Downfall Of Gaia: "We were always changing from record to record"
The composing duo of Germany’s extreme metallers discusses with us about the great "Silhouettes Of Disgust", the band’s sound identity, their return to the roots as well as the feelings that their music evokes
You can find the greek version of the interview here.
There are some bands that allure you from the beginning. Personally speaking, Downfall Of Gaia were that kind of a band. Since their debut album "Epos" of 2010 completely shaken the underground scene, German post/black/crust metallers started to construct a very selective and special discography. Their return with the brand new "Silhouettes Of Disgust" which is a serious candidate for the title of the greatest moment of their career, was more than enough reason for me to reach out to them.
The composing, vocal and guitar duo of Dominik Goncalves dos Reis and Peter Wolff solved all the questions regarding the intricate approach of the band’s sixth album. Uniting their latest post/black metal with (neo-)crust of their early era and the value of returning to one’s roots, creating a recognizable sound identity, every aspect around "Silhouettes Of Disgust" and the way the band internalizes dark emotions in their artistic vision, can be observed in the answers of the two musicians. Downfall Of Gaia have returned with a huge album and if you have any doubt, the band’s faith in their material will overindulge them for you.
Greetings, I am Apostolis and I welcome you to Rocking.gr! Congratulations for your new album! How has the feedback been so far?
Dominik: So far, it's been going pretty well. There's not much to complain about at the moment, and we're happy that the feedback is treating us well.
It’s been four years since the release of "Ethic Of Radical Finitude" and it almost seems like an entirely different world. Did the whole pandemic thing affect the creation of "Silhouettes Of Disgust"?
Dominik: Not really. Basically we didn’t touch our instruments for more than two years, during the pandemic. Everyone did focus on his own life and own things that were going on during that time. And once we felt the need to create music again, we did so. The only thing that really affected the process was the fact that our booked studio guy (Timo Höcke) caught Covid few days before we wanted to enter the studio. We were not able to re-schedule, due to family matters, deadlines and other private events, so we recorded bass, guitars and vocal in Peter’s studio on our own in Hamburg. And for one day we entered the (booked) studio to re-amp all of our recordings.
We definitely wanted to go back more to our roots, put some more dirt in the sound again
In your new album, it feels like a partial return to your DIY crust roots. Was this direction intentional?
Dominik: Definitely! We kind of felt the need to do something different on the new album. So we asked ourselves what we could do and talked about everything before we started with the songwriting. We definitely wanted to go back more to our roots, put some more dirt in the sound again. But of course without taking a step back. So basically the new record turned out to be a blend out of two worlds. The path things took organically during the last year, growing form release to release and our roots.
The band was born out of the (neo-)crust scene and I think we all kept that in our hearts
You are one of the first, and for me the most important, bands of a wave of black metal artists that fueled their sound with (neo-)crust elements. The new record sounds as the perfect amalgam of these two words. How do you perceive these two genres and what common ground do you find?
Peter: Thank you for the kind words! The band was born out of the (neo-)crust scene and I think we all kept that in our hearts, even though the black metal elements have been incorporated more and more into our sound. It blended naturally over the years and I never really separated those two genres in my mind. It always felt like a natural blend to me.
As a result, I feel that artists like Downfall Of Gaia helped extreme (black) metal get a more urban, personal and up-to-date, tone and aesthetic, pushing it away from the elements and themes of the second wave of the genre. How do you see the post/extreme metal scene today and what would you wish for it to change?
Peter: To be honest, I don't have an overview of the current post-metal scene. I still listen to a lot of my old favorite metal and crust bands, but when it comes to new sounds I'm now more interested in other genres.
The songs of the record are all rich of content and information. Was the compositional approach different this time around?
Dominik: Not really. Basically, it was the same as always. It's always topics that keep me busy at the time and that are present in my head….for whatever reasons.
I guess I wouldn’t be able to create lyrics/themes in any other way.
From the cover and the title, the album draws immediately attention. How did you end up picking them for the new record?
Peter: Dominik and I did the cover artwork and we thought that the image absolutely represents the feelings and the atmosphere we associate with the record. And it looked like the perfect backdrop for the concept to us.
The title came from Toni, our bass player, he is always doing the titles and song names and it’s his interpretation of the lyrics.
Our music is our personal processing of our feelings and thoughts about the world we live in
Again, you create intense and bleak atmospheres, which have these extreme detonations with rhythm changes and guitar melodies. Were you aiming towards a specific feeling thematically?
Peter: We never planned to aim for a certain feeling. It always came naturally. Our music is our personal processing of our feelings and thoughts about the world we live in. We process all our frustration, anger and grief with it. Thus, the mood that our music transports is naturally rather dark.
You chose as first single of the record the song "Bodies As Driftwood". Why did you come up with it? Furthermore, what does this song speak about?
Dominik: We picked that one because, in our opinion, it represents the album in the best way. It has some new elements like synthesizers but also the d-beat-ish kinda parts and the blast beats. And we had the feeling that this song is a tiny bit different from what people are usually used to hear from us. So we thought it is a good starting point for the album.
The track tells the story of a person who, under the cover of night, can finally be herself and escape the ever-increasing malaise of everyday life. Hopes and dreams quickly give way to reality and threaten to break down due to outside pressures. Unpaid bills, problems at work, no social network, loneliness, no help, total overwhelm in a constantly accelerating zeitgeist. Metaphorically speaking, this person uses the darkness of the night as a protective veil.
Before songwriting, we really talked a lot about where we want to go and what our goal is with Downfall of Gaia
As the second single, you picked the album opener, "Existence of Awe", a track that wastes no time to welcome us to your new sound. Do you think that this album opens another chapter for Downfall of Gaia?
Peter: With Downfall of Gaia we were always changing from record to record. But yeah, I think we never made such a big step as this time. We used a lot of new elements, like electronics , wave-ish style and female vocals. We also used a new kind of production. But we also used old elements that we haven't used since our first records. I think the most important thing about the new record is that before songwriting, we really talked a lot about where we want to go and what our goal is with Downfall of Gaia. And I think in the last few years we've never been that clear about what direction we wanted to go with a record but also in the future.
"Eyes To Burning Skies" has one of the most different and atmospheric passages of the record during its first half. Would you like to guide us behind the creation of the song?
Peter: All the electronic and drone parts were written after the guitars. So they always build on the atmosphere created by the guitars and are used as an element to enhance the emotions.
"Unredeemable" is a song that stands out towards the end of the record. Where does its title refer to? Do you consider your music as a way to conjure hope?
Dominik: I would not say that our music is meant to evoke hope. At least in the lyrical sense. Of course, everything is kept very metaphorical, so everyone can do with the lyrics and the music, what suits him. Everyone probably feels that completely differently.
Taking into account the current status of the touring industry, how difficult is it for an underground extreme metal band to play live shows and reach its audience?
Dominik: We are experiencing this right now with our release tour. Many promoters want to play it safe, so we as a band have to take more risks. These are difficult times for smaller bands. We just hope that the shows are well attended and everything will work out in the end. But if touring was our main source of income, then it would really be a disaster with the way things have developed.
Final question, and I would like to thank you for your time! Any future plans that you would like to share with us? The final words are yours!
Peter: Other than touring and live shows, we don't have any future plans at the moment. We will go on tour again in April for our release tour and at the end of the year for some festivals and other shows.