Frostveil- ''Black metal to me has always represented an unhinged form of self-expression''
Focused and intensely driven, the one-man project of Frostveil is unique that it relies so heavily on emotions when presenting its atmospheric black metal. Frostveil’s Latest release “Dishonoured and Forgotten” veers from the heaver path with a forlorn and melancholic offering that is passionate and multi-layered.
‘’Dishonoured & Forgotten started as somewhat of an experiment. When the creation of that release commenced, I had no intention to take it anywhere in particular, but as it progressed it grew into something I definitely did not expect. After the first minute or so the release seemed to write itself. It's actually come to be one of my favourite Frostveil releases, something that I do recreationally listen to in order to completely zone out from the world. I thoroughly enjoyed creating this one, initially it would have been intended as a one off but with the entire release as a single song allows me to combine atmospheres and sounds which I never would consider using in a standard Frostveil release. This release has now been re-released on CD through Dark Adversary Productions.’’
What ideas/emotions are you exploring in your soundscapes?
‘’My music deals heavily with nostalgia. Take Ephemeral Visions for example, to each song on that album there is a scene, memory or experience from my life which directly corresponds. However, I never wish to create limitations with my content to meet the needs of a subgenre or aesthetic. Themes change regularly with my music, whatever is happening in my life or whatever I feel I identify with at the time is what my music shall manifest around. In the past I have dealt lyrically with themes all the way from personal struggles to classic film and literature, but lyrics are only a slither of the emotional output. Soundscapes, as you mentioned, are what truly drives the emotions in a sound in my opinion, and as long as my soundscapes are fierce and can sonically encompass the listener, I feel like my work has been a success.’’
Is it easy for your music to interpreted or misinterpreted?
‘’I actually strive for there to be a certain amount of ambiguity to my music. I have never released any of my lyrics, and I never will. The main reason for this is that I would like the listener to form their own connections and stories to coincide with the songs. Something unique to their experiences and beliefs. I know that for many of my favourite black metal albums I would not have a clue what the exact lyrics are. It's not that I don't value what they are trying to portray, as I know the messages they promote are generally of great importance to the artist, but with vagueness comes an opportunity to paint a more complex mental image. When I hear a song from an album important to myself, I can immediately tell you where I was when I first heard it, what visual representations it conjures, what experiences I have come to associate with it, etc. That is what I aim to achieve with Frostveil, because in my experience it strengthens the bond between the music and listener while still maintaining the no-holds-barred self-expression which should always accompany black metal. My music is always open for interpretation.’’
The effort required by the Listener to understand your music...
‘’As mentioned above, my music is always open for interpretation. So as long as the listener is coming towards my music with no pre-conceived expectations of what I "should" be trying to portray, I don't think anyone should struggle to understand my music. Of course, black metal has always been fringe art, since day one it has constantly been under scrutiny by the outside world, broader music scene and even the outer/mainstream metal community (something Frostveil will never be directly aligned with). If someone listens to my music and their main criticism is towards the production, the speed, the legibility, etc, then my music is not made for them, and I won't concern myself with their lack of understanding.’’
Does being a one-person project give you the complete freedom to create whatever musically you like?
‘’Absolutely. It is very nice knowing nobody will ever govern what I create with Frostveil. I have worked with full bands in the past, and currently still do. In the past some have failed for various reasons whilst some have remained as strong as ever. Working with a full band is a rewarding experience. It does make you a far better musician when you learn how to work alongside the natural flow of others in a performance/rehearsal setting. It is also great having likeminded individuals to bounce ideas off of and to constructively critique each other in a creative environment. However, I feel that some ideas from the get-go are set in stone to be a solo venture. Frostveil deals more with my thoughts and feelings, rather than surface level opinions and actions, so I will never allow someone else to govern or influence that. I can work at my own pace, taking time to find the most effective methods to portray what I am intending to.’’
Your music originally comes from a black metal background. Do you still feel you are associated with the genre?
‘’Very much so. Black metal to me has always represented an unhinged form of self-expression, second to none. Sounds and themes may change and mature with time but the unyielding drive to create which spawned inside me when I first discovered black metal music stays exactly the same. As mentioned earlier, I don't necessarily align Frostveil with the broader metal scene at all. I find that no matter what subgenre of black metal is in question, or what themes an artist is aiming to portray through their music, the black metal artists I respect and look up to have always displayed a superior level of dedication and conviction compared to other more user-friendly forms of metal music. Although my sound may evolve, and I may dabble in other adjacent genres (e.g., dungeon synth, dark ambient, etc), Frostveil's alignment to black metal is, and always shall be, as paramount as ever.’’
You have Escaped the DSBM tag, considering the melancholic nature of your music....
‘’Initially I did market myself as DSBM because in a purely musical sense I did sound quite "DSBM". However, I feel that the DSBM term has been tossed around a lot lately and has to a certain extent lost part of its meaning. When an artist can adequately translate their pain to an aural medium, to the point where a single song can make a listener truly understand, I commend them. Two acts who I feel do this superbly are Silencer (Swe) and Woods of Desolation (Aus.). Sadly, I find that for every genuine DSBM artist pouring their all into their music there are a multitude of cheap imitations who clearly do not understand the anguish they sing about. Similar to modern emo teens adopting the depressed image for nothing more than a trend, it's an insult to those who have actually suffered and are trying to vent their experiences through music. Black metal is a place to pour your heart out and express the darkest parts of your nature in a completely uncensored manor. It is not a place to whinge, or to look cool for some half-hearted fad. I respect good DSBM, I listen to it regularly and will continue to fully support DSBM artists who are truly behind what they sing. But unfortunately, the term is somewhat tainted for me and I feel it no longer resonates with Frostveil. Also, whilst I am completely in favour of expressing every dark aspect of your personality through music, I find a lot of DSBM promotes the use of hard drugs and other filthy things which I have no interest in or respect for whatsoever. I say I play black metal, plain and simple. If people think it sounds like DSBM, that's fair, and I'm sure that with time if it gels with the DSBM crowd it will reach the appropriate ears, regardless of terminology.’’
What is emotional Black Metal considering that it is commonly mistaken for being one dimensional?
‘’Emotional black metal in those exact words could mean a multitude of things. If I understand the question correctly, I would say the common translation of emotional black metal is artists who favour more heartfelt and introspective themes, as opposed to the more aggressive. Less emotional bands may also lean towards using faster tempos, less atmospheric chord patterns, etc. Artists such as Burzum, Striborg, Xasthur, Sombres Forêts or Wedard would more appropriately correlate with the term emotional black metal than more energetic, aggressive bands such as Infernal War, Gorgoroth, Marduk, Urgehal or Christ Dismembered (my other band). This is partly the reason why I don't see a lot of connection between black metal and the broader metal scene. Bands such as, for example, Hypothermia and 1349 who share little to no sonic detail can still coexist under the banner of black metal as they share the same drive for unbridled and uncensored expression. Whilst black metal does have its unmistakable sound, as well as a rabbit hole of subgenres and fusions, it cannot always be defined purely on sound alone, unlike most other genres.’’
Are people surprised when they discover your music comes from the city of Churches (Adelaide, Australia) and does this influence you in any way?
‘’Ever since I was born up until very recently, I have always lived in a town of 5000 people called Millicent, 500kms southeast of Adelaide, surrounded by pine forests as far as the eye can see, fifteen minutes from the coastline, and with a freezing climate for all but a few weeks of the year. Although Adelaide is the capital city of South Australia, I have had nothing to do with the culture and lifestyle there other than when it comes to travelling there to play shows or for family matters. Adelaide is a great city, with quite a bit happening in terms of black metal, but I am the furthest thing from a city person. I recently relocated to a small town in Western Australia called Harvey, not even half the size of Millicent, with more or less the exact same temperament other than a warmer climate. I'm not sure what would be more surprising, finding black metal from the "city of churches" or finding black metal in the absolute middle of nowhere out in rural Australia. Either way, city life has not influenced me in any way simply because I have never truly experienced it, and I aim to keep it that way.’’
You play live and have guest vocalists. How does this work compare to the studio environment?
‘’Hearing my creations played at extreme volumes, and recreating them with such physical exertion, it is a cathartic experience to say the least. It is also a chance to mingle with likeminded individuals and somewhat "give back" to those who have shown me support. I like to keep Frostveil live performances to occasions where I know the audience will consist of those who truly understand the nature of this music. I have performed live three times so far, twice on private occasions (the first being released as the Ritual MMXVI tape) and once publicly in December 2019, one of my favourite shows I have ever played. I am currently booked to play Heavy SA Fest 2021, however due to COVID-19 this has already been postponed three times (the initial date was April 2020!!). Fingers crossed it goes ahead! This is an entirely South Australian line-up featuring many acts I hold in the highest regard and is organized by a superb Adelaide promoter who has always been extremely supportive, so I really hope this can still take place as it was one of my most anticipated occasions of 2020. Currently the live line-up consists of myself on vocals and guitar, Ivan Heenan (also of Chelsea Manor) on guitar, Connor Bird on Bass and Plague (also of Christ Dismembered) on drums. All truly supreme musicians and very close friends of mine, and I am honoured to have them perform alongside me!’’
‘’I have had guest vocalists appear on Ephemeral Visions, and I currently have several guest vocalists planned for future releases too. This gives me another chance to collaborate with individuals who I have immense respect for, both personally and musically. Ephemeral Visions featured Josh Gee (Atra Vetosus, Lost in Desolation) and Chris Gebauer (Deadspace, Exitium Sui). Both excellent vocalists and showmen who I felt were strong additions to the album. Although I had written both their feature songs a long time prior to their recording, I can no longer imagine these songs without their contributions. Frostveil at heart will always be a studio project first and foremost, it does take a lot of practice to replicate the studio sound in a live setting and I would rather focus more intently on creating something perfect in my eyes which can be immortalized in song. That being said, with the exceptional line-up I have been lucky to acquire I do plan to perform live with Frostveil more in the future and hopefully take the band to locations where the music I create is more widely understood and appreciated.’’
Your decision re-release of Reminiscence of a Ghostly past I and II? And the change in Frostveil from then, until now?
‘’This idea was something approached to me by Dark Adversary Productions, and I instantly thought it was a stellar plan. When Ephemeral Visions was released, a lot of those songs had already had a past life, whether it be as demo/split release or under a separate moniker in a different style. I feel it is really cool for my listeners to see the growth my music has undergone in order to reach its current state. I also included several rehearsal recordings of songs taken from Ephemeral Visions so people can hear those songs in a more raw, relentless manor, similar to that of a live performance. Frostveil's sound has matured a fair bit since its inception, if you were to compare the debut "Void of Memories..." to anything released from 2017 onwards you will notice a drastic change in sound. The music included more diversity, a clearer production, and this was also around the time I began to venture into dungeon synth territory and even begin to include elements of this into my black metal. Previously I had had experience with various kinds of ambient/folk/classical music somewhat akin to dungeon synth but nothing quite of the same calibre.’’
The future of your music. Where is it going, more diversity?
‘’I am currently nearing completion of my sophomore album which I feel will serve as an effective follow up to Ephemeral Visions. The music is definitely of the same style; however, I feel that the layout of these new songs shows a distinct evolution. The production shall be similar, but this album shall be overall more pounding. The guitar tones are fiercer, the drum sounds are tougher, and the keys are more eerie and engulfing. It will be unmistakably a Frostveil album, but the sonic growth is undeniable. Ephemeral Visions shall forever be an album I hold very dear, because it represents a pivotal moment in the life of Frostveil, but I am immensely proud of what I have learned as a musician, writer and producer since this album was released, all of which shall be on display with this second album.’’
‘’I actually have already completed my third full length album as well. I feel that what I am currently working on shall better serve as a sequel to Ephemeral Visions, so I have decided to hold off on what else I have created until the time is right. It may be before not too long, it may be not for years, time will tell. I am also working on several other smaller releases, some of which still require a lot of work, some of which are more or less finished. Announcements about these will all be made in due time, but one thing is for sure, I have a lot of material ready to unleash which I am certain shall please my listeners no matter what subsection of my music them have been drawn to in the past.’’
The outside influences that affect it. Or is it more introspective?
‘’It depends on the song. As mentioned earlier, in a thematic sense my music can vary from themes of internal/mental/emotional occurrences all the way to my observations of the modern world as well as well as things like film and literature. In terms of music rather than lyrics, I aim to make the music fluctuate atmospherically depending on the message of the song, so to give you a pinpointed answer would be difficult.’’
Your top 6 albums of all time ...
Black Metal and adjacent:
Woods of Desolation - Torn Beyond Reason
Drowning the Light - From the Abyss
Mutiilation - Vampires of Black Imperial Blood
Trollech - Vrachotu Hromu
Burzum - Hvis Lyset Tar Oss
Depressive Silence - Mourning
Jeff Wayne - War of the Worlds
Rose Tattoo - Self Titled
Joy Division - Unknown Pleasures
Silverstein - Discovering the Waterfront
GG Allin - Brutality and Bloodshed for All
Rammstein - Sehnsucht
This is merely a rough list, it was quite hard nailing it down to just 6, hence why I added two separate genres. I could go on, but these are a few supreme standouts! A vast majority of the music I listen to is not black metal, or metal at all for that matter so I felt it necessary to differentiate.