Interview mit Kevin & Filip von Hemelbestormer

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Already with their debut „Äther“ (2016) the instrumental-drone-doomers HEMELBESTORMER were able to gain a good reputation in the scene. Now the Belgians release „A Ring Of Blue Light“, a successor on which the band picks up their strengths, but does not shy away from further development. Kevin (bass) and Filip (guitar) about the blue ring, musical contrasts and our raison d‘ être.

Hi and thanks a lot for taking time for this interview! How are you doing?
Kevin: No worries, thank you for giving us a platform to speak our mind. I think I can speak for everyone when I say that we’re currently working very hard behind the scenes. The new album is releasing very soon and some more news will reveal as well…

Your second HEMELBESTORMER-album is entitled „A Ring Of Blue Light“ – what’s the idea behind that title?
Filip: It refers to Haog’s Object, an untypical galaxy consisting of eight billion blue stars. In stead of a spiral shape these stars are set up in a circle. It’s situated in the constellation of the serpent bearer. Hemelbestormer is an instrumental band, but we try to link the atmosphere of our music to these matters. All titles, artwork and custom drawn sigil are all linked to this item.

The artwork is very similar to the one of your first album – there is again a huge montain on the cover. What connects you as Belgians with mountains?
Kevin: Well, I look at it from a completely different angle and there is way more to it than you might think and shouldn’t be looked at so ‚literally’. Of course it’s easy to say that they’re all similar, but it should be looked at as more of a ‚theme’. We’re a band that want to take the listener on a journey. I have a masters’ degree in arts and was always deeply fascinated by the painters of the school of romantiscism. They saw nature as something sublime, and also saw it as an opportunity to contemplate a divine presence in this world.

And  just to be clear, we’re not a religious band at all, but I think I can say there’s definitely a spiritual side to it, even in our bandname. At least that’s how I interpret it. So, I always try to make covers that are extremely powerful and are a perfect embodiment of our music. For me it’s MUCH more than ‚just another mountain on a cover’. I want to encourage the viewer/listener to accept the power of nature and remind them of the insignificance of materialism in our society and other ‘first world problems’. There’s so much more to life. Let the (mental) purging begin…

Have you ever seen such mountains in real life, maybe also at night? If yes: What were your feelings in this particular moment?
Filip: We played at the Eine In Teich festival a few years ago. It was located on the top of a mountain in the Austrian Alps. Literally the highest festival of Europe. We played there at 2:00 AM. We also played at the exclusive Funkenflug Festival – again in the Austrian Alps. At midnight there was a huge fire to celebrate the summer solstice. And apart from that, personally I’ve been on mountains on various places in Europe, the Middle East and America. Mountains (and nature in general) are the key to our existence.

„Aether“ was the sum of all 4 elements; earth, water, wind and fire. „Aether“ is also the symbol of the universe, a path we continue to walk on „A ring of blue light“. A  mountain is the closest place to space (which is a direct link to the word „HEMEL-bestormer“ or „HIMMEL-sturmer“ in German). Mountains are pure, they look massive and they bring rest. These days urban life controls our daily routines. Through nature we are connected with our raison d‘être and find true peace in body and mind.

To „illustrate“ the title in the artwork, there is a blue circle on top of that mountain. To be honest, I think, it looks a bit crappy, at least not as „a ring of blue light“ – why did you decide to do it that puristic, without any effects to make it look shiny?
Kevin: First of all I think beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but point taken. I’ll try and explain what we were going for, as we’ve said in a previous question: „A ring of blue light“ is more dynamic than the previous work. There are also a lot more parts where the listener gets time to breathe. To reflect that in the artwork I intentionally stepped away from the darker artwork that we previously had while still maintaining our ‚theme’. It’s still mysterious as you will, but it also contains more hope in a sense. Eveything is clearer and more detailed, not only in the music, but as I’ve said earlier, also in the artwork.

For the mountain I chose to work with a naturally pyramid shaped mountain. A shape  that has always attracted me and that always had a deeper meaning throughout history. And to reflect the ring (Hoag’s Object) I wanted it to be some sort of halo that was floating in the sky.

I get your point that it’s not shiny but that is only the case for web images. I could have easily put a glowing ring behind the mountain, made out of stars or something else. But that wouldn’t really fit the concept I had in mind. The blue ring should be seen as an important graphic element for the band. A symbol. A ring that‚marks you when you’ve finished our new journey, or when you have experienced one of our shows.

For the physical records and CDs, Ván Records gave us the opportunity to work with hotfoil print. That means it most definitely will be shiny, and will make the packaging even more original. I personally still believe the whole packaging and new merch is the best we’ve done so far. Graphicwise and conceptwise. I also firmly believe that everything should blend together, so that blue ring will definitely be seen in more places as well. So, I hope that explains it, and I hope you’ll maybe change your mind when you get a hold of a phyisical copy and see everything as a whole.

Your sound this time is more extreme, whilst the music more filigree parts, clean guitars, post-rock-influences and so on, what makes the contrast even more extreme. Was that the intention?
Kevin: I can only speak for my own experience since Filip writes the music for the most part. But for me personally this record means even more to me than our previous work. I think our intentional goal will come across even more. There is time to slowly drift away to a beautiful part in the back of your mind, but there are still heavier/doomier parts that will unleash darkness… But most importantly this record contains parts of who we all are. I believe it’s a perfect mix of our characters and the guys at Blackout Studio captured it perfectly.

In general, there are way more quiet parts on the album – a new element in the sound of HEMELBESTORMER. What inspired you to go in this direction?
Filip: Some psychedelic parts and some clean parts might give that impression, but that’s in big contrast with the more heavy doom laden parts elsewhere on the album. This time the sound is very organic and less sterile than on its predecessor, which results into a more dark atmosphere, not exactly quieter in my opinion.

I think, it sounds interesting, but the dark atmosphere gets a bit weakened by those melodic parts, at least in comparison to your first album. What do you think about that?
Filip: We see these parts as moments of rest. A lot of music just keeps on hammering droning riffs and beat up your ears. Therefor we bring more dynamics into our music. There are hard parts and there are more relaxing parts. The opening song „Eight billion stars“ is an extreme low tuned beast which smashes your ears, but gives some moments of breathing time during the piano part in the middle. The short intermezzo „Clusters“ brings Sunn 0))) alike noise while the other short one („Blue light“) sounds quite easy going. We like to play with these contrasts to create a mood of darkness and hope – Like it is in real life.

You are still working completely instrumental – did you ever deliberate if vocals could be a nice addition to your sound as well?
Filip: We had the idea to use something like 4 or 8 lines on „Towards the nebula“ and there was an outstanding singer willing to do it. But because of his busy touring schedule and recent album release, he couldn’t fix it before the deadline. So we kept our music 100% instrumental. Those vocals weren’t meant as lead vocals, but more like an extra layer of sounds to thicken the atmosphere. At this moment we all feel very comfortable presenting a voiceless band and I don’t think it will change that easily.

Will there be a tour including gigs in Germany?
Filip: During April and May we’ll have some German shows listed with The Great Old Ones, Downfall Of Gaia and Phantom Winter. Scheduled are Köln, Bremen, Hamburg, Würzburg, Freiburg and Münster. Do expect some more German exposure after the Summer.

Thank you for the interview! Please let us do a short brainstorming in the end of this interview. What comes in your mind first reading the following terms:
German Beer:
Kevin: I’ve never had a sip of alcohol so I have no opinion on this. But my bandmates seem to a big fan of it.
The sea:
Kevin: On one side a very powerful force, and the other side a beautiful place to free your mind and relax.
Kevin: Majestic natural structures where I love spending my time whenever I get the chance. Nothing as cool as hiking/snowboarding through a thick pack of snow in the mountains.
Donald Trump: Kevin:  I don’t like to get political but to me it’s someone who lives in his own dreamworld and makes a lot of reckless decisions.
Kevin:  I can’t even say we’ll still exist in 10 years. But what I can say is that is the band I always dreamt of having. We have already done a lot of beautiful things and got a lot of cool oppurtunities. As for now I don’t think our story has come to end yet, but I will always look back at this band with great pride and joy.

Once again thanks for your time. The last words are yours – is there anything left you want to tell our readers?
Filip: Thanks for having us. If people want to check us out: take your time to absorb our music. It’s no party music. It needs time. But once it gets you, it’ll never let you go…

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