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One of the earliest of German Trad Doom bands, with a career spanning almost three decades, Mirror Of Deception have just released their fifth full-length album. Comrade Aleks finds out more...

Interview with Mirror Of Deception.
"Mirror Of Deception remains one of the three oldest German Traditional Doom bands, alongside Dawn Of Winter and Naevus. Formed in 1990, the band spent their first ten years searching for the right sound - which was finally revealed on their debut album 'Mirrorsoil' (2001). Since then, Mirror Of Deception have developed into something stable yet constantly growing, with their own style of playing mature Doom which is emotional (in a good way!) and full of catchy tunes. They haven't become Doom Metal stars, but their guitarist Jochen Fopp - along with Well Of Souls' Frank Hellweg - organized Doom Shall Rise, one of the first Doom festivals in Europe. Since the 2011 release of their contribution to Cyclone Empire's famous split series 'Imperial Anthems', the first time the band returned to the studio was in 2017. Their long awaited fifth album, 'The Estuary', appeared just one month ago, and Jochen is here to tell its story."

Mirror of Deception: Michael Siffermann (Guitars, Vocals), Jochen Fopp (Guitars), Hans Schwager (Bass, Vocals), Rainer Pflanz (Drums). Photo: Coney Fotografia.

Hi Jochen! Mirror Of Deception's fifth album 'The Estuary' has been released, so accept my sincere congratulations! It's good that you're finally back, how does it feel?

Thank you, Aleks. It feels great and we're getting a lot of positive feedback. It seems as if the Doom Metal world hasn't entirely forgotten about us.

You and Michael have run the band together since 1990, being Mirror Of Deception's only constant members. Who are the new men behind the Mirror?

Hans (bass and vocals) is an old friend. Our history goes back more than 20 years and he has been with us since 2014. Rainer (drums and vocals) is a friend of Hans. He has been involved in many different bands and projects. Most known is probably German metal band Undertow. He joined in 2015.

1993 line-up: Michael and Jochen with Ingo Häderle (Drums), Rainer Hampel (Bass) and Markus Baumhauer (Vocals).

I listen to 'The Estuary' and I see that Mirror Of Deception have managed to remain the same - in a good sense. Despite the new members, you and Michael have kept the band's recognizable sound, though some development is seen as well. How long did you actually take writing these songs?

Apart from "Orphans" which has parts that date back about 10 years everything is new and we worked on it together in our rehearsal place. Michael and me have been a team for such a long time. I guess the "Mirror of Deception sound" has become part of our DNA. The input and contribution of every band member is vital, important and very welcome and it has always been that way. This particular album sounds the way it does because it's the work of exactly these 4 people. Plus our producer Michelle Darkness who has known us almost since day 1 and had his own vision what a Mirror of Deception album should sound like.

Speaking about development... How do you see the technical differences of 'The Estuary' in comparison with your early works?

I don't examine our releases from a technical point of view because it's not relevant for us. Of course Michael and me are more experienced than in our early days and Rainer and Hans both added their skills. But ultimately it's all about the songs. We make sure they get what they demand and need.

Mirror Of Deception - 'Swamped' (2006):

Were all songs totally written before you enter the studio? It doesn't seem that the band tends to improvisations, as your albums are solid and thoughtful from first song to last.

Yes, all the songs were written and arranged before we entered the studio. We have added and changed bits and pieces here and there but instrumentally everything was finished. Only the vocal parts were mostly created in the studio. For the vocals there is indeed a lot of improvisation going on and we try different approaches and layers. We have worked that way for a long time.

There are eight years between your previous album 'A Smouldering Fire' and 'The Estuary'. Didn't you feel the necessity to express yourself a few years earlier through Mirror? Have you been carrying some inspiration for all that time, to fulfill it on the album?

A lot has happened during these 8 years. We played shows to support our "A Smouldering Fire" album, we went on tour with 40 Watt Sun and Semlah and played Malta Doom Festival in November 2011. After that we took a break. A break that lasted longer than expected. Andi (bass) and Josef (drums/ vocals) quit in January 2014. Michael and me decided to carry on with new band members. We took our time to grow together as a band, we played shows, worked on new songs, recorded them and here we are.

2004 line-up: Michael and Jochen, plus Andreas Taller (Bass) and Jochen Müller (Drums).

How much time do you usually need in the studio for an album? Are you tied to a strict schedule, or do you have the chance to work there as long as you need?

We did most of the instrumental recordings pretty quick. Everything in a couple of days. For the vocals we had various shorter sessions throughout the summer. We do always take the time needed to be fully satisfied with the album but of course also with the budget on mind.

Did and Michael discuss lyrics for the new songs? Did he focus on topics like "inner struggles" and "hard times", or did you want to put some more global topics in some songs?

All of the lyrics were written by Hans and myself this time and we cover different bases. From lyrics inspired by classic literature like "Orphans" and "To Dust" to lyrics that are more personal. Some based on our own thoughts, dreams and experiences and some on those of others. "Orphans" is based on Homer's Odyssey and "To Dust" is based on The Story Of The Ghost Ship by German poet and novelist Wilhelm Hauff (1802-1827).

Live in 2017. Photo: Markus Veyhle.

As I understand it, you've released the album on your own without label support: what made you take this decision?

Our former label Cyclone Empire is not active at present. We had other offers but finally decided to do everything on our own terms and schedule. In this time and age it's a lot easier to promote and distribute your own music yourself. It's a lot of work for sure but we wanted give it a try.

You played at Doom Over Vienna on the 9th November, presenting new songs. When did you play live last time? How was it to return to the stage after a long hiatus?

It felt great, Vienna is a special place for us. Actually we have been back on stage since May 2014. Mostly small and local gigs but some festivals like Heavy Days in Doomtown in Copenhagen/ Denmark and recently Doom over Vienna as well.

When do you play your next live appearance?

It'll be a local show in our former hometown Göppingen/ Germany in January 2019. There are talks about more shows in Germany, Italy and Switzerland as well for next year and for sure other opportunities will arise. We can't tour a lot due to jobs and family life. We try our best to make happen what is possible for us.

Mirror Of Deception - 'Magnets' (2018):

Do you feel that people were waiting for Mirror Of Deception return? How do you value the band's position on the scene?

Not really. Nowadays the general attention span seems to be rather short. My own one as well. But it seems like some people do actually remember us, some have just discovered us and the feedback has been very good so far. We have no real idea what sort of position we might have on the scene. We were never one of the "big" bands, we never toured extensively, never sold a lot of records nor have we been part of a hype of any sort. We have only been around for a long time and did our thing.

Jochen, you were one of the two Doom Shall Rise organizers, and for a long period starting in 2003 it was one of most important annual doom events in Europe. I remember that... when? In about 2011 you said that doom was raised enough, and the last DSR took place in 2013. Do you feel any urge to return to it?

Both Frank (Hellweg) and me are very grateful for all the support, praise, appreciation and love Doom Shall Rise festival has received. We have been able to help some bands to get more recognition, we had the pleasure to invite some of our old heroes and it seems we have shown the world that something as crazy like a festival purely dedicated to Doom Metal in its' various shapes and forms is possible. Other organizers have followed our example and they all do a great job. Right now there are no plans to revive Doom Shall Rise. We are both too busy with life and many other things. But you never know what the future holds.

Doom Over Vienna XIII. Photo: stills.eraserhead.at.

Your countrymates Dawn Of Winter are going to release their new long awaited album in December. It seems like a good opportunity to play some short tour... How does that prospect look from your side?

As mentioned touring is not easy for us but I'm very sure we will share a stage with Dawn of Winter sooner or later again.

Jochen, thanks for your time. It's good to know that Mirror Of Deception lives on and you have such killer material, and I hope that we'll get another album or two in the future. Did we miss anything?

My pleasure, Aleks. We hope the next album will not take as long but you never know what happens. I guess we have everything covered for this time. Thank you very much for listening, enjoy the album. And for those interested: "The Estuary" will be out on vinyl in February 2019.

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Visit the Mirror Of Deception bandpage.

Interviewed on 2018-12-16 by Comrade Aleks Evdokimov.
Aesthetic Death
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