Thank you so much to accept this interview to MetalHammer by me, Kat S.F.

DARKEST ERA started in 2005, but unfortunately the band is a completely unknown for many of our readers. So, how borns DARKEST ERA? Who are their members actually?

-We are a five piece heavy metal band from the North of Ireland. We formed in 2005 when the band was still in school. Our current lineup is Krum on vocals, myself and Sarah Wieghell on guitar and Lisa Howe on drums. We have some self releases and an album out on Metal Blade records.

In the beginning, the band was named NEMESIS, but you decided to change the name in 2007 for DARKEST ERA. Why did you choose this name for the band? What’s behind it?

Well there are and have been many bands called Nemesis. The band was starting to become a more serious prospect for us all at this time and so we decided something more original was needed and also something that we felt was representative of the band’s goals, ideals and sound. Darkest Era encapsulates the source and basis of our artistic expression; it is the bloodiest of battles, the darkest of nights and the blackest corners of the soul.

You come from Ireland. The bands I know, and I’ve had the pleasure to see live from this beautiful (and green) country are PRIMORDIAL, MAEL MÓRDHA and MOURNING BELOVETH. Do you think that they could be the most exponents for the ‘True Irish Celtic/Pagan/Doom Metal’?

Yes I think those are probably the most successful Irish exports along with Cruachan, Altar of Plagues and Gama Bomb. There is a nice range of styles between those bands too; Gama Bomb are thrash and AOP are atmospheric black metal for example, so there is a range of stuff coming out of the country.

I have read that the sound of DAREST ERA is described as Heavy/Celtic/Folk Metal style. In my own opinion, that it’s true, but in your songs, you include doom parts too. Here in Spain, there are some bands that practice Celtic metal, like CRYSTALMOORS with a cantabrian pagan elements. Could you explain me what does ‘Celtic Metal’ means for you? It may be that there is a connection or a similitude between irish celtic metal and cantabrian celtic metal?

There are a few things that I suppose you could call ‘Celtic’ elements in our music. There is a melancholic atmosphere in our music which is much derived from Irish folk music. The style of lyric writing uses the language of old folklore and mythological tales – and occasionally there is reference to celtic themes and mythology. It’s a marrying of music, lyric, tone, atmosphere and artwork I guess, into our metallic sound. These things aren’t unique to Irish bands and I suppose there are certain elements that you’ll find in other bands – the presence of celtic history in the music of Eluveitie for example.

In 2010, you signed a worldwide deal with the prestigious Metal Blade Records. Some of us know the label for their great work with the Swedish death-viking metalers AMON AMARTH or the americaner death-gore CANNIBAL CORPSE. How they contact you?

-It was quite simple really, we were looking for a label to release our album right around the time that Alan Averill of Primordial started doing A&R for Metal Blade. He recommended us to them along with some other bands, and Brian Slagel liked us enough to give us a deal. A combination of good luck, good timing and good music I guess!

Now talking about your debut album ‘The Last Caress of Light’. Would you like to explain me about composition and recording process of the album?

We recorded it in the summer of 2010 at Foel Studios, in Wales. The album is I suppose like many debut albums the summary/culmination of everything the band had done up to that point. We had released some of the songs on previous EP’s and there were also some new ones there. The recording process was quite straightforward really, there was some pressure there of course but because we had released some of the material before we knew it was strong and we knew we would have a good album on our hands. The studio itself was isolated in the Welsh mountains; it provided a very secluded atmosphere and it was very exciting for us to be able to work like this without distractions.

The main-title song is ‘The Last Caress of Light before the Dark’. To what kind of ‘light’ are you talking about?

-The light of hope that allows desire and ambition to grow, the light of mortality and life and the light of the sun that breaks through dusk. It is light in a literal and metaphorical sense.

‘Poem to the Gael’ is a very beautiful acoustic song that reminds me the Irish land. Would you like to tell me about this song? Who is or are ‘the Gael’?

-We knew what we wanted from an acoustic song on the album before we actually worked on it, so a few days before we left to record the album, myself and Sarah wrote the song in a matter of hours. We started with a kind of folkish vocal melody and built the song from there, using a chord progression that I had written many years ago but never used. It’s a powerful song I think. The Gaels were a people who spoke the old Ancient Gaelic languages. The song is about two lovers primarily but also some of the rhetoric applied to The Gael and ancient culture.

‘The Morrigan’ is one of my favourite songs of the album, because it includes many different musical parts. Who is the Morrigan in the celtic culture?

-The Morrigan was the Goddess of War in the Irish mythological cycles. She appeared in The Tain which is the mythical story that the song is set in. She is a very interesting character, often appearing in different forms such as a crow or a serpent.

Visions of the Dawn’ and ‘To Face the Black Tide’ are the other songs that I like so much (well, I like all the full album J). In your own opinion, what could it be the most representative song from your album, the song that could remind the people automatically DARKEST ERA universe?

-That’s a difficult one but I guess An Ancient Fire Burns and the title track of the album.. Together those songs I think show all sides of Darkest Era and also have our own identity portrayed the strongest. They are the most representative of what we feel we are about. But there are many facets to our sound so it’s maybe hard to pin down one or two songs that represent everything.

I have observed that in all the songs stands out from your musical network, your vocalist Krum, who has a very beautiful, clean voice that seems that it is flying to the top little by little, as I told him in Valencia at the end of the night and before I leaved. In what notes he usually moves? Do you write the songs for his voice or is he who draws the melodies for them?

-It depends really, sometimes when we are writing Krum will just sing random words over a riff so we can tell what range suits the song or whether there needs to be many or few words for example. In which case we write the words to suit what melody he is thinking of. Sometimes myself or Sarah will already have a vocal melody written for him, or else we have the lyrics first and we try and make the melody work with them. It just depends.

Last october, you came to Spain in tour with ARKONA and DALRIADA. How it goes the experience? Do you like to visit Spain? Do you like to visit us again but as a head-line?

-It was a fantastic experience for us, it was our first European tour and a great chance to play many countries for the first time. Spain was a lot of fun, for sure. It was hot for us, seeing as we are used to the freezing rain in Ireland but we got used to it! The audiences reacted very well to our music so we would love to come back and do headline shows, but perhaps before that we will return supporting another band. Either way we certainly want to return.

I’ve read in your official website (darkestera.com) that you are confirmed for the next Ragnarök Festival in Germany the next april. How arrives to the band this great opportunity?

-Our management was in contact with this festival and I think they were already aware of the band so I suppose they liked us enough to invite us onto the bill! I’ve heard great things about this festival and I know a few bands who have played there before so we are very excited. We’ve been waiting for a festival show in Germany for a while now so we will be fired up for it.

Do you start to prepare a new material yet or it is too early?

When we came back from the Arkona tour we took maybe a week to recover and then began writing heavily for our second album. We have been working very hard over the past few months and we hope to record in January. The writing is going well, the songs are very strong I think so we are excited right now. We’ll hopefully make an announcement over the coming weeks with some details.

And, if any of our readers would like to buy ‘The Last Caress of Light’, how can they do it?

-They can buy it straight from our website, www.darkestera.com where we also have some great shirts to buy.