Hi Dan! It is the third time I interview you for VERSUS Magazine and as always it is a pleasure to congratulate you!
«The Northern Sanctuary» is somehow an album extension of some songs from «The Inheritance». Why did you decide to make an extension of those songs in particular? (and not the whole album)?
Because they were the tracks that worked the best for me. No use making extensions of stuff that didn’t work in the first place, right!
Lyrically speaking «The Northern Sanctuary» is the continuation of the previous album. What is the concept behind it?
A new inhabitant comes to the house in the north and the evil entity that possessed people on the 1st album is still there and finds its perfect host in the “man in white” and at the end it performs a ritual that opens up a portal to the hell dimension from where it once came, before the creation of time, and in doing so, hell on earth is real!
The lyrics are once again supported by Paul Kuhr. What is your contribution to them? How does it feel to sing other people’s words?
I gave Paul the beginning and the end and all the vocal bits are already written with scratch lyrics. So instead of singing “murder the path of dependence” I sang like “I am the die of the deathpraist” (sic) and Paul found the cool line and make sure it fit syllable by syllable to my guide vocals. I love to sing other peoples lyrics when they fit! But in the end…I rarely sing lyrics that don’t fit because they are not ready until they do. Sounds always come before meaning in this case!
In between those two albums we got «The New Tomorrow». How can we fit this EP into the concept/story?
This is where the 50 year time jump took place. The man in white found the house on an auction and in this track we set up the story for The Northern Sanctuary
Is this the final story or more chapters are to come?
I think this is the very end!
It seems to me – from the little I know from the interviews and of course your immense work – that you are not the kind of guy that needs to listen to “others” in what concerns making music. Why did you write the “unsafe” 13-minute epic track? Was it just to show that you are able to make some “unsafe” music?
I like to go on such musical adventures. It was also what drew me towards death metal in the first place. The rules were a bit different…you could get away with a track where you just stapled riffs together, not having to think about structure and stuff like that..but in the end, I started writing tracks with a normal pop structure within death metal as well…and I know people seem to think that we don’t care about media comments on our work, but we all do..and this comment could also have been from a friend that I had played the “album so far” to or something..but at this point, it was a FaceBook comment and it made me wake up from my lazy slumber and it kicked my ass to make this album special and I believe the title track is what makes it really special in combination with “Marionette”
Was this your most challenging song so far? What is it about and how did it grow into a 13-minute track?
It did take some time to get it right, but I had a lot of cool ideas I knew I had to get in there..so it was challenging fun! I had hopes for it to be of the same length like the 2 tracks I kicked out, like 9 minuter or so, but all of sudden it became this beast..and it felt a bit like writing another Crimson 🙂 1/3 of a Crimson actually 😉
You said that you wanted to make this track to be like “Halloween” or “Suite Sister Mary”, two tracks that I know very well. Did those songs influence somehow “The Northern Sanctuary”?
“Halloween” did. “suite…” not so much. I actually find that track the 2nd weakest on Operation… but the vibe of the whole track list with a bunch of “hits” and a long epic and some intro outro kind of stuff…that inspired me a lot!
Speaking of influences, where did you go get the 70s/80s Prog and AOR roots of this music? And by the way, how do you “embed” it in this atmospheric but yet extreme Metal?
The main inspiration for TNS is the 1st WS album and then take that to a “more is more” place. Faster, harder, softer, A.O.R.-ier, Proggier etc. without losing our own vibe. All our main inspirations have done really extreme twists in their career. Bands like Judas Priest, Voivod, Rush, Queenryche. All have started at a darker place then evolved to more commercial stuff, then went back again. For this project I see he whole story of our main inspirations as a “can do”. Not saying we will cover “Parental guidance” any day soon 😉
Another thing that is quite elaborated in this album is the artwork from Gyula Havancsák, who has already worked with Nightingale. What is the meaning behind the cover?
It shows the ending of the story line. This was an image I had in my head that I successfully transferred to Gyulas brain 🙂 This is what it looks like when the portal is opened and all hell’s breaking loose!
You have some projects, the last one that I heard was Nightingale. Quite different from this one. Are there any plans for another Nightingale album?
Nope. Nightingale is currently resting. I have other things to take for the coming years. If we ever get 45 min. of killer material together again, we might do another LP!
The limited edition version is enhanced with extended artwork and the full dynamic mix:
What does this artwork consist of?
Just some more photos. But the actual vibe of the whole Media Book is worth the extra buck
Of course… the full dynamic mix: why this was not the default version?
In the perfect world, this would be the only version…but we are still at (loudness) war, so what can I do? I am afraid some illiterate metal consumers would return the CD’s to the shops because the volume is too low. Not enough people seem to understand that they are buying a product that could have sounded so much better..I hope the #2 CD will raise some eyebrows and maybe bring a few more to understand that dynamics and transients are an important hing in a crowded mix
One of the coolest interviews I made was the one about the loudness war back in 2014. What do you think that has changed regarding this topic in these two years?
Not really much I am afraid. I am currently bouncing out the FDR mix of the new Ancient Ascendants and backing off the limiter those 8 dB opens up a whole new world…and I do it for he vinyl version and for the ban to have a master that is 100% “there” with all dynamics etc. when the day comes when humanity realize that limiting stuff was stupid!
Do you think that people, musicians, bands, labels, etc. are more open minded to this subject? Does the mentality about this is been changing?
There are some labels where the owner cares about dynamics. But most labels don’t really care.
This quest, the time spent in teaching people and industry that this isn’t oriented the right way (I think we can say that) if you want to make good music to listen to are worth the effort so far?
It is worth it. At least I know I am doing my clients a service by providing an alternative master. Even if some of them don’t really understand the difference.