PlanetMosh caught up with Ade Mulgrew from Northern Ireland’s Darkest Era for an interview to coincide with the release of their new album ‘Severance‘.
1. The new album Severance is due to be released in Europe on June 16th, what would you say a the main themes and influences on this new album?
I guess the main lyrical theme, if there is one, is the decay of all things physical and metaphysical. The world around us, our beliefs, our minds, everything we use to make sense of existence. The philosophical idea of solipsism provided the spark of inspiration for this particular thread. Musically we been looking more inward for inspiration than outward as tends to happen as a band progresses I think. We still have our main influences but each person in the band listens to and is inspired by a wide range of things so we really tried to forge more of our own path on this one.
2. How do you feel the Darkest Era sound has progressed/changed since your early days?
As I said there is more of our own identity on this one. Our demos were obviously very formative, quite raw with a NWOBHM vibe. Some of the same influences are still there but we have a much clearer idea of what we want to do now. On this record, compared to the last, I think the overall sound is darker, heavier and even more aggressive in places. The arrangements are tighter I feel, a bit less meandering and more focussed. There are elements of a lot of different metal subgenres in there but we bring them together to a cohesive sound that we’re finally moving towards calling our own.
3. How did the band go about the whole writing process for the new album?
We had some lineup changes the year after our debut came out which was quite disruptive to the writing process. We also had a label change at the 11th hour so the circumstances of writing were quite tough. We had committed to the studio time and I began writing the bulk of the material about 10 weeks before we hit the studio, with the band pretty much in turmoil. Myself, Sarah and Krum collaborated on the material, with Sarah doing more writing this time round than on the first record, particularly in terms of lyrics. So I would summarise the process as intense.. 10 weeks of solid writing, pulling together ideas that we’d built up since the first album but mostly writing new stuff. It was pretty stressful but the pressure was kind of invigorating in a strange way also. I think it all contributed to making the album what it is and helped defining the sound and atmosphere on there.
4. You¹ve got a handful of UK dates lined up for September/October, any plans to tour further afield?
We did a really great European tour in 2012 with Arkona so we’re eager to go across Europe again. On down the line we’d love to play America as well but we’ll have to see how it goes.. 2013 was relatively quiet for us while we regrouped but touring is our priority now and we’ll do everything we can to get out there.
5. Your album has already been released in the U.S.; how well has it been received?
Very well I have to say; maybe it’s a little early but so far it looks like being better received even than the first album. I think our sound is really clicking with people on this record, they can tell what we’re about and a lot of people have really connected with it on a level which I find quite humbling. The Euro reviews have been very positive so far as well. It’s very encouraging, especially as we had distanced ourselves from the album somewhat after recording it as it was such a difficult period. But we knew we had a strong album and I’m excited that people are finally hearing it and enjoying it.
6. Previously you have toured with the likes of Alestorm and GloryHammer, if you could tour with any one band, who would that be?
In fantasy land it would be Iron Maiden of course, following one of our favourite bands of all time around the world! But in the real world, we would really love to tour with Grand Magus, Argus, Atlantean Kodex.. those kind of heavy metal bands really, again just so we could watch them every night! I’ve always thought it would be nice to play shows with In Solitude as well; I met them a few times and they have largely the same kind of philosophy about their music as us. It think it would make a cool bill, even if their sound has drifted away from heavy metal somewhat.
7. The first time I heard Darkest Era was back in 2009 at the Metal to the Masses Battle for Bloodstock competition, but for anyone checking you out for the first time how would you best describe Darkest Era¹s sound?
Dark, epic, thunderous heavy metal. Traces of Thin Lizzy, Iron Maiden, Priest, laced with a melancholic folk atmosphere. To us it’s just heavy metal, with the spirit of everything we love about the genre but unrestrained by tradition or expectation.
8. Chris Fielding produces on this album as on the previous album, ‘The Last Caress of Light¹. What is it Darkest Era like about working with him?
His general work ethic is well matched with us. For example we worked from 11am until 2 or 3am most nights in the studio, which for most other producers is out of the question. He is in tune with what we want from our albums, and took a very hands on approach in terms of producing; i.e he would come up with some great ideas with arrangements, tweaking melodies etc and isn’t afraid to tell us when something doesn’t work. I imagine we’ll do at least one more album with him.
9. ‘Trapped in the Hourglass’ is the second single to be released from the new album, are there any plans to produce a video to accompany it?
We’ve just released a video for Beyond the Grey Veil so I don’t think so. We might do another video later in the year, something with a narrative perhaps as we’re quite into those but which track that might be I couldn’t say yet.
10. Costin Chioreanu created the great cover artwork for ŒSeverance¹. How did he come to the band¹s attention did you have any input into the final design?
That collaboration was one of my favourite things about this album actually. We’ve seen his work on quite a few releases and it was obvious his style would work best for this album. He had never heard of us before but instantly connected with the album; he instinctively understood the themes of the record and what we were trying to put across. In the end the artwork is a direct result of that, particularly the song ‘Beyond the Grey Veil’ which is a direct inspiration for the artwork. We pointed him in the right direction but really there was no tweaking or anything, we trusted Costin completely and he came up with something we were all instantly really happy with.