Spanish black metal might not have the highest profile on the underground scene but they are there and they bring about some really cool music. DANTALION is a fine example of that. Anders Ekdahl ©2012
What were the intentions of forming Dantalion?
Naemoth – Dantalion was formed by Netzja and me with the intention of giving form to the musical interests that we had been showing during some time. Those were, mainly mixing the aggressive with the more melancholic elements of black metal. We were playing in a band called Mydgard back then, so we decided to leave that band, offering Mydgard’s singer, Zeukram, the same spot in the new band, and with the addition of Maiestas (who was playing in another band where I had been many years ago), the first line-up of Dantalion was formed. This line-up recorded the first album.
Having released three albums how do you see the band having progressed from that very first vision you had of what you wanted to do?
Thorgrim: In some way, I think that we still maintain the same vision that was evident on our first album, but it’s obvious that some elements have changed. We still try to blend the rawness and anger of black metal with its melancholic side, but I think that this elements now are mixed differently. The band has definitely grown in a musical sense and, while our music was based on contrasts in the early days, now we pursue a more natural and dynamic way of evolving the songs. The fast parts have lost some presence and we concentrate on mid tempos and atmospheres more than in mere brutality. Even some elements from different styles, as doomy slower passages or more heavy metal influenced solos and melodies enrich our compositions, making the final result more diverse but, at the same time, more coherent and musical. But that’s only the way that we perceive our evolution, listeners should judge by themselves.
Spain is a catholic country. Is it any special being a black metal band in such a country as compared to one that is more secularized as for example Sweden?
Thorgrim: Not really. I think that the vision of Spain could be a bit mistaken from outside. I’ve visited many countries around Europe and I assure you that the presence of religion is not bigger here than anywhere else. It’s true that the majority of Spain’s population considers itself as catholic, but only a minority go to church often. Our education is totally secularized (unless you go to a religious school), and so is our government, so religion does not really affect our normal lives. And even with the passing of time this gets even less important. Mainly old people lives religion intensely here, but as the new generations arise, the power of religion decreases constantly. So the answer to your question should be no, being a black metal band here is the same as in any other European country. I assume that religion should condition the existence of a black metal band in many muslim, or even jewish countries, but definitely not here.
Black metal to me is more about exploring the dark side of humanity, death and destruction of human bonds. Where do you see black metal going in 2012 when so many sub-genres has emerged that it is basically impossible to keep track of it?
Naemoth: Yes, it’s true that as time passes by, many subgenres and fusions within black metal have emerged. I can say that I really enjoy some of them, while I just try to ignore other expressions. I consider that it’s logical to see a style evolving from its early stages as long as it maintains its roots. If you see this from a musicians perspective, everybody feels the need to make things evolve, it does not really make sense to record during all your life albums as, let’s say, “De Misteriis Dom Sathanas”, just because it’s the only true black metal. You’ll just arrive to some stage where you don’t offer anything else and you become repetitive.
Thorgrim: As with every other musical style, changes are unavoidable. If it was that way, we would still be playing rhythm & blues or country in the porch of a farm. I’ll go further, it’s necessary to evolve to make things grow as diversity is what enriches any form of expression, and that also goes for black metal. But we should understand this in a logical way, when things change so much, that you can’t even recognise the initial stage, it should take a new name and depart from the original root. I’m not one of those who search evolution for the simple purpose of evolution. Everything should maintain its identity. A new fusion can be called black metal if I can still recognise my good old black metal in it. Where we see it going in 2012? Not really anywhere. It’s difficult to take things further everyday without loosing it’s primal essence. In that case, a look back to the past in an exercise of revisionism could be a good option. And thne, with this lesson well learned, try to start a new path.
How big is the black metal scene in Spain? Is there any specific sub-genre that is more popular than others?
Naemoth – I sincerely think that we have a good number of quality bands here in Spain. I won’t say that there’s a concrete sub-genre that it more popular than the rest, but we have bands as Foscor, Numen, Primigenium, Balmog, Aboriorth, The Last Twilight, Profundis Tenebrarum, Empty, Lux Divina, Amnion etc. at the same level that more renowned bands from other countries around Europe. I think that being from Spain can be a handicap because, if most of the aforementioned bands were Swedish, German or Norwegian, they will be better known, for sure.
Thorgrim – I would add that, in my opinion, what you would mainly find here are more black metal bands than from any other style, at least that’s the most recent tradition. If you go back to the early 90’s there were many death metal bands around the country and, although most of them were not really worthy of mentioning, there were some really good examples. Lately, also some really good thrash and death metal bands have emerged from the underground raising the level of other scenes around here: Graveyard, Ered, Omission, Angelus Apatrida, Aggression, Unconsecrated, Unreal Overflows, Ataraxy, Körgull the Exterminator… would be nice examples.
When you deal with the darker side of life how much research do you do in order to write the lyrics, come up with the titles and getting the right kind of art work?
Thorgrim – We don’t really start a research process when we face the moment of writing our lyrics. They’re mainly based in own experiences or just thoughts about what surrounds us, how do we see the dichotomy between life and death, personal feelings… I personally find inspiration sometimes in books, movies or in history, but not during a conscious process. When I read or watch something that moves me or sums me up in a certain mood, I sometimes feel the urge to write something. The artwork usually comes from a certain idea related to the lyrics and then we develop it seeking for images or creating a totally new composition that may reinforce the meaning of the music and the lyrics.
How much time and effort do you guys spend on the band? To me it seems that a band like Watain is a lifetime commitment.
Naemoth – We dedicate to Dantalion as much time as we can. We have some weekly rehearsals that we strictly try to commit, but we all have our own jobs, families, mortgages, even children so, really often, it’s a difficult task to dedicate as much time as we would like to Dantalion. However we do our best to find time enough, because it really satisfies us and it forms part of our lives. It’s obvious that a band as Watain is a totally different case, but they also play in a different league as us. Watain make a living from playing music and they can dedicate as much time as they need to the band because, when you have reached that level, aside from your passion it’s also your job. If a promoter demands them to play somewhere, he has to pay their fee to have them there, but that’s not the case for bands as Dantalion. For example, a couple of months ago, we were asked to play a gig with 3 other underground bands more than 1000 km. far from our city, and they were only going to pay us 25% of the ticket sales (the money was going to be divided between the bands). We can’t even pay the fuel to drive more than 2000 km with that. Bands as Dantalion can’t earn a single euro for playing, we even lose money because we want to play live, but that’s the reason why we can never have the dedication of a band as Watain.
What kind of live scene is there for a black metal band? I guess that there has to be a right kind of atmosphere for the music to work its best in a live environment.
Thorgrim – There’s almost no scene for a black metal, nor any other band around here. We sometimes get some offers to play live, but not really too many, and they’re always in quite bad conditions. That’s mainly the reason why we don’t play too often live, unless we can make sure that we’re not going to lose much money. First of all, we don’t exactly demand any special conditions to play live, but we always appreciate having a good sound and a nice venue to play. Then, if the conditions are correct, you can transmit the perfect atmosphere on stage. It’s true that black metal is probably a difficult style to play live, because it needs a certain feeling, but when things come from the deepest inside, we are sure that the perfect environment is created.
How important is promoting the band at any expense to you guys? What would you not do to get the band noticed?
Thorgrim – We’re not really obsessed by promotion. Music should be sincere and never created to reach a concrete goal. Our main intention is to create music and then, if we receive any feedback from that, we will welcome it. This music is only meant to be appreciated by a minority and so we mainly make our music for ourselves and for those few who would be potentially interested. I’m sure that almost everybody involved in metal has someday dreamed with the possibility of being a rock star or at least make a living out of music, but that’s something you leave behind as you grow old and see how things in reality are. What we won’t do to make the band noticed? Many things. For example we’re not very keen on different social networks. We have a myspace, as we think that it was a very usual tool a couple of years ago (now it’s totally dead) and I’ve recently heard about another thing called bandcamp but, for example, I don’t imagine the band having facebook or something like that. What we will never do is compromising our creative process to achieve a certain goal. We will never change our musical style or condition any side of Dantalion’s spectrum to make our band more accessible.
When can we expect album number 4 from you guys? What is there in the future for Dantalion?
Naemoth- In fact we’re currently preparing the recording of our new album. The new songs quite follow the line marked in “All Roads Lead to Death”, but we maybe go deeper in the melancholic passages and the mid tempos.
About the future, I presume that we won’t experiment big changes, we only pretend to find labels interested in releasing our works and try to play live in decent conditions. Nothing really ambitious though…