Dark Fortress - Portraying alternate realities
A while ago Metalrage.com reviewed the fifth album of German black metallers Dark Fortress, which is an impressive effort. When asked if we were interested in doing a mail interview with Dark Fortress we of course couldn’t resist. Here’s the result, with questions from Bastian Blackrain and DemonDust. The answers are given by V. Santura.
For those not familiar with Dark Fortress, could you introduce yourselves to our readers?
“Well, our band is mainly sited in Germany, even though we have two guys now living in the Dutch exile. Seems like Rotterdam is some kind of modern Babylon, in which nonconformist, creative persons rather have a chance to bloom than in the conservative catholic area, we all actually come from. We released our debut album in 2001 via the US-label Red Stream. Thanks to a constant evolution as musicians and songwriters we were growing from album to album and finally got a deal in late 2005 with the well established company Century Media records. We just released our fifth album “Eidolon” now. So what’s the essence of Dark Fortress? Dark Fortress stands for emotional, intense and pitch black metal on a high level.”
Tell us something about the new album, Eidolon. The name is a Greek word for a ‘mirror image’ or other self, is that what Eidolon is, an other vision on the world from an unearthly perspective?
“Kind of. Eidolon is quite a complex story about a person, that gets himself into trance by a mirror magic ritual in order to open a spiritual gate to other dimensions to leave the boundaries and limitations of the human mind behind. It is a long and painfull odyssey, where his soul and mind get completely taken apart, but that is necessary to unhinge the conditioned mind. Finally the focus is shifting from “this” side of the mirror to the other side, from the one who is staring into the mirror to something unearthly and undiscribeably looking from outside this world into our world.
In our reality, we see the reflection in the mirror as an illusion. Once through the gate, the protagonist enters a world far greater than ours. From this perspective “our reality” just seems to be a weak reflection of processes and worlds far too great to bear for a mere human mind.”
More and more black metal bands choose society as a muse for their song writing process, is that the same for Dark Fortress or is a classic bible-burning good enough?
“Well, considering the concept of Eidolon, we didn’t choose for any of these two options. On “Stab Wounds” for example, I think that the main inspiration for the lyrics of our former vocalist Azathoth were his own emotions and experiences, also with the society. But “Séance” had a more spiritual approach and “Eidolon” has a even more active and aggressive approach towards spirituality and occult techniques, as opposed to our former albums. Our new vocalist Morean, who is responsible for the lyrics of “Eidolon” is rather interested in portraying alternative realities and exploring his dark spiritual abysses. In general, our lyrical world is not necessarily too different from the classic black metal world, but we try to explore aspects of it that are not too commonly known. In this, detachment from humanity is always a driving force; we are not interested in merely commenting on reality, we rather offer our own world to the listeners. A strong inclination towards the occult has always been and will always be a basic starting point; the need to surpass the limitations of human life and the human soul is an essential necessity in our subjects.”
You play a style of black metal which resembles that of Satyricon a lot, yet the name implies you sound like Dimmu Borgir. was this done on purpose to surprise people?
“Hahaha, hell no! That whole name confusion with Dark Fortress and Dimmu Borgir is just an annoying coincidence. I mean, I respect Dimmu Borgir as a band, but they have never been a big influence, especially not when it comes to our band name. Actually, Dark Fortress was already founded in 1994 under this name, long before Dimmu Borgir became famous, and long before anybody “knew”, that the names of the two bands have a similar meaning. It is not true though, that the correct English translation for “Dimmu Borgir” is “Dark Fortress” by the way. Sometimes I’m surprised that there are so many people that speak Icelandic, haha. Well, finally we met a guy from Reykjavik and he confirmed that Dimmu Borgir rather means something like “Dark Cities”. But well, I have to admit that “Dark Fortress” is not the most original band name either, but it is our heritage, and we will not change it.”
Aren’t you guys afraid of being labelled cheap copy-cats because of the band name?
“Well, of course there will always be some idiots that will throw that against us, but if you make the effort to only listen for only 5 minutes to our music, you will discover, that we have our own characteristic sound, and you will be blown away anyhow!”
Dark Fortress has seen many line-up changes with the constant factor being guitarist Asvargr, how did this influence the sound of Dark Fortress over the years?
“Well, last year, our long time vocalist and original member Azathoth left the band, but besides that, the line-up is constant since more than seven years now. There were lots of line-up changes in the first years which is a normal thing, when very young guys come together: Interests change and the band had to grow together. The debut album “Tales from Eternal Dusk” was still recorded with the “old” line-up and after there where some serious changes in the band, because three new guys joined within a short time, Draug (bass), Seraph (drums) and me. This major change influenced the sound a lot, but with our third album “Stab Wounds” we defined our new and real identity. Since that we are constantly evolving, but you will always recognize a certain characteristic style in our music.”
Black metal is one of the few metal genres that hasn’t really generally been accepted by a wider audience. Yet there are exceptions like Dimmu Borgir or Cradle of Filth. Does Dark Fortress shun commercial publicity on that scale, or would you embrace it?
“Having success with your music is a great thing, but it is for sure not the driving force. It is the need and the will to play high quality music on a professional level and do it with passion. You can’t plan to have success anyhow, so you better do what you really want.”
Speaking of commercialism, a video clip seems mandatory nowadays. Yet not many black metal bands record one. Why is it that Dark Fortress is different in this sense?
“A few months ago I did not expect that we will ever have a video clip, now we are already discussing about maybe doing a second one. The point is that you can’t do anything without a decent budget, that’s what I thought. Century Media came up with the idea to make a video clip. They have a professional video guy working for them. His name is Sebastian Stumpe. Sebastian came down to our region, we found a old fucked up chapel, that we were allowed to use as location for the shot and we just gave it a try. We had lots of ideas and concepts, of course it was not possible to realize all of them, but Sebastian managed to make a clip out of the material, that is really fucking cool. So we just had the chance to do a video clip opposed to the majority of the black metal bands.”
What is the deal with corpse paint, isn’t that a little outdated?
“Honestly, I don’t give a shit if it is outdated or trendy or whatever. Our music has a very intense, mysterious and dark aura and we want to present the music visually in an adequate way. I believe that you can create an even more intense impact, when you actually perform, instead of just being an ordinary, normal guy on stage. If we unleash our inner demons on stage, why shouldn’t we look like one?”
Bullshit question then, in movies, who do you prefer; Arnold Schwarzenegger or Sylvester Stallone? Motivation?
“Äh… What? Damn, thank god or whoever you wanna thank, that you haven’t been on tour with us recently. It became the running gag to persiflage Arnold Schwarzenegger’s infamous accent. At one point I got so annoyed by this, I won’t vote for him, even though I prefer his movies. Terminator is cooler than John Rambo. I prefer Bruce Willis or Tommy Lee Jones anyhow. Couldn’t I vote for Sharon Stone or Keira Knightly, oh yea, honestly, I prefer to look at her.”
Do you have anything to add to this interview?
“No, nothing special. Check out our stuff and thanks for the interview!”