Suspects in Darkness
CoC interviews Roland Wurzer of Darkwell
by: Adrian Bromley
Austrian act Darkwell are indeed a gem in the genre of gothic metal music. Not to say that their music is far from the standard gothic metal sounds and style, it's just that the band's debut record _Suspiria_ (on Napalm Records) has something really magical and hypnotic about it. They, in my books, are better than the rest of bands in this genre that have surfaced in the last little while, save for fellow labelmates Tristania. They too have taken gothic metal music to new realms.

The record by Darkwell -- a wonderful assortment of gothic overtones, dark and broody guitar riffs, haunting keyboards and enchanting vocals -- just reeks of passion. The songs meld together so fittingly, rarely coming to a standstill, as the emotional visions of darkened ideas and spirits rain down upon us through soulful numbers. The darkness is there no doubt, but there is a lot of beauty to be found within Darkwell.

Spokesperson/bassist Roland Wurzer talks to Chronicles of Chaos about the inspiration for the band's debut effort and the music they create.

"We have always just wanted to create music that we felt good about. Music that was emotional. Music that was gothic. Music that sounded like Darkwell", starts Roland down the line late one night in Austria. "It was very important for us when we made this record to be able to just be ourselves and let the magic within the band happen. We are all very talented musicians and we are capable of doing some great work. _Suspiria_ is proof of that."

Has it been easy for the band -- made up of singer Alexandra Pittracher, guitarist Roman Wienicke, drummer Moritz Neuner and keyboardist Christian Filip -- to make a name in the music industry?

"Naturally it has been quite difficult, especially in Europe, because a lot of the smaller labels have realized that there is such an influx of black metal albums in the market that they are now focusing on signing bands that use female vocals. There are a lot of bands getting placed in the gothic metal category and it makes things difficult for us to push the band and our music. We are always getting compared to bands like Theatre of Tragedy and other bands like that."

I too don't get the comparisons that Roland says the band gets pigeonholed with. I think Darkwell are a unique entity in the gothic metal realm. And I'll admit while they are not the most original sounding gothic band out there, they at least make an effort to do something fresh and inviting.

"For me, music is a great way to express myself. I think everyone in their lives tries to find a way to express how they feel and the emotions inside. Music was my way of doing it. Ever since I was thirteen or fourteen years old I tried to find many ways to express myself. At first I wrote lots of lyrics and poems, and later on I started putting them together with my skills as a musician. I worked hard with my instrument and combined it altogether and thought the whole thing through and started up a band in the early '90s."

"At first I wasn't very skilled at what I did, I'll admit that, but as the years went on I got better at it and it was becoming a lot easier to express what I was trying to get out of me. Nowadays I think we, as a band, are really able to work as a team and display our emotional efforts quite effectively."

He adds: "To be honest with you, making this type of music is not a very good paying job. It is hard to really get a lot of money from this, but for me being able to get up on stage and play and express our feelings is payment enough. Music comes deep within our hearts."

And while gothic metal music has done very well in the underground, with many bands out there doing quite well over the years, the gothic music scene hasn't really seen a lot of success on a much grander scale, say the exposure of Metallica. Why does Roland think that is?

"I think that has to a lot to do with the people in the gothic music scene being split up. Some only really listen to industrial music, while others listen to really depressing, morbid stuff. Then some only listen to black metal music and/or the type of gothic metal music that we play. Because of that, and the styles and visions not really combining with one another, the scene stays underground because no one is really making and effort to expose it, I think."

"I think one exception might be the success of Type O Negative", he comments. "But while they did see some success, it didn't go over with such massive success as would a mainstream music band. I really like Type O a lot. I'm a big fan of Peter Steele and what he has brought to the scene. It is also great to see how his band's work has gone over the years. They started off with some success and gradually went on to record a very commercial sounding record [1996's _October Rust_]. But because of all the stuff he dealt with in regards to label problems, success and life in general, he brought his sound and vision back into the underground with the last record [1999's _World Coming Down_]. I appreciate him for that and that is why I admire his work."

So in light of our conversation about the success of gothic metal music and how it has relatively stayed underground, where does Roland see the next release of Darkwell? Will it be more of a mainstream sound? Will it be similar in sound/style?

"I am not sure where we will go. We are currently working on the new record. We don't really say something needs to go or this needs to be harder, we just try to be as natural as possible. But already, with the three new songs we have started, there have been some changes. We didn't really change too much, I've noticed, but things have sped up in comparison to _Suspiria_. That record is very mid-tempo. This new material is indeed much faster. So it seems the new album will offer some new ideas, but none that are forced."

(article submitted 13/3/2001)

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