Dark Fortress – It’s A DeathexplosionFriday, 29th March 2013
Blistering.com: Was it also a conscious decision to make an album with actual flow, peaks and valleys, and various moods? Too many BM albums nowadays lack this kind of variety…
Morean: The songwriters in this band are always driven by pure and direct intuition in the first place, but as I mentioned, the composition of the album as a whole does involve a more or less conscious dramaturgy. So yes, the flow of the album is worked out consciously, albeit more in terms of emotional “colors” than searching for the song that is the album highlight or things like that. Ylemis a long album because we have lots of different ideas and influences, and we took the time this time to let every idea develop and breathe. We try to make every song as good as possible, and as good as the others, but every song is primarily its own reference, its own world, and has to be true only to itself. This is how songs like “Wraith” or “Evenfall” become possible to realize for what is in the first place still a black metal band. I like that on Ylem, every listener seems to have different favorites, depending on their background; I consider this a great achievement on our part, because it’s a consequence of the time and work that go into every single song.
Blistering.com: Being that you are from Germany, is it easy to have a different perspective on black metal since you’re not in the think of the Nordic BM scene?
Morean: In a sense, yes; the lack of media attention for black metal in and from Germany makes it harder for us to be noticed and accepted, but at the same time has always allowed us to do our own thing. Also, the scene in Germany is quite varied in style and rather dispersed geographically, so that German black metal bands are pretty much on their own and don’t have to submit to or comment on a specific school. The fact that everything black metal nowadays is automatically measured against what a handful of talented but – in some cases – also rather disturbed and immature Norwegian kids did 15 years ago is a pain in the ass for a band that has nothing to do with all that; on the other hand, all the bullshit around this music also made sure that black metal is a worldwide phenomenon now, that there is still curiosity out there and that there is a very faithful audience in the concerts, even though some people just wait for blood on stage and couldn’t care less about the music. I would say both things, being black metal and being German, can be seen as a blessing and a curse alike.
Blistering.com: The band’s image of late has also been sophisticated and gimmick-free. Do you feel that avoiding the usual image trappings of black metal (crazy corpse paint, swords, fire, etc.) helps separate Dark Fortress?
Morean: I don’t know… we like to present ourselves through our compositions, and the form in which we play live has more to do with a lack of possibilities for a voluptuous show than a conscious decision for a rather straight metal set. Luckily, in this genre, this can be an advantage, and we don’t mind. Before almost every show, some of us complain about the corpsepaint, since some feel it’s something that makes us look more generic than our music actually is, but the fact is that we don’t have a better alternative for it at this point, and jeans and t-shirt is not the answer for a band for which atmosphere is crucial.
As for the image: we like to think of ourselves as sophisticated and thinking individuals that live their beliefs in everything, not just on stage, and we would feel like a bunch of morons if we lowered ourselves to the level of idiocy of the usual black metal clichés. Contrary to other bands, we actually try to say something, even though we know some people only get happy if you mention Satan or bathe in your own (or someone else’s) vomit. We are not schizophrenic in that sense; we don’t pretend to be some random, under-researched lord of hell with a clown face on stage and go back to being a complaining, miserable cog in the machine who hates his life after the show. To each their own, it’s a free world, but it’s bad enough having to explain yourself time and time again as a black metal artist without participating in the retarded amateur theatre that has overshadowed the music in black metal for too many years. Maybe it’s a contradiction in terms, but we’ve always tried to keep some dignity, even in this kind of music.
Blistering.com: On the same level, what can a band like Dark Fortress do to separate itself from the band growing black metal ranks?
Morean: This is quite impossible to answer, honestly; all I can say is that we will keep doing what we always did: churn out exciting albums and play fiery live shows. At the end of the day, that’s all you can do. A strong live presence is essential, and we play as much as we possibly can. Unfortunately for Dark Fortress, many of us have to split their precious time between multiple kickass projects and bands – to make a living, but also because of our barely controllable obsession with what we do, which is hard to contain in a single band. Another problem is that how we are basically seen is as a third-generation black metal band, and despite our great ambition one cannot help wonder how big a band like us can get at all these days, even were we all to quit our other obligations and do 12 tours a year like Behemoth have done.
It is not inconceivable that we take out style to another level altogether; none of us is chained to black metal in what they want to do, and bands like Tiamat or Anathema have proven that even a band that came out of the pit of extreme metal can evolve into something bigger than their original genre. I strongly doubt, though, that we will mellow out as a band, because the aggression is an essential part to all of us. But if our music allows us to become our own genre, an entity that stands for itself and defies categorization, freeing itself from the ball-and-chain of our niche without losing the essence of Dark Fortress, our greatest goal would be achieved. My favorite bands, Opeth, Meshuggah, Morbid Angel and Emperor, to name but a few, have proven that this is possible, but it’s an extraordinarily difficult path to tread.
Blistering.com: Finally, what’s on tap for 2010?
Morean: After two recent tours, we are forced to take a little break from our live activities due to other obligations of our members (think of Triptykon, The Hungry Gods, Noneuclid and other things). We will probably have only one more show this year, which will be the final exam of our drummer at my old conservatory in Rotterdam in June – something I’m greatly looking forward to, coming back there tongue-in-cheek as a black metal singer. If time allows it we might have the odd show here and there, but we will only be able to do some serious mileage from next winter on. We hope to make it across the pond then finally (though nothing concrete is known), and we plan to make the next album in the summer of 2011, if the world still knows who we are by then. So bear with us, we’ll be back!
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