Tell us about the status of Ethereal Forest! Your self released demo has been out for some time…when can we expect another release?
AZRAEL: Yes, the demo is quite old now. It has taken a long time for us to be able to move forward with Ethereal Forest. Right now we are recording the debut album in a studio in Oslo. All of the music has been completed so there is only vocals left to do. The album will be available in 2011 through German label Darker than Black Records.
The sounds offered on the demo were a mix of well-performed acoustic guitars, keyboard pads and powerful metal anthems; a great demo of what Ethereal Forest is capable of. What will the next release entail? A more focused sound or will it contain as much variety as the demo?
AZRAEL: We didn’t use any keyboards on the demo, you are not the first to be mistaken by this. What you are hearing is actually vocals. Although certain tracks from the demo do appear on the album I think what we have done is alot more focused, the song writing, sound and execution and all on a higher level. Saying that though there are many styles on the album regarding attack and speed. There some mid-paced tracks but also there are some fast parts also. I am excited with what we have done. What people don’t understand is that we wrote and recorded the demo in the space of 4 to 5 hours. We have spent alot time and put alot more energy into this album.
The senses of pride, emotion, power and strength are apparent in your music…tell us from where you craft your sound. What influences your work? History, literature, other musicians?
AZRAEL: Theobald (Drummer) and myself have a healthy appetite for historical litrature and such things so a little of that goes into the lyrical text. There is also the fantastic which also appears in the lyrics, sword and sorcery and such things. We just write about what is inspiring us at the time, be it something we have read or seen in a movie or exprienced in life…When the music is being written I see it as painting a picture. We have a blank canvas so to speak but instead of ink and paint we use sound, if that makes any sense to you…
You have a deal with Darker Than Black Records, yes? How did this relationship come about?
AZRAEL: Contact was made with the label through the internet. I can’t remember now who contacted who first, but many e-mails were sent back and forth and we truck up a deal to work together between us. I really take my hat off to Darker Than Black as they have been waiting for a long time for this album to be completed now. They have been so patient and shown so much support. We are finally getting towards completion now so everyone is relieved I guess.
What other projects are you involved in, if any? How do they differ from Ethereal Forest? How are they similar?
AZRAEL: The first band and probably the most prolific band I have been involved with is a Gothic Rock/Goth Metal band called 13 Candles. We were one of the last Cacophonous Records bands before they disappeared. There is no similarity between Ethereal Forest and that band. I think from my point of view the only band that does resemble similarity to Ethereal forest is a band called Heathen Deity that Theobald and myself are in. I guess the differnce with heathen Deity is the fact that it is a traditional Black Metal band and maybe a little bit more extreme in it’s outlook.. I also operate in a couple of Dark Ethereal ambient projects, Hoyland and Gil-Galad which as you can guess bear no resemblance to Ethereal Forest. Theobal is involved and has been involved with serveral bands, the most prolific being Pantheon I from Norway.
How did you decide upon your name? What does ‘Ethereal Forest’ mean to you?
AZRAEL: I have considered myself pagan for the past 13-14 years, maybe longer, so that is the reason for the name. The band was named in 2003 shortly after we formed as a band by myself. There was no brainstorming involved, I guess I always knew what the name of the band would be…
The theme of war is apparent in your work on the demo, yet relays a more empowering emotion as opposed to one of horror. How do you view this topic that has been a recurring theme of mankind?
AZRAEL: To make war is the nature of the human race, it always has been and it always will be.
Ethereal Forest is a two man project, yes? Do you plan on any live shows, adding members for session work, etc.?
AZRAEL: We have planned so long to be a live band and spoke to alot of people about being part of the live band, including some prolific players from Norway where we are now based but I feel that wouldn’t work out. We really need people that are going to be reliable and not always running away on tour with their own bands. The live members with be purely session players leaving the two of us, Theobald and myself to do the writing and studio work.
How do you feel about extreme music today as opposed to ten years ago? Do you think social networks have diluted the message of extreme music such as yours? Why or why not?
AZRAEL: I think Black Metal has been diluted for a while now. Both in attitude and musical output. I’ve mentioned this in the press before. To be honest there is too many bands copying other bands now. Everyone want’s to sound like their favorite band which is a shame. I’m in no way saying that we are original, far from it to be honest, we do use our influences but don’t intentionally copy them… The attitude has changed because now the audience is fresh, lots of new kids going to shows and stuff like that…as far as the rest of extreme metal I have no interest…
There is a great deal of great acoustic guitar work on the demo that I really enjoyed layered with well-placed keyboard arrangements…how do songs come about? Is there a writing ritual you employ or a certain goal you have in mind for a song/album before writing even begins?
AZRAEL: The band originally began as an acoustic entity and I made a few songs just on acoustic guitar. What I wanted was Theobald to come in and put some drums down to these tracks that I had. He had other ideas about what we should do and got together in his garage. The metal tracks on the demo was written and recorded in that one day. There was no blue print to what we were actually going to do, we just got together and started to play. Later when the recording was mixed and finalised I added a couple of the acoustic tracks that I had originally done and we got a good well balanced demo. This is the demo that was sent to Darker Than Black.
Where do you see Ethereal Forest five years from now?
AZRAEL: I really haven’t thought that far ahead if I am totally honest, right now we are living for today, finishing the album and putting the live line up together for future live preformance. Hopefully in 5 years time we will maybe have a couple of releases out and a fairly good reputation. That is far more important to us than money…
The last words are yours…
AZRAEL: I would just like to say thank you Sleepwalker and Forbidden magazine for the time to put this interview together, also a big hello to our brothers and sisters out there for their support! HAIL!