Valdur is one of two metal bands in the Eastern Sierra. (Photo: Wolf)
If you quest beyond the darkest pits of despair, past the river Styx and the mountains of Mordor you’ll find the blackest most heavy/brutal metal band of the Eastern Sierra that the Viking gods call Valdur. Or you could just go to Lakanuki on Sept. 24 and see them yourself without all of the World of Warcraft s%$#.
The band consists of Mammoth locals, Thor Ryen a Norwegian transplant who plays guitar and growling, Matt Sxuperion on drums and Bill Ganley on the bass (or in his words the chainsaw). Last Wednesday, I found myself in a cold, dark room surrounded by Pantera posters and pentagrams while standing in the corner of Valdur’s private practice bunker. Thor says to me, “Our music is really f**king fast and really f**king hard,” as he plugs his guitar into the amp. Luckily, before the slaying commenced I managed to get in a few questions.
Sheet: I got to say having your practice space in the industrial park is pretty metal.
Thor: Yeah and it’s made out of metal. The place is insulated with old Grenade jackets so it gets pretty cold in here. It’s the one place in town that we haven’t had any noise complaints.
Bill: Matt has a recording label called Bloody Mountain so we call it the Bloody Mountain bunker.
Sheet: According to the Encyclopedia Metallum, you play what’s called in the metal world as black metal. What is that exactly?
Bill: I would say it’s based on a paganistic form of metal.
Thor: It’s the darkest form of metal there is. You have black metal and death metal, both similar. Umm I mean, it’s paganistic or anti-religious I guess. Musically it’s a fast-paced dark ambient metal.
Sheet: Do you listen to anything other than metal?
Bill: I listen to a lof of Zeppelin, Jimmy Hendrix and maybe some older rap music like Wu-Tang Clan.
Matt: I just listen to metal. Sometimes I’ll listen to some dark ambient music.
Thor: I’m basically all metal, but I enjoy classical music and some classic rock.
Sheet: From what I can understand… which is basically only the titles of your songs, you seem to really be into paganism?
Thor: No, we’re not practicing paganists. Our lyrics are based off of old Viking history, old battles and such. At one point in Norway, Pagan and Christian battles were going on quite a bit so that’s kind of the basis of the songs.
Sheet: That’s pretty sweet.
Thor: Yeah there’s some thought behind our lyrics, some research.
Sheet: Do you have to have a highly trained ear to understand your lyrics?
Thor: Probably, yeah we definitely have trained ears for the growling vocals. Also seeing metal bands live opens doors for people that wouldn’t normally hear us because you can make out the individual instruments.
Bill: I think people that see us find it easier to understand because it’s loud and fast, and if you’re not used to it I could see how it would be hard to understand.
Matt: It’s not so much the lyrics but how it makes you feel when you hear it. That raw feeling.
Sheet: I feel like if I was in a metal band my throat would hurt so much I would be addicted to cough drops.
Thor: Umm yeah, like any instrument technique the way you use your voice and the microphone is how you get by. Most of it comes from the gut.
Matt: What it comes down to is if you’re a wimp your throat will hurt. Thor is from Norway and he’s metal so he only needs a couple beers afterwards.
Sheet: Are you guys Twilight fans?
Bill: No vampire fetishes.
Sheet: Yeah, but they’re so hot right now.
Bill: God I know, maybe we should dress up like that and make a couple million.
Sheet: You have a new album out on Blood Mountain Records called Raven God Amongst Us. What is the Raven God and should I worship him?
Thor: The Raven God is the god Odin from northern mythology. Odin would show up and watch over the battles and then bring the ravens in afterwards to feast over the remains. He was the god that would choose who wins the battles. So he was the god of all gods. The one you wanted on your side.
Bill: Only you can choose what you want to worship.
Thor: The album art was a mix of Hal Rotter’s graphic and Matt’s layout. It’s pretty sweet.
Sheet: Thor you’re from Norway and so is Skwisgaar from the show Metalocalypse. I take it there is a huge metal scene over there?
Thor: Yeah, it’s pretty big in northern Europe in general. The whole country isn’t dressed in black or anything but there’s a scene for sure.
Sheet: Your upcoming show at Lakanuki is sponsored by Jagermeister. What’s the affiliation?
Matt: We drink it
Bill: Haha, a lot of it.
Thor: Maybe we worship it.
Sheet: I saw that you had a song featured in the video game Undead Knights for PSP. You don’t seem like gamers.
Matt: A friend of mine is in the band Lightening Swords of Death, a couple of those guys got asked to do the game and they mention us, too. It’s a pretty brutal and gory game so the fit was good. Endless Blizzard which is a collaborative band was also was in it. So there were only three bands [in the soundtrack] so it was pretty exclusive.
Sheet: The PSP doesn’t seem very metal.
Bill: That was the one thing. But money talks and it’s a free advertisement.
Sheet: How metal are you say compared to Fred Durst from Limp Bizkit?
Bill: That guy is not metal.
Matt: Is that a rhetorical question?
Sheet: He got a lot of chicks though.
Bill: He did?
Thor: Yeah, how could he not.
Bill: I have more respect for Michael Jackson than Fred Durst.
Sheet: I think most people do. Is Mammoth Lakes metal? Kinda metal? Or not metal enough?
Thor: Mammoth is awesome. Our live shows here are badass.
Bill: Our shows go off. There’s a lot of hipster bullsh*t, but other than that, it’s pretty metal up here.
Matt: Living in the majesty of nature is pretty metal to me.
Sheet: What’s with metal bands and wearing black t-shirts?
Matt: Are you gonna see a metal head in a pink t-shirt and take that seriously?
Bill: It’s your presence when your playing that’s important.
Sheet: So does that mean that Rusty Gregory is secretly in a metal band?
Bill: Haha, that would be sick.
Thor: Maybe we’ll see him at the show.
Sheet: Now we’re almost done but before we go I’d like to do a little quiz I call what’s more metal? Just tell me whatever you think is more metal and why. Got it?
Thor: Okay go ahead.
Sheet: More metal, necromancers in pajamas or a dark wizard driving a Prius?
Matt: That’s easy a necromancer in PJs because he’s tired from all the brutal slayings and he needs his beauty rest.
Thor and Bill: Agreed.
Sheet: Okay, A Gwar fanny pack or Kiss snap bracelets?
Bill: A gwar fanny pack
Matt: Yeah, it’s probably full of guts
Thor: Or fetuses.
Sheet: Okay it’s going to get a little harder now. More metal, Hootie and the Blowfish or Train?
Bill: Man, you stumped me on that one.
Sheet: Last one, a cup of coffee that’s blacker than black times infinity, or a cup of coffee with three sugars and a splash of cream?
Thor: I like my coffee the way I like my metal…black.
Sheet: One last thing before we’re done, finish this sentence… Rawshablahgobeuhyehfoooodoraaaaaaaw
Thor: Hail Satan!
Matt: That was sick, you need a job?
Check out www.myspace.com/valdurkult for all things Valdur and be sure to check out the brutal show featuring Valdur performing with Lightening Swords of Death at 9pm, September 24th at Lakanuki. Admission is only $5.