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  • Sarah Stubbs

Black metal mavericks DunkelNacht weigh in on genre-straddling new smash 'Empires of Mediocracy&

DunkelNacht are gearing up to take the metal world by storm, and if you haven’t heard whisper of them yet, you soon will. Offering up an exquisitely crafted mix of black and death metal divinely inspired by various classical and avant-garde sources, these purveyors of darkness have a universal appeal, with enough of a savage edge to satisfy hard-nut, hairy head-bangers and plenty of opulent, melodic interludes to indulge more gothic sensibilities. Dark Matter caught up with the gang down in Camden on a starry Valentine’s night, just before they stepped out on stage for the first incredible show of their six-day Empires UK tour.

DunkelNacht are living proof that a melting pot of European cultures and languages can lead to great things (take note before diving off that Brexit cliff, Britain). “What makes us different?” Alkhemohr, who plays bass, muses. “We are a band of four different languages, an international group, three French and one Dutch guy….”

M.C. Abagor, on vocals, cuts in: “I’m the Dutch motherfucker.” Alkhemohr continues: “The Dutch man is the singer, and we have three French, one bass guitarist, one guitarist and one drummer. The name of the band is German…dark night.” “As in day and night, not a knight from the middle ages.” M.C. Abagor interrupts with what is being quickly established as his typical wry humour. “As I was saying…” Alkhemohr resumes, “it can be confusing, we sing the lyrics in English, we have a German band name, and three of us are French.”

The music itself is as wonderfully diverse as the line-up, with a myriad different styles and influences thrown in for good measure, making their approach almost impossible to define. “It’s not standard black metal or death metal,” Alkhemohr explains. “It’s like a combination between progressive rhythms, it’s melodic, it has some black metal influences, some death metal influences, it’s a big mixture, you can’t put it in one box.”

This is reflected in the wide range of music they enjoy, from both within and out of the metal genre: “We are all big fans of the Polish scene, bands like Behemoth, Scandinavian metal for sure. Classical.”

M.C. Abagor chips in: “I’m on the borderline, sometimes I listen to jazz and sometimes to blues as well, even chill-wave. It’s good to switch off of genre and not tire your ear of one major genre, but…saying that, I don’t listen to pop music for example because it is so basic and so monotone today. You can make a pop song with just one little keyboard with one octave. I like the more complicated stuff, the more thought through.” People who write their own songs as opposed to manufactured music? “Exactly.”

DunkelNacht keep their sound fresh by constantly exploring new avenues, and this can be seen in at play in their new album, 'Empires of Mediocracy'. Alkhemohr muses: “The concept is very different, musically, from our previous releases. Just before this album we had two EPs, but in this album there is more melody, more black metal, some classical compositions in there, with some parts it’s like we went back in time.” M.C. Abagor adds: “So before you may have listened to Brahms and Beethoven, now you can listen to DunkelNacht!”

And like all the great classical artists, their music is weighty with serious subject matter. Shunning the usual done-to-death diabolical motifs of traditional black metal, DunkelNacht take more of a worldly standpoint. As Alkhemohr explains, the new album represents: “A political view about the world and different social classes (and their degradation), not Satanism or that kind of thing. It’s about the real world, it's transparent, it’s a sort of analysis of the world how I see it. It’s not very positive.”