Archive for Slavic Metal

Interview: Masha [2011]

Posted in Interview with tags , , , , , on 4th October 2011 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

E-mail interview conducted with Masha of Arkona.

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Nico: As folk and pagan metal are getting more popular in the US, is there any chance you’ll be touring the US in the future? Or perhaps a South America tour?

Masha: We will go in big North American tour in November-December this year. Firstly, we will have headliner tour in Canada(9 shows) and then will join to Korpiklaani and will play 30 shows in Canada, US, and Mexico. All dates you can find on our website: http://www.arkona-russia.com

N: How do you feel heavy metal has developed since the days of the USSR?

M: Heavy music in Russia was always not so strong as in EU or US. It have no evolution because of isolation of Russia from main music market.
Now, situation is start to be normal, bands are having good instruments and possibility to make a good record.
Local scene quite strong, especially in Russian heavy/power metal. Also, pagan and black metal are not weaker than in Europe.

N: Do you feel that the new album [Slovo] differs from your previous releases? If so, how?

M: Slovo – it’s completely new stage for us, which differs from Goi, Rode, Goi and from other albums of Arkona. Firstly, because we didn‘t set any stylistic frames. Those, who did not like the musical diversity of the two previous albums, will not like new album too,  but it will bring those who appreciate us for our courage in the experiments.
Our main goal was to create an atmosphere in the album, that even man, who is far from the pagan attitudes in the music, would love it and of course, as always, we wanted to do something new, something, which is not like our previous works.

N: How are you feeling about the upcoming show with Turisas, Alestorm and Fintroll in London?

M: We played in London in Paganfest tour 8th march 2010. It’s was a normal show with a lot of people and great support of fans. Those who knew our band, came especially for us.
Also, I want to tell, that for us is very difficult to go for one show in UK, because we must get separate visa and we can’t go with normal Shengen cultural visa. So let’s speak about all after show, our agency is working on that, and we hope, that all will be ok!

N: What would say is the song that defines Arkona as a band?

M: We have no one musical conception, all songs absolutely different and it changes from album to album. That’s why it’s impossible to define Arkona with any song.

N: If you could take the soundtrack from any film and replace it with your music, which film would you choose and why?

M: This movie is “Rus Iznachalnaya”. It’s about campaign of Kniaz Oleg on Konstantinopol. It was created in the middle of 80’s and it’s one of the best movies about pre-christian Russia. We have a song with the same name from the 2005th album, which was created under impression of this movie. I think, If would be some remake, our song will fit the best for soundtrack.

N: Where do you find the inspiration for your songs? Could an idea come to at anytime like when you’re in the street or at home relaxing? Or do you get the ideas in the studio?

M: For me, any external emotional factor can force me to write something: the anger, sadness, beauty sunset, view of dead tree, watching the flight of an eagle … many, many things. All my songs were born spontaneously, but always under the influence of any factor.

N: Are there any bands in the Russian metal scene that you’d recommend our readers to check out?

M: Svarga, Rarog, Alkonost, Kalevala, Ruyan, Rossomahaar

Questions asked by our readers:

1: Your last album Goi, Rode, Goi! had a great deal of guest vocalists, will there be a similar spew of guest artists in the upcoming album, Slovo?

M: Vocalist of Rarog band, Alexandra Sidorova – a student of the Moscow Conservatory. She told us that she can get enough students who would be interested to participate on our album. So we got a full professional choir (on Goi, Rode, Goi was only a female choir, male choirs was recorded by 2 people separately).
About guest vocalists on Goi, Rode, Goi – yes, we have more guests because of song „In my land“, where members of Skyforger, Mengir, Manegarm, Obtest, Heidevolk are sang their part on their languages. We have no idea like that on a new album, so we didn’t ask to sing vocalists from other bands.
2: In the past you’ve been known to depict Slavic mythology through your music, which Slavic gods or myths inspire you most?

M: I’m not inspired by some myths. Of course, I know a lot of myths from childhood, but I’m not singing about it. In my songs I always show my respect to one of the faces of Rod – Veles. Veles – is God of wisdom and poetry.
In Slavic mythology God is Rod – he is creator of the all World. All other Gods are his faces.

3: The Ep Stenka Na Stenku I heard is about a Russian group that’s known for its fist fights. Why did you select them? Have you had any run ins with them?

M: I’m woman, you think it’s normal for woman to take part in fist fighting? J
Fist fighting – is ancient tradition, which is growing from the depths of the centuries. Now, it is going on Maslenitsa,  before, it was dedicated to Perun’s day, Perun is God of war. It’s not just fighting, it’s a ritual fighting with special rules.
Such an entertainment was believed to be good for strengthening the fighting spirit.

4: The new album will be released in two days, what can we anticipate from the new album? Are there any new ideas you’ve incorporated in this album?

M: I already told, that Slovo is absolutely new stage for us. Songs and atmosphere on it is different that on other albums. We used many new instruments and recorded orchestra and choir.
Album released more than one month ago, so I think you can hear all by yourself!

5: What did you enjoy most from recording the new album?

M: Recording the album took six months, there were many difficult and controversial issues, also was a lot of interesting things. I had to travel a lot to record a lot of new musicians in different studios of Russia.
The vocals on this album I recorded at home by myself, because I needed a full solitude to concentrate on my vocals. Mixing and the whole process of producing from beginning till the end was controlled by me.
A lot of efforts we had to put into this album, but it’s part of me and I can say that all this work has brought me great satisfaction.

6: What do you plan on doing next?

M: Now we will have neverending shows and first aim is to be alive after tours. I think, that I will create a new songs in future and in 2 years we will release our next album.

Odraedir – Pagan Forest [2011]

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , on 11th September 2011 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Band: Odraedir
Album: Pagan Forest
Release year: 2011
Genre: Folk Metal/Pagan Metal

The Czech Republic, a nation drenched in both Germanic and Slavic history, tradition and culture, as well as home to the forgotten mythologies of the Slavs is undoubtedly a land full of inspiration for the unknown Czech metal scene. Such is the case with the young folk metal project “Odraedir” and their recent demo “Pagan Forest”.

The demo begins with the title track “Pagan Forest”, which has a melodic intro which sounds like Iron Maiden meets folk metal. The vocals are raw and aggressive, bordering on death metal grunts. The drums are masterfully played, keeping the rhythm flowing throughout the song. The vocals become more death metal sounding as the song progresses whilst the guitars stay melodic yet brutal. “The Dawn of Odin’s Horde in Pagan Forest” starts with an acoustic section, creating the folky feel for the song. The song progresses into a heavier riff, which is very Ensiferum-esque. The vocals have taken on more of a death metal element as well. The riffs remain very melodic throughout the track. The drums are mediocre in their playing, but at least are audible.

”Occultism And Mystic Practises in Pagan Forest” has a very dark and grim sounding acoustic intro riff, setting a sombre mood for the listener. Like the previous track, it progresses into a heavier riff. There is a great use of cymbals, adding to the metal element of the song and the vocals are more bloodthirsty in their use as well. The riffs aren’t quite as melodic on throughout this song, which is disappointing for those who enjoy melody as opposed to aggression. The more light heartedly named “Asterix and Obelix in Pagan Forest” comes next with a more cheery sounding riff. The use of melodic makes its return to the demo during this song. The vocals sound quite gruff, contrasting well with the music. The drums are well played also. The demo finishes with the track “Fine Odraedir Mead” which has a very interesting intro, sounding more folky than the previous songs on the demo. The song has more of a rock element to it as opposed to a metal element, though this doesn’t ruin the song in any way, fortunately.

”Pagan Forest” is certainly an interesting demo to listen to. The sound quality might not be brilliant but it adds to the raw energy of the music. Whilst there is a heavy lack of keyboards and other folk-like elements, the demo is still enjoyable.

4/5

Nico Davidson

GrimFaith – Hearts And Engines EP [2011]

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , on 3rd September 2011 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Band: GrimFaith
Album: Hearts And Engines EP
Release year: 2011
Genre: Gothic Metal/Doom Metal


GrimFaith, a four piece Ukrainian metal outfit, are one of many bands that are bringing the Eastern European metal scene into the spotlight. The band’s recent release “Hearts And Engines” is the first release in three years.

The first track of the EP, featuring Lisa Johansson of Draconian, is Flower And The Bone. The track begins with a slightly symphonic metal styled introduction followed by a grim sounding scream. After a well composed instrumental section, the low, Gothic-sounding clean vocals make themselves heard. The keyboard sections add a very a dramatic sound to the music, similar to an old school Cradle Of Filth album. Lisa’s vocals aren’t heavily featured on this track though the parts she sings in are simply breath taking. The whispered vocals help bring about more of a Gothic sound to the song as well. The guitars well played but are outdone by the keyboards.

The second track is “E.V.O3 – Cyberlover” which begins with a mixture of cyber-like sounds and harps. The vocals soon follow, bringing a unique sound to the sound. The guitars and drums make the track slightly heavier but still retain the soft, fragile Gothic sound at the same time. “Dead In Soho” comes next, beginning with vocals, guitars and drums. The keyboards bring a very dark, atmospheric sound with them whilst the drums and guitars keep the heavy element of the track. The vocals switch brilliantly between strong and clean to rough and raw sounding. The final track is the extreme version of “E.V.O3 -Cyberlover” and it certainly is more extreme as there is a use of screams, growls and grunts as well as clean vocals.

It’s surprising that the Eastern European metal scenes are overlooked and not well known, especially considering the quality of this EP. The sound quality is clean and crisp, whilst each track is masterfully composed and soulfully played. Hopefully, GrimFaith have another great release in the works.

5/5

Nico Davidson

Arcane Grail – Arya Marga [2009]

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , on 12th August 2011 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Band: Arcane Grail
Album: Arya Marga
Release year: 2009
Genre: Symphonic Black Metal


Russia, once home to the most known communist dictatorship, is fast becoming the home of a an ever growing Extreme Metal scene featuring bands such as Blackthorn, Artania and Arcane Grail. 2009 saw the release of Arcane Grail’s most recent album “Arya Marga”.

The album begins with the self-titled track “Arcane Grail”. The intro is now what would be expected of a black metal band, as the intro is more clean and less aggressive than most tracks classified as track metal. The female vocals are unexpected though when their first part finishes the track transforms into a raging demon. The vocals that follow after sound almost like Nergal’s [Behemoth’s frontman] vocals. The use of double bass pedal adds a certain devilry to the track, whilst the keyboard sections are somewhat gothic in their style and the guitars scream aggression. The female vocals add a new sound to the song overall, though they sound too operatic in sections.

”Of Snake And Raven” begins with a calm, melodic piano medley and strong soprano styled vocals – A tad cliché in terms of the symphonic elements. The guitar sections are heavy and the male vocal parts are raw and aggressive, though the track seems to be more symphonic than metal. “Autumn Wed Us, Sinned And Lone” has a very dramatic and tense symphonic introduction, similar to those of old Nightwish. The guitar riffs are more akin to progressive and power metal as opposed to black metal. The female vocals make another appearance alongside the harsher, more raw male vocals. The keyboard medleys and riffs add a very Gothic-like element to the song, whilst the male vocals add a very death metal sound.

“Renaissant The Reverie” has a very thrash-black metal sound to begin with, mixed with the dramatic symphonic sounds. The vocals are like the demonic wailings of a banshee whilst the female vocals add a very Heavenly touch to the song. The drum riffs are precise to the beat, almost like a machine in their playing. The symphonic elements are very dominant as well with a heavy use of guitars as well. The sorrowful piano beginning of “Sorrow Of Forgotten Pride” follows after. The piano medley does much to create atmosphere. Clean male vocals and soft acoustic guitar riffs follow after, carrying on the solemn sound of the song. The female vocals work magically alongside the clean, male vocals. The track does turn heavy and there’s a use of flutes as well which adds a very mystifying effect to the music. The harsher vocals are featured towards the end, adding a very aggressive touch to the song.

“Imprisoned In The Greatest War” has a very interesting introduction, being composed of the sound of soldiers marching and a military drumroll. The track turns heavy after the sound of a bomb exploding. The riffs have a more black metal sound, combined with the grim screams. The symphonic sections seem to be drowned out by the guitars, drums and vocals – To as whether this is a good thing or a bad thing is something for the listener to decide. “Die Sonnenhymne”, put bluntly, is a buzzkill if the listener if expecting more Russian brutality as the track is composed only of soprano vocals singing in Russian.

“Iniquitous Yoke” brings the brutality and aggressiveness back in full blitzkrieg-like force beginning with a beastly guitar section and demonic vocals. The keyboard sections are astounding and the operatic vocals add a very dramatic touch to the song. The album finishes with “Svyatoy Graal’”. The intro is slower and cleaner than expected and there seems to be a slight more emphasis on the female vocals than the previous track. However the track does take a dangerously violent twist and become more bloodthirsty and rage-fuelled. The track does switch between calm and angry however and there is a wonderful section with a voiceover in what sounds to be Russian.

Though the album seems incorrectly labelled as “symphonic black metal”, Arya Marga has plenty of brutal riffs and brilliant symphonic sections to keep the listener entertained. Arya Marga is a sure sign that many great things will be coming from both Arcane Grail and the Russian Metal Scene.

4/5

Nico Davidson

Drygva – The Son Of The Mighty Rod [2010]

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , on 29th July 2011 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Band: Drygva
Album: The Son Of The Mighty Rod
Release year: 2010
Genre: Folk Metal/Pagan Metal/Slavic Metal

Drygva, a two-piece folk metal band from Belarus whom are extremely proud of their ancestral roots and heritage, bring something new to folk metal, a genre that seems to focus on Vikings and drinking. Their debut album, “The Son Of The Mighty Rod”, has been described as being able to take the listener back to age-old times of the pre-Christian Slavic peoples.

“The Prophesy” is the first track of the album, though it is more of a prelude than an actual track, being composed of the sound of horses, wind, acoustic guitars and other folk instrumentation, alongside narration in the band’s native tongue. “Path of Volkhves” calmly follows next with a flute medley introduction. The track turns savage with the introduction of the vocals. The guitars and drums are beefy and violent, whilst the lyrics, growled in Drygva’s native tongue, add a very folk element to the song. The flute and and string medleys add a harmonious yet dramatic atmosphere. The song, unexpectedly, finishes serenely.

The third song, “Mother of Enhydris” begins with a slow, melodic and wild intro, which sounds more tame when the flutes come in. Everything in the song seems to blend perfectly well from the masterfully composed flute sections to the savage yet intelligent guitar and drum work. The vocals sound raw and feral, adding to the mastery of the track. The tribal-like instrumental break half way through the track is different but brilliant and it works oddly well with the guitars before they fully take over the track again. “Son Of Mighty Rod” starts with a strange sounding guitar-flute intro. Some of the guitar sections lack consistency and don’t work too well with the other instruments in parts. The vocals are still impressive, as are the flutes. “Son Of Mighty Rod” is, at best, an average track with room for improvement in terms of the guitars.

The first interlude-styled track of the album is next in the form of “The Watchword”. The track features more narration in the band’s native tongue as well as tribal drum work and some guitar work, though the flute medleys pretty much are the best thing about “The Watchword”. “Under The Banner Of Perun” blasts its way next with a beastly drum section and face-melting guitar riffs. The folk instrumentation adds a very mythic sound to the song, keeping the grand and majestic sound of the album flowing. The carnal vocals keep the track brutal sounding as well. If there was one song that perfectly defines the sound of “Drygva”, then “Under The Banner Of Perun” is certainly is that song!

Nearing towards the end of the album is “Sigh Of War”. The flute medley that begins it is very serene and soothing whilst the guitar riff that follows is feral and ferocious. The drum work is acute, heavy and barbaric and the vocals are aggressive. Some of the flute medleys sound similar to the ones found earlier in the album, which is disappointing. The guitar solo is a genius addition to the track. The second and final interlude of the album comes next. “Thunderstorm” seems wrongly named at first due to the calm music that echoes throughout it, mixed with the whispered narration. However, a strong and powerful guitar riff follows, mixed with drums, folk instruments and the roaring sound of thunder.

”If You Shall Die In Battle” begins with the sound of men screaming in battle and the roaring sound of a melodic riff. The drum are thunderous and savage, whilst the flute sections are intelligently played. The song seems to get more fast-paced and violent as it goes on. The vocals are still strong, feral and bloodthirsty. The sound samples of men fighting in armed combat mix in well with the theme of the song, though it does give it a slight Viking Metal feel. The album finishes with “Festal Song”, a more folk orientated song sounding a little bit like the old song “Greensleeves”. The mighty sound of metal does make itself heard on this track – Fortunately enough for those who can’t stand folk music on its own. The vocals don’t seem as impressive on this track however and some of the riffs seem choppy.

As a debut album, “The Son Of The Mighty Rod” is not extremely impressive but it is better than average. Their blend of folk music and metal is certainly unique sounding and the use of lyrics in their native tongue gives the album a very folkish feel. There are some sections that need working upon and the of interludes throughout the album did take away from its musical impact but Drygva do certainly show a great deal of talent and hopefully they will be releasing more albums in the near future.

3.5/5

Nico Davidson