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Interview with Darkest Era

Irish Celtic/folk metal band Darkest Era recently released "The Last Caress of Light" on Metal Blade Records. Guitarist Ade, spoke with Metal Ship about the music behind this album and his social life.

Metalship : Can you tell us a bit about yourself, like what hobbies you have as well as playing your music?

When I'm not playing with my hard rocking band or traveling around Europe on cheap beer weekends, I work in culture in arts and run a production company called Fastville. Music is my main passion, I have the odd other thing going on like sound tracking/short film scores and so on. Whatever keeps me entertained in between gigs!

Metalship : Tell us what you play in the band?

I play guitar. I am forbidden to touch the drums or go near the microphone.

Metalship : What was the first guitar you owned, and what guitar do you play now?

It was a Commodore Strat copy, a blue one. I still have it and would never sell it. It was pretty rubbish, just your bog, standard-entry-level Strat, but I have a lot of sentimentality for these things. I played it through a wee Kustom 10watt. It only had one decent setting, which I thought sounded like Black Sabbath so I was happy. I play a Les Paul standard, with an unfinished flame top and zebra PAF Joes. I absolutely love it; it is a KILLER sounding guitar. The only better sounding guitar I've heard it Sarah's Les Paul, which is from the '70s and weighs the same as Jeremy Clarkson's denim collection.

Metalship : Have you ever been in any other metal bands before doing Darkest Era?

Just a pub covers band, with Krum. We threw some metal in there but it was mostly rock standards. Then we formed Nemesis when I was 16, which became Darkest Era.

Metalship : Can you play any other musical instruments?

I am doing my best to learn piano and the concertina. I play a bit of bodhran, which is a traditional Irish drum. There's a lot of musical things I want to do, but it's just a case of finding the time right now.

Metalship : Which guitarists inspired you as a child?

Slash, definitely. He was just the coolest looking fucker and made be want to be in a band. Dave Murray, particularly his legato style. I was also into Rory Gallgher, Gorham/Roberton of Thin Lizzy, and tons of others, but I was certainly more into melodious playing. Mindless widdling never interested me.

Metalship : Who chose the name Darkest Era, and why choose that name?

I can't remember exactly but it was basically chosen because it summed up the kind of tone and imagery of the newer songs we were writing at the time. Also, it was much more original than "Nemesis", which has been used by a ton of bands before.

Metalship : When did Darkest Era form and how did you guys meet up?

We formed in 2005, and all met through school and school friends. As I said myself and Krum had played together in a pub covers band. We decided we wanted to form a metal band so we got DJ and Sarah and our original drummer quite quickly. It was very exciting in the beginning, I was very happy to finally be playing metal with other musicians.

Metalship : What metal sub genre would you class yourself as and why?

I don't like to pigeon-hole because there are many aspects of our sound. I think one aspect of our music appeals to fans of folk metal, pagan metal, heavy metal, doom metal. It is difficult enough to classify; we would just call ourselves epic Celtic metal. Or simply, heavy metal! For that is the spirit of the music.

Metalship : What would you say are the main influences of Darkest Era?

Iron Maiden, Thin Lizzy, NWOBHM, Viking-era Bathory, U.S. metal such as Warlord, Irish traditional music, folk music in general, Slough Feg, folklore, literature and old poetry. Each of us have our own individual influences, but there are a few that tie everything together.

Metalship : I would say you have a lot of long songs on the album. Why did you choose to have these long songs?

It's not a conscious decision, we don't intentionally want to make long songs. With the style of music we write, for the narrative at atmosphere to develop properly you can't do it in three minutes generally without it sounding rushed or forced. The songs flow naturally and although we have shorter songs on the album, most of them take a little more breathing space. I think it works though, anyone who really gets the album agrees that the closing track, which is about 11 minutes, flows in a way that it doesn't seem long at all. It's just whatever works for the music. "Lost in Acropolis" by Manilla Road is perfect at three minutes or however long it is. Similarly, you wouldn't listen to Mozart's "40th Symphony" and after ten minutes go "Fucking hell he should wind it up soon"

Metalship : If you could open for anyone dead or famous who would it be and why?

Iron Maiden, easily; just because they are my favourite band of all time, so I could share the stage with them and watch them every night too. Or else Showaddywaddy. Just so I could say "I'm off on your with...Showaddywaddy!"

Metalship : What releases or gigs are you looking forward to in 2011?

Iron Maiden in Belfast in August (noticing a pattern yet?) Also looking forward to My Dying Bride in Belfast in May and Hellfest in June. I've been to the last two and it's a cracking festival.

Metalship : 14. What is your favourite song to play live and why

Personally, at the moment it's probably the title track, "The Last Caress of Light Before the Dark" mainly because I think it has a really strong main riff. It changes quite a bit and it's a definite challenge to play as well. It pushes us as musicians, and has a nice climactic vocal hook, so I think it's a lot of fun to play.

Metalship : How long did it take for "The last Caress of Light" to come together?

We wrote most of the album between January and August 2010, however we also had two songs from the "Journey Through Damnation" EP, so basically, we wrote six songs in that time. We had a kind of vision for the album for quite some time though, so we'd been working towards it for a long while, and it was great to see it finally some to fruition.

Metalship : Who designed the front cover for the album? And how did you come up with the idea?

It was an Irish artist called Paul McCarroll. The idea is basically taken from the opening line of the opening song: "Goddess of War, Serpent of Doom." We thrashed out ideas for a time until we came to an image of a spiraling serpent, and we went from there. It basically depicts the Morrigan, Celtic goddess of war, in a transition between human form and serpent form. It manages to sum up the tone and themes of the album while also looking pretty damn metal.

Metalship : 17. Finally, can we be expecting a full UK to promote the new album any time soon?

Yes we are working on that at the moment; we will be playing a few one-off shows over the summer, but we hope to announce some UK and European tours for the winter before long. Keep an eye on our Facebook and for details!

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added by The Dark Lord, on March 16, 2011 for Metalship


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