Brisbane’s premiere Folk / Viking Metal band Valhalore have been taking Australia by the majestic storm depicted on the cover of their debut album, Voyage into Eternity. We caught up with lead vocalist / cellist Lachlan Neate and guitarist / backing vocalist Anthony Willis ahead of their Vik-toberfest shows across the East Coast of Australia, as well as their upcoming Japanese tour supporting Ensiferum!

With a number of exciting live dates coming up, Neate tells us, “We just love playing shows really, and you know, we love being able to take our music around and play to different people in different cities. So we’re looking forward to being able to come down to Melbourne and Sydney and see all our friends down there. We’re hoping to put on an event that’s not just a gig per se. It’s a themed event. We’ve got some games and some prizes, raffles and stuff like that. It’s a bit more than just a rock up and play a show kind of night, so it’s going to be lots of fun.”

Willis adds, “Honestly I think the whole line-up is incredibly strong. We’ve only actually seen Triple Kill. I don’t think we’ve seen any of the others. Triple Kill pull a nice crowd as well, and I believe all the others do too. And I’ve heard all their music, and one’s just released a new single as well. That was really cool to hear, that was Primitive. But I’m honestly really looking forward to seeing all the other bands play, and I think it’s going to be a really, really strong line-up of bands. Trigger’s new album, I’ve had that on repeat for the last couple of weeks as well. I think it’s an awesome album.”

When it comes to the Japanese tour, the excitement is clear in Neate’s voice. “When that e-mail came through from the promotions company over there, Anthony and I were actually at the gym together at the time, so we just started dancing around the gym like a couple of excited schoolgirls,” he chuckles. “It was pretty exciting news, man. You know, being such a new band still, and having not really toured that much of Australia let alone internationally, so being asked to play a show in Japan with bands like Ensiferum and Trollfest and Wind Rose, it’s such an incredible experience and it’s something we’re really thankful for, and very excited for.”

Valhalore will be looking to build Australia’s profile overseas, particularly showcasing their gear. Willis explains, “We’re looking at wanting to take our Ormsby guitars over there as well as our Kemper rack units. This’ll be the first time we’ve flown with our gear internationally, but we want to do it to actually see how we go with that, rather than having to borrow gear, because we figure with our ambitions and whatnot we want to go even more places in the world, and we would love to do it with our gear that we use at home. I think that’s part of our plan, too.”

Neate adds, “I think another cool part of going on with the stuff that we use on stage is that Anthony and Lucas use Ormsby guitars, which is an Australian brand, it’s just a really cool opportunity to take some great Aussie brands and Aussie products overseas and put them on the world stage as it were. It’s just exciting. We want to travel the world,” he continues. “So we’ve definitely since day one had our sights very much set on Europe, because I feel like that’s where the Prog Metal and the Symphonic Metal scene is particularly strong in a global sense.”

Willis puts in dryly, “I’d personally really love to go to New Zealand,” before both musicians and interviewer descend into laughter. “I think that one’s really doable.”

“Find the hobbits and dwarves and elves!” Neate exclaims.

“Yeah, yeah, it’d be more of a sightseeing holiday,” Willis continues, tongue still firmly in cheek, “but we can knock over a few shows there. Especially at the place called Valhalla, like come on!”

Valhalore at Valhalla, it’s a match made in Heaven, surely,” Neate points out, “Made in Valhalla!”

It’s mentioned that Wintersun will be playing at Valhalla in Wellington when they tour Australia and New Zealand in November. Neate states more seriously, “Mate, I’m almost considering going over there just to see it. I can’t wait to see those guys in Brissy, it’s going to be incredible.”

Getting back to Brisbane, Valhalore recently played a headlining show there as part of Metal United Down Under, for which Neate has nothing but praise. “Metal United is such an amazing initiative and such a great opportunity to, as it says, unite the Metal community of Australia, so being asked to headline that in our hometown is something incredibly special, considering that not even two years ago we were opening festivals. It’s really cool to be asked to step up to the plate as it were, and take on those bigger roles.”

“We found it very humbling,” Willis adds, “and we’re very appreciative of the opportunity as well.”

When it comes to the success of Voyage into Eternity, Neate and Willis maintain their humility, while acknowledging the massive amount of work that went into bringing the album to life. “As with anything in life,” Neate reflects, “if you’re passionate about what you’re doing and you genuinely enjoy it, it sounds a bit wanky I guess, but if you’ve got that unbridled self-belief I think you can kind of achieve anything. So we essentially worked incredibly hard over a number of years to get that record to a place that we were happy with both in terms of the writing and then obviously the recording and the production of it, as well as the incredible artwork that we were fortunate enough to have alongside to visually represent what we’re aiming to do musically. I think due to the time and effort that we put into it, it just came together as a really nice package, as it were. We loved what we were doing and what we had to show to everyone, and we’re just really honoured and stoked that people enjoyed it as much as they did and that it’s been so well received.”

When probed about the appeal of Vikings and Viking culture, Neate tells us, “It’s interesting you say that. I suppose when we first were writing for the band and trying to come up with some lyrical concepts, the original idea for the whole record was to be far more narrative-based, a very literal kind of Viking story. We actually sat down and wrote essentially a whole short novel based around the story we wanted to tell, and the more we looked at it the more we just thought that as cool as the narrative elements were, it had a lot more scope musically and so we wanted to bring the lyrical aspect up to speed to match that. And so actually, if anything yes a few songs kind of throw in a handful of Viking imagery but more than anything I guess we use the Viking image as kind of a metaphor for just, you know as clichéd as it sounds, the warrior that’s within everybody and the challenges that people face, just on a day-to-day level, again overcoming adversity and striving to achieve great things and to live epically, even in a day-to-day sense, and in a far more existential sense.”

As for what’s next for Valhalore, Neate keeps things close to his chest, but reveals that, “2018 is already shaping up to be a pretty huge year for us. We’ve got some very exciting opportunities coming up that we’re hoping to be able to share with everyone in the near future. But beyond that, we’re just very excited to start writing again and getting back into the creative process. We have a bunch of material ready to go for the second album and for another exciting project in the interim. So it’s going to be some great shows and some incredible opportunities, and then just getting back into the creative process as well, and getting back into writing and creating the next chapter.”

Willis adds the reassurance that, “We’re not going to be a band that goes dormant for five years and then comes out with a new single or something like that. We want to keep the Valhalore train chugging along, so to speak, and there’ll hopefully be something every six months or so to keep everyone keen, and to keep us keen too, because we love doing it.”

“Stay Metal, and come along to Vik-toberfest,” Neate says in closing. “We can’t wait to party with you all in the near future!”