Formed in 2010 and known until 2011 as Wraith, Harrow is a folk black metal band from Canada with three full-length albums so far. This year they re-released their 2013 album ‘Fragments Of A Fallen Star’ via Hypnotic Dirge Records, and we found the opportunity to get to know them better.
Tell us a few words about the band’s story. Did indeed Harrow begin as Wraith with Ian Campbell (vocals, guitars) and then changed name and added new members? Is there a different musical approach apart from the name?
Yes the band was originally called Wraith, and was my one-man project. Those early recordings were very juvenile so I decided to change the name when the first members joined and we decided to play live. We still used some of those early songs on the demo and ‘Wanderer’ album though. After the original lineup dissolved in 2012 I found new members and we’ve had the same lineup since late 2013 now.
The album ‘Fragments Of A Fallen Star’ was self-released in 2013 on cassette and last year in November was digitally released by Hypnotic Dirge Records. Are you satisfied with this collaboration and have you seen the impact of your work growing after that?
Yes, Hypnotic Dirge Records has been great to work with. They are a lot more attentive and accommodating than larger labels we’ve worked with in the past. I think it’s also nice for Canadian labels/bands to mutually support each other.
It’s hard to say how much the album is grown, as it’s a bit old now. But, this album has had a sort of cult following ever since it came out, so I noticed a lot of support from people who have been following us since then.
I’ve noticed that your album ‘Fallow Fields’ (2015) was released on cassette as well. Why do you choose this type of format? Is there a chance to be also digitally recorded?
At this point it’s mostly based on what a label wants to release. Tapes are cheaper to produce and thus they are less of a financial risk for a label to take on a little-known band like us. But, I also like tapes and think black metal albums usually sound good when they get a little analog dirtiness on them.
Except from your first album ‘Wanderer’ (2011) the last two albums include only 4 tracks, why is that so?
It’s not a conscious choice particularly. I just tend to write long songs and albums bore me when they’re too long, so I try and keep them to around 40-50 minutes. This has confused several reviewers who have labeled some of our full length albums as “EPs” because they are around 35-40 minutes. This is a ridiculous supposition. Length has no bearing on what the album is labeled as. In my opinion, if an artist considers their record a definitive statement in their discography it is not an “EP.” Think of Blasphemy’s ‘Gods Of War’, or ‘Reign In Blood’, for god’s sake.
You go under the black metal genre; still one can notice various elements in your work. Psychedelic, ambient, folk, among probably others. Is that due to different influences of the members or is it part of a general experimentation, or maybe both?
It’s mostly a blend of genres that I try and consciously blend together. The other members don’t write much material, but obviously the way they play has an influence on the sound. I write the structures of the songs and then usually just give them freedom to fill in what needs to be filled in. It’s a fairly free process of working out how a song will come together.
Can you tell us about the lyrical theme of ‘Fragments Of A Fallen Star’? I notice that you call the elements of nature. Does this give to the album a pagan atmosphere or is there something more or if you prefer beyond that?
The pagan aspect is there, yes. I think it will always be a part of what Harrow expresses. But, I’m trying to do it in an unorthodox way, not just putting runes on an album cover and singing about Thor and might. The lyrics are meant to express what it is like to exist in this time and place, not purely tell stories of the past (though I don’t object to that at all when it is done well). ‘Fragments Of A Fallen Star’ was about exploring the concepts of “oneness” and inconnectivity between matter, forms of life, space, and time. I tried to do this through a mythic lense instead of a scientific or purley spiritual one, and I think my heathen worldview seeps through in some way.
Are you working on new material and when can we expect your next album?
Yes. Work on the new album is beginning slowly. We don’t have all the material written yet, but a good chunk. I’m also feeling my inspiration for writing heavy music returning, which is a good sign as things usually happen fast when I feel this way, but it can come and go. I hope we have it finished this year, but no promises can be made either way.
How about your live activity? Are you staying local and is there a chance to see you in Europe as well?
We just stay around the Pacific Northwest due to logistics. All of us have busy lives outside of music, so we don’t have time to travel far. That being said, touring Europe is the biggest goal we have for this band, so if that opportunity ever arises we will work to make it happen!
Thank you very much for your time! Keep up the great work. End this interview the way you will!
Thank you for your interest. If anyone in BC reads this they can see us support Ash Borer in Vancouver at the Media Club on January 20th.
Keep seeking. “The journey has no end, since such was never meant”.