INTERVIEW + SONG PREMIERE: German Atmospheric Black Metal Band Frigoris
Germany’s Frigoris left a strong impression with their sophomore effort ‘Wind’ back in 2013. What had started off as a pagan black metal had transitioned to a more atmospheric direction, resulting in lengthy arrangements that were able to build up to some stunning levels of cold yet inviting atmosphere. Three years later the group is back with their most ambitious effort yet. Titled ‘Nur ein Moment…’ this is the first of a two part concept album that explores the inner thoughts of a person on the verge of committing suicide. It’s a topic that’s perfectly suited to the chilling melodies and abrasiveness of black metal, and Frigoris delivers it in a truly captivating and thought provoking manner.
With ‘Nur ein Moment…’ set for release on August 25th from Hypnotic Dirge Records in both digipack CD and digital formats, today we’re excited to premiere the song Himeros. This is the second of six songs that make up the album, and it’s a perfect example of the strong songwriting that the group is capable of. Spread across nine minutes, the instrumentals start off with a softer acoustic intro that has a bit of a folk slant before launching into those familiar waves of distortion. Frigoris expands their layers slowly, allowing elements like somber clean singing and softer introspective breaks to break up the wall of abrasive screams and soaring guitar leads. While the style they’re pulling from is familiar, the way that everything comes together proves that this is a band at the top of their game. When this song reaches its multiple climaxes and the guitars dance over your head with melodies that are absolutely breathtaking, this is a sign of atmospheric black metal done right. Himeros focuses on the protagonist’s encounter with yearning, and while the lyrics are in German the instrumentation still provides plenty of thought provoking moments for you to reflect upon.
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Frigoris has pushed themselves to new heights, and ‘Nur ein Moment…’ is a strong contender for one of the best atmospheric black metal albums to come out in 2016. Take some time to soak in every element of Himeros as you read an interview with band lead Dominik Winter below, who provides some additional insight on the album and its creation. ‘Nur ein Moment…’ will be out on digipack CD and digital formats August 25th on Hypnotic Dirge, pre-order links are below.
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Transcending Obscurity (Chris Dahlberg): Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions. Your new full length ‘Nur ein Moment…’ comes nearly three years after ‘Wind’, and it sounds like you spent the majority of last year working on the recording. How long have these songs been at the works and how did they transform from their early concepts to their finished versions?
Frigoris (Dominik Winter): Thanks for having us here!
Some of the songs originate from a time before ‘Wind’ like the rhythm guitars of Et in Acardia Ego where I was not able to complete the song in a satisfying way at that stage of my songwriting skills. Others where finished in nearly one go like Station of which just the first melody was in my head for a longer time. So the way the songs were written differs quite a bit but in general I try to write longer pieces of a song in one session to have a cohesive feeling. Sometimes it fits right from the beginning but more often I pull it apart again and use just one or two fragments in later sessions. In this manner the songs where already finished in late 2014 and gained a last bit of refining – mainly in the drums – in the rehearsal room with the full band before the studio.
TO: You mentioned in a prior interview that ‘Wind’ was your first experience recording in a professional studio. Having been through that process once already, what lessons did you learn and did you take any different approaches when beginning the sessions for ‘Nur ein Moment…’?
Frigoris: We changed quite a bit this time. On the last record I did most of the recordings alone – except for the drums – but this time everyone was in the studio and contributed their parts. Additionally we did not mix and master the album where it was recorded and worked with different technicians to find the best possible sound for the material. Although we were satisfied with the mix of ‘Wind’ we felt it was necessary to try a different approach with the new material. It turned out to be very time consuming but we are happy with this way we chose.
TO: Daniel Heyn, who has done live mixing for bands like Secrets of the Moon and Primordial, worked with you for the mix and master of the album. What input did he have and how do you feel his contributions made the finished record better?
Frigoris: Daniel contributed a lot to the sound of the album. We had a few own ideas and rough mixes from other technicians but Daniel elevated the sound to a new level and we were able to work very closely with him on the mix. It was a great experience and we are very happy with the result.
TO: This is the first Frigoris album to feature Maximilian Stiefermann in the lineup, and in addition to his bass work he also contributed cello and some backing vocals. How did he become a part of the band? I really like the cello melody on Et in Arcadia Ego as it’s a definite highlight of that song.
Frigoris: Maximilian already played with Pelle and me on our other project Caradras and helped us a few times as a session musician so he naturally was our first choice when we were in need of a new bass player. As he is a classical musician his clean vocals and cello play were of course a great addition to the line-up and opened new opportunities in the song writing for me. I always planned to return to some clean vocal passages but was never really satisfied with my own voice so it came in very handy that Max could contribute some and the cello is just a beautiful instrument and will definitely be feature more often in the future.
TO: ‘Nur ein Moment…’ is the first of a two-part concept album dealing with a protagonist’s inner journey in the moments before he tries to commit suicide. The narrative is laid out through dialogue and self-reflections that flows seamlessly. How long did it take for the narrative structure on the album to come together, and what made you decide to tackle this particular topic?
Frigoris: The general sketch of the concept was outlined quite early in the development of ‘Nur ein Moment…’ and the idea was already in my head before the release of ‘Wind’. It was more difficult and time consuming to write music that fit the lyrics while still maintaining enough freedom in the process that is necessary for good and interesting music. It turned out to be satisfying but exhausting work and was a permanent struggle during the development. The choice of topic is a very personal one and accompanies me since the later stages of work for ‘Nach dem Krieg…’ as a friend of mine committed suicide in a similar way at that time. This concept is a very elaborate contention and is also a means to come to terms with it for me personally.
TO: Himeros and Trúwen lay out the protagonist’s encounter with trust and yearning. Based on the narrative structure which describes them as Himeros and Fides, can this be interpreted as an encounter with the god/goddesses of the same name on this self-reflective train ride?
Frigoris: As the gods of the old pantheons were very often personifications of distinct feelings, concepts, morals, etc. it was a natural choice to use them as bearers of my own messages and partners in contention. The journey is quite unreal and so are the people the protagonist meets but they reflect the needs and wishes of persons or groups of persons the protagonist might leave behind. So it is not a direct encounter with the gods but a more metaphorical and personified representation of those feelings.
TO: The second album of the concept, ‘…in Stille’, is already in the works. The info sheet that came with ‘Nur ein Moment…’ describes it as focusing on the negative aspects of these actions and tries to convince the protagonist of a different outcome. It sounds like the narrative concept is pretty far along at this point, how far into the rest of the writing process are you? Will the instrumentation take an even darker tone in this second half?
Frigoris: The general concept of both albums was finished very early because originally it was planned to release the whole concept on one album. The songs and outlines of the finished lyrics turned out much longer and elaborate than anticipated and so we decided to split the album in two. I wouldn’t say that the new material that is already in the making will be darker but more focusing on a melancholic hope as well as a few experiments on the outer rings of our musical range. A few demos are already finished but it will still take a lot of time.
TO: Sascha Voß painted the cover artwork, which I think ties in perfectly to the lyrical content. How did Frigoris’ collaboration with Sascha Voß come about, and how does it tie in to your overall vision for the album?
Frigoris: Actually the cover itself was painted by Sarah Wiedow. Sascha Voß took the picture and enhanced the atmosphere with his rework and especially with the rest of his great artwork for the release. Although my lyrics often reflect themes from nature, Frigoris is a band from the ruhr-area – a big industrial cluster of cities. This heritage always played a big role for me and the blending of nature and industry is reflected for the first time on ‘Nur ein Moment…’ in lyrics and artwork and will probably play a larger role in the future. Sarah and Sascha did a great job with it and it was a good choice to go back to work with Sascha. He already did our last shirt design – and our new ones as well – so we were already familiar with him but originally we engaged with him because of his great designs for Red Apollo.
TO: ‘Nur ein Moment…’ is your second release with Hypnotic Dirge Records. What elements have led to this continued collaboration, and how do you feel the label and band have helped each other grow?
Frigoris: Nick did a great job on the release of ‘Wind’ and we really felt like he cared for our best. He leaves us all the freedom we need and is eager to help where he can which is very important for us. Additionally through the fact that Hypnotic Dirge Records is a Canadian label we have a better access to North American fans which allows us to reach more people there. On the other hand we are one of the few Central European acts of Hypnotic Dirge and so we help Nick to grow his influence around here. I think this arrangement is quite beneficial for both of us and we trust Nick fully to give us as much support as possible.
TO: There was talk last year about the possibility of a ‘Wind’ vinyl release. Is that still something that may happen at some point?
Frigoris: Unfortunately due to a few complications this is postponed for now. The partner we wanted to work with let us down but the plan still remains and we are still searching for a possibility to make a vinyl release of ‘Wind’ and of ‘Nur ein Moment…’ happen.
TO: You played several shows during the first few months of the year, and it looks like since that time you’ve been focused on the completion of the album. Will you be returning to the stage for more performances later this year?
Frigoris: Yes we will. We love playing live shows and are planning a few special shows for the end of the year and want to play more regularly again next year.
This concept is a very elaborate contention and is also a means to come to terms with it for me personally
TO: Germany has some stunning melodic/atmospheric black metal bands, yourselves included. I had the chance to see Waldgeflüster live earlier in the year here in the U.S. and they blew me away). Why do you think Germany in particular is able to foster talent for this particular type of black metal?
Frigoris: I think one of the more important factors is that we have a very large club culture around here that is willing to support smaller acts. Nearly every bigger city has a real club where it is possible to organize shows for a small amount of rent and so playing live is much easier as it is in other countries – as far as I can tell with my limited experience.
We also experience very close and friendly contacts with other atmospheric black metal bands and I guess this close contact also fosters mutual inspiration and enhances the quality and range of this type of music.
TO: Is there anything else you’d like to say about ‘Nur ein Moment…’ or Frigoris?
Frigoris: I’d like to thank all of our fans that supported us so far on our road. ‘Nur ein Moment…’ is very dear to me and I hope that it will be appealing to you as well and hope for your further support in the future. Without you it wouldn’t have been possible to come so far!
Frigoris | Hypnotic Dirge Records