My Silent Wake’s eighth album Damnatio Memoriae is full of dark magic and heaviness. I quizzed main man Ian Arkley about this latest release…
For those who are unfamiliar with your band – introduce yourself!
We are My Silent Wake, a UK based death/doom band with many other influences. We were started ten years ago from the members of the final line-up of Ashen Mortality minus my ex wife. I am also the founding member of Seventh Angel and other bands and projects over the years.
Give us a bit of history to My Silent Wake
We were formed in 2005. We have recorded eight albums and 2 split albums and played in various European countries. Although we have had a number of line-up changes I have always been the main vocalist and guitarist in the band so the sound hasn’t completely changed over the years, though it has developed in various directions. We have recorded acoustic and ambient music as well as death/doom and like to keep things flexible rather than be restricted in the style of music we play.
Where did the band name come from?
It was something I came up with and have very little memory of why it came about. I’m sure I wanted the meaning to be slightly ambiguous. I remember our drummer commenting that it sounded like My Dying Bride. I couldn’t see it at the time, but it has been commented on since and I think this gets us compared to them when a lot of our music is nothing like them. It is so hard to come up with a band name that you are always going to be happy with but I think it works fine.
Having said all that, MDB are (of course) an influence as well as many other doom bands, other metal and rock bands, death/doom and Gothic bands. I would say some of our main influences would include Trouble, Sabbath, Paradise Lost, MDB, Dead Can Dance and Zeppelin. I am also a fan of medieval and folk music which comes to the fore in our acoustic songs.
What are you listening to at the moment that you would like to recommend?
Right now as I type this, Sorcerer. I listen to a wide range of music that has recently included: Obsequiae, Attrition, Hawkwind, Pentagram, Grand Magus, Roy Harper etc….At Bloodstock fest this year I enjoyed: Agalloch, Wolf, Nuclear Assault, Lawnmower Deth, Opeth, Conan, Ihsahn, Enslaved, Godfesh and Rob Zombie to name a few.
What’s your favourite song on the album and why?
Not sure which I like the best, but probably The Empty Unknown. I wrote the lyrics and Adam wrote the music to this and I think it has come out well especially with Greg Chandler’s huge vocals which are interspersed with mine and Martin Bowes’s atmospheric synth in the mid section.
What are the subjects/themes of the songs on this album?
There are a variety of thoughts and meanings in the songs but I can put the main ideas within them in a nutshell ‘Of Fury’ is about destruction of property, people and ideas by tyrants, religious leaders etc and those that follow them in this; ‘Highwire’ is about being split in your ideas and directions; ‘Now it Destroys’ is about the end of a relationship; ‘Black Oil’ is about depression and the damage done by certain experiences in life; ‘And so it Comes to an End’ is about infidelity and the after effects; ‘The Innocent’ is about the abuse of vulnerable people such as children; ‘The Empty Unknown’ is generally about the need to rebuild and redeem yourself after a massive loss and it talks about the suffering felt during those times; ‘Chaos Enfolds Me’ is similar in its subject matter to ‘Now it Destroys’
No set process, just coming up with ideas and forming them into a song – sometimes lyrics first, sometimes music. Sometimes the songs are a collaborative effort and sometimes written by one member so there really are no rules.
How did the recording go?
Great! It is always both fun and productive working with Greg and the studio is a fantastic place to record. I think the sound on the album is perfect for the songs and the results are better than we could have hoped for. As usual we didn’t have much money to spend on this but it was our biggest budget out of all the MSW albums. I love Greg’s production as it seems to retain some rawness and is extremely heavy, unlike a lot of modern production. We had previously recorded ‘Silver Under Midnight’ and the Seventh Angel album ‘The Dust of Years’ there. I knew Greg back in the Ashen Mortality days but we got back in touch when I saw Esoteric in Bristol. That was an amazing performance which required getting my ears syringed.
How do you see your songs/direction developing in the future, and what’s next for your band?
Not sure about direction musically, as this depends on how the songs develop and come together. We have no set rules for the way we want an album to sound but maybe a loose idea of the overall direction. In the near future I hope to get a live album done with at least one new song and a ten year anniversary double compilation. I have been working on some more medieval ideas with my friend Luke, who played with us on the split album with Pylon. We are also making an announcement of a new member very soon.
Thanks for the interview!
This is Atmospheric Doom that takes elements of bands such as, (older), My Dying Bride and Paradise Lost and works them into its own melancholic, gloomy soundscape. There’s a Gothic component to their style, as well as some Old-School Death Metal elements wrapped up in their sound.
Although they have their share of slower sections, for the most part this is not agonisingly slow Doom that crawls along at a minimal speed. No, this is Doom Metal with plenty of groove, mid-paced momentum and Metal riffs, and the Death Metal influence helps the band keep things moving.
Screamed/rasped vocals are the main mode of lyrical delivery, although the odd clean and semi-clean does appear here and there. They’re performed in a really engaging manner, and their real strength is in how they work with the guitars to seamlessly ensure that the songs are greater than the sum of their individual parts.
There are a lot of really tasty, captivating riffs on this release. Combined with the interesting vocal delivery and vocal patterns the two work together to hook and snare the listener. Before you know it you’re nodding along and getting into it quite easily.
The music is enhanced by keyboards and effects that add to the atmosphere, although these are quite subtle and the main show is carried off via the interplay between guitars and vocals.
My Silent Wake’s latest album is full of top quality Doom that harkens back to the early 90s without wallowing in nostalgia or backwoods glancing; it’s simply a sound of the era, impressively realised in 2015.
Have a listen and let the band work their dark magic.