June 16th marks the release date for the sophomore album from the mighty Duskmourn. “Of Shadow And Flame” is filled with everything Duskmourn had established on their debut (2014’s “Legends”) plus a heavier direction track and style wise while still sounding like Duskmourn. Walter Deyo and Bill Sharpe answered some questions for us once again regarding the new album, the recording and writing process plus a few other things… check it out…
Of Shadow And Flame
Congrats on your amazing 2nd album “Of Shadow And Flame”… what has been the feedback regarding it so far?
“Thank you! Feedback so far has been positive! We’ve had two official written reviews; both gave Of Shadow and Flame 10/10. Our inner-circle family and friends that have heard it also have very positive feedback (even after hearing the riffs day in and day out during the writing process! haha). They all agree that it’s an improvement upon Legends and we are curious and excited to see what the rest of the world thinks.”
Your debut album “Legends” was released way back in 2014…were the last 3 years spent writing and recording “Of Shadow And Flame”?
“Yes and no! We started writing for this album about a month after Legends was released. We would have had Of Shadow and Flame out about a year sooner but were delayed by some things and had to restart the recording process from scratch. The music was completed in the first 2 years, and the lyrics were completed a few months before vocals were recorded.”
Did you have tracks that didn’t end up on “Legends” for one reason or another reserved for the new album or is everything brand new?
“In short, no. We were very deliberate in writing songs that belonged in the theme of the album. There might be a riff here or there from a while ago and was expanded on, but there weren’t any full songs or concepts that were intended for Legends and plugged into Of Shadow and Flame. We also don’t want to overwrite for an album–we want to write what’s supposed to be there. Some bands may write 20 songs and then use 10 of them for an album–that’s not something Duskmourn wants to do.”
Was there a different approach to writing or recording this time around or did everything as far as your process remain the same as before?
“Everything was the same for the most part: we write separately, then send ideas back and forth to expand, tweak and combine. Then we recorded each instrument/part together in our own home “studio” (we use the term studio loosely). Once everything was recorded, we sent it out to Christoph Brandes (he also worked on Legends) to mix and master the album.”
“We wanted this album to take each emotion
you can feel on Legends a bit farther”
From a musician perspective, do you start with basic chord structures and then write arpeggio(s) over them or vice versa? Do you start with key arrangements that then influence what happens with guitar parts?
“Writing can go either way for us. Walter usually starts with the chord structures–but it’s not uncommon to have the melody in your head and make chords around it. Bill starts either way as well, there isn’t a concrete formula. There are songs where we had the guitar parts first–then created the keyboard arrangement. There are other songs in which the keyboard inspiration came first. For example, in “The Frozen Mire” the guitar riffs definitely came first and then we built around them. For “The Last Voyage”, the keyboards came first for many of the parts. Songwriting also doesn’t always start at the beginning of a song. In “Crowned in Flame”, the triplet part at the end was written first and the rest was placed to build up to it.”
Did you have discussions as far as what you direction you wanted this album to go that would be different than “Legends” ?
“Yeah. We wanted this album to take each emotion you can feel on Legends a bit farther. We wanted it to be more conceptual–but still be recognizable as Duskmourn. We also wanted it to be darker and feel like we achieved that in the overall production. We wanted to make more interesting songs while keeping the style we established with Legends, for the most part. For example, the songs on Legends were each telling different tales. On Of Shadow and Flame, each song is a piece of the larger story.”
Did you decide to not have instrumentals (except for the intro) on the new album or was it just happenstance?
“Yeah we talked about it. We chose to cut the instrumentals based on our own feelings and feedback from Legends. On Legends, we felt like “Dusk Over Fields of Ruin” stood strongly by itself and didn’t need vocals as it was deliberately written to not have them. There was so much going on in that song and lyrics could have taken some of that strength away. This time around, we chose to write more songs that worked well with lyrics. Moving forward though, we may return to that idea and include one or two instrumentals on a future album–we’ll see!”
I still think that you have a link to the Tolkien world of metal…..are you still OK with that connection or are you attempting to somewhat distance yourselves from that description?
“We are inspired by Tolkien and the world he has created. There is no denying that. Although we wouldn’t say we restrict ourselves to Tolkien. Our lyrics have been loosely based so far, but who knows if we will write about something else in the future. If people want to find Tolkien in our lyrics, they will find it. But we also write the lyrics in such a way that for a listener who is unfamiliar with the world, they can still enjoy the story without knowing exactly “who” or “what” a song is about.”
“If people want to find Tolkien in our lyrics, they will find it”
I compared you to some eastern European/Ukrainian bands such as Moonsorrow, Nokturnal Mortum and Drudkh as examples….. do you find any similarities in those bands to what you do?
“Maybe this is because Bill wears the hell out of his Moonsorrow shirt? Haha we definitely find similarities to these bands and we listen to them quite often. It’s natural that influences find their way into our music. Specifically, in “Crowned in Flame” the whole first half of that song was inspired by Drudkh, especially the part with the acoustic picking and slow drums. We are also influenced heavily by melodic death metal such as Insomnium and Amon Amarth. Influences aside, we do strive to maintain our own unique style that is recognizable as Duskmourn.”
How did the artwork for the new album come about?
“When we originally talked about what the concept would be for this album, Walter began working on the artwork. As the songs and lyrics became more solid, the artwork continued to develop. The cover art relates to the whole concept of the album, but specifically it can be viewed as a visual representation of the songs “Where Shadows Lurk”, “Mountains of Darkness” and “Crowned in Flame”.”
You once again had a successful Kickstarter campaign to get the album finished…… thoughts on the process of crowdfunding 2nd time around?
“This 2nd time around, we were more comfortable completing the campaign thanks to our growing crowd of supportive fans. We also had more to offer in rewards and in turn got better results. With how the internet works now and how anyone can literally listen to music for free (on YouTube, etc.), it is so vital that able fans reach out to monetarily show their support. The dedicated fans Duskmourn has have been indispensable.”
Have you considered having a full-time lineup for recording and/or playing live? Do you think it would compromise your chemistry on some level to bring others in?
“We wouldn’t rule it out for recording–if the right person comes along we’d be happy to bring them in. The chemistry definitely has to be there. Right now, between the two of us we can cover all of the instruments for recording so it’s not a high priority. What is more important to us is to eventually have a full live lineup. So that’s what we’re thinking more about now. Any live drummers and keyboard players out there can feel free to contact us.”
Have you considered any labels to sign to or have you been offered a record deal? Would you rather stay independent?
“We’ve been approached by smaller labels, no big labels. So far, the incentives offered haven’t given us a reason to sign right now. Without the right offer, being independent works better for us.”
Fav music from 2016 and 2017 so far?
Insomnium – ‘Winter’s Gate’
Darkthrone – ‘Arctic Thunder’
Dark Funeral – ‘Where Shadows Forever Reign’
Borknagar – ‘Winter Thrice’
Moonsorrow – ‘Jumalten Aika’
Wolfheart – ‘Tyhjyys’
“We would like to close by thanking all of our fans again for the support and enthusiasm we have received over the years. We do believe both current Duskmourn fans and those who haven’t heard our material yet will really enjoy this new album and should definitely pick up a copy! We’ll also throw in a shameless plug for some new merch that will be available through our shop: new shirts and hoodies!”