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Eden Weint Im Grab

We zijn in Nederland en België nog altijd veel te weinig op de hoogte van wat zich er allemaal afspeelt in de Duitse metalscène. Nou is die op zich al reuzengroot, maar toch is het ook daar ruim de moeite om de krenten uit de pap te vissen in de underground. Neem een muzikant als Alexander Paul Blake. Hij brengt fantastische atmosferische black metalalbums uit met Aethernaeum, maar daarnaast is hij al sinds 2002 ook de bezieler van Eden Weint Im Grab, een collectief dat zich niet laat vastpinnen op één stijl, maar vooral de zwarte zieltjes der gotische kunst zal behagen. Naar aanleiding van hun zevende album ’Na(c)htodreise’ keuvelden we met Alexander en gitarist Dr. Eckstein over dit intrigerende kunstproject.

Door: Vera | Archiveer onder gothic metal

Hello guys! We did an interview with Aethernaeum in 2015, but now let us shine a light on your other – and even longer existing band – Eden Weint Im Grab. How are you doing at the moment?
Blake: “Fine. We are all quite busy, since there’s a lot to do around the album release and the upcoming tour. But we’re glad that the album seems to be received quite well.”

Since Eden Weint Im Grab’s reputation mainly has a diehard cult following in Germany, let us start with a summarizing of what EWiG musically and thematically stands for in general...
Blake: “We once started with the slogan ‘Trauer, Tod & Träumerey’ back in 2004, which means something like ‘mourning, death and dreaming’ in a poetic form and somehow this goes through all our albums. We have a profound interest in everything that has to do with the afterlife and try to put this into dark, but also ironic little stories. Our music combines dark metal with influences of gothic, black metal and lots of non metal elements, that make the music interesting, unpredictable and cinematic.”

Since we pick up the band after a long time: what were the highlights and most kicking things you experienced or achieved by being the motor of EWiG until now?
Blake: “I guess the other guys will say the festival shows. For me each album release is always a special moment, since it’s like a harvest after a long phase of sowing and gardening. We have done seven albums so far and I’m proud of all of them.”

Eckstein: “For me, the special moments revolving around creating music are spread out: having an idea, have that idea accepted, have it recorded, finalizing the production and releasing. Being on the road has often been an adventure that yielded kicks and highlights, on stage and off stage. My first gig with the band, which was also my first gig ever, was very special.”

Eden Weint Im Grab has always been a band name that intrigued me. How did you actually come up with that name?
Blake: “Every interviewer seems to ask me this question (laughs). It’s a game of words in German. It can be translated as ‚eden is crying in the grave’. Actually the abbreviation ‚ewig’ means ‚eternal’. It sums up both of our sides. On one hand our music is very dark and dealing with death and sadness, but on the other hand there’s a kind of transcendence and romantic approach behind some of the lyrics, if you look deeper.“

Eckstein: “It also sums up what most songs deal with: dead beings who are still doing something. It conveys melancholy but also hope.”

Almost three years have gone by since the release of the previous disc ‘Geysterstunde II’. What happened with the band after that release in terms of supporting it with gigs?
Eckstein: “We played our first tour in 2015 with Nachtblut, a couple of festival shows and some other gigs.”

Blake: “We have done the album ‘Naturmystik’ with Aethernaeum and I have also worked on other projects, which are not released yet. So it was a busy time, since also the 70 minute epic ‘Na(c)htodreise’ needed a lot of time and attention.”

Eckstein: “With Aethernaeum, we also released the vinyl single 'Zwischen Zwei Welten', and we played our first tour as well, with Dornenreich and Velnias in 2016.”

There is only one change in the line-up, but of course such things are always hard to handle. Why did Nimmermehr leave?
Blake: “He wanted to focus more on other musical directions and started his own band. Fortunately he stayed in Aethernaeum. But three bands were too much for him. There was no hassle. We’re still good friends, do the Winter Solitude studio together and he will also play an important role in our upcoming video clip.”

How did you come in contact with new rhythm guitarist Ivar Rabenfeder and when did he join the band? Can you tell a bit more about his background? Did he already play on the new album?
Blake: “He joined the band when the album was finished more or less, but he invested already a lot of effort in all the other things, that also makes a band important, like promotion, video and photo shootings and many many many discussions within the band hehe. We have known him for a while already, since he is one of the best friends of Nimmermehr and they played in a band together before. So it stays in the family, so to say.”

Eckstein: “Nimmermehr asked Ivar whether he would like to apply. He did and we accepted quite quickly. It feels like a very natural fit.”

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’Na(a)htodreise’ is announced as your first concept album. How did you grow into making a real concept this time (although there were conceptual tendencies in the past)?
Blake: “Right. ‘Geysterstunde’ I and II also had a kind of concept, since all the songs dealt with ghosts somehow. But this is the first time that we tell an ongoing story from song one to song fifteen. How it came about? I don’t know. I had this idea for a long a time already and somehow the time was right now. Not very spectacular, right?”

Did it demand for a different approach? What can you tell about the writing process this time?
Blake: “Well, not really. Since in Eden Weint Im Grab the lyrics were always very important, it’s not unusual to start with the lyrics and write the music afterwards. The same we did this time, but maybe more consequently. I had written drafts for most of the scenes on this album and then started to write songs around it to bring it to life. Afterwards some of the lyrics were changed, there were things that made no sense and new ideas started to grow. So it was a kind of process where music and lyrics inspired each other.”

And can you give a sneak summarize about the specific theme on this album?
Blake: “It’s a journey, which starts with the protagonist lying in his bed. We leave it open for interpretation if he dies or just has a vision or dreams. Since it’s not up to us to explain the universe. We’re just trying to entertain with this story and ask some questions with a certain philosophical relevance. After his ‘death’ he travels through the underworld, hell and purgatory up to the higher and brighter spheres and experiences a lot of weird things on the way.”

In a way, this concept really suits the vibe from the band as it has always been. Yet, the diversity of the songs struck me (and makes it more interesting). For instance: ‘In Der Totan-Taverne’ sounds really cheerful… any thoughts on that?
Blake: “For me it was always hard to put Eden Weint Im Grab into one category since we were always very diverse. If you think of the ambient album ‘Der Herbst Des Einsamen’ with Georg Trakl poems or the acoustic album ‘Nachtidyll’ – they were not very metal, I guess. So for us this is nothing new. Of course we want to challenge the listener and ourselves, but on the other hand songs like these just happen.”

Eckstein: “The cheerful mood of 'In Der Toten-Taverne' fits the lyrics very well, since they deal with the dead drinking and partying in an otherworldly tavern. I agree that the diversity makes the album more interesting. I think that it also makes the songs more intense, because, figuratively speaking, bright things appear brighter on a dark background and vice versa. As a musician and as a music lover, I am a big fan of diversity in a band.”

Another thing that leaps to the eye (or ear) is the Western flair in ‘Die Verwaiste Wüstenstadt’. Where does this idea come from?
Blake: “I had the idea to write a song that would fit to Tarantino movies. And also I wanted to develop as a singer and this song gave me a good chance to sing with my clean, deep voice. Somehow this song has always been my baby, since it was so special. So I had to protect it a bit in the process of the production, since for me the very first demo versions were already close to being right the way I wanted it to sound. And usually we sometimes change a lot of stuff after the demos.”

Poetry and literature has always been important in your art. Can you shine a light on the songs that feature this aspect on the new album? (like the use of poetry)?
Blake: “Poetry is something that always played an important role in my life and I try to write each lyric like a poem and also published some poetry books beside the music already. One piece of literature that had an influence on ‘Na(c)htodreise’ was Dante’s “Divine Comedy” from the medieval ages. Some of the songs have been inspired by his descriptions of the lost soul in the underworld, which I like a lot. But we tell our own story and don’t copy anything. In the past often literature from the romantic epoch has been an influence or the German expressionist Georg Trakl, whom we dedicated the poetry album ‘Der Herbst Des Einsamen’ back in 2009.”

What would you choose as the most morbid song on the record? (maybe your own creepiest station on this musical journey) And on another level, the most melancholic one?
Blake: “That’s a hard question, since it’s not a category, in which I think. Maybe ‘Das Höllentor’, since it’s really really dark and hopeless. The aspect of melancholy is not so prominent on this album, I think. But maybe ‘Das Große Mysterium’ would be a good choice?”

Eckstein: “To me, the doomy 'Kahnfahrt auf dem Acheron' appears quite melancholic.”

You always record at your own Winter Solitude studio. That means that you are fully responsible for upgrades, new challenges, etc… Were there new approaches in this respect for the new album, without going too much in technical vocabulary?
Blake: “We always grow as songwriters, producers, arrangers and mixing engineers very naturally with each album. So most of the changes happen automatically without us noticing sometimes. But I invested some money into some new plugins for mixing and mastering, which made the sound better and I think also the Kemper Profiling Amplifier, which we used for the guitar and bass recordings has done a good job, since it’s a state of the art tool for many bands nowadays.”

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You have created very informative documentaries about the making of this album. Who did it and can you tell a bit more about this time-consuming work? Any interest in visual art as well from your side?
Blake: “It was me who had the idea and did the filming and editing. Yes, it was definitely time consuming. I had done some smaller video projects before, but not such a big thing like a film. I have to admit that I underrated the effort this needs. I spent many evenings and weekends with it and also the other guys in the band invested lots of time in the interviews and ‘proofwatching’. But I think it was worth all the effort, since it gives the fans an insight into the world of Eden Weint Im Grab like no other interview before.”

You started crowdfunding for making a music video clip. What are the plans for it at this moment? For which song?
Blake: “We want to reveal the song not before the video is published. We did the filming with Rainer ZIPP Fränzen and his team a while ago and since then he is busy with the postproduction, which is very elaborate. The crowdfunding was a good experience and we are very glad that so many fans supported us so generously . We reached our goal within ten days or so, which is really awesome.”

Eckstein: “We can reveal that it is definitely not going to be a run-of-the-mill music video. It is going to be a piece of art. Having only watched snippets so far, I am very curious about the end result.”

Nina Berger has put a lot of work into artwork and illustrations. Some words about that would be nice…
Blake: “We worked with Nina for the second time now. She also did some paintings for ‘Geysterstunde II’. I like working with her, since she is very relaxed and open for all kind of suggestions. We wanted to try something different than the typical metal covers and used white as background colour and kept everything very plain. The artwork is printed on a special book paper and looks very noble. Nina painted a silhouette picture for each of the songs and we wrote many many e-mails during the process to get it right. She is really good and a nice person. It’s planned to work with her also in the future.”

I guess these are busy times, since you will play four release shows all over Germany soon. Please tell us about the preparations for this entering the stage after 1,5 year (I am right, isn’t it?)
Blake: “Something like that, yes. We had so many rehearsals in a row like never before in the band history so far, I think. We all had to learn the new songs, but the most time was invested by Ivar, since he had to learn a 80 minute show. Chapeau! Apart from that also things like booking, organisation, merchandising and promotion, which we all do by ourselves, are time-consuming. Thus I think when the tour is done, we all need some holidays from the band hehe.”

Eckstein: “Yes, our last show was in September 2015. For me, preparing the upcoming shows has been more work than ever before. Since Ivar and me are the guitar players, there was a lot of communication involved between us in allocating guitar parts. Even more straining, the new live set features two songs with challenging guitar solos, one of which was way too far beyond my technical abilities when I made it up. I practiced countless hours to become able to put it on the record, and it is still a challenge to get it 100% right in a rehearsal/live situation.”

What are the further plans for the near future?
Blake: “After the tour we’ll take a break till August, when we play at the M’era Luna festival. We try to book some shows for autumn and winter. But nothing confirmed yet. I will use the next months to finish two new projects, which are still a secret. And after that maybe a new Eden Weint Im Grab album? I have some ideas, but no new songs yet.”

Eckstein: “Blake forgot that we will have to rehearse for M'era Luna as well (chuckles). So we will have to roll up our sleeves probably in July, but it won't be as stressful as these days, because we will not have to learn new songs ... and very hopefully not have to work in a new guitar player. A break is definitely needed, as there are so many other music-related and non-music-related things in my life I want to be doing, which Eden Weint Im Grab somewhat kept me from doing for a while. But I really hope that there will be lots of live shows in autumn/spring and possibly beyond, which will be mostly fun now that we are basically prepared.”

And what are the plans with Aethernaeum for the near future?
Blake: “We take a break from Aethernaeum at the moment, since Dr. Eckstein, Meyster Melicus and me, who play in both bands, were very busy with Eden Weint Im Grab in the previous months. I guess some day we’ll do another album, but I feel that it needs to be different, since at the moment I feel no inspiration for this kind of music. That’s why Aethernaeum needs to wait. But we have one further show in late summer at the Rock For Roots festival near Berlin. And we are open for further gigs.”

Eckstein: “I am fine with not doing an Aethernaeum album anytime soon. On one hand new songs would be great, but on the other, they would also force us to drop older great songs from our set list. We already have way more great material than we can play in a single show. Lots of further gigs would be awesome.”

If you want to add something to round off our chat, please feel free to do so here…
Blake: “You asked basically everything, I think. So all that’s left to say for me is thank you for your support. We appreciate it.”

Eckstein: “Yes, thank you for featuring us and asking good questions. To the readers: If you like us, spread the word about us! It is not easy for us to get news spread, since we have no huge ad budget or a record company with a million followers on YouTube. So, every view, like, share etc. helps us. And watch out for our upcoming music video which will be awesome! Probably.” (grins)

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