XIV Dark Centuries Interview
After an extensive layoff from recording, 2020 marks the triumphant return of Germany’s XIV Dark Centuries with their new album “Waldvolk” coming on February 28th via Einheit. The long hibernation of sorts has done them well with what I feel is their most powerful, complete and fulfilling able to date. Many of the band members (Guitarists Uwe and Tobalt, vocalist Michel and drummer Manu) were available to answer some questions for us regarding the new album, new label, the time off, playing live and a few other things o f note… check it out…..
First off major congrats on your next album “Waldvolk”…..have you gotten any other feedback/reviews on it yet since it is a few months from release (February 28th, 2020)?
Uwe: “Thanks Jeff. Yes, we have already received some reviews. What we are very happy about is that there is still no negative rating. There will of course still be a number of reviews, but the trend is clearly positive. That gives you hope and strength, of course, and is also a nice reward for all the work for this album.”
For new fans, could you possibly give a little history of the band and why you called yourselves XIV Dark Centuries?
Uwe: “We have been making music for over twenty years. Michel, Rüd (our manager today) and Tobi are still from the original cast. The name XIV Dark Centuries did not exist yet, and our music consisted more of black metal elements. And as usual at the time, our lyrics were in English. I think Michel will explain to you how we came to German lyrics. In any case, as the music slowly developed in a corresponding direction, the whole idea behind the band also changed. At some point Marley came to the band. And so it went step by step in the direction from pure black metal to another kind of music. At some point, of course, you had to give yourself a name. There were now more pagan influences in music. We have also been very concerned with the history of the Germanic tribes, especially in our Thuringia. In the 6th century, the Thuringian kingdom went down, that was about 1400 years ago. The name “XIV Dark Centuries” goes pretty well with that, we think.”
“Since we often write about our Germanic ancestors in our texts, I also find it more appropriate to do that in the native language.”
“In 1999 the Demo “For Your God” was released. Later Tobalt joined the band. Since then, the Pagan elements have been represented even more. The next demo followed in 2002 with “Dunkle Jahrhunderte”. I joined the band the same year. In 2003 we released our first album “…Den Ahnen zum Gruße…”. In 2004 “Dunkle Jahrhunderte” was re-released as a regular album before we released the EP “Jul” in 2005. A year later followed a new album with “Skithingi” (2006). After the “Skithingi” Tobalt (who has composed almost everything by himself) left the band. Tyr’s Sohnn was found as the new lead guitarist. The band released the album “Gizit Dar Faida” in 2011 and played a small European tour in the same year, e.g. with Suidakra and Waylander. I left the band in 2013 and was replaced by Richy (drummer from the band “Grimgod”). After a few years, Tyr’s Sohn and Richy also left the band. And as luck would have it, it turned out that the band wanted to continue and Tobalt and I also felt like (and above all had time) to put on our guitars again. The old line-up, which had recorded “…Den Ahnen zum Gruße…”, “Jul” and “Skithingi” at that time, was now together again. Unfortunately, Rüd had to leave the band shortly afterwards. But he is still available to the band as manager and takes care of concerts and all the social media stuff. Therefore, Manu joined the band as the new drummer. In 2018 the recordings for the current album “Waldvolk” started, which will be released soon. We are now in 2020 and continue to look to the future.”
You have described yourselves as “Heathen Thuringian Metal”….could you define what that means in defining your sound?
Uwe: “The term “Heathen Thuringian Metal” came into being a long time ago. Back then there weren’t that many Pagan Metal bands. After the album “…Den Ahnen zum Gruße…” we were on the road very often and played with many bands. And we had to write something on the posters and flyers. We didn’t play black metal. It wasn’t Power Metal either. Ok, then it’s “Heathen Thuringian Metal”. It was that simple back then. It should say that it differs from the very popular Black Metal at that time.”
I think most fans are wondering why such a long layoff in between releases with your previous album “Gizit Dar Faida” coming out in 2011?
Tobalt: “There have been many changes and line-up changes within the band since the last album, so we came back to the original line-up of the first album of 2003 in 2017. When Rüd unfortunately decided to leave the band, we had to wait again until the recordings finally started. We were only able to finally agree on the actual song composition in the current band line-up.”
How long was the writing process for “Waldvolk”? Were there tracks on here that go as far back as “Gizit…”?
Manu: “In fact, since Gizit … the album has been worked on. However, the most intensive phase is likely to have been in the past 3 years have been. The basic idea of some songs even goes back to a time before Gizit. These ideas were taken up again and combined and refined with new ideas.”
Is there a central theme to the album? Why did you call it “Waldvolk”?
Tobalt: “”Waldvolk” is a tribute to the people we come from, who have been residing in our beautiful Thuringian forest for many generations. It is also a step away from the striking Pagan theme of gods, battles, Edda, but not losing sight of it. In this sense, there is no central topic like “Skithingi””.
I feel that the long layoff actually helped with renew energy and focus on the new album…. do you perceive that the time in between releases helped with creating “Waldvolk”?
Manu: “We have been playing some Waldvolk songs for a long time. These songs were written shortly after the Gizit Dar Faida. But it wasn’t enough for a complete album. With the return of Tobalt and Uwe, as well as the join of Manu, of course new ideas came up. Now, the album became complete. We certainly took the time to work on ideas until all members of the band were satisfied with the result.”
How do you balance being in a band with your personal lives, schedules, occupations, etc?
Manu: “All members of the band are involved in a permanent job. In addition, most of them have their own children and through the family a full private life. It is therefore often not easy to coordinate everything. Precise planning is essential here.In phases in which the band is in the foreground, the families have to be very patient and understanding. -At this point a lot Thanks for that! Since our families are very important to us, we always try to create a healthy balance.”
With the long time in between albums, do you think your overall sound has changed at all?
Tobalt: “I say we have evolved. On the one hand we have revised old songs from the creative phase after “Skithingi” and the songs from the creative phase after “Gizit dar Faida” have also been overhauled again. We actually took care to set new accents, but to remain true to the core of our music.”
Lyrics have always been in German….. with most acts, does singing/writing in your native tongue have pros/cons as opposed to English for example? Do concepts/words not translate in most cases so that it might be lost in translation?
Michel: “Yes, I think it makes more sense, to sing in native Language. If you were to translate a poem by Goethe, Schiller or Walther von der Vogelweide (is regarded as the most important German-language poet of the Middle Ages), the meaning behind it would probably also be lost in some cases. It is difficult to translate poetry, especially with many proper names, dialects or the like. Since we often write about our Germanic ancestors in our texts, I also find it more appropriate to do that in the native language. Besides, most of the bands only sing in English anyway, maybe to have international success. That is not so important to us.”
“”Waldvolk” is a tribute to the people we come from, who have been residing in our beautiful Thuringian forest for many generations.”
Are there any bands out there that are your biggest influences whether metal or not?
Michel: “Yes, of course the mighty Bathory belong to it. Also many of the former heavy metal bands like Venom, Destruction, Kreator, Burzum, also some newer bands like Crematory or the early Dimmu Borgir. For example I grew up with Rolling Stones, Beatles or AC/DC, so that’s probably the reason why the foundation for wild music was laid :-) I also like Nordic folk music, or in general folk for instance Loreena McKennitt. So even this small part will always be present in our songs.”
What other influences do you have in your sound (Books, movies, hobbies, etc…)?
Michel: “There were for example the many books, I think there were 6 or 7 about Thorag the Germanic. Besides that, I’m very interested in old mystical stories. I like the ideas of a very old high culture, or the intervention of an extraterrestrial life form in the development of life on earth. Erich von Däniken’s books used to fascinate me very much. In some of the texts, there are also rudiments of such topics. Maybe there will be a concept album later on… but who knows what the future will bring.”
The new album is being released on the mighty Einheit…. how did this come about?
Uwe: “We have been working with Olaf from “Einheit Produktionen” since the album “Gizit Dar Faida”. We know and understand each other very well. Nobody gives the others the feeling that they have to do something that they actually don’t want to do. That is why we are satisfied with “Einheit Produktionen” and hopefully they are also happy with us.”
What are the touring plans to support the album in 2020?
Michel: “Since we are all very busy with our jobs and families, it is difficult for us to plan a bigger tour just like that. At the moment we are in contact with some people of a known German band from Tambach-Dietharz and plan a few sessions mainly for the 2nd half of the year. Furthermore, we will play our CD release party on 21.02.2020 in Erfurt at the club “From Hell” and will also be present at this year’s Ragnarök festival. Further information and concerts can be found on our Facebook page.”
Any favorite music from 2019? What music in 2020 are looking forward to?
Michel: “I like also a lot of black metal… Oh 2019… I don’t have anything that short on the screen! I was a big fan of the first Batushka CD. In the meantime, a lot of bad things have happened with the band. Now I had recently bought the new CD of the former guitarist in the download. I like this one much better than the one of the still existing band. I also liked the current album of the band Nightbringer “Terra Damnata”. I have heard it up and down.”
“Thank you for the interesting interview. We hope, we could play in the Netherlands soon again and greet all friends and fans of our music!”