Amorgen: Tales of a Bard

By: Dorien
Photography: evavandeijkphotography

Amorgen is an epic/death metal band risen from the ashes of Tales of Ale. In 2011, they released their first EP ‘Awake the Iron’ and today they played at Drakkarfest 2012. Folk-metal.nl had a great interview with the men about the bard Amorgen, and future plans and dreams of the band.
Last year you guys released your first album. What did it bring you so far?
We’ve had a lot of positive reactions about our first release! Even people that don’t really like growls and screams tell us that they enjoy the way it’s composed. That gives us the confirmation that we’re heading in the right direction. Beside that we’ve generated some income out of it which is always nice!

Hopefully not enough to stop what you’re doing!
Haha nah, you don’t have to worry about that. We’ve released the EP, but unfortunately we haven’t been able to put on enough shows yet to really sell much. But we’re working on that at the moment. Luckily we have been able to sell quite some CD’s at our release party at Baroeg in Rotterdam. The EP also has some great artwork that we’re really happy with which gets noticed by people right away.

It’s definitely beautiful! How did you get it?
We got in touch with the artist, Erik Doppenberg, through acquaintances. He really captured the atmosphere that we wanted to convey. During the first meeting that we had with him we asked what ideas he had while listening to our music. In the meantime we had put some ideas on paper ourselves and they were virtually the same! We got along really well, so we went along with it and he has painted everything exactly the way we had in mind.
The trilogy is named the Endless Recursion because it’s about the never ending cycle of war, where in the end nobody really wins. Those three songs are at the center and that’s what the artwork is about. The cover is about Under Siege. In this song the war really reaches its peak (Sharpen Thy Axes is the preparation for this). You can see the army marching towards the enemy castle. The artwork on the inside of the EP is about March to the Grave. Here you see the smoking battlefield after Under Siege and that both parties have suffered huge losses in which nobody really accomplished anything.

The album is about the bard Amorgen. Is that based on real and relevant sources?
Amorgen is a bard from Irish mythology, there are various ways to write and pronounce his name, but we chose this one. We mainly thought it was a good idea to tell the stories from the point of view of the bard; it gives us a nice kind of freedom while writing.
A bard is someone who naturally tells stories and that’s what we do as well. We think it’s really awesome to create songs and because we do that from his perspective we often have a lot of inspiration for new lyrics and music.
Amorgen was one of the last known bards from Irish mythology. There’s a large piece of recorded history but after that the story about Amorgen suddenly stops. That gives us the blank pages that we can fill in. Furthermore, Amorgen was not only a bard, but as was common for bards, also a druid/king/judge, and more! He has a lot of positions and titles. It’s a good character to be all over the place and we can take the lyrics in a lot of directions because of that. Amorgen has been put in the artwork and we plan on keeping it that way in future releases.

How will you go on, continue with the bard Amorgen? Because you did name your band after him.
We thought a long time about what we could do for the next album, especially story wise. We start out with a storyboard and from there we go on and write the entire story in the form of a journal. After that we divide the story into pieces and that’s what we write the songs about. On Awake the Iron we had all these separate stories with just the trilogy really fitting together. On the new album we’re going to go for a big concept. With a concept album you can really let the music support the story. At some parts you need less aggressive songs to support the story, while at other moments you can build up tension and use heavier elements.
Like we said, we start writing a song with a concept in mind. After that we write the music and later we adjust the lyrics. We all do that to create an atmosphere that fits the song as good as possible.
Amorgen is a bard from old Irish mythology. Are we going to hear Irish elements and/or instruments on the next album?
We never say no, but at this moment we have a clear image of where we are going. Up until now, keyboard is sufficient. With keyboard we can nicely fill in the folk-instruments in our music. It’s always cool to use original instruments, but not always practical. Someone will have to learn the part and with it comes a lot of extra work. This is not always good for the show either.

Alright, now for a different subject. As one of your influences you name math metal. Who has a thing for math here?
Haha, math metal mainly comes from two band members, Michel (lead guitar) and Korijn (Drums), but it’s more the groove you find in math metal. The weird time signatures and syncopation is what we also try to incorporate into our music every now and then.
All the members of the band have really diverse influences. Math, brutal death, black, folk, pagan, melodic death, it’s all kinda messed up!
Sometimes we do struggle with that, someone wants a more aggressive part, another wants a more melodic part. We all have different tastes but we do have the same goal. And if everybody gives in a bit, it always works out. Sal (keys) is responsible for the end product and oversees the writing process, making sure we always sound like Amorgen. That’s how we deal with that.

What is 2012 going to bring you?
Definitely a new album! While this is an optimistic goal, we are working very hard on this project.
We have a global storyline and a couple of concept songs, but we’re still brainstorming, making up riffs and recording them. In the end it’s a puzzle that needs to be put together so that lyrically and musically it makes perfect sense.
We also have Wantijpop coming up and we’re going to try and get more merchandise to sell. One thing is for sure, it’s going to be a busy and challenging year!

Any plans for other countries?
Not in the short term. Sometimes a show in Belgium, but that’s still pretty close.
Although it is cool to see where your fans are from. Since the release of the EP we can see, especially thanks to Facebook, that our music is listened to all over the world. The songs that we’ve got up on YouTube are well listened to as well. But of course we are looking at ways to gain popularity in other countries. It’s also an advantage that we have so many different influences in our music. Because of that we can be placed at more than just folk metal festivals. Sometimes our music is a bit too heavy or aggressive, for the Elf Fantasy Fair for example, which we don’t totally agree with. We tell stories about big battles and other things you’ll probably find in a fantasy world. We growl and scream in our music, because we think that supports what we try to convey. It goes well with wars, demons and other dark stories. And it certainly goes well with the things you currently see at fairs. There is a darker side to fantasy after all! Now it’s up to the festivals to realize that, haha.

General future plans? Things you’d really like to accomplish?
Well, the large festivals like Graspop, which would be an amazing thing to experience. You’re in front of such a big audience; we’d all love to see that.
If you’re playing for fewer people, you’re a lot more personal with your audience. You always try to give away the same show, but fewer people at the venue can be a bit demotivating. But those people are there for you! So even if there just would be a handful of people, we always go all out. We’ve all agreed on that.
People don’t have to be afraid, that if they’re going to a smaller venue, they will have a lesser show. Light and sound isn’t always the best at these smaller places, but we try to make the best of it anyway.
And of course we hope to see people in our shirts soon. That would be really cool!

You use a lot of social media. But that means people are downloading as well. What’s your view on that?
It doesn’t really bother us that much. We release our music through Bandcamp, which people can go to through our website. You can download or order the EP there and listen to it for free. Within an hour of releasing, we saw in Google that the EP was already online in Hungary and Russia, unbelievable how fast that was. Besides that, Hail to the Heathen God was put on YouTube, and that’s being watched just as much as uploads on our own channel!
We hear from bigger bands that it’s affecting cd sells and with it the budget they get from labels for the making of a new album.
We started out in this day and age, so we know we have to take these things into account. And maybe we can even make use of it.
Furthermore, it’s harder for a Russian to acquire our cd if another Russian didn’t tell him about it.
Bands don’t make the most on cd sales anymore. I think a limited edition vinyl record would be much more appealing. A nice big piece of vinyl, great artwork, it becomes a bit of a collector’s item. People often find that a lot cooler than just another cd in their cd rack.
When the time is right we will definitely focus on special editions. But that also costs money. The more we’ll have to spend, the more cool stuff we’re going to do!
Any last words for the fans/readers/listeners?
Come to Wantijpop and enjoy some heavy epic death metal!
It’s mostly the fans of folk metal that we are making music for. Of course we think it’s awesome to make music for ourselves, but it’s great to hear the reactions of people that enjoy your music. Thank you all for that! It reminds of what we are musicians for!
Thanks!