Interview with DARK FOREST
The Band: Dark Forest
Country: United Kingdom
Answers by: Christian Horton (guitar)
Dark Forest is about to celebrate its 15th anniversary next year and their path cannot be brighter, after this year’s forth full length “Beyond the Veil” the band confirms his status as one of the references in the current heavy metal scene and the years to come, every step they give bring them to a wider audience, commanded by captain Horton, no tricks here.
Hello Christian, thank you for this interview and congratulations for your new album “Beyond the Veil”
Thanks very much!
The band has been active since 2002, one demo, 3 EPs and 4 full-length albums later what are the sensations in Dark Forest compared to those early years?
It’s been a long journey since those early days. We started off at rock bottom, not fully knowing what we were doing, just playing as many local gigs as possible and constantly writing songs. We’ve had various line up changes and all kinds of experiences along the way, good and bad, but now we’re easily the most comfortable and also musically creative we’ve ever been. The one thing that has always stayed the same though is the original vision, the flame of inspiration has never been extinguished.
The band has gone through some line up changes. For example, what has been the contribution of last guys to go on board as Jenkins on guitars and Winnard on vocals?
Yeah they have been the most important thing to happen to Dark Forest since the formation. We never really had the right line up before. Everyone who has been in the band in former years contributed in some way and will always be fondly remembered, but now we feel that we have the perfect line up. Pat and Josh both share my musical vision and their talent, Pat as a guitarist and Josh as a vocalist, is amazing.
Your previous album, The Awakening, was a big step for the band in terms of popularity and quality, with great reviews. Comparing your new album “Beyond the Veil” to that one, what would you say?
I’d say they were quite different from each other. The Awakening had this brooding, darker feeling to it, a lot of the lyrical content had a sort of protest feeling going on. Beyond the Veil is far more uplifting and high octane. The songs have an excitement to them and also the lyrics deal with very different themes, going more into folklore and legend.
How long did you work on “Beyond the Veil”?
Well the song writing process itself actually started before The Awakening was released. We’re constantly writing songs you see, so you just get to a point when you have enough for an album. Studio time we ended up spending eight days recording and quite a few more mixing.
Who has pushed more forward in terms on composition in the new album?
I’v always done the bulk of the writing but this is the first album where Josh has had some contributions, (The Awakening was actually written before he joined the band) but also Pat has written a good deal too. The Wild Hunt was composed entirely by him, the lyrics being added by myself. So we’ve been working together a lot more for this album compared to in the past.
12 songs and more than 70 minutes of music, some people might say it is too long… what do you think?
I don’t really understand how an album can be too long, if you’re a fan of a band and their music, how can you have too much? You’re just getting more music for your money’s worth. There’s also been many, many bands from the 70’s onwards who have made huge albums so I don’t really know where that idea has come from.
I don’t know either, but it sounds as empty words to me, as long as we get quality the more the better. You are going to release an especial vinyl edition in a luxurious gatefold including an A2 poster. How did you get the idea?
That was our record label Cruz Del Sur Music. It had to be a double gatefold album really because of the album length, but it was the label who had the idea to include a poster and stickers, something we also completely approved of ourselves.
Yes, you have signed by the prestigious Italian label Cruz del Sur Music, which offers a great roster of underground and cult bands, how do you feel with the guys?
Yeah it’s a really good relationship we have with them. We’re more than happy being with Cruz Del Sur, there’s some really good bands on the label like our friends Atlantean Kodex, we’re in good company!
Sure as the sky is above us. After four albums, Dark Forest sounds like an important name to many people, do you still feel as an underground band or those times are past and Dark Forest is a band for all fans?
I don’t think our attitude has ever changed and we still feel the same way about ourselves as we always have done. It’s a fact that we’re an underground band but we’ve always thought of ourselves as a band for anyone, all fans. No matter who the person is, if you like our music then we really appreciate you and would like to buy you a pint!
Another good reason to be a fan In this “Beyond the Veil” the band shows a balance between the classic twin-guitars heavy metal and the elements of folklore, tradition and medieval melodies
Yeah there is a lot more of that atmosphere on this album. It’s something that we did quite heavily in the early days but we kind of toned it down it for a while. I’ve always been a very keen reader of folklore, mythology and history so I decided it was time to incorporate more of that into the music again. It just feels right, it’s the direction we want to carry on with.
What are the lyrics about in “Beyond the Veil”?
They range from topics of folklore and legend, such as The Wild Hunt dealing with a piece of Scottish fairylore about the Unseelie Court and The Undying Flame which is a take on the fated story of Lancelot of Guinevere to topics of natural magic, paganism and the supernatural world like in Autumn’s Crown and On the Edge of Twilight. The Lore of the Land is to do with mythology and folktales being archetypes that record the story of human history, where we’ve come from and who we are. The title track is written from the theosophic view point of how nature spirits interact with the physical world.
Many people compares Dark Forest with bands such as Cloven Hoof, Slough Feg, Iron Maiden or Skyclad, how do you feel about it?
Yeah that’s fine with us, I like all of those bands, in fact I used to be a member of Cloven Hoof so it’s not a problem at all!
What is your favourite song in the new album?
It tends to change depending on how I’m feeling, but at the moment I’d have to say either Where the Arrow Falls or On the Edge of Twilight.
We get no fillers in “Beyond the Veil”, for example I really like the majesty of Blackthorn or the heavy attitude in Autumn’s Crown
Thanks, yeah I obviously try and root out anything that might be considered filler. If there is a song which isn’t quite up to standards we tend to re-work it, change it around, drop sections and write new ones until it’s good enough and we’re happy with it. That’s where the other members also come in useful, sometimes when you’re writing so much music, you can loose track of what’s good and what’s not. It’s always good to have constructive criticism although I usually just end up with “come on, you can do better than that!”.
One of the strongest points of your work is the great composition and the variety of sounds you include along the whole album
Well thanks again, I can’t really comment much on that, we like to think that what we’ve created is good and we were all very proud of this album, when we were in the studio, we just knew we’d created something special. If other people agree then that’s great!
Do you have any tour dates scheduled to promote your new album?
We’ve got a few festival slots coming up, Harder than Steel in Germany on 1st October and Hell Over Hammaburg on the 4th March. There’s also a few other things in the pipeline including something special next year for our 15th anniversary!
Yes, a great an emotional moment for the band. As a British band, you would say the British Metal has lived better times or you still have a strong scene?
It’s a lot better than it was ten years ago that’s for sure! When we started we couldn’t find any other bands who played even remotely the same style. There has been a resurgence recently of young bands playing traditional heavy metal though which is great. Obviously it will never be the same as it was in the 70s and 80s but at least it seems to be in a better state now than it has ever been in the last twenty odd years.
What are your plans for the future?
Continue to write music, play gigs and drink vast quantities of Bathams Best Bitter.
Thank you Christian for the interesting chat and wish you a great success with “Beyond the Veil”
You’re welcome, thank you very much, cheers!