No doubt about it, Penumbra are a young band from France that has all the chances to become big on the European gothic metal market. Their complex music fitted with marvelous symphonic arrangements has already found its way to the hearts of many fans, but I believe that this is just the beginning of a long way up. At least, the progress between their debut album "Emanate" and this year's follow-up "The Last Bewitchment" is plain for everybody to see. decided not to wait until Penumbra becomes big and unavailable and arrange an interview right now. The only problem is that I don't really know which of the band members answered by questions via e-mail, but… whatever… Your latest album "The Last Bewitchment" seems to me a very complex and complicated piece of music. Was it an easy or a difficult album to compose and record?

Penumbra: It was a difficult album to compose because we needed to add some good vocals and arrangements on the first piece of music. Our music is composed in three stages: first the basic rhythm part, second all male vocals and lyrics, and third all the female and choirs which are not the simplest parts. Then we add all the arrangements to end the song. As you can see it's not so simple. Who is pictured on the cover of the album? Who did the artwork?

Penumbra: It's a friend of us who is pictured on the cover. And the artwork was done by Franck Kobolt Why did you decide to invite an additional female vocalist for the song "Testament"? Do you perform this song live and if yes, who sings it?

Penumbra: We needed a soft soprano voice on this song and Medusa, the girl who sang on the album, is a lyric voice. That is why Anita sang on "Testament" and on "Priestess Of My Dreams". At the moment we don't play "Testament" live but we are planning to do it soon. Can you describe Penumbra's live shows? I've heard that they have a lot of theatrical elements.

Penumbra: Penumbra's live shows are based on an atmosphere around our world; we try to explain by our actions all the feelings in the songs. It means that sometimes you will have some pyrotechnics effects and another times some seductive elements like the gothic period. Penumbra's current line-up consists of seven people, but on your first album "Emanate" you had as many as nine permanent musicians and singers. Are you planning to invite more people in the band or do you think that seven is enough?

Penumbra: For the promotion of "The Last Bewitchment" we are based on seven permanent musicians, for "Emanate" we tried to play with nine people on stage but is was too expensive and too complicated to play like we wanted. Who are Corrosive Bob and Franck Kobolt that perform additional guitars on "The Last Bewitchment?

Penumbra: Some friends of us. Franck is also the one who took care of the design of our both albums. Why is the last song on "The Last Bewitchment" sung in Latin? Have you ever considered writing a song in French?

Penumbra: To be honest we never wanted to sing in French because of the difficult pronunciation and the melodic sing. But as you can see we add some small parts in French in our songs. We just paste some of our origin in it. Both "Emanate" and "The Last Bewitchment" were preceded by demo CDs with songs that later ended up on the albums. Are the final versions different from their demo variants?

Penumbra: Yes, a lot because for the final version of "Emanate" we added some new arrangement parts that we didn't have and also some new vocals. As I told you before we are used to work in this way: we do the arrangements and the female vocals in the end. What is the meaning of the name Penumbra?

Penumbra: Penumbra is a Spanish word meaning "the shadow of the sun". (Finally an answer! It seems that all interviewers know the meaning of the band's name and though referring to it as unusual, never ask the band to comment on it. - ed.) As far as I know there is a different band named Penumbra put together by a member of UK ambient act :Zoviet*France: Have you had any legal problems with them?

Penumbra: Not for the moment, and I don't think that it will be. In fact as you said this is a techno band and there is a big difference!! Your bio says that Penumbra's founders Dorian and Jarlaath played in some other bands before putting together Penumbra. What bands were they and did they release anything?

Penumbra: Both of them are in fact from another bands but they are like every one of us, they didn't release anything before Penumbra. Each one of us played in other bands before. You invited a string quartet to record with you on "The Last Bewitchment". What was the purpose of doing it? Will you continue this practice in the future?

Penumbra: We wanted to do it on "Emanate" but we didn't have the time. But in fact it was a real purpose to add a quartet of strings because nothing sounds better than real instruments. We will try to continue this practice in the future and we hope to have the chance to record with a real orchestra one day like Dimmu Borgir or Therion. A lot of rock and metal bands have recently recorded albums with an orchestra. What do you think of such projects, in particular, of "S&M" by Metallica, "Moment Of Glory" by Scorpions and "XIII" by Rage?

Penumbra: It's a real challenge to record with an orchestra because it's very difficult to mix classical music with metal. For example, Metallica did their songs very badly because they didn't respect the position of the arrangements. I mean they tried to integrate the orchestra in their music and I think they should do the opposite. First you have the idea of the arrangements on the song and after you adapt the music to it. What are the band's plans for the rest of the year? Is there anything that you want to tell your fans in Russia?

Penumbra: For the moment Penumbra is trying to do some concerts all around Europe, and we also plan to do a new album. For all of you thanx a lot for supporting us and making gothic metal live!!

Roman The Maniac

(October, 2002)

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