Dark Covenant trying to keep it old school
Dark Covenant are a Doom band from Canada that play in the Classic Traditional style of Doom but with a lot of twists and turns. I would put them in the same league as Solitude Aeturnus and Candlemass and I am sure its only a matter of time before they reach the Doom-Gods status. Their playing is of a exceptionally high standard combining Classical style riffs that are full and heavy but with a finesse of a highly polished experienced band even though they are yet to record their first full length album. I conducted this interview with Vjohrrnt Wodansson (vocals) and we got to discuss such matters as well as the musical history of the band. Hope you like the interview, check out the band because you will be hearing a lot more from them within the next year.
Greetings and thanks for the interview. I read the band started out as "Dawn Of Sorrow" back in 93, that is a long time ago. How did everything eventually come together all these years later?
First of all we want to thank you for this opportunity to introduce ourselves in our first interview, we appreciate your support. Our history is indeed contradictory and singular as it is both very recent and very old at the same time. Evil Lair and I used to play together back in the early 90s. We tried to create some form of Doom Metal mixed with classical influences, taking inspiration from Candlemass, Solitude Aeturnus, King Diamond and other great bands and we did record a few very rough sketches of songs on some cheap 4 tracker tape. No vocals, just music. That was named Dawn of Sorrow then. Then, some events in our lives caused us to go our separate ways for a while. We each moved to different parts of town and kind of lost track of each other.
During that long period, Evil Lair recorded a few albums on his own through his musical projects. On my side I also played in a few black metal bands and recorded 3 albums and a MCD. My actual Pagan folk metal band still active to this date is Fjörd.
About a year ago, we again found each other on Myspace (isn't that a surprise) and we just got in touch again. Then it was silence again for a few months until we talked on the phone and we talked about remaking some doom metal again like in the old days. The idea was appealing of course but it kind of stayed there, then some months ago he sent me an mp3 of a song he composed. I was blown away. I immediately wrote lyrics for it and recorded the vocals a few days after. That became Forever amongst the ruins. Right after that he composed a bunch of other songs and there it was; an album written within a few weeks. I wish this would have been 16 years ago, but fate decided otherwise. We each had things to do and experiences to live until the proper forces reunited us again.
As for JS and Somatophylax, well it's pretty much the same. Back in 89 we used to play together in our first metal band doing cover songs of Kreator, Destruction, Sacrifice and Candlemass. Then, I moved away (with Evil Lair) and the rest I explained above. Now that we needed musicians, I thought; what the heck! And so it is that we are playing together again after 16 and 20 years apart. So that makes us the "oldest-newly-re-formed" doom band around.
The band members sound like experienced musicians, can you give a brief history lesson on previous bands and musical experiences?
I have played in a few BM bands as drummer or vocalist and recorded albums as well; I toured Europe as a drummer with another metal band in 2004 and recorded music in the heathen folk music genre (not released though). The only active band I play in besides DC is Fjörd (pagan folk metal). Evil Lair as recorded many albums with his other projects: Graven Dusk (funeral doom), Nordic Winter (black metal) and Strigoï Mort (classical black metal). JS plays also in Fjörd, and Somatoplylax aside from playing session bass for a band back in 91-92 I think, never played in any bands until now. But although some of our musicians have not been playing in other bands for the past 20 years does not take away their talents. They are more than capable to play our music and participate in the composition of the future songs. I couldn't ask for a better line up for DC and to play trad. Doom metal.
The band plays Classic Doom or Traditional Doom depending on what you like to call it. Is that the style you always wanted to play?
I personally loved that genre ever since heard Candlemass' NIGHTFALL back in 89. But it was hard to find musicians that wanted to play that style here. When I moved away with Evil Lair, we tried but we were always alone and had poor equipment. When we split, we each joined/formed black metal bands, which was also a music very close to my heart (and still is), and we advanced faster on this path. But through the years, I often thought about trying to form a doom metal band, but with whom? Well, time would answer that question for me. Somatophylax (which is my brother by the way) always loved doom metal as well. As for JS, he's a huge 70s progressive rock fan (King Crimson, VDGG, etc) as well as viking-pagan metal, and of course he also likes the trad. Doom metal genre since back in the 80s.
Dark Covenant write songs around ancient mythologies and esoteric themes, would inspires the band to write about such subjects?
I have been interested in the occult, metaphysics and the esoteric for over 20 years. I have read from Satanism, to Crowley, Cabal, wicca, Egyptian mysteries, Sumerian magic, druidism, Slavic and Nordic heathenism and more. I read a lot of crap of course and those do not inspire my lyrics. As I was saying I am very interested in the mysteries but what attracts and motivates me more is the revelations behind the mysteries. I do not write about nonsense and pseudo-esoteric crap. On our coming album, the main concept is the traditional Evolian: revolt against the modern world concept. In poetical verses, I write about the eventual downfall of this decadent modernist civilisation to make way for a new age, and the isolating feeling that you do not belong to this superficial, materialistic world. I have other ideas for more "mystical" and mythological inspired lyrics but that will be for future songs.
What has the band done so far as far as recordings go? I read a full length album is in the works?
We have 7 songs thus far. 4 of them will be on our promo CD which we are actually preparing for labels, magazines etc. The album is all self-made. We do the cover layout (except the front artwork) and record and master the music ourselves. Evil Lair has his own studio and he's a very good graphic artist (it's his job too). So aside from pressing the album, which we hope to find a label to help us with that, we do the rest. The full album entitled "Eulogies for the fallen" is in preparation. Only 3 songs left to record the vocals on and then, the bass. After that it's mixing and mastering, the usual. It will be about 45min for 7 songs and intro.
Everybody talks about influences but what individual musicians does the band admire?
Speaking for myself as a vocalist, I would say Messiah Marcolin, Robert Lowe, King Diamond and Warrel Dane. As a musician in general, I would have to say Quorthon from Bathory. Evil Lair is more Andy La Rocque, John Perez, and Yngwie Malmsteen. As for JS, he's into Ivar Bjørnson (Enslaved), Oysten G. Brun (Borknagar) and Robert Fripp (King Crimson). Somatophylax likes Steve Harris, Geddy Lee, Dirk Schlächter as bassplayers.
Is there a standard of song-writing the band reaches for because the songs on your Myspace page already have an element of class about them?
They have to be good by OUR standards. I mean anyone can write catchy songs that could play on the local trendy radio, but that's crap. Doom metal music must have passion and emotion. Not just cool riffs played slow. Evil Lair's been playing for a long time and he knows how to write songs. As JS once told me, there are those who are musicians and there are those who are composers. There's a difference. Putting up a song is easy, composing a song is another matter altogether. We believe our songs have meaning. Not just lyrically, but musically as well. No riffs are just there to fill up a gap, make the song longer or just for plain fun. Each melody has its purpose, its reason to be at this particular place in the song, not after or before its intended location. The same goes for bass, vocals, etc. That's how you compose a song. Sure it can end up being "catchy", but it will be for a reason other than just public ratings. I believe our songs are appreciated by those who heard them because they reach in in a different way.
How is life in Canada for you guys? I have heard from other Canadian bands that it is tough to break out of there!
Well it depends in what genre of music you're into. Death metal is very big since early 90s. Black Metal started small (we were what? 5 in early 90s. People I mean, not bands) now it's huge and most of them aren't even BM in "my" opinion on the matter anyway. We have our share of grind and whatever else exists now. But Doom Metal, now that never made it big. In fact I don't recall that there ever was any Doom Metal bands here in Quebec. In Canada, I don't know. Recently I got in touch with a guy from BC who plays in Patriarch. He was as surprised as me to find a doom metal in this part of Vinland (North America). But in our traditional doom genre, I believe we are the only one around throughout the whole country. It's kind of nice and sad at the same time. It's good to be unique and thus, original but the downside is; with whom the hell are we going to play with live?
If you want to break out of here, you play trendy BM or Death and you're a star. There is no trend in Doom so we're stuck man. Seriously, we will try to see if we can play the USA or even Europe eventually if a label or promoter flies us over there.
After the album is released, have you got any tour or promotional plans?
Aside from playing local shows, no. We have a contact who told me that he could try and help us get into the line up of a big fest in Europe, but we will see when the album is out, how it's appreciated by the people and if indeed this opportunity could become true. That would be great if it comes to pass, let's hope so. As for promo, we will press some t-shirts after the promo CD release.
Is the band looking for a major label for the album and is that important to you?
We are indeed looking for a label. "Major", not necessarily. Some smaller labels have real good deals and are just plain honest. There's a lot of ripping off with major labels. I could think of a few which even if they would contact us I would tell them to fuck off. The importance of a label depends on what you want for your band. If you just want to jam and play locally, and not really bothering to have a full blown pro-CD with colored lay out etc etc, there's no need for a label. You can do all that yourself; press your own CDRs and have a sticker on it, copy b/w covers and distribute them yourself. If you want more, then a label can help, unless you are a fortunate band. We have contacts with CD pressing companies, but we would prefer a good, honest label to back us up for our first album. We'll see after that.
What do you think about the Doom Metal scene these days? Has it got better or taken a turn for the worse since every man and his dog with a computer can make a band and sell it on the Internet.
That's a hard one. Ok, first of all I haven't been following the Doom metal scene all the way through since 89 so I am not up-to-date of all the bands out there. When I started, there was Candlemass and Solitude Aeturnus that I was into a lot. These bands have made lots of album since then. Candlemass fell when Chapter 6 arrived. It wasn't all bad, but I was disappointed. Then they made some real crap for a while. Now they're back on track and have a real good album with DMD. Solitude Aeturnus, I liked the first 2, then the last one, Alone I like. There was of course tons more out there but then there was no internet so it was very hard for me to discover new bands aside than in some metal magazines which I didn't read at all. Now I discover great bands like While heaven wept, Isole, The flight of Sleipnir, Khthon, Wheel, Automnal, and Hooded priest just to name a few. So in a way the scene got bigger yes, but as far as I can tell, it didn't "sell out" like it happened in the Death or Black metal scenes. Doom metal never got trendy even if bands like Candlemass and Solitude Aeturnus are big shots out there.
As for the guy and his dog, well that can happen since its easy now to get equipment and just create a fake band with no real instrument, just computerized samplers. But that shows I think, there's no soul, no true emotion in the music, it's artificial. I don't encourage that. And the internet, well, it's practical for sure to promote your band fast and far. Back then when there was no internet, we used tape trading and paper flyers. Now its e-mails, Myspace profiles and websites. I don't mind as long as one doesnt not become the slave of that technology. Technology is to be at the service of man and not the other way around. People are so dependent of technology now that if the system crash (and it will) and all electronic/electric power sources fail, they'll be in serious trouble. Dark Covenant tries to keep it "old school" in the sense that we use guitars, bass and drums, no keyboards or overused FX. We keep it simple yet effective and easily reproducible live. That's my take on it.
How about telling people how to get into contact with the band for recordings, shows etc.
There are a few ways. Our website at http://darkcovenantdoom.com
Our myspace at http://www.myspace.com/darkcovenantdoom
And e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks again for the interview, any last words for the readers?
Thanks again for this chance to promote Dark Covenant through the medium of your web-zine. It's greatly appreciated. Keep visiting our website and MS page for up-dates on our promo CD as well as our coming album. Mags and labels and promoters, you have our contacts to join us if need be.
Support the sound of the modern world's imminent doom.