Totengefluster is one of Germany’s premiere black metal exports blurring the lines between symphonic and pure black metal. They have just released their new album “The Faceless Divine” via Black Lion Records. We’d like to thank the band for their time in answering our interview.
What served as the primary inspiration for calling the album, “The Faceless Divine?”
Narbengrund Nihilis: Since this album has no concrete concept it was hard to find a fitting title for it. One day Totleben (guitar, orchestration, artwork) came up with a few ideas, including „faceless divine“ and we agreed, that this one reflects the music best. The „Faceless divine“ is a metaphor for death itself. It seems that Death has countless faces at the same time it has no face and each of our songs deals with death or loss in different ways… and since we’re Totengeflüster we have to whisper a bit about it, too, shouldn’t we? 😉
You have a bonus track on the album called “Entflamme Mich” which may be one of your most powerful yet. Can you talk about the meaning/background behind this track?
Narbengrund Nihilis: This is a very special track, first because it differs musically from the rest of our album (one of the reasons why we decided to use this one as a bonus track) and second because it is one of the two tracks with German lyrics. What can I say about it? It’s about feeling dead inside, but then there is this spark from outside that ignites this damned feeling, this corpse we’re trapped in. It feels, that everything that matters in this life, is to burn, even if it eats us alive.
„Entflamme mich“ is somehow a kind of wrong-headed lovesong. Of course this track is highly emotional, it’s lyrics are romantic and sick at the same time. This one is more kind of a „Gothic(Metal)“ song than black metal but I’m very proud of it, for it has one of the strongest lyrics on „The Faceless Divine“. Maybe one can see it as the spiritual successor of „one with the void“ – which is somehow funny, cause „one with the void“ was our first track with English lyrics and also a misfit on our former album „Im Nebel der Vergänglichkeit“.
“Grant Us Thy Blessing” is another powerful track on the album. What about that one?
Narbengrund Nihilis: This one is our…. pssst… hidden title track, therefore the lyrics are all about „The Faceless Divine“ but in a very „positive“ manner. Death is fair. He comes for all of us, he doesn’t care about our religion, our wealth, our skin color or our sex and so on. There is also a cross reference to religion, as death is seen as an angel (of death of course haha) and it seems, that it is the only angel who cares about us, for he simply takes care of us. Death also can be an easement, for example when you’re old or deadly ill or simply depressive. I think of life as a circle, so death is just the beginning of something new, are molecules are going to kind of a huge resource-pool and are put together into something new. Somehow, we are a part of everything and everything is a part of us.
What did you want to do different artistically with this album that you didn’t before?
Narbengrund Nihilis: There were many things that we’ve planned, but not all could be transposed. We wanted to sound more „serious“, this is why we (to be honest: Totleben) reduced the presence and the amount of the orchestra, so the album could sound more „metal“. Totleben wrote the first two albums almost single-handed, this time we interacted much more with him during the song writing process. There are also some innovations on this album, for example it is the first time we use „electronic“ effects as you can hear best on our track „on carrion wings“, furthermore the use of the vocals is more experimental.
Why the decision now to use mostly English song titles?
Narbengrund Nihilis: I guess we just wanted to get more through to our listeners. It was also was an experiment, how would Totengeflüster sound with English lyrics? So… nothing special about this, I even cannot say if the lyrics on our next album will be English or german or even french? Everything is possible.
What was the biggest challenge with this album and what did you do to conquer it?
Narbengrund Nihilis: This time we had to work quite fast, at least for our circumstances. We wanted to start a tour in late October and we wanted to release the new album, before we’re on the road. The problem was that this decision was not made until the end of 2018 and the decision to release an album instead of an EP was made just a few days ago… Maybe, this doesn’t sound that problematic to an outsider but you have to know, that Totleben did nearly everything by himself (except the mastering): the recording of each of our members, the artwork, the mix and so on…
What moods, environments suit you the most when composition?
A Calm and quiet environment is the best for me. When we played live in bigger cities and I was around there … I realized that those busy and loud places could never be a place to compose things. When I composed “Grant us thy Blessing” or “On Carrion Wings” I was at my fathers place. It’s a very calm place with a lot of nature around. Perfect place to rest and focus on yourself.
How did you hook up with Black Lion Records and why did you decide to not self-release?
Because we had serious issues with the distributor of Pale Essence Music. We still wait for money from 2017…. so … When I founded Pale Essence Music everything was planed very different. But… what can you do when your the smaller fish. Sure I fought back and found solutions but they led to the point to let go of my own Label and join Black Lion Records. I was very happy that Oliver of BLR knew us already and is supporting us to this day. Without him “The Faceless Divine” would have had a much harder start into this world. So I’m very thankful for his help.
The new album almost sounds a bit like you toned down the symphonic element. Was this a conscious decision to go for more of a raw approach?
Totleben: Well, the symphonic follows the overall riffing…. If it fits … We can go with a lot of orchestra, if the song demands to be more raw … sure … we have to leave it less orchestrated. You’re absolutely right, “The Faceless Divine” is using less orchestra than the other albums … it just came that way without being forced. I think the album does not lack any atmosphere … things are more balanced I think. Sure, I still love our albums, each one is unique. Lets see where the journey will go with the fourth… if there will be one … one day.
What plans do you have for the coming months? Any chance of a US tour?
Narbengrund Nihilis: We’ve planned a mini-tour with our friends from Wolves Den and Frozen Gate, but this time we’ll only play in Germany and in Switzerland. We would truly love touring through the US! But I think due to our financial circumstances, there’s no chance in touring the US in the near future.
In your opinion, what do you think the most important German black metal releases have been in the last 20 years?
Narbengrund Nihilis: This is a tough one! Puh, honestly there has been released so many good music in the past twenty years. Maybe the two “Nektar” chapters by Nocte Obducta? Or “Séance” by Dark Fortress? Really hard to tell, for I just can speak about mine and (perhaps) the opinion of my closer friends.
What artists do you think we would find the most surprising when it comes to the ones who have inspired you?
Totleben: Hm,… I would say I have many influences…. Besides Metal… I would say everything that transfers a certain atmosphere is good to me… Perturbator, Carpenter Brut, Thomas Barrrandon (“Forever Yound, A Lie”) .. stuff like that.
What’s your advice for an artist considering moving to Germany?
Totleben: Be yourself. Get yourself a job. You will not make a living out of your art besides your very, very, very good.