Forest Of Shadows - Interview
Forest of Shadows: a band that seems to have finally reared its head to the metal public. Fortunately for us they seem to be making a permanent reservation here. Through countless promotion sampler CDs and no label support, Rage of Achilles broke the trend and signed Forest of Shadows and released their MCD "Where Dreams turn to Dust". Encompassing a huge spectrum of flavors from the metal smorgasbord, they are now a band impossible to tag. I had the pleasure of mailing Niclas, Forest of Shadows founder, vocalist, guitarist, and keyboardist in regards to the project and their upcoming full length album.
Nicke, could you first tell the viewers of this interview a bit about Forest of Shadows and the early time of you starting out?
Forest of Shadows was founded by me as a solo-project back in 1997. In May 1998 the first demo "The Silent Cry" was released and some weeks after that, multi-instrumentalist Micce Andersson joined the band. We released a teaser of our "new sound" in 1999 titled "Promotion-CD 1999" and it gained quite good criticism so we decided to start rehearsing and seeking some new members for a live setting. In autumn of 1999, Martin Claesson joined on guitar and the three of us, plus some session-members did two gigs in 2000 before Martin left the band. Micce and I decided to go for the studio-band thing for a while since we weren't all too satisfied with our live performances. During the time as a "live band" we released the teaser "Promotion-CD 2000" and wrote the material for the upcoming demo "Where Dreams Turn to Dust" which we released in the autumn of 2000. Some month after this release we inked a deal with the new label Molded Skull who were to release our demo as a MCD. But things didn't go as planned for the label and in April 2001 they wrote and recommended us to find another label. So we did and ended up with Rage of Achilles (the new promise among labels) and they released our MCD "Where Dreams Turn to Dust" on the 29th of October 2001 and that's pretty much where we are right now...
Why metal? Why not pop or grunge? Is there anything specifically particular that attracted you to metal?
The main reason why Forest of Shadows became a metal-band is that metal was more or less the only genre that mattered to me when I founded the band back in 1997. The most important thing about Forest of Shadows being a metal band is the creative freedom which, of course has limitations but still makes it possible to develop a quite original and personal sound without too much effort. Since Micce joined in 1998 we have developed our sound more and more away from standardized doom-metal, towards some kind of utopian Forest of Shadows-sound. Where we are right now, metal is more of a founding layer and a powerful way of expressing something that might as well be pop, ambient or whatever.
Forest of Shadows covers a vast musical spectrum and is impossible to define within an existing genre of metal, are you happy with that?
Personally I'm very happy with that. There are both good and bad sides about having a genre tagged to your music. The good thing is that you get a lot of easy promotion, which can be quite handy. I mean if you get to know about a band that sound like one of your favorites, then you'll probably check that band out. The bad thing is that people don't listen to what the music really has to offer, provided that it has something to offer.
With the countless musician changes that Forest of Shadows have gone through it must have been an awful weight upon your shoulders to hold all Forest of Shadows responsibilities for a quite some of time. Any thoughts?
Well most of these people were just in the band for some weeks. The only person that's not in the band any more that really mattered is Martin Claesson. Being the founding-member I have had and still do have a lot of responsibility that Forest of Shadows stays on the "right path" and continues to represent that specific feeling that makes it Forest of Shadows. Since I'm not all that keen on dictatorship I try to share the responsibility as much as possible though.
With the release of the MCD "Where Dreams Turn to Dust", the press reaction was one of joy and excitement, were you happy with amount of support the MCD received?
I don't know if the MCD as such has gained that much support. The most important channel of promotion has been the songs on www.mp3.com without which we would never have reached as far as we have done. Maybe what the press wrote made people visit www.mp3.com but if that's the case then it's not just thanks to the MCD.
What can you tell us about the soon to be released album? You said it possesses the same style as music as "Where Dreams Turn to Dust", but a bit more 'well-done', care to elaborate at all?
Well most of the material that is to be used for the upcoming full-length was written during the "Where Dreams turn to Dust"-period, so in that sense it's quite similar to the MCD. One of the songs is actually taken from the very first demo as well. What I meant by more "well-done" is that this time we know that the stuff is to be released which we didn't when we recorded "When Dreams Turn to Dust", and thus it feels more motivated to put as much effort as possible in the process. It will also be more "well-done" since we have had plenty of time to really analyze the material and get into it in order to get the best out of it. Another important thing is that while the MCD was more or less written by me alone this album shows more of a cooperation between Micce and I.
On the new album, are there any album titles that you have brewing in your mind at the moment or is it still an open question?
We haven't even started to think about it so I would say it's a still an open question indeed.
Is the recording of the new album going well?
So far we have just been playing around with the material so we haven't really recorded anything that is to be used. But I would say that the entire process is going quite according to plans.
With influences from Katatonia and an excellent cover of 'Rainroom' do you draw you inspiration from the earlier Katatonia albums ("Dance of December Souls" and "Brave Murder Day") or more of the newer Katatonia albums ("Discourage Ones" and "Last Fair Deal Gone Down")?
Even though both Micce and I adore Katatonia and especially their legendary album "Brave Murder Day" we are far from trying to sound like them. The main influence we have got from them is their way of making simplistic and still VERY powerful music which is most evident on "Brave Murder Day". I think the "Brave Murder Day"-style is more suitable for Forest of Shadows than the newer stuff.
You must be so happy that Rage of Achilles signed you up. Are things working out OK as far as distribution and promotional activities? As I read in your biographical information that they have a real interest in Forest of Shadows and that must really make it easier for you in terms of creative directions.
When we were contacted by Rage of Achilles for the first time we didn't know anything about them apart from the fact that another band in which I play, Shubend, was signed to them as well. But soon they started to show up in a lot of zines and a lot of their bands received good reviews especially Cult of Luna, which is a band both me and Micce like a lot. Still the best thing about Rage of Achilles is that they care a lot about us and give us creative freedom. The only ones that seems to fuck up the process is the distributors, who are slow as hell, and I guess I can't blame Rage of Achilles for that. To conclude we are VERY happy with the fact that Rage of Achilles signed us.
What CDs are spinning in your CD player at the moment?
"A Fine Day To Exit" - Anathema, "Prometheus..." - Emperor, "Director's Cut" - Fantomas and "Dreadful Hours" - My Dying Bride.
The metal scene is one that is constantly fluctuating between trends. Mid to middle-late 90's there was the big jump of symphonic black metal bands. Late 90's and up until now there seems to be a large surge of melodic death metal. What are your thoughts on things and how they stand at the moment? Any predictions to how the metal scene in Europe will change?
There will always be trends in music and I don't see anything bad about it. It makes the trendy genre grow and most of the time it grows into something good. I believe that symphonic black metal is as big today as it has ever been. I would rather call it symphonic metal or something though because to me symphonic black metal is pretty far from true (tm) black metal like Mayhem, Darkthrone and Burzum. Well actually I don't care much for those labels anyway. Over to my predictions... hmm... well I think (and hope) a lot of bands will become more pretentious which means that there will be more "art-metal".
Being a My Dying Bride fan, and having a My Dying Bride influence in Forest of Shadows, are you happy My Dying Bride returned to the sound of "Turn Loose the Swans"? And what do you think of "The Dreadful Hours"?
Well in my opinion "The Angel and the Dark River" is almost as good as "Turn Loose the Swans" which means that I didn't really mind weather they returned to their roots or not. In my opinion they never really left their path apart from on "34.788%..." which in my opinion doesn't really represent what My Dying Bride should be about even though it's a good album. About "The Dreadful Hours" then... well I like it a lot especially since it shows a couple of new directions that are quite interesting.
Which band would you most like to tour with, and why?
If we start playing live again we will try and do something different and not just play... it will probably be more of an art thing or something. Anyway, if that is the case then the other bands we tour with need to fit in such an arrangement and the only band that I can up with right now that fit are Shape of Despair.
Has press promotion (like www.metalbite.com) helped much with Forest of Shadows or more www.mp3.com?
There is a big difference between how mp3.com and the press promote us. The amount of promotion we get from the press depends on what the press writes while mp3.com is more connected to the music since they do promotion by playing our music, www.mp3.com has helped us more than we ever could dream of. I mean there were days when we had about 1000 downloads/day and judging from the huge amount of fan-mails we have received at least some of those who downloaded the songs loved what they heard. Still a very good review in a huge zine could easily beat 1000 downloads/day since most people are enslaved by what others think. And finally I wouldn't mind getting more reviews like the one you did :).
Where do you see Forest of Shadows five years down the track?
Forest of Shadows will definitely exist in five years but I have no clue what we will sound like or who will be involved apart from me.
Finally, I thank you very much Nicke for this interview and Forest of Shadows for their excellent metal music. Would you like to say anything to anyone specifically or generally?
And I thank you Jack for a great interview (and a great review as well) and I would like to tell everyone to check out our MCD "Where Dreams Turn to Dust" which is out now and finally I would, on behalf of Forest of Shadows, like to thank everyone that has supported us and downloaded our songs from mp3.com. THANKS A LOT!!!
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