Every once in a while something comes across the Vault desk that is just so unique and special that it demands my undivided attention. The most recent example is Swedish progressive rock band Hällas, whose initial self-titled EP gained a lot of recognition with its noteworthy take on classic retro and psychedelic rock.
This Friday they’ll release their first full-length Excerpts From a Future Past via The Sign Records. The album contains an imaginative blend of metal and progressive rock wrapped around an epic concept album set in an alternate medieval reality. Galloping riffs and catchy harmonies guide you along a journey through seven dazzling storytelling tracks about seers, a knight on a quest for answers, and the fall of a once great city. The album is an absolute treasure, and we’re very excited to be able to share a new track off it with our readers.
Scroll down for an exclusive stream of “Repentance” and check our our interview with Hällas where they talk about the new album, their songwriting process, and more!
Indy Metal Vault: Thank you so much for doing this interview. I was lucky enough to get my hands on your new album Excerpts From a Future Past and I have to say, it’s pretty fantastic and a step up in terms of songwriting and complexity from your last EP. In the two years since your self-titled release, how has the band evolved and how much work and effort went into crafting these songs for your debut full-length?
Thank you for showing interest, and we’re happy you like it! Well Nicklas, our keyboard player, wasn’t a part of the band when we wrote the EP, so the biggest difference is that we now could write with organs and synthesizers in mind. This alters the songwriting in a way, but the process has been similiar. Two years may seem like a long time, but we are divided into three different cities so it’s not that often we can get together. We slacked a bit in the beginning and then we decided a release date with our record company so suddenly we had to finish the album in a hurry. In the end we were about six months late anyway.
IMV: I imagine that with your sound being so eclectic, each member has different backgrounds and influences. Can you talk about some of them?
You are right. The vision of how is Hällas is supposed to sound isn’t 100% clear to us, but we individually favor different styles and since everyone of us contributes to the song writing, the result is a bit of a mix between sounds. The dominant influences are Progressive Rock, Heavy Metal and some Folk, so it works since they are quite close together. It’s not like we’re mixing Hip Hop with Polka or some weird combination like that.
IMV: Along those same lines, what is your song writing process like and how do you work to combine everyone’s influences into a collective effort?
The most common way is that someone comes with riffs or ideas to the rehearsal. We try it out together, putting individual touches on it like some melody or something and if we like it we puzzle all these ideas together into songs. The majority decides when we disagree, or we try to find a way to compromise.
IMV: This being a concept album, with stories about knights and quests set in the middle ages, how did the story develop and what works did you draw on for inspiration? Did all the band members have input into the story?
Before writing the album, all of us had agreed on that it should be a concept album. Partly because of our shared interest in older rock music where this type of writing was more common, but mostly because we felt that it would fit our music’s adventurous touch. The story developed naturally when we wrote the songs in the studio, where all of us could share ideas and inputs on the plot’s course of events.
IMV: The “Astral Seer” is my favorite song off the album and if I could pick one track to get someone into listening to Hällas that would be it. I love all the changes the song goes through from start to finish. Is there a song that you feel best represents the band currently or a song that you’re most proud of putting together?
“The Astral Seer” is probably a good choice to represent us, since it includes both rock and progressive elements that blend well together. The one we are most proud of is probably “Star Rider,” since we proved to ourselves that we can make effective and straight forward songs as well.
IMV: The album cover really embodies the fantasy elements in the album. What made you decide to use Nightjar Illustrations and how closely did you work with them to come up with the finished design?
Nightjar did the artwork of our first EP and we were incredibly pleased with how it turned out, so it felt like it was the obvious choice to use his skills again. He is an amazing artist and he really captured the overall feeling of the album. We gave him some hints on the story of the album and some hands-on wishes of what we wanted to be seen on the cover.
IMV: Will you be releasing the album on vinyl or any other physical formats?
It will be released on black and blue vinyl and on CD.
IMV: Are there any plans to do a tour to support the? Is there any chance of doing some dates in the United States?
We would love to, but we have no plans for it right now. It’s an economic question. We usually get paid very little to play and to travel to the United States would cost us a lot of money. If you know some arranger in the US that is willing to pay the flight tickets for us, please let us know!
Tommy Alexandersson: Bass and vocals
Alexander Moraitis: Guitars
Nicklas Malmqvist: Organs and synthesizers
Marcus Petersson: Guitars
Kasper Eriksson: Drums