Saturday, July 19, 2014

Review: Bölzer - Soma


Fuck my skull! So here is "Soma", the completion of the energy/body concept that Bölzer began to cantillate in 2013 with "Aura".
And when I saw the "promo invitation" from Invictus in my emails, I started screaming out of excitement like a little girl. You guys do know how to touch my soul!

Bölzer successfully used their time between "Aura" and the current, coming EP to gain momentum with alot work in making themselves a name as excellent live band. With that momentum in their backs, "Soma" was more than ready for critical acclaim. And once more, they showed us who the Zeus is.

What differs "Soma" ?
Neither the guitars are heavier, nor is the double-bass faster. 
Soma is not a tempest in the teapot.
In the eye of the storm, that's where Bölzer's music is right. Bludgeoning with its august power and perfect precision. "Soma" uses the same modus operandi that worked for "Roman Acupuncture" but this time much more hypnotizing...
...And since this work was written between the first demo and "Aura" this wasn't too much of a surprise.
Nevertheless, or precisly because of that, I would not say that "Soma" is the strongest of Bölzer's outputs. It is plain Bölzer version 1.5

This still means that this is a disgustingly splendid piece of sound and soul-consuming. You get caught in the furor maelstrom right at second one of the first eclipse named "Steppes", which is 5:40 minutes in duration. "Steppes" is completely punishing with unbelievable intensity that comes from all directions. The spoken-word element around the mid-mark introduces a galloping rythm that makes Steppes abit similiar to "Zeus: Seducer of Hearts" from the demo. 
Lash! Lash! More! More! Onwards! Onwards! Tear through the steppe!

That HzR's drumming is quite unique is what highlights Bölzer as so special in my book. A great drum tone and highly effective playing. These solo hits on the snare-drum, responsible for the typical gallop...

On to the second and already final track that namely is "Labyrinthian Graves". With its 12:44 minutes of duration, the longest song this swiss duo has created so far.
As engulfing as the cretian labyrinthe and as abominable as the minotauros himself, "... Graves" drills into your acoustic meatus. The guitar is twisted, riffs and chords get torn apart but are yet in bliss. Vocal and string mangler KzR is showing different singing styles that create an overshadowing darkness. Raspy clean vocals, Death Metal cantos or animating Black Metal eeriness. "Labyrinthian Graves" leaves deep cuts in the flesh, as it is sharp as a Theseus blade.

"Soma" works like a nietzschean axiom "The will to overcome an emotion is ultimately only the will of another emotion or of several others". The intensity in Bölzer's music is overwhelming and breath-taking. I am yawing for more and more and more. It is the perfect execution of intensification and climax that reach the cusp (so far) with "Aura".


Founded: 2018
Style: Black/Death Metal
Type: EP
Year: 2014
CD, LP and Cassette version through Invictus Productions 

Bölzer on Facebook: here
Invictus Productions: here

Friday, June 13, 2014

Review: Vilifier - Ritual Obscuration

With a good bit of prejudice I got Vilifier's latest EP "Ritual Obscuration" for a review from californias' Rising Beast Recs. You know, we interviewed the Vilifier guys a while back and since we only interview bands we love, writing this was kind of a different task.
"Ritual Obscuration" is the second material that was recorded under sort of regular circumstances and got released as a tripertito: Jewelcase CD (Australia), DigiCD (Europe) and cassette (America). The version reviewed here, is the cassette version.

If you own the first two Vilifier cassettes, the 4 track "Ritual Obscuration" offers you nothing new except the title track. The other three songs have been taken from their live cassette but that is completely fine. To hear these brute song in acceptable audio quality only adds goodness.

That the big rock in the southern sea has an insanely good scene of old school metal bands is not to be questioned  That old school is the status-quo depends on who you ask of course but for me it is of fundamental importance. The Vilifiers are putting Revenge and Incantation in the mixer so if that sounds like hard cash for you this is a sure-fire success. This EP is neither really obscure (!!!), technical or good sounding. Dark Death Metal rigidity cremates all signs of copycatism or aforementioned attributes and leaves only menace, aggression and crushed bones and to make this the way Metal should be.

Vilifier bestow us not only low-end guitartones and doomy tremolo picking rythms but also chaotic faster parts. These parts are unique and fuck you like a rabid elephant.
The bass gets along pretty unspectacular, following the guitar and doing what it's supposed to do.
If you like music trying to be innovative, there would be alot to gripe on these four songs because you could replace one with the other without even notifying a difference.

Of course it is clattering in every nook and corner, the songs only blaze on 2-3 different hooks with several severe chaotic sorties. But do I care? No. Is this winning any comparison contests with the big names? No.
These 4 aussies plough through the magnet stripes like they have never done anything else than playing the music they like. Nothing more, nothing less.


Origin: Australia
Founded: 2011
Style: Black/Death Metal
Type: EP
Year: 2013

Jewelcase CD: Crawling Chaos Prod.
DigiCD: Forgotten Wisdom
Cassette: Rising Beast Recordings

Vilifier Official: here
Crawling Chaos Productions: here
Forgotten Wisdom: here
Rising Beast Recordings: here

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Review: Domains - Sinister Ceremonies

Not only that I like the newer stuff from Dimmu Borgir for their symphonic compositions, I developed a fascist urge to orchestrate everything up.
As soon as these guitars punched in, I knew that this album can only be a winner.
Not even halfway through the self-titled opener, I was creating concepts around the riffs: "Oh you could insert some strings there, trumpets there..."
...What also means that the riffs are pretty frisky. Replacing the guitar with the string section of an orchestra could work pretty good on "Sinister Ceremonies" without destroying the song structures too much.

Still, "Sinister Ceremonies" lives up its full potential as a metal album, the word repitition is not in available Domain's vocabulary. The mix is loud and clear with a good amount of depth, nothing in the way for full audio pleasure.
"Mastery" starts with a furious Necrophobic kind of riff, the transitions between different melodies are fluent and come off without any disturbing breakdowns or interruptions.

Here and there somw doomy hints shine through the songbeam.
Drumwise this definitely is not the best album, "Nocturn" does the job but if you expect any overhours like on the guitar front, I have to disappoint you.
The vocals have a pretty familiar sound to me and are positioned on the Death Metal side while the music itself is slightly rooted in Melodic Black Metal ala Unanimated, Dissection, the aforementioned Necrophobic without denying influences from Morbid Angel or the dutch armour-piercing steamhammer Asphyx.

I really appreciate this attempt on extreme Metal. This is a fresh band with an album that already made a good impact. Amidst the stagnant copycats, Domains managed to craft something that is meant to stay.
As closing act for the review, it would be appropriate to say that tracks like "Towards Plerome" or "Eucharist of Relevance" offer the best of everything that post-80s extreme Metal has to offer.

To make the circle complete, I would like to offer something to the gentleman of Domains: Please send me one of the tracks off "Sinister Ceremonies"
You choose which one - and give the Bellum Musicae staff some time to remix it our way. After listening to the whole album, it was really burning my and our brain cells.

We are also musicians with several albums under our belts and this would be a great challenge to improve our skills. Of course the result would be posted here.


Origin: Spain
Founded: 2005
Style: Black/Death Metal
Type: Full-length
Year: 2014

CD, The Sinister Flame

Domains Official Web: here
The Sinister Flame Official Web: here

Monday, April 21, 2014

Review: Abhorrot - Sacrificial Incarnations of Perpetual Death

Gaudiness! Just adjust your eyes for that monstrous artwork by Alexander Brown!
This is not the new Bölzer but the second EP of the deathwatchers of Abhorrot.
Uglier and more fiendish than their fellow countryman Pungent Stench have ever been, Abhorrot rumble through this 4 tracker with the same concious intention like Teitanblood (old), Sadomator, Vilifier, Impetuous Ritual and so on and forth.

Not that I was almost expecting it, the instruments overall sound is alot like if they were recorded in a womb or a catacomb, rooms that produce natural underdamping atmosphere. Of course we also have some reverb (underground, eh?) but still, you can figure quite easy what these two guys are doing.

Prehistoric is what would describe the guitar tone at best, primitively punishing as Nuclear Holocausto Vengeance himself on the beloved 1991 Beherit classic "The Oath..."
Yet the string section is pushed in the background and tubby which gives me the feeling that there is alot of potential in terms of effectiveness that is there but not called.
They have very brute songwriting and great rythm but this is just abating and sad especially because the whole EP is a great fusion of finnish, dutch and swedish Death- and Black Metal.

A radiant example of how good this EP actually is, is the complete side A that contains the tracks "Sacrificial Revelations of Carved Flesh" and "The Burning Incarnation of Death". When the brutal penetration of Asphyx and the vile malice of Blasphemy meet, catastrophe is imminent and so it is here.
Abhorrot master both, the fast-paced and the mid-tempo parts with ease and keep everything in the flow. It is almost fun (sic!) to listen to this EP. The drums are flagellating the string section on a remarkable high level for this kind of primitive sounding music which makes this a necessary listen and utter "How-to-do-it-right" for the whole lot of bands that also float around in the same genre.

Song number three - the first on the B side - sounds pretty south american to my suprise. The overall diverse and positively varied riffs move away and get rightfully replaced by a cudgel made of Sarcofago and typical swedish D-Death Metal riffs.

The harshness of the vocals is pure Metal excess drowned in dinosaur blood.
T. Blackpriest is whipping out his most fuming mouth. 

Fenriz would say: "How fucking primitive can you get?"

"Sacrificial Incarnations of Perpetual Death" is a huge paean to the early 90's without a doubt. It is merging, teeth-grinding and in the end, spitting you out leaving you curious for more. 

The things I do not like on this EP are not terribly wrong, they are just not matching the standard that I acquired after liking and listening this thing for a few times. First world Death Metal problems.


Origin: Austria
Founded: 2007
Style: Death Metal
Type: EP
Year: 2014

12" MLP, Yersinia Pestis

Abhorrot Official:  here
Abhorrot on Facebook: here
Yersinia Pestis: here

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Review: Maze of Terror - Skullcrusher

Reason #52 why South America Metal still has alot of advance to us european and american people: They give a shit. THEY shit on any form of musical adulthood. Starting from the EP title (Skullcrusher) (another fav. of mine: everything with a fuckin' in it) to the songtitles (Lord of Destruction) over countless project's names (e.g. Power from Hell).

Maze of Terror are still captured in the play yard of extreme aggression. No comfort, spikes everywhere, upholstered in denim.
Skullcrusher is far away being "bog standard" but also not too close to really kick my ass.
Uniqueness is a thing these peruvian guys never heard off but that in fact is not too bad.
The effectiveness of proven structures conceals their lack of ideas.

It would give me a hard time if I had to decide if this is either straight to the point exciting because of its simplicity or plain boredom caused by the riffs we've all heard more than a thousand times.

Great are the really angry vocals. That dude is pissed! Unfortunaly, it's the only real standout feature on this record.
Another unfortunaly for the fact that after listening to "Skullcrusher" for the third and fourth time, I really started to dislike, if not hate, it. 
The closing track "Run with Death" manages to get along with one riff.
And it's not that "Thunderbelial" awesome sort of one riff.

To the bands defense it is also the least to say that I am not really a Thrash maniac.
Some records are growers to me and some are not, this definitely falls under the last category and even adds a downward spiral.

If you like it straight in the ass check Maze of Terror out, if you like mature music, you can pass this EP. It's a violent and rough quickie.


 Origin: Peru
Founded: 2011
Style: Thrash Metal
Type: EP
Year: 2012

First and second press on tape:
Total Desaster Prod. (100 copies)
Capricorn Records (300 copies)

Maze of Terror on Facebook: here

Friday, April 11, 2014

Interview: Pax Romana Promotions

Eigenes Logo anpassen.

Wiedergänger: Hello Steve, Pax Romana is a new name among the Neofolk concert organisers. You are located in England, the home of Neofolk. London has quite alot of Neofolk shows compared to other big cities throughout Europe. Why was it necessary to start Pax Romana then if you already have a good amount of promoters and a rather healthy scene? Tell me what's wrong.

Steve: Good evening. Well, as you rightly point out England is the birth place of the neofolk scene, but apart from some of the older more established acts, London tends to miss out on a lot of the quality European bands. As you know I'm a big Rome fan and although I've been listening to them since around 2006, it wasn't until 2013 that they first played a show in this country. Now that's just one example, but Rome are a huge band, with much cross-genre support. Why did it take six or seven years for them to land on our shores? Is it because of the fans, the promoters - I don't know, but it's certainly something that I aim to get to the bottom of and remedy.

So yay for ye olde english neofolk and nay for the more international acts. I can see where your effort comes from. You've mentioned Rome, will Jerome headline the show with Kirlian Camera and Naevus in July or will you give Ms. Fossi and her boys the preference? Naevus would deserve a headliner spot too of course!

That's exactly it, and it's something that's concerned me for many years. When it comes to the Martial Industrial side of things we are missing out a great deal and that is something I will also address. Jerome will be opening the proceedings at our inaugural show, mainly because he is performing a solo acoustic set. As you rightly state, all three acts deserve an opening spot, but I think the current order will work well, with Rome and Naevus building up to what should be an excellent and long awaited performance by Ms Fossi & Co.

That was one of the next things I was about to ask... Martial Industrial - atleast from my perspective - never made it to the 'big stages' in the last 1-2 years. Unless Triarii headline a bigger show, there is not much going on the live sector.

It's funny you mention Triarii, as they are one of the acts that I want to get over to the UK as soon as possible. You are completely right of course, and I will be working hard to ensure the choice Martial bands start hitting the stage again soon. I think one of the major problems is, especially for smaller promoters like me, is that these shows tend to require an awful lot of planning and sourcing of equipment. It's not as simple as a couple of guys with acoustic guitars - as the stage show usually requires a lot more to bring about the perfect aesthetic, which in my book is nearly as important as the music itself.

Funny contradiction. Imagening that Martial Industrial is done mainly by guys or girls sitting infront of a computer screen figuring everything out with their tools and a midi-keyboard. But when it comes to playing live, you need like 6 different drummers and 4 flutists. The curse of modern times.

Are you facing any major problems while making everything ready for the first Pax Romana event or is everything running smooth 'til now? Any big things that are still on your to-do-list?

Haha, well yes I suppose so, but being a bit of a romantic, I don't really like to ruin the magic by thinking about such things. As long as the finished product works well and the live show has the right feel and aesthetic, it doesn't really matter how it came about.
There were a few teething problems initially, but everything is on track. Everyone involved has been extremely helpful, from Jerome designing the flyers/posters (which I asked him to change/update about 100 times) to Lloyd (James - Naevus) helping with some of the logistics). We also have the support of some real heavyweights in the scene including Cold Spring Records (no introduction needed) and the show is being sponsored by Zero Tolerance Magazine, so all in all things are going very well indeed. The only thing left on my to-do list is to get hold of a cello for the evening, but this shouldn't be too much of a problem.

You have also told me something about your next show, again well-renowned artists. Would you like to elaborate on this or is all this still under the mantle of silence? 

Well, I can't really say much about that at the moment and I'm not sure if it will go ahead. Rest assured things are always working behind the scenes, but like I said, we don't like to spoil the magik...

Mainland Europe has a blooming Neofolk scene but you english guys seem to lose on the long run. How was the recent crowd support on past shows for 'hometown' acts? Are people still hungry to see the locals?

That's a very good point. I assume you are referring, in part at least, to last years' Death in June show in London. In all honesty I think there was something lacking. Maybe because it was the third year in a row for me seeing them, maybe because it was supposed to be at much more intimate venue (thanks Antifa!!) but I don't think the atmosphere as a whole was as good as the reunion show in 2011. It was great to see Miro (Snejdr) performing a few tracks with Doug, but for me the night belonged to Spiritual Front. Probably because I had waited so many years to see them (see earlier comments about the lack of European artists here).

I think people are still hungry to see our great homegrown acts, and the evidence can be seen by the likes of 6<omm playing in a few months. Towards the end of last year I was lucky enough to go to the Naevus album launch with Black Light Ascension (and Factory Acts), which was packed out. The reception Andrew King received when he played with Changes late last year is also testament to the dedication of our small, but growing scene. There also seems to be a lot more crossover these days from the extreme metal scene, which only adds to the popularity and support of the wider neofolk scene.

Since you won't spoil on future events, is bringing underground projects from more different soils a thing on your list? Eastern european acts never play 'near us' for example, if they play live at all.

All in good time my friend. Hmm, an interesting question. Coming from a Black Metal background, I understand what you mean about 'the underground' but I don't think it has as much relevance in neofolk/martial industrial, for it's a pretty small scene in itself. There are many great bands hiding in the hinterlands of our beloved Evropa, and I would love to see more of these hitting the stage if that answers your question? Eastern Europe has many interesting acts and a real passion that we don't see too often. As you know, it's an area I'm particularly interested in and I look forward to working with these acts in the future.

Good time seems to be now.
We had a little break on the interview and you already announced your next show. The London date of the Fire + Ice, Knotwork and While Angels Watch 'The fractured Europe tour'
. Ian Read of Fire + Ice recently said that french based label/booker Autre Que is now handling their touring duties, can you tell us something about the process of working together with other bookers and how much different it is from doing everything solely?

Hi again, I guess we’ve both been busy!That’s correct. The latest show is being organised by Pax Romana and Sowilo Media, with help from Autre Que. Naturally there are many benefits of working together, not least being able to split the cost/risk, as neither of us would have been able to bring this show to London on our own. Plus, me being a newcomer, it’s fantastic to work with Dev (Sowilo/While Angels Watch) who has been happy to share his experience with me. We had talked about joining forces in the past and it’s an honour to work with him and Nathalie at Autre Que.

Since you're located in London... what else should the dignified neofolker see when he is in town beside that big clock thing?

Concerning London; the big clock, as iconic as it may be, is not the only attraction. London isn’t known as haven for neofolk, but hey, that’s why I’m here and it will soon be synonymous with the genre if I have my way.

Are you planning to get any additional attractions aside the live music? Art exhibitions or campfire romantic and such...
Mentioning additional things to concerts, what is your opinion on concert or festival shirts? I, personally, hate them.

It would be nice to branch and I have some plans for future attractions, but it’s still early days. I discussed having some sort of art installation at one of our shows and hopefully in the future this can happen. It would also be nice to plan a two day event to rival the big german and european shows, but I must learn to walk before attempting to run.

Let's end it here. Thanks for the talk Steve and all the best for Pax Romana. Do whatever you want now. 

Thanks for the interview! 
We hope to see you at one of our shows soon (on stage or in the audience).
Pax Romana Promotions on Facebook:  here

Monday, April 7, 2014

Interview: Darkwood

What have Beate Uhse, Jean-Luc Picard and Henryk Vogel in common? Not much you think? You are probably right. Still, aviation is running like a golden thread through all their biographies.
Beate Uhse was one of the first german female flying pioneers.
Picard the captain of the Enterprise.

And Henryk Vogel?
Read below.


JH: Greetings Henryk, what can we expect from the Darkwood camp this year?

Henryk: At the end of last year we finished our recent full length album "Schicksalsfahrt". This studio release is dedicated to aviation. This recording is meant to be a sonic homage to pilots struggling with nature and techniques, stepping on new territory. The CD came out in a digipack with 16-pages booklet, the LP is limited to 520 copies and came in a gatefold sleeve with golden coloured vinyl. We used some really beautiful photographs which are all originals I bought on flea markets over the years or found in hidden boxes on attics. The same applies to "Ins dunkle Land", by the way. Combined with quotes and old poems, those two mentioned digipacks and the LP are really more than just the music on it. My layout girl did a really great job.
So now we will go ahead focussing on live gigs and promote some of the new songs and also some of the older ones which we have never played before.
For instance, we played in Moscow last year and I know that people really like "Aftermath" from "Herbstgewölk" because of containing a sample from the movie "Stalker" by Andrei Tarkovski. This song is more like a soundscape and hard to play live with all the noises and samples but we finally managed using a keyboard instead of backing tapes. Another song was "Der Schaffende" from "Weltenwende" - I had to do drumming and lyrics at the same time and we were adding some trumpet and keyboard noises - and people told me right after the "Runes & Men" show that they were really happy that we played this particular song.
Apart from all the live shows, I will take myself some time to pay my debts to answer all the interviews I have confirmed last year.

Darkwood has given a few concerts last year after a long hiatus.
Has there been more interest to see you perform live or are you growing more fond of performing? From what I have gathered, neofolk concerts in Central Europe are often opposed by certain political activists. Has Darkwood encountered any problems over the years?
For example, I have read that in 2002, before your performance at the Wave Gotik Treffen festival in Leipzig, you published a bulletin where you stated that there were no political aims behind your music.

We actually gave quite a few concerts between 1997 and 2005 but for personal reasons of several band members it wasn't possible to perform live until 2012.
I performed with other bands like Agnivolok, Voxus Imp., or Lux Interna, but not with Darkwood. Right now, we are five musicians again, basically the old and some new ones.
Now I could fulfil all the promises I gave over the last few years.
In 2002, we have been confronted with some accusations that we might be involved in political activities. This was more or less the time when more neofolk concerts started to take place. Some people were just puzzled by the fact that so many people would be interested in our music, so many people attended the concerts, and so many people were black-dressed, which is very common in the Gothic scene. There was an article in the local newspaper writing about Darkwood and their supposed political leanings. Funny enough, the very same day in the very same newspaper there was an article about my previous punk band Sexflush and how great they were. Maybe there was some kind of envy leading to those accusations. I just felt the need to comment all that to make myself clear that I am not involved in any kind of political activities.

Speaking of, how is the neofolk scene doing these days in Europe and elsewhere in your opinion? Do you think neofolk is essentially about the European experience?

The scene grew in the 90ies, had its peak around 2000, and is now losing a bit of attention.
But neofolk is just a term, connected to uniforms, conspiracy theories, and good music. Now, there is only the uniform style and the good music left which is fine too me. As long as we are trying to make good music, meet each other, share some interests, don't stop to be curious and open-minded, everything is great.
Something, other music styles might have never achieved.

As long as we make records, fill concert venues, being envied, it can't be wrong. Festivals are popping up in several countries, neofolk is mixed with Mediterranean folk, American groups are joining, metal groups start to play unplugged, so it's not over by now.

You grew up in the GDR. How did you develop an interest in Paganism, writes like Ernst Jünger & J.R.R. Tolkien, poets such as Stefan George & Georg Trakl and philosophers like Oswald Spengler & Friedrich Nietzsche? Did you study them at school or was it all just socialist realism & Marx?

At school, we read books like "How the Steel was Tempered" by Nikolai Ostrowski or "Timur and his Squad" by Arcady Gaidar. They were great.
But the choice of books was dictated and followed the aim to make you a communist atheist. I didn't read Marx, by the way. But after the wall came down, after all that ordered "State Atheism" on the one hand, and all the natural Pagan rituals living on in little villages on the other hand, I tried to get my hands on as many books as possible. This would be books about Norse Mythology, fantasy books like "Lord of the Rings", "forbidden" philosophy like Nietzsche, or conservative literature like Jünger. For Jünger, it wasn't "In Storms of Steel" that I did like best. I actually prefer books like "Caucasian Sketches" where he reflects a lot about history, or "On the Marble Cliffs" where he touches a world of Magic Realism. But what impresses me most, is the combination of the personality of a writer and his work. Jünger, Trakl, Nietzsche you shouldn't see without their biographies. Jünger, the adventurer and insect collector, Trakl, the genius and incestuous drug addict, Nietzsche, the brilliant philosopher who has gone mad. That's why I am so much impressed by Exupéry, the brilliant writer and pilot.
There might be a writer, who inherited money and was financially independent and did basically nothing but writing a book and getting successful. There might be a pilot who had a lot of air fights and is being remembered for dying in one of those brave air fights.
But this man was a pilot risking his life for his ideals, doing his daily duty, for instance flying letters to through Argentina, who additionally wrote brilliant books that contain so much wisdom, so much truth. That guy really had an impact on my life and my music, not just for the recent album.
He also had a lot of love affairs, well, nobody is perfect.

In an interview you gave to the Belorussian magazine Stigmata, you remembered your service time in the NVA (National People's Army) being mainly a positive experience. The Federal Republic of Germany abolished the conscription in 2011. Do you think some kind of a national service was/is good for retaining integrity among people?

As mentioned before, I didn't really get along with state dictated philosophy.
My positive experiences do not apply to any political ideas. I was on the one side of the wall and my grandfathers and cousins were on the other, defined as arch enemies. I am really happy that it ended up as peaceful as it did.
My positive experiences were basically about learning some discipline, doing a daily duty, comradeship, interesting techniques - I mean - I was in the air force. Also, I had a lot of time to do sports and learned to play the guitar and drums.
I actually would have kept a general conscription, with the option of a civil service, if you want. It is not good that young people don't really learn how to obey anymore, learn to respect others, and learn to do your duty for a collective aim. A national service - yes - provided the fact that Germany does not start any or is not taking part in any war activities as stated so often after WWII.
And what happens? We don't have the general conscription anymore, but German soldiers stand in Afghanistan and other countries. What for?
Are we mercenaries? Paid to kill for just anybody? And who dictates that?
Our conscience? America? Is it all about money?

In 2007 you gave an interview to the Dutch webzine Evening of Light, where you wished that the music of Darkwood would have a part in the process you call "Weltenwende" ("World Solstice").
Can you elaborate on this concept? I feel you were talking about some kind of a Pan-Europeanism, but perhaps not in the way of, say, European Union. Do you think that the rise of chauvinistic populism in some European countries is contradictory to this vision of "Weltenwende"?

The original term "Weltenwende" has an esoteric meaning in a way that some people have the ability and might finally receive the Gnosis - a higher knowledge - necessary for the re-birth of a new mankind.
When I was talking about a process called "Weltenwende", I actually meant to help people by means of art and music to live in a more conscious way, to change the mind of people from a mediocre, populist, and naïve way of thinking to a more detailed and more responsible way of thinking, considering environment, and future generations. I also hoped for a change from hypocritical Christian religion - with all its alleged pities for the weak, but suppressing every other religion, women, sexuality, always trying to accumulate treasures - to Pagan believes, which would be the natural and more fitting belief here in Northern Europe. The Pagan believes are closer to nature - sexuality, tolerance, gender equality has been a common thing until Christianity and its Inquisition has wiped away all the knowledge of our "witches", brought us taxes, prostitutes, decadence, torture, crusades, stakes, child molesting priests, and whatever the inglorious list of Christian values incorporates.

This "Weltenwende" is not connected to a European Union or political idea. If you ask me about the European Union, well, everybody can see that the idea of a European Union doesn't really work out right now since it is just an artificial economic conglomerate instead of a union of people. The traditions of each country, the abilities and specifics of each country are denied and wiped away, huge companies are driving cheep goods and food throughout Europe ignoring all reasonable ecological rules, the politicians only do their 'jobs' for a lot of money instead of considering what they do as their mission - of course not - because they don't have any. I understand if some people want their countries to be within the EU to escape poverty and lack of prospects.

But it is only for a while until they are forced to do things that are not good for their economy and people. I understand if other people don't want their countries to join the EU to go their own way - but will they manage if the
EU octopus stands against them? So finally it's not a question of being in the EU or not but a question of changing the greedy system as a whole.
Else the average people will always loose and the companies, banks, and politicians will always win. People have to change the whole system by changing their attitude and not 'taking part' anymore. Don't believe in TV, don't believe in the need of military invasion since it is always for financial reasons, consider what you buy, don't buy the cheep goods from far away, teach your children in your way of thinking and let the school teach them mathematics, travel to learn, talk to the people from other countries, you will realize that they have exactly the same kind of problems and the same awareness of the real enemy.

There is a strain of Germanic Paganism going through your work. Do you think a shift towards Pagan spirituality would be good for Europe? If so, do you think each group of people should embrace their ancestral ways (Slavic, Greco-Roman etc.) or should Europeans pursue for some kind of a syncretism instead? Some claim that Christianity has become an integral part of the European heritage and spirit.
What are your views on this?

As stated before, I think it is necessary to shift towards a Pagan spirituality within Northern Europe. I understand that we cannot turn back the wheel of history to a time before Christianity with living in the woods or caves and human sacrifices, but we have to adopt a more spiritual way of living closer to nature, more accepting nature. It might make sense to incorporate values of other believes like altruism, or fasting, but especially in Christianity it is said that man is the dominator of animals and nature, and everybody is striving for wealth, and this attitude will lead us directly into the decline of the West.
The more frugal and less ignorant and arrogant religions of the South and the East seem to be much further ahead. That's why so many people become interested in Buddhism, for instance. But shouldn't it be Paganism to go for since our roots are Pagan, and then we might adopt beneficial parts of the other beliefs to gather people and finally save Europe from total bank
capitalism, total consumption, and decline.

A recurring theme in your work has been the second World War. Even though on the surface your new album "Schicksalsfahrt" ("Destiny's Journey") is centred around the themes of aviation, I feel that the shadow of World War II is looming overhead, much like the silhouette of the Junkers Ju 88 pictured on the album's booklet. Would you agree? What led you into choosing the theme of flying and how much your own experience in the air force had to do with it?

The shades of the past still determine the life in Europe. Wherever you go, whoever you talk to, the two World Wars are still omnipresent, and in fact, nobody should forget about them, since this would mean repeating it sooner or later. "Schicksalsfahrt" is about aviation in general, but in special it is about the life and works of Exupéry, one of my favourite writers, who died in WWII, so of course war would be a topic again. Not all of my songs are songs about war, maybe half of them. But nearly all songs in the common pop music scene are pure love songs. I just felt the need to add some new topics like Paganism, travelling, war, history, seasons, and now aviation… And yes, I used to be in the air force and as a child I of course wanted to become a pilot, so this is one of the things I have always been obsessed with.

Many of your album covers feature different statues and memorials. Could you tell more about them, what they mean to you and how they correspond with the themes of each album?

All right, let's just go through a few examples and name the origin and the ideas behind. The cover of "Heimat & Jugend" shows a grave in Belgium with a picture of a women in a frame, the frame next to her stayed empty. On the backside there is a grave showing a WWI steel helmet covered by ivy leaves. The story you might find in between.
"Ins dunkle Land" shows a WWI memorial in a little city in the Harz, I just liked this particular one since it seemed so desperate and magic at the same time. The topic of "Ins dunkle Land" were the occult background and causes of WWI and WWII. The album is a like a spiral downwards, like a torrent into the dark land of metaphysics. It starts with the end when a tiny female voice states that 'only one grain of sand is all that remained from the vast empire'. All songs in between represent personal fates, travels, dreams, mourning, memories of the past. The last song "Grillenspiel" is about the start of WWI as described in the same titled short story of Gustav Meyrink. This topic is hard to visualize, that's why we have chosen the memorial with shapes nearly dissolving in darkness.
"Herbstgewölk" was about Cold War and nuclear weapons. The statue shows a man with clothes and a cap in 50s style showing traces of corrosion and decay. In the background, there is a mushroom cloud - so the danger is obvious. Apart from mentioning the atom bombs that have been dropped on Japan in the song "Orders", this album is not connected to WWII but rather to the Cold War period that followed after - so this album is not about war, but about the arms race and the Damocles sword of nuclear power.
A third and obvious example is the cover of "Schicksalsfahrt" which shows a relief of the female pilot Melli Beese which you can find near her house of birth in Dresden. The sculptor was friendly enough to image her with pilot goggles, so we thought this would be an impressive cover also showing the female contribution to aviation.
We are actually not obsessed with statues or memorials in general since we are also using a lot of photographs, but we are obsessed with strong characters and expressive faces, which can be statues, memorials, relieves, old photographs, or even paintings.

You run your own imprint Heidenvolk, which has released most of the Darkwood's albums. How do you feel about people downloading your releases for free? You have been posting fan made videos featuring Darkwood's music on your Facebook wall, so I take it you are not completely against people spreading your music over the internet. Do you personally prefer physical releases over the digital ones?
I believe Heidenvolk's catalogue consist solely of CDs. What are the reasons behind that? Are you planning to release other formats?

Well, if people upload their favourite tracks with the cover picture or an own photograph on Youtube, I think it's all right to spread the music and rise discussions. I usually get to know new bands myself by surfing through Youtube. If they create own videos to my music, it's even better, I really enjoy them and often link them from our Facebook site rather than pure sound streams to add an optical dimension to the music. We also have a Bandcamp site to give people the opportunity to go through some albums and download them for a small price. As far as I know, our distributor TESCO also made a contract with iTunes. So this is all reasonable and legal to my understanding. What I don't like and don't understand - if people download all 13 releases somewhere, share them, distribute them, or even sell them, without really listening to the music. I mean, when we create albums, it takes us a long time to work out the topic, create the music, and find the real mood and order of the songs.
If all the songs are just files which are not connected to albums anymore, and have no particular order, Darkwood albums don't really make sense. I am still a CD listener, going through the complete album, thinking about lyrics, reading in the booklet. Of course, you will sooner or later have your favourite songs on each album and might only listen to those in the future, but for the understanding of the music, it is important to take care of the topic and order of songs. Real fans do, and if somebody is listening to a lot of Darkwood, has all albums on his hard disk or mp3 player, and also takes care of topics and order of songs, he or she will sooner or later buy at least one of the albums to own a real CD with artwork.
Fortunately, this is what a lot of people do, and I appreciate that.
Speaking for myself, except getting to know new music on Youtube, I still buy CDs, even very old ones, to own the artwork and to listen to them on a CD player, and of course LPs, since listening to vinyl records is a totally different sound and experience. Older stuff, which has been recorded for LP, like for instance old The Cure albums, I still listen to on LP, newer stuff I prefer on CD, especially if there is a lot of minimal sound or electronics involved, like Portishead or Massive Attack.
For Darkwood, I have often produced a very minimal sound with tiny noises, like on "Heimat & Jugend" or "Herbstgewölk", I don't know, if this would work on LP. But for the folky tunes with many layers and a lot of audio instruments, vinyl is an option, also because of the possible artwork. That's why we did "Weltenwende" as a 10inch EP, re-released "Notwendfeuer" as LP, and did "Schicksalsfahrt" as CD and LP. We will also try "Flammende Welt" on LP, but I had to remix the music, else vocals, noises, or whispering would get lost in the bass lines.

I believe you have an interest in uniforms and that you collect militaria. Could you tell more about this hobby of yours?

It is not that I have a systematic interest in uniforms or militaria.
For uniforms, I basically like the fact that they look beautiful, especially in the case of women. For militaria, I don't really collect them in the way that I go and try to buy certain things from a certain period. It's more like that I keep things that cross my way in one way or another. For instance, I kept the steel helmet and gas mask I used to wear when being in the NVA. I own an Irish parachute waistcoat, because it's warm and I can keep all the stuff like capotastos, plectrums, and guitar tuner in the pockets. Somewhere there should also be an Austrian camouflage shoulder bag and a green Eastern German army rucksack. An NVA paddock should also hide in my wardrobe.

Darkwood has been active for about a decade and a half by now.
How does the future look like?

Oh, that's true, it's already 15 years now - time passes by. Later this year, we might do some re-recordings of older stuff that is sold out and some newer stuff which is played differently on live shows, either for compilations or for a small release. If we re-release something, we will do it as a high quality release with a lot of dedication as usual. We already did with the limited vinyl re-release of "Notwendfeuer" as LP and LP box done by the Russian label Fronte Nordico which has been praised a lot. There will also be a re-release of the "Flammende Welt" album on vinyl, which will be pressed by TESCO. Also, the compilation "Places" published by the Spanish label Caustic Records should come out around May this year containing a quite forceful version of "Stiller Bund". In August, we will play at the Entremuralhas festival in Portugal together with Allerseelen and The Legendary Pink Dots to name a few. We will also try to arrange gigs in some countries we haven't been to yet but
always wanted to play. So maybe we can meet each other in personal some day...

At this point, I want to thank everybody, who is supporting our music, be it for short or long term. I also want to thank those who were interested enough to read this until the very bottom. Last but not least, I want to thank J.H. for the interesting questions and for the patience he had since it took me about a year to finally finish this interview.

...and then!

Darkwood Homepage: here 
Darkwood on Facebook: here