Now You Know: Decembre NoirThursday, 17th July 2014
Location: Erfurt, Germany
Personnel: Lars (vocals); Sebastian (guitars); Martin (guitars); Mike (bass); Kevin (drums).
Style: Classic, melancholic doom/death, very much in the vein of vintage Katatonia, or early Swallow the Sun.
Recent release: A Discouraged Believer (FDA Rekotz)
Troll the influences found on Decembre Noir’s Facebook page and it’s a veritable who’s-who of the Gothic/doom sphere: Anathema, Katatonia, My Dying Bride, Paradise Lost, and Swallow the Sun, to name a few. Each is with full merit; certifiably influential in their own right, and fully capable of providing the musical background for a young, upstart German band who formed in 2008. But, according to guitarist Sebastian, Decembre Noir is capable of standing on its own two feet, good company aside.
“I think that our songs and the album are speaking for themselves,” he begins. “Every one of us had musical stages which could not be hard and fast enough. But, this musical direction has been there all the time and we could not strip from the special atmosphere and the depth. That’s why every one of us was mesmerized, one after another.”
To that point, Sebastian said there isn’t one album universally hailed by the band as a prime influence. Their varying backgrounds and tastes each contribute to the melodic doom/death melting pot found on A Discouraged Believer. “Every one of us has hits which you can hear every day, the whole day,” he notes. “Sometimes that concerns only one of us and sometimes, the whole band. That also is affecting how we interpret our own songs because every one of us has different feelings about it or likes different passages.”
The band’s formation six years ago was spurred in part, by the existing friendships that existed between at least four members of the band. Once vocalist Lars was added, the band’s lineup was solidified. “We played in different bands together in the past or even knew us about each other in different ways,” says Sebastian. “Decembre Noir has been only a little project in its beginnings of two people. During that time, we felt that there could be more and we thought about making a real band out of it. We wanted to get on stage and not only to be a studio project. Only our vocalist Lars was advertised to us very consciously. Immediately he said ‘Okay.’ I think we all were yearning for the music we are making now.”
Indeed the music the band is “making now” is in contrast to what generally comes from Germany, which of course, is either power or thrash metal. Sure, the spare black metal band will emerge every now and then (standouts Imperium Dekadenz instantly come to mind), but the country’s identity as a prime power/thrash export certainly is warranted. Sebastian helps us out with a geographical breakdown:
“In Germany there are regional differences in what kind of metal the people like and what they are listening to. Our region is more known for death and black metal and has a large number of fans of Viking metal. We all are rooted with death and black metal, so we are not very far from our roots, but we are also not a typical band from Thuringia. We stick out a little bit. But that was not our goal; it happened along the way. But the German underground has a lot of good doom/death bands. Sometimes we snap ourselves in the rehearsal trying to play as fast as we can.”
After snagging a deal with FDA Rekotz based solely on their first live performance, the band was able to assemble the tunes for A Discouraged Believer during their halcyon days, where it was just Sebastian and drummer Kevin holding down the fort. Once the rest of the band came together, so did A Discouraged Believer. Accordingly, Sebastian says that many of the band’s songs come from a very simple place: The gut.
“It doesn’t have to be full of all elements and it doesn’t have to have a concrete structure,” he says. “If you feel a cold shiver in your neck, if you could look in each other’s eyes and know what the other thinks, then everything is right. The atmosphere develops on its own. We don’t have the goal to create atmosphere and put tones on special points. We don’t know where it comes from. But it’s there.”
Having admitted to missing out on festival season, Decembre Noir will turn its focus to live activity come the fall. In the meantime, they are more than happy to enjoy the swaths of good press they’re receiving for A Discouraged Believer, along with making gradual preprations for album #2.
“We are nearly overwhelmed by the amazing response to the album and are open for everything,” he finishes. “We want new songs, but we don’t want to do this under pressure. We are pleased every time we are onstage but also enjoy our time together in the rehearsal room. But I think this year would not be very calm.”