From Blackgaze to Post-black Metal – An Interview with Downfall of Gaia

From the fertile metal-lands of Central Europe springs Downfall of Gaia . The self-described “post-black metal” band have been skulking around the underground for years now. With a new album coming up and the metal scene at in its most experimental stage since the early 1990s, it’s only fitting that we at Bucketlist caught up with this strange, strange band.

So….it’s been two and a bit years since the release of Atrophy. How have you guys been spending that time?

We’ve been on the road basically supporting the album. We toured Europe with CONAN, have been to Japan with DER WEG EINER FREIHEIT, toured together with HAMFERD, have been to Russia, a few festivals… Besides that, we’ve been constantly working on new demos for our new record “Ethic Of Radical Finitude.“

Any plans for a new album release anytime soon? We loved Atrophy and would like to hear more of anything you’ve got!

Thanks a lot for the kind words! And yes – we already have something new in the pipeline. Our new record will be out February 8 th via Metal Blade Records and is called “Ethic Of Radical Finitude.”

You guys have such an eclectic sound. There’s black metal, post metal, death-doom, even some d-beat hardcore. Do you like being labelled or do you just go where the music takes you? What sub-scene would you say you fit in best?

I guess I can speak for all of us when I say that we are not big fans of stamps, it’s nothing we need or want. I guess this would reduce the way we are creating music way too much. We are playing some kind of modern sound, I would say, and as you already, said we are combining lots of different elements. But I also get that labeling music is helpful to discover new artists. So if we would have to break it down, let’s simply call it post-black metal. I guess this term includes enough freedom to combine different elements in our music, but it also gives the listener an idea of what it could be.

Your name always pops up in discussions of post-metal and the more nebulous “blackgaze,” along with Russian Circles and Deafheaven . What is blackgaze? Have you ever considered yourselves a blackgaze band?

Not really. I can’t deny that bleak and atmospheric soundscapes are definitely a very important factor when it comes to our music, but if someone would ask me if I would call Downfall of Gaia a “blackgaze“ band, I probably would say no. It’s definitely flattering to get named alongside those bands, and it’s not that I deny the similarities. If someone wants to label [us] as “blackgaze“ it’s totally fine.

On this note, metal is usually defined by aggressive playing. You guys are heavy, but I don’t sense a lot of Slayer-style rip-your-head-off aggression. Do you think there is a trend in metal heading towards a less hyper-macho sound?

Depends. I mean, there are still those bands who sound like Slayer, there are still bands with a way more aggressive sound than ours, and there are still those people who label this kind of music as “hipster-metal“ and not “true metal.” I get both sides, the more conservative people and the more open minded people. In my opinion, metal grew a lot in recent years and sometimes it can truly be hard to label the music with just one genre. But in the end – I mean, why should we? As long as something is good and delivers some kind of emotion – in [any way] ever – it’s a good thing. In the end it’s art, and art is free to do everything. I wouldn’t say that there is a “trend“ towards a different sound, but I would definitely say that the whole scene became way more diverse. Which is a good thing in my opinion.

Explain your songwriting process. Does one member of the band come up with most of the ideas or is it a collaborative effort?

I usually write and prepare our records at my place. I’m recording demo tracks and as soon as a full song is written I get in contact with our drummer Michael. Until that point it’s just recorded guitars and a drum set in my mind. Right after we start to exchange drum ideas, the next step is Mike programming the drums. When there is enough material for an album, enough demos and a rough path, the four of us get
together and start to work together on the skeletons, start to work on even more details. This is how it usually happens.

Would you rather move up to arena or festival main-stage shows, or stay in the underground? Is there something more rewarding about playing to a few fans who love the band rather then a huge amount who know nothing about it?

We love the underground and I guess that’s where we belong and where our music receives the most attention. Our sound is definitely not a commercial one and its more for the people who like to get deeper into metal and who like to explore the scene, not because they heard something on the radio but more because they are in love with what they do.

Who are your favourite bands out there in the scene? Do they sound like you, or are they different? Do you listen to music that is like what you play?

Two of my all time favourites are definitely Neurosis and Agalloch. It’s not that I’m still listening everyday to those bands, but they had a huge impact on my musical path. But in the end, all of us are totally openminded and like to listen to lots of different genres. I guess I would get crazy if I would listen just to the same music over and over again…

Europe’s metal scene is so far ahead of ours in North America. What’s the biggest difference you’ve found between the European scene and other ones?

It’s definitely the touring. Touring North America can be a pain in the ass. No sleeping places, no food, no nothing. You need to spend money for a cheap motel next to the highway each night (or get a really bad sleep in the van while sitting) besides also paying a lot of money for working visas and of course flights. Overall, the financial aspect of touring the states is really tough and a big problem for European bands of our size. It’s tough to make it over the official way. That’s basically the main reason why it has been so long since our last US tour.

What’s on your Bucketlist?

Play Wacken Open Air – which we will do in August. Touring China and Canada for the first time.

Written and Compiled by Max Morin
*edited by Kate Erickson

About Max Morin 52 Articles
Max Morin likes his music the same way he likes most things in life; distorted, and full of energy. Max is a lifelong metal fan who, after seeing AC/DC for the first time at age 12, knew that he wanted to write about music for a living. Many years later, and with a history degree from York University, Max is doing exactly that, for Bucketlist and Exclaim! magazine, among others. Max’s favourite bands include Pink Floyd, System of a Down, Sex Pistols, Rammstein, David Bowie, Nightwish and Jimi Hendrix. He started living when he was born and will continue living until he dies. In his spare time, Max enjoys playing bass, guitar and Playstation. His greatest regret is not mastering the bass solo in “My Generation” by The Who.

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