Unpolished Carpathian Gems
Paganland has certainly been busy in 2018. A new live album (“XX Years Of Paganland”) and a reissue (“From Carpathian Land”) have brought some long overdue attention to one of the Ukraine’s finest acts. I was able to have drummer Lycane and guitarist Eerie Cold answer some questions for us regrading the live album, the reissue, their resurgence after years of inactivity and the scene in the Ukraine…..check it out…..
Congrats on your epic new live album “XX years of Paganland”…what has been the response so far to it?
Lycane: – Thank you, I have not read many reviews, but they are all good.
Eerie Cold: – Thanks! Reviews were in positive key.
Let us go back a few years to 2015’s “Fatherland” and then into 2016’s “From Carpathian Land”…… what led to the changes in lineup (specifically vocalists) and what I perceive to be a heavier sound overall? Was this something that was going to happen and planned?
L.: – The line-up has changed almost completely because of disagreements in the band. Vladimir’s vocal (on “Fatherland”) was very specific and did not fit to the heavy music. Extreme vocal of Zymobor fits better. Each member perceives music in their own way. From this the overall sound develops. Initially, the band was supposed to sound like that. More powerful, heavier.
E.C.: – As far as i know, line-up changes were caused by both personal and creative issues. About “heavier sound” – i believe it is because of there wasn’t used any kind of clean vocals, new people, including me, were into more heavy music and we brought our visions a little bit into this album’s sound.
How do you think your overall style has changed from the beginning up to now?
L.: – I don`t think that the style somehow changed. In one period, there were more folk and heavy metal elements, in the other, more influence of traditional black metal. But it still pagan metal.
E.C.: – In general, it is pagan metal with different influences. You can see a way from more technical arrangement of first releases to more soft instrumental parts with clean vocals and the back to the roots.
How does the songwriting process work? Is keyboard where most songs start or another instrument? Does everyone contribute musically and lyrically?
L.: – Usually, Ruen writes the main theme, and then others collectively arrange it. Ruen and Zymobor writes texts, but we do not have a dictatorship, if someone else writes good text or music – it can be on our album. (For example, as it was with the text of the song “The Gloom”, it was written by our good friend Andrew “John” Kindratovich from Polynove Pole)
There was a long period of inactivity (2007-2013), what caused the split and how did the reformation start?
L.: – During this period, Ruen was at work in Italy. The other members didn`t care about the band. As soon as he returned and gathered everyone, began a work on the album “The Wind of Freedom”
E.C.: – I know almost nothing about it.
You are also reissuing “From Carpathian Land” this year and including some early demo tracks from “Gods Of Golden Circle”, how did you come to decision to do this?
L.: – First, it was necessary to revive the information space around the album. When the album was released for the first time on Svarga Music, there was almost no information support from the label. Secondly, the demo cassette is now very difficult to find. It was released in limited edition and even we do not have it) It was decided to save these tracks in an updated format. In the third, album has a new interesting design from Victoria Radu, drawn specially for us. The previous design was done by Svarga Music and contained just an edited photo.
E.C.: – I do not remember.
Could you give us some details on the live album as far as where it was recorded? How did you decide on which tracks to include on the live album? Will you rework other older tracks to also be used live in the future?
L.: – A live album was recorded in Lviv. Periodically, we organize a mini-festival “West Ukrainian Division”. This concert was part of the festival in the end of 2017. For video filming and video editing Munruthel (Munruthel, ex-Nokturnal Mortum, ex-Astrofaes) was invited and audio mixing was done by Roman Pratsovitiy (under our careful control). The songs were chosen the most relevant at that time. Some of them are old songs in a new arrangement. Perhaps some of the old songs we will continue to play on shows.
E.C.: – Well, it is just musical part of our DVD. We choose last album completely and songs that had good responses on previous gigs. There is some idea of reworking somgs from “Gold of Golden Circle” demo, but there is a problem of lost lyrics and it is pretty hard to catch and decrypt text from that record due to it’s sound.
I would describe your sound as “pagan/black metal”, is that the best description to your sound or does something else work better?
L.: – It’s very fashionable to come up with styles for bands like Heathen, Atmospheric, Blackened and others. It’s not about us. Black Metal or Pagan Metal is about us, the essence is the same.
E.C.: – I beleieve it is better to use just “pagan metal” term. There are not so many moments in this music that u can say “this is really black metal”.
I think that most familiar with heavier acts from Ukraine tend to think there are political themes to their music, do you have the same feelings? Do you incorporate or want to express any sort of political ideology thru your music?
L.: – We do not propagate politics or any ideology through our music. Unfortunately, many Ukrainian bands dive in to politics (against the backdrop of the sad events that take place in our country). Where politics begins, art ends.
Overall how is the music scene in Ukraine? Is metal in general as popular as it is in other parts of the world?
. L.: – I consider the Ukrainian metal scene is very strong and powerful. We have many good bands in different styles and genres. But unfortunately, metal music is not very popular in Ukraine. Rock and Metal industry has never developed in our country. We lack knowledge, experience, opportunities. Everything is based only on the enthusiasm of musicians and organizers. Often bands spend their money, just for perform somewhere or organize a concert.
E.C.: – Ukrainian bands do pretty well in part of music, but it is hard to say that there is some kind of “scene”.
How much traditional Russian music/themes influence your sound and music? Examples if possible?
L.: – Russian music and culture does not affect to our work in any way. We take inspiration from our native Ukrainian culture and folklore. Some of our motives may be similar to the motives of other Slavic peoples, simply because they have common roots and a common history. For example, Podolyanka is a folk Ukrainian song arranged by us in our style.
E.C.: – Here is a problem about using word “russian”: ukrainian and belarusian culture has more common with medieval Rus/Russia (and also take roots from there) culture than modern russian culture. So, we do not play “Kokoshnik metal”, we use traditional ukrainian folk motives, mainly western ukrainian and carpathian.
Thoughts and Plans
What about any future touring plans? Is this something you want to do at some point in terms of doing a larger tour?
L.: – We have scheduled some concerts in Finland, Germany and Poland. Perhaps we will make a mini-tour around the Baltic countries. We do not plan large tours yet.
Any favorite music from 2018 so far?
L.: – I mostly listen to old albums of kvlt bands. Now the media space is filled with a bunch of one-day bands and one-man projects, so finding something worthy is difficult. From last albums I really liked the album Marduk – Viktoria.
E.C.: – Craft – White Noise and Black Metal: great sound and album doesn’t constist of overused riffs and musical ideas.
L: Thank you for your interest to Paganland. We will be glad to see you at our shows.