FINSTERFORST "Through A Forest Darkly"

By Theron Moore

Finsterforst embodies the myth, the ritual, and spirit of that which is Germany's black forest.  Terms such as "folk" or "pagan" may apply but the band prefers the moniker "black forest metal" they introduced to the world in 2007 via their debut album "Weltenkraft" and then followed in 2009 with "...zum Tode hin" and "Rastlos" in 2012.  Three years later we're treated to "Mach Dich Frei" (Napalm Records) a musical tour de force of black forest metal that elevates Finsterforst  to the level of epic.

Wormwood Chronicles: What was the songwriting process like for your new record "Mach Dich Frei?"

Cornelius "Wombo" Heck  (drums, choir vocals): As always Simon (Schillinger, lead and rhythm guitars, acoustic guitars, choir vocals) did all the songwriting alone at home. With complex and lengthy songs like these ,you just can’t go to the rehearsing room and start jamming and hope there will be cool parts amongst the tons of stupid stuff you inevitably will play. The other problem with cooperation would be our living situations. We started Finsterforst back in 2005 when we all lived in or near Freiburg but over the years more and more of us moved away for studies or jobs. For this reason it is really hard for us to find dates where we can rehearse with the whole band.

WC  Where does the inspiration come from musically & lyrically, is it strictly German folklore or does it extend past that into pop culture such as music, movies, etc?

Wombo: I can’t give you an exact answer to that since Simon writes all the music. But what I know from talking to him he is influenced by a vast field of different stuff beginning with the marvelous Black Forest nature with its green valleys and mighty tree covered mountains to old Rock LPs from his father who used to be a DJ and from Balkan folklore music to classical music. Hell, even Rihanna had an impact on his writing!

 Lyrically we usually have a look at the music which is written beforehand and then try to think of a theme which is most fitting to the music in the emotional department. Where “Rastlos” was rather sorrow-stricken and we therefore had the story of someone having lost everything ,the music on “Mach Dich Frei” seems much more direct to us. This is why we couldn’t use any nature topics or fantasy stuff… The lyrics had to speak to you and support that aggressive mood. Titles like “Zeit für Hass” or “Mann gegen Mensch” are best examples for these “direct” lyrics although most of the people don’t get that they are meant literally and also include irony.

Wormwood Chronicles:  You have an epic quality to your music, almost a wall of sound.  Was that something you discovered through rehearsals or did it naturally evolve?

Wombo: As I mentioned earlier we don’t rehearse that often, which is sad since being loud and trying new shit is great but the logistics won’t let us. The wall of sound had  to therefore be developed in Simons head as a result of the constant will to create something bigger than before.

Wormwood Chronicles:  You use, and effectively I might add,  choir vocals, keyboards, accordions, oboes, etc. to complement the metal sound of the band.  Were you worried about that translating to audiences outside of Europe who might not get it?

Wombo: Why would we be worried? Either you like it or you don’t. It’s as simple as that. We love to play music and then we record an album mainly for ourselves and the next thing you know is that you get messages and orders from all over the world from people who loved this music. So I think we really don’t have to worry about that stuff.

Wormwood Chronicles:  You've been described as melodic black metal, pagan metal, folk metal.  Is that pretty right on or do you view the music of Finsterforst otherwise?

Wombo: Finsterforst is Black Forest Metal. We mix so many different styles of the above mentioned even including industrial riffing here and there that we think this label was necessary since Finsterforst won’t fit into any scheme.

Wormwood Chronicles:  Aside from the metal influences the band surely has, what might surprise fans as to other styles of music that have influenced the music of Finsterforst?

Wombo: Go to youtube and search “Huren bumsen & nie mehr schuften” and click on the first result. This is the mentality behind Finsterforst and our musical endeavors. (The chorus says: fuck whores and never work – well, in a slightly more subtle way)

Wormwood Chronicles:  What's the status of Cryptic Forest these days, anything new happening with that band you'd like to mention?

Wombo:  We have a few shows planned for this year but we really had to focus on “Mach Dich Frei” last year which is why we kind of “forgot” to push Cryptic Forest. We already have ideas for a new album though but we don’t have an idea when to record it. As you know it is not just a matter of time but also of money when you record albums like we do.

Wormwood Chronicles:  What's the black metal scene like in Germany?  Who do we, here in the states, need to know about?

Wombo: In Germany every small town has its own ten or more black metal combos. This leads to a great choice for music consumers but I sometimes have the feeling that it also leads to latent enviousness.

 For Bands: I have just recently discovered “Der Weg einer Freiheit.” I have known the band for years but never really checked them out till now. They are in a way like Finsterforst. They transport a tight atmosphere. They put a lot of effort into the production of the album. So yes, you should definitively check them out. Great other bands might be Firtan, Imperium Dekadenz or Negator.

Wormwood Chronicles:  Are you all full time musicians or do you work day jobs?  If so, what day jobs do you guys work?

Wombo: Hahaha!  Being a full time musician as part of a seven-piece Black Forest drinking commando – delightful. Seriously though: Finsterforst is our hobby, we put a lot of time and money into it and even if we didn’t produce expensive CDs or Videos and just played concerts every weekend we still would make a better living by working our day jobs. We work as musicologist, engineers, bouncer, warehouseman, computer scientists or physicists.

Wormwood Chronicles:  What are the tour plans for 2015 looking like for Finsterforst?  Any chance of you coming to the States?

 Wombo: We have the chance to play many great festivals in Germany and some shows in the rest of Europe. Lower the costs for working visas and for flights and we would be touring the states tomorrow. But having circumstances like this a US tour would cost us between 10,000 and 20,000 Dollars. Money we unfortunately don’t have yet.