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Darkness's Arnd Klink: "Due to the pandemic we weren't able to play concerts. So there were no public activities of the band and a recording was the only possibility to show we are still alive"

Interview with Arnd Klink from Darkness
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 13 December 2020, 9:59 PM

The fact that bands have to release new material, or sometimes out of the drawer or shelf kind of material, can be interpreted as a sad thing. With the inability to play live, due to the pandemic, that is still with us, and along with the objection to submit to live streams, it is probably best to just have material out in an orderly fashion. The German Thrash Metal veterans, Darkness, are feeling the current state of affairs, and that didn't push them away from showing their relevance with "Over And Out". Short but sweet, but also deadly and unkind, the message is out there. Steinmetal had the chance to talk to Arnd Klink of the band about the new effort, a little pandemic talk, that special cover, and more…

Hello Arnd, it is awesome to have you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine, how have you been doing sir?

Hello Lior, the honour is from my end. I'm fine so far.

I trust that this rather peculiar period of time has been some of a challenge for you personally, especially since this pandemic is one a worldwide scale. How would you describe the experience of the last six months? How have you been dealing with it?

It is a crazy time, you are right. Fortunately, the pandemic didn't strike me that hard. My family and the band are well, no one was infected so far. My financial loss was not too worse either. But it is very, very hard that gigs were postponed or cancelled. This year we would have been to Russia and the USA for the first time and it is so sad that we were not able to play these shows.

When I found out that Darkness is close to releasing a new album, titled “Over And Out”, I was rather intrigued, not due to being a fan only, yet rather mainly because of the direction of the previous "First Class Violence" album. However, you came with a different statement for this one, as if celebrating a milestone. How would you describe this album in overall? Is it mainly a war cry to show that you are still alive or perhaps a calling card for a next record?

I think it is both. Due to the pandemic we weren't able to play concerts. So there were no public activities of the band and a recording was the only possibility to show we are still alive. On the other hand, the recording is a calling card for the next album, that's a nice description. During the last five years Darkness developed a lot. The music is not the rumbling thrash that we played in the eighties any longer. Nowadays we don't fear melodies and it is more elaborated, although it is still fast, brutal and uncompromising. With “Over and out” we want to show that we are able to create more than we did in the past.

Why was it that important for you to include both new, cover, old and live tracks in this particular album? Please explain the timing.

With “Over and out” we want to show that we are able to create more than we did in the past. The new songs are something like the “missing link” from the old to the new Darkness.

The cover version is something like a tribute to Heavy Metal in general. With the live recording we wanted to show what happens during a Darkness – show and the Osaka recording is a very good example for the devastation we do together with the crowd. The old song is a challenge, like “Slave to the Grind” which is explained below. I always wanted to do an unplugged version of a Darkness-song and “Faded Pictures” from the first album opens up to be played as an unplugged song.

So really, why 7 tracks? Is there anything related to luck perhaps or there is something more to it?

No, absolutely not. There is nothing behind the “Seven”.

As always, you guys attack and criticize the social order and of course the barely understandable lack of awareness and self-awareness of people. With the Covid-19 and the public’s behaviour, do you still believe that the social order doesn’t really pay attention to reality?

Difficult to say! The governments try a lot to curtail the pandemic, but sometimes it seems helpless to me. On the other hand, some people ignore or deny the reality, and personal interests seem to be more important than the health of their fellow man. It is funny to see how different opinions and points of view collide. It is interesting to see how ignorant, selfish and blind most people are. Fact is: there is a virus that, however, threatens us. And we have to cope with that.

When it comes to the musical aspects of the newer tracks on the release, which are 1-3, it is carved in stone loyalty to the Teutonic Thrash Metal regime of the mid to late 80s, yet with a contemporary version of the past’s sound. Is it safe to say that Darkness remained stone solid in its musical direction within “Over And Out”?

Absolutely! But we have developed as musicians, our skills have become much better and our ideas are more elaborated and contemporary. But we don't deny our Teutonic Thrash roots.

Stretching the previous question just a little bit further, what do you think that makes “Over And Out”’s newer material, uncanny in comparison to “First Class Violence”? Anything that changed in regards to the songwriting perhaps?

The way of songwriting remained the same but the influences changed of course. Every album is a testimonial of the time and the circumstances when it was written and recorded. I think “Over and out” opens the gate to the next step for Darkness.

Out of the three new tracks, “Dawn Of The Dumb” attracted my attention. The mid-tempo chugging riffery, passing a long harsh message in order to pierce people’s minds, those who are used to closing their eyes, blind faith driven and obey without question. How would you say that the music integrated well with the concept surrounding the song?

Very well, I think. In my opinion “fast” does not necessarily mean “hard” and many of the hardest and most brutal songs in Metal-history are played in a mid-tempo. So is this one. Furthermore, the Chorus is interpreted very good by Lee: it is sung like a dirge; accusingly and almost desperate.

In regards to the mentioned tune, what do you personally believe in when it comes to people being led by faith or the idea of faith? What is your standpoint on that? How do you think people will eventually open up their eyes and see?

Too many people are led by their faith. The bible says that faith can move mountains and that's true: it can make people to be Saints or Monsters. But I think people will never learn or open their eyes, history proved that. Even people's behaviour during pandemic proves that.

The self-titled tune, “Over And Out” reminds me of the band’s classic years, as if it was a blast from the past. When you listen to this new tune, do you have any recollections of how it was back then, in the old days, raw and dirty?

I don't have this kind of remembrance when I listen to this song. The guys and myself often talk about the past times, good and bad ones. Nevertheless, we live in the present and not in or from the past.

I will be honest with you, I had doubts regarding the band’s ability to carry out Skid Row’s classic, “Slave To The Grind”, yet I ate my hat once the song ended. Sure that Oliver Weinberg isn’t Sebastian Bach, but it would be wrong to expect that. Why in particular this song came to mind for a cover to release? I guess that you have been a fan of Skid Row’s classic years?

I am honest, too: Skid Row have never really been part of my taste. Of course I knew the band but I have never been a fan. For me “Slave to the Grind” was the first Skid Row song to deal with. When we decided to record a cover song every one of us suggested a few songs. “Slave to the Grind” convinced me from the first time I listened to it. It has got a very brutal groove and some thrash feeling within.

The other guys shared the same doubts you have; if we would be able to reinterpret this song in a proper way. But that was the challenge! It would have been too easy, too predictable, to cover Slayer or Testament or any other thrash band. So I convinced the band to give it a try, I was sure it would work. In the end we are proud for the result: this song was the right choice to cover, wasn't it?!

You chose the opener of “The Gasoline Solution”, the song “Tinkerbell Must Die”, in its live version, to be part of this album. It is an explosive song no doubt, however, why not choose a live version of one of your classic tunes?

The concert in Japan was an overwhelming experience. But there is no certain reason why we chose this song.

With the release of this live version of the mentioned track, how much do you long to go on stage once again? Aren’t there any options as a support act for an open air show?

Unfortunately, there are no options for an Open Air Show as yet. But I can promise: I'd donate my liver to get back on stage. Playing live is something we really, really miss!

A sweet surprise for the end was the acoustic, or unplugged, version of 1989’s “Faded Pictures”. Though I am all for full electric barrage of heaviness, it is quite a soothing tune to listen to. What can you share of the experience of recording the tune and how do you find the end result?

I am satisfied with the result; it is exactly what I wanted it to be. I wondered if it would be possible to play an acoustic version of an old Darkness song; I just played the tune during a rehearsal and the guys were taken from the idea to record it that way. So we just did it. I play acoustic guitar very often; even on the debut album of my musical alter ego Sankt Velten (sorry, I somehow had to mention Sankt Velten in this interview, haha) are many acoustic parts. So it was nothing special to record that. The special thing is that people don't expect something like an acoustic song from us.

Were there any considerations within the band to go up on live stream and perform, mainly just to feel a stage, even though not in front of people?

No, never. You can't fake up a gig! Perhaps it sounds esoteric, but there is something like a spirit that unites the band and the audience in a gig. That is what a gig is about. Of course we would perform in a live stream but that won't be more than just a “tele recording” and no substitute for a real gig.

With time on your hands, until this is all over, any plans to start working on the next album?

Certainly! There are a lot of ideas kept imprisoned in my drawer that want to be uncaged. Hopefully next year there will be a new album – but that is no promise!

Arnd, I wish you only the best, thank you for the time for this interview. Even though short, “Over And Out” was sweet and deadly. Cheers sir.

I have to thank you, Lior. Hope to meet you soon when the Covid-fetch is over and we all are able to get back to concerts.


 



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