Having visited Iceland last May and being intrigued by everything about the country from its natural beauty to its traditions, I was delighted to pick Fortið‘s album Narkissos for review from our list of Zware Metalen promos. After the album was released, Zware Metalen sought contact with Einar, founding member of the band to ask him some questions. The main purpose was to find out more about the album and the origins of this band, which manages to combine various genres with the pagan always seeping through.
Good day Einar, first of all congratulations on the excellent new album Narkissos. Can you tell something to our readers about the origins of Fortið?
Thank you! Fortíð was created back in 2002 without any previous plans. I had (and technically still have though it’s been inactive for years) a project called Curse. I had released Curse’s debut album in 2001 and was getting ready to start on the next. I wrote and recorded one song that is today known as Ýmir’s Death. I started looking for a lyrical theme and found myself reading the Völuspá poems. I had read them before as a teenager. This is a mandatory study in Icelandic grade schools thankfully. So I got the idea of making a trilogy out of Völuspá. The highest of gods Óðinn, speaks to a sereens who tells him about the beginning of time, current times and end times (Ragnarök). Therefore I thought the story should be told in a trilogy, depicting the past, the presence and the future. Curse is more of a personal theme and more of your classical Black Metal topic project, so I decided this trilogy needed to be made under a different name. That’s when I created Fortíð. And it’s quite symbolic as well because before everything, there was Ýmir, and with Ýmir’s Death came our world. Fortíð is also a world within itself.
Can you explain the choice of the band name Fortið?
Fortíð means “Past” and with my answer to the first question you can make the connection.
Is Fortið your first musical entity? Please give a brief introduction, who are the musicians behind Fortið and what do the band members both in daily life?
My first musical entity dates back to 1995 and was called Thule. Thule lasted up until 1998 when I changed the name into Curse and kept on going as a solo artist. In 1997 I also formed another band called Potentiam. So no, Fortíð is my 3rd or 4th project, depending on how you look at it. I am the main musician behind it. It started as a solo project as Curse was. I have worked with several musicians throughout the 21 years of the band. I have lived in Norway for a decade where the band got a Norwegian lineup. Now I’m back in Iceland and the lineup is still in formation. I have Kári Pálsson with me today handling the bass and backing vocals. He will be getting into the song writing process with me in the future. He came into the band in 2021 when all the Narkissos-material had already been composed.
I make and digitally print merchandise for a living along with the music of course, which I say I also do for a living because I can not live without it. Kári’s been a student for the last years and now has a master’s degree in Norse religion.
As I read in the enclosed promo and described in my review of Narkissos, it’s a concept album. Could you talk a bit more about this conceptual thing?
As I’ve said in several interviews before through the years, every Fortíð album is a concept album. I don’t just make random bunch of songs and throw them out there like some compilation. There’s always a concept, a common theme throughout my albums. The title Narkissos confused a lot of people and I predicted that it would, because you would automatically assume it’s about Greek mythology. But it’s actually an album about narcissism. So Narkissos (Narcissus) is a Greek demigod who fell in love with his own reflection. This is why narcissistic behavior carries his name. In this case, we’re talking about the malignant narcissism that is often associated with a sociopath. I’ve had to deal with such people unfortunately and instead of fighting them blind, I started trying to understand how they think and how they operate. This is the way to defeat your enemy. My wife and I have been together through legal court battles that are still ongoing and all of this inspired a story of a Narcissistic character.
In my review, I write about the song Illt skal með illu gjalda which strikes a chord with me. It seems to be a song with some haunting chants. Can you tell a bit more about this song and its creation?
Interesting because this is actually why I talk about common themes. This particular story is a sidestep from the main story, but it deals with the god Loki. This song was originally demoed in 2015 and is on our album titled ‘The Demo Sessions‘. I re-recorded this song because Loki fits very well into the category of a narcist. This is the story about the gods having punished him for causing the death of Baldur. Baldur was the most beloved god by all. Loki is being tortured for this act and this will eventually lead to him fighting by the side of the enemy in Ragnarök.
All the lyrics on Narkissos are in the Icelandic language, is this a conscious choice? Personally, I can appreciate this, but for understanding the storyline and concept, the English language generally lends itself a bit better.
Yes it is a very conscious choice. Most Fortíð albums are entirely in Icelandic. The only exceptions are the 2012 Pagan Prophecies that has only two songs in Icelandic and the rest in English. The second album is the 2020 ‘World Serpent‘ that’s entirely in English.
How exactly do you start the writing process?
I usually go though my files because I have tons of recorded song ideas. I choose what I want to work with. Then I create a demo that includes a drum machine and sometimes vocals. Usually I don’t bother demoing vocals. Then I present it to the other members. We sometimes do a few rehearsals but sometimes just go straight to recording. It’s basically the Darkthrone-style but with a lot more focus on details.
What do you think are the main differences and similarities between Narkissos and the band’s previous albums?
I think the main difference is that mix of Black, Heavy, Thrash, and Death metal along with cinematic music have become much more apparent now. Therein lies also the similarity because those styles have in fact always been present throughout the bands history. So even with a fresh Fortíð sound, you can still hear it is the same band.
Yes, as I have stated in the last couple of months, the next step for the band is to do some live shows. There’s very few concerts in the bands long history, but now Fortíð has seven studio albums out and a lot of strong material to present live.
Which bands do you personally prefer to listen to? Which bands serve as inspiration for Fortið’s work?
I don’t tend to get stuck so much with bands as I do with individual songs or melodies. They can almost come from any musical genre. I listen a lot to film scores and video game music (which is today at the same professional level) along with all kinds of metal music. No core though, I really dislike that shit. I started out as a kid listening to Heavy Metal and Thrash metal, then later Death Metal and eventually Black Metal. Those are my roots as a musician. All the 90’s scene was a huge inspiration and still is. I try to make music like we did back then, when everyone was doing their own thing, having their own sound. There’s no point in trying to sound like the next band.
What can we expect from Fortið in the future?
Some live shows and live videos. Once we’ve done some of that, we can start working on our next album.
Anything else you would like to say to our readers?
If you want some Fortíð merchandise, check out my own web store EHP.IS You can listen to Fortíð’s entire discography at fortid.bandcamp.com. For all updates, we’re pretty active on Facebook and Instagram.