Demo:listen: Festung

Welcome to Demo:listen, your weekly peek into the future of underground extreme metal. Whether they’re death metal, black metal, doom, sludge, grind, thrash, heavy metal, speed, punk-metal, stoner metal, etc., we’re here to bring you the latest demos from the newest bands. This week’s Demo:listen takes us deep into the torch-lit dungeon of Leipzig’s Festung.

Festung are an extraordinary band. Bringing together three precocious solo artists from the rising generation of underground black metal—with Urangst of the depressive black metal project Urangst on bass, Etzel of the uber-outré Knechtshaft playing guitar, and, our contact, Belgun of the mighty Mythenmetz, lending his vocals and ensorcelling with his synthskills—, and yet Festung’s self-titled demo towers as something more than the gestalt of its combined efforts and ideas. Even more than the perfect combination of ambient black metal and dungeon synth, Festung beams with that special effulgence. Not even a fortnight in the world, yet who can hear this demo and deny that they’ll be listening to it for years to come?

Besides being solo musicians, another thing Urangst, Belgun, and Etzel all have in common is how they each created and contributed with whatever means they could even before forming Festung. They didn’t let not having any bandmates prevent them from being in black metal bands. In Belgun’s case, he made dungeon synth, but all three of them showed an unstoppable ambition and will to create ever before joining together under the banner Festung.

“We all moved in the same year to Leipzig, Germany, and all wanted to go beyond our solo projects,” explains Belgun. “We discovered each other’s one-man stuff through the internet, and decided to start a band together, which turned out to be the first with other people for every one of us.”

Belgun goes on to elaborate on the band name.

“The symbolic meaning of the fortress is one of power and vastness. Insurmountable it rests atop the hill. From that scenery, the whole concept was born. Same goes for the lyrics, and their inspiration.”

As for the songs on the demo, which translate to English to mean, respectively, “tower,” “battlement/rampart,” and “dungeon,” Belgun tells us:“The songs of the demo listened to in order are meant to give off the feeling of descending from the highest point of a castle to the lowest. From the windy heights of the look-out, across the top of the winding walls into the serpentine corridors of the dungeons below.”

Festung is an album in demo’s clothing, let’s get real here. It’s also legitimately three musician’s first demo in a band. This could’ve gone horribly wrong, this coming together of hermetic egos, except these three men clearly shared a common vision. Each member’s contribution proves his dedication and belief in the project. Yet its construction will surprise you.

“The composition process was pretty arduous for us,” Belgun admits. “As we only had solo projects until recently, none of us really knew how to make music as a band. So, instead, everybody did a song alone at the time, and tried to match it to the others. ‘Burgfried’ for example is completely written by Etzel. ‘Wehrgang’ is my work. Only on ‘Kerker’ we managed to work together. But for future recordings, we three agreed to work closer together.”

Never mind they’re unorthodox process, Festung is nothing if not extremely enjoyable. Once word got ‘round, that initial run of 50 went like so many pebbles of sand through the hourglass. Festung upped the run to 100, and the extra 50 went just as fast.

Belgun remarks: “It was indeed quite a surprise. Even after doubling the limitation, it sold out before the actual physical release date. But it’s nice to see that people enjoy our work. It gives [us] motivation.”

As for that aforementioned future, Belgun promises: “More material! An EP? Maybe a Split? One day, a full length? We did ‘Festung’ in roughly four months. Let’s see what we can do in more time.”