Dark Fortress interview with V. Santura
Interview by Caitlin Smith
Dark Fortress have long established themselves as one of the staples of the German black metal scene. Over their 20-year career span they have proved time and time again that they are never ready to settle, pushing their boundaries with every new release and performance. Finishing off the final dates touring the release of their latest album Venereal Dawn in London’s Underworld, Metal-Rules sit down with guitarist V. Santura to discuss the new album and their place in the black metal scene.
Obviously you are a black metal band, what does black metal mean to Dark Fortress?
Well first, black metal is in a way the musical expression with emotional emphasis.
How do you feel the scene has changed since you began?
I think in the last few years the scene became way more open and has broadened a lot and become way more international in a way. In the beginning of the 90s everything was focused on Scandinavia, mainly Norway obviously and nowadays I think people worldwide understand that black metal can basically come from any country or good quality black metal can come from any country. I think there’s a lot of space for experimental stuff in black metal and I think it’s a genre that has wide boundaries and you can do a lot of things and still be part of the genre.
Black metal sometimes has a reputation for being elitist, what is Dark Fortress’s take on the idea of true black metal?
Actually we don’t really give a shit. I don’t think that the trve, with a v, hardcore underground scene considers our band as true. I mean we do what we want and we are true towards ourselves and that’s what its about, it’s not about rules. Black metal was in the first place was supposed to break rules, and we don’t want to stick to our genre rules, we just want to stick to the genre that we want to play and that we feel is right for us.
What’s the black metal scene out in Germany like?
I think at the moment it’s quite vivid and a lot of different and good bands are coming up. That’s how I see it at the moment. I think the German scene became way stronger over the last few years. Like I said before, basically in the 90s everything was concentrated on Norway and Sweden and now it’s obvious that a bunch of really good bands are coming from Germany like Secrets of the Moon that are our touring partners. Ascension is another that got a lot of attention in the underground and there are a couple of other bands that have a good profile now internationally.
Tell us about Venereal Dawn. How does it differ from older work?
I think it basically is a Dark Fortress album as well and we did not break our style but to put it in a nutshell I think that scale of everything became bigger. The song lengths are relatively long which was not our main intention but its just like everything was a bit bigger than before.
Where did the name come from?
Its consciously a title that has some room for various interpretations like Venereal comes from Venus which is basically the planet which stands for love, but on the other hand its also like a completely like an apocalyptic place, no form of life would ever be possible on that planet. Also there’s that connotation of venereal diseases so in a way it has both things in the title, like a great shining aspect and a totally fucked up aspect. Both are in the story so that’s why we thought that’s a good title for the concept of the album.
Can you tell us about the story behind it?
The concept is really elaborate and its hard for me to put it into a few words but basically the light of the sun is cursed and there’s the idea of a planet that’s a very hostile environment for any form of life. It’s a bit about the question how would you deal with the consciousness that you are soon to be extinct and your whole kind is soon to be extinct. At the beginning its more descriptive but at a certain point it shifts more to the inside perspective of the protagonist who is going through a transformation. Due to all this horrible things happening to him he transforms into a greater being. You are forced to abandon everything that is important to you, how do you deal with it and how do you become something greater because of it.
Why a concept album?
Basically all our albums have been concept albums so far apart from Ylem our previous album. There we consciously did not make a concept album, every song is about something different so it’s just a collection of song. This time we had the feeling we could make it stronger as a complete piece of art if we have a lyrical concept that ties everything together. This is the way we prefer working it seems.
What comes next for Dark Fortress?
We just released the album obviously and we are doing a little tour and after that we’ll see. I would like to play another tour for the album for sure, this time as the support act for a really big band or something like that. I’m also already feeling creative again.
Yeah I think we should really do another album after that and hopefully not 4 years this time so that’s what we have in mind.
Is there anything you’d like to say to our readers?
I just hope that your readers enjoy the album, and I hope some of them will be here tonight and enjoy the concert.