First of all: 'Through The Valley Within' is a very good album yet it is nevertheless an own release: how come there were no labels interested: too many good Swedish releases in 2009 already?
Well, we did send the word out that we were recording a full-length album. Normally you would think it would be easier to get signed when handing over a fully recorded album to a label, but that's not the whole truth. There are still many questions that needs answering before signing the ongoing and perhaps a few following albums. We did get some interesting proposals but in the end we found it to be of better economical value to release the album unsigned, at least to begin with.
Apart from the fact that 'Through The Valley Within' is a fine example of Swedish black metal one thing strikes me: even if you don't have a label, you put a lot of effort into the sound of the album which clearly pays off. Apart from the recording, the album has been mixed at Fredman Studios, usually a studio for bigger bands with a label, even if also for instance youngsters Wintergrave from Norway went there. How did you get in touch with the studio, and why was a professional sound so important to the band?
We have been a band since 2001, more or less, and we know that no matter how many demos you release, the thing that really counts is the first full-length album. It is not apart from the fact that the music is good, but that's actually the very reason that we went all the way. We have been in different studios so many times without the results that we set out to get, which somewhat explains the waiting time for this album. When we finally felt that we had the right music and enough of it to record a full-length we just had to go all the way with it. The contact was easy, we just sent them an e-mail telling them that we wanted to do the mix in their studio and so it begun.
Now working at such a studio might be inspiring to a band like yours: any valuable lessons learned over there which you may use in the future?
Yes, quite a few actually. We are currently building our own recording studio so we took the opportunity to really check out Fredman Studios concerning recording and mixing technique and we learned a lot.
What is your favorite track on the album and why?
Wow, that is hard to answer since all tracks are dear to the creators, but I must say that I love the intense and raw sound of metal rage that is pounded from the speakers when you put on track 3, 'The Ocean of Inane Thoughts'.
The album has an official release date of early November 2009: how are the reactions so far, any surprising feedback so far?
Ehm, the official release date was delayed to late 2009, November the 7th to be precise.
The reactions to the music have been very good I must say. I think its always hard for the makers of music to know what really is good for the big masses and what only gives you as creator the specific feelings and rushes that you personally seek in the music. So, even though the reactions are hard to predict, you do have a feeling of how the music might get received by the general masses and we are above expectations of my original feeling so far.
I compare you guys with the best tradition of Swedish black metal bands like Dark Funeral and Marduk, yet there is a remarkable difference: Shadows Of Paragon is not satanic or anti-christian, although you deal with negative emotions as well. When examining the lyrics a bit more there are traces that could describe you as a white metal or “unblack” metal band. If you guys don't mind I wish to go into that a bit more. First of all: you don't seem like a band that wants to convert people, it feels more as if you guys are spawning out your own emotions: is that a correct conclusion?
Indeed. We have never labeled ourselves as “un-black” or “white metal”, though people tend to do that for us from time to time. We are all believing Christians in the band, but we do not believe in forcing our faith onto others by hammering the bible in their head. We are humans too, experiencing difficulties in life. The big difference is that we have found the words of Jesus to be true in our lives since we have experienced it so many times individually so we simply want to ask our listeners to do the research themselves and not just follow the crowd away from the gospel without giving it a fair chance.
Sometimes the 'unblack' metal is like black metal: whenever the talent is not evident, these bands, like their satanic/ anti-christian counterparts, put the emphasis on how true they are, yet Shadows of Paragon is a band which doesn't fit into this category. Do you feel annoyed by either two groups, where the image seems more important than the quality?
Well, not annoyed, rather indifferent since it has very little to do with us. We try not to change too much of who we are on stage from who we are in everyday life. Of course you need to kick it up a notch on stage, but we don't run around with war hammers screaming “death to all untrue”. The small amount of unusual stage gear that we use is always there for either a lyrical or musical purpose. To enhance either ones in a way that helps the audience to better get into the deeper meanings of the lyrics.
I know that bands with a “Christian” background often have hard times in getting accepted by bands and fans within the genre. Have you experienced such things and how do you reflect on this?
Yes, from time to time we meet people that want nothing to do with us due to our faith in a living God. But we still meet a lot of people that are just in it for the music and like what we have done and many come to us with thanks for not entering the competition of “who has the darkest lyrics”. There are lots of people out there that are tired of the eternally dark messages from black metal bands and just want some fresh metal with lyrics that does not encourage them to fornicate with dead people or to commit suicide. Not that all black metal bands have those kinds of lyrics, but I must say that it is kind of strange that those lyrics are easier to accept than ours…
As a non-religious person and a fan of black metal for many years I am somewhere in the midst of the eternal discussion: on the one hand I do agree that a Christian (or Jewish or Islamic or whatever acknowledged religion) can not play total true/real black metal, but on the other hand labels like “white metal” or “unblack metal” sounds stupid as well. Since you guys describe yourself as extreme metal, it must have been a subject you have your own thoughts about. What is the band's view in this, or do you think that such a question from a person like me is totally irrelevant?
Indeed. We described our music as black metal for some time, since that is what we do sound like. But since many people do not refer black metal to the specific musical details rather than the ideological and religious values, we had to go around the problem and call it something else. We do have a mix of black and death influenses in our sound, but to be honest, “Extreme Metal” sounds more like what we really play theese days. To call ourselves un-black feels stupid since we are not against black metal or the black metal bands, we simply dont agree about much of what other secular bands are singing about. A situation that is certainly found in any genre between different bands and the normal thing is to just let it go. Agree to disagree ;)
I can't find any upcoming live concerts on the site: yet when checking Youtube I see some footage of various shows: what have so far been the highlights of the band live and why?
Highlights are hard to pick out from the line of concerts, but it's easy to understand that Revolution Metal Fest in Mexico City 2005 was one of them. Many people showed up for some fresh Nordic black metal and we were very pleased with the outcome of the gig. Our gig in Barneveld, Holland 2006 was also very, very good of course ;)
Any idea when and where people will be able to see Shadows Of Paragon live the upcoming months?
Well, we have been laying low over the holidays, but the bookings will go official as they drop in.
For example we will come and visit your lovely country this spring! In Stedsj/Barneveld on Saturday 17th of April 2010. Come on over and have a great time with us, check out our MySpace] for more information to come!
The band does not have a label: even if most labels do not do tour support these days, do you feel that this makes it more difficult for Shadows Of Paragon to obtain live shows?
No, actually, without a label it is cheaper for booking agencies to have us come along on shows and with fewer concerts with a good band you become a more requested live act and more people show up, which means more fun for us!
What can we expect the upcoming months from Shadows Of Paragon: any surprises you can give a bit of a clue of?
What we don't say is not what you have not heard,,, ;) Right now we are rehearsing for shows and writing some new material, as always.
Anything I forgot to ask yet which is essential to you guys to have it published in an online-interview?
Well, buy our CD at www.Shadowsofparagon.com/merch or you can also download our album as Mp3 at: www.metal-downloads.com. Get in contact with us and listen to our music for free at our MySpace.
And the final question: what can we expect from Shadows Of Paragon in 2010?
Great live gigs and never ending blast-beats!