Interview: Dolmen Gate

Anyone who is even remotely enthusiastic about epic metal will fall in love with the Portuguese newcomer Dolmen Gate and their demo Finis Imperii. So of course we would like to introduce you to this band: We spoke to Nuno, whom you all know from Ravensire. Furthermore, there was an interesting historical digression by Alex. Have fun reading!

Dolmen Gate are (from left to right): Nuno – bass, Kiko – guitar, Artur – guitar, Ana – vocals, Alex – drums

André: Thank you very much for taking the time for us. How are you?

Nuno: Hi André! All’s fine around here. A bit busy handling the Finis Imperii tape orders and preparing the final recording sessions for the upcoming album!

André: Have you already bought an album that was released this year?

Nuno: Just about to receive the latest Tales Of Medusa LP and demo, hopefully (if customs or the postal service don’t fuck up). Although I haven’t bought anything from 2023 in particular, there are quite a few which are about to be ordered, like the last albums by Smoulder and GatekeeperTriumpher and a few others.

André: Some readers might not know your band Dolmen Gate that well yet. Please tell us something about your short band history so far.

Nuno: Dolmen Gate started out after Ravensire finished and Alex (drums) wanted to continue playing Epic Heavy Metal. So he got in touch with Kiko (guitars) and they started jamming some ideas. Fred (bass) joined them and the three of them got it going. In the meantime, Alex kept enticing me (Nuno – guitars) to join the fold but I kept saying “no”. After a while, it got so annoying that I ended up agreeing just to shut him up, ahah. Ana (vocals) was one of those classic “hiding in plain sight discoveries”. She’s friends with everyone in the band but was far from our mind for the place of vocalist, until I saw a video of her singing “Burn” by Deep Purple that her boyfriend (also a friend) shared on his Facebook page… I quickly talked to Alex and told him: “it’s her!” and here we are! In the meantime, Fred quit due to lack of time to dedicate to the band and it was as a four-piece (minus a bassist) that we recorded the demo. After the demo was recorded, Artur joined us, I switched to the bass, and that’s where we are now!

André: Which bands have influenced you the most? And which epic metal albums do you spin most often?

Nuno: The answer will depend on which one of us you ask. My main influences are probably the obvious ones (Iron MaidenManilla RoadOmenManowarDoomSwordSlough Feg, etc) along with some others not so obvious (Holy TerrorKillingsworthOverstep). Alex is very keen on Judas PriestMercyful FateSolstice, among others including the Punk scene! Kiko I’d say gets his kicks on the unholy trinity of ManowarBathory and Immortal. Ana is more into Classic Hard Rock and Heavy Metal like Deep PurpleZepThin LizzyIron MaidenRainbow… But also digs stuff like Pagan Altar, for example! As for Artur, the main influences are Iron MaidenOmenVirgin SteeleCrimson GloryRiotBathory and Death. Collectively, I’d say “Into the Glory Ride”, “Hail to England”, “Hammerheart” and “Resound the Horn” are the records that never fail to impress!

André: On 4 March, your first release Finis Imperii was published. How has the feedback been so far?

Nuno: Surprisingly good, honestly! We’ve been having plenty of encouraging words and the demo has been played quite often on Bandcamp! Also, replying to this interview is always a good sign haha. We also released a limited-edition tape, that basically sold out in two days. All in all, I think we couldn’t have asked for a better start.

André: How does the songwriting work in your band? 

Nuno: Our songs generally starts with someone (me or Kiko, so far) bringing to the rehearsal a song more or less crafted and then everyone contributes with their parts or ideas about song structure, harmonies, etc. Then we refine it until we have it stable, although it’s only etched in stone by the time we finish recording it! Sometimes, during the recording process, new ideas for some details pop up and will be incorporated on the final version of the song.

André: Are you planning to perform live in 2023? Are there already fixed dates that we should note in our calendars?

Nuno: Yes, we’ll start our gigs in May, locally in Portugal. The first show confirmed (although we’ll probably have another one before that) is in Lisbon, on the 15th of May alongside Seven Sisters and labelmates Riot City. As for shows outside of Portugal, there are already some talks going on, but nothing confirmed so far! When we have our first album released (later this year, or very early next year), it’ll be a better time for international gigs.

André: On our blog, we focus on metal with epic elements. How would you define the term “epic” regarding music?

Nuno: For me the epic feeling comes from the atmosphere a certain band/song can create, through the use of musical motifs and hooks, lyrical content and song structure. Epicness is not limited to Heavy Metal or Doom Metal, as you’ll find it on every Metal subgenre and even more so in Classical Music! Most epic bands will create somewhat complex music that’s woven with lyrics that recite tales of might. It is a demanding style of music, because it requires some attention from the listener. In an age where the amount of music being released is immense, this is a problem because people tend to go for the catchier songs and rarely take the time to plunge into the tapestry of less “immediate” songs. 

André: Is there an event from Portuguese history that you think should definitely be dealt with by an epic metal band?

Nuno: I’ll pass the microphone to our resident troubadour, Alex. 

Alex: Portuguese history is rich and full of epic events, mostly due to the fact that we´re a very old country. If I had to choose one event, I would choose the Battle of Alcácer-Quibir! D. Sebastião, the king at the time, galvanized by a glory wish and a great belief in Portugal (based on a dubious interpretation of the Old Testament), went to face his death smashed by the Saadian army. After his disappearance, there was a mythic belief (almost to this day!) that King Sebastian of Portugal would reappear and return to Portugal in a misty morning at some critical point in the future, and take Portugal back to its glory days. I think this tale gives food for thought about how all empires fall, sooner or later, and how people will cling to irrational mystic beliefs.

Battle of Alcácer-Quibir (1578), Museu do Forte da Ponta da Bandeira, Lagos, Portugal. The image shows the detail of the only known representation of the Battle of Alcácer-Quibir published by Miguel Leitão de Andrade in the work Miscelânea (1629): in it is illustrated the numerically inferior Portuguese army, about to be surrounded by Islamic forces. (Taken from Wikipedia)

André: You are from Lisbon. What is the metal scene like there? 

Nuno: It’s coming back from all the turmoil we’ve lived through these last few years. It’s not a big scene by any means (at least compared to Germany, Greece or even Spain), but it’s healthy! There are a few venues featuring regular shows and also a few bands doing the rounds. From our local scene, we have Midnight PriestIronswordAlkateyaNagasaki SunriseToxikullRage and FireAttick DemonsHellspike and a few others. 

André: Last question: Let’s say you had a bunch of money to spend on live shows – what would a Dolmen Gate gig look like? Dreaming is allowed!

Nuno: Instead of featuring a large stage production, we’d prefer to use all that money to book the bands we’d love to play with and organize a super-festival! In a medium sized venue (big venues and big stages lose the “intimacy-factor”) with Brocas HelmSlough FegDoomSword and Immortal (I have to say this one, or Kiko will kick me) among others, for sure!

André: That sounds very exciting – I would buy a ticket. Nuno – and Alex too, of course – thank you for this very interesting conversation. I wish you all the best for the future. And I strongly advise everyone to travel to Lisbon on 15 May to see three real Tyrants on stage!

Check out Dolmen Gate on Bandcamp.

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