Interview for Zero Tolerance (England) 2012

1. The reissue of Epoch Of Aquarius opened my ears to your music under the Munruthel moniker for the first time and I must say I was mightily impressed. Do you think that 2012 is a better musical climate for the understanding and appreciation of Munruthel than 2006?


Response: No, quite the contrary, I see the interest losing, if we’re talking about such kind of music. The newer generation, unfortunately, expresses its feeble interest in the topics concerning the heroic ages of the past. Long bangs of hair and violet gym shoes excite them better. As for the reissue of my album “Epoch of Aquarius”, in my opinion, the album turned out to be very frank, and very emotional. People were eager to listen to it both in 2006, and 2012 as well. Some values never change! In 2006 the album was issued generally for CIS’ residents. In Europe and America it is practically unknown. Nowadays, owing to the European issue by Svarga Music you can not only easy find this album, but also read all the lyrics poetically translated into English by a gifted translator Sergey AR Pavlov especially for this issue.


2. How man yof your fans do you think have followed you as are sultofy our days in Nokturnal Mortum? What aspects of Nokturnal Mortum have you taken into Munruthel and conversely, what have you changed – ideologically, stylistically and compositionally?


Response: In addition to all albums of Nokturnal Mortum, except the last one, as a drummer I took part in recording of more than 30 albums of different groups. There are also well-known bands among them, such as Lucifugum, Astrofaes, Piorun, Temnozor. So, it is very difficult to understand, where and whose fans are. Undoubtedly, some people respect me namely because of my ex-participation in Nokturnal Mortum, but at the same time many people came up to me on the street saying: “Oh, cool! Are you a drummer of Corvus?” (Corvus is a melodic metal band from Kharkov with female vocal). I replied: “Yes, but that's not the half of it… I‘m also Nokturnal Mortum’s ex-drummer!” And I was asked: “Oops! Who’s that?”

So, it’s difficult to respond unambiguously.

I adopted Nokturnal Mortum’s basic principle of work. Do everything as fast as possible and do it qualitatively! The main thing is not to drag out your work and always be number one in everything! Then you won’t be compared with anyone else, but everyone will be compared with you! So, in the course of working on the albums of Nokturnal Mortum we always had some “rough edges” between the band’s members. That’s why I also added this experience “to my armoury” and since that moment I‘ve been doing everything alone in my own studio. I invite good musicians for recording, they study with me their parts straight in the recording process and record them at once. Then I make orchestral arrangements, record vocals and make mixing/mastering. It is backbreaking work. It is a long and very complex process, but I’m easy in my mind and I shall not argue with anyone! As for ideological considerations, my project always adhered the only way: the ideas of traditionalism and revival of the primordial Slavonic faith. MUNRUTHEL, musically, doesn't interweave with Nokturnal Mortum. These are two different, though, it is possible also similar, views on the same things.


3. With the cover of BathorysTheLakeon the new album you obviously show your respect to Quorthons massive contribution to black and Pagan metal. I was interested that you chose a track off Blood On Ice as this is the album that really signalled the embracing of a more atmospheric and epic Bathory – did this period influence you particularly? Also, on the reissue of Epoch there is a cover of Burzum’s ‘Tomhet’, which leads me to the question – what is the importance of the ‘cover version’ to you? What should a cover version seek to achieve?


Response: Yes, I am brought up by Bathory’s music – especially by their more atmospheric stuff. Bathory’s first release I heard, was a true "Hammerheart" vinyl released by Noise Records – after that I lost my peace of mind. In 1990 nobody played the music like that. I have my heart miss a beat and it still sends shivers down my spine at the first sounds of guitar finger-picking in the beginning of this epic album. I also love very much “Twilight Of The Gods” and “Blood On Ice”. I like these works more than furious old albums of Bathory, or their thrash stuff of the middle of the 90’s. Quorthon said in an interview that earlier he tried to copy his idols from Motorhead and other bands. But in my opinion, these epic Viking sagas turned out much better. This cover was very important for me, and from the very beginning I planned to record it for my new album. A little bit later I got to know about the English tribute-CD “Voices From Valhalla”. So, I just sent them this already recorded cover version.

Burzum’s “Tomhet” made an indelible impression upon me in my time as well. It was the best proof of an expression “all brilliant ideas are simple”! When I worked on this cover, most of all I was concerned about spoiling the feeling of emptiness, which was perfectly expressed by Vikernes. It was impossible to do much things “from myself”, it was impossible to overload the arrangement by superfluous instruments and sounds. But, I think, I managed to make this track a little bit in my own way, but, at the same time, without spoiling the atmosphere of Her Majesty the Emptiness. I’m an adherent of making cover versions in better manner than originals. Otherwise, why should we record covers? I think that if a band decides to play a cover of their idols, they embody an irrepressible desire to play with their idols, even if it takes place just in their imaginary world! For example, I’d like to dream about playing in a rehearsal together with Quorthon… Well, probably I will have such a possibility in the Hall of Gods!

The reissue of “Epoch of Aquarius” by Gardarika Musikk (Russia) on the 6th of August 2012, is beautified with other cover version. It is Dead Can Dance’s “Black Sun” taken form their album “Aion”. This project also affected my musical education very much. There was a time when I listened to their albums every day for few years! I’d like to recommend highly all the readers to listen to this track. Originally it is sympho gothic ambient. In my interpretation it becomes now mysteriously calm, now ingratiating, now furious – with heavy guitars and double-kick drums. Very emotional and high, sturdy vocal of my English acquaintance Anthony Grishman gives special charm to this cover. I’d like to express deep gratitude to him and his wife for the help!


4. I was particularly enthused by your choice of guest musicians on the new album – with the credible vocal talents of Masha of Arkona and the excellent vocals of Wulfstan of the inimitable Forefather on the Bathory cover. How much respect do you have for these two bands? Do you see them as ideologically aligned with Munruthel?


Response: Masha "Scream"'s candidacy was absolutely obvious for me from the very beginning. I composed this track involving her spontaneously and quickly. I just sat down and composed music and a part of arrangement to all the song in one day! It looks as someone put it in my mind! I did other tracks for a long time joining separate fragments. The lyrics for this track were written by a young girl Alyona Voyevodina from Karelia. As she speaks, it came to her mind at daybreak almost in somnolence. So, this track has a kind of a mystical underlying message. Masha accepted my proposal unhesitatingly and recorded vocal parts. I’d like to express my gratitude to Masha for her sincere singing, and to Sergey "Lazar" for his technical assistance!

As for the vocals for Bathory's “The Lake”, I thought, tried to choose and recall a right person who could sing in the same epic manner as Quorthon did. A power metal singer would not do for it. So, I needed a singer with pure and powerful voice without rock'n'roll drive. Then I recalled how I admired Forefather’s stuff in the beginning of the century. Wulfstan turned out a man of his word. He acquainted himself with my material and rather quickly recorded his strong fine voice with back vocal parts in his studio. I was very glad to cooperate with such a gifted guy! By the way, the choir sounding in refrains of this song was recorded in an independent studio in Lvov! So, you can see, how many different people took part in recording of this fantastic saga about the magickal lake!

I like very much music of Arkona and Forefather. However, with the latter ones I haven't got acquainted personally yet! But I believe that they are adequate, honest guys – both on the stage and in true life. I believe that we do one common great and really important work! We hinder the complete globalization of the Earth and we impede the population’s enslavement by means of banking frauds, religious obscurantism and political lie! Taking into account the letters I receive, I managed to set some people on the right path! I’d like to thank your magazine, because you give me possibility to say about it – in addition to the possibility to sing about it!


5. What is the sample at the beginning ofThe Age Of Heroes’? As an instrumental track it reminded me a little of some martial industrial bands such as Rome, Arditi or Derniere Volonte. Are you familiar with this scene?


Response: It is a didactic monologue of the father addressed to his son from the movie “The Primordial Rus’”. He asks his son, who canes to the snow, not awake the Earth. He says that in spring the Earth will awake herself and give berries and fruits. He also learns that to preserve the Earth, we need very strong hands to protect Earth-Mother! I read this book, and I love this movie very much! It is a very true, atmospheric movie created in the 80’s, in times when it was still possible to shoot such films in which openly, without fear to be convicted of Nazism, it was said about patriotism, love to the Earth, to the Faith, to the people, to the culture! Nowadays, Mannerheym, the main national hero of Finland, is played in a movie by a black Kenyan actor for some reason! What a naked mockery at national feelings of Finnish citizens?

I am very poorly familiar with martial industrial scene. I know about its existence, I even heard a few tracks, but no more than that. When I compose my music, I arrange the tracks, and I don't identify myself with this scene. It looks as if I record a soundtrack for a heroic film. I try to compose my music in the way to make it the most realistic and transferring the patterns of my imagination. I enjoy working in this way more. And everything turns out better. I am a big fan of the modern symphonic cinema music. It is, as a rule, better than martial industrial.


6.What is it about the Ukraine that provokes such strong National pride and sentiment? It hink of great bands such as Nokturnal Mortum, Drudkh, Hate Forest, Blood Of Kingu and yourselves…


Response: The Ukraine is a land with very rich and very ancient history. The most part of the facts is held back in the world, but I am a person who is interested in it, so I can tell you a little. First, there is a natural megalith, the huge broken plate of sandstone in the middle of Sarmatian steppes! Certainly, such place should become a centre of religious ceremonies for many people occupied the steppe then. In the last century the scientists found passes in these breaks and found out proto-Sumerian texts on the walls of corridors! So, it looks like the great migration of the peoples, most likely, to Mesopotamia from Ukrainian territories as well! The great and mysterious Trypillya culture had left a trace of archaeological riddles. And this is the VIth —IIIrd millennium BC!!! Christianity, hell?! Where it was? I find it ridiculous, when the Ukraine is called as a Christian state! On the island Hortitsa, where Cossacks lived, many Pagan temples of the IVth thousand BC were dug out! All these facts directly feed the people from within. I, being a mystic, quite trust in it and I feel it on myself each time, when I am busy with creative work.

There is also more realistic explanation. Nokturnal Mortum first laid out a way to the foreign labels. They created the favourable atmosphere for the interest to our music, to our culture. As all of us are friends of Nokturnal Mortum, Drudkh, Hate Forest, Dub Buk, certainly, we helped each other, fed each other with power, celebrated together our great Pagan holidays, were one huge community. Now, of course, we have the other state of things. All became adults, everybody has his family, children. But our desire to be engaged in creativity and Spirit of Fight remained the same!


7. Tell me about the title of the new albumCREEDamagewhat does it mean to youis it are ference to the dilution of the Ukrainian culture?


Response: When I thought about the new album’s concept, I invented the name “CREEDamage”. There is such a compound word meaning “perfidy” in Russian language, but it consists of two words "creed" and "damage". Initially I took it literally and wanted to continue talking in the album about violent christianization of the Ukraine in 988 AD. But when I started to work on the lyrics for a composition with the same name, I identified the "Pagan" faith with the Nature, and "Christianity" with its destruction, as the bible does not say about the Nature and does not care of it. But, after all, it is an essential condition of Life! All religions, whether it be Christianity, Islam or Judaism, or something else, in which any sacred figure is torn off from the Nature - is destructive for Life on the Earth and is anti-human, extremist and shall be destroyed and forgotten! So, my new album is about it. I want everyone to understand it and become the enemies of religious obscurantism of the world religions! If it occurs and the world will not die out because of Islam, the Ukrainian culture itself will take a worthy place in pure souls of her sons.


8. Which folk artists inspire you? How do metal bands avoid sounding pompous when integrating folk elements? Do you agree that there are far too many embarrassing examples of folk metal that sully the genre’s reputation today?


Response: As I’ve already said, Dead Can Dance music influenced me greatly. It is not pure folk, but the mood of antiquity was always present in their music. The real folk artists are grandmothers from forgotten villages which sing in the way their mothers taught them to sing at a festive table. Everything else is pseudo-folk. And if we speak about performers of folk music, I would mark Kari Rueslatten, Hagalaz Runedance, Kalinov Most, Palace, Deep Forest & Dao Dezi, Aurora Borealis, Komu Vniz and many others. The groups which use folk in their music and it turns out grandiosely, are normal, if we are talking about epic fragments, heroic narrations about national heroes or myths. It emphasizes the necessary mood and forces a listener to feel a part of that era, lights his pride and those feelings which each man shall cultivate in him!

I don’t like cheerful folk-metal making people desirable to drink vodka and go dancing. So, it’s my way to be. But someone loves it very much. If I compose major folk themes, I use them in my world-music project KOLO. In 2005 the debut album "Kolo" was released by the same label, which issued “Epoch of Aquarius”. At the moment I work on the second album of this project.

If there are a lot of groups with awful folk filling, it means they are called-for, and someone listens to them! For me it is more important, how sincere people do. If they are just "clowns" hitting on a stage to a tambourine to the glory of Perun and Odin, but at home listen to Eminem, baptize their children, get married in church – then fuck ’em all!


9. What is it about the Pagan metal thematic that is most important to you? You have always been a strong part of the Pagan black metal underground.... how would you describe what makes great Pagan black metal?


Response: As I’ve already told - honesty of the scene. Pagan metal is religious metal. It is not style which can be described using any genre characteristics, such as “existence of folklore fragments”, or “middle tempo metal with screaming” etc. The true Pagan Metal may be played only by the people, who are able to feel sincere and thin communication with the Cosmos, and the ones who interact with the world around. Those who don't imagine their life in the urbanistic refined society. The ones who run away in the wood, to the lake, to the mountains in case of any slightest possibility. Those who are not bored to be in private with the Nature for hours, days, weeks. The people capable of it, can transfer with ease of a paintbrush of the great artist all these patterns of the Nature on a palette of the musical cloths. It is the real Pagan metal!

In this case it is impossible to try to deceive a listener and be engaged in this music just because of fashion. Believe me, it doesn’t matter how magnificent producing of an album would be, the listener will unmask you and will reveal all this falseness, all this false bravado! I say it because I know the most part of such musicians. Stop lying yourself! Your place is in the office! At the best, your place is in a local rummagy band playing on office parties, but doing it honestly, for the sake of money!

I just say nothing about that bastards playing “christian Pagan metal”. What a fuck?! It looks like playing Dimmu Borgir’s music using a church organ in Vatican.

So, remember. If you want to create great Pagan metal, behave in life in appropriate manner! The listener always feels it!



Translated into English by AR