Forgotten Woods has historically been revered as one of the best black metal bands in what most would consider the “second wave.” It’s been 23 years since they recorded their As the Wolves Gather & Sjel Av Natten releases in 1994, both considered important releases in the history of Norwegian black metal.
ATMF Records have finally reissued these recordings in a very special digipak CD format with a 24 page booklet. CD is limited to 600 copies.
This includes unreleased photos as well as an “early -days retrospective” and individual song notes by former member, Rune Veddas. The album is also available as a digital download.
Nevertheless, I had the distinct pleasure to do an email interview with the legendary Forgotten Woods. Enjoy. And, sorry for the formatting errors. For whatever reason, they couldn’t be corrected.
FW: When we started working on As The Wolves Gather, our musical tastes had developed greatly from almost exclusively listening to metal to enveloping most, or many rather, genres. I’m sure a lot of this would seep into our music and later on it most definitely did.
While I personally have always enjoyed bands like Christian Death, Joy Division, Bauhaus, early The Cure especially (and later The Cure to an extent) and others I don’t think the more death rock style (or whatever you wanna call it) style manifested in our music very much. Subconsciously perhaps.
There should always be a strive to be original. To cause chaos. If you play in what is basically a cover band, you might as well not play in a band at all. Or go all out and actually BE a cover band. If you go out of your way to sound like others, you’re pointless. Another useless band with nothing to offer.
That said, I’m sure more than a few think we sound like this-or-that band.
I think we individually got just as much influence through non musical things perhaps, but I can only speak for myself. I read an unholy amount of books of many varieties and I went out of my way to track down obscure (at the time at least) and dark movies. I especially enjoyed a lot of German movies like Angst, Schramm, the Nekromatik movies and so on. I still watch those on occasion with great pleasure.
I am unfortunately more unfamiliar with polish cinema, but you have your Knife In The Water (and most Polanski movies really) and more recently Ida that was enjoyable enough.
TNBS: It’s been 13 years since the original release of As the Wolves Gather. Why the decision to re-release it now through ATMF records? Is it because of the unauthorized release that No Colours did?
FW: No. It is more a case of having everything collected under the ATMF banner. ATMF is quite literally the only label we have dealt with that are fair and understanding concerning the artistic freedom of it’s bands and we are very pleased that they had a wish to re-release the old albums.
TNBS: 10 years have since passed since the release of your last album, Race of Cain. What have you guys been up to and is there ever a chance of another Forgotten Woods album?
FW: We are just making time go by on this earth. Nothing too special. When it’s time to do another Forgotten Woods album, it will happen. There is no rush or any pressure. Time is a vacuum and everything happens when it’s supposed to happen, in a year or in another ten years. I can assure you whenever something happens, it will not be a lesser experience than it was before.
TNBS: Also, along the line of the last question, according to Encyclopedia Metallum, Neige of the band Alcest is listed as “Vocals 2007-Present.” What’s been the involvement with him?
FW: Neige was scheduled to do the vocals on the album following immediately after Race Of Cain. This project fell through for many reasons, but mainly because we are a slow working bunch and life happened and all of a sudden we live in opposite corners of the world.
Anyway, yeah, somewhere along the way we lost contact. I still think he would be a perfect fit for the band and there is still an open spot. For now.
TNBS: I’d like to get thoughts from your perspective on bands from the “unblack” or “Christian black” movement. Do you feel that 1.) there is no room for these bands and they should pack up and go? Or 2.) live and let live?
FW: They are a non factor to me. I have never even heard any of these bands. They have no impact on my life and are therefore amazingly insignificant as they should be to everyone who takes these matters seriously. The easiest way to make something disappear, is to ignore it.
TNBS: Some of these bands may argue that the definition of the “black” part of black metal doesn’t necessarily have to do with Satan or evil, but rather an objective sense of dark and that there even were dark moments in Christianity. How do you feel about that and the true definition of this music from your point of view?
FW: You can argue anything; the earth is flat, the moon is made out of cheese and so on. Some things just are a certain way.
Like I said, it’s nothing. They are nothing. They are trying to encompass something they are not and they should embrace what they are instead of emulating something they’re not.
Of course, being Christians, denial is their main motivation for everything they do, so no surprises there.
Black Metal is chaos. The beastial nature of it’s performers and their indulgence in said nature. If you proclaim the opposite of that, it is not Black Metal.
TNBS: Can you take us back to the studio when you created As the Wolves Gather and give us an idea about your studio experience? That is, production-wise, what did you use for the effects which produced the end result; a unique and cold record for the time.
FW: It’s funny, because our producers on all our early works had zero knowledge of any metal, let alone Black Metal. They were taken aback by what sound we wanted and were not terribly excited about what producing this would do to the reputation of the studio (they mostly produced rock bands, the occasional pop artist and choirs of all things).
However, they soon enough understood where we were coming from and eventually seemed to embrace doing something completely different.
One of our producers (Reinhardt Toresen) even did quite a bit of vocal work for us as well as harmonica later on. They were always cool with us, even if we clashed here and there on specifics concerning the sound we wanted and minor things. They never interfered, but they certainly questioned. We paid, they complied.
I listened to As The Wolves Gather for the first time in many, many years recently for the re-releases and I was somewhat surprised about how well it has aged. It was the same with Sjel Av Natten actually.
Unlike many albums of the time, they don’t sound dated and I’m quite pleased with that.
TNBS: If Forgotten Woods did in fact do another record, do you think that you would try to re-create the coldness and feel of those early recordings or make use of today’s technology to get a cleaner sound? Also, would there be any difference regarding topics you’d write about?
FW: There is never a need to recreate anything we’ve done in the past. We are an ever evolving entity and as such we do not creatively immerse ourselves in past endeavors. Always looking forward, never to the past.
This was equally true with the older releases, but they were in such rapid concession that it was less noticable. When Race Of Cain was released, I guess people were somehow shocked that it didn’t sound like music we recorded in 1994 or something. Race Of Cain was Forgotten Woods in 2007. We evolve. Destroy and create.
Like I said, there is NEVER a need or want to sound like we used to sound. It will never happen. Whenever something happens with Forgotten Woods, it will not sound like As The Wolves Gather and it will not sound like Race Of Cain. It will however sound like Forgotten Woods, only at a later stage. Evolving, and with the spiteful snarl of someone who doesn’t care what others do, what people wants and certainly not what’s popular.
TNBS: Some artists are content with leaving early releases where they are-in the past and focus mostly on newer material. But As the Wolves Gather has managed to achieve a cult-like following in its place in black metal history. With the upcoming re-release, are you looking forward to that legacy continuing or are you happy with what you achieved as it is?
You have to understand, I am blissfully clueless about whatever ‘status’ these albums might have. Or don’t have. If people like it, that’s great, but if doesn’t affect us in any way. If people hates it, that’s fine too. It doesn’t affect us in any way.
For us it starts when we begin working on an album and ends when we have completed the album. We focus 100% on creating the exact album we wish to create. After that it’s on the label to spread it as they see fit. I don’t read reviews or seek to find out if people like our albums. That is other people’s business. Our work is done.
TNBS: What about any special features on the upcoming release, like formats or booklet presentation that the readers might be interested in?
FW: There’s a retrospective of sorts concerning the recordings of the albums and a song by song, more in-depth thing, concerning lyrics, the occasional anecdote and what not. That alongside some otherwise never before seen photos for instance. As The Wolves Gather/Sjel Av Natten will be released now and The Curse Of Mankind/demos will be released shortly.
It should also matter to your readers that it’ll be the only official releases out there.
TNBS: Last one… Many years from now, a distant relative locates a box hidden in an old house. Inside the box is a copy of As the Wolves Gather. What do you want them to know about your legacy, this album and what to say to anyone else interested?
Thanks for your time. Let me know if there are any special links you want in the review.
FW: I want them to bury that box and forget all about it.
No links, except for to ATMF and all of their glorious endeavors.
Thanks for the interview.