Feral Light Embraces the “Cold Ground” (Early Track Stream + Interview)
The limited, underground black metal release poses a problem: how do you get people to hear your art while maintaining the exclusive nature of what ultimately defines the underground in black metal itself? The method itself becomes part of the overall aesthetic, but, even then, it remains difficult. Minneapolis black metal duo Feral Light embraces this notion of a dedication to the underground while simultaneously casting it off through releasing a cassette edition of their upcoming EP Ceremonial Tower, which is limited to 40 copies, while simultaneously making everything available digitally on their Bandcamp.
"I guess there are a few reasons behind the thought process on this," says Feral Light vocalist and guitarist Andy Schoengrund (ex-Wolvhammer). "As most bands know, it can be an excruciating process trying to shop to labels. It is a gamble for the artist and certainly the label. Especially when we all expect vinyl. From an 'artistic' point of view, the thought was that these three songs, while leaning more towards it, are still kind of on an island of their own away from the new material we are working on, as well as being different from the Life Vapor stuff. As far as the incredibly limited aspect, we shall see. We try our best to stay humble about things and not be unrealistic about our expectations."
Ceremonial Tower is a definite departure from what one would expect for something so limited. Ferocious and with an audio fidelity sorely lacking from the black metal underground, this newest Feral Light release shows new growth for the band beyond last year's Life Vapor. Utilizing controlled discordance in conjunction with atypical melody lines and a thick, tonal lower-end, the duo of Andy Schoengrund and Andy Reesen's distinctly modern, "dissonant" take on black metal doles out ferocity in vast amounts, lacking any sort of restraint. The underground has been infiltrated, and limited cassettes aren't for the unlistenably raw anymore. Listen to an exclusive pre-release stream of Ceremonial Tower closer "Cold Ground" and read the full interview with Schoengrund below.
Ceremonial Tower is released in an incredibly limited edition of 40 copies. Though this isn't a full-length record and you have a little more freedom to do what you want with it from a pure marketing standpoint, what made you choose to go the limited route?
I guess there are a few reasons behind the thought process on this. The main one being we figured it would be a way to take the pressure off of ourselves a little bit in the way of expectations. As most bands know, it can be an excruciating process trying to shop to labels. It is a gamble for the artist and certainly the label. Especially when we all expect vinyl. From an 'artistic' point of view, the thought was that these three songs, while leaning more towards it, are still kind of on an island of their own away from the new material we are working on, as well as being different from the Life Vapor stuff. As far as the incredibly limited aspect, we shall see. We try our best to stay humble about things and not be unrealistic about our expectations.
What are your thoughts on the more materialistic, "buy now or cry later" aspects of underground, collection-forward black metal?
As a consumer and listener I find it annoying. Only because there is no way to keep on top of everything. I do hate missing a release or limited reissue, only to have to pay way more on discogs down the road. I kick myself every time. As someone who has played in underground metal for a pretty long time (see, 'old') I can appreciate it. Before [the age of] everything being at our fingertips, it was all physical medium, and you had to really want it. Tape trading, letter writing, etc. Like, read about something in a magazine or buy something based on if the cover art was cool. Take your chances. So in that regard I can respect the worship of the limited vinyl, cassette, boxset, whatever.
This isn't the first time Feral Light has released something independently. As an independent artist releasing your own music, what philosophies do you carry about the end, physical product?
I think we try to do our best to always keep our core framework, while still trying to progress in ways that make sense while still taking some chances. I would also be lying if I said releasing music independently wasn't out of necessity at times. There are so many bands now, and so many good bands. Even much more so than ten years ago. It is unrealistic and irrational to think all of our favorite labels would like to press 1,000 records in six color variants just because we ask. For this ep it especially made sense to just go at it on our own. It took so much of the non music related stress out of things.
What were your goals for this particular release, which both is and isn't a stop-gap between Feral Light albums?
These songs had been in the can for a little while now, and we wanted to get them out on a cool medium without a ton of hassle and fanfare. As mentioned, these three tracks were all written at the same time with a particular theme in mind, and they sort of stand out from our other material; past and future.
Now that Feral Light is entering its seventh year and sixth release in that span, how do you feel the project has evolved over this period of time?
I think when I first started writing ideas for Feral Light, I much intended it to be a continuation from where I left off with Wolvhammer. I think at this point in time that Andy Reesen and I both really know how we write and how our playing styles work together. I don't think that really hit potential until Fear Rides a Shadow. We are pretty methodical with things once the writing process starts, which I feel leaves room for growth and experimenting with different sounds etc. I guess our goal is to always have each release be a little bit different and new without completely abandoning everything. Who wants to hear the exact same album released ten times anyway?
Ceremonial Tower independently releases February 26th through Feral Light's Bandcamp.