(Today we present Comrade Aleks‘ interview of SAA, vocalist/guitarist of the Russian band Megalith Levitation, whose newest album has now been out in the world for less than three months.)
Megalith Levitation stands firmly on Chelyabinsk’s soil, remaining one of the few most active Russian doom/stoner bands. The three musicians keep hiding their identities and are known as SAA (vocals, guitars), PAN (drums), and KKV (bass, contrabass). Their third album Obscure Fire was released by Aesthetic Death on the 31st of March, and you see the master plan behind it when you witness the album’s sick psychedelic artwork and its inner layers. They truly know what they want to so, so Obscure Fire will burn you with the vibes inspired from beyond this world.
Let the grim psychedelic pilgrimage start with the guidance of the band’s singing guitarist SAA.
Hi SAA! How are you doing? Does Megalith levitate successfully?
Hey Alex! Yes, we’re still gaining ground. Still experimenting with the height limits.
As I understand, the Obscure Fire material was recorded nearly two years ago. Were there any delays due to known events in Russia?
No, there were no delays. We just worked very slowly. Two years ago we recorded the drums. Then we recorded the rest of the instruments at a convenient pace. We experimented with different microphones and guitar amps and cabinets. The mixing process went on for months. This time we were very picky about the sound so the mixing process took a bit longer.
We also paid special attention to the artwork of the release and merch. We made a music video for one of the songs on the album. But creating all this also took quite some time, as you can guess.
It’s your first video, right? Do you see it as a positive experience? Does it work promo-wise?
Yes, this is our first video. The idea to make a video appeared three years ago. But it took us a long time to select a suitable track for this endeavor. Everything was done on our own, with a little help from some of our friends. For the first time we decided to make a video for the shortest track from the album, with the expectation that it would work both as a music video and as an album promo.
Maybe it had a positive role in promoting the release. Too little time has passed to know that for sure. But definitely, we enjoyed doing it and are already making plans for another video in the future.
The songs’ titles could be completed in one sentence: “Obscure fire of silence descending in the depths of eternal doom”. Did you aim to record a concept album from the start?
As I always say, music and lyrics come to us from the beyond, we don’t actually put forced effort into composing it, we don’t write it down, we just retransmit it. The notions come by themselves. We just grab those sound ideas out of the air and transform them into music in the way we can and see it. From these insights that come to us, we write our sermons.
How much did you add to those original ideas which came to you from beyond?
Not so much. The process of making music in our case is quite easy and natural. It’s like a smooth flow of energy. We can add noises, dialogues taken from movies and things like that to the recorded tracks.
It’s worth mentioning that Memphis (a member of Dekonstruktor, Unhealing Wound, Крысы (Krysy/Rats), Игорь (Igor) and others) makes a big contribution to the sound of our tracks. He did mixing and mastering for all of our releases. And this is the person who gives our songs a finished and magical sound.
I interviewed Portuguese Oak who just released their second album as one single track. And they told us that the first album’s songs were planned as one single track too. Would it make a big difference if you recorded Obscure Fire this way?
It’s not quite like that with our case. Obscure Fire can sound like a whole. But songs, when taken separately, also make their own sense. If you listen to the album on CD, one song flows smoothly into another without any pauses. And if you loop the playback, the album will loop endlessly.
As all of the Obscure Fire track titles build a kind of concept, I believe that the lyrics does the same. But it’s quiet abstract, so did you really put a kind of message or story into it?
The lyrics for each track tell a different story. But if you want, you can tie them together in a coherent concept. Different combinations of tracks also work, not necessarily in the same order that they are represented on the track list.
The album’s booklet is simply gorgeous, as all illustrations are connected in one heavy and disturbing visual trip. How do all of these images complement the album’s plot?
Indeed, an illustration was made for each of the songs on the album, in addition to the main design.
The main art, which takes up 3 panels of the digipack, has references to all the songs we’ve released before and even to the art and songs of the album we’re working on now.
We also released merch for each of the songs on the album in the form of limited edition t-shirts.
The artwork bears its grim recognizable psychedelic vibe, but do you consider it a positive one or negative one? Which sorts of energy fill it?
We do not divide these images into positive and negative ones. There are no such poles or conventions in the surrealistic world of Megalith Levitation. These images are born of our music and we accept them by default as something natural all around us.
From a utilitarian point of view, I think people who appreciate physical media might enjoy this kind of design. As a kid, when I first started listening to music, it was a real thrill for me to look at the booklet of a cassette, CD or vinyl while you were listening to an album. We try to preserve this analog magic, in times of total digitalization.
Once again you support Megalith Levitation’s release with new merch. Was it only your idea again or did Aesthetic Death help with that as well?
We do all of our merch independently of the labels. But of course thanks to the Aesthetic Death label for the cool CD edition, which allowed us to fully realize our creative ideas. It’s a 6-panel digipack with a 16-page booklet.
Also check out the cassette edition by Sounds of Karachun. The design of the CD and cassette is a bit different.
Digital distribution as before was the responsibility of addicted label.
How many gigs are scheduled for 2023? Would you say that Megalith’s live sets are a rewarding experience for you?
I think about the same as always, there will be 5-7 shows a year. We are quite happy with that number. We are not the kind of band to have performances too often. Usually we don’t play more than twice a year in the same city.
You’ve just played a few shows in five different cities, right? How was it this time? Was this short tour worth the time and energy you put into it?
This short tour was special for us. From the very first gig we felt a certain energy and power inside of us. And that feeling grew with each subsequent gig.
I can say with absolute certainty that it was the best performance of our career so far. The gig in Kazan is the most memorable. It was the first time we played in that city. After the show we had to walk right through the audience, because the dressing room was on the opposite side of the stage.
And it was an absolutely incredible experience. The audience was still standing there looking at the stage for about another minute, even though we had left it. It was like something out of a sci-fi movie: three men in robes walking through a gathering of petrified figures in total silence. It made a strong impression on each of us.
I’m used to the fact that you’re quiet a prolific person, and I bet that new Megalith stuff is almost complete. How much can you tell us now about the band’s prospects?
The material is more than ready. It’s in the recording stage. But again we are working slowly, only in the moments when we have inspiration. At the same time we are working on the art ideas for the album. Maybe, if there are no unexpected events, we will finish the work by the end of the year.
Then let’s hope we’ll have a cause for another interview soon. Thanks for collaboration!
Thanks again for your interest in our art and for supporting our band!