INTERVIEW: Dark Fortress

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You can read this post in: Portuguese (Brazil)

317905_521340411230568_506561771_nDark Fortress is a black metal band from Germany, but define the band as purely Black Metal is not fair enough. With great moments and compositions the band sends you to the deep with the songs to the ones that appreciate the work carefully and with attention. We made an interview with the vocalist Morean that you can check below.

GroundCast – To warm up, tell us a bit of the Dark Fortress journey, how everything started?

Morean: The band was founded by Asvargr and Azathoth in 1994 in Landshut / Bavaria – long before I joined. They were mere teenagers at that time, and it took 7 years until the first full album was released. This changed everything. There were very few extreme metal bands in the area at that time, and the Red Stream Records deal DF had for the first two albums meant that, for the first time, a black metal band from there started to get international attention. The subsequent deals with Black Attakk Records for the third album and with Century Media Records for everything that came after did the rest.

GroundCast – What are your influences?

Morean: Initially, bands like Satyricon and Mayhem were essential in the early days.  As the band’s musical pallet broadened gradually, also bands like Shining, Slayer and recently even Opeth and Nevermore became important references. But the main influences always tended to come from Scandinavia.

GroundCast – I have to say that you are in my list of the best bands that I ever heard, the compositions are astonishing, how is the composition process, do you have a main compositor?

Morean: Thanks! Yes, V Santura writes about 80% of the music, and also produces and engineers the albums in his studio. I do lyrics, vocals and am in charge of the album concepts. The rest are contibutions by the other members.

GroundCast – Last year you released the excellent Veneral Dawn after 4 years since the Ylem release, why does Veneral Dawn so much time to be released?

Morean: The main reason were time issues of several band members who have to divide their time between different bands and their regular work; a problem that is getting worse all the time. We also needed two attempts to get the songwriting going; we wrote some songs in the years in between, but it wasn’t until 2013 that there was enough substantial material that lived up to our ambitions. A further delay came because the last Triptykon album needed to be produced right after ours; Dark Fortress had needed a few days extra to finish the mix, which at the end delayed the release by another 9 months.

GroundCast – I will divide the Dark Fortress in two parts, from Tales from Eternal Dusk till Séance and from Eidolon till Venereal Dawn. You are part of the band since Eidolon. What do you think that you as a person helped to contribute to the band in the last 3 releases (Eidolon, Ylem and Venereal Dawn)?

Morean: Without wanting to break with the line the band had followed till my joining the band in 2007, I was nevertheless given all the freedom I wanted to add my own voice – literally and metaphorically. My lyrical and emotional focus is a little different to my predecessor’s, and I try with every album to develop something different in the voice as well. Think of clean vocals, choir arrangements, the use of strange languages, and a fresh take on the traditional occult themes in Black Metal. Since I’m a composer and guitarist as well, I also was able to contribute to the music in a different way. But all that was part of a natural development from album to album. What can be said as well about the last 3 releases is that we work well as a collective; we inspire each other and, in our opinion, manage to create a total that is more than the sum of its parts.

GroundCast – In my opinion, Veneral Dawn is a step forward in the band’s career and I even dare to say that some people can not be prepared to listen something like this. How do you describe Veneral Dawn?

Morean: I would say every album reflects what we feel is the essence of Dark Fortress and Black Metal. This is different on every album, and we take great care to not make the same album twice. So what we feel we are might differ a little from the standard definition of Black Metal, which has become rather conservative in the public eye in the last 2 decades. We always look for new ways to say what we have to say; the question if everything we do these days is still Black Metal is not interesting to us – everything we do is definitely 100% Dark Fortress.

Ylem and Venereal Dawn were on average quite a bit slower than previous albums; we took the liberty to give also new ideas enough space to unfold and develop, which on Venereal Dawn resulted in some really long songs. For the next album, things will change again, I’m sure.

GroundCast – My own opinion about Veneral Dawn is that it’s a shock between two extreme forces, I think it would be something like if the melody had finally found the way to blend with the butallity. The sonority of this album is something that the band thinks to follow and explore in some future release?

Morean: No-one can say what the next album will be like until we write it. But you’re right – this band has always been about this balance between melody and brutality, and if you listen carefully to the old stuff, these two elements were always there. So every album just reflects the different angles from which we approach the same principles. Different as the albums are from each other, there is however a red thread through the entire band’s history. And of course we learn a lot from every production. This sense of adventure, of surprising ourselves in the studio with unconventional tracks and elements, is an important reason why we still get such a kick out of this band.

GroundCast – The lyrics are something that catch my attention, especially in the Venereal Dawn, how important are the lyrics to the band and how works the writing process?

Morean: Not everyone who listens to our music is interested in the lyrics of course, and that’s fine. But I need to have the feeling I’m saying something with a certain depth, instead of just shouting Satan Satan Satan over everything. Bad lyrics can ruin a good band for me, and as a singer, I need to feel something genuine when I sing the songs. So the lyrics are very personal. We aim to offer music you can hear hundreds of times and still discover new things in it, and the same is true for the lyrics. My imagery can be quite complex at times, but it holds great reward for those who are really taking the step into my worlds. And in both music and lyrics, we want to avoid the typical Black Metal cliches; I’m sure people notice that, even if they don’t go into detail when listening to our stuff.

GroundCast – How appeared the invitation to become the vocalist from Dark Fortress?

Morean: I had been friends with V Santura and Seraph for many years before that, and we already played together in Noneuclid since 2004. So when they told me they needed a singer, I offered to try, half for fun actually at that moment, and before I knew it, I was a black metal singer. It took me also quite by surprise, but I immediately felt very comfortable with this new challenge.

GroundCast – What can we expect from the band for the next years?

Morean: At some point, of course we will start working on a new album, but that might be a while still. In the meantime, we will play selected festivals  in Europe, and try to get shows in countries where we have never played, since we appear to have fans all over the world. Hopefully, this will take us to South America as well before long!

GroundCast – Now we back few years, how is to interpret (as a vocalist) the songs that were originally made for Azathoth? Is there some problem in some of them or not, the feeling and the flow are natural?

Morean: It’s not always easy, since the vocals and lyrics are so personal. It always depends on the song itself, and if I can relate to its content. In the case of the Séance album, it’s easy – I love the album, and find its lyrics and vocals to be Azathoth’s finest work. The Stab Wounds songs are more of a challenge at times, because as a person, I am in a very different place than where Azathoth was when he wrote the words all those years ago. But live, I can just approach those songs as a musician, and they’re still a lot of fun to perform.

GroundCast – We are in the internet era and as you know, people can download easily almost everything. What do you think about this?

Morean: As a music lover, I’m all for youtube and the principle that our music is accessible to everyone. But what needs to happen urgently is that some kind of system gets implemented to compensate the ones who make the music for their time and efforts. Black Metal fans are very loyal, and album sales have plummeted somewhat less than in other genres; nevertheless, it has become pretty much impossible to get anything back for all those months of work. The album deals tend to be shit in financial terms, there’s no money at all coming back from the internet (for example, what youyube, spotify etc pay the artists is a total insult), and whatever money does come in is almost completely swallowed by the label. On top of that, it’s an expensive undertaking to bring a metal band to the stages, so even with the concerts it’s hard to get your costs back, let alone pay the rent from them. We are spread over 3 countries, so for every show, we have a lot of expenses, nightliners cost a lot of money too, so there’s not much to go around if you’re not a huge band. So, sadly, most metal musicians are reduced to hobbyists these days, no matter how professionally they do their work. I’m thinking a system to compensate artists, writers, film makers and software developers – everybody who loses income because their work is digital and hence easily copyable – out of the internet and provider fees that every household has to pay, let’s say amount x per click, could help a great deal. People need to understand that you can’t get something for nothing.

GroundCast – I just want to say a big thank you to answer our questions, Dark Fortress is an extraordinary band and now this space is yours to say something to our readers.

Morean: Thank you kindly! We get a lot of feedback from Brazil, and we’d be very happy if we made it there to play one day. South American fans are legendary among all the bands who have played there. A big horns up to you all!