Thulcandra - Interview

I know I've already said this in the past, but as most of you know, I am a huge fan of melodic black metal and melodic black/death metal bands, especially those that hail from Sweden. Any musician that was heavily influenced by Dissection, Sacramentum, Unanimated, The Moaning, Dawn, Vinterland and similar, and also decided to follow the path of these bands, will always have my utmost respect. One of such like minded artists I had pleasure speaking with is none other than Steffen Kummerer, the frontman of both Obscura and Thulcandra. Thulcandra has recently released their fifth album "Hail the Abyss" on May 19th, and two weeks later, the overwhelmingly positive reaction from both fans and critics is still going strong. For this opportunity, I've decided to share a few words with Steffen on behalf of Thulcandra, where we touched the ground of their new album, while also speaking about his musicality, artistic direction, influences and other similar subjects. Hail the Abyss!


Greetings Steffen! First off, I'd like to wish you a warm welcome on behalf of the MetalBite crew!

Thank you for your feature to prepare an interview for Thulcandra and supporting our new album Hail The Abyss.

Thulcandra's new album "Hail The Abyss" has just been released and not even a week has passed and it's overwhelmed with positive reactions from both critics and fans. It seems that every time you release a new album, literally nothing can go wrong. Do you have the same impression that the new album instantly went through the roof before a blink of an eye?

We do not have any expectations, but hear most of the feedback for new records through our record label. Recently, we have been overwhelmed by the fact that it has become album of the month by German Metal Hammer magazine, which might be the major metal magazine with a national wide audience in the country. Usually the magazine features less extreme music, so this came as a surprise out of nothing to us. Since we started the band in 2003, we never changed our style or attitude. A lot of friends and fellow metal heads honor our path to stick to our own vision without feeding any hype or trend. We play the music we love for the sake of it, nothing else. With every album we reach a bigger audience and the band grows with every album ever since. Our loyal fan-base has supported the band for 20+ years which might be one of the biggest achievements you can reach as a band. We are grateful for each soul that follows us and see the growing success of Thulcandra rooted here.

When closely observing the pattern of each album, especially the transition between "A Dying Wish" and "Hail The Abyss", I have this unusual feeling that the overall direction becomes progressively darker from album to album. Is "Hail The Abyss" meant to present some pivotal point in the band's anthology in terms of the lyrical themes and is there a certain story behind it?

We tend to not overthink every aspect of the band and just follow our instincts as musicians and writers. While the previous album A Dying Wish had a bittersweet and melancholic pace, our intention for the follow up has been the idea of writing a very diverse record with songs that don't sound like the same, but represent the band itself at every second. The music always comes first, lyrics have been written based on certain vibes and rhythmic patterns the music leads. On purpose we decided not to come up with a concept album to underline the different musical colors of each song with lyrics that are not connected either. Depending solely on our mindset, the next record could become even darker, feature more twin guitars or leads to a more thrashy feel - we just ride the wave and do what we feel is right at the time.

"Hail The Abyss" marks your second album to feature artwork done by the new artist Herbert Lochner, who had a great task to "step into the shoes" of Necrolord, who collaborated frequently on your previous works. Although the change is visible in the art style, the essence remains all around the same. Can you tell us a bit about that aspect of why you switched from one artist to another?

Kristian 'The Necrolord' Wahlin, came up with three excellent artworks for our first records. We collaborated for A Dying Wish, but the perfectionism of Kristian delayed the record to the point that we were forced to move on and found Herbert Lochner in the very end. Personally, I understand and respect Kristian as an artist and his decision to deliver a piece when he feels the artwork will be finished, and not before to avoid imperfection. With Herbert we found a German based artist who understands the vision and direction of Thulcandra from scratch. We separate the early three albums as the first phase of the band, while A Dying Wish and Hail The Abyss represent the second phase with the change of the cover artist and also our change of mixing studios. Herbert will deliver another piece in the near future for a special release to our 20 year anniversary, so we continue the path.

Thulcandra is very recognizable for its particular style of melodic black/death metal which resembles that of Swedish bands like Dissection, Sacramentum, Vinterland, Unanimated, Dawn, The Moaning etc. Can you tell us why you went with this style of music in particular and how did your journey begin when you discovered these bands that influenced your work?

When we grew up as teenagers in the late 90's, we listened to all of those bands, became fans and started to collect records at the time. In early 2000, the scene was dead and no-one listened to the bands, most of the artists had vanished and nothing happened in this direction. We started with Thulcandra to write music in the vein of all the bands that have been released on WAR Records, No Fashion Records and more labels that supported and pushed those groups. We have been fans and supporters back then, and we haven't changed since that time.

I presume you get asked this a lot, but I would like to know if and how many times have you come across people, be it other musicians, listeners or critics, that called out Thulcandra a "Dissection rip off" band? How do you generally respond to these comments?

Perhaps they don't know any other bands of this musical style and Dissection turned out to be the only touring act of all of those groups to refer to. I don't mind and I really don't care how anyone criticizes our group. There is barely new music coming up, most of the newer released metal songs have been already written, so that comment might be quite hypocritical at times. We have seen bands come and go, we have been here for more than 20 years and release music constantly. Recently we toured Europe and even made it to North America for a major USA and Canada tour since there are fans who want to see and hear the band perform. That became more important than any salty comment of people we don't even know.

You are obviously known as the frontman of both Obscura and Thulcandra, yet it seems that you are pretty much able to always keep things between the two bands in great balance, which not many other musicians are capable of doing. How come you're so "leveled" to never feel over encumbered or worn out from the work of both bands? Have you ever faced any challenging moments when one of the two negatively affected your life and career as a musician?

With both groups we faced good and bad times. Thulcandra and Obscura learned things the hard way, but also had friends and supporters that made the bands go on all the years. I never worked with any kind of side projects, solo records but kept my focus on the only two bands I founded in 2002 and 2003. To channel your energy to hand selected things you love and admire, even in bad times, became the key. Persistence, perseverance and iron will lead all the way. With both bands I write music I love, with people I want to spend time with, and performing concerts I want to play. I turned down offers of bigger projects and bands to keep both bands in balance and choose integrity over business multiple times.

The musicality and the expression of Thulcandra's music is quite fascinating in the sense that it's both very complex and simplistic at the same time. Are there any particular rules that you follow as an artist and a writer when you're working on new material for the band? Are there any certain limits that you place in front of you in order to respect the rules at all cost?

Within the band we have two songwriters contributing music while the whole band works as a collective on arrangements, different patterns and the transition from the studio to live music. Our decisions are based on a certain gut feeling, not rules. At times we have ideas we would like to combine to the band, sometimes songs come together naturally with contributions from all sides. There is no masterplan, no list of dos or don'ts.

I think it's safe to say that Thulcandra is one of those rare occasions when a band stays true to their roots in terms of musicality and the ideology which fuels your music. What exactly inspires you to maintain the band's overall consistency in style and themes, while also paying great respect to both your fans and your biggest influences?

Thulcandra has been founded with a clear intention, based on the musical style we love ever since. We just go on and release albums when we feel the time is right. With a lineup of friends and like minded musicians, we are able to come up with new releases more regularly. If we feel we need a few years off, won't force anything and just wait until ideas come together. Bottom line, we are honest to ourselves and work with utmost respect to our ideals in the hope of another 20 years of black death metal.

Thulcandra is turning 20 this year, and now that the new album is finally released, I think we can consider this a nice way to celebrate the band's 20th anniversary. Have there been any plans in the future to make a worldwide tour in order to celebrate 20 years of existence?

We are very selective when it comes to touring and performing concerts. There are plans to celebrate our 20 year anniversary with Napalm Records and a special release later this year. We work on a North American tour for early 2024, but anything else has been laid out as of now.

Thank you so much for doing this interview, Steffen! I wish you great success to you and Thulcandra for many years ahead of you. Are there any final words you'd like to leave to your fans?

Thank you for supporting Thulcandra for many years, just go on spreading the word and see you soon.

Entered: 6/15/2023 8:53:54 AM

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