We recorded ‘The Delusion Machine’ at the end of last year. We then spent time making sure that the sound was exactly what we wanted for this album. We found the process of writing this album (our third) incredibly difficult especially given the central themes that we were addressing. We immersed ourselves into the true futility of existence and wanted the final recording to represent every part of that struggle. We have also spent some time making a video for the first single, ‘The Beasts That Perish’, and this was released in May. This involved filming on hillsides in freezing cold winds – so the struggle lived on! Other than that, we released a single called 'Mourn Defeat' in January, with an official video, in aid of the mental health charity 'MIND', we have played a few live shows including a short tour with our good friends in Stahlsarg, and we have started to bring some of the new songs to the live arena.
2.How would you describe the musical sound that is presented on the recordings?
We would certainly consider that this album captures struggle and desperation more than any other. We have always maintained a groove to our song writing – in the same way as, for example, Satyricon or The Infernal Sea, but there are more nods towards a more traditional style of black metal on this album. The spoken word is still present and is intertwined within the songs – a good example is the last song on ‘The Delusion Machine’, called ‘Singularity 45’, where we have finally managed to use a spoken word line as the main vocal, and it only adds to the crushing heaviness of the song. It’s these type of achievements that we are the most proud of.
3.You refer to your music as 'poetic black metal', can you tell us a little bit more about this term?
Well, the ‘poetic’ bit is easy. We all adore the use of spoken word and voice as an art form, and we make sure that on each album we include short passages wherever we can. Our self-titled first album was a 5000 word epic poem interweaved with music so this definitely a description with which we can always identify ourselves. We consider ourselves ‘black metal’ because we view it as the only true genre where absolute artistic expression can be allowed to wander and thrive like no other. Black metal provides a blank canvas – unblemished by the constraints and limitations of the world in which we dwell. It allows Shadowflag to develop organically and naturally like no other genre would, and it has given birth to one of the most dedicated followings around. It’s a sound that doesn’t just push the boundaries, it has no boundaries in the first place.
4.What are some of the lyrical topics and subjects the band explores with the music?
On ‘The Delusion Machine’, we collectively made the decision to face our most chilling concept yet. Presenting the human species as being without purpose, the album explores the fear of the absolute nothingness within everything that mankind has become. There has never been a more poignant time in history when the reality of the vacuum at the centre of existence has been so apparent. ‘The Delusion Machine' is a bleak representation of futility and despair, yet also holds some hope within these barren soundscapes. Although this is fairly straightforward to summarise, confronting the pointlessness of life ended up having a very profound effect on each of us as well as the album itself. You only have to listen to tracks like ‘The Brutality’ and ‘Kingdom of Zero’ to understand a little more about where we were at.
5.What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name 'Shadowflag'?
‘Shadowflag’ is the name of the ship in the story from our debut album, ‘Shadow Flag’. It represents salvation and resolution. We can relate to the journey of the Voyager as told in this album. Thus, we chose it as our name. The poem was written before the band was formed, and Carps and I both felt that Shadowflag was the true representation of us. It is mere coincidence that it is used in the Pearl Jam song ‘Garden’ – although the lyrics to that song could be an inspiration in themselves.
6.What are some of the best shows that the band has played over the years and also how would you describe your stage performance?
We have played a whole load of shows and enjoyed every single one of them. Our stage performance is high-energy, captivating and dark – and we enjoy constructing sets with high points and low points, rises and falls. It keeps the audience guessing and gives us some freedom to flow with the music. Some of the best shows we have played include the ones at our spiritual home, Scruffy Murphy’s in Birmingham. Also, we have played festivals like Beermageddon and were invited to play at Northern Extremity XIII in York.
7.Do you have any touring or show plans for the new album?
For sure. We have an album launch party on June the 23rd in our hometown of Cheltenham and then we play at Carpathian Alliance festival in Ukraine in July. Following that, we are looking at a few more short runs of dates in September, a big show at Scruffy Murphy's in Birmingham in November, and then finish up at the fantastic Blackwood Gathering in Cumbria, UK in October. We then plan to start filling our gig calendar for 2018. .
8.Currently you are unsigned, are you looking for a label or have received any interest?
We are currently unsigned and we don’t see that as a major issue. We have had some label interest but we didn’t feel that it would work for us in the right way. We think that bands have to realize that being signed is no longer the holy grail as you can do a great deal on your own, and labels have to realise that you have to work even harder than ever for your bands right now. If the right label came along, and we felt it was right for Shadowflag, then we would jump at the chance.
9.On a worldwide level how has the feedback been to your music by fans of black metal?
Fantastic. We seem to have picked up fans all over the place. Mainland Europe is always a feeding ground for the extreme end of music, but we have also seen great interest in South America and the USA. We do find that we gather fans whose tastes are wider than black metal which may mean that we are more accessible in a way. That’s got to be a good thing, right?
10.Where do you see the band heading into musically during the future?
Who knows? We try and do things a bit different on every album. We have a process where we just write whatever comes naturally to each of us, and then throw them into the simmering cauldron. We are actually doing that right now and ‘The Delusion Machine’ hasn’t even come out yet. We find it the best time to write. And then, when we are least expecting it, a beast of a thing clambers out of the cauldron….and there’s our new album.
11.What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?
We are all a little different really. We would always say that the bands that influenced Shadowflag would be the obvious ones like Satyricon, Emperor and Enslaved, but we have roots running into bands like Kreator, Testament and Tryptykon, or Paradise Lost and Blut Aus Nord. Individually, we have very extensive tastes and are always devouring new music and this blends into our common approach. At the moment, we are into The Infernal Sea, Anaal Nathrakh, Sathamel, Batushka and the new Overkill album is pretty full on.
12.What are some of your non musical interests?
Everything – the world is a fascinating place so we just wander about taking it all in. Seems odd we all ended up here, doesn’t it? Then we generally drink a few beers and go and do something musical.
13.Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?
Nothing more from us….except to say thanks very much for giving us a chance to let you know about our forthcoming album and we hope to see you on the road sometime.