Luxembourg is probably not the most popular area in Western Europe. Quite often overshadowed by neighboring territories Germany, France, and Belgium, Luxembourg truly is a region that is rewarding to anyone willing to deviate from typical European tourist areas. This being said, I was able to include parts of Luxembourg in my recent European travels, and what I discovered was quite a beautiful and independent region.
Upon return home, I could not help but wonder if there was a black metal scene in Luxembourg at all, due to its smaller populace. I began searching for bands worthy of listening to.
Funerarium was one of the first that I discovered.
With a very satisfactory sound, this band is not just interesting due to its location. It could be in the heart of Germany, for all I care. Funerarium has proven to be a gem from its native homeland, and, I believe, should be considered as pioneers of the metal scene in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.
Upon discovery, I ordered their wonderful album "Valley of Darkness" and was quite impressed. I then was able to contact their representative member de Rais, who turned out to be an interesting person to talk to. This is what came of an interview done several months ago...
(The Inarguable) - Your band is from a small area in Europe that one would not typically think to find black metal. However, with Funerarium and other bands like Donkelheet, there seems to be an insurgence of a rising black metal scene. Is there much of a 'black metal' community in your area, or do you feel as if you are at the forefront of it?
(De Rais) - No, I have to disappoint you, in our small country there’s no real “scene” or whatsoever you would call it. The reason for this is that we are certainly a very unsociable group of people. Besides that nearly all our close friends have recently moved beyond the borders to Germany (for financial reasons essentially). The best time for black metal was- as generally everywhere- in the mid-nineties and we were at the time very lucky to have the city of “Trier” (Germany) not far away, as there were regularly a lot of gigs there.
(TI) - Another related question to ask would be how you discovered this style of music in the first place?
(DR) - We discovered it through fanzines, a network of friends and one music shop in Luxemburg-City, that was very good at the time. Besides that, I think we were attracted to the bands that emerged as they generated the hate of mainstream music press and fans, as these were not capable to understand this form of art. In fact the most surprising thing was that all the persons that were interested in black metal (about 20 people) had come in contact one with each other mainly through the music (probably this was because they had the same form of feeling and thinking).
(TI) - Luxembourg is known for being diverse in having three common languages: French, German, and Luxembourgish. We know that your song titles are in English for the most part, but what language do you and your bandmates commonly use? Are any song lyrics in any of these languages?
(DR) - We speak Luxembourgish. It’s an own “language”. In fact it is nearly 90 percent German with some special/own words. Generally it’s not admitted directly/openly that our language is very close to German because of the problems of the past (WW2, nazi-aversion, aso.) We could use our language for songs but we chose not to. We very rarely speak english so it’s a good occasion to practice it, haha. I think english simply has the best “pronunciation” and sounding, it’s as simple as that…
(TI) - Your songs are incredibly rich in atmosphere. With much reverberation and echo, Funerarium seems to sound as fluent as a bellowing wind. What do you feel influences your sound both as a band, and as a lyricist?
(DR) - Musically we are always searching for a so-called “epic/pagan” but grim atmosphere (like old Graveland; old Gorgoroth, Bathory, Darkthrone, and so on). We probably try to mix our interest for history and human abysses with some creative elements ( I would not call it phantasy but rather “imagination”).
(TI) - I was incredibly fortunate to be able to find your music from the Unites States. However, it has been awhile since there was a full-length album. Are there any plans to release further albums in the near future?
(DR) - We had a deal with the label Undercover Records” (Germany) as we know the owner personally. He has done a good job, but we can not say exactly how we will continue.
For the moment, we have not practiced as a band for nearly a year, because one of us has recently moved to Germany. But we will take on in 2011. But generally I have to say that we are not going to create time pressure. Good musical ideas and the subsequent song-writing need a lot of time, a thing that most of the bands of today seem to forget.
(TI) - Does Funerarium perform live shows?
(DR) - No, we are not a live band. We played only one gig in another constellation, with the band “Hexemeeschter” (means “Witchmaster”), in a cave in the woods, a real exceptional place which fits perfectly to the ghastly sound of black metal.
(TI) - Are there any bands that you feel should be getting more recognition than they are?
(DR) - In speaking of contemporary bands, there are very few that I appreciate: Paragon Belial, Tulus, Urgehal, …
Old Bands: Sororicide, Forgotten Woods, Ved buens ende (absolute creativity).
(TI) - Though Luxembourg is such a small region, there seems to be a fantastic history, and many wonderful areas. Contemporary cities, towns surrounding castles, densely-forested regions, and unique architecture are all to be found in this independent Grand Duchy. Do you feel as if your location influences you, or do you long for something else?
(DR) - You are right, we have in a sense a very special and naturalistic environment here. Sadly, we are, like the rest of the civilized world- in a vortex (I think it’s the right word?) of globalisation/ uniformism or whatever you would call it and so you have to struggle not to loose your regional uniqueness. Sometimes I envy countries like Iceland as they are an island and have lesser worries to demarcate and protect themselves….
(TI) - Finally, what do you think of the modern black metal scene?
(DR) - It’s 99 percent utter crap as people are more preoccupied in presenting their “unique” personalities and fast-done recordings to the “world” instead of trying to create their own thing. Internet has taken mystery from so many things, and you have to be very careful with your time in order not waste it with pseudo-social nonsense. My advice to a young band would be: take your instruments and practice ‘till your fingers bleed and please do not release every rubbish.
(TI) - Thank you for your time; have you any parting words in regards to your last comment?
(DR) - I would like to finish with this quote from an American author: “An artist is always alone - if he is an artist. No, what the artist needs is loneliness”.