Norwald – Interview with Patri Grief & ‘Madness and Heroes’ Album Review

Music can take your mind and soul into different places. Good music could lift your spirit, calm your nerves, give you a great feeling of satisfaction and move your body in dancing or head-banging or a mosh pitting.

But some music is so good that it opens endless portals into endless worlds and universes. This is the case with Norwald’s debut album, released in the final month of 2019, ‘Madness and Heroes’. And thus, this meme falls into the right place.

It’s only appropriate as the new Spanish band is strongly conceptual. Even their name ‘Norwald’ is the name of the fictional world created by lead guitarist Patri Grief.

We had the pleasure to dive into the world of Norwald, as we listened to the debut album ‘Madness and Heroes’. We also had the pleasure to speak with Patri Grief and talk about her music, thoughts and many other things.

You can skip the review and jump right into the interview by clicking here.

Stream or Purchase ‘Madness and Heroes’ on Bandcamp.


Review

The Power Metal album released on the 17th of December 2019 consists of 10 tracks over 40 minutes of playtime.

Did we love the album? HELL YEAH.

Here are four things we loved about ‘Madness and Heroes’ by Norwald.

The well-made conceptual elements

Of course when you’re listening to a concept album or a Metal or Rock Opera you expect cinematic and conceptual elements implemented into the music, maybe through background sound effects or narration over music. Some bands underdo this with barely any change in vocal style and no sounds exterior to the band, resulting in the hidden treasures of their fantasy to remain covered by gravel of plain music. Some bands, on the other hand, overdo it, in a way that might be disturbing to the listener who wants to hear to music telling a story, not a story with some music over. We felt that ‘Madness and Heroes’ is a perfect example on how to make a concept album rich with both cinematic elements that tell the story and great music.

Probably one of the most impressive things about the storytelling factor in ‘Madness and Heroes’ is that it is deeply fused into the music itself. The narration is mostly through the lyrics, and a different vocalist was used in many parts to say the words from the character in the story. And even in the spoken parts, the flow of the music wasn’t interrupted. The way this was done reminded us of how Iron Maiden (All hail Iron Maiden) did it in some of their story-telling songs such as The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Alexander the Great. An example can be heard in Heir to the Crown and The Madness of the King.

As for the story itself, we won’t say a thing about it and leave you to discover it yourselves when you listen to the album.

The wonderful music and class guitar solos

‘Madness and Heroes’ is rich with music, especially on the side of guitar solos. Heir to the Crown, Creatures, and Khelmet and Hakko had guitar solos that made jaws drop and songs repeated. Many songs on the album also had a breathtaking melody and epic choruses. Ruins of a Kingdom is a masterpiece in terms of the melody, the pace, and the power its music exerts. Ballad for a Fallen Hero is one of the best songs I’ve listened to recently with its melody and wonderful production.

In simple words, the wonderful fantasy in the story of ‘Madness and Heroes’ wouldn’t have been well-displayed if not for the great music we hear all through the album. These two greats created one hell of an album.

The great delivery

Even great music would not be noticeable without a good delivery whether in the production or song arrangement itself. The fact is, good production can make an average album great and a great album sound even greater while bad production can make a good album sound bad. The content of ‘Madness and Heroes’ was delivered in a great way. This can be seen in how each song is distinguishable through its unique elements. We can feel a change in pace between a song and another and some song intros that carry us into the world of each. For example, the change in pace between Ruins of a Kingdom and Awaking the Beast‘s intro creates this new mood ready to receive more music after the fast and heavy former song. The piano intro of Awaking the Beast and vocal intro of The Madness of the King both leave the respective songs unique and rich.

‘Ballad for a Fallen Hero’

And of course, as always, one section is dedicated to our favourite song on the album. To be honest this was a hard album to pick a favourite song from. Creatures, Ruins of a Kingdom, and Ballad for a Fallen Hero all are great songs that we adored on this album. However we finally agreed to talk about the latter because it is a very special song. The lyrics, the melody, the intro and outro, and the guitars fusion with the ballad sound all make the song a great one to listen to again and again and again.

And again.


One thing we think would have made the album even better is some more balancing between the volumes of vocals and music. On some songs the volume of vocals was much lower than the music to a point the lyrics were not distinguishable. Otherwise, this album kept giving and giving!

What a way to start a career. ‘Madness and Heroes’ is a perfect debut album and it only leaves us wondering, they always say bands reach their peak in their third or fourth album… So if Norwald have started at this very high point, what wonders will be coming next?

We recommend ‘Madness and Heroes’ too Power Metal fans and Rock Opera and Metal Opera fans as well.


Ratings

Norwald - Madness and Heroes

Here are the average of the ratings that were placed by the FemMetal Team.

Music (30%)⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐10/10
Lyrics (30%)⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐9/10
Production (30%)⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐8/10
Cover Art (10%)⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐7/10
Total⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐9/10

Interview

Jad: Hello Patri. How are you and the other Norwald members doing?

Patri: We’re doing very well, loads of work now that the album has been released. How about you guys?

Jad: We’re great! Trapped home because of the virus.
First let me tell you that I have interviewed many artists that I love and respect for their music, but when I interview you I’m interviewing not only an artist that I adore the work of, but also a friend. Thank you for all the support you’ve shown FemMetal and for being a wonderful friend!

Patri: Aw, that’s very nice from you! I’m very happy to be your friend and supporter. I think what you’re doing with the page is great, and I’m pleased to be featured from time to time.

Photo credit: Luis Suárez Gómez

Jad: Your debut album, Madness and Heroes, was released on December 17th. Will you tell our readers a bit about the world of Norwald and how your first album initialized the building of this world in the mind of your listeners (without spoilers please 😉)?

Patri: Indeed!! Well, I started working on this project since I was a teenager, but it has changed a hell lot. There is always so much to do, apart from composing and writing stories. You never know which new animal you need to add to the tales, or which is going to be the rock that will make your hero fall down. I created everything from the map to the gods, religions and full ecosystems, and I am still working on that today. I really hope to get the encyclopedia done some day (laughs).
If we talk about the first impression of the listeners in the album, I tried to do the lyrics as simple as possible, adding only a few new words or names such as “Kajtar” (which is one of the places where the story takes place) or “trigg” (one of the many, many Norwald animals). I wanted people to feel like they’re listening to a tale of a world they yet don’t know, but also to make them want to know more. It would be impossible if I introduced more things than people could understand.
To sum up a little bit, the story that we tell in Madness and Heroes is the story of Prince (and later King) Thostar from Kajtar, how his madness brought the whole kingdom to ruins, and how there will always be a hero to give his everything to save the day.

Jad: Your music is very fast, heavy, and melodic. What artists or works inspired you to build that unique sound of yours?

Patri: I’m flattered! I really appreciate that you find Norwald “unique”. There are indeed a hell lot of artists that I enjoy, such as Nightwish (duh), Delain, Sonata Arctica and Epica, which might appear as the “typical influences” for a symphonic female fronted with clean vocals band. But when it comes to the riffs, you can appreciate (I hope) that there is still more: Children of Bodom, Wintersun, Amon Amarth or Arch Enemy are bands that have an influence in Norwald. But there is more. I am deeply in love with classical music and original soundracks, which I think add a lot to the symphonic/power metal we do.

Jad: Unlike most musicians who work on building their sound, you also built a world for your music. But what if you had an idea for a song that is unrelated to the concept you created? Maybe something about real-life problems or an experience you had. Would you create a song from outside the world of Norwald or do you project all ideas into your world, maybe through imagery and symbolism?

Patri: Generally I use the world of Norwald to inspire me to write more songs, but Norwald itself is a metaphor of the stuff I want to talk about. That makes it very easy for me to fit everything in the band. On the counterpoint, from time to time I like composing more relaxed tracks. I normally put a lot of pressure on my back to make the songs perfect (to my taste, of course). Making other music makes me feel relaxed because there is no rush and no fear of failure, as I will probably never record or show what my other music sounds like. Also, exploring other genres and improvising makes me improve as a guitarist and composer, which is something I can later use in Norwald.

Photo credit: Aroa Díaz Gallego

Jad: As I’ve read on your website bio, you asked for your first guitar when you were 5! Wow. When I was 5 all I thought about was food. What guitarists were the trigger for that love you have for the guitar and made you want to become a guitarist yourself?

Patri: I wish I could answer you but I have absolutely no idea. It’s one of my first memories, to be begging for a guitar (and actually I got a toy guitar, this kind of… button guitar). I remember liking music, rhythm and pretty voices. I think Disney was the trigger for me wanting to play, but I couldn’t actually say a name without guessing.

Jad: The interesting thing about your album’s title is the contrast between its two sides. The idea of the mad king is very relevant to the real world we live in and there are always these heroes we count on to do or say the right thing. But there are many people and things that people disagree on and some consider to be “madness” and some consider to be “heroes”. So to celebrate your album, we will play a game called “Madness or Heroes”. I’m going to name someone or something that people dispute about and you tell me if you think it’s madness or if it’s a hero or heroic for you. Ready?

Patri: Love the idea, hit it!

Jad: Let’s start with something not very hard. Twilight?

Patri: To be honest I haven’t read the books, nor seen the movies. But when it was released it was hell of a trend, and I hated trends, so let’s say madness.

Jad: Fifty Shades of Grey?

Patri: I haven’t read it either but neither I want to. Madness indeed.

Jad: Pineapple on pizza?

Patri: I prefer cheese pizza. Madness again.

Jad: Religion?

Patri: This is a tough one. I consider myself an atheist, and I don’t think there are gods or whatever. Still I don’t have the absolute truth, and I love mythology and magical tales. For me, religion hasn’t done anything, as I never went to church or never believed in anything. But the truth is that most part of our culture comes from the different religions around the world, so let’s say hero (at least for art!)

Jad: Donald Trump?

Patri: Is this even a question (laughs)? Absolute madness!!

Jad: Girls with bangs?

Patri: As long as they’re metalheads, heroes!

Photo credit: José María Martín Izquierdo

Jad: Hope that was fun. 😆
So you’re having some shows in April. Where will you be playing?

Patri: Indeed it was! Will adopt it as a new game to play when travelling.
For the moment it’s going to be Granada and Sevilla (both in Spain). But I am afraid of coronavirus getting to cancel or delay the gigs.

Jad: Finally, as a woman with a great talent, what advice would you give to young girls who are being bullied, mistreated or harassed?

Patri: I think we could do a whole interview related to that. I would say always follow your heart and do what’s fair. I still suffer from people assuming I can’t play because I’m a woman. It seems in this world if you are a female metal player, you’re going to be a clean-vocal singer or keyboard or violin player. But shit, we got this. We can do whatever we want to and if somebody dares to bully, mistreat or harass any of you reading this, just go ahead and demonstrate not only to them, but to the rest of the world, what you are capable of.

Jad: Thank you Patri. It was a pleasure chatting with you, as always. Good luck for you and Norwald in your future projects and congratulations on your first album! 🖤

Patri: Thank you for having me, Jad! I’m pleased to be featured, as I said before. Thank you so much and I hope I’ll get to play over there soon!!

Norwald
Photo credit: Luis Suárez Gómez

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