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Darkest Era
Darkest Era have been rather busy as of late. There has been a great deal of touring, writing, and recording since 2011’s debut full-length The Last Caress of Light. Having parted ways with Metal Blade Records, the Folk Metal five-piece find themselves working with Cruz del Sur Music to unleash their anxiously awaited follow-up album, Severance. I was given the chance to do an e-mail interview with the group, and it was guitarist Ade Mulgrew who got back to me about the album, working with Cruz del Sur Music, and touring plans.

First of all, Darkest Era went through a bit of a line-up change recently. David and Lisa recently left, but the band gained Daniel O’Toole and Cameron Ã…hslund-Glass. How did Darkest Era pick those two up?

Ade:
Putting the word out locally and hunting them down, really. Krum knew Daniel so there was already a connection there, and Cameron responded to our ad and did a really killer audition. The scene here is quite small so everyone tends to know each other. We were lucky to get two really great musicians, without having to search high and low for years or whatever.

I read Daniel was picked up sometime in 2012, while Cameron was this year. Did either of them contribute during the writing phase of Severance, and did either happen to be present during the recording phase?

Ade:
They were a few months apart really, Cameron came on board around March 2013. Daniel came into the band right in the middle of the songwriting process so he didn’t bring any material the table, however he did write his own bass parts and contribute to discussions on arrangements, for example. We had finished the album when Lisa left, and then we drafted in Cameron. We’re very much looking forward to writing as a band with the two new guys.

Have these new members kind of changed the band’s dynamics at all, such as allowing the band to explore its musical direction or consider trying new things?

Ade:
Well as I said we haven’t written anything with this lineup yet, bar jamming on a few things before rehearsal. The dynamic in the band always changes with new people but we’re pretty much all on the same page for the first time. The next writing sessions will be interesting, Cameron in particular is a very capable drummer who has an amazing grasp of heavy metal drumming and a good feel, which is what we needed I feel so personally I’m excited about that.

Speaking of new things, Severance was recorded at Data Recording Studios with producer Chris Fielding. Have you worked there and/or with him before, or is this a new thing?

Ade:
Chris did our first album as well, altough this was at his ols studio in Wales. He had left that studio and was in the process of setting up in London. We really wanted to work with him, but didn’t want to do it in London – and also his studio wasn’t finished anyway so we flew him to Data Studios, a great studio in a very isolated corner of south west Ireland. It was a great move as he knew exactly what we wanted to achieve in terms of production, and he works late into the night which really suits us too.

Did Darkest Era happen to try anything new or different in the studio while recording Severance?

Ade:
Compared to the first album, we wanted a slightly different guitar and drum sound. We recorded the drums in a huge live room which gave them a very warm, natural tone. Guitar wise, we used one rhythm track each this time instead of two. This stripped back approach actually made things sound heavier and grittier. Some of the nuances can get lost with multitracking but you can really hear the bite of the overdrive on this one.

What was the writing phase like for Severance, and how long did it take to compose the material for the album given the sudden changes within the group?

Ade:
Given the turmoil the band was in during the run up to this album, it was difficult to get a focussed period of writing, not least because we didn’t have a full line up. All in all the bulk of the material was written in about 10 or 11 weeks. It was a very intensive period of writing, we were working extremely hard but at the same time things were coming apart somewhat, Lisa was in the process of leaving the band. When we entered the studio we were most of the way there but there were still some vocal melodies, arrangements, solos and quite a few lyrics to finalise. It was the most intense creative period I’ve experienced so far.

Severance is clearly deeply rooted in Irish folklore, and I’m curious just what kind of tales or deeds Darkest Era happens to be covering this time around, or if this album might be some kind of conceptual release with a single overlapping story?

Ade:
Actually there is no specific aspect of folklore or mythology on this record. Lyrically there is a writing style which draws influence from folklore, in terms of the imagery used, and in the storytelling vibe of some of the songs but in general we aren’t retelling old stories or whatever. There is an earthy, dark, and melancholic air hanging over the music and lyrics which is linked to folkore, but the themes and ideas are our own.

Darkest Era’s last album The Last Caress of Light was released through Metal Blade Records, and now you’re on Cruz Del Sur Music for Severance. How did Darkest Era and Cruz Del Sur Music end up coming together for this release, and how different is it working with them as opposed to Metal Blade?

Ade:
Cruz Del Sur are a label that I have been familiar with for years, since I discovered bands like Argus, Pharaoh, Slough Feg etc. We did have our eye on them for a long time I must confess, Enrico got in touch when he heard we were searching for a label for album two and it went from there. Cruz Del Sur is a very well run label so some things remain the same to be honest; there is a great press coverage, the distribution is fantastic, they are wonderful to work with. And as it’s a smaller label you have much more attention coming from them. With Metal Blade we were one of so many bands releasing albums for them at a particular time, so we ended up getting lost in the roster somewhat. I can’t blame them, they have artists selling a lot of records for them so they are going to take priority of course, but I think we’re in the right place now.

There was a lyric video released for the first song off Severance titled “Sorrow’s Boundless Realm.” Why was this song chosen to lead the promotion of the album? Also, will we be seeing more songs released to promote Severance?

Ade:
It was the track that we felt was the perfect introduction to Severance; it’s heavy, catchy, celtic and infused with that signature might and melancholy. It’s also slightly different to the first album, particularly with the blackened drums so we wanted people to hear the progression.

I see Darkest Era has some shows lined up through United Kingdom towards the end of September. Are there any plans to hit the road prior to those dates, such as maybe some festival plans that are confirmed or in the works?

Ade:
Due to the way the album cycle has fallen we’ve missed this summers festivals but will be hitting a good few festivals next summer (and indeed some Spring festivals.) The UK tour looks like being the first of our shows for this album; it’s not far off now but we’re currently booking shows for after the tour and into the Spring.

How about any North America days? Have you played here before at all, or is coming over here kind of impossible at this point in time?

Ade:
Playing the US is something we would really, really love to do. We’ve got a lot of very supportive fans in the states and we want to play for as many of them as possible. It’s something we’ll hopefully do at some stage in the next few years; it’s very expensive for bands to get over to play, and there’s a lot of red tape. But any local promoters reading this who want to make it happen, get in touch. We’re ready and willing!

So what’s next for Darkest Era at this point?

Ade:
Touring our asses off, basically. We want to play to as many people as possible in as many places as possible. As well as this though we’re already thinking towards the next album. I can see us starting to pull ideas together towards the end of this year.

Is there anything else you would like to mention before I let you go?

Ade:
Metal never dies.

Thank you for your time. Take care!

Ade:
Thanks for the support.

Darkest Era: Severance
Darkest Era
Interview conducted thanks to Clawhammer PR.