About Me

Interview with Sunken

The brand new full-length record by Danish Black Metal band Sunken was released on September 18th on Berlin's underground label, Vendetta Records.
“Livslede” is the band's most intense, thorough and honest release to date as the Danes have created a beautiful, sorrowful and extremely personal universe, taking the listener on an emotional journey through anxiety, self-hatred and hopelessness. Metal Imperium was more than pleased to talk to the band about their latest creation. Read the interview to find out all about it! 

M.I. - First off, congratulations on the new album… it is simple amazing. I’ve been playing it non-stop!  It’s nice to come across awesome bands like yourselves! Thanks for also taking the time to answer my questions.

No problem. Glad you like the album!

M.I. - Supposedly the band plays atmospheric Black metal… was this intentional or was it just the best style that fit your music?

This was intentional. Since the beginning, this was the specific style of black metal we were mostly drawn to, and wanted to play. Nowadays I think it still very well describes our music, although we have broader influences.

M.I. - What are the major differences between Sunken’s Black Metal and all the other Black metal bands? How would you describe the band’s sound and feeling to someone that isn’t acquainted with the band?

We usually describe it as being a DSBM band, wrapped in a modern sounding production. But really we never aimed to be an easy band to describe to people, we have many layers in our music.

M.I. - The band’s debut album “Departure” was critically acclaimed. Did this fact put any extra stress/pressure on the band’s shoulders when recording and preparing its successor?

There certainly was a bit of pressure. It’s always tough to follow up a debut album, since it sets a certain standard for a band. However, we believe we followed through and made a record even better than ‘Departure’.

M.I. - According to the press release, “Livslede” is the band’s most intense, thorough and honest release to Date. Why this statement? What makes it true?

It’s our most intense and honest release in that, it is an extremely unfiltered form of emotional expression. On the musical side, our singer, Martin, delivers some of the most harrowing and intense screams to date as well as spoken-word passages. In general, we were taking our music to new dimensions in order to convey our message as authentically as possible.

M.I. - The album was released on the 18th September via Vendetta Rcords. Why have you opted to collaborate with this label? Is it the fact that they deal mainly with Black metal bands and are familiarized with the best way to promote such extreme bands?

Vendetta Records reached out to us after the release of ‘Departure’. Stefan Klose, the man running the label, puts a lot of effort and passion into what he does and we really like many of the bands on the label’s roster. All in all, Vendetta is a great label to work with, they have really helped us out in so many ways.

M.I. - The album features 5 tracks in a total running time of 44 minutes… how happy are you with the final result?

We are really happy with the result. We think ‘Livslede’ has a great flow from song to song, and the songs complement each other very well in a dynamic way.

M.I. - When using google translator to discover the meaning of the album title, I got something like “life jacket”… is this accurate? If it is, can we assume music is your salvation in this fucked up world?

Google Translate is way off unfortunately. The closest word you can compare ‘Livslede’ to in English is probably ‘Ennui’. Just a general dissatisfaction with life and a sense of hopelessness and dreariness.

M.I. - The titles of the tracks are also very negative and sad, so to speak. Are you expressing your own feelings?

The lyrics on ‘Livslede’ are expressions of the darkest corners of the human mind, when we're at our most desperate and desolate. They’re inspired by our own experiences, both past and present, but worked into a more general story in order to (hopefully) become relatable to most people.

M.I. - Do your lyrics work out as a kind of therapy for you? Do you vent out all your frustration through them?

The lyrics (and our music in general) are definitely a form of therapy for us. When dealing with depressive music in general, the idea of catharsis often comes up, and for good reasons. Just the fact that one’s thoughts and emotions get out there in such an intense and unabashed way, no matter how negative and sad they are, is really empowering in many ways. So yes, we use the lyrics to try to convey feelings of despair in order to process them and embrace them, and hopefully learn how to cope with them.

M.I. - Your debut “Departure” included 5 tracks and this new album includes 5 tracks as well. Any particular reason?

With our song lengths in the style of music we play, 5 songs seemed to be the perfect fit. Just enough to get our message across.

M.I. - In “Departure” the titles were in English and now they are in Danish… why this change?

It goes back to what we were talking about before about intensity, honesty and ‘authenticity’. The lyrics are in Danish for the same reason, the thoughts and emotions shouldn’t be translated before being put out there. Having them in Danish creates an unfiltered experience.

M.I. - Do you express yourselves better in Danish than in English? Or is it to add drama to the gloomy lyrics? The songs seem and feel so sad…

Initially, our singer and lyricist was worried about writing in Danish because English felt more natural at the time. As it turned out, English felt more natural because it acted as a distancing tool. By spending time with our thoughts and converting them into Danish lyrics, the vocals and the lyrics have become more “real”, so to speak. 

M.I. - Both albums kick off with an instrumental… coincidence or trademark?

It is a bit of a trademark of ours. A short instrumental helps set the mood of the album. It lets you know what you are getting into. On ‘Livslede’ specifically the intro ‘Forlist’ is based on the final melody on the closing track ‘Dødslængsel’ which creates the effect of coming full circle.

M.I. - The music is inspired by the ocean, nature and depression. What’s so captivating about these topics?

I believe black metal has a certain way of getting the atmosphere of your local surroundings into the music, and it’s often somewhat easy to pin-point where a certain band is from, just by listening to them. Denmark has a massive coastline, and the feelings of the vastness of watching the deserted ocean inspires us a lot.

M.I. - Does any band member suffer from depression? Did this pandemic situation make things even worse in that sense?

Without going into too much detail, we have all at some point experienced depression and still do. The pandemic has definitely made it worse for some of us, two members are experiencing a sense of stillness and hopelessness due to unemployment. On that front the pandemic has made the prospect of finding work even more difficult.

M.I. - What are your expectations regarding the new album?

Our expectations are that the listener will find some solace in our music during difficult times and that it hopefully reaches out to people who need an ‘escape’ from their troubles.

M.I. - The album reviews so far have been really great. How do you feel when you realize people understand and appreciate your music and want more?

While we felt great about the final result, the fact that it has gotten such a positive reception brings a lot of joy to us. It really goes to show how music can connect people in their shared sorrow.

M.I. - The release show scheduled for the 19th September was postponed… how powerless and angry does this make you feel?

It makes us feel really sad and powerless. It’s one thing to have a show cancelled for unexpected reasons, but it makes it worse when you can almost see it coming and there is nothing you can do about it.

M.I. - Apart from the release show, how are things standing for the other shows you had planned for later this year? Are they postponed too?

We had really looked forward to playing at Vendetta Fest in Berlin in October, but we hope to come back at another time. Fortunately, we’re doing a show in Aarhus the same weekend instead, which will be livestreamed for all people to watch.

M.I. - The artwork and layout for all your releases, this one included, has been done by Emil Underbjerg. How difficult or easy was it finding an artist that understood your music and vision?

We met Emil Underbjeg at one of our shows in Aarhus during the early years of Sunken, and befriended him. He is a great guy who appreciates a lot of the same music that we like, and he is such a good artist to work with. He understands what we want, and the results are always breathtaking.

M.I. - What’s the meaning of the cover with the frame and the ocean and all those elements?

We can’t speak for Emil on this, and he hasn’t given us detailed descriptions of his thought process. But what Emil accomplished with the artwork was capturing the feeling of solitude and uncertainty that (we think) our music conveys.

M.I. - The covers for “The Crackling of Embers” and “Departure” were quite colourful but the one for “Livslede” is just black and white… any special reason?

While the artwork for the previews release was painted, the artwork for ‘Livslede’ was created as a linocut, which limits it to two colours. In this instance, the black and white colours very much embody the darkness and sorrow of the album.

M.I. - Jonas, Jakob and Kasper are new musicians in the band… how did they adapt? How does the band deal with the lineup changes?

Sunken has had quite a few lineup changes over the years. This time around, the new members have contributed a lot more to the songwriting than previously. Their individual and personal approaches to music have helped shape ‘Livslede’ into what it became.

M.I. - If you had to name one or two bands that are similar to Sunken in style and philosophy, which bands would you mention and why?

Originally when we got in touch with each other, the two main influences were Wolves in the Throne Room and Altar of Plagues. And really any kind of "cascadian"-style black metal, have always been very inspirational to us, musically and philosophically. Nowadays we’ve moved away from those bands somewhat and found our own style, but Danish bands such as Afsky and Morild probably aren’t too far removed from our style. 

M.I. - What are your musical roots? How did Black Metal catch your attention?

We all grew up with all kinds of music, everything from classic rock, to pop to electronic music and much more. Each member found black metal at different points in our lives, but a common thread was that it frightened us at first, it was something new and unexpected, but as we listened to it more and more, we came to love it.

M.I. - Name two or three of your favourite Black Metal bands.

Wolves in the Throne Room and Woods of Desolation.

M.I. - How much has covid fucked up your personal life and Sunken’s career?

Like mentioned earlier, the employment situation for some of the members has been affected very heavily. With Sunken as a band it’s primarily concerts that have been affected.

M.I. - Any interesting fact about Sunken that you’d like to share with us?

We used to be on a Portuguese label! We released our debut album ‘Departure’ through Nordavind Records/Triton’s Orbit.  

M.I. - Please leave a message for the readers from Metal Imperium in Portugal. All the best for Sunken!

We hope you are doing well in these trying times and hope you’ll give ‘Livslede’ a listen if you haven’t already. Stay safe.

For Portuguese version, click here

Questions by Sónia Fonseca