Frozen Wreath (Hungary) 02/08/2021
The truth is that I knew Neubauer Roland by his other bands and I appreciated his work before I got my hands on the release of the new project that he is involved. Frozen Wreath is the child of Szele Zoltán and by his answers, I get the feeling that it was in his head, taking shape, years before its official creation in 2020. Then N.R. came in and the band became complete and ready to move forward. After listening their first full length effort, that I have to admit that it was quite interesting and caught my attention, it was time to meet the artists behind the band in an interesting and enlightening interview.
1. Hello Frozen Wreath, thank you for this interview. How are you? How are things going for both of you in this covid situation? In which way has this affected your job and your everyday life?
Szele Zoltán: Hail OBM! Thank you, I’m doing all right. So far, I didn’t come across with the virus. I took a half a year long hiatus from work, but I work in Austria and not in Hungary and it has its own benefits, we have become 90% of our wages at the workplace without working, so I could not complain, thank you for this benefit the lockdown didn’t really have an effect on my life.
Neubauer Roland: Hail to you and the readers! I’m in a lucky position as I work on my own from home office whole year around, so it didn’t change anything in my personal or work life. I rather enjoyed the situation as many regulations were placed in order what made my work even easier. I live in a small village, in the middle of the forest and honestly, if I hadn’t heard the news, I wouldn’t have noticed there was a pandemic.
2. Frozen Wreath is a quite new project, formed in 2020, correct? Please give me some information on how it was formed and how did you two meet.
Szele Zoltán: That is correct, Frozen Wreath is a brand new project. Basically, I wanted to speed up things with my previous band ‘de profundis’, but because of various reasons that couldn’t happen, so I decided to start a new band. At the beginning I tried doing everything alone, but I had to realise that I’m not a singer, I need someone else for this position. As Roland lives in the same region of Hungary as me and I always followed ‘WitcheR’ (Roland’s other band), it was obvious for me that I asked him first to join me. He listened to the songs what were already written at that time and said yes. It was as simple as that. Of course, we knew each other a little bit, previously we met on concerts every now and then, so I knew he was a decent guy.
3. How did you come up with the name of the band? What does it mean for you? Could you explain what does the tree in your logo represent?
Szele Zoltán: I came up with this name a long time ago. I started back then a doom metal project, but unfortunately, I didn’t have the time to really deal with it. I named that project Frozen Wreath and as I always loved that name, I asked Roland what if we use it this time. The origin of the name is related to a visit in the cemetery at Christmas time, when I saw a grave covered with wreaths and because of the harsh weather they were all frozen and it looked somehow even more miserable and then it just popped my mind what a good name would it be for a doom metal band. The tree in the logo is basically connected to the cemetery and life itself, as the left part of the tree is blooming, full of life, but the right side is withering and life is abandoning it like birds flying away as falling leaves. The logo was designed upon my original idea by Christophe Szpajdel.
4. Zoltán you are the one responsible for the music. How do you get inspired? Could you please describe to me the process that you follow when composing? Is it only you or Roland throws some of his ideas too?
Szele Zoltán: As Roland has two other bands (WitcheR, Vrag), we agreed at the very beginning that I would write all music and he would contribute with the lyrics and vocals. As half of the album was already written at that time we started off, I guess he trusted me with the music part. I don’t really need inspiration for writing music, I just love music as it is. I love listening to it and I like to grab my guitar and write songs. Since the very beginning I always wrote my own material, somehow, I was never interested in playing other bands’ songs. The writing process is very simple. Usually, I came up with a guitar riff and from that I start building a song. When the basic is done, I write the drum parts, that’s where I decide it is going to be a slow or a fast song, as my riffs mainly all tremolo riffs, so it could go either way. Then comes the bass and finally I add the synths, if they fit in the song. When the whole song structure is done, then I add the final guitar harmonies, maybe solos to the songs. This is the way.
Neubauer Roland: I would only add that there is a bit more teamwork at this time than back was at the first record, but basically still Zoltán is mainly responsible for everything. I just tell him, if I don’t like something or I kick his ass, if I feel he would do better than that. The last couple of months proved that we are a good team.
5. Roland you are the one responsible for the lyrics of the band. Would you like to give me more information about the concepts that you deal with and what you want to express through this project?
Neubauer Roland: Yes, I wrote the lyrics and I am one of the few, who tends to work on a lyric for weeks or months, in order to make that stand alone as a poem and give value on its own. Basically, my goal was to separate the lyrics of Frozen Wreath from my other two bands – where I am also the lyricist -, and partly I managed to do that, but these lyrics also show me, my thoughts, parts of my soul, so to speak. Thematically I dedicated this record to the finality of human life. The thought of death occupied me a lot when I made the record, I lost several people close to me, some of whom I had to say goodbye at the deathbed, and these experiences were very important inspirations for the record. The last song, for example, was inspired by the death of a very dear old friend of mine, and then I realized how badly we approach the issue of death in western society, looking at it as a kind of taboo or shame, even though it could easily be just a threshold to start over. Mortality, transience, frailness inspired most of the lyrics. Later Zoltán translated all lyrics into English, so anyone, who is interested, can read them, even though they were written and recorded in Hungarian.
6. Memento Mori is your first full length album, released recently. Two months after the release, are you satisfied by the result? Is there anything that you would have done differently if you had more time or resources?
Szele Zoltán: I’m absolutely satisfied with the album, I think we have done 100% at that time was possible. I don’t think that makes sense what could have been done differently, it is what it is, what was captured at that time, a print of a moment in time. That is why I don’t like remastered and re-recorded albums. For what? There is always a new album, where you can evolve, make a better song, a better sound, if you are not satisfied with the previous result. Living in the past is not a good thing. You should be proud of everything you have created, doesn’t matter if it is not perfect.
Neubauer Roland: If neither time nor money had mattered, then I would have replaced the drums. I got used to them, but Zoltán wrote such good songs, they would have deserved a live drummer or better samples. Otherwise, I wouldn’t touch anything else.
7. How was the reception of this release by the fans and the press? Are you satisfied by the feedback you have received so far?
Szele Zoltán: Absolutely. Most of the feedbacks are really great. Of course, you cannot satisfy everybody, everyone has different taste in music. Some people like that we sound like the black metal bands back in the ‘90s, some people see that as weakness. But they all agree so far, that the album has a good variety of songs, that the song structures are strong and we are quite unique, not a copy band. Of course, we can evolve with the sound, I completely agree with that and we will work on it, I can promise that.
Neubauer Roland: Nowadays it’s very difficult to get a debut band to the audience, as there is an amazing overproduction in the genre. It’s like everyone has formed a black metal band in the last couple of years. I’m basically satisfied, we got a lot of positive reactions back, but if it hadn’t happened that way, we would have continued anyway, as Frozen Wreath is a real fun project.
8. I guess that you haven’t played any live yet because of the pandemic situation. Have you thought about playing live? Is this a future goal for the band or it is something you won’t do?
Szele Zoltán: I don’t think we will play live ever. I’m just not really interested in that part. I love creating songs, but being on stage in front of people is just not for me. I’m not really a social person, all kind of narcissism, exhibitionism is missing from me, I would be a very nervous performer, I guess. Roland played live already, so I guess he wouldn’t mind, but let him talk about it…
Neubauer Roland: I think Frozen Wreaths’ songs would work perfectly live, but I was never really so keen to play live. As a session player I tend to help out some fellow bands, mainly on bass guitar, but that is enough for me, I don’t have desire for stage and at this moment I can’t imagine that Frozen Wreath would play live. Of course, I learnt in life that never say never, so I would rather leave this question open.
9. I know that it is too soon to think for a future release but have you anything in mind about that? Have you begun composing material for a future release?
Szele Zoltán: As a matter of fact, we are already working on it. As I had that aforementioned hiatus from work, in my free time I could start composing songs for the second Frozen Wreath album. Basically, I almost done writing them, most of them already have a demo version recorded. It’s just the music, Roland is busy now with releasing the next Vrag album and recording the following WitcheR one. After that he starts writing lyrics for us. If everything goes well it can be out in 2023. Musically not much changed, I wrote songs in a style what I like, which is atmospheric, melodic black metal in the vein of the ‘90s. If I can say at this stage of the writing process, the album feels more comprehensive, but also more organic than ‘Memento Mori’.
Neubauer Roland: Though full lyrics were not yet written, but I noted down phrases, segments of lyrics and the common theme is also taking shape, so I’m also getting ready from my part to get a frame to Zoltán’s songs. I don't want to talk about specifics yet, because who knows what kind of things I still have to go through that will inspire the lyrics.
10. What do you like to do in your spare time? Do you practice any other form of art?
Szele Zoltán: I wouldn’t call it art from my side, but I like playing around with PhotoShop. I designed, arranged the booklet art for Memento Mori CD and tape. I create flyers, pictures for the band, as well. It’s not much, but I like doing it. Apart from that I like reading and I have a huge collection of movies. I like anything what drives me away from this reality.
Neubauer Roland: What is spare time? Apart from Frozen Wreath, I have two other bands, WitcheR and Vrag, which take all my time. In addition, there is a lot of works with Filosofem Records and next to my work I also have a family and a huge “farm” to take care of. If I still have a couple of hours to spare, then I try reading as much as possible.
11. What kind of music do you like to listen? Which bands, musicians or musical movements, do you think, have influenced you as a person and as an artist?
Szele Zoltán: Apart from black metal, I like other genres, as well, but mainly I listening to metal. Generally, I like music which has an emotional impact on me. I like bands, who don’t stick to one style, always rediscovering themselves, being brave enough to expand their own territories. As for musicians, I have a great respect for songwriters, who created a great variety, yet very different kind of songs: Juha Raivio (Swallow The Sun, Hallatar, Trees of Eternity), Johan Edlund (Tiamat), Varg Vikernes (Burzum), Robert Smith (The Cure), Brian Molko (Placebo), Chino Moreno (deftones), Satyr (Satyricon), just to mention a few.
Neubauer Roland: The most important to me is black metal. Throughout my life, there have been swings to other genres - within metal music, of course - but in the end, I’ve always returned to the darkest genre. There is hardly any day, when I don’t get to know one or two new black metal bands, I’m continuously listening to music, which in some kind of form surely affecting me. I could hardly pick only a few bands, but Varg Vikernes and Burzum is surely in the lead. In addition, Nargaroth, Summoning and most of the early black metal bands had a huge impact on me over the years. And of course, the first big favourites in metal genre: Iron Maiden, King Diamond, Helloween, Pokolgép, etc. I could pick only a few direct influences, I have loads of favourites to look up to, from whom I picked up this and that.
12. For the last question, would you like to tell me, your ten most important Metal albums of all time and why?
Szele Zoltán: It’s a difficult question, as so many good albums are out there. I chose 10 bands, who have an outstanding discography, not just one or two albums. 1. Swallow The Sun – Songs From The North I, II & III. This triple album is the essence of STS, a brilliant band, one of the all-time favourites. 2. Limbonic Art – In Abhorrence Dementia. A symphonic, synths-driven masterpiece. 3. Summoning – Dol Guldur. Atmospheric black metal at its best. 4. Solefald – The Linear Scaffold. An unpredictable band and this is a unique bm album, mixing fast blastbeats with beautiful slow parts and there is even a jew’s harp part on it. 5. Lord Belial – The Seal Of Belial. A very underrated band, playing quality black metal. Apart from being a traditional bm album, with this one they stepped over the raw garage sound and has a thick layered, modern sound. 6. Satyricon – Rebel Extravaganza. For me this is Satyricon’s best, an ultimate, sonic attack with no compromise. 7. Ulver – Nattens Madrigal. They pushed the limit of rawness over the edge here, yet this album is full of beautiful melodies. 8. Tiamat – Deeper Kind Of Slumber. My favourite album, ever. The atmosphere they captured here, is unbelievable. 9. Neurosis – A Sun That Never Sets. Neurosis has an ancient power, something rooting very deep in the universe. This album has the beautiful balance between the rough and the slow parts. Very emotional band. 10. Burzum – Filosofem. Do I have to say anything here? Vikernes is a genius songwriter, every Burzum album has a wonderful atmosphere, be it metal or synth music.
Neubauer Roland: This is a kind of question, I would answer differently every day. I can’t even give you an objective answer, I rather write a short list with my all-time favourites, which inspired me the most over the years, and I think they are milestones in the genre.1. Pokolgép: Pokoli színjáték – For me it all started with this, a Hungarian heavy metal milestone. 2. Helloween: Helloween EP (1985) – This was also one of my first LPs. There are so dark themes on it, I tend to look at it as a pro-black metal album. 3. King Diamond: Conspiracy – I was terrified from this album, the atmosphere put a spell on me, most of the black metal albums are halfway dark as this masterpiece. 4. Burzum: Hvis lyset tar oss – My first meeting with Burzum. I will never forget the feelings, the thoughts this album stirred in me. I have never heard anything like this before. 5. Mayhem: De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas – The other great unearthly experience. This album had an unimaginable effect on me, there is not a single week that at least one song is not on my playlist. 6. Summoning: Minas Morgul – My first serious meeting with the fact that synths and black metal can create an uplifting mix together. Filled with songs full of brilliant melodies. 7. Judas Priest: Painkiller – I could mention here the whole discography, but Painkiller is still my favourite. I think I’m not alone with this. 8. Death: The Sound of Perseverance – It’s unbelievable what Chuck created on this album. Understood, that the early works are death metal milestones, but for me the last album put the crown on the discography. Musical genius. 9. Darkthrone: A Blaze in the Northern Sky – Though, nowadays I like the next two albums more, back then it was one of my first black metal albums. Raw, dark and harsh. I loved it. I would give an arm, if they returned to this era. 10. Iron Maiden: Fear of the Dark – I would hate myself forever, if I didn’t include a Maiden album on my list. Maiden was one of the first bands effected my musical taste and now I would say Fear of the Dark is their best. Probably tomorrow it would be Seventh Son or Powerslave or The Number of the Beast. All could be.
13. Would you like to add anything as a conclusion?
Szele Zoltán: I would like to mention here Olga Kann, who painted the beautiful cover for Memento Mori, which reminds us all that our time is ticking. Thank you for everybody, who supported us so far and welcome all our future fans. Thank you for the interview. Till the next time…
Neubauer Roland: I would like to thank you for the interview and for your continuous support for my bands.