Recently Century Media signed the
German Black Metal band DARK FORTRESS and soon after that they
released the fourth album from the band called ‘Séance’. Now “Séance” is
the next step to establish Dark Fortress not only as one of Germany’s
most hopeful black metal acts, but as one that does not have to fear the
international competition. Evolving around the conceptual idea of the
direct contrast between the here and now and the hereafter, the
fragility of human existence with its most striking weaknesses -
ignorance, arrogance and false illusions is confronted with the crass
finality of death. The fact that ‘Séance’ is a diversified,
frighteningly extreme and highly creative effort, that should not be
ignored. So when we were asked to do an interview with guitarist V.
Santura we didn’t hesitate for a minute and ask him some questions.
I’m sorry but, I’m not
familiar with your previous albums, so first can you tell us a little
about the history of this band?
Dark Fortress actually already exists
since 1994 and was formed by our other guitarist Asvargr. Since that
time a few changes in the line up occurred, so Asvargr and Azathoth
(vocals) are the only original members from the first days of Dark
Fortress. We released a Demo Tape in 1996, a mini CD in 1997 and finally
got a record deal at the beginning of the year 2001 with the American
underground label “Red Stream”. Since about that time the line-up is
absolutely constant and consists, besides Azathoth and Asvargr, of
Seraph (drums), Draug (Bass), Paymon (keyboard) an me. In July 2001 our
debut album ‘Tales From Eternal Dusk’ was released. ‘Tales…’ was still
influenced by bands like Dissection and Unanimated and was written and
recorded before Seraph, Draug and me joined the band. Because of these
line up changes it was a natural thing that the band sound changed a lot
since our debut. ‘Profane Genocidal Creations’ (2003), our second
album, is the first album that was created by the “new” Dark Fortress,
even though I have to admit that we are not very satisfied with this
album in retro perspective. We needed some time to grow together as a
band again, so I miss the red line in many songs of this album. Our
third album ‘Stab Wounds’ (2004), which was released via Black Attakk,
was a very big stab forwards, because we found our style with this album
and we got better in every point. The songs are times better composed
and are very intense, the lyrics are very interesting, better production
You changed from Black Attakk
Records to Century Media Records, why changing after recording one album
with them, were you not satisfied with them and how did you get in
contact with Century Media?
We were not very satisfied with Black Attakk. At first they started to
do good work for us, but due to several things, we were not able to
trust them anymore, so we tried to dissolve the contract and finally we
succeeded to become free. So we were looking for a new label.
We were in contact with Philipp
from Century Media Germany since already about two years and he really
liked our band a lot. Actually he founded his own little company
“Imperium Records” mainly for the purpose to release ‘Stab Wounds' on
vinyl. So he tried to convince the “bosses” of CM to sign us and finally
he succeeded. We also got massive support by the guys of Naglfar and
also of some journalists.
Was there a larger budget for
this album than the previous albums and did this change the way you
Ha, well, we did the whole production before we signed a record deal. So
we kind of did not have a budget at all! Ok, we were quite sure that we
would find a new label that might pay the production costs, but
nevertheless we were in a very unsecured situation. For example: I made
a contract with the owner of the studio, that we used for the drum
recordings, that we don’t have to pay him right now, but until the end
of the year. So we did everything on tick. The production costs were
quite low, because we did not use any external persons for the whole
production. I did all the engineering, mixing etc, mainly at our crypt
with my recording equipment. But I was busy with the production for
about two months with little breaks, and I was really having a hard
time, because I didn’t have any money at all during the whole
production. So I hope that the next production will be much easier,
because than we will have a budget at the beginning of the recordings.
But that won’t change our basic approach. We definitely want to produce
ourselves without any third persons.
Were all the songs already
written before you entered the studio, or have there been some changes
during the recording sessions?
The songs are always composed before we enter the studio. Also the
running order of the songs is already sure before we enter the studio.
Actually the running order is already sure before we finish the
songwriting, because we always try to create fluent albums, were the
single songs are connected together. We just did some experiments with
the vocals on “Ghastly Indoctrination” and “While They Sleep”.
The lyrics on this album are
not the traditional cliché black metal lyrics like most of these bands,
who was responsible for the lyrics on this album and can you tell us
something about them?
Our vocalist Azathoth is writing all the lyrics. “Séance” is basically a
concept album which deals with paranormal phenomena. Every song kind of
tells the “story” of a certain paranormal existence or entity or spirit,
or however you want to call them. The lyrics are mainly seen through the
eyes of these paranormal existences and describe their experiences,
their individual ways. The lyrics show the direct contrast between the
hear and now and the “worlds beyond” and the weakness and limitedness of
human life and mind. They are influenced by personal spiritual
experiences of Azathoth while the music creates the appropriate moods
The title of the new album is
‘Séance’, is there a special meaning behind it?
Well, the title perfectly describes the concept of this album, because a
séance is a spiritualist meeting to receive communications from the
dead. And in this ‘Séance’ they are telling their story.
You’re previous album was
recorded in the famous “Grieghallen Studio” in Norway, were did you
recorded this new album and who was the producer? Or did you manage
everything yourself this time?
Yeah, ‘Profane Genocidal Creations’ was recorded at Grieghallen Studios.
Actually it was a fantastic experience to work together with Pytten,
because he is a great person with great ideas. The problem was that we
did not have enough time, because we only had 10 days to record and mix
almost 70 minutes of music, which is far too less. We only finished the
recordings, but not the mix. So Pytten’s assistant engineer did the
mixes at the evenings and of course without us, because we were already
back in Germany. Thus it happened that we were not very happy with the
final result. Well, as I already told, I produced ‘Séance’ and I also
did ‘Stab Wounds’.
How did the recording process
proceed and how much time did you spend in the studio?
We booked a studio in our hometown for four days to record the drums.
Afterwards we had a festival show and than I started with editing. Than
we recorded all other instruments at our rehearsal room. We got the
neighbor room next to our rehearsal room as well, so we had a recording
and a regie room. We rented posh equipment and did everything by
ourselves. This way it was possible to keep the costs low and to have
enough time to experiment. As far as I remember we had two or three days
for the bass and almost a whole week for the guitar recordings, which is
great, because you can work relaxed and accurately. We also had several
days for the vocal recordings, because I didn’t want to record more than
two songs per day, cause I wanted to record every song with a very fresh
mind, so we only worked a few hours every day, when we did the vocal
recordings. We also spent some time for specials like recording a string
ensemble for “Incide” and “While They Sleep”, a Jazz Drum set and an
upright bass in the middle of “Insomnia” and some of those things. It
always annoys me when journalists write in their reviews about the
samples and effects that we are using. There are only a few seconds of a
sample in one part of the whole fucking album, everything else is real,
just our voices and instruments.
Where the recordings in this
studio what you expected and was it a large improvement with your
previous studio albums?
Well, of course we knew, what we had to
expect, so there were no surprises for us during the recordings. And
yes, we are very satisfied and we definitely made a big step forwards.
Are you satisfied with the
result of the cd or do you like to change some things afterwards?
I don’t want to change anything. Of course
you never make the perfect sound or album, but I love what we created.
After listening to the new
album, I think it’s a very dark and cold album with lot’s of mid-tempo
guitar riffs butt still with a lot of diversity and is completed with a
dirge from singer Azathoth. Why are the songs so dark and cold, is this
just the way you write your songs or is there another explanation behind
In a way it was our urge to create a really dark and cold album, which
is really extreme. I was always fascinated by cold and mystical sounds
and it’s natural for me to write songs that have these negative
emotions, because it gives me somehow the possibility to canalize
emotions like despair, solitude or fear. We also have the goal to create
a unity of the lyrics and the music. This time the whole lyrical concept
was really dark and horror-like, so it was a logical consequence to
create such a dark and cold and maybe frightening album.
How do you stand against
illegal downloading from music from the internet, a lot of albums these
days are already on the internet before they officially being released?
Well, it sucks, but I can’t change it. On
the other hand, many people use the internet to inform themselves about
different bands. That’s especially great for underground bands. When
your album is just available via mail orders and not in the regular, big
shops, people can check your album anyhow and than they might buy it, if
they really like it. I am generally not interested in Mp3s, because even
in best quality, they sound bad. If I listen to music at home, I can
tell you after a few seconds if it’s a Mp3 or not, because there are so
many audible artifacts, like the drums are loosing the transients,
especially the hi hat and ride cymbals sound crappy. Mp3s they tend to
sound dull and muddy. Therefore I still just have a 56k Modem, so
downloading music is no fun for me.
How did you get involved with
the music business and what songs and bands are you listening yourself
Actually, I started quite late to play music. Already as a little child,
I always had music and songs in my had, but I did not start to play any
instrument until the age of 15. Strange if I think about that. But as
soon as I started to jam around with some friends (by the way, I am
playing together with our drummer Seraph since ever, he was the guy who
told me how to hold a guitar), I got totally into music. I had classical
guitar lessons for about 3 ½ years and after four years I already got my
first record deal, when I joined Dark Fortress, which was a lucky
situation, hehe. I really hate the business side of music, but it is an
necessary evil, if you don’t want to decay in your rehearsal room and if
you want to reach some audience. I am mainly only working with music,
because recording and mixing bands is my job. So if you have to work
with music every day for many hours you don’t listen to many music
privately at all. It’s a strange thing, because I almost don’t listen to
any music anymore, even though music is my passion. Hm, I didn’t
discover many new bands in the last time that I really loved. I really
like Green Carnation at the moment and I am eagerly waiting for the new
albums of Slayer and Satyricon. Basically I’m rather open minded and not
restricted to one certain style of music.
How do you see the future
with this band, any plans for touring Europe real soon?
We are probably going on Tour in April or
May, hopefully we will find the possibility to play another tour in
September or December / January. There are some possibilities and
offers, but nothing is finally confirmed yet. It is so difficult to get
6 persons together, to find a period of several weeks, where everybody
is able go on tour. Because some of us are studying on universities,
others on private schools, some of us are working, and it is really hard
to combine. But playing an European Tour would be very important. We
want to reach people in different countries and record some more great
Is there still something you
want to tell us after these questions?
Well, check out our new album ‘Séance’. If
you really are into intense and extremely dark Black Metal, it might
blow you away! Hopefully…
Thanks for the Interview,
V. Santura / Dark Fortress