Translation: Dope Fiend
Ziu - Bass
Arganar - Drums
Dornaz - Guitars
Agalaz - Vocals
Cortez - Guitars
Obscurity are a German band with a combative aura, we wrote about their two latest releases, "Tenkterra" and "Obscurity", and now we'll try to know them better.
Welcome on Aristocrazia Webzine, how are you? Some good events in this first half of 2013?
Ziu: Hi there, we're doing very fine here and I hope you guys are doing well, too. The first half of 2013 plus the two months of 2012 since the release of our latest album "Obscurity" were quite a ride so far. With the release date we went on a Europe tour (with Kampfar, Helrunar and Velnias) which was very exciting and successful for every touring party. We had quite a couple of great festival shows, like the Ragnarök festival in april 2013, just to name one. We played a special show with a set list full of selected songs we rarely played in last few years, plus some guest vocalists and a big pyro-technics show. Furthermore we are yet, almost eight months after the release date, still very busy with interviews and promotion stuff. That's quite unusual and shows that we delivered a fine piece of Heavy Metal work. The attention is still high and that gives us great opportunities.
Let's start talking about who are Obscurity: why the choice of this monicker and what were the milestones as a band?
Obscurity is a bunch of five metal fans from Velbert near Cologne in Germany. We are leaving our foot prints in Metal for over fifteen years. When we started, we wanted to deliver our very own part to the music we love so much: Heavy Metal. We play a mix of Death/Black Metal with lyrics often about ancient times and events. Back in 1997 we choose Obscurity as our monicker because the name reflects our music perfectly, not Black Metal and not just Death Metal... it's something in between like the twilight or one can say Obscurity. About the milestones of our career I can tell each of our six albums ("Bergisch Land", "Thurisaz", "Schlachten & Legenden", "Várar", "Tenkterra" and "Obscurity"), as well as the both demos are something of milestones to us. Each of the albums represents us and Obscurity at a very special point. Our Europe Tours especially the one in 2003 and the latest in 2012 are definitely milestones. The tour in 2003 was very very hard and intensive and the tour in 2012 was a blast right from the beginning and attested that we are able to captivated metal fans all over Europe. There are so many Festival and concert shows which we will always remember, like the Ultima Ratio Festival in 2008 where four thousand metalheads shout "Obscurity" for about half an hour just to get us earlier on stage and that at midday. That proved, having the start slot of a festival isn't always a bad thing, hehe. The both Ragnarök Festivals with the pyro-technics show are unforgettable. But the most precious moments are the events with fans when you have real and interesting conversations from which you can learn and grow. The exchange with fans, metal brothers and sister and other bands from all around the world is very very important to us.
Before the review of the two works above mentioned I have listened to "Thurisaz" and "Várar". I always thought you are a coherent band, but I noticed a kind of more pronounced tendency toward the melodies and even a predisposition to the groove rather than the most extreme parts, what has changed over the years that has led you to walk this path?
Well, in over fifteen years of creating music we achieved some musical advancement, luckily, hehe. Between "Thurisaz" and "Várar" we had the album "Schlachten & Legenden" which marks the point where we found our actual music style. While "Thurisaz" was more or less a Black Metal album with some Death Metal elements, the following albums became the Battle Metal mix we play nowadays. If one would own all of our records it's quite obvious that we managed to increase the quality of our music/sound and lyrics on each album. Furthermore our music developed during the first three albums from being Black Metal with Death Metal influences over Black/Death Metal to the mix of Death Metal with heavy Black Metal and some more Traditional/Thrash Metal influences. That's quite a ride and doesn't allow one to put Obscurity into a stereotype genre. We made the experience that we reach Metalheads from all Metal genres and even from the very first days we called our music "Battle Metal" because we think this describes our music the best, as well as our lyrics and in conclusion everything what's Obscurity standing for. Now we have a good band width of musical abilities varying from Black Metal to Death Metal and a solid sound in which we arrange our songs and albums. Sometimes we are getting closer to Black Metal and sometimes we have more Death Metal elements... or if you want, our music is more based on melodies and groove and sometimes it's more raw and brutal. It's a natural development and not a planned structure.
How does your songs born and how do you choose the most suitable lyrics?
We still create songs in our rehearsal room. We just jam there and try some things until we get some stuff that sounds good enough to get further arrangement and refinement. Sometimes Agalaz and I have already some stories or lyrical elements in mind and if a songs turns out to be a perfect base for those ideas we merge lyrics and music until we get the best fitting mix. But then again there are songs which scream for a very own story. I remember the song called "Nordmänner" on the "Várar" album. That was one of the first finished songs in the songwriting process and I had no lyrics which suited this song but while arranging I was immediately drawn into a Viking adventure. "Nordmänner" had to get a Viking story about long-ships and the old northmen.
In these last years there has been a lot of bands that engage themselves in Viking and Folk sounds, what is in your opinion the reason for this trend?
Well, I don't really know. Maybe it's just because it works and for the last ten years there was a lot of potential interest and listeners in the metal community.
Can you explain us, in your own words, what is identified with the "Viking" tag? It seems strange, but there's always a lot of confusion about the belonging to this style: how we should recognize this bands? Maybe the labels play too much with these tags?
Viking Metal can have almost every metallic sound garment, as long as it's lyrics are mainly focused on northern mythology and the Viking history. But well, it's really confusing nowadays, there has been too much stuff labeled with this tag. Just take the other tags pagan and heathen and folk metal... do you really can define those genres? From my point of view, Heathen and Pagan Metal is quite the same. Both of them should have mainly heathen lyrics dealing with topics from a certain heathen point of view. Folk Metal does have lyrics about traditions and cultural mannerisms. Religion is only an under part. The music of Heathen/Pagan Metal can vary from Black, Death to other not that extreme Metal. Occasional "non-classical" Rock/Metal instruments are allowed whereas in Folk Metal flutes, bagpipes and ancient instruments are vital parts of the music. Well, that's just my humble opinion but we have blurred boundaries here and I'm sure there are plenty of metalheads who have different views. As far as it concerns the music and lyric style of Obscurity, we always had the problem that one cannot really put us in a certain genre. Therefore we call our "style" since our very first days, Battle Metal. It's a mix of Black and Death Metal with some Thrash influences. Sometimes we have songs tending more to Black Metal and others more to Death Metal but it's still a good and more or less balanced mix on our albums. Our latest album "Obscurity" is a perfect example. Our lyrical scope ranges from normal topics, for example about the daily struggles in life, over heathen topics and historical events to overall bellicose topics. We come up with the traditional metal instruments, two guitars, bass and drums and vocals which can be regarded as additional instrument. We don't have any fancy instruments like I mentioned above. That's quite suffice to blow one's ears, hehe. That is just a small excerpt of our musical and lyrical "style". If you are already as confused as I am and you don't know in which genre you might put us, well then you know why we play Battle Metal.
Faith has always been an important step in human evolution, over the centuries the Christian imposition and the Islamic pressure have bring us in a world of constant wars intersected with the conflicts created by political and economic reasons. Umanity never learn from his past mistakes?
I worry that humanity isn't able to learn enough from the world's history to advance towards a tolerant community with enough spare room for different cultures without a big blow not leaving any other choice. The fear of the unknown and intolerance is too widespread. Most people just live in the present, which isn't false for a single private life. But if it comes to politics on a certain level we all have the responsibility to keep the past in mind, just to prevent critical recurrences. But as I'm a positive thinking person, I hope we'll make it! Maybe Aliens will visit us and give us the mandatory wisdom, hehe.
One of the words that "secularly" bouncing off the metalheads mouths is "scene", how is the German one? It's a compact movement, there are more sides, it is fragmented or...?
We have some fragments, but largely it's a quite compact community. Let's take the festivals as examples. There are festivals with just Death Metal bands or just Black Metal or Pagan Metal bands and Thrash Metal and so on. You will find there more or less just Black Metal fans and so on. On the other hand we have a lot of mixed genre festivals where everyone comes together as a big Metal community. If I take the Metal clubs in our area... the visitors are always mixed. So I think we have a good compact movement with enough spare room for the subgenres. The world could learn from the metalheads all over the world!
How did your passion for metal music born and what were the albums that led you think: "this is what I want to play"?
My personal passion for Metal began with two alleged audio dramas my father bought me at the age of ten. Well, my father thought those two tapes where audio dramas but they turned out to be albums of AC/DC and Accept on tape. From that day on one could hear Heavy Metal coming out of my chamber instead of audio drama sounds for children, hehe. So I was made for loving Heavy Metal at the age of ten.
If I ask to you the five albums that a fan of the genre should definitely possess, on which ones would fall your choice and why?
Bathory: "Blood Fire Death" or "Hammerheart"; Unleashed: "Across The Open Sea" or "Shadows In The Deep"; Amon Amarth: "Twilight Of The Thunder God" or "Once Sent From The Golden Hall"; Primordial: "To The Nameless Dead" or "The Gathering Wilderness". And my special faves: Suidakra's "The Arcanum",Helrunar's "Sól" (I and II), Adorned Brood's "Asgard"... and one or two Obscurity albums, hehe!
How are going your live shows? There are some scheduled dates and/or summer festivals where we could cross Obscurity?
We would like to play in Italy again. The show in Milano on our Europe tour with Kampfar, Helrunar and Velnias in 2012 was real blast, especially since we have a lot of friends and supporters in northern Italy. We have already some more dates in the German speaking corner of Europe and some more in the pipeline which I cannot talk about right now. I can tell you that we are seriously thinking and talking about another Europe Tour in late 2013. Let's see what the near future will be up to. I'm confident, hehe.
Can you tell us some anecdote you have lived on tour?
Besides a confrontation with greedy French custom officials which wanted a nice bribery to let us continue our trip to Milano and three bus breakdowns which could have let to lethal accidents (I overslept all of them and could have died without noticing) there are some more anecdotes I cannot tell here because there are some people of the touring party who would kill me instantly. I survived three bus breakdowns and I don't want to take that risk anymore, hehe.
There was a night that you remember as a great one and a night that, instead, you remember as a bad one?
I can say only for myself that the great experiences outweight the bad ones by far in terms of quantity and quality. Therefore I have way more great experiences in mind rather than bad ones. But I think same goes for my bandmates, as we are all positive thinking guys.
As beholder what is the most beautiful live you saw? Which one did you particularly excited and why?
That's maybe the reunion show of Iron Maiden in Essen, a city in our area. That show was so full of energy and was so professional in every aspect. Just wonderful music and great entertainment!
Have you already begun the songwriting for the next album? There will be news in the short time?
Yes, we slowly start songwriting. We are working on a first song but very busy with live shows also. I think we have earned to harvest the fruits of our labor from the "Obscurity" album. We will increase our songwriting efforts in some months again and then you'll get some more news, of course.
Have you ever been in Italy to play live? What do you know about our country?
Yes, as I already mentioned we had a show in Milano during our Europe Tour in 2012. The most of us have already made some trips to Italy and spent their holidays in your beautiful country. I think we know quite a lot about Italy and its history since we are generally quite interested in history. If you know some of the German history and I don't necessarily mean only the last hundred years, you always learn some things about Italy as well, as the history of both countries are quite often very close or connected. In fact we have adopted stories concerning German/Italian history, as lyrics in our songs. As far as it concerns the Italian Metal scene, we have some friends and supporters in northern Italy and since we have played in Milano I can say that you are bunch of very passionate Metalheads. We would love to play more shows in Italy, definitely.
We are at the end of our coversation, thank you for your time and, making you a big good luck for the future, I leave you one last time the word for a message or a simple greeting to our readers.
I have to thank you. It was a pleasure and an honor, my friend. Take care and Metal on, to all of you Italian Metalheads! I hope you didn't fall asleep during the interview, hehe. We'll see us on the road or at this very place again with the next album!