XIV Dark Centuries is a German Pagan Metal band that became one of my top bands with the excellent Gizit dar Faida in 2011. Nine years later, finally a new release, Waldvolk, candidate to best album of the year at Sounds from Apocalypse. In these tough times for music and live shows, I'm so glad to present this interview. Michel (vocals) kindly answered my questions.

Hello Brother, thank you very much for this opportunity, it's awesome to have you at Sounds from Apocalypse
We also thank you for the opportunity to say a few words to our Portuguese fans.

How do you define Heathen Thuringian Metal?
This description emphasizes the three strongest influences and characteristics of our music - paganism, our homeland Thuringia and metal. More simply described, the music consists mainly of Black, Death and Heavy Metal with folky melodies, partly with melodic, partly with heavy riffs on a demanding drum playing. The lyrics are performed genre-typical with growls, screams and of course with hymn-like clear vocals.

It's quite interesting to notice the connection between German Pagan Metal bands, like you or Finsterforst (another favorite) with local forests. Do you seek inspiration in Nature and in these woods?
I think, everybody has his own preferences or draws his inspiration from different influences. Exploring the forest is certainly part of it for all of us. Some prefer walking, some prefer cycling. Since we live in a very densely wooded area, it plays a very important role for us. It often offers a balance for this stressful world. Whenever time allows, I go out alone, with my family or my faithful companion. It is especially beautiful at dawn or in the evening, when shadows and light conditions create particularly beautiful pictures. You can feel why even our ancestors had a deep spiritual relationship with the forest or nature in general.

Congratulations for an amazing and matured Waldvolk. Why took you so long to release a new album?
Thank you very much. Since the last album the band's lineup has changed a lot. We parted ways with our guitarists who were involved until 2016, and at the end of 2017 our long-time drummer also left the band. Such line-up changes first had to be compensated. Waldvolk was recorded with a line-up that has only been back together in the rehearsal room since mid-2017. In April 2018 we started with the actual recordings. Originally we wanted to release the album at the end of 2018, as this was also the year of the 20th anniversary. Due to many minor problems, there were always small time shifts, which led to the fact that the album was not mixed until spring/summer 2019. The fact that all band members now have family and children made it difficult to get everyone together on time or to work on the album all week long. Since we like to work on limited editions, the construction of the wooden boxes or the creation of graphics did the rest to extend the time until the release.

Is the band happy with the reactions? And sales?
Many mags and fanzines have praised our latest work and often described it as our strongest album. It spans a bow from the beginning of the band and Pagan Metal to the present. Therefore we are already very satisfied with the reactions. Of course, there are also mediocre reviews or naggers from time to time. But that's just the way it is with art.
The sales have been quite good so far. Of course, you have to consider that CD sales in general have already decreased very much. Therefore we also offered the limited wooden box for the fans and for the first time vinyl from our album. So we try to compensate for the missing units somehow. All in all everything is ok.

I proudly own one of the beautiful wooden boxes, just 150 made. And a long beer table story to receive it because of Covid, thanks a lot for your care :D How did arise the idea to include hand collected thuringian forest soil in the box?
Yes, I can remember, because I sent your wooden box myself ☺
In times of more and more portals with mp3s and digital listening on cell phones etc. you have to come up with something special to still sell CDs. So a limited version was a must for us. We ourselves like to hold something limited in our hands as well. But nowadays there is hardly anything that hasn't been done by any other band. Our bass player Marley came up with the idea of the wooden box. Then the germanic ornamental discs and the forest floor was added. It fits just wonderfully to the album title Waldvolk and the idea behind the concept that more people nowadays again should look and look for the reference to their roots and the forest. The realisation however was not at all so simple. I own a box by Negura Bunget, who had done something similar once. But there the earth always trickled out. We wanted to avoid this by fixing it with special invisible glue. In addition, the box comes with a wooden USB stick with engraved logo. All in all, as we think, it is coherent and matches the title.

Unfortunately, Covid f*cked everybody's lives, specially bands and all the music industry. I miss a lot live shows. How are you dealing with these difficult times?
The most unpleasant limitation was, of course, that we couldn't all meet together for rehearsals. And that so many festivals were cancelled. In winter we made some extra merchandise to sell it at future live concerts. Especially for a new release, live concerts are very important to promote the album. We wants to present the new songs to the fans live. But no live concerts also means to have hardly any income. In the apron also some things must be pre-financed, the disk labels pay today also hardly still something in advance. On these costs we partially remain sitting now. Although we have to say that our fans have bought well, especially the limited wooden box. Despite all the financial losses, we still have to pay for our rehearsal room and running costs. There it goes us like many other "tradesmen".

Congratulations for the "Ich bin das Feuer" - Corona-Edit video (link here), quite funny and one of the best confinement videos I saw. Was it fun to create it?
During the time of the exit- and contact restrictions we all had a little more time, of course. And so we also had the idea to make a video. Of course, in times of restrictions this is not so easy. So everybody had to record his part himself in his own 4 walls. The recordings were then edited by our former drummer Rüd and cut together to the finished video. During the recordings several funny ideas came up, which we tried to implement, like the one with the toilet at the beginning or the story with the lighters. You just have to be careful that it doesn't get too silly. But I think you can see that we had fun creating the video. Anyway, we are a band that wouldn't call themselves dead serious and for whom the fun of music/ live concerts is immensely important. We were then positively surprised by the finished video and the reactions of the audience were consistently positive.

Hopefully some live shows are still being maintained for this year. What are your feelings for playing alive soon and back on tour (with Eisregen)?
We will see where the development will go. We have an open air concert next weekend. This must take place with considerably fewer guests, but with increased hygiene concept. We find it good that at all again concerts may take place, but one must think also of the organizers and club owners. Similar to restaurants, for example, it takes more financial effort to hold concerts with fewer people. But since the organizers would rather make a profit than a loss, there will certainly be some more cancellations this year. We hope that the concerts of the Eisregen Tour can take place. We do not live exclusively from the band and the music. But with some bands it looks different and they have it especially hard.

Is there any possibility for an European tour, like the Black Trolls Over Europe (2011)?
I think the current situation with Corona is simply too uncertain for that. The effort to plan such a tour is very high. A cancellation at short notice would therefore be very painful. In addition, almost all of the band members have families and children. Besides we are working normal in 40 hours jobs. With a band of 6 full-time working members it's already hard to plan and execute something like this. And due to Corona it is unfortunately not feasible at the moment…

As far as I know, you never played in Portugal or Spain. Haven't you received any contacts to play in these countries?
Yes, unfortunately we have never had the opportunity to play in Portugal or Spain. Last year we got an offer to play at an open air in Spain, I think it was the Saragoza Folk Metal Festival. Unfortunately the organization was delayed until the last minute by a concert agency and probably the organizer himself, so we didn't have time to plan vacations etc. At the Iberian Warriors we were also supposed to play once, but unfortunately it was similar with the organization. As I said before, since we all have to work full time, you need some lead time to plan something like this. Besides, the fee wouldn't even cover the travel expenses. So you need some idealism to play such concerts anyway. But serious offers are always welcome ☺

Has anyone been to Portugal? Any impressions or memories?
So I can only speak for myself. Unfortunately I have not been to Portugal yet. My brother once spent a vacation there, he showed me some pictures. Of course they were not representative for the country and its people.

Finally, do you want to leave a message to Sounds from Apocalypse readers and Portuguese fans?
Thank you very much for the interview. I hope to see you one day at a concert in Portugal! I don't want to get rid of any blala here, so a few serious words:
Respect nature! Honor and love your family, women and children! Have respect for the old! Be faithful to your true friends!

Thanks a lot for your time, looking forward to see the band alive someday!

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