DARKENHÖLD has a name that breathes black metal. To find out more about this band I had to interview them. ©2016 Anders Ekdahl
When you release a new recording does it feel like you have to start a new a couple step back because so much time has passed and so many new bands have entered the scene since the last album or do you just pick up where the last one left?
Aldébaran : I prefer to look forward in general and at the same time i don’t care too much of what is the new trend of the moment, of course i keep inform of what happens more or less in the scene and sometimes it can influence a bit my vision but never in a drastic way.
I am more into a vision that i have and that i want to concretize.
So i think the second assertion is the closest of how Darkenhöld proceeds in general.
Do you have an aesthetic that you keep true to from recording to recording (i.e. stylistical same art work, lyrical theme etc.)?
I think that if we follow our course we can see that Darkenhöld has a certain touch in terms of lyrics, artwork, riffs, some components like choirs, acoustic guitars and some solos we can find in every productions we’ve released. At the same time it’s not really the same album each time, we try to always propose a different side of our music.
This link between our productions is not made on purpose but it’s something we can notice if we take a look at it.
How hard is it to come up with lyrics to the songs? When do you know thst you have the right lyrics?
Aldébaran : In almost every song i compose i have a certain vision of what kind of mood should be evocated with the lyrics, i propose to Cervantes a kind of « concept » and character that are related to the song and he writes then according to his view with a certain touch he has we can recognize.
Cervantes : Concerning the lyrics, which are my domain, Aldébaran actually comes sometimes with one or two words, sometimes with a character, and sometimes just with the atmosphere he would like to uncover in the lyrics, as he said, and so my work is to develop a story, mould characters and shape evocative places to raise a coherent universe for Darkenhöld. But there are times I prefer to start from the music he created and let my feelings guide the hand on the virgin paper. So I drift offt into this musical material and try to catch the images that materialize suddenly, even if they can be inspired by some local or national legends and myths, like our emblem, the Wyvern. Sometimes, it’s even different, more an ex nihilo process. For example, I wrote the “Ghouls and the tower” lyrics before the music creation and submitted it to Aldébaran. I also wrote lyrics like “Citadel of obsidian slumber”, “Crimson legions”, “Chasm of Asylake” or “Nightfall and the fire doom” before I knew the music and choosed the one which could shelter them as a song. For “Castellum”, I decided to devote each song to one or two french medieval castles (Aldébaran proposed one of them, closed to the Darkenhöld universe) and fixed the music which could fit well to the stories I wrote, from historical facts or inspired by some legend.
How hard is it to find the right art work? What are you looking for?
Aldébaran : In general i have already the type of artwork i want in mind before it is created, i would go further by saying that i have the images since i compose the first riffs of the music.
i suggest the cover by sketches, paintings, photos to Claudine Vrac in order she can figure out the idea of the future cover. We work also with Metalex who is a fellow friend since a long time, he brings lots of different ideas in the layout.
Cervantes : From the beginning, I had the idea of a painting for covering the albums of Darkenhöld, and Claudine Vrac was really the good person to render the Darkenhöld personnality and give our albums a visual signature. She understands our wishes and she works in a good way with Aldébaran, as he said.
Do you ever feel that you get misinterpretated because of the metal you play?
Aldébaran : I’m not sure to understand the meaning of the question. If you want to say for example that we pretend to be « Medieval Black Metal » and that we are not enough medieval or black to pretend that appellation, i would say people can interpret our sound as they want, we like to put a name of our genre we play but someone can call it differently if he prefers. I think at least we are a kind of metal band, we play it sincerely and we create our universe with our own codes, as we want, and that’s really matters.
Do you feel that you get the recognition you deserve, nationally as well as internationally?
Aldébaran : We never have enough recognition but in the other hand i would say that we prefer to have few passionate and loyal fans than a myriad of trendy guys supporting us. I think some bands are over estimated and other are under estimated, we can see it in the french scene for example, as well as abroad, sometimes it’s a question of hype, promotion, provocation etc… But in a way we don’t care as far as we can play our music as we want without following a trend.
Cervantes : Darkenhöld is not empowered to claim success at any price, we created it to follow our inspiration and shape a music and words universe we could be proud of, not to be good at sniffing out bargains. Of course, I would like to play in some festivals and share the stage with big bands I really appreciate, but I prefer to miss this chance and sing in a band I love that get this opportunity while playing a music I can’t face without embarrasment.
Is the end of physical close by or is there a future for all formats?
Aldébaran : I think nowadays classic (old) formats like CD, tape, vinyl are more for collectors or people who really want to support the band, it becomes an even more rare and precious object in a way.
For 2016 we plan to release the reissues of our two first albums : A Passage to the Towers and Echoes from the Stone Keeper and also all of our productions (three albums) will be released in vinyls this year.
So we keep loyal to the physical formats as for us.
Cervantes : I agree with Aldébaran. I’m very fond of physical formats. I got some vinyls in my early years, when I was a child, but I really did my musical education by myself, with tapes and cds, reading tons of magazines (I still do it) and books, searching in the departments of my favorite cd-dealers (I still visit him) and buyings many cds… I can understand the process of dematerialization and know that it’s an inexorable path followed by the industry, and that big bands prefer to sale t-shirts and play live again and again to enter money. But as far as I’m concerned, Darkenhöld will never stop release physical formats and there are still many people who want to keep a physical trace of the music they listen to, not just and mp3 and a downloaded cover.
I get the impression that today’s touring scene is most made up of festivals or multiple band line-ups. Is it harder/tougher to tour today?
Aldébaran : It seems you are right, most organizers tend to prefer festivals than nights with few bands nowadays. For us the situation is not so easy as we are a bit far from the places of big festivals and for the moment our name is not so famous so bookers could drag us with a decent amount of money.
With my previous band Artefact (2000 – 2008) it seems we had a bit more proposals to play, we played at Wacken Festivals in 2004 as well as 2 Black Metal is Rising Fest in Paris and 2 Chaos Fest in Marseille + a tour of 11 dates.
If you were to decide how would the stage show look like?
-I would love to play in ancient villages with lots of old stones, around a fortress, in the court of a castle, in the forest, near a chapel and cemetery, many venues in that genres would fit the band i think as soon as it has a particular vibe in them. I like fire, fog and torch on scene if it would be possible to create an atmosphere.
What does the future hold?
-As i said before the close future will see the rerelease of our two first opus A Passage to the Towers and Echoes from the Stone Keeper under Those Opposed Records, there will contain bonus like unreleased tracks, acoustic interludes, some new photos and enhanced layouts. Three vinyls of our three opus will be released too with special artwork realized by Rom from Les Acteurs de L’Ombre. It will be a coproduction with LADLO and Those Opposed Records.
As far as i’m concerned i will continue the composition of our fourth opus these next months, hope it will be released not too late.