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Winterfylleth are a British Black Metal band known that adores to explore English folklore and heritage… “The Hallowing of Heirdom” is their upcoming work, to be released on April 6th, and it will surprise everyone as it is an acoustic album. Chris Naughton (Vocals/Guitars) talked to Metal Imperium to shed some light upon all this…

M.I. - The band’s newest album “The Hallowing of Heirdom” keeps the tradition of albums started with the letter “T”. Is there a special reason for this?

The reason that all of the albums start with ‘The’, and typically have the format of “The ‘Something’ of ‘Something’” is because they are meant to be like new editions in an ongoing saga of work i.e. like Tolkien did with The Lords of the Rings, The Silmarillion, The Hobbit, The Children of Húrin etc. It’s no big mystery, it’s just a nice concept and homage in our view.

M.I. - The idea of releasing an acoustic album was shared when you released the latest album. This release reminds me of Dornenreich as they started off as Black Metal and evolved into acoustic as well… can one say this is a dream come true? How special is this release for Winterfylleth? Is this a one-off album or will you repeat the experience?

I think it’s always been in the back of our minds that Winterfylleth could do an acoustic album and that it could make sense as part of our discography, but it probably wasn’t until about 2015 that we started talking about doing it seriously. The more time has gone on, the more we thought about it, the more it made sense in doing this kind of things as a full Winterfylleth album. As it turns out, it came at quite a good time for us, in that we were all in a similar state of mind, particularly Dan (our lead guitar player) who had also been working on his solo, Wolcensmen album ‘Songs from the Fyrgen’ - that happens to be in a similar vein.  For the moment, it’s just a one-off album, although we have about 5-6 songs that weren’t finished at the time of recording, that are in a similar style. So, we may do something else like this as an EP in the future perhaps.

M.I. - Can you explain the writing and recording process for “The Hallowing of Heirdom”? How different was it from the recording and writing process of your previous albums? 

Nick and I were writing a lot of acoustic material together at the time that the album was about to begin and had thought about maybe recording it as an EP, just under our own names or something like that. But as I said, the more we thought about it, the more it made sense for us to expand upon the ideas we were coming up with as a full band, and to involve the other guys in doing it as a Winterfylleth album. I think, going into this album, we knew that we were stepping out of our comfort zones as writers and performers, so we really put the time and effort into it creating every aspect of this album. Primarily to make sure that it stood up to our metal albums and was just as emotional, moving or passionate as anything we’d ever done before. But, also, because we genuinely believed that we could make something great in this style.

M.I. - Why have Winterfylleth, a black metal band, decided to make “The Hallowing of Heirdom” an acoustic album? Did the album turn out the way you imagined it? You do realize this may be a controversial move, right? 

In some ways, it feels like we’ve gone out on a limb here - as I’m sure this record has the potential to be divisive within our fan base. But, it also feels like a natural step for us to take, given we’ve always put material like this on our albums before. Even if it was never in an expansive way. Also, given that some of our favourite bands like Ulver, Drudkh and Empyrium have made great and credible albums in this sphere, it doesn’t feel like a wildly leftfield leap for a Black Metal band to take when coming up with an album. I think it was a daunting task coming into the writing process for the album, but now that we’ve done it, I think it’s better than any of us imagined. It’s also a true reflection of all of us and is a collaboration of writing that is greater than the sum of its parts. So, we cannot wait for people to hear it.

M.I. - Fans seem to be quite excited with the video “The Elder Mother” and seem to be anxious about the release of the new album. Don’t you think this “radical change” may disappoint some fans? 

I think with any band doing something like this is going to polarize opinions within their fan base. But, as I mentioned before, we’ve always done songs like this on our albums before, so it doesn’t feel like a completely alien thing for our band to be doing. There are always going to be the ‘black and white’ fans who only want us to do extreme metal albums, but, as much as we appreciate the support of all our fans, you cannot write with others in mind, and you have to do things like this to expand your reach and personal growth as a band. 

M.I. - The album features many guest musicians… what special “ingredient” have these collaborations added to make this album even more special? 

Well, it’s fair to say that the album HAD to feature many guest players, primarily because none of the band members play the cello or the violin ourselves. So, we initially brought session players in to fill a need in recording and performing those parts on the album. But having worked together and become closer friends with Jo (Quail, Cello player) particularly, I don’t think any of us could have imagined how the album could have turned out that way without her. Her playing is so passionate, emotive and atmospheric that it added a truly otherworldly dimension to the album. Equally, the violin and viola playing was done by an amazing lady called Victoria Bernath who also brought her unique style and talents to the songs as well. String instruments like this can sound so amazing, or, so desperately poor depending on whose hands they are in. So, I feel like we were really truly fortunate to have Jo and Victoria playing on this album.

M.I. - English folklore and heritage are often explored by you in the lyrics. How important is heritage and culture for you? How do you feel about the dying traditions in your country?

There is a track on the album called On-Cýðig that sums this kind of thing up for me. The word roughly approximates into modern English as a despondent feeling caused by missing something that is no longer close at hand. Or in other words, the feeling of knowing about something or someone, and then either having to leave it behind, or having it taken from you. I think this really relates to how the natural world is taken away from us all for corporate profit and also how our cultures and natural heritage are eroded by scheming political agendas who would see us all become homogenous, mono cultured, worker bees who only serve their profitability and interests.

M.I. - All of your covers depict Nature. The landscape featured on the latest cover is quite impressive. Why have you opted to use this type of artwork? Is it a real picture or was it drawn?

I think that all the album covers are a way of depicting the purity and majesty of the natural world for me. They represent an untouched, unsullied and thriving ecosystem that has been there for millions of years; before the toxic inferences of mankind. They also represent the beauty and the fragility of this outside world. One that we all seem to take for granted - or maybe not even think about! They further visualize, for me, how our own lives are intrinsically linked to the fate of the natural world and that it – as well as humanity – are worth looking after. We need to collectively lift our heads up from our desks and do something about that however. This time we had a painting done by a guy called David Taylor who captured am image of Sycamore Gap on Hadrian’s Wall, at dusk. It’s beautiful and more in-keeping with the more personal feeling of this album.

M.I. - It’s only a month for your show at St Pancras Old Church and most tickets are already sold. What are your expectations regarding this show?

Well, in short, I think we are hoping that we will be able to provide our fans with a unique performance in a special location and to be able to do justice to these new songs we care so much about. It’s not often you get the chance to see or perform a show in a space like that, so we want it to be special and intimate for all concerned.

M.I. - Any touring plans for 2018 in order to promote the new album? Or will you only do acoustic gigs in special venues?

I think we’ll have to see how it goes to be honest. Probably more special gigs in interesting venues. The people and production involved in doing these kinds of shows is a lot, so we need to make sure the setup is right. We might do a tour if it can be worked out but we are just exploring possibilities for that at the moment with our agents.

M.I. - What’s the main difference between touring as leading band and as support act? 

When you tour as a lead band you get to do things on your own terms, and with the bands you want to bring with you. You also get to play for longer and have a bigger production. As a support band, it can be very beneficial for you, as you may get to play with bands you’ve always admired or looked up to. It can also open you up to a group of fans who may not otherwise have seen or heard your band. But equally, you don’t always get to play for very long and you usually have to dance to somebody else tune, so it can also be challenging as well.

M.I. - Black metal started around nihilism and Satanism but you discuss nature, environmental issues, history and power. Do you think “Black Metal” is the most suitable definition for your sound? If you could change the definition now, what would you change it to? 

I think even in the early days there were bands like Ulver, Burzum and Enslaved who opted to discuss subject matter like folklore, nature and mythology, so I don’t see why it can’t be about those things too. So, I don’t think that it has ever solely been restricted to nihilism etc. It’s always had a more spiritual side as well as a lofi, evil one. I think a lot of the people who describe bands like ours have started using the sub-genre description of “atmospheric black metal” which I think is fitting. Not that anybody wants to be pigeon-holed necessarily, but that description seems fair given the atmosphere we try to create alongside the extremity of the music. 

M.I. - Winterfylleth doesn’t use any of the black metal aesthetics that are associated with the genre. How do you feel about the traditional look of black metal? Is it outdated?  

The way I would view it is, it’s been over 30 years since the early Black Metal albums came out. I think that Corpse Paint was their reaction to the landscape and the social situations they were dealing with at the time. The music and the imagery and the otherworldliness of the music and atmospheres they were trying to create was very much anti-corporate, anti-religious, nihilistic, minimalist, and even anti-music. That was their reaction to the issues they were confronting at the time. My issue with it is now there’s been so many bands, that have tried to just be black and white, with the corpse paint and bullet belts, and the photocopied album covers etc.

For us to just parrot that back to people now, do another black and white album that talks about darkness and Satan just doesn’t make sense. We are from a different country with a different political and social landscape, with different contemporary issues, and that all needs to find a way to interact with our music. We opted not to go with any of the personal imagery, such as spikes and denim and bullet belts, and keep it simpler and about the image of nature and history, thereby removing ourselves from the imagery and just letting the music and the concepts do the talking. Let the albums speak more than us as personalities. That delineation we make is why we have come to write the sort of songs we write, and the sort of lyrics we write as well. It feels like this is our way of relating to the situations of now, and not just copy what bands did back then. Now, that’s not to say we don’t love some bands who do that kind of thing because we do. But, it’s just not for us.

M.I. - Are you a follower of the genre still? In your opinion, what’s the best Black Metal band these days? And the best Black Metal album released lately? 

We all still follow the genre quite avidly and I personally buy a lot of albums. I think there are lots of great bands making Black Metal these days. I’m not sure I have an absolute favourite BM band at the moment as there are a lot of great albums coming out from some great bands. New and old. Maybe I’d say Whoredom Rife, or Windswept if pushed. In my opinion, some of the best BM albums released recently are: 
  • Drudkh - ‘They Often See Dreams About The Spring’
  • Windswept - ‘Visionaire’
  • Sun Of The Sleepless - ‘To The Elements’
  • The Committee - ‘Memorandum Occultus’
  • Havukruunu – ‘Kelle Surut Soi’
  • Panopticon – ‘The Scars Of Man On The Once Nameless Wilderness’
  • Whoredom Rife – ‘Dommedagskvad’
  • The Ruins Of Beverast – ‘Exuvia’
  • Wiegedood – ‘De Doden Hebben Het Goed I-III’

There are lots of great ones. And that’s just scratching the surface of the last year or so.

M.I. - What can fans expect of Winterfylleth in the near future? Now that you’ve done an acoustic album, can one expect a raw black metal album with the band in corpse paint and all?! 

Haha, maybe not a corpse painted one. But we will do another black metal album next. You’ll have to wait and see what it becomes. 

M.I. - Thanks for your time. Hope you come to Portugal soon. Please leave a message for Metal Imperium’s readers.

Thank you for reading. Our new album ‘The Hallowing Of Heirdom’ is available on April 6th 2018. We hope to see you on our travels really soon.

For Portuguese version, click here

Questions by Sónia Fonseca