You might be forgiven for thinking Farw’s origin among the rolling valleys of Wales might be an indicator of a strain of serene atmospheric black metal, but that’s certainly not the case. Taking their namesake from the Welsh word for dead, Farw’s embrace of Satanism and corpsepaint is telling of the influence of the nihilistic morbidity of ’90s black metal.
With a sound portraying depression, hatred, and morbidity, Farw’s debut Starve Yourself is a refreshing take on the black metal format, combining the raw format of the old school with a dash of the depressive, and a unique brand of analog sound design.
In the wake of the laborious nightmare of their debut, we caught up with main man Scarrowscant to talk concepts, corpsepaint, and black metal origins.
Why has Starve Yourself been a nightmare to make?
The group has known each other since 1992, and that’s a lot of baggage sometimes, so getting the three of us to focus on getting the feeling right on each recording led to a lot of fights. Also, the three of us are terrible when it comes to playing our instruments so recording is laborious because no one wants to practice.
Is there a particular concept running through the release?
Yes, completely. Starve Yourself is all about how hope, and belief as notions are destructive and terrible.
The release has a unique atmosphere – what instrumentation/creative processes did you utilise to achieve this?
There are some synthesised additions which we recorded onto VHS tape and then mini jacked into some home recording gear, but other than that it is all guitar, bass, and drums. For us Black metal is not about speed or technicality, it is all feeling, it should sound like everything is coming apart. The three of us have that in common, that we love old school black metal, as it was what we all listened to as children.
These days most black metal shimmers with crisp production and flares of musical virtuosity, but we loved it when the recording hisses like hot garbage. We love bands like Arcanus Tenebrae, Vlad Tepes, or early Black Funeral and the way they would produce.
We wanted things to be recorded without looking at the levels first, checking drum skins, or even tuning up as you will hear without question when you listen to Starve Yourself. We would just try and get to a feeling, It was all about feeling. This drove the engineer mental and lead to more fights, but it was how it must be.
What do you think of the use of corpsepaint in black metal? Do you still feel it’s relevant to the black metal scene in 2017?
A lot won’t wear corpsepaint, but we do. Everything is a mask no matter what you do with your life, so why not actually put on a face – literally – even if some like to make a comedy of it. As for any relevance to anything, or to any black metal scene I don’t know if there even is one. Not for us anyway, in the middle of nowhere, there is no scene of any kind, just hills and mountains and sheep shit.
Black metal as it should truly be is dead without question or dying. It was something very much like punk, that originally had this apex of a singular intent that has become diluted and trivialised. Don’t get me wrong, I hold not disillusions regarding this, I know that my shitty band is contributing to the death of black metal just as much as any other, but if you have something to express you must do so.
Starve yourself comes across as a studio-centric release, do you have any plans to play live anytime soon?
Despite being devoid of any true talent we have spoken about this together as a band after the record was finished, but there are factors that stop us. Firstly the tuning on many of the pieces would be hard to recreate because we improvised on the night of recording, and also I think our drummer would have trouble staying clean for a gig. Also, I saw Herd Mover live recently and they were that good, they made me think to myself what is the fucking point?
The UK isn’t somewhere that’s noted for producing particularly strong or innovative black metal, where do your roots in black metal lie?
We have all listened to it since the kick off in the early 90’s, and I worked in a record shop as a teenager so I could get my hands on it all without breaking the bank. To begin with, it was for the sensationalism of it all, the church burnings, when Varg killed Euronymous, stuff like that, we thought it made us look cool or dangerous like teenagers do with anything seen as in opposition to the status quo but soon we all genuinely got into it. Also, we grew up in the arse end of Wales, there’s nothing here, just ruins and mountains and the music was the perfect backdrop to that. It surprises me there is not more of a Welsh black metal movement because of this, but the Welsh people seem to be the most apathetic you could find so this will never happen, nothing will ever happen.
You said that you have recently reformed Farw after you thought the project had fallen apart, what was behind this?
Just ego, and personalities clashing, just people. People will ruin every fucking thing, there will be nothing left because of people.
What have you guys got planned for the future?
I want to get back into the studio as soon as funds and time allow but again it all depends on the lineup, and chemistry going forward. Also, the next thing we want to tackle is something much more aggressive in sound. Also, who knows, if we practice more we might even play live at a few unfortunate places.