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Nocturnal's Daniel Felber: "I think in these times it´s even more important to have the chance to escape reality or at least don´t get bothered with it if you know what I mean"

Interview with Daniel Felber from Nocturnal
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 12 September 2021, 9:54 PM

At times, things should be beautified but rather be straightforward about them, knock them on the head. The constant simulated like struggle between the old and the new, the natural and the polished, it appears like a thing that is pictured made in forever. The blackened Thrash Metalheads, Nocturnal, maintaining the old school prowess and the dichotomy from modernity as a concept, unleash their new album "Serpent Death", signing with a new label for the band, Dying Victims Productions. Steinmetal had a good chat with founder Daniel Felber about what is going on within the album, Felber's beliefs on what matters to the band and their sound and more..

Hello Daniel, or should I call you Avenger, I am glad to have you for this conversation for Metal Temple online Magazine, how have you been doing sir?

Call me Avenger! Daniel is just the name I got from my creators to use while wandering around this mortal soil ! Na, bullshit… Avenger is my stage name, Daniel is my real name… however you like!

This Delta variant has been quite strong with its touch, elevating the numbers infected with Covid-19 at a rapid pace. Officials are already talking about another variant, Lamda, which has already struck 30 countries. Is this ever going to end in your view?

I´m honestly very tired of this whole thing but we need to look forward and try to do the best out of the situation.

Onto happier things, and probably a lot more brutal, Nocturnal came back after quite some time without a full-length release. It is true that you had a split right before the pandemic hit, yet still a lot of time has passed. Would you say that it was the situation of life striking you at your face or rather inner dealings within Nocturnal?

We released a split 7” EP with NUCTEMERON in January 2020. This contained a re-recorded version of “Preventive War” and a DESTRUCTION cover song. It was good to have something out with the new line up. It was a test ride as well to see if I can record the songs well enough myself that a mixing engineer can work with them because I had plans to record the next full length by myself. Everything worked out as planned and so I also recorded “Serpent Death” myself, just the drums were recorded in a professional studio in Belgium where our drummer John also has his rehearsal space.

A new beginning demands changes, and after being part of the giant roster of High Roller Records, you continue your journey through the underground by signing with one of its solid stones, Dying Victims Productions. How do you find this signing in contrast to previous cooperation you had with the last two labels? What makes this move of yours different?

We had the option to do the new album with HIGH ROLLER as well, we also had nothing to complain about the work they did for “Storming Evil”. I´m very thankful for the chance they gave us in a time no one else wanted to work with us. But after all these years and the rise of DVP during that time from a hobby tape label to a professional business, we just feel more comfortable between the bands on DVP. Our first label DISPLEASED can fuck off, since the guy who got us signed there left the label shortly afterwards all they did was ripping us off. Now they are defunct but somehow, they sold the catalogue of the label to some guy who tries to sell licenses incl. our first 2 albums. Don´t fall for this shit if you ever get a sketchy e-mail from someone offering DISPLEASED/FROM BEYOND licenses. Contact the bands directly if you want to do something.

When it comes to aspects of your philosophy, it has been rather evident right from the start, and your new album, titled, “Serpent Death”, doesn’t appear to hide the fact that raw darkness is your name of the game. Nonetheless, I always feel that there might be something that has yet to be revealed in each release. Where does the new record lead the listener lyrically? What makes it different on the horizon?

The lyrics are typical metal lyrics totally avoiding any real-life bullshit or political agenda. I think in these times it´s even more important to have the chance to escape reality or at least don´t get bothered with it if you know what I mean. If you are looking for poetry look somewhere else, if you want some striking anthems of classic metal and blasphemy get “Serpent Death” I use lyrics more to set a certain mood then to spread any agenda or teach a lesson.

There have been numerous bands that preferred to escape the happenings of the present and concentrate on their own universe. However, there were those that did the same but always left an opening for an interpretation about their dismay of what is going on in the real world. Where is “Serpent Death” standing in that regard?

I also believe that those bands which “leave things open for interpretation” are often just clueless what the fuck they are doing themselves. Just be vague and not clear and it automatically is hidden in a bit of obscurity and people confuse pretentious bullshit with magical artistry, ha ha. It´s a bit like those horror movies with stupid endings where I always think they were just too lazy to write a good story where everything gets explained and makes sense. It´s easier to just end somewhere and act all artsy fartsy and leave things “open for interpretation” For me this is just lame!

Maintaining your bewildering mixture between Thrash / Traditional Metal and first and second waves of Black Metal, that is a picture perfect of sticking to your guns. “Serpent Death” goes both ways, either blasting with speed or letting the heaviness sink in deep with mid-tempo carvers. Even so, would you say that “Serpent Death” displays a mild step forward for Nocturnal?
I think a good album should feel like a rollercoaster ride, and I think from that point of view all our albums (or even every album I was involved in) are built up in that tradition. I don´t really think in terms of “evolving” or anything. My approach was to record the album I´m missing in today's metal and I want to hear myself. I´m 40 soon, if you look back on the classic thrash bands. They did their classics with 17-20 years of age and already wimped out in their mid 20´s because of “evolving”…

Every songwriting session has its effects on its participants, at times even straying away from the usual. In regard to “Serpent Death”, what can you tell of the inspiration that was created while the record was forged? Any lessons of the past that you put into effect?

I usually write the songs alone, collect riffs first … later on I put them into context and crafting songs. Then I record a rough demo with simple drums for everyone can get a feel for the song. Usually that´s the point we get together and bring the songs into shape all together!

Truth be told, you have been around this band for the past two decades, continuing the previous question in a manner, would you say that “Serpent Death” contributed to your songwriting abilities, perhaps even teaching you new things?

If this album did teach me something then it is that I actually don´t suck that much playing solo guitars as I have always thought, ha ha. I did spend a good amount of time in writing and recording the solo parts this time, in the past this was more an annoying addition you have to have here and there somewhere, and since in the studio sessions in the past I never really had the time to really work them out. Therefore, they always ended up just OK but nothing which I really enjoyed, or I would call a pleasure to listen to. This is different this time. Besides this I think I just used the experience from the past to get this album together.

What I liked about “Serpent Death”’s overall atmosphere, is that when push comes to shove, and it is time to get chaotic, it feels like an ongoing storm. Is it merely the production talking or was there an emphasis on how to create such havoc for the listener to digest?

It´s a feeling thing… if something feels a bit lame we make it more intense. Of course, the production adds to it, there is a reason why we got Alex from Obscured by Evil Studio to mix and master it. I had the feeling he can get us the sound we want and I'm very satisfied with the result.

Ever since 2016, Nocturnal began an overall changing of the guard, new vocalist, and afterwards a new rhythm section. How did this lineup change make Nocturnal an improved unit, both chemistry wise and of course the contribution to the songwriting?

The contribution to the songwriting part at least this time was not very much since I usually write all the songs. But when it comes to the other instruments, I try to tailor my ideas to the style of individual. But of course, everyone did add his ideas here and there and especially in the bass part I'm very satisfied with basslines Incinerator came up with. To be a unit is very important for a band like NOCTURNAL to function… We are all friends and getting along personally is mandatory.

Your vocalist, Invoker, brought you a step forward to become the early to mid-80s Destruction, quite a load of conviction this guy, when he sings. What do you make of his performance on “Serpent Death”?

I absolutely love it. He´s a more “thrash” sounding singer than our previous vocalists which I personally like very much while others complain about it, but I guess it´s just because they are not used to it… I get it, no one likes line up changes, especially with singers… I think over the course of the whole album his vocals are quite diverse and not the same all the time which keeps it from getting boring.

Talking about 80s Destruction, there is the album’s production. I can understand that it is analogue, as close as it can get to sound genuine, unpolished with a wholesome of dirt. I have to ask, what makes these production values a kick in the teeth for whoever listens in your opinion?

You better have to ask what makes most modern albums sound so shitty? I think because all instruments simply don´t sound natural anymore. Everything is compressed to death, especially how most drums nowadays sound just makes me cringe. It does not necessarily be recorded analogue… “Serpent Death” wasn´t recorded analogue either… But it´s about capturing how the instruments you play REALLY sound.

In the end it´s a thing of taste… I read a review for Serpent Death where the guy said something like “When will this band finally manage to get a good guitar sound?” In this guy's ears for sure never… I have spent a lot of time into getting the guitar sound for this album and it absolutely sounds like I wanted it. Don´t like it? Fine! But don´t tell me I don´t know what I'm doing !

Listening to “Faceless Mercenaries”, it shares an interesting structure, still old school in its pattern, but both its melodic and cunning features, have an impact no doubt. What is your take on this tune?

I guess this is probably the most unusual song of the album with it´s RUNNING WILD like Riffs and a blast beat thrown in on the chorus. I absolutely love it …

“Suppressive Fire” on the other hand, is like enjoying several worlds at a time, like rejoicing in a fest of straightforwardness along with shreds of obscurity. How do you find this song’s impact on the record?

Yeah, this one I would describe as a mix of KREATOR and RAZOR. It´s another favorite of mine along with 9 other songs of the album!

Do you still believe that Nocturnal will take the stage this year or is 2022 a better chance for you guys?

We have one show at the Thrash Nightmare Festival in the Czech Republic in October still this year. I´m quite positive this one will take place and I'm really looking forward to it. Bur besides this we will probably just play next year again!

Daniel, I wish to thank you for your time and effort on this interview. Your youthful nature on the record is amazing, quite an energetic bomb for any day. All the best.

Thanks for the interview! Interesting you say the album has a “youthful nature” because I absolutely feel the same about it.


 



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