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Forest Of Shadows is a band that has digged a furrow of its own since the start. A delicate frame for a dark melancholy. Where does the creator stands towards his creature? That’s what we’ll find out in this interview.

Interview with Forest Of Shadows.
1) Hello Niclas. Let's start with some burning-hot question: is Forest Of Shadows still alive? There hasn’t been any fresh news on your official website or myspace since 2008, around the release date of ’Six Waves of Woe’, almost three years ago. Have you been involved in Forest Of Shadows (and in music in general) all this time?

The band is still alive but I can't say I have given it too much attention lately mainly due to family and work taking up too much time. I guess when things calm down a bit I will be able to focus more on music again. Since making music isn't what I do for a living I only want to spend time with Forest Of Shadows when I'm in the right mood and have the right motivation. I rather spend one or two days a year with Forest Of Shadows and create music with full focus than spend an hour every now and then during late hours when I have no focus whatsoever. If it will take me ten years to put together the next album then that's the amount of time it will take. I see no reason to set up some kind of deadline.

2) Is there any new release of Forest Of Shadows that would be precisely planned in the future? … (And if so, what could we expect from it?) … Or even something like a compilation gathering all rare demo material composed up until 2000 to celebrate the approaching 15-year anniversary of the project?

There is of course material for a new album but it's still sketches so it's hard to say how long it will take to make an album out of it. In the meantime who knows what I'll do. Maybe I'll upload some more demo material on the website or put together some acoustic versions of existing songs. There is so much that I want to do but there is so little time to do it.

3) During the past decade the Firebox / Firedoom label has done a lot for the diffusion of the extreme Doom genre and its recognition, and it’s still true nowadays. Since you have developed a close relationship with this label, what do you think about their work (communication, promotion and so on …) towards Forest Of Shadows in particular? Do you plan to work with Firebox / Firedoom again in the future?

I see no reason not to work with them. It's a great label that suits my band perfectly. As long as they want to release my music I'll let them. That's the way I see it right now.

To be perfectly honest I haven't listened very much to the other bands signed to Firebox/Firedoom and I don't listen that much to pure Doom these days either, so I'm not the best judge of saying if they make a difference or not. I have a feeling that they sign some rather alternative acts though and I guess that's a good thing for the scene.

4) Let's go back in time and to the beginnings of Forest Of Shadows, when you had painstakingly tried to establish a whole band and play live. What are your feelings today concerning this quite chaotic period? Is there any chance left for us to see Forest Of Shadows become a real band and play gigs in the future? Any chance to see projects like Ningizzia or Genesis Of Pain revived? Or new side-projects created?

I'm not the kind of person who likes to say “that will never happen” but the chances of seeing Forest Of Shadows live or Genesis Of Pain revived are probably quite small. I talk every now and then with Stephane of Ningizzia though about making something new or revisit some of the old recordings but just like it's hard to find time with Forest Of Shadows, finding time for Ningizzia is far from easy and we also have the issue with me living in Stockholm and Stephane in Paris.

When I look back at the time when I was active in all those bands and rehearsed on a regular basis and did live shows I can't say I'm seeing chaos. What I see is a time of infinite spare time and very few worries about most things in life. It's a period I really love to travel back to and listening to the music from that time is the perfect time machine.

5) Let’s go on revisiting the past: the release of "Where Dreams Turn to Dust" (initially a demo) by Rage Of Achilles was also such an exhausting story. Weren’t you worried about the future of Forest Of Shadows at that point?

Not really. I'm always worried when I invest time and energy into an album that it will not be released properly. So far, at least with Forest Of Shadows, my worries have been nothing but worries. It's hard to say if I would have lost the motivation to keep on making music with Forest Of Shadows based an album not being released. There's always some other label that want to release your stuff and if not you can always release it digitally. Even back in those days that was an option. So no, it was never a question about the future of the band.

6) With that release, Forest Of Shadows gained a certain recognition in the underground. Despite it being a solid piece of melodic Doom / Death haunted by poignant melancholy, don't you find in retrospect that it suffers a bit from a lack of personality? Too close to your influences? We can imagine that early-Katatonia played a great role in the definition of your style. What's your opinion on this band nowadays?

Well, the later albums are definitely more personal and original but still I wouldn't call “Where Dreams Turn to Dust” a Katatonia clone. I can agree that it's a quite typical melodic doom/death release from that time. Then again it's hard to see similarities between your own music and others so maybe I'm not the best of judges. You're right about the Katatonia inspiration though. They were definitely one of the main inspirations of that time and that inspiration has left its mark and I guess is still evident even though I don't listen much to Katatonia these days. I'm not saying that I have stopped liking their music or the classic “I don't like the new stuff”. There just happen to be other bands that interest me more these days.

7) Soon after, your fellow Micce Andersson left the band. Another painful crack in Forest Of Shadows history … Was it "the click" for you to lead Forest Of Shadows into a more personal way? Did you regret his leaving? Have you nevertheless kept in touch with him?

We keep in touch and have always been friends. We parted mostly because I felt it was best for the band. Like I said earlier I look back upon the time when I lived and breathed music with various bands with great joy and making music with Micce was one of these great moments in my life. Still, to be perfectly honest, me and Micce are and were quite different in all kinds of ways so if we wouldn't have split up then maybe things would have turned out worse both for the band and our relationship.

8) The first full-length "Departure" shows a far more personal approach, sounding very original within the doom frame with its Rock and even Trip-Hop influences. What importance has non-metal music in your private listening experiences?

I like to say that I listen to good music. I don't want labels such as Metal or Trip-Hop to restrict my perception of what sounds good or not. To some extent, on some level, I guess we all are colored by those restricting labels, I mean it's quite hard to admit that you like a song by Britney Spears, not saying that I do but you get the point. In the same way when you're into a certain band you tend to like most of their stuff even though some of the songs don't really suit your taste. If Atheist plays samba you tend to like samba but if a samba band plays samba you don't. To conclude I would like to say that all music that suits my liking have an equal importance and for “Departure” Trip-Hop, progressive Rock, electronica inspired me more than typical Doom/Death.

9) What strikes me in "Departure" is its impressive bleakness and despair. I imagine someone agonizing, trapped into painful abysses, very close to death, summoning the listener with comatose vocals. What's the mood you were in or what events did you face during the composition process to create such a dreadful piece of darkness and anxiety?

Most of the songs had quite old roots or where inspired by old events so it worked perfectly well to compose that album and still be a very happy person. Of course there were periods of unemployment, physical issues and some angst but I don't think that was the main inspiration for the dark color of the album. As long as you can find inspiration from somewhere be it yourself or someone else it's easier to make really depressive music when you're in a positive state of mind than if you're in the midst of a great depression. It requires quite a lot of energy to make music and when you're really down you don't really have that. At best you find energy to compose a riff or two that even though they may be the best ones ever you can't really make an album of just that.

10) Instead, I find that "Six Waves of Woe" develops a more positive feeling. It seems to rather look toward light and hope, in a more dynamic way, yet keeping Forest Of Shadows’ personal style developed on "Departure". Like the same human leaving torments behind, escaping the abyss to reach the surface, the same human back to life. Do you share that vision?

In terms of lyrics it's way more darker or at least the lyrics deal with real depressive topics unlike the typical I-feel-so-sorry-for-myself that were more present on “Departure”. I agree that there is some kind of darkness in “Departure” that isn't present on “Six Waves of Woe” but as a whole I would still say I find “Six Waves of Woe” a darker album but I guess once again that's due to the lyrics. Then again what is dark or not is very much up to the listener to decide. I can hear darkness in songs that others find happy and vice versa.

11) If a sole word would remain describing Forest Of Shadows, I would say: sincerity. But how would you personally characterize your music and analyze its evolution? Could you say that this project in the mirror of your spirit? The spillway of your feelings? Is there a cathartic dimension in Forest Of Shadows?

It's definitely a matter of catharsis and a way of expressing some inner dark side of myself. To call it a mirror would be a bit too much even though most songs deal with matters that are self experienced or experienced by close ones. In terms of evolution I try to evolve along the axis of sincerity and move away from the clichés both in terms of lyrics and composition. The original idea I had with the band was to create the most dark and depressive music ever, as I see it or rather hear it. It was never my intention to be a Doom/Death band just because I wanted to have a Doom/Death band. That just happened to be the style that I found most appropriate to express my musical vision at that time.

12) How do you see the Doom Metal scene nowadays, especially in Sweden? Any recent discover that you’d consider worth-mentioning and like to share?

Right now I'm listening to Kongh, they are Swedish, they are Doom and they are really, really good. Apart from that I don't listen that much to “pure” Doom but more bands with a doomy feeling. Take for instance Cult Of Luna, another Swedish band. That is a good example of a band that have that doomy feeling but can't be label Doom per definition. To be perfectly honest I find most of the more classical Doom bands boring since they keep doing the same thing over and over again and very often the angst in their music feels to much theatre. It's the same as with most Metal and Rock music. Most bands tend to repeat what has already been done and even though they do it good at least I loose interest with every new repetition.

13) Many thanks for this interview, Niclas. Last words are yours …

Thanks for the interview and don't give up hope about yet another album from Forest Of Shadows. There will definitely be one, some day, in a distance future.

Visit the Forest Of Shadows bandpage.

Interviewed on 2011-08-17 by Manu Buck.
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