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Following the release of their powerful third album 'The Forestroamer', we caught up with Danish band Woebegone Obscured for an in-depth and candid chat.

Interview with Woebegone Obscured.
"It's not uncommon for Doom bands to have a somewhat glacial release schedule, and Woebgone Obscured - with a fifteen year history and a discography comprising three albums and a couple of EPs - do fit in to that stereotype. Nonetheless, all of the Danish band's works have been solid, and the newest release, 2018's 'The Forestroamer', is sitting comfortably as our Album of the Month for August. So, what better time to catch up with them and find out more about their past, present and future? Thanks to Danny, Quentin and Martin for all participating in answering my questions."

Talking to us today, Woebegone Obscured's 'The Forestroamer' recording line-up: Danny Woe (Vocals, Drums), Quentin Nicollet (Guitar, Bass) and Martin Jacobsen (Guitar).

Hello guys, and thanks for talking to us today. Could we start by introducing you all to our readers?

Quentin: Hi Mike. First of all, thank you very much for this interview. We are Woebegone Obscured and just released our new album “The Forestroamer” via the British label Aesthetic Death. We’ve been around for quite a few years now and are based in Aarhus, Denmark. We used to play Funeral Doom but evolved into some kind of Death/Doom with touches of Black Metal, Prog, Jazz, and and other influences.

And how are things going in your part of the world right now?

Martin: Things are very busy. We all have lots of stuff going on with other bands, work, and life in general, as well as Woebegone Obscured.

Full band/live line-up, with K Woe (Bass) and Mads Mortensen (Drums).

Your third album, 'The Forestroamer', is just about to be launched on CD and vinyl through Aesthetic Death, but before we get to that, can we just cover a bit of history? According to your Facebook page, the band was originally formed in 1993 as a doomy Black Metal outfit called Rimfrost - what was the story of that precursor?

Danny: Rimfrost was founded by me and two other members (not involved in music anymore). The line up changed a few times through the bands existence, and I'm still active with two of them in another BM project from back, called Above Ravens, actually. The first couple of songs was old school death metal, but we quickly evolved towards the more atmospheric stuff. Then the Norwegian and Swedish black metal scene erupted, and we took a lot from that extreme mentality. I guess that mentality also was the main reason we never really got anywhere in the rehearsals, because we were too busy with drugs, alcohol, fighting and other stupid shit.

And how did the transition into Woebegone Obscured in 2003 come about? What was the trigger for becoming a 'new' band, and how different a direction did you want it to take?

Danny: Rimfrost did record some demo stuff, and the last demo from around 1999 was actually meant to feature the song “Deathscape", but we didn't have any more studiotime left, so I saved it for later use, as I really liked the song and it was the first song I wrote in 1993-94. At this point in 1999 I was clearly getting more and more interested in the more heavy aspect of funeral doom, as it felt more right and dark for what I wanted to do with my state of mind. I met K Woe who had the perfect guitar skills to make something unique, and in 2003 I abandoned the name Rimfrost, and Woebegone Obscured was born instead.

Woebegone Obscured - 'A Gust Of Demention' (Live in 2013):

Where did the idea for the band name come from? I'm curious about the intended meaning - although it isn't strictly proper English, it still suggests plenty of interesting possibilities and images!

Danny: “Woebegone” means something that has not been taken care of. Like a broken cabin in the woods overgrown by vegetation and trees. “Obscured “ means something that is out of focus or hard to see. When I brought Woebegone Obscured to life, I was residing in a psychiatric hospital with depression, as I was broken from drugs and alcohol, and tried to commit suicide. I couldn't think straight and I had blurred vision and memory loss. Woebegone Obscured seemed like the perfect name for how I felt.

What would you consider your main musical influences? Rimfrost pre-dates any real 'extreme Doom' scene, Black Dementia was roughly contemporary with many of the bands who really shaped it, and Woebegone Obscured began at a time when it was really flourishing and branching out. So are there any bands that you would say particularly inspired you throughout those periods?

Danny: I think I heard diSEMBOWELMENT in 1996, and thought that it exceeded the black metal scene in the melancholic darkness I was searching for. Much heavier and extreme than Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride also, who was more an influence back in the first songs of Rimfrost. That being said, we never tried to sound like any particular bands, and we all like different stuff.

Discography (click to expand) - LPs: 'Deathstination' (Self-released, 2007), 'Marrow Of Dreams' (I, Voidhanger, 2013), 'The Forestroamer' (Aesthetic Death, 2018) - EPs: 'Deathscape MMXIV' (Solitude Productions, 2014), 'Woebegone Obscured' (Oceanwoe Productions, 2016).

The debut full-length 'Deathstination' finally emerged in 2007 - how come it took so long to have a genuine album release to your collective credit? Was it only based on material written after Woebegone Obscure formed, or did it have roots in earlier compositions?

Danny: Other than the song “Deathscape“, we basically started from scratch on the “Deathstination” album. I want to blame drugs and alcohol for the delaying process haha. Mostly my own abuse, to be honest, but certainly also the abuse from the former musicians that I've tried to collaborate with. One thing is struggling with your own crap, but it's even more difficult trying to control others people's behaviour on top of it.

'Deathstination' had quite a strong Funeral Doom element to it, something that's taken more of a back seat in subsequent releases. Did you deliberately shift the emphasis of the band away from that style, or did it simply come as a natural progression?

Martin: It has been coming slowly over the years. We are more people in the band now, and thus a lot more influences are finding way into the music. Some have more focus on the progressive, while others are more focused on funeral doom/death metal of the old style. In the end it all gets presented when we rehearse and write stuff, so we all get to work on a riff no matter who wrote it.

Woebegone Obscured - 'Vacuum Ocean' (Official, 2013):

There was another long break - six years - between that and 'Marrow Of Dreams'. How did you spend your time? Did it actually take that long to produce the follow-up, or was it more that there were other things to be getting on with?

Danny: That wasn't intentionally, and we were never on hiatus during that time. We try not to rush things too much when writing new material. Another thing is that at that time we were a duo without an actual rehearsal room, expanding to a trio.

So what was the main difference in approach between the two albums, as you see it? There's an obvious shift, from a listener's point of view, towards incorporating a wider and more radical sonic palette - how did you go about working on that?

Martin: One of the main differences was me joining the band around 2010. At that point the only song that was finished was ‘In Suffering Darkness Dwell’. We were already friends at that point, and I was looking for a band. Adding a new person with new ideas into the mix, of course made the music different. It was clear from the start that we were on a new path with the music, but we still wanted to keep a lot of the atmosphere and riff styles from Deathstination.

Studio work, 2014.

The 'Deathscape MMXIV' EP followed quite soon after: three new tracks and two covers. What was the intention behind that mix of new and old, and in producing a release in that rather nebulous 'EP' category? Did you have any particular point you wanted to make with it?

Danny: I really wanted to do a decent version of “Deathscape” with good sound. It was also cool to have my friend Jòn (from Hamferđ) singing the clean parts. We had written two other songs as well. The label thought that it was a bit short, and asked us to add some more songs. We had already recorded Xavier by Dead Can Dance for Marrow of Dreams, but decided that it didn't really fit in on that album. We eventually re-recorded for the ep instead. The funeral doom cover of Bathory was a no-brainer, as that band was an influence even back in the Rimfrost days. It was fun to do, and we put some effort into making it our own as a tribute, rather than doing a boring cover song that tries to match the original 100%.

You also put out a self-titled EP in 2016, as a super-limited 12” on Oceanwoe Productions. What was the story behind that, and was it essentially a self-release through your own label?

Danny: We made those two songs while working on "The Forestroamer". They didn't really fit on the full-length, but we felt that that both tracks were very strong, so recorded them. "Woebegone" is lyrically themed around "Insomnia", and "Obscured" deals with the aftermath of not being able to sleep. Those two subjects were the biggest lyrical foundations, when the band was formed, so it was kind of an acknowledgement of that.

We couldn't find a label that wanted to release two songs only, so I decided to do it myself through Oceanwoe Productions, so we could release it as a cool limited vinyl release. We usually feature one or both songs in our live setlist.

Quentin: Musically, it is also a bit different from the rest of our discography, because the guitar work on each song is reflecting Martin’s and my individual writing styles. He composed the central parts of Obscured, while I wrote most of the music for Woebegone. It’s also the EP where our former bassist Andreas was most creative on his 6-stringed fretless bass, more than on Deathscape MMXIV, and it gave a special sound to those 2 songs.

And, obviously, now we have the third full-length, in the shape of 'The Forestroamer'. It seems like more of a natural follow-up to 'Marrow...' than 'Deathscape': is that how you see it yourselves?

Quentin: I quite agree. Deathscape is more a patchwork release than a coherent entity such as Marrow of Dreams or The Forestroamer. Besides, these two albums are also richer in terms of musical textures and moods, and are built as a musical journey.

And what would you say is it's most distinguishing achievement? What are you proudest about in the final release version?

Quentin: I am personally very proud of the production, which is the best I have achieved to this day. But besides that, I think we have managed to gather our various individual influences and styles and weave them into one strong musical creation instead of putting out one song each in different styles.

Woebegone Obscured - 'The Forestroamer' (Official teaser, 2018):

I always like to give bands the chance to comment on what we write about them - it seems only fair! - so, we've reviewed 'The Forestroamer'. Is there anything you'd like to add or address, good or bad, in that piece?

Danny: I think you get around the musical aspect pretty good. The lyrics are my personal philosophies with a lot of symbolism and references to Nordic mythology and the gods thereof.

As a slight aside - you've had each release come out on different labels, including an original self-release for 'Deathstination'. How much does that have an effect on what you want to produce, and how different is it working with some pretty different, yet differently focused, names in the underground scene?

Quentin: Well, this is not really by choice but rather because of circumstances and release schedules, it seems. We did enjoy working with I, Voidhanger and Solitude Prods. Now we are releasing The Forestroamer through Aesthetic Death, and Stu is doing an awesome job.

Live in 2017.

So, do you have any kind of publicity schedule associated with 'The Forestroamer'? Live shows, release performances, anything like that?

Quentin: We have prepared a beautiful gatefold LP which will be released on August 24. Vinyl addicts, don’t miss this one, it’s limited to 200 copies only! Otherwise, we’re trying to set up a European tour for the Autumn which should take us to Germany, the Czech Republic and Austria.

You do play live - there's a certain amount of video evidence of that, but how much is it a part of what Woebegone Obscured is about? Is it something you focus on, and enjoy, or more of a necessary adjunct to raising awareness about the studio recordings?

Quentin: We play quite often live, but mostly in Denmark. It makes our music come to life, so to speak, and enables it to fold out in all its expressiveness: aggression, sadness, melancholy, rage, everything gets blown out with 100+ decibels and suddenly our music gets yet another dimension. Danny: We enjoy it a lot, and also put a lot of effort into making every show something special. It's the perfect way to make the darkness come alive.

So, what's next? Do you have anything in the pipeline that we haven't asked about yet?

Quentin: We will do shows that are already planned and will try to get more gigs. Bookers, get in touch if you want us to play The Forestroamer in your town! We’ll also start working on our next album very soon.

Woebegone Obscured - 'Oath Beyond The Stars' (Official, 2015):

And one final question - in the longer term, do you have any particular vision for where you'd like to take the band? Any idea how would you like it to be spoken of, looking back from sometime in the future?

Quentin: Woebegone Obscured has no precise vision of plan. We are going where our music takes us. We follow its flow. As I mentioned earlier, we all have different influences, ideas and approaches, and it ends up in a strange mix which, I think, works (most of the time, haha). Let’s see where the next album takes us… Danny: I think we will plunge further into darkness. There is still so many things we want to explore and accomplish as a unit. A future goal besides a new album, is to play more shows and bigger shows around the world, as people finally seem to become more aware of Woebegone Obscured in today’s scene.

That's pretty much everything I wanted to ask about: are there any final words you'd like to add to close off this interview?

Quentin: Thank you so much for taking the time to listen to our music carefully and write a proper review of the album. It’s becoming a dying art these days it seems. And also for this thorough interview of course! Finally, I hope that all of you reading this will be curious and head over to our Bandcamp to listen to The Forestroamer. Doom on!

Editor's note: This review was amended on 09/06/18 to include some information about the self-titled, vinyl-only and self-released 2016 EP.

Click HERE to discuss this interview on the doom-metal forum.

Visit the Woebegone Obscured bandpage.

Interviewed on 2018-08-27 by Mike Liassides.
Aesthetic Death
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