(Today our Russian contributor Comrade Aleks brings us Part 3 of a six-part series in which he puts the same five questions to doom bands from around the world, and introduces us to their music at the same time.)
Sometimes I use this unpopular “quiz” format because there are too many interesting bands that I would like to bring to light, and in my opinion it’s a good way to spread some news and to get new points of view on a few issues (including even some political questions). The list of questions I put to the bands is below:
1. What is the band’s latest news and what are your plans for the near future?
2. What do we get (in the broadest sense) from the release of your last album?
3. What is the best response that your band has ever received?
4. What role does the church (or any other religious organization) play in your life or (let’s take it wider) in the life of the heavy scene? Is there any spiritual, religious, or antireligious component in your songs?
5. What does the Media in your country tell about the situation in Ukraine? And how do you see that situation? Some people from other countries have asked me strange questions about Russia’s policy, and let me say that I have a few friends in Ukraine and my colleagues have relatives there, and believe me, there’s no media in ANY country that is showing the problem as it really is. We can watch as the Cold War turns into real warfare.
Today, we bring the answers to these questions from Altar Of Oblivion (Denmark), Barabbas (France), Boneworm (USA), Matus (formerly Don Juan Matus) (Peru), and Evoke Thy Lords (Russia).
Altar of Oblivion (Denmark)
Martin Meyer Mendelssohn Sparvath (guitars, keyboard)
1. In December 2013, we started the recordings of a two-track 7” named State of Decay, which has been delayed various times due to some unfortunate circumstances. Right now, the tracks are being mixed and mastered and should be finished by the end of July 2014 (We hope).
Just after having recorded the rhythm section of the aforementioned 7”, we started rehearsing the tracks for our forthcoming third full-length named In the Cesspit of Divine Decay. The preparations for this release are going rather well and we strive to enter the studio later this year or in the beginning of 2015.
After having played several gigs the last year or so, we are now taking a little break from the live arenas to focus on the new record. We are of course always willing to play live, should the right offer turn up.
2. We gained a lot of experience which has been channeled into our forthcoming 7” showing the band from a much more dynamic side. For the first time in the band’s almost ten years of existence, we actually had some fruitful and productive “in-depth-going” rehearsals during which we took the time needed to arrange these tracks properly. Up ’til that point, we always entered the studio unprepared and ended up rushing through the recordings, resulting in a far from satisfying product. In other words, the quintessence of incompetence and laziness.
3. When we released our 2009 debut album Sinews of Anguish, Janet Willis from the “Defecation on the Divine” webzine contacted me and asked me if I was interested in doing an interview, which I gladly accepted. She told me that while driving a big-ass pickup truck, she was listening to random stuff on a playlist when she suddenly had to pull over as one of our songs made such a huge impression on her (in a positive way, haha). I guess that must be the greatest response we have ever had.
4. Being a nonbeliever, religion plays little role in my everyday life, and apart from some Jehovah’s Witnesses knocking on my door now and then and some Muslims trying to integrate Sharia Law into the Danish legal system, I am pretty much spared from any kind of religious influence and input, haha.
On our three first releases which are concept releases about WW2, I try to point out the similarities between the Dogmas of Nazism and the dogmas of the three big monotheistic Abrahamic religions, Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Another point is that if one chooses to adhere to bigotry and dogma, one ends up being consumed by an all-embracing emptiness as described in our song “The Narrow Gates of Emptiness”, for instance.
On our fourth and so far latest release, the 2012 Grand Gesture of Defiance full-length, the main theme is religion and the dangers of religious dogma and fanaticism. It is a conceptual album about an imaginary, totalitarian religious sect that through cryptocratic gatherings and decision-making processes is trying to attain world domination. A “nice” little conspiracy theory depicting the leaders of the world as figureheads, serving merely as puppets for an influential secretive elite, and who despite holding significant titles wield little to no influence at all.
5. Actually, I am the wrong person to ask this question as I practically never watch the news (or television, in general). These days, however, World Cup in Brazil is taking place and I have been following some games on German TV-stations. Before and after a game and during half-time, I nonetheless have been subjected to news regarding the Syrian and Ukrainian conflict and my “uneducated” guess is that the take of the German media on these conflicts is pretty much similar to that of the Danish.
I don’t mean to come off as arrogant, ignorant and disrespectful, but not only am I not into the specifics of the situation in Ukraine, I couldn’t tell you “who is who” in this spreading conflict. All I know is that there is some kind of civil war going on and I feel sorry for the people involved, be it civilians or soldiers. At the same time, I feel blessed (not from some kind of higher fictive being) that we are not experiencing that kind of “State of Decay” here in the tiny Kingdom of Denmark.
Saint Rodolphe (Vocals)
1. Hi, Deacon Aleksey! So far, 2014 has been mainly devoted to the recording of our new album called Messe pour un chien (“Mass for a dog”). The music will be slightly different from the first EP. We have incorporated a broader scope of influences in the making, which means that, this time, we haven’t only stolen ideas from Black Sabbath, Cathedral, and Saint-Vitus 🙂
The album is almost finished, it should be available before the end of the year. We got in touch with a couple of labels, but at this time, no decision has been taken. We cross our fingers… Our plan for the near future can be summed up in one single word: touring. We hope to find lots of gigs to promote the new album, in France and why not in Europe ? Time shall tell…
2. Lots of nice reviews in the press and on the Internet, cool gigs with killer bands we never thought we’d share a stage with (The Wounded Kings, Huata, Winhand, The Bottle Doom Lazy Band, Pilgrim, Marche Funèbre, Ataraxie… and all those I forget!)… In fact, we didn’t expect much at the time we released the first EP, so we are very grateful with everything that has happened to us since then 🙂 Positive comments from fellow musicians are also a great bonus ! And, last but not least, the first EP also helped us to meet and become friend with the Magister of Temple of Perdition, Stéphane Le Saux.
3. It’s hard to tell. Getting a really positive review from the French edition of Metallian was a highlight, as were the positive echoes we received from the Doom Metal Front zine. Also, getting cool feedback from people and bands you admire (for example, Chritus Linderson from Goatess) is very nice.
Regarding the gigs, the best response from an audience was during the “Doom Over Paris VI” festival, in 2013. We were second on a bill comprising Chaos ET Sexual, Ataraxie, and Marche Funèbre and we got a truly great interaction with the audience.
4. From what I see, you can find all sorts of religious / spiritualistic thinking in the heavy scène : Christians, pagans, agnostics, Satanists… But it seems logical, since metal has always dealt with the “Good versus Evil” theme, and it’s very true for doom metal, remember Ozzy singing “Oh please, God, help me !” on the first song of their first album.
Personally, we’re neither pro-, nor anti-Christians. There are some religious components in our songs, but we tend to use them as symbols, the way Dio did with his medieval imagery. After all, we are Barabbas : ) But this name was taken after the film which deals strongly with fate, the meaning of life, redemption… Some topics everybody can relate too, whatever religion (or absence of religion) would be.
For Barabbas,the religious references are also a nod to all those great bands we love : Black Sabbath, but also Cathedral, Saint Vitus, Pentagram (“Pay for all your sins!”). In fact, one of the song on the new album is names “Le Sabbat dans la Cathedral” (“The sabbath in the cathedral”) as a tribute to two of our major inspirations (and by the way, the song deals with the topic of partying. Come to think of it, that could appear as a not so religious topic 🙂
But I think rather than religion, music is strongly rooted in spirituality: you can’t see it, but it moves you, it affects your mind, your emotions, it can wash your troubles away… Just like praying, indeed 🙂
5. I would tend to think (or should I say: I hope) that French media are rather objective on the subject: they make clear that, while a majority of Ukrainians want to enter the European Community, another part of the country feels strongly linked to Russia and don’t want to join the EC.
Apart from that, I confess a total lack of knowledge about the situation. Who’s right? Who’s wrong? As the saying goes, there are three sides to every story. I think it’s Napoléon Bonaparte who said: “History is a lie told by the winners”. So, let’s wait a few years and then, we’ll know the truth 🙂
(download here for free preprod of 3 new songs!)
Tim Burke (guitars)
1. The former Boneworm bass player and vocalist left the band at the end of last year. We took a break for several months to focus on other projects and re-center ourselves. We have been searching for a new bass player, so our goals are modest, to get a functional, gigging band up and running again, write some new music, and reach a place where we can play shows again and start working on the next album. The good news is that we think we may have found the right bass player for us to move forward with new material.
2. In the broadest sense, I got the satisfaction of creating art that is a creative collaborative expression of myself musically. My approach is more of writing and practicing music with a band we can record and perform live in the interest of creating art, and as a creative outlet, and the Boneworm self-titled achieved that goal. Additionally though, it is important to put the music out there and see what people think of it, because it is easy to lose perspective holed up in your own world with your own perspective. We got a lot of support both locally and around the globe from people who enjoyed our music and appreciated what we had created and were trying to do creatively. I am not talking about money so much as words of encouragement on-line and people approaching us after shows to tell us they enjoyed our set. That means a lot to me personally because many of our songs’ basic structures were a result of my writing, though I don’t want to any way diminish the contribution from my bandmates to creating that album.
3. I think my favorite response has to be from Sven of the Doom Metal Front Magazine, and his review of our album. Some outlets seem to offer high praise to every band, and I think that diminishes the positive words. After all, if everything is “awesome” and “killer,” than what are you really saying? I liked what Sven wrote because it seemed honest and fair, and he doesn’t hand out 9/10 ratings to every band, so it means something. There were other reviews of more well-known artists’ albums in the issue our interview was published in that did not receive such high ratings. Sven also interviewed us and put the interview in issue #10 right after the cover interview with Scott Kelly. That was freaking awesome! The twoline review is below; I really feel like Sven nailed it:
“Long wave vibrations mixed with a tinge of Blues hooks, solos, and vocals. A very minimalist approach with elegant jazzy drumming and a charming British undertone!”, 9/10 rating.
-Doom Metal Front #10, I/2013, (German Doom Print Magazine)
4. Organized religion doesn’t play a big role in my life or the life of any current or former band members as far as I know. Most of the people I know aren’t overtly religious, though there seems to be a common thread of believing in other non-mainstream takes on the world, which could be viewed in a religious sense, of faith in things that cannot be proven. I was raised in the Catholic Church, but never really felt that organized religion was something I wanted to be a part of or really believed in. That being said, there is a spiritual element to the music, particularly when I perform it. There is a state of trance I reach, when the tempos are slow and the amps are cranked. Something changes about the experience of playing the music that I don’t get when I play other types of music, that I can only describe as a trance-like state, where conscious thought is pushed away and there is only the visceral, raw experience of making the music. It is a state that I find hard to put into words.
I don’t think any of Dave’s lyrics were ever overtly religious, though I think religion played a role in all of our upbringing. I personally am not anti-religious in the sense that I think people should be free to believe whatever they want. I do have a problem with religion when people use it to tell others what they can or can’t do or use it to shape government policy. At the end of the day, I am a man of science, logic, and reason, and that is what guides me. I generally don’t have faith in things that cannot be proven with evidence and the scientific method. Sometimes though, you have to trust your gut when things cannot be proven, or where evidence is limited or unclear.
5. I don’t generally like to mix politics with music, but what the hell? The media in the US tends to focus on the conflict between Russia and the US more than on what is really happening on the ground in Ukraine. As with many issues with media reporting, important information, background, and detail are often left by the wayside, instead focusing on quotes and conjecture. That being said, we have access to worldwide media, and I found that Vice actually has some real good reporting from on the ground in Ukraine.
From my perspective, the invasion of Crimea was a manipulation by the Russians to use Ukraine as a chess piece in an attempt to regain perceived loss when the USSR split up, to seize strategic territory, and to give additional leverage relating to the money Ukraine owes Gazprom. It seems from what I have read that all signs point to the Russian separatists as not being a genuine movement coming from a portion of the Ukrainian population, but a manipulation orchestrated by Putin. That being said, it would be very foolish and arrogant to put my opinion based on media exposure above the experience of people who actually live in Ukraine and know more about what is really happening on the ground, and how the Ukrainian people really feel. If the east of Ukraine really has sizable portions of population who want to split form Ukraine and join Russia, then the problem seems more like internal conflict.
The problem though could come if these same people are relying on information to form their views that is not accurate. We get a lot of that here in the USA as well. Some of the latest research in politics shows that strongly held beliefs will trump facts if the person holds said belief strongly enough. If it is merely Russian manipulation, as I suspect, then I have a big problem with what Russia is doing. At the same time, Putin correctly calculated that the West does not have the stomach to do much to stop the violation of the sovereignty of Ukraine, and that puts the West in a position of weakness as far as stopping Putin’s bad behavior. Putin clearly is a master of playing the world like it is a game of Risk, and he is quite good at winning this way. I do find it strange that a militia can get their hands on the type of weapons that the Russian Separatists have been documented to have in their possession without some aid from either the Russians or elements of the Ukrainian military. I would be very interested to hear the perspective from real Ukrainians about what is really happening in Ukraine. Few Americans have the historical background to really understand what is going on in foreign countries.
photo by Silvana Tello
Matus (formerly Don Juan Matus) (Peru)
Richard Nossar (guitars)
1. We’re currently recording a new album that hopefully will be finished by mid-July. On the other hand, our latest release (Espejismos) will be released on CD by Japan’s Golden Procession in the following months.
2. Finding out that some respectable European music writers already knew the band and like what we do was totally rewarding for us.
3. Our third album (Más Allá Del Sol Poniente) was chosen among the top 5 in 2010 by a bunch of prestigious Peruvian publications (Caretas, Somos, etc). Metal Blade Records showed interest and dropped us a line late last year. We’re not going to sign to that label, but they want us to keep them abreast of what we’re doing. To be honest, I never expected something like that.
4. None. I hate and despise the church, as well as any other “religious” organizations. If believing in an entity higher to human understanding, as well as life after death, is spiritual, then I am. But I don’t think about it all the time. I’m a conscientious person who lives in a three-dimensional world.
About the scene? Well, that is something that is not for me to say much about.
Yeah, our songs deal with religious topics, but they should be understood as “entertainment.”
5. The mainstream media is no longer interested in reporting the news but rather creating and promoting sensationalism. Papers are crammed with show biz pieces and stuff like that. Since I rarely watch any local news channels and only a bit here and there of cable news, I don’t know much to be honest.
Evoke Thy Lords (Russia)
Aleksey (vocals, bass)
1. Maybe, our new record is both the main thing and our plans for the close future. It’s on the final straight, we’re bringing it to the final point in the studio.
2. Drunken Tales got good opinions and, of course, it’s great. We believe, in this work, that we succeeded in passing a main message of this music. We can consider it to be our main achievement with our latest release. We’re talking about these things, aren’t we?
3. Nice melodies, but depressing. Stop drinking.
4. As far as I’m concerned, these institutions don’t have any impact on us and other Siberian heavy bands. I hope the situation won’t change. Our music doesn’t include such kinds of elements, at least in a traditional way.
5. Frankly speaking, I’ve never trusted mass media, and taking into consideration all the infoglut that is on the internet I think it’s not possible to know the truth. I think, in media, any useful signal is almost completely lost through misinformation and infoglut. I don’t think the great bulk of people in Russia or Ukraine really understand what’s going on. All we can do is to guess using sketchy information. We all wish, of course, that the chaos will vanish as soon as possible, and that the people in Ukraine won’t suffer any more.