If you happened to catch Der Weg Einer Freiheit on last April’s Heathen Crusade tour with Primordial and Moonsorrow, or bore witness to them pretty much opening up a new portal to raging dimensions beyond with The Great Old Ones, you’ll already know that the Bavarians' propulsive and purifying black metal finds its true calling on the stage.
Now the band are about to release their first ever live album, not entirely cryptically titled Live In Berlin –due for release via Season Of Mist Records on March 1 – recorded at the Lido venue last October. Celebrating their 2017, devastating studio album, Finisterre, but ranging across the band’s history, which is due to reach its 10-year mark later this year, Live In Berlin reaches a cathartic critical mass from the opening Einkehr and pretty much doesn’t let go over the course of nigh-on 90 minutes of sky-razing wonder.
Should you wish to experience a rip in the space/time/mind/heart continuum right now, rejoice, because we have an exclusive premier in the form of the track Repulsion, which originally appeared on DWEF’s 2015 album, Stellar. It’s doomy, clean-vocal build up is just a laying of ground for the cataclysmic eruption that surges organically to map out an emotionally wrought requiem before throwing in a plaintive aftermath for good measure.
Surrender to the all-consuming rite that is Repulsion below, and scroll down further for an in-depth interview with Der Weg Einer Freiheit vocalist/guitarist Nikita Kamprad!
What is your strongest memory from the Berlin show, and were there any aspects that were unique to the occasion?
Nikita Kamrad (vocalist): “I remember this day as the classic last-day-on-tour day. After 23 shows all of us were pretty done, the mandatory sleep deficit kicked in hard and I’d lie if I said we weren’t to finally being able to go home and sleep in our own beds. But maybe just because of the fact this being the last show we gave nothing but our best to make a big finish. Right before our set I was invited on stage by our French brothers Regarde Les Hommes Tomber (they’ve been supporting us on the whole run, great guys!) to sing a cover of Dissection’s classic The Somberlain with them. It was one of the greatest moments in my whole musician’s life to perform this song live onstage! So after that we played our 80 minutes DWEF set including two encores and the people went crazy. We had an almost sold out venue, so it was the perfect way to end this tour. After the show we had an aftershow party just outside the venue on the streets of Berlin. Friends and strangers joined and we had great time! At around 4 am we had our bus call back to our homebase Würzburg and were supposed to arrive home at around 11 am. However, just outside Berlin on the Autobahn a boar crossed our way, our driver had to do a sidestep and hit a barrier on the side of the road, which ended up in a huge mess, damaging the front of our vehicle (the boar wasn’t hit and ran away and luckily none of us was harmed) but leaving the bus/us not being able to move. After endless hours of waiting and sorting things with the police we finally made it home almost a whole day later as planned. Imagine this mid-tour, haha! So we’re basically happy this happened just on the way back home not forcing us to cancel any shows. Having this particular performance of this crazy night recorded and now released as our first ever live album makes it very special for us.”
You have your 10-year anniversary this year. What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned over the last decade? If you were able to see 10 years ahead when you started, what would have been the biggest surprise?
“Actually I wasn’t really aware until last summer that this band already existed for 10 years now. It was February 22nd 2009 (my birthday actually) when we officially released the first demo album so that’s why we decided to make 2019 a special year. Seeing how the average lifespan of young bands nowadays is not much longer than a few years we’re happy to still be around. It’s important to us having a slow but constant and lasting progression in our career. We never had the aim to be the biggest band on earth or earn our money with it. Our aim was always being able to exactly do what we want to do without too much pressure from the outside and having all freedom we need. I guess this is the biggest lesson we’ve learned over the years. Not taking it too seriously, don’t rush and most of all not force things. Let them happen naturally, especially when writing music – make sure to maintain your artistic integrity. Success isn’t money or fame, it’s being happy and doing what you love.”
Germany has a rich and impactful cultural history – to what extent as your country’s art and literature inspired Der Weg Einer Freiheit, and what traits have you found most personally resonant?
“I see my country as just some land with imaginary borders that I was randomly born into. Honestly I’m not too much into Germany’s cultural history although I’m aware it has a great variety of different artists and styles. Our recent album, Finisterre, was mainly lyrically inspired by German writer Hermann Hesse, but this was actually one of the only sources of German culture that had an impact on our music.”
Black metal has always lent itself to very personal interpretations. Where do you stand on adhering to the original sprit and finding something true to yourself that might not have been in the original blueprint? Are there musical lines you won’t cross, and was there ever any discussion within the band about whether to adopt corpsepaint?
“Corpsepaint was never really a topic in our band. From the start there was no need for me to wear paint or masks, on photos or on stage. It’s just like our music, it’s coming very naturally and I naturally haven’t had the need to change my outer appearance for that.
"I think in the first interview I did about ten years ago I stated that DWEF will never be a live band and remains just a one-shot project. Also it was impossible for me to think to use electronics/synth in my music apart from just guitars, bass, drums and vocals (which also hasn’t been the case so far). So now – 10 years, six releases and hundreds of live shows later I find myself still doing interviews, writing new songs experimenting even with synth patterns and other new elements and still playing shows and tours – and enjoying the hell out of this all! I learned to never say never; you don’t know the person you are going to be in 10 years, so don’t restrict yourself from doing anything you want. That also counts for the music you do. That’s also what makes it so difficult for me to say what the next DWEF record will sound like (a frequently asked question) and when it will be released. I simply don’t know.
“Under that aspect black metal is probably the most paradoxical genre. You have the true traditionalists who want black metal to sound exactly like the 80s/90s and condemn every new spirit that gets close to ‘their’ music. On the other hand you have so many great and openminded bands emerging from that genre taking music to another level, take Ulver for example or Oranssi Pazuzu. It’s just important what black metal is for you and accepting it shaping your life in a way or the other. For me black metal helped me to walk or in the first place to find my musical path and that’s why it’s always important for me.”
You’ve had a few line-up changes over the years, including losing a founder member. How has this impacted the band, and would you say it forced you to evolve in any way?
“Yes, indeed very much. When Tobias [Jaschinsky, former vocalist] quit the band in 2012 first it was quite a big loss since this obviously left us without a singer and frontman (what a singer mostly is). However, we had a couple of shows and even a tour upcoming that we didn’t want to cancel. So it forced us to find a solution pretty quick. We thought about getting a new singer and had a couple of friends in mind. But also we rehearsed a lot and tried to make it work as a four-piece, which more and more turned out to be the best and natural way to go. Without even auditioning a new singer we decided to keep the vocal position within the existing line-up which meant from early 2013 I was taking over the vocals besides the guitars. Without devaluating our former singer but actually this had an important impact on the band and on me personally as well. I’ve never seen myself as a singer (and everyone around me neither) but it opened up a completely new musical life for me. I feel very comfortable with this and can even more express myself in the music and lyrics. On the last two records I even tried out clean vocals, which was a thing I always wanted to do and I’m really keen to learn more about singing in general.”
Der Weg Einer Freiheit play Inferno Festival in Oslo April 18-21
Check out the band's Facebook page here
And pre-order Live In Berlin here!