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Darkest Era | Band Prepare To Embark On UK Tour 2014


Darkest Era have had a big year. They’ve left one of the biggest metal labels in the world. Joined a new one. Released a storming second album. And they’re about to embark on a fresh UK tour.

So before he packs his two clean pairs of pants, four remaining plectrums and a dire straits headband, we spoke to guitarist Ade Mulgrew – who’s taking stock about where the band have got to and what lies ahead.

Something that strikes me about ‘Severance’ is how uncomplicated and direct it is. There’s no messing about – it sounds like each of the tracks are written to be delivered live, and that playing live has directly fed into them. Would that be right?

One of the things we wanted to achieve on this album was, as you pointed out, to cut the fat from our sound. We wanted to bring the more heavy metal influences we share to the fore. There is a strong traditional metal element to our sound and we felt that didn’t always need to be wrapped up in complex arrangements and lengthy song structures. Compared to the first album, there is a greater proportion of straight up direct songs.

After touring the first album perhaps we had a better idea of what aspects of our music worked better live. While we didn’t write with this in mind specifically, perhaps the fact that we started working on the record straight after coming off a tour permeated the writing to an extent. I think moreso though it was a desire to write a more focused, more refined album overall.

The Primordial influence still shines through- ‘Songs Of God And Men’ could have been off any of their mid period albums… and what a chorus. How did that one come together?

It came about via a riff I had knocking around for a while and an idea to try and find the sweet spot between Bathory and Thin Lizzy. The chorus honestly came about in around 60 seconds. When laying the guitar scratch tracks in the studio the chorus just wasn’t really cutting it.

So on the spot myself and Sarah worked something out quickly, using an F chord as a starting point to give it that lift and she improvised the melody. It was very spur of the moment.

We didn’t have any lyrics or vocals written for it when we entered the studio. Our producer Chris flew over to record in Data Studios in Ballyheigue, Co Kerry. As it turned out, Chris’ great great Grandfather was the last surviving member of the Battle of Trafalgar; he lived an action packed life and seen out his days as a coastguard in Ballyheigue.

Chris had heard that me may be buried in the village, so we took a morning to scour the various cemetaries looking for the grave. Eventually we found it, a sort of obelisk with a quite moving verse carved in the stone. It was quite a profound moment and definintely inspired the lyrical theme of that particular song.

How big a rush were you in during the recording? I only ask because it sounds like you got a lot of time to really work the tone. There’s great warmth in it.

The studio used to be a jam factory and the live room was the main production area, so the space enabled us to get a really great drum sound. Guitar wise, we didn’t double track the rhythm guitars this time like we did previously.

So what you’re hearing is two Les Pauls plugged into great sounding Marshall rigs, just playing. It meant you can really hear the bite of the guitars and the thickness of the tone. We wanted grit this time rather than swathes of sound. Less is quite literally more in this case.

In terms of the timescale of everything though, it was flat to the wall. We came off a European tour with 10 weeks before studio time and only a handful of riffs written. An incredibly intense period of writing followed, it was crazy.

It’s surprising now to look at the strength of the material that came together and think of how quickly it was written but I think the key thing was that we had a very strong vision of what we wanted the album to be, and carried this vision with us for 7 or 8 months before writing anything. The recording period was also high pressure – recording 11am until 3 and 4am almost everynight, with the final night recoridng guitar solos running right through until 10am the next day. Intense to say the least.

In the time since the last album you’ve changed label. What happened with Metal Blade and how is Cruz Del Sur working out for you? It seems perhaps a more natural fit.

These are such uncertain times for the industry. Bands, labels, everyone is struggling. With Metal Blade they simply had to tighten their belts and lose about 12 of the smaller bands that were selling below 6000 or 7000 copies for them.

It’s a shame, they genuinely liked the band and we in fact sold substantially more of the first album than they were expecting. But the goalposts changed with the climate I guess. Cruz Del Sur though I would agree is a much better fit for us, simply in terms of the kind of bands they back and their integrity.

It has been an incredibly consistent label, releasing some of my favourite albums in the past few years, and as it is a smaller label we don’t get lost in the pack as was the case with Metal Blade. We’re extremely happy where we are now, we are very much on the same page together.

You’ve got a new drummer – what’s the situation there and how did you hook up?

Lisa left us officially after we completed work on ‘Severance’, though in actual fact she had known for quite a while her time with us was coming to an end. After embarking on our first tours the first cracks began to show. On the other hand myself, Krum and Sarah felt galvanised and reinvigorated.

All the challenges we’d overcome very much gave us a mentality of ‘You’re either with us, or you’re against us’ and that’s led us to being a stronger band overall. Our new drummer Cameron is a Belfast drummer, who just came to us via a few mutual friends.

He nailed the audition and his influences, playing style and grasp of heavy metal drumming in general have opened up many possibilities for us. We’re all immensely looking forward to recording with him.

Your UK tour is about to kick off. Do you feel you’re starting to make the dent with fans and crowds on your own terms rather than as a support act now? Or is it the case that you can better command a headline on the continent?

We’ve certainly noticed a big difference compared to this stage of the process on our debut album. We know we have a fanbase out there now, we’ve won over many fans on support tours and occasional headline shows. There is a buzz building that wasn’t there before.

It feels like the time is right to do a headline tour. We will still be doing support tours in the future obviously, given the right offer. But we feel it’s important to do this now, to play to our own fans and start things building. Given that the UK is relatively cheap to tour, it makes sense for us to do these small venue headline tours as well as bigger support tours.

Do you feel part of the furniture in the Pagan Metal scene now?

I’m not sure, I think we’re still finding our way to be honest. People have a tough time placing us. We’re not folk enough for folk metal, not traditional enough for true metal, perhaps not heavy enough for pagan metal. We’ve had a tough time finding the right bands to tour with for this reason as well.

I think it will take more tours and festivals to see which ‘scene’ people will place us in. When we toured with Arkona for example, some audiences loved us but some didn’t get us at all, it was too different to what they were expecting.

On ‘Severance’ the mixing of a few metal sub-genres was generally very highly acclaimed by reviewers and fans; they identified it as really having it’s own voice. I hope people can enjoy it for what it is, despite maybe not fitting neatly into a particular category.

Interview by Earl Grey ::: 23/09/14


71 Comments
  1. Since when does MetalIreland engage in censorship? Deleting comments that are in no way offensive or vulgar is inexcusable.

    Unbelievable.

  2. You should be glad seeing as your comment was so fucking dense.

  3. Black Shepherd Says:

    That Grey Veil track is great. All the best with the tour folks!

  4. RealityCheck Says:

    @McLovin

    Are you serious? Stating that the tag “we’re the sweet spot between Bathory and Thin Lizzy” is delusional, that’s dense is it? Regardless of what you think it’s an opinion, that was censored on a fucking metal site. Get your head of your hole you utter goon.

  5. Your head is up your hole, you thick fuck. Clearly you didn’t bother to actually read the interview where he stated that ONE RIFF on the album was an attempt to find the sweet spot between Bathory and Thin Lizzy. You used the site’s tagline for the interview to call the band delusional. Dopy fucking mongo.

  6. Also you had a dig at the fact that Sarah is centred in the band photo as though they are pushing the tit angle, which is equally dense. The photo is unremarkable but it visually makes sense to put her in the centre. She’s got a big heavy coat on her, she’s hardly dolled up with her bits out trying to lure in lusty teens. Basically every point you made was thick as fuck, you thick as fuck fuck.

  7. RealityCheck Says:

    I did read the interview for fuck sake I’m well aware of what he said, and if you read my original comment you’d know that was just the opening salvo. The general point was they’re highly marketable metal band that are no more talented than at least a dozen other groups from the Island.

    Anyway, the tagline – ‘Darkest Era: “The sweet spot between Bathory and Thin Lizzy”‘ is visible for everyone there to see, completely out of context.

    You’re a sad cunt if you’re gonna keep on defending the censorship of someone’s opinion on a metal site. What’s the bets they’re mates of yours. No problem with slating other bands you don’t know personally is there?

    Ask my bollox you spa.

  8. RealityCheck Says:

    The point about the photo is valid, you honestly think it’s a coincedence she’s sticks out in the colour scheme? Jesus christ….you must have a fucking potato for a brain.

  9. Your issue is with Metal Ireland’s tagline which is a misquote. You have actually read the interview and know that it’s a misquote and you use it to beat the band with. Great logic. The photo is hardly an alluring sexy tits out pic, so you a barking up the wrong tree there too. I don’t know the band members very well, I’ve met some of them once or twice. You don’t like their music, fair enough. That is the one valid point you managed to actually articulate. The rest is dung.

  10. RealityCheck Says:

    But, I DIDN’T use it to beat the band with, I quoted the line and simply wrote that’s delusional. Why do you keep coming back to this ‘alluring/sexy’ thing? I said they were highly marketable and that the band photo says it all. Dung my bollox, it was a valid comment that was deleted by a mod on a metal site. Which is absolutely pathetic. Did you not see I wished them the best of luck?

    Fuckin hell lads. Autism central around here.

  11. Sorry could you clarify what you mean by ‘highly marketable’?

    What makes them ‘highly marketable’ exactly?

  12. RealityCheck Says:

    I think their sound is actually highly marketable and plays into what seems to gaining some traction in popularity. But other than that their image, especially before the line up change a while back, makes them stand out. The only point I was making was image is everything nowadays. Metal is almost like every other genre now.

  13. I think it’s Sarah’s really hot and revealing big grey overcoat that makes them marketable.

  14. So essentially “their image” means “girls in a band” means “highly marketable” – yes?

  15. There’s a fair bit of wriggling and back peddling going on there, Reality Check. At least have the balls to stick to your misdirected guns.

  16. RealityCheck Says:

    No, it’s not only about a female (or in the past females) being in the band. That’s only a part of it, the whole band has a good image about them and they had previously relied heavily on the celtic kind of look. In fairness they’ve moved away from that a bit in sound and image but they still reserve those elements.

    [edited]

  17. RealityCheck Says:

    Ok guys.

    Pathetic stuff. Very disappointing to see this kinda shit on a metal site. Good luck.

  18. Haha, I love it. You come to the site swinging digs, none of them connect and then you pull the victim card. Adios.

  19. RealityCheck Says:

    Swinging digs? How in the name of all that is holy was I was swinging digs? And how the fuck did you come to the conclusion that they didn’t connect when obviously they ARE a highly marketable metal band?? Because like…..that’s the only point I was making. Seriously horse, get checked, you’re definitely down the wrong end of the spectrum. I’m not a victim at all, free speech is. Buh bye now.

  20. Any chance is original post could be resurrected? That would pretty much be the end of it.

  21. Yes please do. Here’s a synopsis for anyone interested:

    – Delusional tagline
    -Talented band, just more marketable than other groups with just as much about them
    -Best of luck to them

    It was literally 4 or 5 lines and McLovin here thinks I was ‘swinging digs’ and that my points were ‘dense’. My god you are the very embodiment of spasticity.

  22. That’s a nicely reworded version alright. As I said at the top, you should be (and probably are) glad it was deleted because now you can amend what you actually said. Anyway, thanks for the morning’s entertainment. Bye.

  23. @RealityCheck

    Why is the photo a problem? She has blonde hair and the rest have darker hair, so it kind of makes sense to put her in the middle. It’s called being a good photographer and creating the most visually striking image possible.

    If it was a blonde man wearing the same coat, you wouldn’t have bothered making whatever point it is you’re trying to make. Just outright say that you don’t want women to be the focal point in Metal photos or that you think they should be placed in the background like the good little girls they are and fuck off already from dancing around the subject. ‘Marketable’ my hole. Is having a woman in a Metal band the definition of ‘marketable’ to you?

  24. Bye Mr.Potato head!

  25. @Tezcat

    The photo isn’t a problem, nothing is a problem. That McLovin chap is making it seem as though I was laying into them. They have their image sorted and know what they’re at, a lot more so than a lot of other bands with just as much if not MORE talent than them. The only slight dig was aimed at that tagline. Don’t listen to that autist, I even wished them best of luck. Sure I went to see them twice in Dublin for fuck sake *eyes roll*

  26. ‘The point about the photo is valid, you honestly think it’s a coincedence she’s sticks out in the colour scheme?’

    ‘No, it’s not only about a female (or in the past females) being in the band. That’s only a part of it…’

    Whether you’re saying it in a ‘fair play to them’ kind of way, you’re still coming across that the only reason she’s in the middle is because she’s a woman, and that it’s been done on purpose to help fuel their image.

  27. ‘that it’s been done on purpose to help fuel their image.’

    And I stick by that. Have you lads ever heard of that band from Kildare Deadlabel? One of the first image search results – http://albumcheck.de/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Feb_Dead_Label_Promo_1.jpg

    There’s nothing wrong with it, everyone does it. Guess what, that band are in the middle of a tour of the states at the moment.

  28. wizardinblack Says:

    “Since when does MetalIreland engage in censorship? Deleting comments that are in no way offensive or vulgar is inexcusable.”

    Reading through the comments here the op doesn’t seem to have been in anyway offensive or vulgar and is indeed just an opinion.

    The fact that Sarah (whom I don’t know) is centred in the picture makes all the sense in the world as she is a lot more striking then the rest of the band visually, call it what you want.

    Had two listens to the track above and it’s well produced and well played, but I would certainly suggest it’s aimed, though not exclusively, to a younger fresh faced audience. Overall not my thing but it’s done well and I’d be interested in catching them live to see how it comes across.

    Good read.

  29. open face surgery Says:

    Total bullshit to delete his comment if that is all it said.

  30. I like turtles.

  31. Thought this must have been an old article that was resurrected by mistake or something with the amount of comments posted so quickly!

    Ya, I reckon if his comments weren’t racist etc etc, the post should have been allowed to stand.

  32. TotalNorthCoastFuneral Says:

    “open face surgery Says:
    September 24th, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    Total bullshit to delete his comment if that is all it said.”

    Agreed.

  33. If all his comment said was that, stupid to delete it. But it sounds like a stupid comment anyway.

    1) The tagline – it’s from the article, they say it themselves, it’s used to draw attention to the article because people are going to wonder “what’s this about Bathory and Thin Lizzy?”. This isn’t anything new in journalism, it’s pretty common.

    2) The photo – If one member sticks out from the rest, you make them the focal point. Where she is in the picture makes for nice symmetry in the picture. Do you complain when they stick Nemty front and centre for being the only badly in Primordial picture?

    I don’t know why, but for years I keep meaning to listen to this band and keep not doing it. Must sort that out.

  34. Caller of the Black Says:

    The difference being that Nemty is the singer. Nine times out of ten the singer will be front and centre of a band picture so in this case a stylistic decision of some sort was made to stage the photo with Sarah in the middle. That doesn’t imply a cynical marketing decision though.

  35. The tagline is a misquote.

  36. “That doesn’t imply a cynical marketing decision though.”

    This. Listen up all enemies of symmetry and cynical old buggers, in this photoshoot we took some with our singer front and centre, as seen here in the very same album https://fbcdn-sphotos-h-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-xpf1/t31.0-8/1941392_10152312714597356_7570360384778594166_o.jpg

    as well as ones with Sarah at the front, for symmetrical and stylistical variation. We use both versions, both are on FB and in press packs etc.

    The photo consisting of just myself in 5 various sexy poses was, regrettably, not used.

  37. RealityCheck Says:

    Hey Nomad. Weird how saying a band’s image could be one of the factors in their success can get your comments deleted on a fucking metal site isn’t it?

    As a matter of interest do you agree that the visual site of metal nowadays is just as important as the actual music?

  38. Tezcatlipoca Says:

    @RealityCheck

    So you are admitting to McLove that she’s in the focal point for being a girl?

    If this is the case, you are still stating that she’s being sexualized. It’s pretty obvious this ONE photo is for stylistic purposes, and not just to point out that they have a woman in the band.

    Again, if it was a blonde man, you wouldn’t have bothered making that point. Nobody cares whether or not Darkest Era has a woman in the band because, frankly, we’re in an age in which Metalheads generally no longer care (thankfully). The fact that you’re even pointing out that she’s in the foreground like it’s been done to help the band more makes you a fucking idiot.

    Let’s just keep them in the background from now on to avoid the stones and accusations being thrown, yeah?

  39. RealityCheck Says:

    Fucking accusations? What in the name of FUCK are you waffling on about you loon?! None of this fucking shit would be getting talked about if a fairly fucking innocuous comment wasn’t deleted. There was no ill-intent at all meant. Shove it up your hole you fucking retard. Jesus christ.

  40. Jesus Christ Says:

    Yes?

  41. Tezcatlipoca Says:

    Haha. Christ.

    Look, you obviously don’t read over half of what you post and I could copy and paste it all for you, but I’m not here to hold your hand and point out what consistency is.

    Don’t be angry at other people for losing patience with you because you’re not making sense.

  42. Black Shepherd Says:

    Wow. What did I miss here today? A busy-body with nothing to show for himself inventing embittered vacuous bullshit? Okay, cool.

    That Grey Veil tune is great. Good luck with the tour!

  43. RealityCheck Says:

    Hi Chris, the irony in what you just made made my night.

  44. RealityCheck Says:

    Said* 😀

  45. Black Shepherd Says:

    Hi “pathetic anonymous poster who probably isn’t too difficult to identify at this stage” – I’m not embittered 😉

  46. Anyway…. I really enjoyed ‘The Last Caress of Light’ but I must say the ‘Beyond the Grey Veil’ song sounds a little dull to me. I’ll pick up the album regardless and judge it on its merit but I hope it’s up to more than that.

  47. hahaha, darkest era. A band, which is always involved in some retarded drama. How are the paint lessons going?

  48. Ahh, Ravendark The Racist, great to see you weighing in again on how much you dislike the Irish. How’s living in Ireland working out for you?

  49. hahaha, what a butthurt. Why don’t you just delete my post as you always do, instead of telling us your night dreams?

  50. Because I love winding up girls like you who seem to pick on certain bands for mysterious reasons.

  51. What about those Terminus lads who are supporting them. Always pushing that pretty boy, James Beatty, to the fore in a cynical bid to win them new randy female fans. It makes me sick.

  52. Eoin you make that joke altho this guy makes a point. Women in bands do increase their interest among metal fans whether it is purposeful or not do not be silly.

  53. That, my friend, is a matter of opinion. What makes a band interesting to me is their music. To insinuate that DE pushed Sarah to the front of the pic to highlight that they have a girl in the band is fairly presumptious, particularly on this site where a lot of people have been following them for several years and realise that she is a capable musician in her own right. But yes, I’m sure there are plenty of spotty virginal teens out there in metal land who will get all aflutter every time they see a picture of a girl in a metal mag. Sadly, I’m just too fucking old.

  54. Don’t think that’s what was meant also their talent was highlighted many times. Also what you think doesn’t matter it is just the way things are in general women in bands makes appeal stronger in commercial ways very misunderstood point i think

  55. Lutz, could you rewrite that with punctuation, please?

  56. Sorry i don’t write in English like i used to

  57. Where’s my popcorn?

  58. Tezcatlipoca Says:

    I’m with Eoin on this. Nobody actually into metal gives a fuck about women being in bands because there are plenty in the underground and historically, there have been a lot already at his stage. We’ll leave that for the Metal Hammer reading casuals.

    Also, even though quite a lot of what I did was bordering on trolling in that censorship thread, I still disagree with the theory that people will care more about DE because they have a female member.

    I will concede that it could garner a little bit of attention from younger women getting just into metal and looking for somebody to look up to, but not really much else. I don’t see DE having a mainstream run like Arch Enemy, no offense to you but I think you know what I mean.

    Arch Enemy had a huge label backing and a lot of mainstream magazine support telling us constantly that it was incredible that they had a female vocalist, but obviously they’d all pretend that Gallhammer, Girl School, Crisis and many others didn’t exist. The fact is, the media dictates whether women members matter. Simply just having one isn’t enough on its own.

  59. Gas how yer man was censored and then set upon by the biggest knob on the forum for having a opinion. Shocking stuff.

  60. Nothing else to add but to point out that the insinuation in the forum thread by Reality Check that the interview was somehow paid for or is a sponsored ad is utter balls. Cheers

  61. In fairness a lot of the features and interviews on Irish bands on the site are paid for. I’m a girl and I agree with reality check. It is delusional to think a girl doesn’t help a band in any genre, especially in a live setting. That doesn’t mean a girl can’t play!! The owner of the site must be a pretty young guy.

  62. Paid for? None of the reviews or interviews or features are paid for so wherever you got that from you are completely wrong. I set upon Reality Check based on his original post which is now gone. Anyway, whatever. Knob on.

  63. Sorry but

  64. …..I know for a fact that some bands have paid for features on the site.

  65. First I’ve ever heard of that and I have done countless reviews and interviews for this site. Maybe you are confusing interviews with ads? People pay to put ads up here which funds the site. Maybe ask CT but I’d be surprised at that. Or maybe you could tell us the facts you know.

  66. Tezcatlipoca Says:

    ‘It is delusional to think a girl doesn’t help a band in any genre…’

    You don’t know anything about Industrial or Alt. Rock, then.

  67. “In fairness a lot of the features and interviews on Irish bands on the site are paid for. ”

    Er… tell us all more, would you?

    Any content on site that has an associated paid service – like a stream – is clearly marked as such. You can see any example, because they all say ‘Sponsored Content’ at the top, right there before a sentence of the text starts.

    To pick one example at random,

    http://www.metalireland.com/2014/05/04/coldwar-pantheist-full-stream/

    Which as you can see quite clearly states the nature of the content.

    So perhaps you could wind your neck in and stop talking wank purely for the look of somehow being in the know?

    Because you really, really aren’t.

  68. “…..I know for a fact that some bands have paid for features on the site.”

    Of course you do, as does every other single reader: because it fucking says so on it, tit?

  69. Well yea that’s exactly what I was talking about but I never the ‘sponsored content’ on any of them. Quite clearly some of your readers don’t realise this as Eoin said above!

    So thanks for confirming that! I didn’t say this feature was paid for, that was the other guy. I just replied to Nomad that many features ARE paid for. Touched a nerve have I? This is some Orwellian shit mate lol

  70. Thanks for rowing back.

    All sponsored content is clearly marked. Always has been always will be. That’s the point.

    The only thing getting Orwellian here is an elephant needing put down.

  71. I like tits and I like metal. The 2 sometimes mash in a venn diagram of riffy boobage but really who gives a toss who is in the band as long as the tunes are good. Seen DE live loads of times and they always sound great. That’s coming from someone who listens to mostly doom and death stuff.

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