Night in Gales – The Sun Still ShinesSunday, 25th February 2018
Forever the German answer to the mid-’90s flood of melodic death bands coming from Gothenburg, Sweden, Night in Gales put together an unheralded, if not wholly impressive discography throughout said decade, most notably their Towards the Twilight debut and Thunderbeast follow-up. Once the new century dawned, in came thrash and groove metal on Nailwork and Necrodynamic, a dramatic shift just as melodic death metal was at its arguable peak. With label prospects at a minimum, the Germans took ten years to release Necrodynamic’s follow-up, the rather brilliant, striking, graceful Five Scars. However, it was vocalist Björn Gooßes’s swansong and another seven years passed before Night in Gales were to be heard from again.
An album virtually guaranteed to strike the fancy of melodic death metal purists, The Last Sunsets is a fresh throwback, if you will, to the style’s glory eras. With acidic vocals, flying harmonies and a bristling pace setting the tone, Night in Gales have released one of the year’s most firebrand albums, one that includes original vocalist Christian Müller. Full circle indeed. With that in mind, guitarist Jens Basten was all too kind to submit to our queries…
Dead Rhetoric: To start, was there any consideration to hanging it up after Bjorn left?
Jens Basten: Not at all. As Björn was always bringing a lot of his own approach and style in Night in Gales, we were pretty curious about to know how it would work without elements like his various singing styles and of course, the lyrical aspect. We simply liked the idea to take this chance and continue where we stopped with Christian 1996: pure melodic death metal the old way.
Dead Rhetoric Did his departure take you by surprise? After all, Five Scars was such a strong album. It seemed like momentum was on your side…
Basten: As he told us about his plans to leave the band long before and that Five Scars would be his personal farewell album, it doesn´t come surprisingly. Five Scars was from today´s perspective, our comeback step one. Indeed, it was a very good and successful album, but for a real “band returned to their roots” album, the return was not consistent enough.
Dead Rhetoric How did Christian re-enter the picture?
Basten: We asked Christian pretty early to rejoin Night in Gales, but, of course, he needed some time to make his decision after roundabout 20 years without performing constantly in a band. After he joined, the songwriting process was completed very fast because we had a concrete picture in mind how things should turn out musically.
Dead Rhetoric Obviously, he was in Night in Gales at the beginning, but even now, his voice seems to fit the band perfectly. What was the feeling like when he started rehearsing with the band again?
Basten: Well, he was at no time out of our world and Tobias was in steady contact with him over the years. We knew that he was doing vocals for some projects in the meantime and still a death metal lover, so he still fits in the plan. We never rehearsed for The Last Sunsets before entering the studio. I finished all vocal arrangements and recorded some demos, so I sent him those as a suggestion/want to go. As we met then in the studio we heard his voice on the tracks for the first time on a Night in Gales song since 1996, which was kind of great.
Dead Rhetoric As for The Last Sunsets, how old are some of these songs? Was it your intention to quickly follow-up Five Scars?
Basten: The first three songs written close after Björn quit were “The Abyss,” The Mortal Soul” and “Dust and Form.” I think it was around 2013 – 14. We had two other singers that wanted to join and as Christian needed some time to make a decision, we stopped the songwriting after those three songs because it´s very important to know who will perform your songs while you are composing them. As Christian joined then in 2016, the songwriting was completed within a few very inspired weeks.
Dead Rhetoric The album is a remarkable take on melodic death metal. It feels like you’re one of the last bands standing who play this style properly. Is that how you feel?
Basten: Yes, that’s right. We just did the album we heavily missed since those years. Nearly all pioneers of that style except At the Gates went different ways, some of them completely stepped out of the scene, the best example here, of course, is In Flames. We showed the more progressive and experimental sides of the band as well pretty early in our career between 1998 – 2001. We know that a lot of people out there are still craving this pure and old-fashioned melodic death style as much as we do. Today, we know better than ever to deliver this shit, that’s the whole story.
Dead Rhetoric What do you remember most about the period around Nailwork and Necrodynamic? It’s an underrated period of the band, even though you had changed your style.
Basten: We were young and had no clue about possible consequences. The business happened to us was different from what it is today. Sales were 1000% above from what they are today, we had full support by Nuclear Blast and two-to-three tour activities each year with acts like In Flames, Dismember, Death, Hypocrisy, Cradle Of Filth and Dimmu Borgir, playing open airs like Wacken or Summer Breeze. It all felt natural ha-ha. Besides that, with Christian (Bass, drums) and Björn, we had two very dominant heads in the band, which contributed a lot to the more experimental direction on Nailwork and Necrodynamic. To make a long story short: you don’t need to be Einstein to realize that fans don’t follow a band that suddenly plays something totally different on their new albums ha-ha.
Dead Rhetoric You were one of the few German melodic death metal bands during the ’90s and early ’00s. Did you ever feel isolated from the Swedish scene?
Basten: Yes, but that was always okay with us. Well, there were many good band-to-band and band-to-business contacts all over the world and including Sweden during the years from 1995 – 1998. We shared the bus with many Scandinavian bands of course, but we never really felt being a part of their scene or something. We were more something like the “German answer to Gothenburg-Style.”
Dead Rhetoric For now, what your goals with The Last Sunsets? Live shows? Touring?
Basten: We will play a release show with Fleshcrawl and Revel in Flesh and some bigger open-air festivals this summer. Besides that, we will pick some interesting offers in European countries like the already fixed show at the Hardmetalfest in Mangualde, Portugal in January 2019.
Dead Rhetoric Finally, will there be another seven years between studio albums?
Basten: Nope, this time we are already very clear about it. Knowing that people dig The Last Sunsets and our new/old style that much, we are so empowered to move on in that direction. We will start the songwriting for the follow-up album this spring so that we hopefully can enter the studio in late summer.