment. The music for Kalt was created over a period of almost seven years. A lot of things happened. Fate was pretty merciless. I expressed that in the lyrics. Also, Basti (guitar) joined us and with him our sound changed. To be honest, we were surprised ourselves how well everything matched. In the end, the only idea behind it was to call the album Kalt, because in our opinion, it fitted exactly to the music we had composed.
How did you achieve the great atmosphere on this album? Where was it recorded and who produced it?
When we decided to record at Chemical Burn Studios, we were aware that our producer Alexander Dietz had not been recording Black Metal before. We gradually felt our way towards it. Our own musical preferences also played a role. We spent a lot of time comparing our sound with that of other bands to finally arrive at this atmosphere. But maybe the fact that we didn’t play bass also led to the mentioned energy. I think overall you have to say that Kalt only became what it is in the studio.
Can we talk about your musical influences? What are the artists that really inspired you?
I was very impressed by the first albums of Helrunar. Up to that point, I hadn’t heard anything like it. I absorbed the music literally. Especially the lyrics gave me a new perspective. I would never have thought how expressive the German language can be. And I would like to think that albums or songs that you have really listened to over and over again, that have eaten into your ear canals, also have a share in the music that you create yourself.
What about non–musical influences? What ideas underpin your music and lyrics?
I remember watching a documentary. It was about the Battle of Zülpich at the end of the 5th century. King Clovis, on the verge of defeat, prayed to the Christian God and in the end his troops were victorious. But not because of his heroism. Believing in the assistance of the one God, he got baptised. That was treason in my eyes. I dealt with this theme in the lyrics to „Rotten Water“. But that was a few years ago. What also always inspires is nature. What could be better than a cold winter’s day?
Black Metal continues to flourish in Germany and beyond, which of today’s bands do you particularly like? Do you like the latest releases by bands like Order and Djevel?
Ah, two Norwegian bands. I like Djevel. Although the older stuff was rougher. I actually liked that one more. Order is not really my thing. Personally, I prefer atmospheric black metal. Thanks to the possibilities of the internet, you can always discover new artists. It’s incredible how much great music there is. I found the last albums by Afsky and Grà outstanding, or Earth and Pillars, Faidra and many more. But it’s all a matter of personal taste.
Are you planning any new releases, and what themes do you plan to explore on any future recordings?
Yes, we are working on new material. One song is almost finished. The lyrics for two others are still missing. Thematically, it will probably be more about people and their weaknesses. Maybe nature will inspire me again. Unfortunately, I can’t say at the moment where the journey will go. But we would like to continue the energy of Kalt.
And what about live performances, what do you have planned for next year?
Two gigs are planned for the present. Once at the Schwarzburger Metalwiese and in Annaberg-Buchholz at the Miriquidi. When the miserable situation with this virus is finally over and the club owners can plan again, hopefully some shows will be added. I think there was something planned in Berlin at Blackland. However, the guys have to rebuild the club first, it just burned down.
Do you see yourself planning any festival shows next year? Do you enjoy festivals?
I like being at festivals. But I personally prefer the smaller ones. Around a thousand people is enough for me. Such Oktoberfest events like Wacken are absolutely not for me. There are far too many people and it’s extremely expensive. When only commerce is in the foreground, I think it sucks, the whole spirit gets lost. The „Under The Black Sun“ metal open air is more my thing. I hope it will take place again next year. Or the Barther Metal Open Air is also a family festival by fans for fans. As for Hangatyr, the two gigs I mentioned earlier are small open-air festivals. It’s still some time away, but we’re looking forward to it a bit.
We look forward to seeing Hangatyr in a live setting very soon, Covid as ever permitting. This is a proud band that understands and projects its core essence exceptionally well, and this comes across both on record and live. It was a great pleasure to meet and talk with Silvio, who conveys a warmth and comradeship that truly represents Black Metal as it should be represented. Cordiality, friendliness to those who understand, total indifference toward those who don’t. This is only the way to be for those who look for honour and wisdom, without compromise.