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Knoest interview

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Spitting out the Darkness of the Night

Not everybody's darling, but a welcome guest in the troll cave is Joris van Gelre, a.o. vocalist of :NODFYR: (featuring Jasper and Mark of ALVENRAD), who earlier this year surprised us with KNOEST, respectively the debut album "Dag". A piece of music that grows on rough soil, digging its roots into the dark earth, above which it stretches towards the sun, the evening sky and the stars - not your everyday dose of epic metal, including one fierce killer song to the "Nacht" ("Night") that needs to be heard. So, here's another small chat with a rather productive musician from Gelderland.

Hi Joris, nice to talk to you again! I hope we don’t repeat ourselves too much, but I’m convinced that KNOEST is very much worth the attention, and although I read the info on your FB page, I wonder whether a knoest fell on somebody’s head and thus provoked the idea for another band?

Hi Thor! A pleasure hearing from you as usual. Yes our talks certainly seem to develop a cyclic character but I for one always enjoy them! Nobody was hurt when the idea for Knoest rose thankfully, only my girlfriend had a slightly raised heartbeat after hearing about it ("Another band!?") but she’s come to terms with it meanwhile. The idea came during a walk with Harold on De Planken Wambuis, a nature area between Arnhem and Ede. We discussed the concept and after a couple of weeks Harold sent me an SMS that he had come up with music. After that we went to a rehearsal place and he played the entire piece. I thought it was great and we both agreed that we needed a drummer to carve out some rhythms and structures. I talked to Mink, asked him if he wanted to join and fortunately he said yes. We then went to the rehearsal place and Harold played the piece again. I will never forget the look on Mink’s face as he heard it for the first time, as it was a really rough and unpolished chunk of music. Gradually Mink and Harold managed to cut out the essence from the rough idea, a very cool process to witness. Then it was my turn to add lyrics, I mainly came up with them during walks and my drives to work and back. After we recorded everything we called in the help of O. and Greg Chandler who both did a great job respectively mixing and mastering it exactly to our taste.

I think we already talked about Isengard as a influence, and although it reflects differently in comparison with :Nodfyr:, I tend to say that its impact is obvious once again. Moreover we meet a spirit I consider to have become quite recognizable for some Dutch bands with black metal roots: a self-conscious approach, harsh, at times dissonant, yet with a beauty of its own, rooted in melancholy, maybe nostalgy... Are you happy with how some Dutch bands took up the (not only) "Norwegian vibe" and transform it into their own music, like you do with KNOEST and :NODFYR:?

I think it’s great when musicians find inspiration in their own history and surroundings but I feel it’s still only a marginal phenomenon among metal bands from these parts. Bands like GRIMM and ANCIENT RITES paved the way in the Lowlands years ago, I can only hope more bands follow their example to dig for their own roots in the future! There are so many tales and sources of inspiration waiting to be explored and translated in awesome music.

It’s obvious that "Dag" is a concept album and thus should be experienced as a whole, but imho the first half of the song "Nacht" sticks out in terms of energy and simply kills - for me, this is one of the best moments in metal in 2019 so far and really huge!

I’m glad you like it man! It seems Harold absorbed the darkness of the entire night only to spit it out with immense force. I don’t think I’ll ever fully comprehend let alone get used to the sheer violence and blind panic of that part. If I listen to it I hear death struggles of prey and fear of people that are lost in the woods in the dead of night. Very disturbing.

Speaking about outstanding metal: Of course Ván was your first choice once again, and I must admit that one of my two faves in metal in 2019 so far is OSDOU’s new album "Melting The Ice In The Hearts Of Men" (the other one being "Ofidian’s Manifest" by Kampfar), and also the Molasses EP turned out really euphonious. Ván is often regarded as black metal label, but in fact it has some crazily good psychedelic bands in its ranks, hasn’t it? What are your recent faves and would you ever consider signing with a label more specialized in "folk (black) metal"?

I haven’t checked out the more psychedelic oriented bands of the roster yet but I was blown away by DUIVEL, a cloven hoof in the face of all those who try to castrate black metal from evil and danger in order to make it salonfähig or to please the tender-eared! We’re very happy with VÁN and to us there is no need to release our music through a label which specializes in types of music more similar to ours. Sven is a great guy who does a great job!

As you might know, I prefer reviews to be outspoken, and thus I enjoyed the Angry Metal Guys‘ rant: "At the dullest moments, even the vocals sound bored and lethargic as KNOEST take forever to get anywhere." Reading this comment, I had to laugh about how different we can perceive music performances, and no one can’t deny this reads at least like written by an angry guy. Did you receive any criticism so far that helped you to consider certain aspects from another perspective and that might improve your performance one way or the other?

Well no, actually. This is music that comes from within and it is not written with the intent to appeal to any other listeners than ourselves. If we had to do it all over again we would do it exactly the same way because it turned out like we wanted. Everybody can have an opinion or give expert advice but to us "Dag" stands above criticism. If people like it: great! If people don’t like it that’s fine as well. Releasing this thing felt like giving birth to ourselves so no matter what other people feel, say, think or write about our baby and no matter how ugly or beautiful others think it is: we love it exactly the way it is like any proud parent would! From what I read in reviews so far people seem to either love it or hate it, which is a good thing. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, I guess.

Are you planning to take KNOEST to the stage?

No plans for now, I think Knoest will rest for a while. We’ll see if we’ll release another album in the future!

David Thiérrée is well-known for his extremely unrealistic style as well as his stubborn focus on trolls and similar ugly underworld creatures, resulting in art which is little else than escapism, here and there described as "fantasy". Surprisingly enough, this nasty Frenchman has provided artwork for "Dag" that really makes a difference. What kind of pressure was needed to motivate him to create such an extraordinary piece of art?

A mere question is all it took and thankfully he accepted! I’m a fan of the person and his work so it was only logical to ask him. The artwork perfectly captures the essence of "Dag"! I was really surprised by the Van Gogh-ish style he used for this, but I think it really brings out the dynamic of a developing day.

So, as we speak, let’s turn to :Nodfyr: - you played your first gig on the Dark Troll festival. Since I know some of the musicians involved in that concert, I guess this was an at least solid debut?! In how far did the castle / ruin provide a great stage for that kind of epic metal music?

It was an ideal stage, we enjoyed every minute of it! The atmosphere of the area is really special and it sure helped to create the desired atmosphere during the show. I’ve known Kelly and Maik from the organization for a long time and it’s always a pleasure working with them!

Since the ALVENRAD guys obviously chose the wild boar as „totem animal“ for their band, what could be a choice for KNOEST? And while we’re at it: Would you agree that ALVENRAD wrote their best songs so far in recent months?

A mule probably! I’m ashamed to admit that I haven’t had the pleasure of listening to ALVENRAD’s new material yet, but that’ll only be a matter of time! I’m glad they’re getting the chance to play live more often now, and their new drummer seems to give them a very positive impulse!

Thanks Joris, for taking the time again, and see you in October in your home land - take care!

Thor, my pleasure! Thank you for this interview and see you in Ede soon!

September 2019

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