Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Countess Interview

1.Can you give us an update on what has been going on with the band since the recording and release of the new album?

After the recording of the new album, we got an offer to play at UTBS this year. We discussed this and decided to give it a go. So we have been looking for new members to join us so we can play live again. We have more or less completed this process and we’re rehearsing pretty hard now. Also, we’re working on a new official website that should be launched in the near future.


2.Recently you have released a new album, how would you describe the musical sound of the new recording and also how does it differ from the stuff you have released in the past?

It’s not all that different from previous releases stylistically, I think. Our sound has been gradually incorporating more traditional metal influences through the years and that evolution more or less reached its zenith on the previous album. On the new one, traditional influences are still very prominent, but at the same time there’s also some more old-fashioned stuff. There’s a lot of variety on the new record, all the songs are very distinct from each other. The biggest differences between the new album and the ones preceding it are the presence of Zagan and the production. We tried some new techniques and we’re rather pleased with the way the record sounds. It sounds very old-fashioned; no modern heavily compressed wall-of-guitars-sound but a sound where you can hear everything clearly.


3.You where one of the first bands to use the tag 'orthodox black metal' what are your thoughts on the bands that have taken that label over the years?

Actually, as far as I know we were the first band to use that tag, back in 1994. What we meant with that tag was: black metal loyal in style to the originators. Black metal true to the black metal ‘canon’ so to speak, as established by – first and foremost – Venom, Hellhammer and Bathory. We meant ‘orthodox’ in a literal sense, meaning ‘strict’ and ‘uncompromising’. When we started using the tag we mainly did so to set ourselves apart from all the new bands that were everywhere at the time, the so-called ‘second wave’ bands who played music that sounded like grindcore without bass and they called that ‘black metal’. We didn’t think that was black metal. It most definitely wasn’t metal. We were playing black metal the way we felt it should be played, hence the ‘orthodox’.
I know that there are now bands who are calling themselves ‘orthodox black metal’ where the ‘orthodox’ applies to the lyrical content and not to the musical style. I don’t have an opinion on that really, but it does appear they mean something different by ‘orthodox black metal’ than what we originally meant by it.

4.Can you tell us a little bit more about the lyrical topics and subjects the band explores with the new release?

‘Battle Sky’ describes the descent of the valkyries on the battlefield after the battle; ‘Burn The Throne’ is basically a story about overthrowing a monarch, ‘Cursed Seed Of Aten’ deals with the origins of monotheism and ‘Pray For The Cult’ is a typical hymn to metal itself. All the other songs deal with a desire to return to ways of yore, in one way or another.


5.The band has been around since the early 90's, what is it that motivates you to keep going after all of these years?

Well, I still feel like writing and playing metal. It’s as simple as that.


6.Even though the band started up with a full line up the project was solo for many years, what was the decision behind bringing back a full line up after all of these days?

Well, it wasn’t really a conscious decision. I was talking to Zagan in early 2013 and we both felt it would be cool to start playing together again. So we did, just the two of us, playing with a backing track (with drums and keys). Initially, we didn’t plan on anything; really, we just played songs we both like. But this went well and one thing led to another. We recorded some of these old songs again and released them as the ‘Sermons Of The Infidel’ EP; then we did the new album. When we got the offer to play at UTBS this year, we thought, well, why not? And of course, you need a full line-up to be able to play live. Another reason I was open to the idea of working with other people again was that I felt I had more or less reached the limits of what I could do on my own. The previous album ‘On Wings Of Defiance’ was all right, but it wasn’t really a step forward anymore from the one preceding it, ‘Burning Scripture’.


7.What are some of the best shows that the band has played over the years and also how would you describe your stage performance?

It’s a long time ago we played live; our last gig was back in 1997. Some of our best gigs were probably the ones we played in Germany; where the crowds were really into the music. You know, they weren’t just banging their heads but they were singing along as well. Especially the gig in Berlin in 1997 was really cool. As for our stage performance, most of the time it was pretty basic. In the early days we played with face paint a few times and in 1996 we experimented with somewhat elaborate costumes but we quickly tired of that. We felt a live show should be first and foremost about the music. So our shows were mostly pretty basic as far as stage performance went. We just played the songs, as powerful and energetic as possible.


8.Do you have any touring or show plans for the new release?

Currently we have two shows scheduled at festivals; Veneration Of The Dead in Rotterdam on May 25 and UTBS on July 5. We’ve been getting a lot of offers for shows recently, though. We’re currently considering these, so there may be more to come later this year.


9.The last few albums have came out on Barbarian Wrath, how would you compare working with this label to the other ones that you where a part of in the past?

Actually, all our full-length albums except the first one (which was essentially self-released) have been released by Barabarian Wrath and its predecessor, Nazgul’s Eyrie Productions, so we really can’t compare.


10.On a worldwide level how has the feedback been to your newer music by fans of black metal?

Both good and bad. We’ve always been a ‘love it or hate it’ band. This hasn’t changed in over two decades. Response to the newer stuff has also been divided. Some BM fans dislike it because it doesn’t sound like modern BM while others really appreciate it because it’s really metal.


11.Where do you see the band heading into musically during the future?

I’m not completely sure, but we’ll probably go further down the same road we’ve been on for a while now. We’re always open to new ideas, though, so there may be some interesting twists and turns coming up. We don’t have any plans or concepts for the next record in place at the moment, since our newest record was only just released. We’re focused on returning to the stage right now.


12.What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your newer music and also what are you listening to nowadays?

Our influences haven’t really changed over the past two decades. The main influences have always been first-wave BM and traditional metal, mostly NWOBHM and US epic. Gradually, the traditional influences have become more prominent; however, on the new album there are still plenty of first-wave BM influences as well. My listening habits haven’t really changed over the past two decades either: the influences I mentioned aside, I also enjoy good DM bands like Unleashed and Amon Amarth; metal bands that push the boundaries of metal while still being metal such as Therion and Blind Guardian, but also folky music like Loreena McKennitt and Blackmore’s Night and Irish folky punk like The Pogues and Dropkick Murphys. I also dig classical music; romantic stuff but mainly baroque.


13.How would you describe your views on Satanism and Occultism?

I have certain beliefs and these are, obviously, reflected in my music. Not always in a literal sense, though. And although I am expressing feelings and thoughts and ideas – as any ‘artist’ does, I suppose – I’m certainly not preaching or proselytizing or promoting any kind of ideology. I prefer not to go into detail as far as this subject is concerned. People who are interested in Countess should just listen to the music and read the lyrics – or not, if they don’t feel like it – and interpret the songs for themselves. That being said, I would not mind if my music would entice listeners to think and maybe look at things from a perspective they normally would not have looked from.


14.Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?

Thanks to you for the interview. Keep the flame of real metal burning!!!

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