Heavy, Dark, Fierce, and Beautiful: An Interview with Konvent
I’m no stranger to Konvent, and if you’re an admirer of doomed atmospherics you shouldn’t be either. The Danish quartet first launched onto the scene in 2020 with their pummeling debut, Puritan Masochism. On hearing it, I was struck by the band’s confidence in their vision and their overarching aesthetic. Thankfully, it hasn’t been a long wait for their follow-up.
Konvent’s second album, Call Down the Sun, is the next step in their evolution, with songwriting and atmosphere both having deepened over the last two years. Eerie black metal riffs played at a glacier’s pace flit in and out of the gloom while monstrously distorted bass builds a churning foundation below. The album leaps out of the speakers with searing opener “Into the Distance” and doesn’t let up for a second. Rikke List’s monstrously deep harsh vocals, easily at home on a brutal death metal record, instead contrast with the rest of the band’s more tempered, restrained approach. While their debut was itself quite an achievement, Call Down the Sun delivers a similar agonized yet attractive listen while stretching out further, building on their sense of atmosphere and stretching out instrumentally.
Like much of the best doom, Call Down the Sun is quite beautiful when it isn’t busy crushing your skull beneath its boots. The sound is lush, with production that sounds like the band is playing from the top of an exquisitely well-mic’d mountain. I reached out to the band by email to learn more about their process, how the pandemic has impacted their approach, and what led them to Call Down the Sun. The band’s responses have been lightly edited for grammar and clarity.
Let’s go back to the start. How did Konvent first come together as a band?
When our first drummer Mette started taking drumming lessons in 2015, her teacher (Nicolai from the band Dirt Forge) told his roommate that he had started teaching a girl. His roommate was our bass player, Heidi Brink, and she instantly contacted Mette, asking her if she wanted to start a band.
It had been a dream of Heidi’s to start a band for a long time but all the musicians she asked didn’t have time in their schedules to start a new project. Given that both Mette and Heidi were more or less on the same level on their instruments, a band also seemed like an ideal opportunity to practice as well as write music. They looked for a guitar player and asked Mette’s study buddy Alexander (also from Dirt Forge) if he would suggest the idea to his girlfriend Sara, who Mette knew had previously played in a band. We also needed a vocalist, and asked Rikke (Mette’s sister), because she had been taking extreme metal vocal lessons with a metal vocalist for about six months at that time. Rikke was game and we all met up at a rented rehearsal space for an afternoon and tried jamming. The vibe was good and we decided to form the band and get our own rehearsal space.
After three years, Mette had to quit the band due to her studies and we were very lucky to find Julie. Julie was only 18 at the time but had played the drums for six years and blew us away with her talent when she auditioned, and it was a no-brainer. Our final formation was established and we haven’t looked back since then.
Puritan Masochism came out in January 2020, at the very beginning of the COVID pandemic. How did COVID impact your second album?
Heidi Brink [bass, backing vocals]: It definitely had a huge impact on both us and the album, since a lot of was made during lockdown. We weren’t allowed to use our rehearsal space for almost 6 months and that pushed us to only make music from home, so me and Sara would spend a lot of time together writing new riffs. And also being in such dark times filled with anxiety about what’s going on in the world and fearing for the health of the people you love, and everybody else, that definitely shows in our music. Everybody says it’s a lot darker than the first album and I didn’t really notice that in the beginning, but it’s very clear to me now.
I find that the metal scene can get too tied up in specific genre tags—black metal, doom, death metal, and so on. Outside of those categories, how would you define Konvent’s music and style?
Heidi: That really resonates with us as well! You can hear a lot of different genres in our music if you want to. But if I had to describe it without the categories, I would say it’s heavy, dark, fierce, and beautiful.
Are there any influences that you would say particularly influenced Kovent’s music as a whole, or Call Down the Sun specifically?
Heidi: We all love bands like Amenra and Cult of Luna, so I would definitely say that these two bands had a lot to do with the way our albums sound.
“Harena” incorporates a moving violin/cello contribution from Felix Havstad. How did your collaboration come about? Had you always planned on stretching out the instrumentation on that track?
Rikke List [lead vocals]: We all thought that adding strings would suit “Harena” really well, it was just a gut feeling we all had as the song ended up being quite grand in a way. It was also a great way for us to work with something completely new for this album. One of the ideas Sara had set for herself when working on this album was to write a guitar solo and “Harena” turned out to be the perfect song for that.
Your new single “Grains” features lyrics in both English and Danish. I’ve seen elsewhere the band has said that “we felt like the song called for it.” What kind of discussion or thought went into the choice to use both languages?
Rikke: It is sung partially in English and Danish. When it comes to my high pitch vocals, I am very inspired by Ole Luk from Afsky who only sings in Danish. So, when I was writing the chorus for Grains, I kept hearing Ole’s vocals and it just made sense to me to write in Danish and the lyrics came to me very fast. It might not be the last time we will mix English and Danish but it all depends on the next songs we write.
The guitar tone on both your albums is relatively muted by metal standards, while the bass is highly distorted. Was this a conscious stylistic decision, or did it evolve naturally?
Heidi: I don’t think we ever talked about purposely muting the guitar tone vs. the bass. But I think we just really early on found a sound that we loved and we never thought we had to have a certain sound to be metal. So it just evolved naturally.
What comes next for Konvent? Are you already working on a follow-up?
Heidi: We have a big European headliner tour coming in the spring in 9 different countries, with Livløs, (0), and Hiraes, which we’re very excited about! Then there’s a big bunch of European festival gigs this summer and then perhaps we’ll start looking at a new record in the fall. But for now, we need a little break from songwriting and just focus on shows and promoting the album.