Imterview for Apoch's Metal Review 2012

Thank you for taking some time out to answer a few questions for the readers.
1) How are you doing? I hope everything is going well for you.

Greetings! Recently my son Yaromir was born. I spend a lot of time on him. But these are pleasant chores and it is now when I feel happy as never before. I realized that this is a real purpose of life. To tell the truth, I’m not very engaged in creative work currently. Probably, the time will come, when my heart will be full of emotions again and I will want to share them with the World. However, do not think that now I am up to my neck in problems. I am still involved into the music, but mostly this is the work in my studio. I am mixing albums for other musicians and doing mastering. I also became seriously occupied with video production and music video shooting.

2) Munruthel started out as an Ambient group at first, but eventually brought in a Folk and Symphonic Black Metal approach. Has working in those two musical worlds gone hand in hand with the initial Ambient approach to this band, or have you found it harder to write? Please explain

I have never had any problems with writing music. I have never put myself into any frames. That is why it is very easy. A simple rule: do what your heart tells you to do and it doesn’t matter what the critiques will say about it! The stylistics of my albums has everything to do with the changes in my life. The first albums were recorded on cassette decks! Each new batch was a rerecording from a cassette to a cassette with the loss of frequencies and acquisition of noises. This conditioned the style and minimalism in arrangements. “Live” instruments were out of the question. Computers were a rare thing that time. Moreover, they didn’t record audio! My project acquired metallic sound after I decided to perform on stage and got session musicians involved in the work. Now I am making albums in Symphonic Pagan Metal style as I have the technical possibility to do it. I have got a real studio at home that allows me to record just about anything!

3) I see you've been involved in a number of other bands, and see to be actively involved with Thunderkraft. Has working with these bands perhaps helped you form the Folk and Black Metal sound you're working with today? Please explain

Yes, my carrier as a musician has lasted for 20 years all told, I have recorded 35 albums with different bands. This is a huge number! During that time I was working with different great musicians and learnt from them how to make arrangements of certain instruments and the basic knowledge in music theory (I have no special musical education). While recording these albums I was learning from great sound supervisors how to make tracking of instruments and mixing. I created albums “Epoch of Acquarius” and “CREEDamage” by myself. I alone composed the music, made the arrangement of guitars and drums and then, made arrangement of orchestra, wrote the lyrics. Called my mates-guitarists, showed them what and how to do it and vu a la. The product is ready. Sorry, I forgot to mention that I also tracked and mixed everything by myself. This is the experience I got while working with different bands in different studious!

4) CREEDamage marks the fifth Munruthel full-length. Are you pleased with how far you've come and the musical progression made at this point? Are there any challenges or perhaps goals you still feel you haven't reached yet? Please explain

I can’t evaluate my progress. My only conclusions come from what other people (fans, critiques and record label owners) say about my new album. As the reviews are quite good and the album received great marks, I think I did a good job. The main drawback is that it was a very time consuming process. I wrote the first track for the album (CREEDamage) as far back as in 2006! In 2010 the album was ready on 90%. It is extremely difficult to do everything by yourself. You need an enormous amount of time! Don’t forget that during all this time I rehearsed and went on tours with other bands, produced several albums of young groups and recorded them in my studio, helped others with arrangements. Moreover my studio has been constantly upgrading and now as a sound supervisor I see many mistakes in the album. I’d like to make my next album of higher quality in terms of sound.

5) Your first three albums were composed and performed in your native tongue, and yet The Dark Saga and CREEDamage are in English. Why the change, and has it opened up more avenues of growth, song writing, or even your career as a musician?

My first two albums (Silentium “The Ancients’ Wisdom” 1995 & “Yav’, Nav’ and Prav’ “ 1997) were recorded in English. I like this language. I even have learnt it by myself (I studied French in school!). Then were “Oriana Tales” & “ Epoch of Aquarius” in Russian. “The Dark Saga” album is a soundtrack for a video game. These are the names of game locations rather than track titles. In English it sounded more harmoniously and stylish. It was quite a different story with “CREEDamage”. The album was recorded in two languages just that my fans from different countries could understand the meaning of my songs. Thus, the army of my fans will grow in size as well as in quality. However, I am not doing it for my musician career or public image. I am 40 years old already and not interested in being a “Rock star.” I make my music just because I can’t exist without doing it. This is as vital for me as breathing!

6) CREEDamage also has quite a crisp production to it. What prompted you to record an album with such a high digital quality to it? Please explain

Thank you for such a high appreciation. It’s quite simple. As a composer I tried to create the most beautiful and memorable melodies, as an arranger I tried to make the most impressive and realistic orchestral elements. As a drummer and vocalist I strived to make my parts as much interesting and emotional as possible. As a sound engineer I wanted to handle my job most professionally. This is a prestige of my MoonHome studio. The sound of the new album is also a part of me, my creative input to the album. Even more groups turn to me since the album was released. They record the instruments at home (in a studio, garage or apartment) and send me their audio projects via Internet. I mix them and make mastering! This is such a positive thing for me. Young bands receive good quality of their albums (I don’t ask much money for my work) and I get some earnings for the upbringing of my child.

7) One thing I noticed about the audio to CREEDamage was that the cymbals on the drums were really loud, and the distortion on the guitar a bit weaker. Was this a result of post-production, or did you go into the studio expecting to have a final product with that output?

This is a subjective opinion. Most people think the cymbals in the album are balanced perfectly. To tell the truth they are even too weak as for me. If you like Dark Throne of the early nineties, then yes, the cymbals are too “crystal” and loud. But I wanted to make a record of the 21th century. The distortion on the guitars was a bit weakened so that additional notes in complex accords would be more distinctly audible. I can’t say that I am very satisfied with the sound of guitars, but it is rather close to what I really wanted.

8) Straying from the technical aspect of CREEDamage, you enlisted the help of Masha from Arkona, and Wulfstan from Forefather. Why did you choose to include them as guest vocalists on this recording? Please explain

It was not even an issue in respect of Masha! When I read the poem in an internet forum (written by a girl Alyona from Karelia), which later on became the lyrics for the song, I remembered Masha’s voice at once. That was the case when lyrics appeared earlier than the music (I usually write lyrics for the music.) When I was writing vocal part, I clearly imagined how it will be sung by Masha. When I offered her to sing it, she agreed at once and I am so thankful to her for that!!! Another situation was with Wulfstan. I needed a vocalist with a beautiful timbre of clean voice (it should have been better than the original, otherwise what’s the reason to do it?). At that, the vocalist should have been “of our coterie.” A traditionalist, a folklorist, you know what I mean. That would be a profanation of great Quorthon cover to invite a high class vocalist from a heavy-metal band that sings about alcohol, bikes and tits. Then it is quite simple. Mentally sort out the potential candidates and you will realize that such people are few and far between! So here is the answer.

9) You also did a very moving cover of "The Lake" by Bathory. Why did you decide to choose this song to be part of CREEDamage?

When I first listened to the song, I wanted to make a cover on it already. It is hard to explain. The melody and meaning of the song just perfectly match with my cast of mind. That was an old dream of mine and I am very happy I made it come true. I am so grateful to Master Alafern, who excellently made guitar parts heavier, to the guys from Lviv, who recorded choral backing vocal parts for me and to Wulfstan, who recorded incredibly beautiful and strong vocal!

10) From the moment CREEDamage starts, it seems more aggressive, but when it ends, the music has shifted to an emotional conclusion. Is this album a conceptual piece, was it intentional, or was it just how the album turned out at the end of the day? Please explain.

Initially I didn’t intend to create anything conceptual. But when the tracks lined up in their order I saw some conceptual sense. I will tell you a few words about each track with pleasure. Intro «Ardent Dance of War’s God» is an illustrated story, in which towns in fire pray for help. The track «Rolls of Thunder From Fiery Skies» continues the theme of fire. Lyrics tell us about an incredibly hot summer, changing climate, consuming approach to the Mother-Earth. Nowadays money is considered to be the most important thing. But this is a lie! The most important is to change our attitude to ecology as soon as possible. And burning skies are just the warning for us from the Gods. «CREEDamage» continues the ecology theme but in the light of Christianity. The destroying of authentic Temples of Nature! There’s no word in the Bible that would teach to love the Nature and to protect it. That’s why the entire world has such an attitude. The Bible tells us a cheap myth about a crucified half-human, making him the most important figure of your life. It forces us to forget what really gives us the air, food and the life. Lyrics for «The Moun Dawns Lie On The Ground» haven’t been composed by me. I found this verse in a forum dedicated to pagan poetry. The author was a young girl from Karelia. She agreed. These are lyrics about mystical agamic creatures from dreams. At the same time, these creatures are dreams. A particular charm of this track is in the fantastically powerful folk vocal of Masha Arkhipova from the band “Arkona”. «The Age of Heroes» begins with a fragment of the film «Primordial Rus’». In this fragment a father teaches his son to love the Earth, tells him where the souls of his ancestors live, and teaches him to be strong and to know how to protect his Land. In the middle of the track I used the fragment of the film «Beowulf», which tells us that Christianity had destroyed true heroes and had left only fear and shame to people. I intended to support all this musically. «The Eyes of Abyss» is a philosophical text about the meaning of Life. That if you chose your way once, you should follow it. You shouldn’t fear of anything and always act as your heart tells you. Moreover, you should not believe only to what you can see. There are many things that we can’t see but we know they exist. «Carpathians’ Shield » is the text written on my demand by I.Z.V.E.R.G., the vocalist of the band «DubBuk». Its story goes about the heroic time when the inhabitants of the Carpathians were several Carpathian pagan settlements, who had stopped a whole army of the Golden Horde in a canyon at the cost of their own lives. This event has been described in Ukrainian and Polish sources about the Tartars break through Carpathian Mountains in 1241. These heroes had stopped the passage of Tatars to the Europe then. Thus, they saved the catholic Europe from devastation. They hadn’t received any gratitude, though. Just the oblivion. And finally, the closing trilogy «Krada». «Krada» is an Old Slavic funeral fire. The first part “Blood” tells about the battle itself, about the heroism and bravery of warriors, about the shed blood. The second part “Surya”, it’s a symbolic victim. The blood shed into the Land. And Surya as heady honey drink of Gods that the survived warriors were drinking during the funeral feast Trisna for the souls of the fallen. And the last part is “Fire”, as the last bridge to Iriy (Slavic Valhalla). This is the process of the resurrection of pure souls, gone in a battle. The album ends with the remote sounds of funeral fire burning, cries of a widow and far sounds of Carpathian trembitas, announcing that the Soul of the Warrior has resurrected to Iriy. Now it’s up to you to decide whether it is conceptual or not.

11) How about with the three part Krada instrumental at the end? Was this a conceptual piece that is meant to tell a tale through the music much like how "Carpathians' Shield" is meant to pay tribute to Mikhail Nechay? Please explain.

I have already answered this question.

12) What's next for Munruthel, the band and the human being? Are there any plans to do some more album production or recording, or perhaps something to promote the recent release of CREEDamage?

I always have things to do. I never sit passively. I don’t play computer games, I don’t watch series. Sometimes I watch top-ranked films. I have time to listen to the music only while moving around the city. As I’ve already written, I’m working on the new albums of “MUNRUTHEL” and “KOLO”. I also sing for a new album of “Thunderkraft” (it’s my last job as a drummer). Besides I am engaged in making a feature film. I will be the scenarist, director, producer, cameraman, composer and editor of this film. I think it will cost me very much time and efforts. But I’m sure it will be worth the efforts and my respectable fans will be happy to find me in a new role and will watch my film. I hope they will be lenient to me, even if it delays the creation of a new album. Moreover, I will soon complete the mixing of a wonderful album of “Triglav” project in my sound recording studio. I’ve played drums there and taken part in music recording\arrangement in my studio. Remember this title! Believe me, it will be a very interesting material with my drums and showing the work of my studio with me as a sound engineer! And I don’t like live gigs. I like quiet trips to the woods!

OPTIONAL) Is there anything else you would like to mention before I let you go?

I wish your readers to look at the World through the eyes of a child more often! It is the purest and the most correct vision. Without any social doctrine, without stupid religious prejudices. On the whole, that’s it! Very good, very bad! A very simple estimation criterion. Also drive away from yourselves any manifestations of any Abrahamic religions! That’s a lie to destroy the human being and life! In spite of the fact that it sounds so strange.