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Black Metal Pigeons

Slumming it on a Brooklyn roof with some metallers.
December 1, 2003, 12:00am

Photo by Peter Beste

Windir is an epic black metal band that lives in Sogndal, Norway, pop. 3,500. Of course, they can’t actually say it’s where they “come from,” since they’ve never left long enough to have lived anywhere else. Unlike those high-school dropouts who stick around their hometowns getting fat, bald, and gross, Windir have remained in their native land like an Appalachian family trying to keep their bloodline alive via shotgun weddings. “Our music is about the history of our village,” says Hvall, the band’s bassist. “The album 1184 is all about this farmer, Arntor, who was fed up with taxes. On Christmas Day, he went to the king and demanded the villagers’ money back, but since the king wouldn’t return the money, Arntor cut off his head.” While their greatest influence comes from black-metal gods Burzum, the members of Windir also cite Abba and the traditions of Norwegian hymnal and folk music as inspiration. With all these powers backing the band’s gritty, pummeling output, it’s like listening to the musical equivalent of Beowulf as executed by a crew of real, live Scandinavian giants in white makeup and black clothes. But if they’re so good, why haven’t they ever gone on tour? “We’re lazy bastards,” boasts Hvall. “And we like to drink a lot.” That’s a great excuse. It’s impossible to get drunk on tour. They were lured to the US this summer for the Milwaukee Metal Fest, of all things. On their way to their inaugural foreign show, the band stopped off in Brooklyn and spent a few nights surrounded by trash, bottles of vodka, and bird shit, sleeping on the roof of the photographer who took the picture above. It was definitely a scene of squalor, but to black-metal guys it was like a foot massage. “What’s the only thing you’re sure of when you wake up in the morning?” Hvall asks. I was pretty certain the answer had something to do with the existence of an insatiable erection, but then he spit out a black-metal mantra in reply to his own question: “The only thing you can ever be sure of is that you’re going to die.” MATT EBERHART