Hi Tom, can you introduce yourself and specify where does the name « Dwarrowdelf » come from ?
I’m Tom, I run Dwarrowdelf! I picked the name after finishing my first EP, « Of Darkened Halls » – the lyrics for the three songs on that release were all about Tolkien’s Dwarves, so I wanted the name to continue the theme. Dwarrowdelf is another name for the famous underground realm of Moria in the Fellowship of the Ring.
The themes of your songs are based on Tolkien’s universe, are not you afraid of saying « oh, another band talking about this » ?
Haha, that’s a fair point. I know bands have been doing this since Led Zeppelin, but I don’t think that means it’s a bad thing to do. People still write songs about love and heartbreak, or Vikings ! In all seriousness, I’ve always loved Tolkien’s world, and in starting this project I wanted to create my own soundtrack to it. The lyrics on this album are definitely more vague and thematic in places than the previous record, so I suppose it’s a different approach to the narrative form many bands use.
On your first album, we feel the influence of Summoning, with a majority of harsh vocals, on the 2nd you favored clean vocals. Did you decide it or is it a natural evolution?
I’d say it’s about half and half. On one hand, I definitely made a conscious decision to move away from the Summoning mould, and an all-clean vocals approach seemed like a great way to carve my own niche in the atmospheric metal world. On the other hand, it was a very natural development; during the writing phase, I never felt like harsh vocals were needed, otherwise I’d probably have put them in ! I’ll definitely keep my mind open when writing future Dwarrowdelf music; if the music needs harsh vocals again, they’ll come back!
The first album is also more atmospheric, the second paradoxically much more aggressive despite the clear vocals, was it natural for you, what were your inspirations ?
It’s interesting you say that, I’d not really looked at it like that! I suppose Of Dying Lights has more blastbeats and faster riffs than the first album… I don’t think I considered the music in terms of aggression; my goal was just to create a soundtrack that evokes epic wonder. I tried to make sure I listened to a wide variety of music through the writing process; if I had to list some primary influences I’d say Wintersun, Sojourner, Summoning, Insomnium, Visigoth, Enisum and Winterfylleth.
How do you feel a few weeks before the release of the new album ?
I’m optimistic ! The feedback and reviews have so far been excellent, and are really praising the decision to go all clean vocals. It’s raising some interesting questions and conversation about the place of clean vocals in black metal, which I’m really enjoying seeing. Hopefully we can keep the promo machine rolling and get the album to as many ears as possible on release day!
You had a very original idea, mixing Sojourner’s « Homeward » and Summoning’s « Land of the Dead » to make it a song called « Home of the Dead ». How did you come up with this idea ?
I think I was just originally messing about with the two songs; they use a similar chord progression, so it was fun to play the melody of one song over the other. As I was doing it, I realised that it could potentially work well as an actual cover, so I put some work into figuring out the structure, and how to best combine different elements. Even though the rest of the album is clean vocals only, I felt that harsh vocals were needed here to be as true to the originals as possible, hence getting in Jack Reynolds from Asira; he did an awesome job, and I couldn’t be happier with how the mashup turned out!
How was the feedback on the first album, and what do you expect from the new one ?
I was blown away by the feedback for « The Sons of Fëanor » to be honest ! There was (completely justified) acknowledgement that the album was quite reliant on Summoning-worship, but most of the reviews that I saw praised the clean vocals and saw potential for Dwarrowdelf to rise above the masses. Bearing that in mind, I really hope « Of Dying Lights » exceeds expectations. It’s obviously come together really quickly, so hopefully people don’t think it’s rushed; I’m really proud of the album and think it does deserve its place in the current scene. To me, the new album sounds a lot more confident in its own identity than the first one, which will hopefully appeal to people.
Mike Lamb from Sojourner produced the album, Chloe Bray (Sojourner also) sings on the new album, and you covered « Homeward » (at least a part of it), how important are they to Dwarrowdelf and what do you think about their career so far ?
Sojourner’s « Empires of Ash » was the first atmospheric black metal album I really got into, so they’ve been pretty instrumental since Dwarrowdelf’s beginning. I feel so grateful to have developed such a great working relationship with Mike since first getting in touch, and I’m proud to call him a good friend! I’m also so pleased that they’re getting the recognition they deserve, with some great tours and shows, and their recent signing to Napalm Records! I’m excited to support them as they grow from strength to strength, and can’t wait to see them live soon.
Could you consider doing concerts in the future, even if I know it implies recruiting musicians ?
I really would love to, but I’d only consider doing it if I had the time and resources to be able to do the songs the justice they deserve. Obviously with something as layered as atmospheric metal, there’s a lot of logistics to figure out; if the opportunity ever arises, I’ll be sure to do my best to make it happen.
Thank you for the interview and congratulations for this fantastic new album « Of Dying Light », do you wish to add something for the French fans ?
Bonjour, et merci beaucoup pour le soutien ! Thank you for the great questions, it’s been a pleasure.
Interview by Nidhögg