Hail Darkenhöld. Let’s start from the very beginning. You have formed in 2008 on the initiative of Aldébaran. What made you start this journey?
Aldébaran: Everything began when I left my former band Artefact in 2008 after near ten years of existence; I wanted to go further more in an ancient Black Metal genre that is more or less forgotten nowadays and I wanted to abandon progressive and complex structures of my previous band too. I think Darkenhöld is searching more closer the essence and the authenticity of the inner self. After experienced a Doom/Death band with Etheryäl, I propose Cervantes to join for a new band that embodies these ideas. Aboth, a skillful drummer that we knew, joined us a short time later.
Even if you come from France, it seems the thriving Religious Black Metal scene hasn’t influenced your works. Actually, you seem to come straight from the Symphonic Black Metal scene of mid ’90s. Are you “hopeless nostalgic” or is there something else?
Cervantes: Yes, that’s correct. Even if the Black Metal art, comprehended from an orthodox point of view, is often linked to an anti-christian or satanic perspective, Darkenhöld never intended to walk the path of religion themes. The origin of Darkenhöld is deeply rooted in the ’90s Black Metal soul, but we wouldn’t use the word ”symphonic”. It’s a kind of a ease use of a specific musical word, and we prefer to speak about melodic, atmospheric, ethereal or even medieval Black Metal. Nostalgic, probably… but we’re lucid. The absolute magic of the ’90s Black Metal opus belongs to days gone by, because it included many things: the sound production, the underground spirit, the fanzines and rare magazines which took time to travel through the unknown in order to find new bands, the tape trading, the difficulty to find the albums which added a big value to our musical taste. A whole thrilling period, when the people listening to Black Metal could be counted on a single hand when we were at school, when it demanded time, money and personal commitment to feed our passion. But we’re pleased to see that some fanzines and webzines, like yours, keep the flame burning high and still pay interest to bands like Darkenhöld, which do not belong to the modern tendencies and part ways with the success terms and conditions. We compose and play the Black Metal we really want to hear, and we don’t care about the fashion.
Compared to your early works, your music has become more and more refined, gaining a perfect balance among aggression and melody. Do you think you have reached the sound you want or do we have to expect other changes?
Cervantes: Aldébaran composes all the music of Darkenhöld, but on my own opinion, if some people expect a future Darkenhöld album dealing with industrial sounds, Thrash’n’roll style, Djent rythmics or psychedelic strange keyboards, they will be disappointed! Darkenhöld sound will follow its own evolution, and I think the third opus will sharpen this balance between the agressivity of guitars and drums and the richness of keyboards and arrangements… but I think you will still find both elaborated and catchy riffs, some acoustic parts, dreamy and melodic keyboards, authentic drums, epic and medieval atmospheres, and the willpower to deliver a Black Metal soaking in the source of the ’90s spirit.
Speaking about your music, you call it Medieval Black Metal. What do Middle Ages represent to you and what’s the meaning of talking about nowadays?
Cervantes: Even if we may have some knowledge about the Middle Ages, we do not refer to this period in the same way as bands which really speak about History. We’re interested by the castles, weapons, legends and spirit of the Middle Ages, the way of life too, and use it as a kind of a fantasmatic surrounding to bewitch the listener and invit him to follow us in a travel through ancient times. We know for sure that the Middle Ages were not a golden time, and that there’s a lot of naïve generally accepted ideas about this… we do not excit ourselves like stupid little boys thinking that men were better, values too, and that it was a marvelous and beautiful life!
As for the writing process, how does it take place? What does inspire you?
Aldébaran: The way the songs are composed is quite simple as I propose all the musical material to Cervantes so he can write the lyrics after, though I give in general a little guideline in terms of themes and universe. Then we rehearse a lot with Aboth the drummer, and the arrangements come later.
The principal inspiration comes from my inner feelings, then the ancient ruins and forests that I visit have an effect too, in general historical and medieval evocative atmospheres appeal to me. In terms of influences, we are grateful of the first period of bands like Satyricon, Gehenna, Dimmu Borgir, Bathory, Emperor, Godkiller, Abigor, Burzum, Wallachia etc. Different musical genres could also be in some degree interesting, we try to be open-minded. But for us it’s primordial to make it our own; I think Darkenhöld has its own identity and have to be singular.
Do you think that “Echoes From The Stone Keeper” allows you to express Darkenhöld’s true essence at its best? Are you satisfied with the final result and how it has been hailed?
Cervantes: Yes, “Echoes From The Stone Keeper”, from the composition to the recording process, exposes a really authentic and personal vision, and we’re pleased with this feeling. There’s still things we would do in a different way, and the third opus will probably show it, but we’re proud of this album because it was really an “home-made” production, and we really suffered and spent a lot of time to give it its form and content.
To support this release, you have performed several lives. How are they going? What’s Darkenhöld’s on stage dimension and how do you manage to recreate album’s atmospheres?
Cervantes: We do not climb on stage in our everyday-life dress, just to play our music and wait for the “beer time” to come! We really want to propose a kind of a musical experience, including atmospheres and a tangible universe for the crowd. Of course, we have some financial limits, but we develop our live presence and surrounding piece by piece, using medieval clothes, fire torchs, fog machine, backdrops… at least, we just recruited a keyboard player to give a new dimension to our live sound and we’re now planning a French tour with Fhoi Myore and Angmar (from the 4th may to the 11th may) to present “Echoes From The Stone Keeper” and we also look after opportunities to play in festivals soon.
You have signed for Those Opposed Records and then you released “Echoes From The Stone Keeper”. What are your immediate plans to follow?
Cervantes: The French Tour we just spoke about is our next challenge. After this important event for Darkenhöld, we will really start the work on the third opus and consider other dates in lives. We should really appreciate to play now beyond our frontiers and raise the banner of Darkenhöld abroad. Italy is an obvious destination!
Thank you for your willingness. The last words are yours.
Cervantes: Thanks a lot for this pleasant and interesting interview, your support and interest are deeply appreciated! The review you made for “Echoes From The Stone Keeper” shows a Black Metal culture we share and enlighten some great influences we claim, and it’s always a great feeling when you read the words of people who really understand where we come from and the essence of our music!
Hypnos Webzine readers, we salute you and hope we will see you soon on stage!