Monday, August 15, 2016

Interview: Christian from Dark Forest Sheds Some Light

Dark Forest
Metal is a wonderfully splintered thing.

From the very early days until now it has grown, changed, and incorporated new ideas and instruments.

From the founding of Metal by Black Sabbath to today, it's often hard to even see the similarities if you haven't followed the path from the very beginning.

Back in high school, there were many conversations about where metal was going to go. The idea that Tampa Bay Death Metal was going to be surpassed in heaviness was unfathomable. Well, it has, and since then metal has also grown more metal and diverse. Back then, Black Metal was barely an idea.

Then came in the keyboards and the monotone growls. Then Pagan Metal, Stoner Metal, Folk Metal, et al. It's been a long strange trip to say the least.

Today Christian, of Folk Influenced Dark Forest, tells us some more about what he and his cohorts are doing.

Glacially Musical: Thank you for taking some time for me today.

Dark Forest: You're welcome!

GM: Beyond The Veil is my first dance with Dark Forest. Tell me about your band and how you describe what you do?

DF: I've always described Dark Forest as simply heavy metal. I don't like concentrating too much on sub genres because you end up censoring your own song writing by trying to sound like a certain thing. 

I've always let the music flow out naturally and see what we end up with. I formed the band in 2002 and it's been a long, bumpy road but it's one that I'm glad to have travelled.

Was there a conscious effort to create medieval music re-imagined as heavy metal?

DF: There's always been an element of that in the music, I think it comes from my interests outside of the band, being a lover of folklore and history. 

Again, it's first and foremost heavy metal, I grew up listening to bands like Iron Maiden and Deep Purple and wanted to make music like that, but it quickly developed into an expression of my own interests and emotions. 

This album has certainly delved into the world of folklore and medieval melodies more than previous albums and it's a route that I think is the most natural for us.

The progressive bent of the record thrilled me. The juxtaposition of folk melodies on electric guitars while playing over modern metal drums and crunchy rhythm guitars were something I'd never heard.

What made you choose to play on a standard instrumentation rather than more traditional acoustic instruments like many in the Pagan Folk Metal ranks?

DF: I never wanted Dark Forest to be full on 'folk metal'. Like I say, I think that's far too limiting for an artist, to lump themselves in a very specific genre. 

We have a variety of elements in our music and have many different influences but throughout all our albums the folk/medieval touch has been there. Many years ago we tried out a violinist and we soon realised that it just didn't work with our music. 

We're far too rough and ready or that, but having said that we're not afraid to include to odd guest musician now and then just to compliment certain songs and add another texture to them, hence the flute on 'Beyond the Veil' and the keyboards on 'The Lore of the Land'.

The idea of writing these mini-epics...I can't wrap my head around it. How do you do it?

DF: I'm not sure, it's just the natural progression of song writing over the years I think. I'm writing songs these days that I always wanted to write years ago, we just weren't experienced enough then. 

But there's still visions and more that I want to achieve in terms of writing, in fact we already have a few songs down for the next album.

Tell me a bit about your major influences. Where does this come from?

DF: I'd say that these days, the majority of my influences come from outside of music. It's more about atmospheres I think, feelings you get when out walking in the countryside and the woods. 

I'm fascinated by folklore, especially fairylore and also the past, how people lived in times gone by and how close their relationship was with nature compared to today. 

I'd get more inspiration for a song by walking through the woods at twilight than I would listening to any band.

Will we be seeing your faces on this side of the pond anytime soon?

DF: We'd really love to if we get the chance. There's nothing planned at the moment but I'm sure we will one day.

Beyond The Veil really lifted my mood when I listened to it for the first time. There's some darkness going on and your record made me feel like we can easily get past that. 

Did you intentionally write rallying songs?

DF: There certainly is a lot of darkness going on in the world yeah. 

We have dabbled with political issues in the past but that really isn't for us. When you see all the ugliness going on in the world, the last thing you want to do is put an album on and hear a load of ugly ranting about the same issues. For me at least, the music is meant to uplift you to a more beautiful place and that in itself is part of the solution. 

We wont solve or overcome the problems we face by dwelling on it in the darkness, we have to rise to a higher place. Whenever we do touch upon those subjects then yeah the approach is a rallying, a call to arms like in 'Where the Arrow Falls'.

Can you pick a song on the album and tell me about how you wrote it and what it's all about?

DF: The opening song 'On the Edge of Twilight'. This was actually one of the last songs I wrote for the album, I remember I wrote a lot of it in my head while at work. I came up with the main lead melody first then when I got home, worked out a good rhythm backing for it. 

Over the weeks other melodies and vocal lines were developed in the same way until the bulk of the music was done. It was late Autumn, perhaps early Winter when I was writing the lyrics, I remember looking out at the view over a place called the Clee Hills on the way home from work and seeing the countryside shrouded in a violet mist. 

The song is about the idea that twilight is a time when the veil is thin and you can catch a glimpse into other worlds. It's the best time for seeing fairies and spirits, a belief that's found in many folk traditions and something I tend to agree with.

GM: What are the five most important albums of all time?

DF: In my personal opinion Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath, Deep Purple – In Rock, Iron Maiden – The Number of the Beast, Jethro Tull – Songs from the Wood and Pink Floyd – Division Bell.

GM: Thanks again!

DF: Thank you!

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