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InterviewsBrooklyn's Gwynbleidd-The New Face of Progressive Extreme Metal?

Posted on Sunday, December 06 2009 @ 20:49:42 CST by Pete Pardo
Progressive Metal

If you haven't yet heard the buzz coming out of Brooklyn, New York, chances are you will very soon, as the band Gwynbleidd is about to start making some serious waves in the metal world. Their latest CD, titled Nostalgia, is a dark mix of crushing death metal, atmospheric prog-rock, and mystical folk, and easily one of the most exciting releases you will hear this year. Guitarist/vocalist Maciej Kupiszewski shared some insight regarding the band & their new album with Sea of Tranquility Publisher Pete Pardo recently, and if you have not checked out this talented act yet, then you had better start reading and be prepared to order up a copy of Nostalgia.

SoT: For many metal fans, the name Gwynbleidd will be pretty new to them. Can you talk a little bit about the history of the band, how you came together, early influences, where you are all from, etc.?

Maciej: Gwynbleidd started as a two person home project where Michal and I were jamming together on guitars and writing music particularly from a guitar perspective. While we're fans of a diverse assortment of music, we were specifically looking to allow the underground European metal, more specifically black and death metal, infiltrate our sound. Once ready to record a demo we recruited Adam to help with drums on Amaranthine while I handled bass. Adam's list of influences did not really overlap with ours, so it took some work to develop the style, but Adam's style also added another dimension to the already written riffs. We are all from different parts of Poland but each of us moved to NYC in our early teens. We did all meet in Brooklyn though.

SoT: The debut EP Amaranthine was a solid precursor of great things to come, and the band really has hit a home run with Nostalgia. What does the title of the new CD signify for you?

Maciej: The prevalent feelings and soundscapes I was getting from the music we were writing were those of yearning and distance, as well as rage and chaos. I guess the yearning part won over when I decided to dedicate the lyrics to exploring obsession with childhood memories, all leading to a state of loss, confusion and personal distress.

SoT: Though the band has a very focused and diverse sound, there's influences from bands such as Opeth, Amorphis, Emperor, and Enslaved that one can hear in your music. Are, or were, any of these acts important in helping the band shape your current sound?

Maciej: These are all artists we are familiar with and respect greatly. The list is much longer than that though. Any influence on our actual writing process was subconscious - we have a tendency to throw away many an idea in their infancies as soon as we thought the idea didnt fit the sound we were going after. The goal was and always is a Gwynbleidd sound. While Nostalgia was not ground breaking stylistically, we wanted to write a solid album in the collective vein of the music we love.

SoT: Going from crushing death metal to more atmospheric, folky, and progressive passages is something Opeth has done so well for so long, and Gwynbleidd also seems to have really taken a liking to mix things up from song to song. How hard is it to write material that jumps around so much and offers varied textures and tones in each song, and keep the listener focused and interested for long periods of time?

Maciej: I don't think it's very hard, these things shaped naturally. The general feeling is that the album flows freely, and the reason there aren't many points of discontinuity is because we allowed ideas to come naturally, not rushing the writing process. Holding the listener's interest for long periods of time is not as easy though, and the music on Nostalgia requires a level of dedicated on the part of the listener. This music is not for those with ADD, and if it was, we would fail at staying true to very feeling we were looking to invoke.

SoT: The band seems very at ease writing epic sounding songs. With all the creativity that seems to be flowing within the band, have you thought about possibly tackling & creating an epic length track on the next release? I think current and future fans would love to see a death metal/prog track in the 20 minute range for you guys!

Maciej: I am a huge fan of "Light of Day, Day of Darkness", "Crimson", etc. type albums, so musically this idea is something we bring up every now and then, and frankly I consider Nostalgia to be one story both lyrically and musically. You could take the entire album and not chop it up into 8 tracks and it would work well as one piece of music - that was part of the premise. I am always concerned with continuity within music, but in terms of crafting truly epic concepts we have some work to do, some learning to do, before I will be satisfied that we have truly succeeded in writing music highlighting those qualities.

SoT: You use acoustic guitars to inject the atmospheric & folky edge into your music-has there been any thought to adding keyboards, like organ, piano, synths, or Mellotron into the mix?

Maciej: There are no plans to allow keyboards an equal place as a 5th instrument in the band, but I recognize that our writing and recording process could benefit from minor synth touches here and there to enhance the production aspects. Even if, it would be parts hardly openly audible to some if not most. I could deal with some real piano (no synthesizer crap) on a track or two eventually though.

SoT: I see the band has played some live shows in the New York City area-any possibility of taking the show on the road to additional locations, or opening up for some of the bigger names in extreme metal at some of the larger NYC venues?

Maciej: Getting a support slot on NYC dates alone requires some serious butt-licking with local promoters and pretending that you're part of the local scene. Neither of these are very attractive notions for us. We are hoping to begin working with agency level contacts in order to fill support roles on national tours. Other than that I hope to take us to Canada, UK, and Poland in the not too distant future.

SoT: If you could play on a triple bill tour around the world with 2 of your favorite current acts, who would they be?

Maciej: I don't necessarily think playing with MY favorite acts would be beneficial to the band itself because my preferences are not necessarily reflected in what's going on in the metal music scene overall, but since we're just dreaming here I'll take a stab at saying Emperor and At the Gates. Oh wait those are not current? I guess I'm stuck in the 90's - when the great albums came out!

SoT: Speaking of current acts, what are some other bands on the scene, metal or otherwise, who you guys admire and follow?

Maciej: Current? Hard to tell, the older I get the more skeptical I get about being really impressed with anyone these days. Sorry to sound so negative, I've burned out on my previous idols and I am searching for new stuff but with mixed results. I've been listening to a lot of Katatonia and Ulver's trip hop lately.... oh wait you did say current, haha? Once again, I digress.

SoT: 2009 has been a great year for metal and progressive rock. Nostalgia is sure to be one of the top releases of the year in my end of the year list-how would you explain the style of the band to someone who likes progressive extreme metal but is new to the band?

Maciej: The notion of "progressive" gets attributed to the same bands who would be called "melodic death metal" just a few years back, it's just another wave. I would describe Nostalgia as a vertigo inducing mix of yearning and rage, a mix of European influenced death/black metal with folky influences where melody rules, as it should.

SoT: It took a few years between your debut EP and Nostalgia, and chances are there is going to be a large buzz about the band after the official release of the new CD. What are your plans as far as a follow up to the new CD, seeing as it was recorded earlier in 2009 and you might have already had time to write new material?

Maciej: Only small bits and pieces, sadly we have not really had yet the opportunity to begin focusing on the new material. I hope we can begin in the next couple of months. We won't rush either, and there won't be any setting of recording dates until we find something special. It will take some time.

SoT: Lastly, can you look into your crystal ball to 2010 and let our readers know what you see in the immediate future for Gwynbleidd?

Maciej: Playing shows, hopefully a tour or two, a couple festivals here or there.. but more importantly searching, writing music and expanding the canvas.

Pete Pardo

(Click here to read our review of Nostalgia

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