Interview by Ed MacLaren
Since 2004, Germany’s Krypteria has released a string of excellent symphonic metal albums – each reconstructing and redefining their trademark symphonic metal sound. With their latest album, “All Beauty Must Die”, Krypteria has stepped out once again with amazingly ear-pounding results. Led by the formidable vocal talents and dynamic stage presence of Ji-In Cho, Krypteria are becoming as equally known for their powerful live shows as their complex and powerful music. Femme Metal recently got the opportunity to talk to Ji-In about the making of their new album where she breaks down the Krypteria sound and tells us why all beauty must die.
Welcome to Femme Metal Ji-In! “All Beauty Must Die” is out and it’s a winner! Life in Krypteriapolis must be looking pretty good these days.
Hello Ed! Thank you very much! Yes, I can’t deny that after all the time we were confined to our studio working on “All Beauty Must Die” we are now very happy about getting all the great mail from our fans and wonderful reviews!
“All Beauty Must Die” is hookier and heavier than any of your previous efforts yet you’ve still been able to maintain many of symphonic and choral elements that made “Bloodangel’s Cry” and “My Fatal Kiss” such interesting listens. What was the band’s mindset going into the recording of the album?
Like always, we poured our experiences and emotions we had to deal with in the last year into the record. But as you may know we set up our own label and that means for the first time in our career we are free – in every part of this business. That means we are now responsible for everything – even besides the music – and that is very exciting and new for us. We told ourselves that if we fail, we will die by our own sword. This might sound a little weird but because of this knowledge we feel totally liberated, independent and stronger than before. I really hope you can hear it on “All Beauty Must Die”. By the way: we called our label Liberatio. (Smiles)
Do you feel that Krypteria has established a certain “trademark” sound that sets you apart from other bands – a sound that people will instantly identify with Krypteria?
I believe we do have quite a different sound from other bands. Not on purpose, this is just the result of our combined efforts at composing and writing. It is hard to describe in a few words, but I believe our fans will know by now what a Krypteria song sounds like. We have a knack for dramatic but still catchy melodies. We like to combine choir parts and classic elements with heavy riffs and beats. On our new album we have further grown and evolved musically. Maybe we are a little tougher and rougher, but unmistakably still Krypteria.
Are there still wild and unknown places the band still wants to explore musically?
There are surely a lot. But at this moment we are very happy with our baby and it is too early to think about our next steps or our next album. The only wish we have is to present our baby live on stage to our fans.
All Krypteria albums have a central theme that holds the lyrics and music together. What’s the conceptual thread that ties together “All Beauty Must Die”?
Well, it’s not a concept album like “Operation Mindcrime”, “Streets” or our 2007 release “Bloodangel’s Cry”. It’s about staying true to yourself and to your ideals no matter the obstacles. There’s a lot of rage and yearning involved and it’s about loss. But there’s also a lot of resolve, defiance and hope to it.
While we’re on the subject: why must all beauty die?
If I only knew!! Well, that’s how it is and there is nothing you can do against it. You can’t hold the good moments forever and stop time – only the memories can remain. But even these are gone when you die. To say something positive: not only the wonderful moments fade away but also the bad times and negative emotions are someday over.
Your singing is spectacular on “All Beauty Must Die”. Your vocal melodies have matured immensely on this album. How would you chart your vocal evolution over the course of your time with Krypteria?
Thank you for the compliment but I guess my teacher at the Musikhochschule who taught me classical singing would have a hard time listening to my singing!(Laughs) I think everyone of us has found his place in the band. We all respect and appreciate each other. We also totally trust each other and we feel safe when we are together. I think it’s always very helpful and encouraging if you feel comfortable and you feel accepted as the person you are. That’s the best way to express and develop yourself.
Do you still work on improving your vocal abilities either through personal practice or professional instruction?
There are days when I sing all the time just to try out what’s possible with my voice. And sometimes it’s better just to shut my mouth! (Laughs)
A goal of the band seems to be capturing the energy of your live performances – especially yours – on album. Are you getting close to getting that dynamic down digitally?
I hope so. But in the end it’s never as easy as we always have a lot of fun on stage – thanks to our audience. Every band would say so – the fon stage. Fans give you the best energy boost you can have and I could never compare these moments we share with our fans with anything else.
Although Krypteria started out more like a loose and informal “project”, it seems like Krypteria functions more and more like a true collective. How does that affect the direction and arrangement of the music?
I never thought of this band being loose and informal. But you’re right: the longer we know each other the more organic we’re getting. I’m very thankful that we’re aware of being four totally different personalities and treat this fact as an inspiring fact. That’s why we try to make sure that every facet is represented. I’m sure that helps to make our album more multi-dimensional and more colorful.
“All Beauty Must Die” is a heavy album with tracks like “Messiah”, “Higher” and “Eyes of a Stranger” but there’s still room for your delicate piano flourishes. How important is it to express that musical aspect of your personality on each album?
I love to write songs with only my piano and I think it’s a perfect instrument to bear up against the guitars. In comparison with the voice you can show a different and more complex atmosphere and in addition to my voice, the piano is very important for me to express myself and my musical imagination.
“The Eye Collector” is a standout track – and not just because it clocks in at an epic-length 11 minutes long. The intense arrangements and the simmering force of the music make it arguably one of your strongest tracks from any Krypteria album. What is it about extended tracks that bring out the best in the band?
Well, in this case this is easy to answer because we had a great inspiration based on a book by the German author Sebastian Fitzek. One of his fabulous books is a psychological thriller named “The Eye Collector” and we are relieved and very happy to tell you that he likes our song and the fact that it’s inspired by his book too. (Smiles)
When you decided to bring in some guests to record you didn’t fool around. Doro Pesch, Tobias Exxel and Olli Singer! Nice job! How did they do?
We are very happy that we could win these guys to play with us. For me personally, it’s a big honor to sing a duet with Doro – she’s really the Queen of Metal and no one is more experienced than her. After all these years she still gives to her fans everything she’s got on stage and that’s really something to admire. We got to know Eggy when we had our first gig in Germany. We shared the dressing room with Edguy and very soon we found out that they are very nice and funny guys. We are glad that finally after all these years Eggy could find some time to join us on the record – especially as a guitar player! And regarding Olli: he’s the best guy we could find to replace Chris on stage. He’s a real good guitar player but first of all a real good guy and we have a lot of fun with him when we are on tour.
Krypteria’s artwork always shows a lot of attention to detail – both in quality and in reflecting the musical and lyrical content of the album. At the very least the skull logo will look great on a black tour shirt! How did the artwork for “All Beauty Must Die” develop and what were you trying to convey with it?
Talking about the artwork for “All Beauty Must Die”, we were searching for a picture that would fit this title. I didn’t want my face to be displayed again on our cover, because we already did that. So I came up with the idea of a female and Asian skull. Fortunately, my band members were also very curious about the idea and what such a skull could look like. Thanks to our great illustrator Torsten Bürgin we now have this fantastic female skull logo. If I had tried to draw up something like that, we would probably have a different cover – I’m a real bad drawer and painter!
We’re starting to see more bands integrating members from different countries and making some incredibly creative music. This includes Leaves’ Eyes, Tristania and Visions of Atlantis to name a few. You’ve been the lone South Korean in a German band for a long time now. Has your South Korea ancestry played a part in your contributions to Krypteria or influenced the direction of the music?
Not in a direct way. But I can tell you that my family loves music – especially passionate and wonderful melodies. We’re very emotional and everyone in my family can play a classical instrument. So I guess this love for this style of music is in my blood.
“All Beauty Must Die” gives you four solid albums of excellent metal music to perform. Does the material give you an opportunity to express all facets of your personality on stage?
Absolutely yes. I love to live out all the emotions and subjects we are concerned with. It’s really like a therapy and after every concert I feel clarified – I’m very thankful for that.
I am not good with last words. All I can tell you is what I tell myself as often as I can: Enjoy your time on earth and keep in mind the wonderful moments but also the bad moments – you never know for what they are good for!
Label : Auerbach Tonträger/Prophecy Productions
Review by Luisa Mercier
Hekate is a German ensemble which delivers us a quite eerie Folk, Neoclassical sound mixing it with lyrics that draw from history, myths and legends. Some of them are inspired by nineteenth century (Romanticism and so on), others by the events that took place in the Middle Ages. The present album is inspired mostly by Romantic poetry as the reference in the title “Byronic Hero” might suggest and it is sung in three languages: English, German and French, even though the first two have a main role. The music can only be defined as sweeping, dreamy, thin and the effect is obtained through the use of several instruments: gongs, kettledrums, drums, percussive devices, hurdy-gurdy, guitars, glockenspiel together with keyboards. The vocals, courtesy of Axel and Susanne, are sometimes recited (“Byronic Hero”, “Jardin d’Anais”) and sometimes sung. This, combined with very effective duets (“In My Garden”), gives a further contribution to the journey that their music can create. They work really well together. Susanne‘s vocals are delicate, sweet, Axel ones are slightly harsher and sometimes gloomier and create an hypnotizing effect. “Sanctus” is a beautiful hymn and shows the mystical side of the band. The Latin and the part spoken in Italian give to the whole composition a solemn atmosphere. Really epic. Another epic moment is “Per Aspera Ad Astra”, a beautiful symphonic instrumental which really sums up the idea of “Sturm und Drag”, the storm and the torment is really well portrayed in the composition. The more modern sounding is perhaps “Die blaue Blume” with an ethereal, electronic background pointed by keyboards while Susanne sings in German. It is quite different from the rest of the album and it is one of the highlight of the record, in my opinion.“Die Welt der dunklen Garten” is a really varied (and very well produced) album that cannot be fully grasped with only one listen; it is multifaceted since it contains folk, atmospheric, sometimes a more modern sound. Let it accompany you in your most relaxing moments after a tiresome day.
Rating – 75/100
- Byronic Hero
- Jardin d’ Anaïs
- In my Garden
- Die dunkle Wolke
- Per aspera ad astra
- Idilia Dubb
- Oh du Welt der dunklen Gärten
- Opportunity of Time
- The Present Day
- Die blaue Blume
- House of God
- Susanne Grosche – Vocals
- Axel Menz – Vocals & Percussions
- Achim Weiler – Keyboards
- Jörg Schickerath – Percussions
- Dirk Diederich – Drums
- Jörg Schickerath – Percussions
Interview by NocturnalConcerto
From the South of Germany comes the dark fantasy folk act Elane that present a challenging project called “Arcane”, challenging because wants to merge literature and music with a hint of mysticism and ethereal vibes. See what the singer Joran and keyboardist Nico have to tell to us.
Hi Joran, thanks so much for accept the interview. First of all thanks so much! How are you?
Joran: Hi Miriam, thank you for your interest! I am fine, thank you. Can you introduce the band with a little of history of it? Joran: Elane’s members are Joran (Me) – vocals and flutes, Skaldir – Guitar, Nico – Keyboards, and Simon – Violin, Viola and Cello. Our sound is often called mystic folk. Well, the idea behind Elane was to start a soloproject, but soon the other musicians, Skaldir, Nico and Simon joined the band with their musical influences and ideas. The main mind was to create fantasy music… something that is very rare today.Your latest album is called “Arcane” and it’s based on the works of a Germany writer named Kai Meyer. First of all how it born this decision and who’s Kai Meyer?
Nico: Kai Meyer is a famous contemporary author of fantasy and historical novels in Germany. His books were also translated into many foreign languages, e.g. English, of course. I knew Kai’s works before we personally met. And this was indeed a coincidence. I recognized Kai in the crowd during one Elane concert, and from that day the idea of “Arcane” grew. Also why call the album “Arcane”? Does it to you have a particular meaning?
what’s represent the cover album? There’s this woman in the fog… Joran: Yes, the cover artwork tells us that we can always expect something really mystical in nature and our environment. As written in “Loreley” you find something arcane behind the things, thus you’ll find it in music as well. The lightsparks floating out from the hand lantern also symbolize the magic.
Did, during the composing of the lyrics, you have consult Mr. Meyer himself? And what Kai thinks about the album? Nico: Kai was a perfect consultant. First of all he wanted “Arcane” to be a pure Elane album, not a soundtrack nor an audiobook-like story collection. And so he said: “Whatever you want” Arcane” to be – it is your decision”. But, of course, we always asked for Kai’s advice about the music and the lyrics. And he often gave the right little adjustments or redirections. Working together with Kai is simply fantastic. He gives you so much respect for your own work.
Doing a simple research I’ve discovered that Kai Meyer has already published 50 books, from which of these stories/novels you have taken more inspiration and why? Joran: I chose “Loreley” and “Die Sturmkönige” (“The Storm Kings”) for two reasons. Firstly, I liked the settings of both books, because I always wanted to write something with oriental and medieval influences. And also because Kai signed a copy of “Loreley” for me with the words: “For Joran, who understands a lot of magical singin”. Nico: For me his Books around the turn of the century till the 1920s are of great attraction. So I chose “Das Zweite Gesicht” (“The Second Face”) for my songs “Masken” and “Goddess of the Night”. It is the story of Jula Mondschein, an early film diva of high society Berlin of the 1920s. After her death her sister Chiara comes to her funeral and gets into a maelstrom of intrigues and mysteries herself. Then I contributed lyrics to Skaldir’s song “Heart of the Desert”, dealing with Kai’s novel “Göttin der Wüste” (“Desert Goddess”), a magical book settled in former German colony of today’s Namibia around 1900. Also I contributed “Magdalena” (based upon “Herrin der Lüge” ["Mistress of Lies"]), which is a song about the girl Saga. She was exploited to lead a crusade of virgins into the promised land under the name of “The Magdalena”.
In the site in the banner appear in order, the following words : Mystic, fantasy and folk. Do you think that represent a sort of a band’s anthem? Can you explain, you point of view, of this words for you, Joran?
Joran: It’s almost impossible to describe a musical artworks style within just 3 words. It’s like the smell of a flower, you have to try it yourself to know what it’s like. But it is a small try to give just an idea or direction for people who don’t like us yet.
Let’s doing a step back, what you can tell about the previous album “The Silver Falls”? Can you share with us some memories about the recording, writing process of it? For this album what was your source of inspiration?
Nico: For us “The Silver Falls” was a break-out. The first 2 albums were pretty folky music, with mostly acoustic instruments with wide soundscapes and a fragile sense for melodies and instrumentation. But after the unexpectedly huge success of “Lore of Nén” we simply did not want to copy ourselves. First of all we wanted to give it a little try to do something different. And that is, what “The Silver Falls” was about. We used more distorted electric guitars than ever, had a studio drummer to make it sound a rock album with some mystic folk touches, but also some electronic sounds. And it was good to make your mind free for something different.
According to your site you are still signed on Curzweyhl label (and any news on the label site is present about “Arcane”, so I presume that you’re self produced) but I’ve noticed if I’m not wrong that “Arcane” is self produced, how’s it hard to stay alive in the music business? How you plan the band activity? And why this choice? Never thought to sign with a suitable label? Nico: We always produced our albums ourselves. Skaldir is a brilliant sound engineer (Simon, too, by the way), so why enter another one’s studio? And it was always important for us to decide about the music, lyrics, cover artworks and our future route ourselves. It is almost impossible to negotiate a record deal with a major label that allows you so much freedom of art. Regarding the music business it is indeed not easy to make the right decisions nowadays. It’s not a secret that Elane’s music is luckily able to refinance itself. But if we would not do everything by ourselves, this might look different. So, you see, there are no huge benefits for us, the composers and musicians. If you expect to make benefit with music, then stop doing what you like and start doing what the masses like. This is why we are happy about things being the way they are.
What are the next Elane projects? Joran: We are already writing songs for a second Kai Meyer-inspired album, because we had sooo many ideas. And for the future, we plan to continue doing what we love, without losing our roots. So now I ask you this question, mainly my webzine promote metal bands, so really distant from your music genre but in some ways close in matter of ideas. If you should advice 5 celtic/ambient/folk album to a beginner, in your opinion what they are? Joran: Yes, Metal and Folk are somehow similar, they wear just another “robe” (I use to say). Well I like Loreena McKennitt, some albums of Clannad, and also some unknown Irish folk bands. Nico: I would advise the music of Dead Can Dance, Brendan Perry, ROME. I very much like Skyclad or recently I listen to Corde Oblique. But I don’t prefer to think too much in genres. You should simply listen to good music, never mind about the instruments it’s played with. Well, Joran, thanks so much for this interview hope you like it!! Love, Miriam x Joran: WE have to thank you, dear Miriam, for this interesting interview! Best wishes for you and your webzine.
Photos by R.Hartmann/Glenvore Art
Logo by Glenvore Art
Interview by Ed MacLaren
Exploding from Russia’s burgeoning metal scene comes Arcane Grail’s latest concept CD “Arya Marga: Ninefold Path to the Innocence”. Equal parts philosophy and spirituality, “Arya Marga” provokes the mind while assaulting the ears. In this interview, vocalists Demether and Natalie take us down the paths to innocence, divulge the secrets to a cohesive band and give us key insights into up-and-coming Russian metal.
Your new CD, “Arya Marga: Ninefold Path to the Innocence”, is lyrically and conceptually dense but it’s ultimately an extremely rewarding listen. Can you offer some insight into the concept behind the CD?
Demether : Yes, our second album is conceptually like the previous one, “Mysteries of the Ancient Charnel”. But if the first CD has the tale-like fairy story about ghosts, kings, inquisition and love in a King-Diamond-like style, the new CD is more serious and non-fairy. The lyrics of Arcane Grail are latently or directly connected nowadays with mythologems of Russian and Indo-Aryan heathenism. There are various themes on the second album but all of them are united in the uniform concept of finding the true Ninefold Noble Path of Life by the Man (“Arya Marga” in Sanskrit– an esoteric term in Vedism and Buddhism) – the revolt against the present and desire to be cleared from all nasty defects of modern human society. And first of all, returning to the sources of mankind, to cleanliness of soul, thoughts, to natural laws, to ancient beliefs, to wisdom of ancestors and to divine condition of human spirit. Musically, we name our style now – Symphonic Extreme Metal Art, which consists of sympho-black, melodic death, and gothic doom as well.
There are nine tracks on “Arya Marga: Nine Paths to Innocence”. Can you delve into the meaning of each path and what tracks are representative of each path? How does each track contribute to the evolution on the path to innocence?
Demether: Yes, nine songs and nine paths. The Ancient Ones said that men needed – in eight paths to the attainment of enlightenment and perfection – wisdom, morals, pure reason, labour, blood-vengeance, honour, kindness and love. The modern man, wallowed in weakness, idiocy, frights, countless diseases, betrayals and lies, is needed in another path, the ninth and the main path – fight! These nine paths can make the man – light and strong, great and wise! This is the path of warriors, the path of Thulean Legatee – Arya Marga, our trip to perfection, our ninefold path to the innocence. And our way to the gods!
About the songs: “Arcane Grail” – WISDOM. The song is absolutely not connected with the Christian concept of the Holy Grail or with the Arthurian legend-cycle about the search for the Grail. The Grail is a much more ancient religious pagan symbol of many Indo-Aryan nations. It is a sacred boiler, a cup, a receptacle of stars, honey of poetry, an elixir of an eternal life. It is created from the Father of All Stones (Alatyr in Slavonic heathenism). It is also a spiritual image necessary for the achievement of an eternal life (unessential, terrestrial), great wisdom, force and cleanliness. This song is devoted to the search of, by disclosing one’s own consciousness, finding a divine condition of the spirit.
“Of Snake and Raven” – MORALS. It is a song, a conversation of wise animals – a raven and the snake – as though occurring at the top of the Mother-Mountain of the World – Meru. They discuss people as they are weak and insignificant, actually. We from ourselves sing how it would be good to become strong, wise, fair, great and strict in the behaviour and principles of these ancient animals. I don’t think that man is the Tsar of Nature.
“Autumn Wed Us, Sinned and Lone” – LOVE. This song is about the love of a man and woman that even death could not separate. The present love is immortal! And that love is the main thing in the world – only with this feeling is there a world!
“Renaissant the Reverie” – LABOUR. A song about my dream of the revival of pagan consciousness in people. It’s about a great work of a body and soul that should be done in this way – revival! It’s about belief in saving love, in virtue of spirit. A song about the dirt of the modern world, perversions of people, about false monotheistic religions imposed on us by people, thirsted authorities and money. That each person can become the god himself, and the bearded dead man on a rotten cross actually is not necessary to anybody!
“Sorrow of Forgotten Pride” – HONOUR. A song about honour: to continue to be a beautiful, clever, perfect person in the modern world, to remember precepts of the ancestors, to love the native land and culture, and that you can die for beloved ones!
“Imprisoned in the Greatest War” – FIGHT. It is a revolution-song! A hymn to the revolt and revival of the old world on the ruins of the modern rotted bastard-society. Though, first of all, each person should win themselves!
“Die Sonnenhymne” – BLOOD-VENGEANCE. One more hymn – this time to Wotan, to the Sun, the Earth. It is an appeal to the old gods to return and take revenge for their desecration!
“Iniquitous Yoke” – KINDNESS. A song about the lot of the magician. About white magic, about the achievement of cleanliness of spirit. About full self-destruction up to a condition of ashes – then to revive like the sun in the universe. That we twirl the stars, instead they us. At least, it should achieve!
“Святой Грааль” – PURE REASON. On the one hand, it is simply a Russian version of the first song. But on the other, the lyrics differ practically on 70%. It is more about the full cleanliness of the mind from the matrix-perverted chains, about unlimited opportunities of sub consciousness of the person and that, eventually, inside of each person there can be a Sacred Grail!
The first track is titled “Arcane Grail”. How do the nine paths to innocence fit into the Arcane Grail world-view?
Demether : Personally, in my life I try to follow only the best roadsides of these paths. Self-perfection is the most important thing in the life of any person. And I do not sing without adducing any proof that does not interest me – by no means. All these ideas – not simply my ideas, but firm belief!
Is your attention to the lyrics primarily to entertain or educate? Perhaps a bit of both?
Demether : Now, only to educate, maybe, to give people some ways for reflection. I do not apply at all for any absolute truths, but all the same I think that I’m personally on a true way to knowledge – the sense of life, heh! Though, under the greater account, all of it is done for self-perfection – all these compositions of verses. But I shall be madly glad, if many of my ideas will be divided by people. It would be desirable that the music of Arcane Grail did people more purely a little bit, not only to release the thoughts from daily cares, but also to direct these thoughts to a channel of struggle with greyness, weakness and despondency.
Demether rips his throat raw alternating between vicious death- and black- metal vocals. Natalie provides soaring vocal lines and gets an excellent solo turn in “Die Sonnenhymne” in contrast with the brutal chaos of the music. How do you create your arrangements musically and vocally to achieve such a balance?
Natalie: I can’t say that we were especially trying very hard to reach such a balance. It happened somehow automatically. In the beginning (it was 2004), I was invited for only one song. The guys liked my voice and we decided to use it in more songs. On the first album, proposals of how better to include my voice were coming from both sides; I mean me and Demether with the band. On the second CD, it happened somehow easier. When we were making new material, we had to check through lots of pieces, samples and melodies which our musicians performed as the best ones for creating songs out of them. We were improvising a lot, trying to glue them all into a kind of composition. Somehow in this improvisation the right vocal lines came– and mostly they don’t need discussion. Mainly, in each song from the second CD, you hear the vocal parts of ours as they came from somewhere above! I can’t remember that we were seriously debating over “you sing here and I sing here”.
Demether: Hmm, in most cases, certainly, we try to transfer the necessary atmosphere of lyrics to various parts of songs. Certainly, all our creativity is deeply conceptual and we think over every second, each cry, and each note thoroughly!
How do you describe the evolution of Arcane Grail since its inception? Where do you see the group progressing musically as well as spiritually?
Demether: The band certainly has grown very much for eight years of existence both by way of music and by way of lyrics. I love our debut album – he’s very interesting and fine – but certainly “Arya Marga” is more skilful. The concept of lyrics now is pleasant to me much more now than with the entertaining Gothic fairy tale on the first. I wrote those lyrics at 19-years-old. For “Arya Marga”, I wrote the verses at the age of 23-25 years and it is a greater difference! Over the last years, Arcane Grail became a much greater and serious spiritual project – a part of my blood and spirit! And musically, let our listeners judge us. I think for myself we are needed to develop and develop, sure!
Several band members have recently left the band after many years of contributions to the Arcane Grail collective. How does this type of upheaval impact the collective and how does the group recover?
Demether : Yes, the truth is that during the release of an album some musicians left us because of our serious splits by the way of music. They did not wish to play neither metal nor death or black or sympho any more. Therefore, their dismissal, in any case, goes on to be an advantage to our band which is going to precisely continue to play the chosen stylistic direction. Unfortunately, because of their leaving there was some stupor in the concert activity of Arcane Grail while we searched for new musicians and we learned with them the songs and so forth. While we are just in this process, we will recover, and I promise, we shall soon return to kick all!
Natalie: Well, of course it made a kind of damage, we knew that the gone members had other projects, but never expected that they could leave us so suddenly. Demether started to search for new band mates on his own – I was quite far from this – and he never asked for any help. As a result there are new guys from Demether‘s second band. I have to admit that the new line-up hasn’t performed the live performance yet.
Moving forward as a collective what are the key ingredients to successful group chemistry?
Demether: Certainly, I think there should be a friendship in a group, the general interests, and a necessary love of each musician for such music. In general, a mutual understanding.
Natalie: I think that it’s also the freedom for the demonstration of one’s own point of view for the music we make. Each member has to tell about any ideas, if he has them. And from the other side it’s pure diplomacy.
Arcane Grail is making an increasing impact outside Russian borders. How do you see your path to world domination?
Natalie: Since I’m married and mostly live in Germany, I guess Demether waits then I will find out how we get to Wacken Open Air or Summerbreeze and make everybody deaf with Demether’s loud and evil screams!
Demether: Seriously, we try as much as possible to promote ourselves in Europe and America so that we can go on a small tour in Europe in the near future. It would be desirable very much to win round some concert promoters. And we do not leave hope to be released on a European label. I think all will be ok!
What can you tell us about the current Russian scene and what other bands should we be looking out for?
Demether : In Russia, in the last five years, the dawn of metal has begun at last. There were enough very decent studios owing to which now it is easy to record at the European level. But the deal is not only in sound. Really, there were many of the most worthy bands playing high-quality, interesting, and original metal music. It would be desirable to name the following bands: Ambehr – Majestic ethnic melodic death with screaming and soprano; Blackthorn – All-female symphonic dramatic black metal, beautiful and haunting, with a unique soprano; Atoll Nerat – Unique epic sympho-black with an atmosphere of Indian Toltecs; Hieronymus Bosch – Smart progressive-death; Thelema – Jazz-death; Non Immemor Mei – Amazing original post-doom; Kartikeya – Brutal death on the basis of the Indian music; Dorgmooth – Superb melodic death; Astel Oscora – Beautiful and magic sympho-black with the atmosphere of Alice in Wonderland; Welicoruss – Magnificent epic sympho-folk-black; Tantal – They can easy out do Arch Enemy and The Agonist; Little Dead Bertha – Fine sympho-black/melodic-death with screaming and a stunning soprano; Wine from Tears – Excellent doom-death; Fferyllt – Celtic metal with the most powerful female folk-vocal; Id:Vision – Absolutely mad industrial-techno-black; Atra Mustum – Perhaps, one of the best representatives of gothic-sympho-blacks in the world; Skylord – My second band (If you don’t blow your own horn, no one will do it for you!), playing super-blasting and supermelodious sympho-black; Diathra – Excellent gothic metal band; Scrambled Defuncts – Improbable sympho-brutal-death; Crystal Abyss – Mystical sympho-black; Solerrain – Children of Bodoms, playing better than Laiho and company a hundred times; Zymotic Symphony – Original sympho-melodic death with an opera bass vocal and growling; Ruthless Order – An improbable mix of hard-rock and melodic death with one of the best vocalists in metal, five octaves with all possible variants in extreme and classical metal vocal-genres; Arcana Imperia – Very interesting avant-garde sympho-death; Ordalion – Original Russian sympho-black. And, certainly, it is possible to list much of our most interesting pagan metal bands, which similarities in the world are not present: Arkona, Butterfly Tempe, Nevid, Severnye Vrata, Smuta, Natural Spirit, Temnozor, Nebokray, Tverd, Svarga, Kroda and many others. As you see, many good bands. Besides it is not the full list. I’m really a patriot of our metal scene – over the last five years it deserves it.
Where does Arcane Grail fit into the current Russian metal scene? Do you consider yourselves veterans? What advice do you have for up-and-coming Russian bands?
Natalie : Well, from one side we’ve existed already for quite a while – after I joined in 2004 more than five years passed. The band started in 2001 itself. And we can really say that we are veterans, but from the other side there are bands which have existed much longer and play music which in some part touch our style. So, I even don’t know if we should or can say that we are veterans. About the new-comers, honestly, I have no positive thoughts. There are many bands (except the bands in “Demether’s List”) where each new one thinks it’s more cool than all the others, making fan clubs of the band and each member separately and without a shade of shame naming these people of 18- or 19-years-old “Keyplayer-Virtuoso”. Plus, they indeed pay for the possibility to warm up for such bands as Norther, Dark Moor and others. So, I would say to them – less words and more work on your own… But I’m sure they would not listen and will buy another possibility to warm up for next foreign band which will come to Moscow.
Demether : Heh, Natalie is right –but I think that it’s the same in other European countries too. But the real gold will be sifted in the sea of sand all the same – this is metal. So, to good young metal bands (and for some people we are valid veterans – though I do not consider us so) I advise more concentration, professionalism, a thirst to create something new. And still – when hiring designers of booklets, and in general record and cover-artwork, only hire known professionals!
Interview by Erwin Van Dijk
An interview with Ally from Ally The Fiddle. A fiddle in a metal band? Twenty years ago this would have been a ridiculous idea. But today there are many bands with a violin player. Think of Heidevolk and Stream of Passion. And Haggard of course. Ally, or Almut Storch – Hukriede is the violin player of the German Medieval Classical Deathmetal Band Haggard. She is also known for her work with Die Apokalyptischen Reiter or ASP although I doubt that there is anyone outside Germany who have ever heard of ASP. Ally The Fiddle is her solo band. Tony Cannella did a review of the album Red Unicorn and now it is time for an interview.
Did you have classical training or were you taught to play by ear like many violin players in the folk genre?
Well, in fact I studied violin at the academy in Rostock (North Germany) and have the diploma to work as a professional (classical) violinist. But to play Folk-Fiddle I took two or three lessons with the German Fiddler Bernd Lüthke (“Midnight Court” / Berlin) to come into it.
I did an interview with Maaike Peterse, who plays the cello in Kingfisher Sky and she started with the violin before switching to the Cello. Can you play other instruments besides the Fiddle & E Violin?
To study violin means you also have to play the piano. It is a really beautiful instrument and I started to practice a little bit more And I play a very little bit guitar. That helps me to compose and to understand Rock and Metal Music, because of its difference to the piano.
The violin seems to be an instrument typical for the folk & pagan metal these days (like Eluveitie, Korpiklaani etc). What type of violin/fiddle do you use?
I play an old classical instrument from the 19th century, combined with a pickup system (based on a capaciter microphone). I love that violin because of its warmth and tenderness. My E-Violin is a white Fender V8. Not even the best choice, because it is heavy.
For some reason most women in rock & metal bands (especially folk oriented bands) play the violin. (Marcela Bovio from Stream of Passion, Klaartje from Myrkvar etc). Do you think this means that the violin has become an instrument for women?
No, of course not! There are enough bands, who show us that this is not completely a ladies instrument: Koorpiklaani, Letzte Instanz, Haggard but maybe it is a way for women to take part in Metal Music. There are not many feminine rock singers or guitar- and bass players. On the other hand I personally feel the violin is a rather feminine instrument: intense and powerful but not rough.
To what kind of music do you listen yourself and who are your favourite bands and musicians?
My very favourite is the Canadian band The Tea Party; especially the oriental sounding songs combined with that deep sonorous voice of singer Jeff. And I am influenced by the Fusion violinist Jerry Goodman (formerly Mahavishnu Orchestra). He inspires me a lot and always puts me in a good mood! My favourite metal bands are: Killswitch Engage (my newest exploration – what a singer!!!), Symphony X, Iron Maiden, Opeth, Knorkator (a very funny German band) and Haggard (I love the new album “Tales of Ithiria”!). And of course ASP as my favourite Gothic band. There are very well known in Germany and you really MUST listen to them!!
Ally The Fiddle is an instrumental band and instrumental bands are quite rare. Record companies might this even consider a risk. Have you ever considered to use vocals on “Red Unicorn”?
Yes, that is a big issue for us! The record companies don’t like to take the risk and we have to discuss a lot with those companies and booking agencies. So I can’t exclude, that we would never use some vocals, but I’d love to try it first without! We made a compromise by using a speaker for one song – but for the companies and agencies it seems not to be enough….
And what made you decide to start a solo band?
I am working with many bands in many different styles and in many different studios. So I think it is natural, that you wish to make your own music. On the one hand you always have to make musical compromises; on the other hand your instrument rarely gets the chance to be shown in its full beauty. So at least I wanted to know, how I sound.
Where do you get the inspiration for the songs, and can you tell us something about the songs on the EP?
I was playing that tune with different folk bands. But I always thought, that sounds like a real metal song! So I will rerecord that tune in a harder and faster version on our following album – on “Red Unicorn” I added a second melody to make a rocky but poetic version. By the way: the tune was composed by the American fiddler Amy Cann and brought to fame by the great American fiddler Natalie McMaster.
I always listened to that tune while I was in the gym. It was written by the guys from Wolfstone(Ireland) and grew to a really unforgettable! So I created my own epical version with hard guitars on one side and the soft violin, viola and harp on the other side.
“The Mason’s Apron”:
That’s a well known traditional tune, that I heard in a similar but traditional version by the brothers Skirm and Dezi Donnelly. To record that song I thought to myself, which components I would want to hear on a violinist’s solo album. And one of them is of course some the virtous stuff in that piece. So, that’s it!
“Days of Thunder”:
These lines have been in my ear for a long time. When I met my guitarist Rob I could make the song complete. Especially with his marvellous solos at the battle part between guitar and violin. Days of Thunder tells about a “final day”, the “judgement day”. So is the medieval “Dies Irae” – a sacred musical theme – the red line of the whole song.
Now we are in the mystical Ireland. I’m sure, there is no saga about a Red Unicorn, but such a powerful and divine animal seemed for me to be the best creature to transport that story. It’s the only song with lyrics and speaker. Here I used two Irish Tunes: Paddy Ryan’s Dream and A Bunch of Keys. I really love that “gothic” song and it tells much about my view of human beings….
The EP was released in 2008, almost a year ago. Are you working on a full length album?
Of course we are! But we are in a need of a record company to finance and to promote it.
And what can we expect from Ally The Fiddle in the future?
We hope to inspire you on many festivals and to spoil you with many beautiful albums!
And the last question, is there anything the reader should know that I have not asked?
Not at all. But if there are any questions more, please ask us: firstname.lastname@example.org
Style switcher only on this demo version. Theme styles can be changed from Options page.
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