Congratulations to your great album “The Last Caress Of Light”. Please describe the reactions to the CD so far.
The press reactions have really been great so far! We felt we had a strong album on our hands but some of the reviews have definitely exceeded our expectations. It has been particularly well received in Germany, I have to say. We're obviously extremely pleased about this. What is even more satisfying is that most journalists have bothered to really listen to the album, because it is a grower. We feared that many would dismiss it with lazy comparisons to other bands but most have identified the album for what it is. There were the usual critics who didn't understand our intent or sound at all, but there is always rough with the smooth. Overall we are pleased with the reaction.
Some of our readers may never have heard about you. Please give us a short briefing in the band's biography. And what are the milestones of your career up to now?
Well i guess the starting point was when we formed in school under the name Nemesis. We released a self titled demo which was quite well received in the underground before recruiting Lisa Howe on drums and changing our name to Darkest Era. The next milestones were releasing our EP "The Journey Through Damnation" through Eyes Like Snow records. We played our first European festivals off the back of this. Then in March 2010 we released a self titled promo titled "The Oaks Sessions", limited to 250 hand numbered copies. In August 2010 we signed a deal with Metal Blade records and entered the studio straight away to record our debut album, which has just been released a couple of weeks back!
Is there any idea behind the Name DARKEST ERA? - or is it just a cool sounding name for you?
The name came about really just because it was representative of the kind of songs and the tone of what we had begun to write. It conjures up the kind of imagery which is contained in our songs, as well as sounding good, but also being completely original as well. It's hard to choose band names these days. So there's no real long backstory to it, but we did choose it because it was representative of what the band had become.
And how would you describe your music to somebody who never heard about you?
Heavy metal thunder amidst a dark celtic storm! It is melodic, melancholic, atmospheric, windswept Irish fury. It is quite a unique mix of influences.
Could you precise your influences…
influences including Iron Maiden, Bathory, Thin Lizzy, Slough Feg and Irish traditional music. But we take influence from a lot of different kinds of music generally. We don't really talk about what we want to incorporate, as a band we know instinctively what we want to create and different aspects of the bands we like impact differently upon our music. Certainly we are influenced by NWOBHM, and US heavy bands such as Warlord, doom metal in the Yorkshire vein, folk music and touches of black metal. Each of us individually can be found listening to anything from Opeth, Cirith Ungol, REM, Tom Waits, Sisters of Mercy, Laura Marling, a real wide range of music.
When you started making music, what was your aim? And how far are you on your way to achieve it?
Our aim was simply to be in a heavy metal band and write heavy metal songs. So we have achieved it already hehe. The music industry is so complex and uncertain these days, the way we consume and view music is changing constantly, so it's very difficult to have a grand design right from the beginning, especially considering we were 16/17 years old at the time. As the band developed, our so did our goals and we were very ambitious from the beginning. So you have different goals like releasing your first demo, releasing something on an underground label, playing small European festivals and releasing your first album. All of these are things you strive for to push your ideas and ambition forward. Your goals change as you develop. So now for example our aim is to tour Europe as much as we can and at the start of 2012 start working on another album, further developing and honing our sound. But considering all this, the one initial reason for starting the band is still the sole reason we are here - simply to be a heavy metal band and write the music we love and need to write. No-matter what else changes along the way, this is our aim.
A Celtic touch in your music is quite obvious. Do you agree that these tunes are quite typical not only for your music, but in Irish Metal Music in general? Especially the more popular bands from Ireland deal quite obvious with these tunes.?
I don't think it's typical at all. You have a few bands like Primordial, Mael Mordha and Cruachan who have a Celtic influence in their music. But the vast majority don't. There are quite a few death metal and hardcore bands in the country for example who definitely don't have this. Of course it is a distinctive kind of influence so it is going to associated with Irish bands, especially when you consider the most well known Irish metal bands (bar Gama Bomb) have this influence. It is a generalisation to say that I think.
And how important is it for you to keep this Celtic Flair in your music alive?
For us it is an important part of our sound, of course. But it is present in our music because it is an influence that comes naturally to us and it is an atmosphere that we want to re-create within our own sound. It isn't something that is tacked on afterwards, we don't just play jigs and reels over a rhythm guitar. It's about creating a kind of atmosphere and feeling. It's integral to our sound so it's something that will most likely always be present. The key lies in the subtlety of it really.
Is there a favourite song of yours from the album? If so: Which one and why? If not: Which one gets the most attention in Live concerts?
We all have different favourites but for me personally my favourite track on the record is the closer; "The Last Caress of Light Before The Dark". For me it is the best example of what we are about. It is a fairly realised, progressive sounding piece and I'm happy with how the tempo changes, riffs and melody lines worked out on it. It is a powerful song to play live as well. I guess at live shows The Morrigan is a consistent favourite. It always gets a great reaction but I am interested to see how people react to the other songs in the live setting. They tend to really take on a new life and energy in this environment.
You debuted on Eyes like Snow in 2007 with an EP. But the next EP in 2010 was self-financed (to my knowledge). And now you are signed with Metal Blade. Why did you break up with Eyes like snow after just one EP, and how is your collaboration with Metal Blade growing?
Actually we didn't so much 'break up' with Eyes Like Snow. Firstly the release of The Journey Through Damnation EP in 2007 was under exclusive license from us; ie the contract did not tie us to Eyes Like Snow for any further releases. The Oaks Sessions promo was self financed because it contained songs that we were writing for our album. We didn't know what label we would be working with for the album so we wanted to keep it simple and just release the two new tracks ourselves. Also we wanted to release it as a limited edition hand numbered digipack. It's not something Eyes Like Snow would have been interested in; the time was ripe for our debut album so no label would have put money into another promo. However the promo served to bring us to the attention of Metal Blade and several other labels; so when we looked at all the offers they were by far the best choice for us. Our relationship with Metal Blade has been great so far. They have been very supportive of us so far and I have really enjoyed worked with such a professional label. They match our ambition and work ethic, and we are in good company now with Portrait, In Solitude, Primordial, and so on.
Can you tell us a bit about the Irish Metal scene in General? - I talked to some Irish Fans on a Festival last year and they were quite disappointed about their Situation. They claimed it a hard task to be a Metalhead in Ireland for several reasons….
I'm not sure if it's any more difficult here than it is in the UK. You have to consider that we are a very small country with a population half the size of that of a typical European city. There are quite a lot of good bands coming through now, and the gig scene is reasonably healthy. We have a lot of touring bands stopping by here now which is great. Sometimes you can be disheartened by poor turnouts at shows, and I guess it can be difficult for Irish bands to get noticed outside of the country but you can encounter these problems in many places I think. It has been a lot worse in the past, I can tell you.
Most people may only know Bands like Primordial, Gama Bomb, Mael Mordha or Old Season from Ireland. Are there other Bands you may recommend to our readers…
Some names that spring to mind are Overoth, Steel Tormentor, Mourning Beloveth [uuuppss, natürlich –d.Verf.], For Ruin, Graveyard Dirt and plenty others. It is a scene worthy of investigation I believe, http://www.metalireland.com is the best place to start!
Auf der wirklich sehr informativen Seite findet ihr neben Reviews & Liverezis, auch einen Club und Gig Guide (sehr cool für evtl. Reisen nach Irland) sowie eine eigene Wiki Site (die Irish Metal Wiki) auf der neben Band auch Shops und Clubs zu finden sind...
How important is it for you to play live on stage?
It is extremely important, it's where we thrive really. As I said the songs take on a new spirit in the live environment, and we are best experienced in this situation. We put on quite an intense show, it can be like hell breaking loose as the emotion and power of the songs starts to boil over. We enjoy playing live a lot and we hope to really play a lot of shows in the Autumn and Winter, particularly in Europe.
Please describe your audience! – Your music offers a wide range of influences, which may attract a lot of people not only from the Doom scene, but also from the traditional Metal scene…
I think because our sound straddles a number of different subgenres we appeal to a wide range of fans. You can find people into true metal, pagan metal, doom metal and folk metal at our shows. People who like a certain kind of feel and atmosphere in their music will be drawn to us, regardless of what sub genres they normally listen to.
Please tell us something about further live activities.
We have a couple of launch shows lined up in the next 6 weeks, then some small festivals and weekend dates in the Autumn which we will confirm over the next few months. Keep an eye on our facebook and http://www.darkestera.com for latest news and shows!
Is there a question left that you would like to answer? And what is the answer?
The question is where can I buy your killer debut album? And the answer is for German fans, try http://www.emp.de Go now! :)
We are looking forward seeing you in Germany. Best wishes to you all. Any finishing words?
We cannot wait to play in front of as many fans as possible in Germany; thanks for the interview and we really hope to see you on the road later in the year. Hails!