|Title:||Convinced in the interconnection|
Emphatically heroic, unspeakably ardent and stunningly triumphant, the nature-loving Brits crash into the action this time with their seventh album.
Winterfylleth has been active since 2007 and the fans have been able to observe an annually maturing formation that continues to penetrate the legendary mysteries and handed-down secrets of English history and Anglo-Saxon literature.
Regarding the line-up, guitarist and vocalist Chris Naughton emphasizes at the beginning that the band primarily still consists of the two original members, namely him and drummer Simon Lucas. For him, well-matched musicians are very important, he also says.
The 7th album - did you think about to reach that far with the band in the early days?
„We originally started Winterfylleth as a side project while doing the band Atavist (which has recently be resurrected and has an album out in June 2020). At the time we wanted to make a band that explored the ideas of ancient British history, and folklore, and that was Black Metal, as opposed to the Doom Metal we were making previously with Atavist. We had no idea that Winterfylleth would be so well received, and we sold out of our first demos in 24 hours of releasing them. After that happened, we quickly made the first album, and took Winterfylleth from being a side project, to become our main band. I’m not sure we initially had any huge ambitions other than to make our first album, but since then we have obviously managed to keep together, stay a close group of friends (hopefully with something relevant to say) and kept making albums. To the point where we now find ourselves here, 13 years later, with 7 albums in our discography.“
5 guys in one Metal band, surely not so easy all the time to keep it strictly harmonic - please tell a bit about the line-up situation and the ‚chemistry' in the band!
„In terms of the line-up situation, the band still features both original members, which are myself (Chris) and the drummer, Simon. We’ve had a few people leave over the years, but we’ve had a stable line up for a long time. Richard, who also played in Wodensthrone was with us for the first album, but he left soon afterwards, as he lived far away and couldn’t commit to the band anymore. Mark (Wood, Guitars) and Nick (Wallwork, Bass) joined and we made 3 albums together. Mark then left, as again he lived far away and had to focus on other elements of his life. So, at that point, our friend and long-time designer, Dan Capp joined on Guitar, and then we added Mark Deeks on Keyboard. I think the main point about Winterfylleth is that we are all friends outside of being in a band, so it makes things a lot easier. We don’t really have any issues as a result of that, despite there being some big personalities in our ranks. We write together, all have a chance to input and try to run the band in a way that is fair. So I think that makes for great cohesion in the band. Obviously, we all have strong opinions about the direction of material etc, but that is to be expected, and even then we generally try to make sure everyone is represented.“
Please describe the main musical character of the new release „The Reckoning Dawn“ with your very own words!
„Having spent the last 2 years in a very different creative space, touring our acoustic album, and bringing those shows to evocative, atmospheric and unique venues all over the UK and Europe, we are now pleased to announce our return to the realms of Black Metal with our new album, ‚The Reckoning Dawn‘. The culmination of almost two years of writing and collective hard work, what we are presenting here is a visceral & emotive new Winterfylleth album that we are all truly proud to put forth into the world. We've taken the time over the last few years to craft and grow our sound into different musical areas, really wanting to contrast that on this album; taking what we had learned from those other experiences and distilling that into what we have created here. To me it feels like a mighty, passionate and essential album of songs that push the boundaries of what a Winterfylleth Metal album can be, but that also harkens back to our more traditional Black Metal sound in a more immediate way.“
What is the most important for you on the new publication?
„I guess the message of the album is important for me, as well as the link between that message and there being great music to accompany it. Otherwise it can render the message fairly meaningless if the music doesn’t connect with the listener. When we were coming up with the title fand concept for the album, I think it was broadly born of an observation that the world is becoming very politically and socially polarized in recent years - maybe more so than ever - and that it is seems to be reaching some kind of critical mass as a result. It feels like we are seeing more and more sub-groups of people (of all political dispositions and vested interests) appearing on the social landscape - seemingly out of nowhere - trying to shout the loudest for their share of voice in policy making, or trying to dominate and steer the general discourse in their favor. This has in some instances led to conflicts, and the implementation of regulations, guidelines or policy that crosses a line for some people, while being welcomed by others. Ultimately, this polarization has led to a kind of underlying tension between opposing sides of the argument, about who is right, and if certain things can or should become public policy or not. At times this seems to occur in the absence of objective reality and it also speaks to this strange ‚post-truth reality’ we seem to be heading for as a species. Even a casual observer of the social landscape can see and feel these tensions escalating, particularly in the actions of extremist groups on either side of the debate. These growing tensions have led to violence, doxing, cancel culture, assaults, riots and all manner of draconian law making that has, for example, put religious dogma before sense in elements of female healthcare. That’s just the tip of the iceberg in a sense, but I think it highlights this hugely polarized war of ideas (and ideals) that is going on out there in the world. Depending on how deeply you look into the background of these things, there is always some kind of a lobbying interest, or a financial interest or a corporation who is directly or indirectly driving these things into public life (where they may never have been an issue or of any social use before), and who generally stand to profit or benefit from them, no matter the human or social cost. In terms of the album title… originally, I had in mind that the ‚Reckoning…‘ in question would need to be some kind of metaphorical one; either of the mind - as this ‘war of ideas’ was won or lost - or perhaps as some kind of physical one; where civil unrest ultimately led to some kind of resolution. Maybe you could argue that the recent UK General Election or Brexit was partly the latter. But, either way, the Reckoning would signify the end of an age and the start of another. As we came up with that and built a concept on it, I had no idea we would be faced with a biological Reckoning of sorts across the world around the release of this album. So, make of that what you will. Nevertheless, we find ourselves in unchartered waters, and for the first time in generations feeling like we are on the precipice of something life altering that’s beyond our control.“
It feels not less majestic and truly triumphal for me to listen to the new songs - what kind of emotions dominates the new stuff?
„For me, the key things that drives us to make Winterfylleth music are emotion and atmosphere. I think that there are both positive and negative emotions in the album, depending on the song and the lyrical content. But over all of that I think there is a really strong atmosphere that we try to maintain, to give the music feeling and the kind of presence that gets through to people in a physically way. The ways we achieve that might be different on each song, but the end result is hopefully the same; a feeling that you cant get anywhere else.“
Who wrote the lion’s share of the songs and how long was the work in total for all the material?
„When the band started, it was only really me writing the material because I was the only writing member. But as the years – and albums - have gone by, and we have all gotten to know each other as writers (and now understand what Winterfylleth sounds like), then it has becoming a much more equal process. Nick, Dan and I wrote all of the main ideas for the new album (over about 6 months of writing) and put them over basic drum patterns. We then sent the tracks to Simon so he could spend time coming up with the drum patterns he would play, in place of the basic drums we did. After all of that is done, then we get Mark in to add depth with the synths and vocal arrangements etc. Although on this album, Mark brought the basis for the song ‚Yielding The March Law’ to the band to work on, and as you’ll hear it’s a great song. So, with that in mind we are not really one of those bands who try to say ‚x’ member did the solo on this track, or ‚y’ member wrote this song. There were obviously riffs or songs that one of us started and the others helped to finish, but this is Winterfylleth music and we are all Winterfylleth. Its not about personal ego. So the album comes form us all, and reflects all of us in some way.“
What have been the hardest / most difficult passages of the songwriting-process?
„I think the song ‚A Greatness Undone’ was the hardest song to write because it is probably the most varied song on the album, and moves through lots of different sections and tempos. I think that one proved hard, because even though the ideas are all great individually, the skill (and time) required to put them together was the most testing part of the writing for me I think. Making the quiet sections flow back into Black Metal sections and making sure that it doesn’t sound jerky or weird was a really hard thing to do, but im glad we persisted with that track as it’s a really layered track of depth, that im hoping people get more and more out of, the more they listen to it.“
Allowed to ask you about any special musical influences which led to the new material?
„I don’t think there were any other bands that have influenced the making of this album per se. I think however that we did take a lot of learning and inspiration from the fat that our last album was an acoustic album, and we went through quite a process as a band and as performers in order to make that. When we were starting to make ‚The Hallowing Of Heirdom‘ it quickly became clear that it had to be based more on layering subtle melodies, strings, harmonies and counterpoints in our voices, where we would normally use the wall of guitar sound, extreme vocals and heavy drums etc. The main aim being to try and capture the existing atmosphere of the band and bring that into the acoustic music somehow. This necessitated us writing differently than we were used to while figuring out how to fit the instruments around each other and make them complement each other where appropriate. As a consequence of that we ended up having to write melodies and counter melodies for instruments we couldn’t play (violin/cello etc), in areas of the sonic spectrum we do not usually occupy in our Metal songs. So, when you consider how we applied those learnings to the new album, it definitely made us think more about composition, about how to add lead guitar and melody, (and keyboards for the first time) where it was needed into the songs. All of this done in a way that bolsters the atmosphere, rather than competing with it. Also, it made us want to bring strings into the songs in a more obvious way, and as such there are two Metal songs with string sections on them this time too. I’m hoping all of this leads to an immediate, passionate and virulent new album that definitely takes our Metal sound that bit further than before.“
How much are you interested in the current music world, the Rock / Metal music scene?
„I would say that we are very interested in the current music scene across the UK and the rest of the world world - across lots of genres. I would say that between the 5 members, and a few other close friends, we seek out and send each other lots of new albums on a weekly or daily basis. Mostly extreme Metal, but for example a few of us are also really into Ambient music. There are a lot of bands out there these days, and it can be very hard to pay attention to everything that’s coming out every week; or even spending enough time with it to truly appreciate it. But that said there have been some great releases over the last 6-12 months:
• Warmoon Lord – Burning Banners Of The Funereal War
• Medico Peste – The Black Bile
• Arx Atrata – The Path Untravelled
• Whoredom Rife/Taake – Pakt
• Nekrovault – Totenzug
• Wolvencrown – Of Bark & Ash
• Deus Mortem – Emanations Of The Black Light
• Dold Vorde Ens Navn – Gjengangere I Hjertets Morke
• Atavist – III: Absolution (my other band has a new release on June 19th 2020, also on Candlelight)
• Aes Dana – Inks
• Eskostatic – Serpentines & Valleys
• Darkest – Light
• Synkro – Images."
© Markus Eck, 19.04.2020
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