'...Zum Tode Hin' is an album that stands out because of the sound quality: what is the secret in obtaining this album sound?
Finally someone who notices and appreciates the great effort we made to create this sound quality. We recorded '…Zum Tode Hin' in four weeks and then after a short break we took another two weeks for mixing and mastering. Christoph Brandes who also worked with Necrophagist and Unlight is a “sound fetishist”. He had so many ideas and we experimented a lot with sounds, for example we tried about seven different microphone set ups just for one base drum until we found the right one. Furthermore all rhythm guitars and some lead guitars are double dm, which means Simon had to record each track at least four times only for the rhythm guitar. Due to this fact you can hear more than ten guitars in some parts of '…Zum Tode Hin'.
On the album the band is right in between the more rough German sound and the merry Scandinavian/ Finnish sound, also because of the intensive use of the accordion. In my review I write that it can be either a blessing, or a curse: too loud for the “more happy” fans and too light for the diehards. Have you experienced this perhaps?
Yes, I read your review and you are totally right! Finsterforst sure is a mixture of Finnish and German sounds. Although we have some black metal influences we aren't respected by black metal heads but on the other side our music is too rough for many “folky” pagans. But what is most important to us is that we like our music and our feelings get expressed witHin the songs for Finsterforst is still just our hobby and fun is our first priority.
'…Zum Tode Hin' is the band's second album. When checking the line-up I saw that the band was started only in 2004 and that none of the members has earned any exposure in earlier bands. When you started out, did you expect to be at this level in 2009 regarding the quality of music and can you explain that answer please?
You made a slight mistake in your research because Simon, Tobi and Marco had bands before Finsterforst. Although these weren't metal bands they gained live experience. I joined Finsterforst in late 2006 after the EP 'Wiege der Finsternis' had been released. When Simon contacted me and showed me the songs of this EP I already knew that Finsterforst would develop and the songs will get more complex. Then he gave me the tabs of the first Finsterforst song ever written and I noticed the improvement made in composing. It was obvious that if this trend continued, Finsterforst would soon be able to record albums like '…Zum Tode Hin'.
To which pagan bands does Finsterforst feel mostly related and why?
I think this question is quite easy to answer: definitely Moonsorrow. They are so epic and especially their new material just kicks ass. But in contrast to Moonsorrow, we are a lot more folky and we try to create our epic moments differently. Moonsorrow uses keys for these parts, we use a lot more guitars and of course our accordion. Other big names that are influential to Finsterforst are Finntroll, Windir (one can hear the parallels on 'Weltenkraft' and 'Wiege der Finsternis') Primordial and Menhir, because of their great clean vocals.
With an album lasting seventy minutes the fans get really their money worth: wasn't the label going berserk when you arrived at their office with an album of this epic length?
As far as I remember none of the labels we contacted said a word about the extensive length. Look at Equilibrium. They are on Nuclear Blast, one of the most commercial labels, and 'Sagas' is still nearly 80 minutes long. We wanted to put all these songs on '…Zum Tode Hin' because we think they are all really great. We knew that if they weren't recorded and released now they would never be because nearly all songs for the next album are composed. Einheit Produktionen also liked the fact that '…Zum Tode Hin' is really worth the money – just like 'Weltenkraft' was.
Just out of curiosity: the album is called '… Zum Tode Hin' which is a rather depressive or decisive title: furthermore there is no title of a song which is also called like that, so no title track. Why did you pick this title, also because there is that merry aspect to your music as well?
'…Zum Tode Hin' is a line of 'Sturmes Ernte'. The concept of this album is the rise and downfall of the earth. 'Urquell' describes the big bang and how everything came to existence. 'Das große Erwachen' and 'Seines Glückes Schmied' tell about the rise of mankind and finally 'Sturmes Ernte' and 'Untergang' are about the destruction of the earth by human hands. '…Zum Tode Hin' has some social criticism in it and it draws a picture of how the world will look like if we don't change our way of life. 'Towards Death' is just the name for this development of our mother earth.
How hard is it to get the notes the way you want them to be recorded and mixed in songs of such an epic length (let's not even mention closing 'Untergang' of over twenty minutes). What was the main challenge in getting all tHings right?
Simon, our mastermind, has written all songs using Guitar Pro. He arranged all instruments and the rest of us could practise the songs for ourselves at home till we entered the studio. There were mainly three challenges in studio. Although four weeks just for recording seem pretty long we were under a lot of pressure to record everything in time because we had so many instruments. The other challenge was the mixing. We had over 320 tracks to edit and to attune to each other. Christoph, our producer, had to buy additional working memory for his computer because it just couldn't get on with this load of sound. The third challenge was that we had to come up with a lot of money which we had to pay by ourselves.
Any hilarious points from reviews you have gotten about the new album and which you would like to share with our readers?
Hmm…. the reviews to 'Weltenkraft' were a lot funnier! The hilarious points from reviews about our new album are mainly just some mistakes about our line up or our origin. Some reviewers write that we use synth accordion and pipes although these are played by two great musicians.
A question coming up to most German pagan metal bands: a lot of them put messages on their site that they have no political interest whatsoever, because of some crazy people suspecting extreme political ideas which are hardly ever there. Finsterforst has, thank Wotan for that, not such a remark at the site. Is it because you want to ignore such nitwit outsiders or have you never been bothered by them?
The sad thing first: you can't just ignore such “nitwit outsiders”. They are everywhere trying to destroy our community and forcing townships to cancel Festivals, like the Waldschrat Open Air and the Northern Lights Festival last year. On the other side we were lucky and we have never been bothered by them. I think this is because of our lyrics. A lot of pagan bands write about German mythology and legends which were glorified during the Third Reich. This is dangerous and attracts people from the Antifa. We don't have these kinds of content within our lyrics and there is no doubt about us being not right wing extremists, hence we don't need any messages on our website.
There is an enormous number of pagan bands coming from Germany. If you ask me, I would almost say that this style in which Germany is really leading. Have you got any explanation for that why it happen to be this genre?
Germany is the country with the highest population in Europe, so we have the “pole position” in the race for the pagan market. In the nineties it was power and thrash metal, now it is pagan metal. Although the biggest pagan Metal bands are from Finland, Germany has the biggest metal scene. But wherever there are many people doing the same stuff there is a lot of crap among it. The majority of pagan metal release is recorded badly and the compositions are embryonic.
The upcoming months, Finsterforst has managed to get a lot of shows. First it is mainly the festival shows, and after that (say from late August on) it is more the regular clubshows. What surprises me is the enormous variety in countries where you guys will play. How did you guys manage to get to these shows: a lot of young bands, either pagan or another genre will envy you for achieving this…
Hahaha… We'll play the Destroying Europe Tour with Shining, Gwydion, Sarkom and Ashena. Due to this fact we play in so many different countries. We are so glad to be on this tour but we want to play so many more concerts. We are definitely not the tightest live band but we spread such good vibes that everybody in the audience just goes mad.
How is the band feeling about the acclaim you are receiving right now: is it a surprise or is it, in all honesty, a thing of which you had thought at forehand (before the release of the album) and are now proud to get
We worked really hard for our new album, so to be honest t is not really a big surprise. We knew that the songs had potential and we gave our best to record them appropriately. What is quite surprising is that we get top marks almost everywhere. Of course we are proud that people like our music and mark our new album with high grades!
What are the band's plans for the near future, especially after the shows in the upcoming summer of 2009?
We want to play more shows to get money to record our next album and to party with all the great pagans at the concerts!
Anything we have forgotten to ask yet which is essential to report in this interview?
Hmmm… I can't think of anything you could have forgotten. But to draw a conclusion: Everything one ought to know about Finsterforst is that we are just a bunch of drunken guys who want to have fun and make music with emotions. We wanna see you at our concerts to drink!