JUNE 14th 2017

Welcome to Metaltitans, Guardians of Music Entertainment Worldwide, we are here Shamgar, founder and vocals/guitars for Blackened Death metal band Slechtvalk from the Netherlands.

First, how did you come up with the name for the band "Slechtvalk", and what does it mean?

Shamgar: ‘Slechtvalk’ is the dutch word for ‘Peregrine Falcon’ (the fastest bird of prey in existence). Whenever I came up with a cool English name, I quickly discovered there already were several bands using that name. After the xth time, I grew tired of it, so I decided to look for dutch words that sounded cool for a blackmetal project. The word ‘Slechtvalk’ quickly came to mind, because I had seen some documentary about this bird and it fascinated me. The more I thought about it, the more fitting it seemed fort he Peregrine Falcon’s hunting technique is totally different from it’s general flight and in my music I like alternating slow riffs with very fast ones.

What made you decide to play Blackened Death metal?

Shamgar: At first we played mostly symphonic blackmetal, although we always had one or two rawer songs on each album. After three albums some of us wanted to go more extreme while Fionnghuala (soprano vocals) wanted to go more symphonic. Figuring Slechtvalk couldn’t give her the room she wanted, she decided to leave the band in order to focus on something else and shortly after our keyboard player left for different reasons. With the departure of two main ‘symphonic’ oriented musicians and the addition of Seraph (guitars), who prefers technical guitarwork, the decision was easily made to write more guitar-oriented music. Our drummer Grimbold also wanted to do more technical grooves instead of simple fast blast-beats, so a combination of Black & Deathmetal seemed to be the general consensus and in 2010 we released ‘A Forlorn Throne’.We were quite satisfied with that album and the stylistic approach, so we decided to continue down that path with our new album ‘Where Wandering Shadows and Mists Collide’.

Do you get a good response from people in the Netherlands for that style of music?

Shamgar: Yes, we had many good responses, although there are always people who say they miss the older style, when we played more symphonic songs with female vocals. It really depends on the person though and it’s always difficult to beat nostalgic feelings people have for those old albums. Even if we’d make an album like 2nd one (‘the War that Plagues the Lands’), that many of the old fans seem to prefer, I bet many would think the older album would still be better, but I guess the same would apply to my own tastes. ‘At the Heart of Winter’ was the first album I heard from Immortal and I loved it and although their other albums were good too, ‘At the Heart of Winter’ does have a special place in my heart.

When did you first become Slechtvalk?

Shamgar: I had written a lot of music on my own between 1997-1999, At first there wasn’t much correlation between the songs. Some were blackmetalish, others more doom-like and most were just weird. Though gradually the songs I wrote became more blackmetal and in the 2nd half of 1999 I decided I wanted to make a demo. During this time I got to know Raffi Trapman (who owned the small mail-order company ‘Fear Dark’) and talked with him about my plans to make a demo cassette. Although cassettes were still normal then, he told me I should focus on CD instead. He was interested in hearing my work so I sent him a cd-r and the next thing I know he offered me to release an album with his mail-order company and I hadn’t even decided on a name for my project.

Where you in any bands before this?

Shamgar: During my highschool years I played in some cover bands, but nothing noteworthy and tried to form a Death/Doommetal band, but that didn’t work out. It took a long time to find the musicians and after one rehearsal one decided to quit and another was hardly good enough. Some months later I did another attempt, but that didn’t work out either, so I decided to continue on my own.

Grimbold (drums) & Seraph (guitars) did play together in the thrashmetal band ‘Salutary’ for several years up until 1999 I think.

When you were younger, is this something you dreamed of doing?

Shamgar: As a child I loved the guitar solo’s on 80’s rock songs (Bon Jovi & Europe had some hits back then), which made me want to learn the electric guitar. My mother thought I should learn classical first, so I did and gradually forgot why I wanted to learn the guitar in the first place, but when I went to High School Grunge became very popular and when I was 15 or so, I started a cover band with some friends. One of those introduced me to Metallica/Sepultura and other bands like Paradise Lost. I was really stoked when I discovered ‘Death’ and I think it was around my 17th (1997) when I discovered black metal and started to write my own songs and from that day I always dreamed about playing in a band an performing.

Who writes the lyrics for the band?

Shamgar: I write most of the lyrics, but occasionally Ohtar also writes a lyric or two. When I’ve trouble finishing the lyrics of a certain song, I pass it to Ohtar and either he writes additional lyrics for it or shouts out some ideas that give me enough food to continue.

Where does the inspiration for those come from?

Shamgar: I always begin my song writing process by writing music first. When the music is half way done, I generally come up with a certain emotion that seems to be most fitting for the music. Often I can relate to past experiences where that emotion was prevalent or I am reminded of something I’ve read in a book or seen in a movie and I then feel inspired to write a short story around that emotion. Sometimes, I already have a lyrical theme in my head before i have written any music and these are generally inspired by events that shocked me, like the suicide of an old friend, the rise of ISIS and other things.

How many albums do you know have out?

 Shamgar: ‘Where Wandering Shadows and Mists Collide’ is our 5th full-length studio album, but we’ve also done some other releases: Just before the release of our 2nd album, we did a split-album with the Indonesian Avantgarde Blackmetalband Kekal and a couple years later when we’re working on our third album, we recorded a live show, which was released on DVD.

Do you have a favourite among those?  If so, why that one?

Shamgar: I obviously have fond memories of all albums and I do believe that our latest album is our best album yet, but ‘A Forlorn Throne’ (2010) has been the most impactful. Before ‘A Forlorn Throne’, there always was a big quality gap between us and big names like Immortal, Dimmu Borgir and such. This gap was mostly caused by our lack of experience and lack of budget, but with ‘A Forlorn Throne’ we had the opportunity to record with the same producers/engineers who worked with Amon Amarth and it turned out that with the proper guidance and attention we were able to make an album that was much more on par with the albums we look up to. This experience made us much more focused on our song writing & how we want to shape a song into its final form, which is why we think ‘Where Wandering Shadows and Mists Collide’ is our best album yet.

When you put songs together, does the whole band have a say? Or just one person dedicated to writing?

Shamgar: I generally write the majority of a song, until I think it’s finished or until I get stuck. Then as a band we start rehearsing it and then it’s usually the drummer or other guitarist who starts a discussion about the current flow of a song and start jamming to try out different rhythms.The end result could sound very different from what I initially had in mind, but in most cased we barely touched the melodylines or chord schemes, but just played the riffs a little different. Sometimes we try writing a song from scratch with the full band, but that generally turns out into a mess.

Who would have been a big influence on your when you were young, musically?

Shamgar: During my teenager years my musical taste changed alot, so it’s difficult to name a specific influence, but I’d say that Metallica inspired me to play the electric guitar in more ways than just powerchords.

What was it like for you to get up on stage for the first time? Do you remember that? I know I couldn't do that, I would have stage fright.

Shamgar: As a kid I learned to perform on stage, due to getting classical guitar lessons and having performances with other students at least twice a year, so that never was a real problem for me. Later when I’d get up on stage for an extreme metal performance, the extremetiy of the music made it easier for me to hide behind the metal-image if I did feel anxious. It took me many years before I dared doing clean vocals though. I did some on Slechtvalk’s debut album, which sounded dreadful and when we recorded our 2nd album, the producer burned my clean vocal performance to the ground, so for many years I did not dare do it again. It wasn’t until we recorded our 4th album ‘A Forlorn Throne’ that I found the courage to try again and my clean vocal performance on those two songs (‘Forsaken’ & ‘Divided by Malice’) went quite well, so I’ve done more of those on the new album.

What is the best part about being in Slechtvalk for you?

Shamgar: Slechtvalk allows me to create something out of nothing, that’s not only an inspiration to me, but also to many other people. Without Slechtvalk, I’d probably produce much less & only consume what other people create (music, movies, books, games etc), because that’s a much easier way to pass the time, but after a while it makes me feel dumbed down & lazy, until everything feels like a dreadful chore and can’t seem to focus on doing the things I should do. I already have that tendency when we haven’t rehearsed for a while, so it’s good for me to be in a band that keeps sparking my own imagination.

Is there anything you would like to tell us about the band, something people may not know?

Shamgar: There were many times we felt like giving up, most notably between 2007-2009 and 2012-2014, because things didn’t go the way we hoped they would, we got frustrated by how things worked out and we did not see how we could manage to create something that would even come close to our previous work, but we persevered and ultimately things did come together that allowed us to make albums that we believe to be better than the predecessor. “A Forlorn Throne” (2010), nor the new album “Where Wandering Shadows and Mists Collide” wouldn’t exist if we had given up when we really wanted to. These albums are a testimony that something magnificent awaits if you dare to look beyond the current hopelessness and change your mindset where you’d see opportunities & possiblities where you are inclined to see only failures & dead-ends.

 Do you want to add anything to this interview?

Shamgar: Thanks for the interview and I hope it inspires the readers to check out our work and create more of their own!

We at Metaltitans, would like the thank you for taking the time to do this interview with us.