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Totengeflüster - Interview #2

Interview with: Totleben, Narbengrund Nihilis
Conducted by: T.V.

Totengeflüster is a real par excelence symphonic black metal from Germany who offered us last year their sophomore album, Im Nebel der Vergänglichkeit, which is without any doubt one of the best black metal albums released in the last couple of years. Im Nebel der Vergänglichkeit is a journey into darkness, it's an album consisting of 12 lush tracks of intense captivating black metal, and a proper follow-up to their already great debut album, Vom Seelensterben, released in 2013 (you can read the review over HERE). The story of Totengeflüster (in English: Whisper Of The Dead), began back in 2007 when bands guitarist and main composer Totleben began writing his first songs. His musical interests were bound to his inspirational roots. He had combined the coldness and anger of black metal with elements of classical music to get an aggressive and cinematic feeling for his music. If the intention in the beginning was to form just a studio band, the things after the release of the debut, when band was a trio consisting of gutarist Totleben, vocalist Narbengrund Nihilis and drummer Frostbitten, went in other way. Soon Totengeflüster were asked to play live shows and thus the real live band with a complete line-up was formed with addition of second guitarist Frevelsaat and bassist Rorschach, the later left the band after the release of new album and was substituted by bassist Teufeskald. Totengeflüster create black metal that is symphonic, with great orchestrations and gloomy atmosphere, there's kind of a horror ambiances present, in their creations nothing is left to coincidence, not a single note, not the artwork, not a single word, everything is crafted with pure professionalism. Their music needs a lot of listens to be finally revealed in all its depth and glory, and it's a must for everybody who fancies the darkest forms of metal. I talked with bands mastermind Totleben about their last album, about line-up changes, live shows, artworks he creates, about Star Wars, about black metal as a genre and lyrics. Vocalist Narbengrund Nihilis made also some things clear about the lyrics in this very interesting in-depth interview.

T.V.: First of all congratulations for making such a great album, Im Nebel der Vergänglichkeit. For many of us is the best symphonic black metal release of the year!
: Hey Tomaz, I'm glad you like the album! Im very happy with it as well!
T.V.: And even though that your debut album was already a fantastic one, this one is certainly a step forward, both in compositions and style. Tell me, what are in your opinion the main differencies between the two albums?
Totleben: Our first album, Vom Seelensterben, was a pure studio album and Totengeflüster wasn't a live band at all. So all songs on the first album were just composed out of my head and there was no intention to bring this to the stage when I wrote those songs. With the second album all of that completely changed. Sure the "feeling" was there as well as on the first album when I worked on the second album. But I already knew better where the journey gonna go. Let me say it like this: If you write a story - the best thing to do is to write the end first - same with the second album. We were now formed as a working band, not a one man project anymore. We knew what kind of release we want to release, which formats (artbook, digipack,...) and how the mood of the second album should be. On the first album I just wrote songs I wanted to hear for myself. On the second everything was much more planned from the beginning. I also think the songs have a bit more weight to them. Just remember... the songs I have composed for the debut album were my first songs I ever wrote, I'm still happy with them but it was clear that there is still space to improve. Having the other members in the band was a big help so I directly got feedback when I was working on the second album. This was a thing I haven't had on the first album except some ideas from Narbengrund. As Totengeflüster is a "multiartistic" band I can say I also improved a lot in case of artwork as well. I also think that Narbengrund also improved a lot compared to the second album. I loved his vocals on the first one but on the second you can hear how much he has grown with his style. Also not to forget Frostbitten and his drumming on the second album.
T.V.: Also the songs are much more versatile now than on Vom Seelensterben. For example "One With The Void" is something that I wouldn't expect from Totengeflüster, and I must say it's my favorite track up there.
Totleben: Yes, I think when I was writing Vom Seelensterben I was still very much following my own roots. That changed with the second album and opened the doors for songs like "One With The Void". You are absolutely right, maybe I have been more naive when I have written Vom Seelensterben and wasnt open enough to just let things happen. I found it interesting to go new paths and I knew the band can pull that off, so why hesitate? I think growing with the poeple inside the band also lets grow the feeling of writing songs - even when they are not that "standard" black metal type.
T.V.: Four year gap was between the two albums. Can you tell me what was the main reason that you needed so much time for the second album?
Totleben: Actually the album was written very fast. There were a lot of things going on after the release of the debut album. Suddenly people were interested in us and we had to figure out how to organize everything. There was a huge request from fans seeing Totengeflüster as a live band. So, instead of directly jumping back into songwriting we decided to form a live band. The motivation was big because we were invented to play our debut show in England at the Beermageddon Festival in 2014! So we had to find the right people to join Totengeflüster for that, rehearse, I had to write all songs as digital tabulatures so the others can practice better, we had to find a rehearsal room etc. After our debut show a lot of other concerts followed. So we just enjoyed our band - life and we did not felt too much pressure rushing anything. After some time we had all songs togehter. Don't forget that I had to produce the whole artwork and videoclips and photoshootings as well, so a lot of time was spent there as well. As we finished the album in 2016 we felt that we had to apply on record labels, but we had absolutely no clue that not one label was interested in our music. We had everything already done and we applyed with the whole packagage as its available for everyone now - the labels saw the music videos, they saw our artbook (digital) and could listen to the whole album,... no one was interested and it took a lot of time to even get an answer saying "no, not interested" - so I decided to create my own record label Pale Essence Music. To set up my own company, doing everything the legal way, having all the paper work done, finding partners for the physical and digital distribution took a lot of time as well. Finally we have made it. Our way.
T.V.: Is Pale Essence Music meant only to release Totengeflüster stuff, or will you sign other bands as well?
Totleben: I already have two more bands to join Pale Essence Music later this year. But please understand that I can't say which bands are, as we are still working on their upcoming releases.
T.V.: Oh, interesting, I'll most certainly look forward for that! After you formed the full live line-up, and after the release of the album, there were some line-up changes. What can you tell me about that?
Totleben: Well, Rorschach always supported the band at his very best, especially when we just formed our live - crew. He was more than helpful and is still a very good friend of everyone in the band. We had a very open talk about everything so he wasn't kicked out of the band. It just wasn't the music he is burning for. He also gave us time to find a new bassist, which was found in Teufeskald. She knew us already from some live shows, she visited and joined us after the release of the second album.
T.V.: I see and that's good to hear that you were quite fast in finding a new bassist. Now about the stunning artwork you did for this album... You already did some amazing artworks for different bands, but with this one you really made something otherworldly. Please tell me how the artwork connects with music and lyrics of the album?
Totleben: As I have written the music mostly myself I already had kind of a picture in my head while the songs developed. For me writing music is the same as creating artworks. It's the expression of a specific theme, just using different tools. On one side you are using a guitar, drums and orchestra - on the other side I use themes in a kind of symbolism to express the theme in a visual way. As I've got all lyrics from Narbengrund I could shape all artworks with their final touches. I've read all lyrics very carefully and just created my impression of what I was feeling when I read them. Some artworks where created before the music was written so I wrote a song for the artwork. I often go back and forth when it's about creating art. It all depends on my mood. Sometimes I'm spending weeks only on artworks and when I'm out of ideas I tend to switch over to the music. For example on the "Verfall und Siechtum" artwork which translates to "Decay and Ilingering Illness" I took the figure of death as a cloaked man standing on top of all decaying souls and vegetation around him to show that all that is near to death and has no chance to escape. But it's not ment that only death has its hand on life... Life is a circle so I've added a waterfall on the left of the artwork to show the "flow/river of life" on the other hand.

T.V.: Like on the first album almost all of the lyrics are written in German language. Do you want to opt in the first place to German speaking people or is there a deeper reason behind that?
Narbengrund: There are two reasons why we generally write our lyrics in German: music is a way to express oneself and with Totengeflüster we have the chance of giving a "face“ to our thoughts and feelings and since I was barely involved in to the song writing process until now, I`m trying to let myself out within the lyrics, to form something creative out of the destructive character of my negativity. And that`s the point: I`m primarily writing the lyrics for myself, of course I`m happy when people love the lyrics or the way they are performed but they are not my "prime audience“. I`m trying to interlace a part of me into Totengeflüster, to achieve a symbiosis with Totengeflüster. My thoughts are formulated in german and so writing them down in german makes them more honest and authentic or at least that`s what I think. Of course I could make a rough translation, but there`s another reason that speaks for German lyrics: I have very precise visions about how the vocals/the lyrics should sound and so the topic would fit but I would destroy the form and the sound of the words and sentences and I would have to create new sentence-constructions until I`m satisfied with the lyrics and since I barely talk English in private, my English got a bit rusty. For this reason it would take a great amount of time to find fitting and euphonic combinations and honestly: I`m too lazy for this haha. By the way: If you are interested in the translations you can find on our homepage and/or in the art-book version of our new album, so it`s not that hard to find a more comprehensible version of them.
Totleben: It's not about prefering German people or something like this - it's just the language where we can express us in the best way. I think sometimes the mother language fits the best to express yourself. Just one thing: imagine that you are on vaccation in a country outside yours. And something happens that pisses you off and you start cursing - in which language would you curse? I think you would just let all out that is in yourself in this moment. And thats the thing we are following - just express the things the best way possible. A fun fact: That's why "One With The Void" is in English, because the lyrics in there are best heard if sung in English. We thought only some minutes of doing this in German as well, but English lyrics just were fitting perfectly, much better than German.
T.V.: Understandable! Now, if you'll have to choose one song from the new album that means most to you which one would that be, and why?
Totleben: Well... I'll go for "Von purpurn blühender Dämmerung". It's a song that has everything in it that I think defines the second album. It's atmospheric, it's fast and slow at the same time... it truly tells a story and is really fun to play. At the rehearsal yesterday I really enjoyed playing this song. I have to say I've really grown close to this song. First it was composed to be on the album only because I thougt it may be too difficult to perfom live - I was so wrong, hahaha. It's such a joy to play this song and it's working so fantastic! Im very very happy with it. It's very visual and brings up the goosebumps.
T.V.: Interesting choice! Since Totengeflüster became a live act, please tell to our readers what they can expect to get on your show if they'll visit one?
Totleben: NO Justin Bieber coversongs!!! I think we are a authentic live band and we always prepare a lot for our shows. We prefer quality over quantity, so on all concerts that we play our goal is to deliver 110%. Having a very good drummer who acutally can play the songs we have on our album live is so much fun. A lot of bands have bombastic albums but when it comes to the stage... they do not deliver. I think we do this pretty well!
T.V.: Can you tell me which concert that you played so far was for you the best one?
Totleben: Okay, the best one was the concert last year headlining the Beermageddon Festival in England - three years after we played our debut at exactly this festival! Coming back there was a very big moment. Also celebrating our third year on stage was fantastic. The crowd was with us... it was mindblowing! The crew and organizers were so supporive and helping us in all ways. One hour before we had to play our headlining set there the stage manager told us that the drumkit on stage was massivly damaged so they organized a completely new drumset only for our headlining show. So one guy was driving, I don't know, maybe 100 miles one way just to pick up a drumset and bring it to the location. Ten minutes before our show everything was set up and ready to go. England was always a great time!! The most special I think was playing on Summerbreeze Open Air. The band Eïs had to cancel their concert so we could jump in - one day after we just released the second album - how cool is that! We got the info at 15h in the afternoon that we can play in the night as last band of the festival! So we had to grab our stuff, phonecall everyone out of their beds and rush there. This was so fanstastic and craazy! I had my car packed to the top with equipment and when we arrived at the festival we had some security people there to escort us to the stage where we had to play. So they were in small golf - cars driving before us - so we had to cross the main stage where Korn was playing at this moment so I was driving in my car besides the mainstage while thousands of people were jumping there and I could watch out of my car window and see Korn performing on stage - hahaha that was so crazy dude!!
T.V.: Pretty interesting anecdotes! Because you are mentioning festivals only, I suppose that you prefer to play on festivals over clubs?
Totleben: No, I like everything - both clubs and festivals have their own spirit. When you play a festival a lot of the crowd doesn't know you yet - on one side you can make new fans by this, on the other some people will not know you so it's maybe a bit strage for them to see us for the first time... dont know. I think when we are playing a club show fans come to see us. So both is great. I do not prefer one thing over the other. That also stands for the organisation - it's not said that only because you are playing a festival you can relax more and rely everything on their crew! You have to be on your toes on both things. I think time will tell where we will play more in the future. I think with a big light show on a huge stage Totengeflüster can really express their sound because the sound is quite massive and can work well on a big stage. But from my expierience with the band that sound also works very well in smaller venues, which is very good!
T.V.: Any gigs already billed for 2018?
Totleben: Wolfszeit Festival in Germany, and some concerts we could not perform in autumn last year cause of our drummers injury on his right hand. I think we will play in Swizerland for the first time this year and some concerts scheduled for the autumn/winter time. This year will not be tooo much with us on stage because there are other things going on at the moment like songwriting, working on some new ideas we never did before,...
T.V.: Oh, already working on a new album? Tell me more and what are these new ideas?
Totleben: Hm, they are not considered to be on "a new album" - we just start songwriting - we do not have any plans for a completely new album at the moment and we will just see where this ideas will lead. It's always good to follow your instincts when they come up. I think at the moment we all feel very creative, so why wasting this time?
T.V.: In the interview we did when you released your debut album you mentioned that your dream is to perform with an orchestra. Any closer to this?
Totleben: Not yet haha, but you can keep on asking me about this. I think there are things a bit closer but these are only millimeters haha. I always keep my ears open for possibilitys and maybe in some years some contacts I have will work out, but for the moment it's not possible.

T.V.: Ok, will keep on asking you that haha. Your image and the whole outlook of the band is pretty dark and yes, "black metallish". But it's obvious that you guys don't talk about satanism and similar stuff. Still I think that some occult related stuff is pretty present.
Totleben: Well I think Narbengrund's and our thing is just reflecting on stuff that is there in the world around. That can be very dark of course. I think we have kind of nihilistic thematics going on through the things we do. It's not about a kind of "magic" we celebrate or something - we just reflect on the things that "normally" happen in life - the good the bad, the ugly.
T.V.: And how much do you think is the visual presence inportant for a band like Totengeflüster?
Totleben: Well... I think when you want to express something it has to fill the different receptors of a person. We do visuals for the eyes to see, we do music for the ears to hear, we do lyrics for the heart to understand... we focus on everything very much. So I think the visual thing just pops out cause we are always watching the world, so our eyes have become a very important receptor but I think the music and the depth in the music is as intense as the visuals. I think it's just not the case that someone always listens to the music - it's much easier to see an image somewhere popping up than listening to a song. To get back to the main question - visuals are important but not more important than the other stuff we do.
T.V.: Everything is well connected and professional in the case of Totengeflüster. If your debut album was still pretty much influenced by Cradle Of Filth or Dimmu Borgir, the things on Im Nebel der Vergänglichkeit changed and is of course very good to see a band following it's own way. You achived quite an unique sound inside the genre, and I wonder what is responsible for that? New influences, new taste in music or simply your songwritting developed that much?
Totleben: I've to be honest with you, I haven't done anything different (for me and the process) when I wrote the songs that followed the debut album. Sure, I learned a lot in case of the studio work and how to produce songs. That was a main difference to the first album. On the first album I just had no experience with sequencer softwares on the level I have now. To produce songs became so much easier, the equipment I have now is so much more easy to work with and makes the whole process much more fun and intense. I also write a lot of non metal music for my own just to improve my studio abilities. They are more in the direction of Pertubator or Carpenter Brut. Nothing was shown yet and I think that will remain like this for the next year. I have so much material done but all is still hidden. Sure it would be great to share but I want to see where everything goes. For the influences you are right - the debut was much more focused on the bands I just like to hear. With the second album I really wanted to go a more honest path and I think the things that are in the making at the moment will follow this as well. All in all the new stuff is much more darker, deeper and less "fairytale" as the last things that were released. But I'm still keeping the orchestral feeling to it. For me it just adds a layer of story to the overall expierience when listening to the songs. But for the feeling of writing songs I just went on where the last album has ended.
T.V.: One more personal question now. Beside music, what are your interests in life?
Totleben: Well I do love Star Wars big time! The fact is that it all started with one man having a vision of his own universe and financing all on his own (sure with some help from the studio in the beginning). It's just inspiring for me. The original films are fantastic and brought what I'm now to me when I was young. Star Wars is passion as well as metal. Everyday I can escape in this galaxy far far away and always learning something new. It's just a big community and its interesting to follow. Besides that I love nature photography and hiking. I love being outside where no one else is, having my headphones with me, walking and walking and capturing places I've never have been before.
T.V.: I see that quite a lot of musicians like or are even obsessed with the Star Wars saga. Tell me if does Stars Wars in any way give you some kind of an influence or inspirations in composing your music or while making art?
Totleben: Yes. For me personally it’s a big influence. Star Wars was the first thing I really became a passionate fan of way before I was interested in metal music. I think I was about six to seven years old when I saw 'A New Hope'. When I watched this movie it felt so real to me even that it was created by a filmcrew. This is still something I carry with me when I create art – it needs to hit you directly and just feels right to me. Everything is authentic and that’s one of my goals I’m aiming for when it's about to compose some music or create an artwork. Another thing is that the original Star Wars was created with so much passion. Lucas decision to stay independent absolutely influenced me as well. You don’t have to be a part of a big company to raise your ideas. When you go back to the creation of the first movie there was so much of “try and error & improve from what you have learned”. Sure a lot of people are not happy about his changes Lucas did to the movies later on and I can understand them because it already was a masterpiece that didn’t need any corrections. Anyway – Star Wars is passion – by the creator and the fans as well. The community is also very active which can be compared somehow to the metal community as well. The fans care about their bands or movies. The next thing that is very much inspiring to me is the visual and musical side of Star Wars. As I mentioned the visual side is so authentic in the original trilogy. The mix of the light and dark being in constant movement is a fantastic concept. The music is outstanding as well and really got me into movie soundtracks. The orchestral music directly helps telling the story and it’s what we are doing as well. Music is not just notes that “sound cool” it’s more than that. It has to create a feeling and has to have its own character. For a musician it’s very important to know how you create a feeling only using tunes, that’s our job – right? Star Wars as well as metal is a passionate thing for me. You can get upset about it sometimes because you care for it. If you would not care you would not get upset – easy as this. Like music it's a world you can escape into. The magic for me is in both of it.
T.V.: Because you are a huge Star Wars fan I must ask you what do you think about the latest movie in the series, 'The Last Jedi'? It seems that many fans of the franschize are quite dissapointed about it.
Totleben: I think the movie was great. Yes, it was unpredictable and I thought they would go into another direction but actually this is what I think is great about the movie. I think that most of the people are disappointed because they had certain expectations how it should be and their expectations were just not fulfilled. I honestly can say that this film has issues but I still like it very much and the great moments are still bigger than the weak moments. Let’s start with some things I didn’t like: I think they built up Phasma quite good in 'The Force Awakens' but in this movie she should have had more screentime. She was just wasted and I really think they should have used her better. The same with the whole Canto Bight subplot... it just felt out of place... they should have sent Phasma on a mission to get after Rose and Fin to hunt them down on this subplot so she could have had more screentime and Fin could have his arc better developed there. What I loved about the movie was to show that Luke could be a weak human person as well. Even the biggest heroes can fall one day and his comeback was epic. He displayed the largest use of the force ever and I was not disappointed that he died at the end. It’s a new era now and I think he will show up as a forceghost in episode nine. I also like the concept that now forceghosts can interact with the physical world as they showed with Yoda getting the forecetree on fire and knocking his stick on Lukes head haha. All in all I really enjoyed it cause it felt very fresh to me. Also Carrie Fisher performance was fantastic. Star Wars was always and is a “opera” based thing where like in fairytales things can happen (The Force, etc.) So I had no problem with the most debated Leia “flying” through space thing. It was great seeing her using the force finally. Rian Johnson did a great work and after I've seen this movie four times in the cinema now I really can say that a lot of people getting mad about this movie have not understood it in my opinion. This movie delivers the answers if you listen and look closely. Most people just have expectations this days and if they are not served well they piss on it as much as they can and neglect the entire artistic thought that this movie wants to tell you. As Yoda said to Luke “The biggest teacher failure is” and I can agree with this so much. This move tells us something that no other Star Wars movie did before. It showed the humanity of beloved characters and again the effects, music and visual work was outstanding. Why not accepting something that feels fresh? Why do people always demand what they already experienced? Why do they always search for something nostalgic? I think that 'The Force Awakens' was already nostalgic enough to set up something new what 'The Last Jedi' finally did. I was happy that it wasn’t even close to 'The Empire Strikes Back'. Heard some people complain about the walkers on Crait on the end of the movie that it was too similar to the opening battle in 'The Empire Strikes Back' but my thought is: It’s a base that is only able to attack by ground forces so why not using some walkers? I mean – it’s the way the military works in this Universe so did you ever hear someone complain that they still use tanks now as they already used them fifty years ago? It's just how warfare works – use the right weapon for the right purpose. But as always – that’s just my opinion. If someone does not like it, I’m fine with that but I really recommend to think of some things in a deeper way and not just piss on well crafted things only because the expectation wasn’t fulfilled. I also think it's great that the movie tells that life is about keeping the balance. Without you will fail. It's the same with me creating all this stuff, you need to balance between all elements to be succssesful. Why do a lot of people just want the same things warmed up over and over again an be straight against something new that comes with a different point of view? i think to understand art is about to be open minded.
T.V.: But it isn't the same with music. Fans always expect of their bands to play the same thing over and over again, to make dozens of albums that sound almost the same, and if the band wants to experiment a bit, or to change style a bit, they get immediately criticized...
Totleben: I think you can always stay true to your roots and still bring up something fresh. In my opinion this is what 'The Last Jedi' did. They didn't made a musical out of it, it still has the Star Wars vibe and characters to it. I think in metal you are always using the same ingredients to create a new album for example. You would never exchange the main elements by something that would not fit. I think it's always down to the artist what they think is the new step to do. I think there are a lot of examples where development was a great thing. You will never create the same thing over and over again if you don't want to end up just repeating yourself. Sure maybe some people want you to repeat but it gets boring as hell. Only because someone has a certain opinion about something it's not said that this is what you have to do. You have to do what feels right for you. If they want to hear other music, they can chose from a lot of other bands. I think if you are tied to your own creations you always will stick true to your atmosphere, vibe and style. The way how this is executed can and should be able to change. It says "play" music - so it should be playful and not mathematicaly calculated to a point where it just gives everyone what they want. We do black metal here and it should be free to do whatever you intend to do. Music means freedom of expressing your feelings, so if you have a certain feeling that needs to be put out - do it. Sure there are "no go areas" that I definitely see. I think for example that all of the techno remixes made by Cradle Of Filth were a no go like that. So many people see Burzum as a peak of black metal - but look at the Hliðskjálf album for example - it wasnt a typical black metal album but it still has its atmosphere in my opinion. I also can fully agree on the point that when a band is moving too far from their roots and initial atmosphere they should release this music under a different project or name. You should not use your "big name" to throw out everything you do. That's why me and the rest of the band is quite strict about which songs should be on a new album and which songs should be excluded.
T.V.: Back to Totengeflüster now. You made and released quite an impressive video for the track "Totengeflüster". Tell me how do you enjoy creating video clips, and can we expect something more in this area for any of the tracks out of the new album?
Totleben: Thank you, it was quite an effort to pull this of without any help outside the band. I've directed, shot and edited the whole clip all by myself. I think for that time it was the best we could achieve and I'm proud of it. I think it represents the sinister atmosphere of the song as well as the band itself. As I do not want to repeat myself and the recent videoclips made by bands like Carach Angren or Dimmu Borgir you shuold think twice before just "doing just a new video". I think the most critical part is to ask how to represent the content in the best way possible. Sure I would like to produce a big budget videoclip someday but I also really like the simple things like the videos Sólstafir or Myrkur did recently. It all depends on the mood and style of the song. You also see that "One With The Void" is quite different than "Totengeflüster" but they both work very well I think.
T.V.: Yes, but still it feels like being a real professional thing. The video for "One With The Void" is actually a lyric video, and I see that lyric videos became very popular lately, many bands are making them. Tell me, where do you see the importance of lyric videos?
Totleben: Yeah, do it yourself like we did with the "Totengeflüster" video does not mean that it can't have a proffessional claim. I think often when some "try to do it on their own" it gets maybe less professional... but thats only possible by try and error and always search to improve. I think a lyric video is a fast and easy way to get people into your stuff. First, it's nothing bad but on the other hand it's nothing special I think, because it's really hard to find a lyric video that's acutally made without adobe after effects using the same presets over and over again. Some fire particles flying through and some fast zooms on the lyrics. Well... I'm watching everything from a production point of view as well. All I can say is if it's made in the right way it really can support the band... if it's exectued too easy it will not do something speical for me and I would prefer the song without any video.
T.V.: We touched this topic a bit before, but as you are a musician in black metal band I must ask you where do you think the black metal style would evolve any further. Where do you think are the limits? Today we have many bands that call themselves "black metal" but are in my opinion far from that, just look at all those who are playing kind of a post-metal, shoegaze metal and because of some shrieking vocals here and there call it that way...
Totleben: The term "black metal" these days has changed somehow from the term "black metal" that was used in the late 80s or 90s. I have certain opinions about what black metal should and should not be. I think we can break down this term into different parts. Identification, label/caption/tag, music style, trend, lifestlye and principle. So the single term "black metal" is so much bigger than just the stlye of a metal genre that uses blastbeats, harsh vocals and corpsepaint. It's so much deeper than this clichees. We see on the one hand a black metal band called Satyricon, on the other hand we se a black metal band called Watain. They are still playing the same genre but in case of their approach in handling things they are different but same in common things. I think we can expect a certain kind of development within "black metal" within its atmosphere in case of experience things in their intensity. Once black metal had to be aggressive and violent at every time, we now see more different layers. I think that aggression and violence is an element of black metal but not everything. Once there were bands that needed to be heavier than the other, we now have more facets to it. And that leads me to your second question - where do I think are the limits... it's hard to say because I dont think too much into "boxes" - I don't say you do but there are people that does this. I think we have "purists" everywhere... and I really appreciate and support "pure black metal", don't get me wrong. I think if you have something that is important to you you should express it. If you have to or you're telling yourself you should use the term "black metal" for it... that's a other question and should be thought of twice. I think if you do black metal you should honor and understand what you are doing. Black metal for me is the most honest and unsparing truth you can express. In black metal you are free to shout out, denounce, negate, pervert, condemn. You don't have to ask for permission, you do it cause you feel it's your way this has to be spoken out. This is something all those "softer" shoegaze albums and performances do different. They do their thing, yes but it's absolutely different from black metal, only using some of the same elements. You could say the same about metalcore and death metal. Do they both use deep growled vocals, yes they do. Do they also have higher screamed vocals, yes they have, do they play more rhythmic than melodic, yes they both do. Do they play the same style - absolutely no! When it comes to black metal I think there has to be something nefarious to it cause we all are in our own way. If you want do do something, do it for your own reasons, you don't have to ask mommy for permission. Go for it or don't do anything.

T.V.: Yes, exactly, I agree with you 100%. Now I think it's time to end this interview. Is there anything else that you would like to say to all your fans and our readers out there? The last words are all yours?
Totleben: Well, first thanks to you giving the band and myself a platform to share our thoughts and positions. By the things we are doing it's important to speak about them because there are reasons why we do what we do everyday. It's not unimportant to reflect about your actions, improvement is important to see the bigger picture. Being naive never moved yourself forward but we only can see as far as we are willing to see. Seek failure and become stronger by improving yourself!

Totengeflüster links: Official website, Facebook, Youtube
Pale Essence Music links: Official website, Facebook