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Dargaard was formed in 1997 by Tharen (Abigor, Amestigon, Heidenreich, Dominion) who wanted to take some time from his Black Metal music and create something more symphonic and neo-classical.  Later, in 1998 he requested the help of Elisabeth Torisor to contribute with her beautiful, lush vocals.  Together they have embarked on an incredible journey releasing four fantastic albums.  The first three were released as a trilogy, much like you would find in the related world of Fantasy novels.  This group has created their own outstanding novels that rival all comparable attempts in this genre.

Exhibiting some of the same styles as Arcana and labelmates Die Verbannten Kinder Evas, Dargaard is able to make any darkwave music lover take a second listen.  This duo are able to combine their musical tastes and talents to create wonderful neo-classical and dark medieval/folk music.  Often times using chimes, variable synthesizer strings and powerful percussion, the combination is often very striking in its beauty and style.  The bombastic approach is often accented by Tharen's deep and muffled vocals, or connected with the beautiful lamentations of Elisabeth's siren song.  Add in some samples and thought-provoking lyrics that take the listener on an incredible journey, and the masterpieces are complete.

I invite all readers to take this adventure and check out the incredible releases by this talented duo.  The Gothic Paradise ethereal radio show will always have selections playing from the excellent discography from this group, so that's a great place to start.  As they continue to work and compose great music, you will always be able to hear and read about the latest here.  Check out the latest review here and the interview below.

Rise and Fall - Review

Presenting the latest release Rise and Fall which takes us beyond the previously released trilogy from this outstanding group.  With this work they have managed to perfect their sound in so many ways. The magnitude and scope of this music is incredible and hard to even scratch the surface of in a small review like this.  The reader must hear even a small sample of this album to truly begin to understand the majesty that is present here.

A great starting point to delve into this album is with the first and title track lasting over 10 minutes long.  We begin our epic journey through a world of fantasy with the soft, subtle sounds of a beautiful harp that brings a sound of such dreamy peace and beauty.  This is interrupted by the bombastic and shattering sounds of percussion and brass in a sort of fanfare and building crescendo.  This again fades into a beautiful serenade with Elisabeth's dreamy vocals piercing the air.  Then we're taken a short, but aggressive journey through the darker elements and Tharen's deep vocals.  This is all mixed up a few more times over the duration of this track, aptly named as "rise and fall".  And this is just the first song...

Each composition on this album is a masterpiece.  This first long track could serve as a modern opus or symphony.  Each subsequent song is in it's own way a masterful composition delving into the various worlds of fantasy, mystery, love andlife.  "Bearer of the Flame" carries this on with Elisabeth's vocals soaring over the excellent musical compositions of piano, oboe, chimes, harps and percussion.  "Winter" almost serves as a self-descriptive track, the title seems to say it all as the bleak and cold actually seems to come right out of the speakers while listening to this track.  The cold and lonely call of the raven, the soft oboe playing in the background or just the overall loneliness in the tone create an atmosphere that you can literally feel.

When music becomes this real, it is awe inspiring in so many ways.  The music in itself comes alive, dancing through the airwaves, permeating the very soul of the listener.  "Queen of the Woods" does this through the soft piano piece at the beginning before vocals are even present.  But when you add the vocals, on this track from Elisabeth, and others possibly a combination of the dark moody vocals from Tharen or the angel-like calls from Elisabeth, then the dancing rhythms become much more.  On several occasions as with past albums, we delve into ancient languages and texts, such as with "Ave Atque Vale" or "Niobe".  This wonderful experience is surreal and magical when listening to how it is portrayed so well with the combination of dreamy melodies and the musical arrangement.  It almost takes you back several centuries standing in the shadow of new buildings that now stand as ancient remnants of the past.

If there is one album I can persuade fans of this genre to buy this year, it is definitely this album.  Don't hesitate, go out, right now and buy this work.  Listen to it, enjoy it, love it.

Rating: 5/5

April 2004 - Interview

First of all, I've read several of your past interviews and you have explained so much about both of your philosophical and musical interests and aims.  I have found it all very interesting coupled with your music.  So, at this point I'm not exactly sure what I can add, so hopefully you won't find this interview too boring, repeating much of the same information.  I will refer readers to your website to catch up on previous interviews for any information we don't talk about here.  I direct each question to each of you Tharen and Elisabeth, so please answer as each applies to you.  To start, let's talk about your new album Rise and Fall.  How do you each feel about the result overall?

Tharen: Fine to see that an interviewer prepared himself for an interview, that’s rare. We are very lucky with the new album, there was a step forward each in composition, vocals, the feeling within the music and of course the sound.  we came very near to the sound we find perfect for dargaard, hails at this point to Thomas Ranosz, who recorded and mixed the music in his Pure Sound Studio.
Elisabeth: I can only agree here. Thomas was really a winner for us.

From what I understood previous to this release you were only going to release a trilogy and then a compilation of the best tracks from the three albums.  Rise and Fall is not this "best of" album, but an entirely new work.  Why the change in plans?

Elisabeth: In fact no one of us ever said, that the trilogy and a best of would be the only releases.
Tharen:  strange but true – no one said something like that... why we did a fullength instead of a best of was simply because I had enough new material and conceptual ideas to release a completely new album. Besides I felt that it was not the time to release a so called “best of” with only 3 released albums. Maybe before or after the next full length comes out. Also a “best of” would be lots of work, because we don´t want only to release an album with the  best tracks from our past releases, maybe remastered, but to rerecord them with real musicians. If that happens, the follow-up albums to this one would have a very hard stand, if they are based on synths again, so the “best of” has to be some sort of minimalistic, not in the normal context of dargaard. Of course it would be fine only to release albums with music composed by me, played by an orchestra or similar, but that’s a money- and sales thing. Due to the fact that dargaard is no mainstream music it would be damned difficult to obtain such an etat from our label.

Would you say that Rise and Fall is a continuation of the trilogy?

Tharen: In fact: no. the trilogy was ended with “the dissolution of eternity”, the concept was closed. Of course dargaard has not completely changed it´s style, simply because I love  it and want to perfectionize it, it´s a cure for me, a cure and a possibility to flee this world sometimes. With “rise and fall” we opened a new chapter in the story of dargaard, a concept and some new elements within the music, as real sung male choirs for example. On the past releases we only used samples.
Elisabeth: Nevertheless there are still parallels in the lyric concept; for example our fascination for ancient texts runs through all our albums as well as the fascination for the factor time.

The music in the past has all been composed by synths and computers, do you continue to do so with the new album, or have you moved to include more traditional instruments?

Tharen: no, all the music is still coming from my synth. We thought about hiring some musicians to bring in some extra lines of real instruments, but the idea got lost, especially by the lack of time.

All of your music is full of epic fantasy and obscure mystical elements.  I find a lot of these same elements in modernized historical stories in film and literature about ancient times, whether they deal with the myths and legends of the ancient Goths, the Romans, King Arthur and England, William Wallace and Scotland and others.  I also find much of this in the fantasy adventure novels (Tolkien, Eddings and others).  Are you influenced by any or all of these things as well?

Tharen: of course i´m extremely inspired by fantasy and history, the name dargaard tells you  that, as it is taken from a fantasy series, and is the name of a cursed stronghold. Dargaard could be seen as the soundtrack to my very own story, may it be a movie or book. I read much of Margaret Weis and Tracey Hickman, Terry Goodkind, R.A.Salvatore and others.
Elisabeth: As for the interest in history: There are again three ancient latin lyrics on “Rise and Fall”; they are about 2000 years old, two text passages by Catull, one by Ovid, taken from the famous Metamorphoses. And I am absolutely fascinated by breathing life into the words and thoughts of a human being, that has been nothing but dust and bones for such a period of time; it sends shivers down my spine, when I´m singing those lyrics – it´s just like conquering time.

As a religious person, I find much of the mysticism and spiritualism in your music very inspiring and uplifting, despite the dark nature of the music, which I actually feel touches our souls through the emotional aspect (ie. we all go through pain, triumph, despair and other problems, and it's helpful to connect with these types of feelings).  Do you find that surprising?  or is that also something that you are trying to reach in your music, to be uplifting through the masked beauty in the darkness?

Tharen: as said above I see every dargaard album as a whole as a story, an adventure. Stories never a purely bad and dark. As the title “rise and fall” stresses, the music goes over heights to deep pits, but never let you totally fall into darkness, there are always aspects which let you think it´s going on. I for myself am not a religious person, and i´m mostly inspired by the “dark side”, because it suits me better – “dark” even must not always mean evil, so the main base of dargaard is and will remain dark, even if there are various feelings transported through the music.
Elisabeth: If you like to rationalize you could say that everything dark just contains the unconscious in us and also transporting this in our music it´s a kind of emotional confrontation in a healthy way. But it´s wiser to be just listening...

As Dargaard and Dominion, you don't perform live very much.  But I know you performed live at Wave Gotik Treffen a few years ago, how did that go?  Have you done other live shows since then and would you like to do more?

Tharen: the concert went to hell as the whole festival did on the day the gig should take place. But i´m not that disappointed, as I dislike concerts in a daylight “bierzelt” atmosphere in general. There are no plans for playing live in future. There are 100 reasons for that decision, but the most important is, that we only could play material from “rise and fall” due to technical reasons.

With four Dargaard albums out now and two Dominion albums, what does the future hold for both of these projects?

Tharen: i´m working on a new dominion III album at the moment, got 5 tracks done so far. I hope I can enter the studio in fall 04, so it would be an early 05 release. Dargaard will take longer for the next release, as do not want to release a “fast shot”.

Do you have a favorite project, CD and song from all of your works?

Tharen: dargaard is my main band and so most important for me, dominion III my playground where I  can play and record all the music in want to – therefore very important too.  with amestigon I still make black metal, where my heart belongs to as I started making music within this style. Besides that I can train my drumming skills there.
Elisabeth: For the Cds: It´s always the latest one, I have worked on – and this is a good sign for my motivation. From a little temporal distance things start to look different; but at the moment I would really say that “Rise and Fall” will be a favourite for a longer time. And for the projects: Beside some vocals for dominionIII I am working out the music for a new project called Alrune (original instruments, neo-folk influenced music) at the time; but Dargaard is still the most important to me.

In all of the interviews and information I've read people ask what style of music influences you, but never what specific artists.  So I would like to ask that now.  With your wide variety of styles, can you name some artists past and present that have influenced you and continue to influence you in some way?

Tharen: dead can dance, darkthrone and arcana maybe? Hm, not that easy...
Elisabeth: Referring to singing Sigrid Hausen (Qntal and Estampie), Sabine Lutzenberger (Helium Vola) at the time and the female singer of Sanctum.

What's in your CD player right now?

Tharen: in my car: Katatonia – viva emptiness, Dismember – like an ever flowing stream.  At home: Isis – Oceanic, Blackmoon Chronicles – game soundtrack.
Elisabeth: Helium Vola and The Vision Bleak.

Now that you've had some exposure beyond the metal scene and throughout the world, are you able to identify where the largest fanbase is?  Is it still through the metal-scene because of the label and bombastic mystical nature of the music?  Or have you found fans from the Gothic/Ethereal genres are really catching on to your music (this is the case for me, while I enjoy some Gothic Metal, I relate to your music better because of my love for Gothic/Ethereal music)?

Tharen: still the metal scene has a big part, but even the classical “cold meat industries” listeners and gothics seem to discover dargaard – we got good responses from them.

Have you had much response from different parts of the world outside of Europe?

Tharen: in fact we get responses from everywhere in the world, just have a look in our guestbook on our homepage. Sometimes i´m really astonished where the people live who are listening to our music. That´s a fine thing, I don´t want to be limited as an “European” band.
Elisabeth: It�s great, that people all over the world share some special experiences with you.

Anything else you would like to add?
Tharen + Elisabeth: thanks for your interview, we hope that your readers will lent ?rise and fall? an ear and enjoy it. Best wishes.

Website: www.dargaard.com
Label: Napalm Records

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