Is Woods of Desolation a one-man outfit? You enlisted Tim Yatras (Nazxul, Lord) for the drums and vocals on new album, Torn Beyond Reason.D.: Yes. Woods of Desolation (WoD) will probably always consist of just myself whilst utilizing session members for recordings. Tim only agreed to help out on the Torn Beyond Reason album. Unfortunately, this incorrectly lead some people to believe this was some form of an “austere continuation”, which is not the case at all. Tim will not participate on the next full-length, so WoD will once again feature a different line-up for the release. But this will be organized at a later date, whenever the time comes for next recording.
What does a single-person entity have—creatively or otherwise—that is lost on an entity with two or more members? D.: More focus, more commitment, more passion. It is generally very hard to find other people to work with that are on the same wave-length as each other, which is why I much prefer working independently on the creative/writing process. With WoD in particular this is a rather personal experience; so I’m unsure how this would go with more members involved. Although, I cannot deny it can at times be beneficial to have another’s opinion, other than my own, on some aspects.
Do you see Woods of Desolation evolving into an actual band doing the write, record, tour cycle? D.: No, I don’t. I have at times thought about getting some other members involved permanently, but at the moment I’m quite content to work alone at my own pace. Not to mention, I don’t really think WoD would transpire very well to the stage. It’s just not “live music”. Listening to a band’s release is usually a rather intimate and personal experience. A band could create the greatest atmosphere for the listener on a record, but this is changed considerably, due to numerous reasons, when you are performing the same music to a larger audience. I am more often than not disappointed with live performances and just wish more bands would have the foresight, and perhaps a little self-depreciation, to realize that maybe their music just isn’t meant for the stage and are just better suited to remain studio bands.
Torn Beyond Reason shows significant improvement over Toward the Depths. I know a lot of black metal tends to be atavistic or applaud regressive tendencies (i.e., the Darkthrone approach), but Woods of Desolation’s trajectory is of noticeable improvement. Can you comment on the differences in approach between the two albums? D.: A lot more time was spent writing Torn Beyond Reason, whereas Toward The Depths was largely improvised in a short period of time. Both approaches to the creative process have their pro’s and con’s, but I’d now much rather prefer to take my time and try to perfect the vision I have in mind before setting it down permanently in a recording. I’ve always thought it best to continually try and move forward with WoD if it genuinely feels right. Why intentionally go backwards and essentially re-do what’s already been done? Of course, if some bands want to regress, such as Darkthrone, it’s perfectly fine and sometimes can work in their favor, but when it comes to my work I don’t personally see the appeal.
The production is deeper and more robust than Toward the Depths. Was this an intentional? D.: I guess so. Toward The Depths was a home studio recording by myself on poor quality, borrowed equipment whereas Torn Beyond Reason was recorded in a professional studio. So I was well aware in advance, that there would be a rather large difference between the productions of the two records. Before taking the vast plunge into recording in a professional studio, I put the question to myself; if it’s possible to be able to afford the resources of a studio (such was the case with TBR) then why not use what is at hand? The production should be about serving the songs/release as best as possible, not making it as raw as possible for the sake of it, nor making it extremely polished. Ultimately, I would like to aim for a decent medium between the two parameters.
Now that you’ve had some time to live with the album what do you make of it? Representative of where you’re at musically or are you already moving on? D.: I still think it’s a decent album representative of where I was at the time, both mentally and musically. Each release for me is somewhat of a “snapshot” of that period of time due to the amount of honest personal expression I inject within my work. Of course there are always certain things you wish you had done differently on a recording, as this is naturally the curse of hindsight – but dwelling on the negatives serves no purpose whatsoever. What’s done is done; one can only learn from the past mistakes and try and improve upon them. As human beings we are, until we die, constantly changing, learning and adapting so I don’t believe absolute perfection is ever attainable permanently – but psychologically it’s certainly a useful tool for the writing process.
Would you label Woods of Desolation black metal? Again, I think there are always limiters placed on music or music styles, but I’m curious where you see your music fitting, if at all. D.: Music is such a subjective form of art that people’s opinions are always going to differ on various matters – in particular quality of the work and style/sub-genre classification. I’m not really concerned with all these new genres and sub-genres people are creating to describe bands –- as for the most part they are just selling points used by labels, related businesses and bands wanting to fit in within a certain “scene”. I’ve never been interested in how or what the music is labeled or tagged as, I’d rather just listen to it myself and make up my own mind. But to answer your question, I believe WoD still has elements characteristic of black metal, definitely.
I think a lot of people might compare Woods of Desolation to a mix of Agalloch and Alcest. Do comparisons ever concern you? D.: No, I’m not concerned or remotely bothered at all. As I already touched upon in the previous question; everyone will have their own comparisons and opinions. Whether or not I personally agree with the comparison(s) is irrelevant, just as how my music is perceived by others is irrelevant. My music is what it is, however people feel the need to categorize it and associate it with other bands is fine.
I’m sure you could care less, but what do you make of the notion of true or un-true black metal? Seems like a needless concept in today’s world of cross-pollination and continual unmasking of the mystical. D.: Well, what is the definition of “true”? To me, a “true” black metal band would be one that is wholeheartedly genuine in their beliefs and what is expressed within their music. If a band puts on corpse paint and spikes and blatantly plagiarizes the music of the older bands, does this make automatically them true? I think not. In fact, I believe that would be quite the opposite. It just reveals how they are clearly placing the emphasis on the promotion of their image to the public, then on the actual honest creation of the music. (It should be said this is of course not an attack against every black metal band around; it is just a generalized statement). According to the perceived notion of “true black metal” should not ideals and the music come before image? Due to the sheer volume of bands that currently exist, there is really no way of truly determining which bands are genuine and which are simply more interested in imagery, thus I believe the term “true black metal” is quickly becoming redundant. Anyhow, I’m just going to create my music however I see fit and faithful to my own virtues. I couldn’t care less what it’s deemed as by others, or what others do with theirs.
I think a lot of metal listeners assume a band’s music is theirs. They take ownership of that which isn’t theirs. Sure, the experience derived from listening to a band’s music is theirs, but the music isn’t. Can you comment? D.: I have always held the belief that a band/artist is free to do whatever they wish with their music. It is sometimes irritating to see other people comment and give directions on how a band should sound and what they should do with their music. It should solely be the bands decision what they do with their own work; the fans can take it or leave it. Don’t get me wrong though, I’m deeply appreciative people can find a connection to my music and draw some meaningful experience out of listening to what I create, but ultimately, people’s opinions and comments hold no sway over what I do with my music.
What’s next for Woods of Desolation? New music or will there be another lull? D.: I would like to do another album at some point in time. However, I will not force it or rush it for anyone else. When the time feels right to commence work again I will, I’m just not yet sure how soon this will be. At the moment my focus is elsewhere -- specifically on a brand new band called Gástgedál, which I hope to reveal shortly. Those interested in keeping up to date with Woods of Desolation or my other band(s) can do so here: Woods of Desolation Facebook.
For those interested, that want to support the artist directly, my releases are available directly from myself whilst stocks last at: Ruin Productions.
** Woods of Desolation's new album, Torn Beyond Reason, it out now on Northern Silence Productions. Order a copy HERE.