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The unexpected news that Forest Of Shadows have a new album almost ready to release was more than enough reason for Comrade Aleks to get in touch with project mastermind Niclas Frohagen to find out more...

Interview with Forest Of Shadows.
"The Forest Of Shadows was carefully planted by multi-instrumentalist Niclas Frohagen in 1997. Niclas had few companions in the first years of its existence, so he recorded the first full-length 'Departure' (Firedoom Music, 2004) on his own, and in the same way he worked on sophomore recording 'Six Waves Of Woe' in 2008, on the same label. This Nordic atmospheric Death Doom was cold and pretty absorbing, so I've been hoping for a new Forest Of Shadows album - but when nothing had appeared for such a long period, I started to think that the project had closed. Thus, I was really surprised when I learned about Niclas' return with new album 'Among The Dormant Watchers'. Do I need to add that I wrote to him the moment I heard that news?"

Niclas Frohagen, talking to Aleks today.

Hail Niclas! Actually I haven't heard any news from Forest Of Shadows for years, so I'm surprised to learn that your third album, 'Among The Dormant Watchers', is about to be released through Inverse Records. What made you return to the Forest after ten years of silence?

I actually never left the forest, I just got lost in there for a while. The main reason why I awoke was probably because I was iterating on the songs that would later on end up on "Among the Dormant Watchers" in a very, very slow pace during the first five years and it felt that I wasn't getting anywhere while I still felt that the songs had great potential. So, I upgraded my recording gear and simply started working with more focus, with a determination that the songs should end up on some album. During this time Firebox went out of business so during a period there wasn't really a label to release the album but I ignored that and focused on the music. After some struggle with other labels that showed interest but didn't deliver, Inverse Records showed up as the saviour and offered to release the album.

Your first full-length 'Departure' was released in 2004, and 'Six Waves Of Woe' appeared in 2008, but then you suddenly stopped. Was it a kind of creative crisis or something else?

Family and work took all focus for a couple of years and even though I never really gave up on my music I simply wasn't giving it much attention. The creativity was there all the time but the time and energy to channel it into my music simply wasn't.

Forest Of Shadows - 'Drowned By Guilt' (Official, 2018):

'Six Waves Of Woe' continues the theme of the debut album, so what about 'Among The Dormant Watchers'? Could it be a strict successor to 'Six Waves...' after all these years? How much of the old Forest Of Shadows is left in the new material?

There is much similarity between the two albums but I do explore some new territory on the new album. Regarding old material there is actually one song, I won't say which, that goes back to times before Forest of Shadows. It has been reworked quite a lot though but if you knew the original song you would recognize the melody. The rest of the songs were all done after Six Waves of Woe although I tried to perfect things I started off on that album.

How actually long did you work on these songs? Was it a fast process, like a sudden wave of inspiration, or did you take your time and work without hurry?

They were worked on for almost ten years but as mentioned, during some of these years I didn't focus too much on making music so effectively maybe five years. I did not hurry. The only thing that was done pretty fast was the lyrics and vocals, at least in relation to the rest.

What kind of topics do you explore in your new songs? Is the general Forest Of Shadows idea still the same?

I try to move away from cliche thematics and find topics that are not just overdramatized romantic nonsense but real darkness and pain. It makes it all feel so much more relevant and authentic and gives the songs much more depth and meaning.

Probably, I wouldn't have asked the previous question, except there's a song titled 'Dogs Of Chernobyl'… What's it about? Actually I have a guess… I remember you did work in the PC games industry, so I can suppose that the song is connected with the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. video game…

I do work in the game development industry but the kind of games I work on are not in any way related to my music. The songs are actually inspired by stories told in the book Voices from Chernobyl by Nobel prize winner Svetlana Aleksijevitj. It's one of the most tragic books I have read and there is an episode about the dogs that were abandoned by their owners during the catastrophe and their tragic demise.

Once you recorded a version of a Swedish traditional song, do you have anthing similar this time?

We did play a Swedish traditional song during one of the two gigs we did when the band was not a solo act but we never recorded that one or any other traditional song. Still, some of the songs of Forest of Shadows, especially on the new album, are heavily inspired, at least in terms of melody, by Swedish folk music.

Forest Of Shadows - 'Selfdestructive' (2008):

Forest Of Shadows was always your solo project, did anything change this time? Did anyone else help you at the studio?

Not always, during When Dreams Turn To Dust and its previous two demos I was running the band with Micce Andersson and during a short period there were other members as well. I guess there were times when the other members saw it all as my one man show as I'm not the best at compromising and it was doomed to end up as a one man show in the end. Everything on the new album was done by me apart from mastering. It's not the smartest way to do it but at least it gives me full control and allows the music to be as true to my visions as it possibly can.

Niclas, where did you record 'Among The Dormant Watchers'? As I understand it, the first recordings were done in your home studio, so what now? And what kind of equipment did you use for this recording?

Just like before, nothing has been recorded in a proper studio but instead at random locations. Apart from instruments and microphones I have a mobile studio consisting of a laptop and an external sound card which allows me to record basically anywhere. For instance, I try to record most vocals where I don't need to care about irritating my neighbors. The rest I do at home, in the living room, at the dinner table, in the basement, wherever it works and wherever I can gets things done. I have been doing this for such a long time that I can record really depressing music while the kids are playing all around me. That being said I don't get inspired to write depressing music by kids having a good time but once I have the inspiration and the music in my head it doesn't really matter if I record it all during nighttime in a desolate forest or in suburbia during daytime.

You also ran the project Ningizzia: is it still on hold or did you finally put it to rest?

Yes, me and Stephane Peudupin used run that band. It was very much of a project or even experiment considering that we did it all over the net during times when internet wasn't really what internet is today. We haven't really put it to rest for the simple reason that it wasn't really a band in the classical meaning but more of a collaboration and as I said project or experiment. We still keep contact and we might record something someday or maybe we don't. I think we both want to do something but none of us have enough time to spend, at least not right now.

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Visit the Forest Of Shadows bandpage.

Interviewed on 2018-10-30 by Comrade Aleks Evdokimov.
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