(Today our Russian contributor Comrade Aleks brings us Part 5 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 Abske Fides (Brazil), Esoteric (United Kingdom), Obake (Italy), StoneBirds (France), Stoned Jesus (Ukraine) and The Curse of Wendigo (Ukraine).
Abske Fides (Brazil)
1. At the moment we are preparing some songs for our second full-length — composing, rehearsing, writing, etc. I hope it can be released in the beginning of 2015. Aside from that, in August/September we are going to re-issue 2 EPs — Apart from the World (2006) and Disenlightment (2009) and in October we are doing a gig at the Brazilian fest Exhale the Sound.
2. Releasing our full-length ended a cycle and started another one in the band. We were completing almost 10 years of existence and the recording of that record brought the maturation of several things we have been feeding in recent years with the experience of the underground: the way we write and compose, the strengthening of our conceptions about the band, the meaning we attach to what we do, the beginning of a will to play live, mutual learning in the practical tasks of recording, promoting, etc. These returns are only “personal”, but that’s the main gain. Also, we increased the strength of contact with former partners (bands, labels, and fans) and expanded our circle of relations in Brazil and worldwide.
3. Music must provoke a sensation, touch people in some way in their inner world. When this occurs with intensity because of our music, it’s a sign that what we did is being communicated. Some reviews were very complimentary and said things accordingly. Several words pleased me, but two performance examples caught me. The first was a drummer (I don’t know from where) who recorded a video doing a particular interpretation of “Aesthethic Hallucination of Reality”. The other was a guy here in Brazil that makes suspension, and during one of his performances he used “Coldness” as his soundtrack, very nice!
4. We are all atheists and have never been in any religious cult, so the Christian Church (Catholic or Protestant) or any other religious organization has never exercised any direct influence in our lives or in our music. As for the metal scene in general it is difficult to assess, but it appears that there is a reasonable number of bands whose members belong to the Christian Church and write mostly about topics of Catholicism (the Protestant are less tolerant to metal). Anyway, at least here in Brazil, there seems to exist a clear separation of spaces of action of “white” bands and “secular” bands. The songs of Abske Fides have always expressed a deep skepticism about humanity and the values that were built up ’til here, so the only spiritual or religious component in our songs is just the product of our disbelief.
5. It is very hard for a Latin American to say anything about Ukraine, Russia, or Eastern Europe in general. We had (and have) very poor information of those countries — history, politics, culture, etc. Almost all we receive through the Brazilian big media are tendentious news disconnected from the reality and certainly with its own ideology and political interests (big media here in Brazil is pro-USA and pro-European Union). For sure nowadays, globalization gives us the possibility to read several newspapers and access different sources of information, although we are very far from the real experience of being a Ukranian in Ukraine nowadays.
What I see is that most analysts just polarize the discussion, limited to showing the negative and positive aspects of each block (Russia VS. USA + EU), as if we have to support any of them. What these analyses lack is that each of that blocks are not more than the expression of economic interests which involve billionaire operations, specially in the energy sector and in control of transport routes, as well as military logistics over other regions. What the analysts do not question is “where are the Ukrainian people and what do they really think about it?” I mean, Ukraine must exercise its sovereignty without influence by any imperialist country. What I see, like here in Brazil, is that people protest and their voices are channeled by the political forces that support one or another bloc.
Esoteric (United Kingdom)
Greg Chandler (guitars, vocals)
1. We have quite recently toured Europe in April with Isole, Procession, and Indesinence. And now we are on a break from gigging for a few months in order to concentrate on writing and rehearsing so that we can get the 7th album written. Our next live performance will be in Bucharest, Romania at the November to Dismember festival.
2. As with the release of any album you have a part in, there comes some sense of gratification from having created something personal. The media response was quite positive overall and we have toured in Europe and the US since the release of the album.
3. I think one of the most memorable responses we’ve ever had was in Moscow, Russia, the first time we played there — at the Moscow Doom Fest in 2008. It wasn’t the size of the audience so much as the atmosphere and the passion and appreciation of the people for the music.
4. Christianity in England has been on the decline for quite a long time, dying out with the older generations. Maybe you can notice it in some areas and it still plays its role for some, but it has no part in my life. I think some music can be described as spiritual (in its general definition) and it is definitely food for the soul. But maybe that is just a way of describing how it affects our emotional state of mind. There are some anti-religious sentiments in our lyrics from time to time, yes. I believe in freedom of the mind and in being my own master, to create my own path in life, not to follow some doctrine and be bound by dogma. If some prefer to follow, that is their prerogative.
5. To be honest I don’t follow the media or the news very closely. Of course, it is laden with propaganda, as it is in any country. It might vary from country to country, but it is always there to some degree. I have seen bits and pieces of the news reports, but I have some friends in Ukraine, so I have asked them about it. But I do not feel like I know enough about the situation to pass any comment.
Eraldo Bernocchi (vocals)
1. The new album is coming out in October. We are really excited about it as it’s an evolution from the first one. There are more complex songs and much more harmony. It’s super heavy but at the very same time when melodies are coming in it’s really dense of feeling. Right after the album comes out we will be starting to tour from late November-December on. Colin Edwin from Porcupine Tree is playing bass on the album and he’ll be on stage live with us.
2. We got a wider audience for sure. The first album has been praised and recognized by a lot of important press and magazines so now there’s massive expectation for the new one… that is kind of scary to be honest. We toured and brought the album to a lot of people. We hope the same will happen with the next one.
3. For sure Poland was and is the place. The Asymmetry Festival has been amazing. The venue was really big and it was packed with people screaming and shouting and waiting for us at 1 am! That has been really great. Also being among the best albums of the year on Rocka Rolla has been an unexpected thing we really appreciated.
4. Religion is banned from my life. The more distance between me and religion the better it is. I do believe in other forces, I believe in shamanic rituals for example, but not religion. I grew up in a Catholic country, we’ve got the Pope storming the place here. I’ve been baptized, etc, etc, but I left any kind of church life or belief when I was around 13 years old. How can you believe in fairytales? I prefer to believe to Harry Potter. There’s a strong antireligious component in my life, but not really in the band’s songs to be honest.
5. I think we know very little or what’s really happening. I usually don’t like to answer political or social questions, it’s just out of my way of seeing my figure linked to music, but the only thing I know is that what happens is deeply wrong. And I’m saying this considering that for me it’s wrong from both sides.
Fañch (vocals, guitars)
1. Hi, Stonebirds has been working hard on a 40-min EP, into the fog … and the filthy air, for several months now. We’ve just finished our “tour de France”, a 10 gigs tour through France. It was a very good moment for the band, we met a lot of kind people as well as good French bands. It was part of our recording process — we’re doing that the “old school” way: touring to make those 5 songs perfect, then we will go in an all-analog studio in Britanny and record all songs live for a vinyl coming this autumn. The cover and layout will be made by a very talented French graphist called DZO (https://www.behance.net/dzo).
We also launched a crowfunding request for this project. You can discover all the stuff and pre-order the EP here : http://www.kisskissbankbank.com/en/projects/un-disque-100-analogique-pour-stonebirds
2. We had first a lot of gigs, that’s our main goal when releasing a disc. After the release of the Kreiz-Breizh-sessions split-CD, we spent a week to play in France and U.K with our buddies from Stangala back in the summer of 2013, and it was really cool. We also had some good feedbacks and reviews, mostly here in France, but a little bit from abroad too. It’s very comforting to read that your music touches more and more people!
3. Maybe it was a drunk man who told us one day that we were, and I quote, “penetrative”. The plea was pretty convincing: As we are a threesome, we form a triangle, and in every way you take it, that’s penetrative indeed. There’s also this girl who cried in front of me last month as we were playing a new song; it impressed me and reinforced the idea that the heavy and yet emotional direction we took lately was good, and we achieved our goal of making intense songs.
To be more serious, last year was full of very good responses, as we had just found our new drummer Antoine and began to be sure of the new musical direction we were heading for. The new material seems to convince people, so do the live shows now, and we’re getting numerous “green lights” all along our way: from promoters, labels, managers, studios, other bands, and of course the audience.
This year a great festival in the Netherlands contacted us to play there, (not the Roadburn!), the studio where we’re to record the new EP is co-producing it, and we found someone to manage the band properly, as well as a photographer and an great illustrator… people seem to follow us over the long term, get a deep interest in what we do… so it is all good signs. People trust our music, our spirit, our human behavior, and it makes us very confident for the future.
4. Religion doesn’t play, directly, a role in our songs nor in our society anymore (speaking of Christianity). I write more about human beings, and civilization, which of course includes religions but there’s no explicate reference to it. I’m writing about this religious orphanage in a way, our spiritual solitude. I didn’t have a religious education, so to me, from the start that’s a part of society I’m really not aware of and I really don’t care about all that. But for the doom scene, that’s a big part of some bands. I’m thinking about our friends Huata, for whom the religious (satanic!) ritual is a real part of their shows.
5. It’s weird because it makes me think about the Cold War! When I watch TV about it, or read the news, everything would have been said before… well not exactly the same way, but there’s still a huge persistence of the old confrontation between the two huge blocks formed by former Soviet countries and the USA and its allies. Language has evolved, but the ideas are the same: Putin is fuckin evil, whatever he does. His personal life, his financial involvements, his political way of governing… and everything related to Russia is poorly presented… so guess what? When this crisis came, there were no shades in the global speech: Russia was invading Ukraine against the will of all Europe and the USA, and it was terrible. I don’t trust the media for global concerns like this, it’s all crooked.
Stoned Jesus (Ukraine)
Igor Sidorenko (guitars, vocals)
1. Well, we’re finishing that long-awaited #StJesusThirdLP, with high hopes for a 2014 release still. The recording process was halted due to Maidan-related events; like we had these bass sessions scheduled for the exact date when there were snipers shooting everyone down, and the studio is one block away from that area. All of this is reflected in “YFS” (which stands for “youth for sale”), a new song we’re recording this July that we’ve been regularly playing on our recent shows. We’ve never been a political band, we’ve never been activists or those Facebook anarchists, but we just couldn’t be silent any longer. Let the other guys chant of bongs and witches, we’re done with that.
2. Judging that it’s been more than two years since the last album, the crowd sings along with us finally, ha! In fact, Seven Thunders Roar is more of a 2010-2011 summary, and though we enjoy playing those songs, nevertheless it’s time to move on. It’s really great that we have been invited to play big fests like Desertfest and Freak Valley, fans beg us to come to South America or UK, vinyls are sold-out, but I wish STR would have got more recognition back in the time of its release. Most of the genre’s press simply ignored it, despite the fact that we made a significant amount of 2012’s Top-20s and Top-50s. Well, the new one’s gonna be a major surprise for the reviewers then!
3. I dunno if you consider THIS to be a feedback or something, but this is what one of our US fans did:
Things like this are a bit of a shocker of course.
4. I wouldn’t mix spiritual stuff together with such a bureaucratic institution as the church is. What do you believe in is your personal business — remember the religion-is-like-a-penis joke? But we despise dicks who got richer because of someone else’s hopes and fears. Actually, three early tracks from us make up a kind of an “anticlerical trilogy”: I’m speaking of “Insatiable King”, “Occult,” and “Rituals of the Sun”. We’ve recorded the latter for #StJesusThirdLP, even though it could have been released on STR as well… I still have this vocal-less demo of “Rituals…” from the STR sessions.
5. I ain’t no asshole, I just don’t want to repeat myself: I’ve explained all the Maidan/Kyiv events to the Kerrang! guys like four-five months ago —
To cut a long story short, no one cared about entering the EU, everyone wanted to get rid of Yanukovitch. And they did, paying a horrible price of hundreds of people being killed. It has gotten even worse since, ‘coz a certain Mister Poo-Teen joined the game, just to show who’s da boss…
I don’t really follow the media; the Russian ones put up tons of fakes, the Ukrainian ones try to keep the nation’s spirit high and sometimes go too far as well. Our main source of information, for me and the guys, are our friends and relatives from all over the country, so we get all the news first-hand and without that ideologist burden every media supplies us with.
The most disappointing thing is Russians’ reaction to what’s happening in Ukraine since December 2013; it’s a shame and pity most of them will never understand either why Ukrainians stepped out on Maidan in the first place or why they keep on fighting the intrusion. I don’t wanna say shit like “time will tell who was right”, I’m afraid this all might be the beginning of something really awful, much worse than it already is. So it’s important to remain human after all.
The Curse of Wendigo (Ukraine)
Konstantin (guitars, vocals)
1. Hi, Aleksey! We have finished recording drums and guitars for the new album thus far. The whole process differed from our previous experience. This time we decided to make our sound as ‘live’ as possible and recorded all guitars right in our practice room. At the same time we tried a few studios to find the drum kit sound we are striving for. And we are planning to finish the recording session – bass, vocals and additional instruments. Well, and last but not least – mixing and mastering.
2. Our debut full-length – Eclectic Tail – gave us the opportunity to declare our existence and make proper conclusions as for our approach to further stuff, in terms of both sound and songwriting.
3. We deal with various reviews and cannot say that any of them is the best for us, as every review contains some useful message for us. Yet we would like to point out a few of the most significant reviews of what we do from the following media sources: Doommantia, Metal Library, Heavy Planet, Temple of Perdition, the Aristocrazia webzine, Drug.Metals, plus some rather interesting reviews from topical blogs
4. Most of us are atheists. We positively treat spiritual self-discipline, self-development, and peritheological philosophy as faith accompanying appearances. As an integral symbol of religious principles, the church is the instrument of power, and in particular political power. Even more, it is the way of prosperity for the higher clerical ranks. This is why it makes you feel nothing but disgust.
As for any spiritual or antireligious component in our music – this is a matter of perception. Should listeners read our lyrics, they would find both components.
We don’t think the code of any religious dogmas should be the only copybook truth of existence. Freedom of moral choice and will shall always be in force.
5. Surely, this is our sore point, especially due to the fact we are inhabitants of the Donetsk region and see everything in close proximity. We see things happening to our region as follows:
– as regards South-East people:
People living here evidently dislike Kyiv power, if it is not ‘loyal’ of course. Though so ‘loyal’ Yanukovich did show his best. People do not have proper motivation for aggression except forced appeals and slogans, language affairs, and a ‘senior citizen factor’ (i.e., communist electorate);
– as regards the Russian vs. Ukrainian coin matter:
This is absolutely forced precedent. We have lived our whole lives here, and nobody prevented us from speaking Russian. If our people are so uneducated that they cannot fill in some documents in the state language after all those school and high school years, this is regrettable;
– as regards military conflict escalation:
Only a blind person believing fairy tales can assert that armed people in the South-East are ‘just people’ or ‘home guards’. Rifles and large caliber weapon, infantry and air defense artillery, tanks – where are all these from? Chechens and Ossetins firing Kalashnikovs in the centre of Donetsk with a mob around shouting approvingly – who are they? Answers are just surface-level deep – our neighbor state fails to accept the fact that Ukraine is eager to get rid of Russian influence. This is how not only the weapons for ‘home guards’, but also the dogs of war come. Unfortunately, the border is out of control, and wreckers and terrorists easily slip into Ukrainian territory. This is the situation as it is;
– as regards mass media:
Any information provided by this or that party should be thoroughly filtered and analyzed. You should form your own opinion. Unfortunately, our people are neither able nor willing to do that. They just readily believe the inforrhoea they are being fed with. We do not deny that Ukrainian mass media often lie or pretend. But even this has nothing to do with what most Russian mass media are doing. Once we even personally managed to witness the way Russian reporters presented vice-versa the true information.
This zombifies common people, makes them even angrier, and forces them to act aggressively. A bright example is the fact that as early as a year ago, Russians used to hate Putin and his team, defaming mass media and joking over the way information was being presented. Now, with a common ‘foe’ so successfully created in their minds by the mass media, most of them suddenly realize how great their president is, not seeing the collapse around them from which they are now distracted;
With all this said, to our minds, it is extremely pitiful that dirty politicians and corruption-forced mass media have succeeded in making people of the same (in fact) nation fight each other. This is a sorrowful fact, that common people are dying for global stock-related spheres of influence.