Even though I've still only heard some old material from a live recording I'm anxious to hear more. I'm pretty darn sure this will turn out to be a monster of black/death metal.
We did the interview by e-mail between the 9th of June and 24th of July.

Hey there. Thanks for taking the time to do this interview!
Let�s start by having you introduce the band a bit. You can skip the biography, but just a small presentation of whom will be answering the questions, and what other members the band consists of.

Greetings, we are the ones who thank you for the opportunity to promote Epping Forest. I am MysticCosmos, currently the only guitarist with the band. We are on the process of recruiting a second guitarist to our ranks, although our area isn�t particularly prone to providing us with very many possibilities.
Noctis Lunar, who alongside with me formed the band back in 1998, is in charge of the keyboards. Menthor, the drummer, is one of the key members as regards our sound and the band�s musical direction. You see, we started out as a Black Metal band and we are steadily growing Blackened Death Metal in nature. Azrael performs vocal duties, and is also in charge of lyrics and the bass. Having started by singing and writing lyrics, he was quick to adapt to another position, notably that of the bassist, which was also necessary for the band to move forward.
At the moment Epping Forest are working on the final stage of the debut album at the Grave Studios.

You started the band in early �98, but the first three years you lacked members to fill the line-up, which I assume caused you to remain fairly inactive during the years. And when you in 2001 finally got a drummer he quits just a few months later, and you replace him with Pinto. And at the same time you fill the missing bass position with Aenima. Later that year Miguel (who was in on starting the band) has to leave, and you get Cristiano to replace him. Then four months later he leaves the band�. Jeez, I have no idea how you�ve managed to cope with all the member changes. How did you manage to keep the band together?
The first 3 years were in fact a mirror of two people working together (Noctis Lunar and I), which by no means included inactivity! With the help of a drum machine we wrote a number of songs, some of which are actually going to be included in the album, with due modifications. As for the comings and goings within the band, they have never really represented a major threat for the survival of the project, for most members didn�t really stay long enough to make a stand in the band�s musical direction. AS long as Noctis Lunar an I were in the project, the line-up changes wouldn�t affect us deeply, especially because I was the main writer and came up with the majority of the riffs, including the fundamental ones. In the end, those who joined the band had the most difficulty, especially because it was not practical to constantly teach the songs � and so new members had to invest considerable amounts of time in learning the songs. The current state of affairs is the exact opposite: each of the current members is of high importance to the band, and the problem is if one of us leaves the band � that would eventually compromise our sound. Even I, who still keep my role in the song writing process would have a hard time adapting to other musicians, let�s say another drummer or bassist. Even I would have a very hard time adapting to a different work method, whether it�d be with a drummer or a vocalist. With time, I�ve come to develop my own method, and I ceased to be the focus of the songwritng process � it�s a group effort, very demanding on the other members� part as well. So in the end it�s a free process: I�m free to do what I want, there are no boundaries to what each of us can do with the band � and our personal tastes converge towards Death and Black Metal.

For about 1� year you managed to keep a steady line-up, until December 2003 when Anemia left, followed by Abraxis in February 2004. Did you start to fear that you�d once again be plagued by a bunch of members coming and going, interfering with the development of the band?
Yes, I�d have to say the thought crossed my mind. However, and after a brief retrospective of the two members� contribution, even though they were fundamental live and gave us so much, during their period in the band, it had already become somewhat difficult to progress. It�s not like they didn�t want to, but each member�s personal and professional life didn�t allow them to be there during most rehearsals, and that was a major setback as you can imagine, because each time something new came up and they weren�t there meant we�d have to waste another rehearsal filling them in on any developments. And so these departures, even though they were personal or professional life-related, eventually helped the band progress further instead of being harmful.

You had your first gig in April 2002, but Azrael didn�t join the band until October that year. So who took care of the vocals during the gig? And how did it feel to play live with the band for the first time?
I see you�ve learned your lesson for this interview (laughs)! It�s actually the first time someone has pointed that out � and you are absolutely right in pointing that tiny detail out too. During that period we had someone doing the vocals for us � that person has even contributed to the early songwriting process in small amounts, particularly for our first show, but he just stood in the way of the band by provoking confrontation and thus creating a negative vibe among band members. It wasn�t a particularly good phase for Epping Forest, and that is why we cut out that part in history. Also due to his arrogant attitude we decided to rewrite all lyrics. There is absolutely nothing said person can claim as his own now.

Ahh, but you don�t want to reveal who that person was?
I really don't think it's worth it. I doubt said person has kept in touch with the underground after leaving the band, be it bands or other metal-related activities. We certainly haven't heard from him ever since, so let's just skip the subject. He's already had too much air time. (laughs)

You also entered a musical contest 2002/2003, where 40 bands got to show off their stuff. And out of 40 bands you managed to roam in and get a second place in the contest. Now that must�ve felt great for you to get that kind of appreciation. What were your expectations when entering the competition?
To be honest, Epping Forest didn�t enter the contest with the absolute purpose of winning � back then it was our opportunity to play live and see the outcome of our songs in a concert, how the audience liked the songs or not. Experience was also a good enough motivation for entering the contest. These were the band�s very first shows and we weren�t even hoping to get to the final. We were definitely not expecting the turnabout we ended up witnessing and being first place in the second round and second place in the final round.

So did your fan base grow significantly during the contest?
Yes, I can say it did - people started showing more interest and being more supportive of our music. This was perhaps the best side of the contest, and probably only positive side too, seeing as we were ripped off and got jack shit instead of the prize we and the other two bands were entitled to.

Over the years you�ve done quite some gigs, but you didn�t play outside of Portugal until late 2005 when you visited the Netherlands. How were you greeted by the metal crowd over there? I assume you didn�t have the same amount of fans there.
You are mistaken, on that mini-tour we�ve just played in Portugal with Ordo Draconis, we invited Ordo Draconis from the Netherlands to play with us here in Portugal.

Well I�ll be damned; I must�ve misunderstood when reading your history, hehe. So does that mean you still haven�t played any other countries? How come?
Well yes, it's true. We haven't played outside of Portugal yet, although we have received many offers. The last one had us playing in Paris (France), but we cannot afford to take the risk of travelling without knowing an organisation that refuses advance payment for travel expenses and all. Furthermore, our professional lives would have to be greatly remodelled in order for us to go, and we decided against taking such a risk. Besides, our debut album isn't out yet, nor is our merchandise ready, so we wouldn't be able to get part of the money back anyway. As soon as our album is officially released, we will certainly play abroad, and Germany is an almost certain destination. If you know of people who'd like to have us play over there in Sweden, just tell us! (laughs)

If I�m not mistaken you�ve had some problems with the police in the past, right? What�s that about?
(laughs) Nothing special, really. We just had some minor problems because of the noise � you see, our rehearsals took place at night and would almost always end up at 1 or 2 a.m. This was not a conscious action as we weren�t even aware of the time, but the neighbours decided to cut our rehearsals short by calling the police and have our rehearsals suspended.

And your history�s also been quite infected with rumours and criticism from the metal crowd. But that�s pretty much all I know about it, care to shed some light on the issue?
(laughs) These problems are buried deep in the past. That�s what the Portuguese audience is all about: rendering Portuguese bands inferior to foreign bands � and I�ve never been one to shut up in the face of such attitude. I used to criticise some people�s attitude. I really cannot stand it when people can�t believe in what is being done in their own country metal-wise, especially because we have a number of really high quality acts in Portugal. Naturally, like many other countries, Portugal is a land of rumours� but the past is best left undug, as music spoke louder, and in the end that is what really matters.

Leaving all rumours, backstabbing, member changes behind � Do you now feel that you�ve got a steady and secure line-up that will last?
I believe this line-up to be very secure, yes� but knowing if it will last or not is beyond my knowledge. Portugal is not a good place to live off music (and I am not sure it ever will be) and the current crisis sometimes forces people out in search for opportunities somewhere else or having to give up certain pastimes in order to find decent jobs and keep them. A vast majority of the line-up changes in the past were directly connected with this factor: jobs demanded most of the rehearsal time and when they didn�t schedules didn�t match for every member to rehearse together. One thing is for certain: the four constituent elements of Epping Forest want to take the band as far as possible

What do you mean by the �current crisis�? I suppose it�s connected to the political state of Portugal. Not happy with the political agenda?
The crisis isn't merely political - it is essentially a financial crisis, a lot of companies are delocalizing to other countries where workforce and maintenance mean lower costs, thus the unemployment rate grows steadily in Portugal and wages are significantly lower in comparison. And so you see, those of us who do have a job will not put it at risk for the band's sake, for getting a new job is nearly impossible. And that is basically it: inflation rises and wages lower.

At the moment you�re busy recording your debut fullength. What can we expect from it?
Without meaning to raise expectations, the recording of this album was punctuated by some setbacks, such as the producer being unable to work on our album, so we had to suspend recordings. However, I am confident that this will be a significant release � during that period in which recordings were suspended, we�ve rewritten and re-arranged our songs in such a way that they now do reflect our current sound and it is way different from most people�s idea on our music. You may definitely expect an extreme album, ultra fast drumming, mostly Scandinavian Black Metal-inspired riffs, but with an undeniable Death Metal groove � more notorious than in our earlier work, that�s for sure. And it�s very much still Epping Forest.

You haven�t released an actual demo for us to compare it to, just a live-recorded gig. How come you�ve never released a demo?
Quite honestly, I cannot tell why we never underwent the demo period� especially because I am a demo collector myself and when I started playing the guitar we were still going through the golden age of demo tapes. Back then, 90% of the distros� catalogue were demo tapes. In fact, I still own very many demo tapes from that time. With Epping Forest we just considered the hypothesis of the album and went straight into it. We definitely did not want to release a rehearsal demo � most of the times it just stains the band�s reputation and I am definitely not a fan of the usually muffled and chaotic sound that characterizes such releases. We just wanted to release a proper recording with high levels of quality in all aspects of the recording of an album in order to create immediate impact on the listener, in the sense that the final listener can actually evaluate the songs based on clear music, not chaotic noise. This was obviously not the only factor why we�ve been waiting for 9 years now to have a proper release out. The shows we�ve played helped us filter the kind of shows we want to play, also based on the conditions promoters provide the band with. We need basic conditions to reveal our full potential and so, instead of investing on a demo, Epping Forest grew steadily in terms of recognition, which meant some significant possibilities and label proposals regarding an official release. Better to wait a bit longer and release a professional product with quality than rush in a recording just to show friends and have fun. We are serious about our music and our shows � which means we have 10 studio songs and 8 or 9 will be in the official release.

So what will you do with the one or two leftover songs? Splits maybe?
The two songs to be excluded from the album will probably be recycled - if we don't think they are good enough for release now, they certainly won't be released later - not like they are at the moment. These songs will obviously not be forgotten - like I said, we will rewrite them, play and record them in a way that shows our present sound. They might be released in a split or some special edition. However, only time will tell - we might not even leave out any song at all.

Have you got any labels interested in releasing the CD, or will you fish for offers when the recording�s done?
Yes, a number of labels have shown their interest in our work so far � some from Portugal, others on an international level. Naturally, due to this huge delay in the studio, every proposal is waiting to be confirmed and hasn�t come to fruition. All we have to wait for is the mastering to be ready and then we�ll be able to send evaluation material.

Oh, and I just have to ask; who did your logo? It�s by far one of the coolest and best looking logos I�ve ever seen!
Our logo was created by well-known graphic artist Christophe Szpajdel, who has already drawn logos for Emperor, Graveland, Tsjuder, Enthronded or Nargaroth, amongst others. He is definitely a remarkable person and did our logo in a week in exchange for absolutely nothing. But it is obvious his effort will not go unnoticed and we will see to it when we release the album. The logo is almost exactly as he sent it � all I did was change a few details in some letters (damn beer, Christophe! Laughs). Hail to you, Christophe!

Well, the interview�s coming to an end, and before we quit I�m inevitably gonna ask the question; what do you hope/think will come out of Epping Forest in the future? How do you think people will respond to the upcoming album?
Honestly, I have no idea. Epping Forest have by now surpassed my wildest expectations, as regards music and its direction. I can truthfully say I feel fulfilled at this point, although I cannot speak for others.
As regards the album, we will certainly have mixed reactions - however, this I do know: they will be extreme. Either awesome or fucking awful. The studio sound is definitely better than what we managed to put out live, which is natural given the lack of conditions we are usually presented with. And this album will certainly change people's standard idea of how Epping Forest sounds like.

But that was the last serious question and all I�ve got left are my standard ones.
Latest record you bought?

HATE: Anaclasis - A Haunting Gospel Of Malice And Hatred

Latest record you listened to?
BLEEDING DISPLAY � Ways to End (in my car)

Latest book you read?
I am very lazy when it comes to reading... Necronomicon (e-book), and I've probably been trying to finish it for the past 2 months. (laughs)

Latest show you went to?
Steel Warriors' Rebellion Fest (Portugal�s biggest Metal Fest), where I got to see Hate, Carpathian Forest, Keep of Kalessin, Bolt Thrower, etc (www.swr-fest.com). Even though the job and the studio haven't left me much free time lately, I can't say we've had that many interesting gigs other than SWR.

Crappiest record you've bought?
Guns & Roses � Spaghetti incident (also the only CD I've ever sold)

And if you ever committed suicide, how�d you do it?
I've never given that any thought, so I have no idea.

So, that�s the end of the interview. Anything I should�ve asked that I�ve missed?
Thanks a lot for your time, I really appreciate it! Best of luck in the future!

Yes, you forgot to mention a contact person for us to play in Sweden. (laughs) Seriously now, you're the interviewer and you're calling the shots. However, I must say to your credit that this has been one of the most elaborate, best thought-out and interesting interviews I've ever answered. I appreciate your support and we hope to meet you in Sweden during a show. Thanks for everything.
Any further information on the band is available through the website (eppingforest.web.pt), our MySpace page () or via email ().

For a closer look at Epping Forest's discography please click here