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Ferndal is a new pagan styled black metal band from Germany and recently released their self-titled debut. Dabbling with the similar moods and stylistic elements as bands like Helrunar and Windir, but adding a fresh touch in the form of the extensive use of cello in their songs. Enjoyable, recognisable and well done; Ferndal is bound to gain fame. Lords Of Metal contacted bassist Sorathiel in order to get more acquainted with this talented bunch.

By: Roel de Haan | Archive under black metal

Hello there! To start things properly: How are you doing?
Hey Roel. We are doing well, if I can also speak for the others.

Since you are probably not yet a household name for most people, could you introduce Ferndal to our readers?
We are five Germans who have been forming this band since last year. Having different musical backgrounds we thought it was interesting to create black metal featuring a cello as an equal instrument to the guitars. The result is a special mixture between melodic black metal with classical and maybe folk influences though not lacking of harshness. I am the vocalist, bassist and I write the songs together with our cellist Lestaya. She studied cello and is not only an excellent instrumentalist but also brings the most solid knowledge about music to the band. Sethras plays lead guitar. He did not play metal before Ferndal but has had a blues band for long time. Abarus (also guitar) and Alboin (drums) have the most experience in metal as they both are members of the black metal band EIS which is well established for quite some time.

I want to congratulate you with your first self-titled album’. I enjoyed it quite a lot. How are the general reactions to the album? What are your expectations for the album?
Thank you, we are pleased to hear that you are enjoying the album. We had a lot of different reactions and most of them were quite positive. As we follow a special style of black metal, on one side there are people telling us that it is the album of the year and on the other side some people do not like it at all. But as far as I can assess, we have an extremely good impact for a debut album. We worked very hard to present our band to the audience so quickly and I think that we can be satisfied about the outcome so far. Therefore, our expectation is that people are getting to know Ferndal with this album and hopefully will keep in touch with us for our future development.

Your music has the same general feel as bands such as Helrunar and Windir, yet the pronounced use of violincello is something that sets you apart and creates a subtle melancholy folk touch. Is it hard to incorporate such an instrument into a metal framework?
Not at all! This instrument is very versatile and I think we manage to use it in every situation appropriately. It is beautiful for melodic and solo parts but can also support a gloomy atmosphere in harder passages. Sometimes we weave three melodic tunes of lead guitar, clean voice and cello together. That might be our unique characteristic.

Often bands within the pagan/black metal genre draw inspiration from their surroundings, and I imagine this is case with Ferndal as well. Could you tell us something about that? Or is there perhaps a concept to album?
Personally we surely do draw inspiration from our surroundings, especially from Scandinavian places, which are for some of us most fascinating. However, our music and our lyrics are not about nature or landscapes but inner matters. We want people to reflect themselves as independent individuals and take responsibility for themselves. You find these motifs in our songs as well as in the album artwork concept covered in different scenes. Some scenes take place in natural surroundings, some in abstract places, but the human is always in focus. There is also nothing referring to pagan religion or history nor Satanism, so if someone defines pagan and black metal by these terms we do not strictly belong to these genres.

band image

The song-structures on the album are quite lengthy and complex yet still comprehensive. Can you tell us something about the song-writing process of Ferndal?
That’s surprising! The structure of our songs is something many reviews criticised. Our song-writing might indeed be a bit different from the usual song-writing in metal. Lestaya and me – who are writing the music – are educated with classical music and cannot hold a guitar properly (I make an effort on the base-guitar). So the musical concept firstly develops in our heads and later on instruments. An exception is perhaps the cello… The way of how we do the song-writing is why we compare our style to classical music – not only the obvious classical parts and the Cello on the album. Try to imagine the same music played by other instruments and you will see what I mean.

Something that struck me as particularly well done on the album is the classical reworking of the song ‘Arntor, Ein Krieger’ originally by Windir. Why did you choose this particular track? Is this reworking of metal songs something you would like to do more on future releases?
It was one of the best ideas we developed during the recordings of our album. Lestaya and I arranged the adaption in cooperation with each other and we changed a lot from the original track. This track was interesting to do because of the voice leading Windir did. Fortunately we had the opportunity to record it with really good musicians. Lestaya asked other professional musicians from her former conservatory – including two professors. They really gave the piece a further step to perfection. We will definitely do similar things on the next records and we already have a few ideas.

Looking at that the artwork of the album we can see an large eye within the mountains and a solitary figure in front of it. It is quite intriguing. Could you tell us something about the artwork and how it is connected to the music?
The artwork was created by the Spanish artist Norax, singer of the band Lux Divina, who also designed our band logo. We described him our main subjects and the symbolism and this is what he came up with. It is this a bit confusing but fantastic surrealistic masterpiece. The symbols refer to our concept of the self-perceiving individual. You have to mind the change in perspective from the front and back cover.

A new album is best promoted with touring. Is there anything planned in this department?
It is not only promotion for the album but we really enjoy being on stage. This is totally different to recording an album. We had a couple of shows this spring – including two festivals – and are now taking a little break while working on new material. It will be continued in autumn with a few concerts that we will announce soon.

I wonder what has the future in store for Ferndal? What are your plans and ambitions for the future?
I would be happy to know what the future has in store for us! Well, we have quite a lot material for our second album and are currently working on it. If we are quick, it will come out in 2018. And afterwards, let’s see…

Thank you very much for your time, I wish you well and as tradition demands it I hereby offer you the final words to our readers?
Thank you for the interview. Groeten aan de Nederlandse lezers!

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