Interview: Sorrow Plagues

Sorrow Plagues is a one-man atmospheric black metal/blackgaze project from the UK. Having recently reviewed the new EP ‘An Eternity of Solitude’, I wanted to talk with the man behind it to delve deeper into his music. He was kind enough to speak to me about the themes explored on the EP and more!

Right, so first, thanks for agreeing to do this interview! One of the things I wanted to ask you about is the concept behind your latest release ‘An Eternity of Solitude.’ It seems almost like a journey from hopelessness and despair to something more positive, particularly given the name of the final track, ‘Acceptance.’ Could you talk a bit about the concepts behind this album, lyrically/musically?

Well you pretty much put into words what the journey of my EP is exactly. It’s mostly meant to be a depressive record, just with that glimmer of hope in there. I didn’t really intend to do that when I wrote the album, it was just intended to be a compilation of songs I guess. But I ordered them in the way I saw fit. When it comes to lyrics I have a pretty strange approach, I just kinda do them on the spot without writing them down. Then I just think of a name for the song that summarizes the lyrics!

That’s an interesting approach to the lyrics! In my review of the EP I wrote that it feels to me like this EP is an act of catharsis – releasing and cleansing oneself of one’s strongest emotions. That seems to gel with what you’re saying about how you go about the lyrics, is that accurate?

Yeah, I’d say so!

So, when it comes to both the lyrics and the music itself – what artists or things more generally are you inspired by?

I always like to go out for long walks, I seem to naturally  want to pick up my guitar after being in nature. That’s probably my biggest non-musical influence and inspiration. Musically, the first thing that always comes to mind is Woods Of Desolation. The albums “Torn Beyond Reason” and “Sorh” had a huge impact on me and made me start the project. The general Atmospheric Black Metal/Blackgaze scene is a big influence for me.

Those are good albums to be influenced by! I think ‘Torn Beyond Reason’ was the first black metal album I ever got a physical copy of actually.

Same here!

Blackgaze was something I wanted to ask you about as well. In recent years we’ve seen bands like Deafheaven, Alcest and others push black metal in a very different, new direction – and the predictable backlash from some in the metal community to labels like ‘blackgaze’ and ‘post-black metal.’ Have you got any thoughts on that?

I think it’s great! These bands could be a great introduction to black metal for people who are put off by the really abrasive stuff. To be honest the bands that push the boundaries the most are going to ruffle a lot of feathers, you can’t avoid that.

Yeah I can agree with that! Going back to the writing process for a moment – a lot of blackgaze and atmospheric black metal seems to be about channelling emotions in a very direct and raw way. Do you think your approach to the lyrics helps with conveying the emotions you want to convey?

Yeah I think it does! But I believe it also allows people to interpret it however they like.

I definitely like that idea. Some artists like to have a very fixed view of what their music is about, but you’d rather the listener walked away and formed their own interpretation of what the music is about?

Yep. I’ve found that the music I’ve always connected to the most is the stuff that hasn’t forced something on me, but has had vague enough lyrics to leave me to find meaning in it. An example of this from my own music is that someone said on a Youtube comment about my EP that it shouldn’t be listened to if you want to have an optimistic view on your life, whereas someone else has said that it’s warming and makes them feel good.

It is funny how two people can listen to the same piece of music and feel wildly different things. That was one of the interesting things I felt about this EP as well – some black metal bands aim to just explore how dark and grim they can be, in a quite one-dimensional way, but it feels like you’re exploring feelings of hope and positivity as well as depressive, negative ones and playing one off against the other.

Yeah it’s crazy, I always love hearing what people have to say about my music for that very reason. And yeah although strangely I haven’t really consciously thought about it until this conversation but that’s pretty much what I do!

That’s just the way it came across to me anyway! Slightly different topic – How do you think the UK’s black metal scene is doing at the moment? What’s it like in your area?

Well in my local scene it’s next to non-existent haha. Maybe I’m just not searching hard enough though!

Haha tell me about it, Cambridgeshire isn’t exactly the most kvlt area to live in!

Hahaha I can imagine!

Seems like most of the black metal bands in the UK are concentrated in the north of England and a few from Scotland like Saor.

Yeah that’s a good point, maybe I can be the south’s representative for BM!

You’ll have to get in the ring with Forefather I think! I was wondering, do you have any plans to perform live in the future? Is that something you’d consider, or is Sorrow Plagues not really supposed to be a live experience?

I’m working on it! You heard it here first. I definitely want to do it live in the future and I have some cool ideas about what I can do with the live performance. But that’s all I’m saying.

Ah, awesome. So where do you go from here? Will you be working on new music, or working on getting some live shows booked, or maybe both?

My priority is to just keep releasing music at the moment. I’m in no rush to do live shows but as I said, it’s something I’m working on for the future.

Looking forward to it! Is there anything else you’d like to add before we finish up?

Not really, but I’d like to thank you for the kind words on the review and showing support for the project! Cheers!

No problem, thanks for doing this!

No problem.