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Asguard - Belorussian Badassery

Discussion in 'Metal Interviews' started by Opeth17, Jan 27, 2006.

  1. Opeth17

    Opeth17 Bill Ward's Red Pants

    Oct 21, 2003
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    The Southland
    [IMGLEFT][/IMGLEFT]By Josh Phillips

    Discovering a new band is always a great thing, especially when you find one with a pleasing and innovative sound such as Asguard. Upon hearing their latest release, Dreamslave, I immediately made my way through their back catalogue and found a band that has constantly re-invented themselves throughout their career and remained constantly entertaining. It's great to hear a young band grow and see them find success and I see this one climbing to the top in the coming years. Here's what vocalist/bassist Alexander Afonchenko had to say about the band's recent activities:

    Hello, how are things in the Asguard camp these days?

    Hi there. Everything is great; we’re preparing to celebrate the New Year, buying alcohol. We’re also getting ready for recording the new album and touring across Europe.

    How is the metal scene in Belarus? Are there a lot of fans of the band there? Typically, you don’t hear much about bands coming from that area, but surely there are quite a few good ones, like Asguard, hiding under the radar.

    The Belorussian metal-scene changes about once every five years, and it has turned into some kind of pattern. We have the best fans in the world. Everybody who comes to our country says that. We really have some extremely talented bands that always lack a little bit of something to be heard all over the world. For some reason, major labels implement the policy of neglecting bands coming from the area of Eastern Europe - without even listening to their promo-packages, throwing them into waste-baskets at seeing the country name on the package.

    The band seems to have undergone some musical changes over your career. Starting off with a slightly more black metal sound, evolving to a thrashy sound, mixing all elements of death metal and now, with Dreamslave, an album that is full of atmosphere and NWOBHM style leads that makes the album extremely melodic, though aggressive. It seems like the band is able to change and evolve with each album and add new elements. What’s your take on the band’s progression and are you still satisfied with your previous output?

    Yea, it has turned out that each album is stylistically different from its predecessor. The same concerns our next piece of work. We don't really set any goals such as purposely changing the band's style or sound, everything happens the way it happens. As a result of these changes something is taken really well, and something's not. I guess it’s a good thing.


    Where did the inspiration for the interludes such Act III: Time of Eternal Dream come from? They are quite ambient in nature and seem to add a lot to the atmosphere of Dreamslave.

    The track Time of Eternal Dream was made during the actual recording process. We needed it to smoothly link the two previous acts. It helped us to create a nicer and more suitable atmosphere, showing the state of the soul and the feelings of the man, understanding that it was his last day in the world, and that he would be gone after the rain was over and the morning came.

    You have experimented with lower growls in the past and still do every now and then on Dreamslave. Do you think they will be incorporated into your music more in the future or perhaps less?

    I would not really call it an experiment. We have always taken the approach of using suitable vocals for each song. This contributes to the particular mood of each song, which is always set before.

    Where Once the Moon Rose is one of my favorite Asguard tracks. It’s haunting, mystical and sounds ancient. It adds a huge amount of atmosphere to the album and the use of the whispering clean voices and some more folk-style instruments is great. Any chance of the next album picking up where Dreamslave left off in that regard?

    Where Once the Moon Rose symbolizes exactly a mystical and musical scene of the night’s beauty and greatness, maybe its some logical incompleteness. This track features our folk and ethnic instruments. We may get back to using them when we continue after Dreamslave...

    Also, in Where Once the Moon Rose there is an instrument that sounds like a mouth harp being used. Can you give us some information on some of the unorthodox or folk instruments used on Dreamslave?

    This instrument is called the vargan, I guess it sounds similar. Also bag pipes, surma, i.e. big horns seven feet long which produce a powerful and mystical atmospheric sound.


    Where does the band draw it’s greatest influence from? Musically, the sheer variance of the music makes it hard to pinpoint bands. From traditional metal to black metal, it’s all there.

    Well, that’s an interesting question. It’s really hard to say. All of us always listen to a great deal of different music ranging from easy listening to ultra-brutal, and, of course, that has some impact on our creativity. But we don't strive for sticking with some particular style. DREAMSLAVE can't be referred to just one particular style, and each Act has its own point depending on the mood of the lyrics spiritual atmosphere. It's quite possible that our next album won't be either a black metal or death metal work, but straightforward metal with some trend into progressive industrial, ha-ha.

    Sergey Tsvikevich did a great job of integrating keyboards and orchestral arrangements into the music on Dreamslave. Have you recruited a full-time keyboardist or do you expect him to join the band again on the next album?

    This is a very talented man who has played a great role in the sound and atmosphere of DREAMSLAVE. We are going to work with him on our next album. He will still be in charge of all keyboard parts and orchestral arrangements. At the present time he is working with the band as a session musician. But you never know, he may join the official line up of ASGUARD.

    What are your plans for 2006 as far as touring, writing, etc. are concerned?

    2006 is ASGUARD’S anniversary. The band is turning ten years in the fall. We have extensive plans. We will record the new album, which won’t be similar to any previous works of the band. It’s going to be an experimental piece that may bring the band's fans into a state of real shock. However, this is also going to be a new step for the band in terms of sound, and overall style. The release will include a concert DVD with some material from gigs and video clips of the band. Also we plan on touring through the cities of Eastern and Western Europe.


    Asguard’s fanbase continues to expand and now the band has gained larger label support from This Dark Reign/Devil Doll. How long do you think it will be before we see Asguard touring America?

    It's definitely great that we are gaining new fans. We are getting a great deal of fan letters from all over the world. As for touring in the USA, we are always ready to play any number of kick-ass gigs before our American fans. We are waiting for invitations and offers. You never know, we may get to the States some time next year.

    Thanks for taking the time to do this interview for UltimateMetal! I wish you guys as much luck as possible in the future and will continue to watch your great band rise to the top.

    Thanks for the interview. Good luck in the New Year, we will try not to disappoint you with our new works.

    Official Asguard Website
    Official This Dark Reign Recordings Website

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