Tunis, Tunisia: from a land where hot desert sands greet the milder, yet still sunny Mediterranean climate, there rises a force who sings of dark fjords and winter’s snow. Ymyrgar, formed in 2012, assembled a seven-man clan to bring the sounds of folk/pagan-inpired Metal to local metal enthusaists. Now, as the band sets sights abroad, indeed, there are those in lands beyond who have likewise taken great interest in Ymyrgar. The band is scheduled to tour Europe in 2017 and not for the first time either. We chatted with one of the members to learn more about the band itself, and the journey into Europe which lays ahead.
The conversation started. of course, with a question as to the cultural heritage of North Africa as being so strong in it’s own rights – so why the existence of a band so deeply entrenched in Northern European cultural influence?
“If I may say, linking Folk Metal to Europe is kind of restrictive. In my humble opinion, music – and especially folk music – is a worldwide legacy and every living being shall appreciate it and exploit it in his own way despite his geographic origin. Nordic civilization is quite inspiring to us as it birthed our deepest perception of fantasy from movies and books to video games. In fact, Norse mythology played a major role in many well-known products of entertainment nowadays and attracted us to explore it’s ambiguous world in closer detail. That’s how our enthusiastic journey into the realms of cold and the Fjord began to thrive.” ~ Belhassen Zegeek Dahmen (violin, Ymyrgar)
Belhassen went on to describe the creation of the band as initially being quite a lighthearted affair, bringing friends together of whom some did not have a musical background to start off with. Crediting the initial idea to Tin Whistler Rami Khezami, Belhassen described the recruitment of members beginning in high school; where although Rami had not yet gained a foothold into the world of music, his passion desire to start a band built a fierce momentum for others to latch onto.
“What I really want to deliver here, is that Ymyrgar has never been aiming the international scene at the very start, but just a friendly activity where we make a good laugh about Rami not having a beard! In a more serious talk, Ymyrgar evolved spontaneously into what we are today: a live and recording band.” ~ Belhassen Zegeek Dahmen
With the band’s debut album The Tale As Far released in October of 2014, Ymyrgar has since performed not only in Tunisia, but also in Germany. The album encapsulates the Poetic Edda, visiting themes such as Ragnarock, Cosmology, the major war between Aesir and Vanir, Baldur, and more. Remarkably, it was entirely self-created and independently released with members of the band learning much along the way; in a sense, living their own quest as echoed through the music, undergoing trials and tribulations as a part of the band’s rise to greater power.
“We were all students at the time with no financial resources. The artwork was done by me, and it was my very first digital painting work. For the occasion, I bought a graphic tablet and spent too much time learning how to draw. All has been done by us, from the album artwork, the mixing and mastering process, the packaging of the CDs… Yeah, we spent a hell of a time doing it, but it was worth the fun we had!” ~ Belhassen Zegeek Dahmen
And so the fellows of Ymyrgar find that in 2017, an even greater pay-off for their efforts awaits them as they prepare for a month-long tour to Europe. In association with Berlin-based Asgaardian Events, Ymyrgar will be visiting Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Belgium and Hungary, with some of the shows featuring them alongside Romanian folk/pagan metal force, Bucovina.
“Our friend from Germany, Sabri, carries a lot a faith in our act. He believes that our music deserves to be heard by the world. He helped us last year in booking three gigs in Germany and is planning to do more next year. Meanwhile, we are working on a new album and we hope to play some of our new material during this tour. This opportunity allows us to meet our favorite bands and learn from them.” ~ Belhassen Zegeek Dahmen
Ymyrgar ‘Midgards Paths’ European Tour dates:
(dates updated as of January 2017)
04.08.17 : Berlin – Blackland (DE) : Facebook event link
05.08.17 : Wuppertal – Underground (DE) : Facebook event link
11.08.17 : Warsaw – Voodoo Club (PL) : Facebook event link
15.08.17 : Prague – Vagon Club (CZ)** : Facebook event link
17.08.17 : Barther Metal Open Air : Facebook event link
25.08.17 : Cologne – MTC Club (DE)** : Facebook event link
26.08.17 : Saint-Maurice – Manoir Pub (CH)** : Facebook event link
31.08.17 : Bielsko Biala – Rudeboy Club (PL)* : Facebook event link
01.09.17 : Erfurt – From Hell (DE)*, ** : Facebook event link
* : Exclusive show with Bucovina.
** : With Lagerstein.
Follow the official facebook page for the tour to get further information and updates.