The Anatomy of Melancholy

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The UK’s My Silent Wake just released its third album of Folk-infused Doom Metal entitled A Garland Of Tears. Boasting a mature yet melancholic sound, the band has been making its presence known in the Metal underground over the last few years. I spoke with vocalist/guitarist/founder Ian Arkley (a fixture in the UK Metal scene since the late 1980’s) recently about the new album, here’s what he had to say.

First of all, congratulations on A Garland of Tears. It’s a great piece of work.
Thank you Shawn, and thanks for the positive review.

Give me the quick back story on My Silent Wake.
My Silent Wake formed in 2005, just after Ashen Mortality split up. Andi, Jasen and I had been playing in the last line-up of Ashen Mortality and we wanted to form a new band together. Within 6 months we were recording our first album for Bombworks Records. We had already produced a demo, which Bombworks really liked, so they signed us for one album at a time and now we have released our third album. The second album was a double, with one disc being metal and the other a kind of gothic folk. The other members are Steve and Kate.

You have an interesting disclaimer on the inside booklet of A Garland Of Tears, stating how suicide is not a viable option and something about a “light at the end of the tunnel”. Is the album so dark lyrically that you feel it warrants a disclaimer?
Not necessarily. I had read an interview in a magazine with a band that I really like (they will remain nameless). I felt that the interview was glorifying suicide, which shocked me a little. There were a lot of items in the news about teenage suicides at the time as well. I think some people hang onto every word that their favorite band says, especially when they are young and impressionable. I think that if I can do anything to discourage suicide or just giving up on life, that it is a worthwhile thing to do. I didn’t think that this album was any bleaker than the last two, and there is certainly a lot bleaker stuff out there than the music we create. What we do is just sing honestly about things we have experienced or feel something about. There is actually an anti-suicide song on the album if you read the lyrics very carefully. It is just something that we feel needs addressing as there are a lot of desperate people out there.

Would you say that there is any sort of concept or running theme to the record?
You could see it this way, but it was not a deliberate thing. The lyrics were written by three of us, and were written separately. I wrote the lyrics to three of the songs, Kate wrote two and Andi wrote one.

In your opinion, is there really a place for any sort of positivity within your chosen style? I mean, who’s ever heard of “positive” Doom Metal?
There is room for anything that works. I don’t like to force positive lyrics, so some songs have no hope and others do. I don’t think you should be restricted in your art and I don’t think you should be held back by trying to conform to certain styles of writing lyrically or musically.

Not many bands, especially in your field of Metal, can say they have 4 vocalists. What led to this being part of the band’s dynamic? Can you point to any one of you as being the lead vocalist?
On the first album I sang all the songs, except for some backing vocals on one song from Jasen. On the second album I wanted some of Jasen’s vocals. I had heard him sing on a CD he did with another band years ago, and I liked his voice. We also wanted Kate to do some vocals as she has a great voice too. I think it worked so well on the second album that we really varied it even more this time. I still do the bulk of the singing, but Jasen does much more on this album than ever before. (Jasen’s vocals are the more Black Metal-ish ones). Kate does some dual vocals with me and some backing vocals and Andi sings a little in the middle of ‘Wilderness of Thorns’. That song actually has us all on. Jasen and I share the vocals live, except when Jasen can’t travel to us for a gig (he lives quite a long way away). Some gigs I sing on my own and others we have guests join me. Jasen damaged his wrist around the time of the first album and so we didn’t gig straight away. We recorded the second album and Jasen was still having problems. Steve Allan, who recorded all our music, was willing to stand in on drums for our first gig which was in Switzerland. He had a good time going away with us and joined the band. It makes sense for Jasen to do more and more vocals as he isn’t drumming any more, though he did drum on some of the songs on the new album.

The music on A Garland Of Tears draws from a multitude of Metal and Folk influences. It makes it hard to nail down a tag for you guys, which I’m sure you’ve no problem with. What influences, musical or otherwise, make the music of My Silent Wake to come out the way it does?
We have a mass of influences as we are lovers of good music. You really need to see our MySpace page for a list of influences, but they are only a small snippet of the music we listen to. I think it is important to forge your own style and I feel we are doing this more and more as we go along. I don’t mind being compared to bands I like, but I don’t like it when reviewers are ignorant of the genre and say we sound exactly like such and such. We do get influence from many sources, not just musically. I personally write a lot when I am in the woods or in the summer house in my garden. I want people to feel something from our music and for it to impart something of us to the listener.

What sort of touring do you guys do? What do you have lined up currently?
We have done around 20 gigs in the last year and a half. We have done 2 mini tours and played in Switzerland and Norway. We are playing a gig this weekend in Norway and then we will take a little break for a few months.

Any plans for any sort of live recording or DVD?
I would love to do a live album. We have a live track on our 7″ single which comes with our vinyl release of the new album. This was recorded at a gig onto a lap-top with Pro Tools and mixed by Steve at his studio. The quality of sound is great and made us want to try this again. We do have about four mixed live tracks in the archives. We also have a good video recording from our first gig, which we hope to release next year on DVD along with some promo videos.

How much of your time does music occupy?
A lot! I also play in Seventh Angel as well. When you add up all the time we spend writing, recording, rehearsing and playing live, it is pretty full-on at times. There are also a lot of things that go on behind the scenes, like finding artists for the albums (one we did ourselves), getting merchandise done, maintaining our MySpace etc. We do not have a manager, so we have to organize a lot of stuff (ourselves) for the band.

How’s the Metal scene in your area of the UK? Is there a lot of healthy competition?
There are some great bands around. We are friends with The Drowning form Cardiff, who we gig with a lot. Mike from The Drowning steps in to help us on rhythm guitar when Andi is out of the country with his job.

Thanks for taking the time to do this interview, Ian. Have you any parting comments?
Thanks a lot Shawn. Please view our MySpace at and our website at


  1. Commented by: Erik Thomas

    Good CD and band, but god what an ugly lot.


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