At the Crossroads

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Germany’s Finsterforst have lurked in the Black Forest for a few years now. After 2007’s under the radar debut Weltenkraft the band unleashed …Zum Tode Hin to the world. And after sticking to a pretty rigid, bouncy Finnish folk formula, Finsterforst changed up their sound morphing into a sprawling, Bathory inspired sound with lengthy, rangy anthemic songs build around their black metal base. Armed with a new deal with Folk/Viking powerhouse Napalm Records, the band is ready to reveal their epic sound to a wider audience with Rastloss, a vast, epic album that cull Hammerheart and classic Moonsorrow. Guitarist Simon Schillinger was kind enough to answer a few questions about the band’s imminent explosion onto the Viking/folk metal scene.

Congrats on the new album and deal with Napalm Records. It’s has to feel good to be in arguably the premier folk metal label around and get your music to a wider audience.

Thank you very much! We are looking forward to work together with Napalm Records and hope we can spread our music as much as possible.

So, you have taken your early Equilibrium sound further into sprawling Bathory sounding songs. Was this an intentional shift more to get away from the Equilibrium comparisons?

In my opinion we never sounded like Equilibrium. The development of our music was something that simply happened automatically. We learned very much within the last few years and shaped our skills in songwriting and live performance by far. Our sound has become to something deeper and heavier while the production is still very clear and defined. We are very proud of gaining this sound with “Rastlos” and I think for the listeners it will be very comfortable to listen to this album.

Ok then, so I’m assuming Hammerhart is a major influence of the direction Finsterforst have taken? Especially on those more used big clean choirs and vocals.

I can’t say what the main influence of our music is. Of course everything you listen to delivers inspiration and supports your creative mind. But all of this is happening pretty subconscious I guess. The fact about the additional clean vocals and choirs is something deeply wanted and we will work on these elements more detailed in future so we can bring more flexible variety into our music.

I also hear some Moonsorrow in your sound — is that a fair influence? Especially the band’s earlier works like Voimasta ja Kunniasta and Kivenkantaja…

I believe that this is a very fair influence, yes! Moonsorrow has always been an important band to us and certainly shaped Finsterforst’s music in a way.

Is Rastlos a concept album? From the cover and titles I get the sense it might be, but my German isn’t so good.

Yes, “Rastlos” is a concept album. It tells a story about a guy who lost everything he had once in his life. He was forced to leave his homeland because of some particular circumstances. In “Rastlos” it is not told what exactly happened, so the listener can make up his/her own thoughts about it. Reaching new surroundings, the protagonist experiences a rough time of his life, trying to orientate himself in an unknown world. You can imagine how you would feel in his position: desperate, frustrated, sad, crushed, hopeless, clueless and angry.

Have you ever thought of talking a classic German legend like Siegfried, etc. with one of your albums? It would seem to fit.

No, so far we didn’t think about any usage of such legends. Further on, I doubt that anything like that would be a theme for us in Finsterforst. We will see what will happen, because our singer Olli is already very motivated and euphoric to write new lyrics.

All of your releases have had German lyrics. With a switch to a larger label and wider exposure, do you foresee any English lyrics in the future or will your remain with strictly German lyrics?

So far the plan is to proceed with our mother language. I don’t really see a problem for a growing international fan base although our lyrics would stay in German. Non-Germans would still get some translation and sense of the lyrical content. I personally really love the color of our language and would find it a pity to change it [laughs]

With a change in label, was there a change in studio or producer from Iguana studios? Rastlos sounds great!

I will never even consider the thought about changing to another studio. Christoph Brandes has become a great friend of mine and in his Iguana Studios we always feel more than comfortable. We know each other very well and know how to work perfect in a team together to reach the best possible results. With the help of a massive consume of knuckles of pork we always have the needed strength and mood to have also a great time during the whole working process.

I’ve always been curious about the writing process as it pertains to these huge 20-minute songs (i.e ‘Flammenrausch”). Do you go in, planning a 20-minute song, or does it just turn into one along the way?

I never really plan any length of a song, because I don’t care for time. The most important fact for me is that I will be satisfied in the end and know that the whole arrangement is correct and every detail sits on its very right place. Sometimes I start a song with some melody ideas; sometimes I have some harmonic structure in my mind and create afterwards lead elements. I can’t really say how it starts in general, because there is no rule I keep in mind. Everything somehow finds its beginning until it grows to some particular complex of music — and again: I don’t give a crap how long the song’s length is then! [laughs] Music simply needs and wants specific time to be able to express certain sense and purpose.

Now on Napalm records, who have a good track record of bringing their bands to the US, are their plans for you to tour the US anytime soon? Maybe at events like the Pagan Fest or Heathen Crusade?

Well, I hope, that someday we will have the opportunity to tour in the US, of course! I am curious how our style of Black Forest Metal would be accepted by the American audience. We have to see now how “Rastlos” will succeed, so hopefully some touring will come up very soon.


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