Númenor Interview

I had the privilege of listening to your album which is due to be released on the 6th of March at Elevate Records and at this label, Númenor releases an album for the first time! How could you characterize the new material? How is it different from the previous ones?

Well, it’s quite a long answer. We have worked, when it comes to new material, for a very long time. Not too long, but it’s like two years, two years and a few months, so to say. Since we work, when it comes to the songs in pairs, so to say, the things have developed, during the last two, two and more years. And, at the end of the day, you can hear the product Draconian Age. I was having this title for a long time on my mind, and, yes, the first two songs were, like Feanor and Mirror Mirror which we have composed at that time, and more or less, they were, like continuous process when it comes to Chronicles of the Realms Beyond, our previous record. But then the things start to develop, and we have the songs like Where The Battle Rages On, and at that time, there was a song At The Gates Of Moria, which later on turn on to be Make The Stand, with Hansi Kürsch on vocals. But at the time, it was black metal song. Actually, more or less black metal song with this folk influences, and I really like it, and I think that these two songs are something like the most essential when it comes to brand new record, if you get what I mean. So they have something very original, which we have never done before. Also, there are some other songs like Hall Of The Mountain King, which we were attempting to do for a longer time, and finally we did it. Or, there is song Twilight Of The Gods, which turned out to be for us very original, comparing to the rest of material and I think that what I have seen in the first reviews that people really prized the song. But at the time, when the song was created, one of the last songs, I was like more focused on Hall Of The Mountain King, which was actually my long time idea to have this song, so we didn’t care a lot for Twilight of the Gods to be honest.

Okay, a different topic. As I know, Númenor is the name of the island closest to the immortal lands in the Tolkien world. With your music, I suppose you want to create something everlasting, something immortal, just like Master Tolkien did with The Lord of the Rings…

If I understand you correct, you’re asking about the name of Númenor, and does it have any reference to the music? If I’m correct.

Yes, and what do you think, why Tolkien’s universe has such an impact on the metal world, already for decades?

Well, yes. Since a very beginning of metal there were fantasy bands especially like Dio/Rainbow. During the 90s when I was a kid, during this time I was already familiar with the Tolkien work. So, before I started to be involved in metal, so to say, I already knew about the Tolkien, and when I started to research the metal I searched for the bands which could have, like, very much like this topic. And I found at that time Blind Guardian. And it was in the middle of 90s or something like that, but you need to mark it, it was in Serbia and it was during the in the middle of the wars. So it was very hard to do like anything, I’ve found the stock actually from German, Metal Hammer. And I saw the cover artworks, and I pick it and I just wanted to check out the band later on, that turned out to be my favorite band. And I cooperate now with Hansi, and writing a book/biography right now for Blind Guardian with Mark Frostenas as the leading guy in this huge project. He started this projects so I am trying to follow his ideas and there are are people, too who are doing other interviews with producers, cover artists and so on. But, I think that from the 90s, especially when it comes to power metal, heavy metal, black metal, etc you know, fantasy world like Tolkien is very special for heavy metal. I don’t know how he would react if he could witness and see how many bands, when it comes to heavy metal, are inspired by his music and how he will react to our music, not only Númenor, but also for Blind Guardian, Summoning, and many other bands, especially black metal bands. Yeah, because you know, he was really old fashioned as far as we know. So, it would be very interesting to see his reaction. And yeah, Tolkien and fantasy stuff are very popular when it comes to metal music. Why not, at the end of the day. Already when he were still alive there were some bands with songs about this works, most of those bands were hippy, but I don’t think that he liked this that much.

As far as I know, in the beginning the black metal characteristic was explicitly present on Númenor’s music but over time the heavy and power metal influences began to characterize your music more and more strongly, until you developed today’s special style which someone can call ‘blackened power metal’. Can you tell us a little bit about the reasons of this shift?

When we have started, and we have created the first song, it was the Eternal Champion. And actually, it was power metal song, the first song. But the rest of Colossal Darkness, the very first record was later more or less black metal, more symphonic black metal, of the bands which we have listened from that time or time before. Yes, I do listen to all this stuff from the 90s, when it comes to especially Norwegian and Swedish black metal, which you can hear even today in Númenor’s music, and this is not a secret. But when we have started to create the second album, our keyboard player left the band, and Srdjan took a chance to compose all the songs. And since the Eternal Champion was the most popular and welcome song of Númenor at that time, we have decided to go in this direction with the first songs that we have created for the album which was later called Sword And Sorcery, like Dragonheart and Dragon Of Erebor, for that time. And later on these songs turn to be the most popular especially when it comes to Dragon Of Erebor, and because why not to try it, and when we have seen that Sword And Sorcery received so many great reviews and this was very well received, at the time. So we start to even more mix the style between power and black metal, and there was Chronicles From The Realms Beyond album, and then we have once again started to discover some more heavy style with the songs like Heart Of Steel or The Hour Of The King, etc, which were even more, like heavier. So, we tried to do some experiment when it comes to this. So, at the end of the day, we found a very unique style and we are very unique on the scene. People here and there link us and reference us with some other bands, like for example Ensiferum or Wintersun, but this is completely wrong, we have nothing to do with that. We are quite inspired by the start from the 80s and 90s, when we were kids, and on which we were grow up, so we just did some more influences, for example from Iron Maiden, Rhapsody, Blind Guardian, or Covenant, Arcturus etc. So there are less keyboards, and they’re more like guitar based stuff. So yes, there was evolution of the sounds, so to say, but it was not so complicated.

In Númenor’s music, I can really sense a kind of duality and that’s most evident for me in the mixing of the two styles, heavy/power and black metal. How easy or hard is to bring these two directions together?

Actually, for us, it’s not a problem at all. We have already learned how to combine these styles, and when you have a goal with the album to express something, with the lyrics, it’s not a problem at all. So, if you want to express the lyrics, if we just speaking about the last album for example, with Where The Battle Rages On, we have a very strong song which needs actually very strong lyrics and more or less aggressive style in the lyrics, then, we have learned, this song would be definitely more into black metal or death metal style if you say so. With the Mirror Mirror we tried to express more mystical stuff. So yes, like this is almost a symphonic black metal song. This is where could go with some stuff with the lyrics, etc. But on the other hand, when we have a more epic stuff to express, like this song with Hansi Kürsch, Make The Stand, you know, it’s about the dwarves, as I said the original that was At The Gates Of Moria, then you see image of the battles, the dwarves and everything in your mind. Or like Arkenstone, then we go to heavy and power metal, which perfectly goes with the lyrics as well, so we combine this stuff. Or for example, if you have a song like Twilight Of The Gods, which was loosely inspired by the the TV series of Vikings, the battle speeches about the death actually, when somebody died in the battle. People today, and most of power or pagan/folk bands looks today on battles as something glorious but in fact they were completely diffrent, sometimes people were looking only how to survive. So, each song goes with something. If maybe songs are more mystical, like Sleeping Sorceress, for example, from Sword And Sorcery album, or the Arcanist, or the Alchemist, we go then with the lyrics, which are more mystical, if the songs are more heroic, like Dragon Of Erebor, Heart Of Steel, then we go with the Tolkien stuff. It’s like that.

Your music has a very special and unique atmosphere, indeed! In my opinion, these are actually Blind Guardian style lyrics, performed in black metal. You can’t hear that everywhere!

Yes, I completely agree with you. To be honest Hansi and me, yes, we go like that, you know, I’m like, more like expression of Hansi, but in the very beginning. Now he has changed, he’s like me, but 15 years ago. Now, I’m more like him in the past. But yeah, but I’m younger than him. So it’s like, dark expression of Hansi Kürsch, so to say. Yes, indeed. It’s like that, and we agree, completely about that. So, as friends we really spoke about that. It’s like his version but yeah, because perhaps of the black metal influences and you know, darker stuff, so I’m even darker. But mark my words, Blind Guardian also was at that time marked as one very dark band, when they were starting, etc. I always seen Númenor as a sort of answer to Blind Guardian, not musical, but more in the idea, or how I was imagening Blind Guardian when I was a kid. Of course, I have later learned that the things were diffrent and not exacly how I have imagine them.

Returning to the new album: the material was named Draconian Age. Does this have to do with dragons because of the word ‘draco’ or the phrase ‘draconian rigor’?

No, it has nothing to do with the dragons. No, it is like Draconian, you know, ancient times. So it could be also entitled Ancient Times, if you get what I mean. Something from the ancient times. It could be also named From The Different Time, if you get what I mean. From the different time, from a different dimensions, so to say. So it’s more like that. So it was a really perfect, title for the album, and somehow really goes with the music and what we are trying to express, since yes, Draconian Age, something that is completely long forgotten, or something that has happened, but in some parallel worlds, or dimension, if you get what I mean. So definitely has nothing to do with the dragons. Tolkien once stated that everything that he has written has already happened but in some other time or maybe there are some other worlds as well.

Interesting thoughts, indeed! You already talked about the lyrics in general but can you talk a bit about the lyrics of each song?

When it comes to Make The Stand, the first track, with Hansi Kürsch, it was, as I said, about the dwarves, at the gates of Erebor. So it’s about the dwarves in the battle. And when it comes to the second song, Hall Of The Mountain King, this also was loosely inspired by the Tolkien, and the dwarves, but also this fantasy moment, when the dwarves are feasting in the halls, etc. So it’s not only about the Tolkien, but it’s like fantasy tale. And because from my side inspired by Savatage, actually, and what they did, so it’s loosely fantasy stuff. Then we have third song, Feanor, this was also inspired by Tolkien and Silmarilion, there is no question about that. And when I heard the for the very first time song, I was like, okay, definitely, we can use the title Feanor for this one, it’s very strong with Iron Maiden influences. And then we have the fourth track, Mirror Mirror, or A Robe Of The Stars. Actually, it was inspired by Dungeons and Dragons. There’s a cool story behind it. I have seen the image somewhere of an item called the Robe of Stars, and I was really inspired by this picture. And when I wrote the lyrics more or less for this one, it’s about D&D stuff. And yes I’m quite a lot into D&D, so it just perfectly goes on with it, and I really like the song. So I was inspired by this particular item and it’s picture, so maybe people who are into D&D will recognize the Robe of Stars when I’m singing in the song. Then there is a fifth song, Arkenstone. One more song inspired by the dwarves and the Tolkien world, and Hobbit. But it is very regular to us to return to this topic. So it’s like one more answer to our very popular song, Dragon Of Erebor, which sings about the dwarves and their items and battles, especially when it comes to the book Hobbit. And I especially really likes the dwarves, for example, and their stories when it comes to Tolkien world. Then there is a song Where The Battle Rages On. This this turned out to be, from my point of view, my really favorite on the record, musical and lyrical wise. This is very aggressive one, speaking about Michael Moorcock’s Elric, and he’s battles, what he is doing, etc. So even I use some references to band Slayer in the music, like ‘Raining Blood’, etc. But it’s really about the battles in the Michael Moorcock’s world of Elric, this eternal battles between chaos and balance, and the Elric, the eternal champion, who is making constantly this battles, and he’s doomed actually to be involved in these battles. But as I said, maybe the song perfectly goes with the album and everything. And I really like the lyrics, and the entire evolution of the songs. Then there is a song Twilight Of The Gods. As I said before, it was loosely inspired by Vikings TV series, and it’s about death, death in the battle. Maybe it sounds strange for the most people, but I see more purpose to die in battle than to leave and grow old. So it’s a bit strange, so to say, but the for me it makes more more sense, since I am also very good with swords and all the guides for weapons, and I have appeared in several movies as well. So I know how to fight, etc. And there is something gloriously when you are dying in the battle. And, The Days Of Final Frost, is a black metal song completely. And this was inspired actually by the title upon black metal compilation, at that time. Which, I when I was a kid, it was The Final Days Of Frost, and I listened, and then I started to listen to some bands from this compilation, so I use it, and goes perfectly well. The Last Of Wizards, I always wanted to have one fantasy song with wizards, or something like that. So, The Last Of Wizards, is like one more song which is loosely based on D&D and it’s continuous tale, you know, when it comes to Mirror Mirror. What I try to speak about in the song Mirror Mirror is the evolution, and it’s conclusion is in the song The Last Of Wizards. And it’s a perfect song, from my point of view, although maybe the weakest musical song on the record, at the end of the day. But, you know, we speak about The Last Of Wizards, who is definitely gone from this world, perishing, so to say, so he is escaping from Mirror Mirror. He’s basically escaping from this world in the mirror, since the old magic has gone away. The last song Númenor is typical, I think, heroic power metal sound. It’s already a great hit, and the people already received it, because it’s already online on the power metal channel. So, I think the song is very strong, so to say, all this stuff and the story about the Númenor, and as I said, it’s a very heroic. Like the stuff which we already have done, like Heart Of Steel, or The Hour Of The King. So, I think this was the complete answer. But as I said, this album with songs like Hall Of The Mountain King, and Where The Battle Rages On are the best when it comes to describing what I’m trying to say on this particular record.

I didn’t understand the lyrics completely at first but I thought the album is about wizards, maybe because of the song name The Last Of Wizards.

There is a reference with this song, The Last Of Wizards, to the song I Am The Black Wizards of the band Emperor. So when I gave this title I was having all of this in my mind, but this title truly was done and originally was done by Motriis and I listen to Mortiis. I mean, at the end of the day, I was always liking the idea to have a word Wizard in one of the song-titles.

I cannot tear with the idea that on the whole album, we can sense so strongly that duality: dragons, fantasy and heavy/power metal on one side, black metal and a kind of very cold attitude on the other. Or it’s just me, seeing that way?

Yes, you are right, you’re quite correct. I think that this is not only with this record, but the previous records as well. There is a song called Over The Mountains Cold, from the previous record, Chronicles From The Realms Beyond, and yes, this song actually perfectly, I think, describes the style of Númenor. Somebody has already made a comment of that, the style Númenor sounds like. He just said whenever you listens the Númenor you feel very tragic in terms of feelings and emotions but also something glorious and epic, just like walking in the epic nightmare, so to say. So, yes, when it comes to the music as well we have these references we combine two styles, so definitely there is this doom moment in our music, but express as heavy and power metal sometimes, and sometimes with black or death metal influences. But you are correct you know this cold atmosphere sometimes. So, I think that when it comes to fantasy, we are completely different to the other bands which are very popular who are speaking very glorious stuff, like going into battle, and die in the battle, women, drinks, etc, and other things, we are completely different We understand that this world is very cold and, in a way the music, it is kind of escapism. And I think that we are different than them comparing to these power bands which are really popular like maybe Gloryhammer, Alestorm, Wind Rose etc, etc. So when we create the music we try to be completely different then the other bands, and I think that we are more influenced by the 80s and 90s music which was, I have to say more serious. Yeah, I cannot understand all this new bands that I just mentioned. And I really cannot receive the music very well from them. So yeah, I mean, this is difference between Númenor and all these bands. But, later I have learned that the singer of Twilight Force has left the band because of this over-top imagine of the band.

Okay. How are you doing with live shows? We know, the lockdown situation crossed everybody’s plans but once this period is over, what are your plans? A Draconian Age tour, maybe?

First I have to say that Númenor has never played live. And because when we first started the idea, it was like, okay, I’m going to have to record one album or two albums. Financially, it’s very hard to try and do everything financially yourself since I have finance everything myself. I was okay. One CD or two, this will be that. I never thought for the band will become more popular and more prominent. So we never tought about live shows. Actually when I can start to think about the live shows, when the band has become more popular, it was very hard to make a show. It’s completely okay, if you prepare for one show, but different to prepare for like, 10 or 20 shows for a tour. Since we were band from Serbia, it was always harder for us. Now we are thinking about the live shows, for example, especially maybe a live show in Serbia, because it will be completely madness, because we have already some songs which are very popular. But I think that the live show for example with Blind Guardian would make a sense. Not because there will be a lot of people, which is quite natural. But it’s like normal step for Númenor as well. So yes, we are thinking now, but as you say, with COVID now and everything, you know, I spoke with Hansi just yesterday about that, and nobody knows how this will end. And now, of course, people are really expecting something really perfect to see on the stage when it comes to Númenor, so it is even harder. I have to say, I think that for us, it will be easier to make another record then to prepare a live show. I know it sounds a bit strange but, yes the things are like that.

Yeah, and I wanted to ask about it. In this pandemic situation, how do you occupy yourself? I know you’re planning to re-release the first album Colossal Darkness with the brilliant new cover artwork of my dear friend, Yulia Zhuchkova.

Since we were working on an album, now, it’s about the promotion, when there is an explosion in interest when it comes Númenor, so, like, we were working on the record, and it was quite natural. Now, we have already continued to work on the, promoting the stuff. I’m writing this book or co-writing actually about Blind Guardian. Actually, in the meantime, Imaginations From The Other Side live was released. Mark and I actually, were two guys who wrote the story, which you can read on LP, and CD as well. So we were actually very productive. I remember when there was locked down during the April, we were very productive at that time. We made Twilight Of The Gods and Hall Of The Mountain King songs. And I made the story about Imaginations From The Other Side. And later on continuing with the album. So I think that we will continue to work for release and maybe for a new record until the situation is, you know, better but nobody knows. As I said, we should have already spoken yesterday, I think that all the festivals in Germany will be canceled for this year. I’m quite sure about that.

I understand. You mentioned Hansi and your relationship with Blind Guardian several times and a biography book is in the making. Can you tell us a little bit more about this book and this friendship?

I mean, it’s just started with Mark Frostenas and he is the main guy behind it and mark my words, he has a lot of job to do since there’s a lot of material coming each and every day sometimes. So, the idea is Mark’s. I don’t want to reveal, so many deep details, when the book is out, I think autumn 2022, there will be lots of information. But we are working now on this. And I think it’s not a secret right now. And as I said, you can already read some parts in the latest issue of Blind Guardian but this is really a small part, although it is like 10 pages in the vinyl and this is really a smart part. It’s going bigger and bigger each day and it will be really detailed. When it comes to, working with Hansi and the guys from Blind Guardian, I have started my friendship, which was like 10 years ago or even more, when he was in the Belgrade and already from the very start, we started to speak about fantasy stuff and the books. At the time I was more into fantasy stuff, I have to say, that he was at that time. Now that things have completely changed. The tables have turned. Yeah, it was like, here and there, we met each other and speak, but at the end of the day, when I was involved in this writing of this book, and biography. There is a book, also a biography, of Helloween as well, and it will be something like that. And we have started more and more to work on it. It was like two years ago already, and because Blind Guardian has a really huge history and biography as long. So, you know, our friendship was deeper and deeper, now we are really good friends and speak constantly. So it was quite natural when he appeared on the song of Númenor I have asked him when I was in the Twilight Hall Studio, last year, just before this madness of Corona has started. I have played the song, at that time he was perfect with that, it’s not the problem at all. So I think that this song is something like, I always call it our song, you know, never Númenor song or Blind Guardian song, it’s our song because it has a lot to do with a Blind Guardian. And I always see actually myself as a sort of answer to Blind Guardian, because when I started to listen to music, in the 90s, they really introduced me with a fantasy stuff at that time, Tolkien, Moorcock etc, which was very hard to find at that time, to be honest. So now I’m more like paying off, if you get what I mean, they gave me a really great life. On the other hand, now I’m returning. And as I said, this, this is going to be a really huge book, really detailed book, I’m quite sure about that, in biography we will speak about every and each detail from their past to the new stuff. But as I have also learned it will be as a sort of a travelling through time where you could learned not only about the band but also about time in Germany and how the band has behaved in 1988 or in 2002.

Yeah, I’m really looking forward to read it.

This will be. But as I said, I think 2022, we have just spoken about this, middle or even later, because we are gathering stuff now. It’s okay. But there is so much stuff we need to care about, you know, to make a book detailed and everything. So sometimes is very hard to get through all these steps. Mark Frostenas is the major guy when it comes to the writing of the book and I am trying to listen him as much as I can do and do my part.

Okay, we are patient as always. Thank you for your time doing the interview.

The interview was taken with Marko Miranović on 24.02.2021.

Contributed by: NorthWar

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