Der Weg Einer Freiheit – “Aufbruch” (Song Premiere and Interview)
Lofty, emotive black metal, driven by otherworldly noise-walls and grand climaxes. Sad and beautiful, but not without aggression and power. Melodic, and worthy of eyes-closed listens; introspective and collective. This describes German band Der Weg Einer Freiheit and their upcoming fourth full-length Finisterre, out on August 25 via Season of Mist. Check out an exclusive stream of the album’s opening track “Aufbruch” below.
We spoke with guitarist/vocalist Nikita Kamprad about “Aufbruch,” and Finisterre as a whole. Touching on emotional content, influences, and live experiences, Kamprad detailed what fuels Finisterre’s passionate take on modern black metal. He also touched on the band’s process and the challenges of self-producing the album. Kamprad plays alongside bandmates Tobias Schuler (drums), Sascha Rissling (guitar), and Nico Ziska (bass). The band will be on an European tour later this year with Inter Arma and Regarde Les Hommes Tomber.
Finisterre feels passionate from the get-go: the first track "Aufbruch" begins poetically with a heartfelt spoken-word performance (auf Deutsch). What deeper meaning does this opening passage convey to listeners as they delve into the album?
This intro passage is taken from the book (and later movie) "Die Wand" (The Wall) by Austrian author Marlen Haushofer, spoken by my aunt. It is a very inspirational work and lets you think about what you really need in life – if it may be better to just follow your instincts and detach yourself from civilization from time to time to be able to reflect and concentrate on things that really matter.
Detail some of the emotions which went into writing Finisterre -- how does the album's lyrical content support its musical content and mood?
The lyrical content is mostly inspired by the "Steppenwolf" and other works by Hermann Hesse that often convey quite an oppressive/depressive but also romantic mood. What fascinated me is the fact that even about 100 years ago (when Steppenwolf emerged) people seemed to have kind of the same problems and anxiety like today, and there was like a split within the society fueled by the media and public. People started to feel insecure, raise hate towards strangers, world economics crashed, and it all blew up in a big event that turned out to be World War I. It is alarming that the world today seems to head into quite the same direction and just a few seem to care. The music mirrors this quite negative, pessimistic, oppressive vibe – in a more inapproachable way than its predecessors due to its more complex and progressive structures.
You characterize your literary influence as having an “oppressive/depressive but also romantic” mood. The romance is the interesting part -- to me, it invokes a sense of beauty and wonderment. Does Finisterre (even with its “negative, pessimistic, oppressive vibe”) feel beautiful to you in a way?
I think since the very beginning there has always been this melancholic and beautiful touch within our music, and Finisterre carries this feeling as well. To me it feels like a sad fading beauty aroused by the melodies and classical harmonic progression that we use in our compositions. Here and there you will also find very harsh and straight songs like "Lichtmensch" or "Verbund," but I think what is important and keeps the music interesting is creating contrasts between things that in the first place seem to be incompatible with each other. We're trying to provide a medium where two or even more different extremes can coexist musically but also emotionally. "Steppenwolf" is a very self-reflecting work that centres around solitude and the inner battle between the normal everyday guy and the instinct driven, animal-like side of your personality that wants to break rules and fight (which is also illustrated in the album artwork).
Finisterre (and especially “Aufbruch”) feel like they combine the aggression of Unstille (2012) with the variation and color of Stellar (2016). How did the new album turn out in terms of the overall development of the band's sound?
Yes, that is true. "Aufbruch" is a song that strongly reminds me of Unstille's "Zeichen.” Not only in terms of tempo and songwriting, but it also carries kind of a similar atmosphere. However, there are a couple of new things that I've been trying out since Stellar, such as the clean vocals in the slow and doomy second half of "Aufbruch.” Ever since we've been trying to approach a very natural songwriting, take everything as it comes and don't rush on things. We don't like creating music in a hurry, and we also take a lot of time to achieve the sound we think fits the music best. On this album, we focused on a very organic yet fleshy production without much coloring in the mix. We tried to record every instrument the exact way it is supposed to sound in the end. This way we were able make sure the album represents the band's sound as it is right now.
A lot of bands from predominantly non-English speaking countries choose to write songs in English -- what influenced your choice to write in German (aside from the obvious fact)? What's your opinion on why bands do this?
It wasn't really a "choice" for me. At the very beginning I haven't thought about how the music and lyrics are being perceived by the people as this project was actually never intended to be published at all. So basically the lyrics reflected exactly how I felt back then (almost ten years ago) and I was looking for a way to express myself lyrically without changing the language, character, and message of the words. Obviously the only way to achieve this is to write in my mother tongue, which is German, of course. I think that is the main reason behind writing and singing in the native language for other bands as well. But aside from that fact, German is quite a rough and "angry" sounding language, which also fits the music and singing style very well. And that may also be the reason why people from other countries that even don't understand a single word from the lyrics find it interesting, even exotic, to listen to our music.
Did you find yourself listening to any particular bands or genres more than others during the writing process for Finisterre?
Yes, I listened to piano music a lot during the writing and recording process of Finisterre. I love Chopin's Nocturnes, but also [the works of] Bach, Schumann, and Beethoven [led me to finally] practice my piano skills again since I had my last lessons in my childhood. Classical music has always been a big inspiration for me. It's the variety of different harmonies, structures, moods, and the perfection of the composition within this kind of music. Obviously, we're still doing metal, which doesn't sound like classical music in the first place, but if you go deeper into the music you may find some connections here and there.
Were there any challenges in putting the album together, or did you encounter any situations from which you learned a valuable lesson?
The biggest challenge but also most valuable lesson at the same time was the whole recording process of the album itself. Since I'm working as a freelance music producer, we've decided to produce the album ourselves including the first demos, pre-production, the actual recordings, and the mix. Due to the small budget you normally have as a band our size, you never get the opportunity to spend almost six weeks in the studio just doing music, eating and sleeping. But since we needn't pay an external producer, we could spend all our budget on the recording itself without ever keep an eye on the time (well almost, still we had some deadlines to meet, of course). It's been more than 250 hours of work excluding songwriting, practicing, and pre-production, but it was 100% worth it and we're very proud of it.
If you could exit your body and watch yourself performing "Aufbruch" live, would you headbang, raise your fists, get rowdy, stand with your eyes closed, or something else? How does your music make you feel, personally?
I think it would be one eye closed and dreaming and the other one open watching the drummer during all the blast parts in the beginning. I think one can tell from our music that we are quite addicted to blast beats, and personally I always enjoy watching the drummer. If I re-chose my instrument, it would be definitely the drums now. Later in the song, when it comes to the clean vocal passage, I would raise my fists and sing along. It somehow reminds me of the clean vocals on Emperor's Anthems To The Welkin At Dusk" (without any valuing, this album stands above all in the genre in my honest opinion). I had the pleasure of watching them live at Hellfest this year, and I did the exact same thing here (raising fists and singing along).
You mentioned, when speaking about the opening passage to "Aufbruch," that it might be better to "detach yourself from civilization from time to time" -- does your music, or maybe Finisterre specifically, sometimes serve as detachment for you?
You simply need some time off in this fast world and what often serves me as a place of retreat is music. Not only listening to music but creating my own little universe where I can do and tell whatever I want. Others find that place in reading, writing, sports, cooking whatever. You just have to find your own way and that is basically what this band is about in the first place. Every album and every song is kind of a snapshot of the feelings and thoughts in that very moment of its creation, and Finisterre is just another chapter in this book of life.
Preorder Finisterre here. Check out the tour dates below.