pátek 23. září 2016

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Interview - COUNTESS - Cold black metal from Holland!

Interview with Dutch black metal band COUNTESS

- answered Orlok.

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Recenze/review - COUNTESS - Fires of Destiny (2016)

Ave COUNTESS! Now I am sitting outside on the terrace of a restaurant. It's summer and the sun burns. Nevertheless, from your novelty "Fires of Destiny" I feel the cold. I kept listenening to it over and over and I think that this album is really great! What are your feelings about the new album? And what are the reaction of your fans, what are their reviews and how well does your new songs greeted at the concerts?

Hello Jakub, first of all it’s good to hear you enjoy the new album. We put a lot of work into this record and we are quite pleased with it ourselves as well. So far, the response from both fans and critics has been really good. The new songs were greeted quite enthusiastically too at the shows we played after the release of the album, where we did three or four songs from the new record.

In the new album I am literally fascinated by the interconnection of sharp riffs with keyboards.  How was the new material created? I am interested about the creative process of Countess? According to the available information, all instruments are signed by Orlok. Do others participate  as well? I understand about the guitars, but what about the  drums?

Well, I did all the instruments on several records in the past but the new album was recorded with a full line-up: myself on vocals and bass, Zagan on guitars and Mortüüm on drums. As for the creative process; all the music was written by Zagan and myself. Most songs we wrote together this time. This process went quite smoothly. When all the songs were finished we recorded demos and then the drummer got the demos and we began rehearsing the songs. The drummer obviously also had input in this process; he created his own parts.

The lyrics in "Fires of Destiny" are very interesting and sophisticated. They are about historical themes,  about anti-Christianity, Satanism. Where do you find the inspiration for such lyrics and  do you wish to discuss the new album? Are you composing music to texts or you have the opposite approach?

Inspiration for my lyrics comes from everywhere, really: books I’ve read, movies I’ve seen, but also my experiences in life and thoughts about life in general. I prefer to write music and lyrics more or less at the same time; that way you generally get a better synthesis between music and lyrics. Occasionally, I have music and then write lyrics or the other way around, but I prefer to do them simultaneously. As for the new album, I think it has some interesting lyrics covering a variety of topics. Runenlied tells the story of how Odin came by the runes, for example; the title track is a typical historical lyric about the battle of Vienna in 1683; Rise Of The Horned One is a very old-fashioned black metal type of lyric about the rise of the Antichrist as described in Revelations.

You've always had interesting covers. Who is the author of draft for "Fires of Destiny" and what was your motive for the new album?

The cover of the new album is a painting by the 17th century Flemish painter Pauwel Casteels. It depicts the battle of Vienna; the subject of the title track, which is why we chose this painting.

You play since 1992. It is for the band a pretty long time. You could say that you have become a legend. What were your beginnings? How was the band founded and what was the first impulse to start playing black metal?

We were just a bunch of young guys who loved metal and wanted to play metal ourselves as well; like so many others I guess. And back when we started out, all these new bands from Norway and other bands imitating that style were getting popular. We didn’t like that modern style at all and wanted to create real black metal, the way we felt it was supposed to be: filthy, raw, primitive and with no commercial appeal whatsoever. We didn’t think this new ‘black metal’ was really black metal or even really metal, for that matter.

Dominant instrument for Countess are keyboards. I must say that keyboards perfectly complete the cold and "gloomy" atmosphere. I think it is terribly difficult to learn to play this instrument. Did you learn how to play the organ from somewhere? Do you have any musical education?

Well, I wouldn’t say keyboards are dominant in our sound, but they are an integral part of our sound, that’s true. That’s why we use them live as well. The songs just don’t sound the way they were supposed to sound without keyboards. I don’t think playing keyboards is terribly difficult; in fact I think it’s a lot easier than playing guitar but that’s just my experience, maybe it’s different for other people. I never played organ or anything; I taught myself to play keyboards just like I taught myself to play guitar. I did educate myself a little, you know, reading books on music theory and stuff like that.

Last album was released on the label Barbarian Wrath. This year, are you releasing this album at your own expense. Why? Were you not satisfied with the work of the label?

No, we have always been very satisfied with Barbarian Wrath. Barbarian Wrath still has our total support. We just felt it was time to take all matters concerning the band into our own hands. We had offers from others labels as well, but we turned these down because we just wanted to do it ourselves.

From your creation, it is possible to feel the inspiration of the famous band BATHORY.   Which album of theirs  is your favorite? Quorthon died in 2004. Have you met him before?

That’s a hard question. I think the second through fifth album Bathory albums are very, very close to each other in quality, each in its own way. My favourite, if I have to pick one, as an album, is probably Blood Fire Death because it has elements of both the early and the later sound and thus it is probably the most complete Bathory album. And no, I never met Quorthon.

You are from the Netherlands and you are playing black metal since 1992.I must admit that I dont know about too many black metal bands from your country. I have fixed the Dutch as a death metal superpower. Can we find more black metal bands there? And how does the Dutch fans perceive your work? After all, the Netherlands is not Norway.

Yes, there have always been black metal bands in the Netherlands, starting probably with Necro Schizma who released their Erupted Evil demo in 1989. Also, early Asphyx had quite a black metal vibe as well, especially on their Crush The Cenotaph demo (also from 1989). Of course, back then, before this so-called second wave started, there wasn’t much of a distinction between death and black metal anyway. Currently, I’d say some good Dutch black metal bands worth checking out are Cultus and Infinity.

In the beginning Zenon played the guitar. I searched on the Internet, but I could not find much information about him. How long have you been playing together and what had happened? Why did he leave the band?

Well, we didn’t play together very often. In fact, I think the only time we played together was when we recorded the first album. He lost interest in the band soon after and as far as I know, he never did anything in music again. That goes for most people who were in the band in the early days, as far as I know.

The main character of the Countess is you, Orlok. But you also perform live. How does it work?Do you have  permanent band members or do  you "hire" musicians? Do you comment upon your  colleagues as to how to play the songs which you have created?

Well, I did Countess on my own for quite a while, but in those days the band didn’t play live. When we returned to the stage in 2014, we got a full line-up together again. Since then, we have been a real band again. Of course, I expect the other people in the band to play the songs the way they are supposed to be played, but that doesn’t mean they can’t have any input.

How does it actually go  with Countess with regards to concerts? Do you like to play your songs live? Do you prefer the big festivals or small, intimate clubs?

Yes, of course we like to play our songs live. We enjoy playing both festivals as well as small clubs. These are very different experiences, but they’re both cool. Two years ago we played at Under The Black Sun, for example, a big open air festival in the woods, which was really special. But when we released our new album this year, we did a small show to present the album at a pub that could hold maybe 50 people and that was cool too.

What about the plans of Countess in the upcoming months? Can we look forward to a tour with the new album?

We did a few shows after the release of the album, but we won’t be doing a whole tour. There probably will be some more one-off shows, though. The next one will be in Finland in October at the Tampere Black Mass II.

Thank you very much for the interview. I hope that the new album will sell well and hope to see you soon somewhere in the gigs. Good luck to you!

Thank you for your interest in the band and the interview and good luck to you too!

Recenze/review - COUNTESS - Fires of Destiny (2016)

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