Shaped by many different musical outlets, driven by the ever-lasting scorn of humanity and the depression that comes with it.
Mondstille, a vienna-based black metal outfit, walk paths unwalked, dismiss any trends and spew at us a ferocious, harsh, yet beautiful and thought-provoking record entitled "Seelenwund".
I had the pleasure of being one of the few to listen to the record prior to its release. But that's not all: We've talked to David Dornauer, guitarist and creative head of the band. He gave me an in-depth view of his personal thoughts and the creative pursuit he follows with Mondstille. Quite remarkably, the band functions almost as a therapeutic outlet, but, I guess I'm saying too much already, here's the interview:
If you are intrigued, here's a more in-depth interview with David Dornauer:
⊗ Michael: When did you form the band initially and what made you do it?
David: In 2004, when I was about sixteen, I met Markus through some friends and we talked a lot about music. A few days later, we did our first jam session and it worked out very well. A new musical friendship was born! In 2006, we had some tracks written and decided to give that project a name. From the first second on, Mondstille was about 100% emotional and honest music straight out of our hearts. No compromises!
⊗ Michael: What is your musical background? What bands influenced you, when you started making music? Which bands still influence you?
David: Initially, I was a really straight death-metal guy and Markus was the old-school black-metal hardliner. But as we started playing together, we developed some kind of symbiosis. After some time, I was more into black-metal and Markus still can't get enough of death metal.
Our musical background is very much the same, we're both mostly self-taught guitar players, but we're influenced by very different kinds of bands. The band that influenced both of us the same way was Dornenreich. Our whole instrumentation and songwriting is based on that influence. But I think, as we wanted to "copy" that style, we created some kind of our own individual music.
⊗ Michael: Who writes the majority of the songs?
David: The songwriting process for "Seelenwund" was strictly parted 50/50, except the in- and outro. I wrote the intro, five songs and some of the cello, violin and piano tracks. Markus wrote five songs and Ludwig did a really great job of getting that tasty violin into our crappy songs, haha.
Jörg wrote all bass-tracks in 5 minutes (it felt like that).
I also wrote all the lyrics and did the drum-programming which really was a pain in the ass sometimes.
⊗ Michael: How do your songs usually take shape? (How do you write your songs?)
David: I just can speak for me now, but every Mondstille song starts by an accident. That means I'm sitting down with my guitar, pretending I can play it and suddenly there's a great riff. The rest is our typical formula of some blast beats, viking blast and some acoustic-parts. When writing the final song I already have some violin tracks in my head, but the real work is done by Ludwig and he never disappoints me, haha.
"You have to be strong if you want to be free."
David Dornauer, Mondstille
⊗ Michael: „Seelenwund“ is a very sad, almost depressing title for a black-metal record. Despite your harsh songs, you include a lot of acoustic passages in your songs. Was there a special incident that inspired you to write such mournful, distressing songs?
David: First, I have to say that for me, "Seelenwund" is of course a really melancholic album but in a positive way. "Am Ende ..." was very sad and almost suicidal. It's because Mondstille always was some kind of therapy, psychotherapy if you like, and I could express all the feelings troubling me. At the time I wrote the lyrics for "Am Ende ..." I really hit rock-bottom. But as I started with "Seelenwund", my private life had changed in so many ways and there were other topics to write about. "Seelenwund" is about searching, finding, losing, dreaming, despair and some hate, but you need to discover all those feelings to gain strength and empower yourself. You have to be strong if you want to be free. Just like in real life. That's all.
⊗ Michael: Your lyrics also show a strong connection to nature. Where does this bond come from? Did it influence your creative process in any way?
David: I was born in Tyrol but grew up in the plains of lower Austria. This is something I really regret because I need to be surrounded by mountains and I miss the dialect. It's always a special kind of feeling when I'm back there, such as if I had left behind a part of myself when I went away. Everytime I come back, it feels like "home". It is hard to describe but I think this is the reason for this connection in my lyrics and of course it influences my creative process. In every way.
⊗ Michael: You combine blastbeats and tremolo-picking with a violin and a transverse flute to create your special arrangements. Isn’t it sometimes tough to make the songs sound right with such an unusual setup?
David: No, because that's the base of Mondstille. Everytime we write a song there's that little voice in our heads which says "Hey, there has to be some great violin in there, don't mess around too much!" For the pre production of "Seelenwund" we wrote and recorded all guitars and other stuff first. Then we met with Ludwig and created the violin tracks song by song. It wasn't that hard because as we wrote the guitars we "prepared" every song and let a lot of space for the violin to fill. You know, it's like: "Wow, what a great riff! That's the perfect layer for a violin, or two, or three!" haha. If you listen closely to "Träumers Flucht" there're some spots where you'll find four violins playing at the same time.
⊗ Michael: After your first record „Am Ende“ was released, you had to discontinue working with „White Birds records“. What made you carry on with the band?
David: We just HAD to carry on! It was our child and you don't give away your child just because it was beaten up by some asshole. The only condition we set to ourselves: No more labels! I will manage all the band stuff and will have full control of all Mondstille business.
That's why I nearly had a burnout as we finished "Seelenwund", haha
⊗ Michael: Can we expect Mondstille to play shows again at some point? Or are you planning to solely focus on writing and recording music?
David: The only show planned was our release gig with Alcest and Les Discrets in Vienna on February, 9th. I can't tell if there will be any other concerts because it seems like we're unable to find a drummer.
I can't even tell the future of Mondstille. Maybe we'll do another metal album, or an instrumental acoustic CD, maybe nothing ...
Only time will tell!
Mondstille - Seelenwund
1. Ich hab geträumt
2. Mein inner Sturm
3. Im Trauerhain
5. Die Seele frei
7. Sehnsucht versus Leben
8. Ich der Pan
9. Der stille Mond
11. Träumers Flucht
Seelenwund is a challenging record.
Starting after a short intro, it's blasting ferocity screams of anger and hate, turning tremolo-picked riffs and underyling violin-melodies into a hopeless, misanthropic atmosphere.
The atmosphere is accompanied by (non-typical) growled black metal vocals that add to the dark, misanthropic feeling.
After those raging breakouts, acoustic, melancholic parts come into play like rain and wind after fire. To me, those fragile melodies seem to weep of loneliness in a crowded place. A feeling of being alone with one's thoughts - something a lot of us can relate to I guess.
But, when listening carefully to the poetic lyrics, they always show a sign of hope, which comes, as David Dornauer put it, with personal strength. One can tell that the band has poured their hearts into the music.
This dedication to the music is what carries the listener on through what might be strenuous for some - a journey through emotions - and leaves him in awe after a little over an hour.
The first time I listened to the record, I couldn't even tell where one song started and where the other ended. For me, that is the best sign for great music
Thus, "Seelenwund" is the perfect fit for people who like thought-provoking music that takes time to fully grasp. But once you get the whole idea, you will keep coming back to this record, I promise.
Stills from the recording Session: