With one of the most epic guest list on a power metal album ever, Marius Danielsen and his Valley Doom project is ready for the next chapter. PowerMetal.no had a talk with Marius about the new album and some other projects he’s working on.
Now it’s time for a new chapter in the Valley Doom saga. How does it feel?
Marius: It is an amazing feeling to finally get this album out there after three years of hard work! I hope the hard work will pay off and that people will like it!
It’s been three years since you released Legend Of Valley Doom Part 1. How has the years after the release been? Have you, at any point, put the project aside and focused on something else, or have you continuous been working on Part 2?
Marius: I have never put the project completely aside. But since the release of Part 1 I released the debut album of my band Darkest Sins [The Broken, 2016] and also put together a Metal For Charity [Ana] single together with Anniken Rasmussen. The song was made to raise money for cancer society. We are also working on a new song with that project. This time for the organization Metalheads Against Bullying. On top of that I have done 21 music videos this year, many of them cover songs. I play guitar and sing, and mix all the instruments and edit the video; so, it takes time! But, I do all that to learn more about mixing.
How was the response after the release of Part 1?
Marius: The response for Part 1 was very good! I think the fan base has grown since it was released, so it seems like more people are discovering it now. Hopefully it will continue to grow now when Part 2 comes out. I think it deserves that, haha!
Let’s go back in time and to the beginning: how did you come up with the story, and how were you able to start up this project?
Marius: In 2005, when I was 17 years old, I wrote a song called «The Legend Of Valley Doom». I imagined how it would be to just travel to another world, or another dimension.
I have always been interested in swords and fantasy. It started with Star Wars and Turtles when I was 4-6 years old, then I saw Braveheart when I was a little older, and then came Lord Of The Rings and completed the «sword and fantasy» thing. And that is also what I wanted to do; to create my own universe, just like Tolkien. A few years ago I also developed an alphabet, haha! But I never bothered to do something serious about it.
And why a metal opera? What made you go all in with guest musicians, wouldn’t it be easier to just make a «ordinary» album?
Marius: It would of course have been much easier and taken less time if I had done it myself. But I already had the idea of making this story into a Metal Opera back in 2009. I had a band called Nocturnal Illusion and we demoed 6 songs that ended up on Part 1. On the song «Lost In A Dream» I invited Simon Byron from Crystal Empire. It worked extremely well to have different singers being different characters, so that gave me an idea to expand and do it bigger when the time was right.
What is it with Norway and metal operas, you think? We also have Your brother, Peter Danielsen and his Eunomia project, and Frode Hovd’s Aldaria.
Marius: Speaking for my brother and I, we grew up surrounded by epic Snowy mountains and the fjords, on an island with roots to the Viking age; all around us there were traces of Viking stuff. And we have a cabin up in the mountains, only 40 minutes by foot, with no electricity and a fireplace with a giant three-headed troll on it. Being surrounded by stuff like that makes your fantasy run wild!
Let’s go back to the new album: how long have you been working on it?
Marius: I started recording Part 2 the day I sent Part 1 to mixing in June 2015. I have almost not had a day off since 2013 with this project, haha! Or…it has actually been on my mind almost daily since 2005.
What can you tell us about the new album? I know that the story line continues where Part 1 ended, is that the same for the music as well?
Marius: I can say that the story continues straight after where Part 1 ended. King Thorgan is dead, and the big questions is: how can they go on without a leader? Musically it will continue with the same epic sounding choruses, great storytelling from the vocalists and elite instrumentalists.
Some surprises are there; I bet people wouldn’t expect a song like «Crystal Mountains», as it could have been taken from an 80’s Black Sabbath album. But I really loved the riff, and HAD to have it in there. It’s one of my favorite songs I’ve ever written!
Was it easier to bring in guest musicians this time, thinking you already have released an album?
Marius: Over the years I have created a huge network of people, and there is almost always someone who knows someone. But, it is still hard to get in touch with some. And if you manage to get in touch with them, you must really believe that the stuff you are going to show them is good! The only way you can convince someone to join, is if you believe that your material can hold up against the millions of other albums being released all the time. And I do believe that my crazy fantasy concept is very special. It is not the same as other Metal Operas out there.
Do you have som fun stories to tell after having worked with so many great artists?
Marius: I really enjoyed having Jan Thore Grefstad [Highland Glory, Saint Deamon] and Jari Kainulainen [ex-Stratovarius, Masterplan] visiting me. We drank A LOT of beer and recorded all day and all night, haha! The songs got better and better, and the beers got fewer and fewer!
Which artists remains on your wishlist?
Marius: I have not made it easy for myself with the epic list that I managed to put together for Part 2. I must have Tobias Sammet, Arjen Lucassen and Bruce Dickinson on the next one! And of course, Adrian Smith on guitar. If any of you read this, please contact me! Haha! It would be a dream come true and completed the circle to have Tobi and Arjen on this, as they are huge influences for me.
This project both sounds and looks quite expensive! Am I correct, haha?
Marius: The project is extremely expensive! I have paid a huge chunk of my paychecks every month the last five years to be able to do this. But I have never taken up a loan! I would never loan money for a Music project. I don’t want to think about how much I have spent, but it is most likely over 12 000 Euros per album – probably more… And when most people will listen to it for free on Spotify, makes it kind of sad, haha!
In Norway, a project of this scale, is quite unique! Have you gotten any publicity from Norwegian press? And how is it to be a power metal musician in Norway?
Marius: I don’t think there are many people in Norway that have a clue about what I have done musically. VG and Dagbladet [two of Norway’s biggest newspapers] have never contacted me regarding Legend Of Valley Doom, and I am not holding my breath, haha!
Being a power metal musician, or just a musician in general, is extremely hard these days. There are almost no venues left, and the ones that are still standing struggle on and can’t really offer bands any money for playing. So, most times you play for the ticket sales. BUT, Norwegians really like sitting at home watching Netflix and eat taco and pizza. So, between 40-70 people shows up at your concerts. Maybe you can afford a cup of coffee on the ferry back home, but most likely not, haha! So, it’s hard! Hopefully this will change before we have no live music, or even new recorded music left.
Are you planning on taking the Valley Doom Project on the road?
Marius: I have started a band here in Ålesund with local musicians. We are going to learn all the songs from all the albums, and the goal is to have this ready for the road as soon as possible. Hopefully there will be some gig offers when Part 2 comes out!
What are the future plans for this project? How many albums do you have planned?
Marius: I have always said that the main story for Valley Doom is a trilogy. But I have been thinking about doing spin-off albums focusing on a single character, or maybe two. Like Warrior King and Arigo the Wise, or other characters. But that will not happen until the main trilogy is done. If Star Wars can do spin-offs, so can I!
Do you have any other projects and ideas you hope to realize?
Marius: I have lots! There will of course come more music from my main band Darkest Sins. We are also working on a solo album for Anniken Rasmussen. Peter Danielsen is working on a new Eunomia album, and there will be a new Ana Metal For Charity single coming soon.
I also have a Viking themed concept album in my head. And one of the guests from my albums has also asked me to write a solo album for him in the same style as Valley Doom! I have written 5-6 songs for a Time Machine concept album, and I hope to do some guest vocals for cool new bands.
Marius Danielsen’s Legend Of Valley Doom Part 2 is due for release November 30th.