I interviewed guitarist, Ade Mulgrew of Northern Ireland's Darkest Era back in 2012 and since then they have been busy and released a new album, 'Severance' which was released on the 13th June 2014. I done a follow up interview with Ade to see what the band have been up to since and to find out all about the new album...
Its been three years since the release of your debut album, 'The Last Caress Of Light', what have you all been up to?
We spent the subsequent year doing a couple of UK tours, a European tour and some festivals and one off shows. After this we had some lineup changes and we wrote and recorded Severance at the end of this period. So the last year or so has basically been spend rebuilding the band and finding the right label to release Severance. Now it's out and we're beginning a new and exciting chapter in the bands existence.
In this time you have acquired some new members, how do you think this changed the dynamics or sound of new album, 'Severance' if any?
The album was recorded with our old drummer Lisa so Cameron kind of came into the fray after the album was done. Daniel, our new bass player, arrived halfway during the writing process to a band in turmoil. He put some fantastic bass playing on the album but in terms of affecting the dynamic or sound, the next album will show more of that really. This record was mostly myself, Sarah and Krum collaborating on the tracks.
What can fans expect from your new album, 'Severance'?
Epic, heavy and dark metal - an emotional ride that has traditional heavy metal at it's heart but infused with a folk melancholy and other metallic sub genres that give it it's own voice and something pretty unique among the deluge of muck doing the rounds these days.
What is the meaning behind the title and context of the album?
The title is quite enigmatic but purposely so considering the themes. One of the main themes of the album is decay; the breaking apart of our frames of reality, decay of the natural world and all of the things we use to make sense of existence. I became interested in the philosophical idea of solipsism, and the idea of what would happen if our frames of reality were broken apart to reveal a new and terrible truth. There is a lot of Cormac McCarthy-esque post apocalyptic imagery on the album and the title and cover art basically represent all of this, and more.
There are different genres of metal that can be heard within the album, where do you draw inspiration from both musically and creatively?
Our range of influence is quite broad to be honest, each of us listens to and is influenced by a wide range of material. Musically there are some bands that we all are inspired by, for example Iron Maiden, Thin Lizzy, some folk music.. Sometimes what inspires us doesn't manifest itself in obvious ways, so for example take bands like Dead Can Dance, Destroyer 666, Nobuo Uematsu, Saxon, Enya, Emiliana Torrini.. you might not detect some of those but they push their effect on you in one way or another when you are writing songs. The creative process is an interesting thing though, it's a difficult beast and it works in really strange ways. I learned quite a bit about it during the writing of this album.
How do you think this album compares to your debut, 'The Last Caress Of Light'?
I think it's a good step forward for us, there is much more of our own identity and own intentions on this album which is key for us. We feel we are moving into our own little place that we've carved for ourselves with what we're doing. Speaking musically, I guess the songs are tighter, more focussed sounding a perhaps a little more heavy metal! There is more of a darkness over this album but I just think the songs are more mature sounding in general. It's a perfect document of a place and time, which is what I feel an album should be.
Can you tell us a bit about the recording and song writing process for the album?
It was written under pretty difficult circumstances, basically. We had no permanent bassist and there was a lot of internal tension in the band - it became obvious to me at least that Lisa was ending her time in the band and this made this very volatile in the rehearsal room. Amidst all of this we had committed to studio time and were determined to stick to it, so I shouldered a lot of the pressure in terms of writing the songs; getting as many of our ideas together as possible and writing a lot of new stuff. Sarah wrote more on this record too and we strengthened our songwriting partnership a lot during the process. I was a very intense 10 weeks, I was living and breathing the songs during this time and went off the radar a bit I suppose. We were still writing bits and pieces in the studio, working 15hours a day, or more, and that's no exaggeration. But I think it all contributed in the end to what became the album. I was quite an experience.
You signed with, Cruz Del Sur music, how did this feel and how has it been working with them so far?
Cruz Del Sur are generally regarded as being, although a small label, one of the best and most consistent heavy metal labels in the world. I was a fan of them for many years and I own a lot of their releases. They have a fantastic roster of bands who we are proud to be among. Things are very volatile in the music industry in general but we're very happy with how things are going so far.
In September your heading out on your first UK headline tour, how excited are you about this?
Very excited indeed. We've played in each of the cities before, they are all placed with great crowds. It'll be rough and tumble but that's what touring is about at this level. We love touring and have been itching to get out on the road with this album. We'll be working hard over the summer to get a killer headline set together.
What are your favourite songs from, 'Severance'? And which are you looking forward to performing most on tour?
We've played 'Songs of Gods and Men', 'Sorrows Boundless Realm' and 'The Serpent and the Shadow' live already and they work really well, so I think we'll be keeping those in the set. Other than that 'Beyond the Grey Veil' is one of my favourite tracks and I'm looking forward to hopefully playing that one, just because I think it'll be quite powerful live.
What other upcoming tour plans do you have?
We're hopefully heading out around Europe, or at least to Germany, in the spring but we have no details yet. We're eager to go across Europe again as we had a very successful tour with Arkona before a year back or so. Hopefully we'll be on the road a lot with this record.
Hailing from Ireland, what is the metal music scene like there and how do you think your music measures with this?
It depends where you go, but Ireland is a pretty small place so in general there aren't a ton of bands doing the rounds who have broken internationally. There are a couple of really cool straight up heavy metal bands from the North, Terminus for example, and down south you tend to find a lot of pretty cool black and death metal bands doing the rounds; Zom and Malthusian in Dublin for example. The scene is certainly healthy, gig turnouts have been a lot worse and a lot of tours come here now but.. it is certainly a small place compared to other scenes.
Finally what else is in store for Darkest Era in 2014?
Hopefully a lot of touring! Towards the end of the year we'll start the wheels rolling again and begin putting together our next album.. but for now we're just looking to play to as many people as possible!
darkestera.net | facebook.com/darkestera
New album, 'Severance' out now! Listen to it here: http://darkestera.bandcamp.com/album/severance