(In late July the doom/death metal band Shroud of Bereavement released its first album in 15 years, and that prompted Comrade Aleks to catch up with the band’s founder, and the man responsible for resurrecting the band, Dan Robinson.)
Shroud of Bereavement! Shroud of Bereavement! Shroud of Bereavement from the darkness that surrounds us! Sorry, but Shroud of Bereavement’s names is very much in line with Paul McCartney’s hit, so I can’t get rid of this melody. Yet to the matter.
Death-doom never was he most popular genre in the States, and yet this band was founded in the most wrong period you could imagine – it was 1995, Kurt Cobain was already no more, but grunge and alternative metal rage on and moved aside most traditional metal bands. Despite this Shroud of Bereavement slowly developed their sound, moving from the demo The Forever Dance (1999) to the single A Rose for a Dying Muse (2001) and further to the self-titled EP (2003) and the debut full-length Alone Besides Her (2007).
The band’s last appearance was another EP While We Mourn (2012) and then they just disappeared from radars until the recent past when Shroud’s founder Dan Robinson started to update its status, sharing information about new recording progress. As a result his new album A Beautiful Winter was released about a week ago. Here’s our interview with Dan.
Hi Dan! How are you doing?
Hello Aleks, long time no chat! Thanks for the opportunity and support, I really appreciate your time.
Was A Beautiful Winter released officially finally?
Yes it was, It is released world wide digitally on all streaming platforms, and Cd’s are available through my new record label Willow Soul Productions. People can buy stuff through our website (http://www.shroudofbereavement.com) or at Bandcamp.
Did you create this label strictly for your own releases or do you have few more bands which you’d like to support?
I did create it for me at first, not only for album releases, but video production, music production, distro, and I have considered helping out other bands, but I’m very new at this, so it’s going to take some time ha ha.
Shroud of Bereavement’s previous EP While We Mourn was released ten years ago. Job, family – I bet it’s hard to find time for music now. What made you return the band back to life?
Well, yes there were busy times between getting custody of my daughter and court stuff, new wife, starting a construction company, buying a new house, being a parent, husband… but now, my kids have grown up and I’ve finally found the time to finish this record and move on to more music going forward.
How would you sum up Shroud of Bereavement’s activity during the last decade?
Ha ha, not very good. I mean, we did a tour in 2013, and I worked a lot on the album, and the next one, a solo album too… but no releases to speak of up until these last few months.
A solo album? What kind of material did you prepare for this release? And how soon do you think to publish it?
So I started a new project with the bass player of Morgion a long while ago, I wrote 4 or 5 songs and it didn’t work out, so I saved all my ideas over the years and now have a full-length album worth of material, I just have to arrange and track everything. It’s called Still The Seas, and it’s kind of like Wildhoney-era Tiamat meets Judgment from Anathema with some Katatonia and The Third and The Mortal mixed in. I have no idea how long it will take, it’s now a solo project, but if I find members it will move much faster.
The process of composing went obviously slow, but did you play any gigs in this period?
No, sadly, just the tour in 2013.
How far did you tour? What do you see as your biggest achievement regarding Shroud of Bereavement touring?
We traveled about 2500 miles to the other coast of USA, CA, CO, NV, and a few other places, that’s the furthest we’ve played. The biggest achievement would be probably the Heathen Crusade 2 fest, that was amazing.
What’s the band’s current lineup?
Ha ha, that’s a good one…its, me myself and I at this point ha ha ha. I’ve been alone for a decade now. It’s tragic and sad, but that’s the truth.
Well, that doesn’t sound like you had much fun recording these songs… Did you record this material at home or in a real studio?
We did all the drums, piano, guitars in a few studios, and then once the band broke up, I tracked all the harmony guitars, vocals at my place, and I also hired guest musicians to do guitar solos, violins, and cellos.
Are you satisfied with this experience?
It was a long, hard learning experience doing most of it alone, but I’m very happy with the final recording. Though I have my insecurities ha ha, having been so close to these songs for so long.
Recording of A Beautiful Winter was stretched for a few years, so was it easy to keep this material solid and focused in the end?
It was because I was able to able to spend as much time as I wanted to on the songs, lyrics, mix, master.
Didn’t you feel at some point that you might lose your concentration and the general mood of this material?
No, I actually grew closer and closer, and gained new ideas over time. They felt old to me, but that inspired me to keep adding and working on it all.
Stylistically this album tends towards melodic death-doom metal but there are other minor influences too. How do you see this material from your own point of view? You know, we, the guys who pretend to be journalists, need some labels to put on the bands!
I’d say it’s a bit progressive, and semi-modern feeling, a bit more than prior releases.
By the way, how would you sum up the general idea of this album?
It’s a long almost concept album, it’s about dreams and personal experiences that I’ve had.
Too personal to reveal it? Just for me. And NCS’s chief editor. Well, and our readers too.
I was very inspired by becoming a father, and then my daughter was kidnapped by her mother and taken 2000 miles away and that devastated my being, but through all the custody battles and her growing up so quickly it turned into just feeling old and realizing how quickly we become old and die, mixed with dreams, and family members dying, politics, religion… it all inspired me in many ways. I’d say mostly it’s about the notion of aging, death, and how it really relates to the change of seasons. There are many motifs that reoccur and themes and such, so that’s why I suggest that it’s a concept album. But very personal indeed.
I saw that you desperately sought for a label to release A Beautiful Winter, and you finally released it DIY. Didn’t you really get any proper offers from the outside?
I had a few offers, one being Solitude [Productions], but of course because of the war they had to close up shop sadly.
You started the band in 1995, and Shroud of Bereavement’s first album Alone Beside Her was released in 2007. And now – 15 years after – the situation in the music scene is absolutely different. Did any of your old contacts work regarding the band’s promotion and CDs distribution?
You nailed it, you are totally right, none of my old contacts were there — labels disbanded, bands broke up, sites closed, label managers went to new labels, forums were dead… it kind of sucked if I’m to be honest ha ha.
Do old methods work now at all?
Not really, no, I had to start at the bottom again, and it’s still a struggle, but I’ve learned a hell of a lot now.
Do you feel a positive feedback regarding the band’s comeback?
Not so much, most people forgot about me. I had a few die-hard fans and friends, and of course my wife, but no one really cared beyond that point.
There’s a regular and also a limited digipak edition of the album, so what’s the difference?
One has additional artwork and packaging… honestly, I just never released a digi before and I’m a big fan of them, and some people hate them, so I did both. The digi versions are very limited, only 100 are ever going to be made.
Do you plan to keep Shroud of Bereavement alive after all these issues with the album’s release?
Yes, of course, SOB is my baby ha ha… I have a few new releases on the way. A remake of the entire …Of Ages CD from 2004 that is about 60% finished already, and an Official DVD, and also I’ve started some new songs already.
…Of Ages is a compilation of demos and unreleased material — do you want to remaster it or to re-record totally?
It will be completely re-recorded, re-imagined… it was meant to be a pro recording and a debut, but the Oak Knoll label pressured me to release the demos… in hindsight I really wish I hadn’t. But yeah, it’s going to be great to finally hear them with a proper recording, and of course it’s hard to do, because those recordings, no matter how bad the quality was, have a certain magic and everything sounds different now.
Sounds like a plan! Okay, let’s hope that we’ll succeed and spread the word about Shroud of Bereavement’s return! Thanks for the interview Dan! Would you like to add few more final words to our readers?
Thanks again for the opertunity my man, I really appreciate it.
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