The Latvian black metallers Eschatos have in my opinion never made a bad record. Sure, their production is not as high, but if you bring out stuff like ‘MÆRE’, I think we’re fine. It’s the third release by the band, that calls Riga their home and has had a steady line-up since 2012.
Interesting enough, this is their first EP. Maere offers a new look and feel to the band, driven more towards the artistic connections of the band members perhaps. More a voice of themselves, with a cover that stands out in a black and white adoring scene. Perhaps we are seeing Eschatos rise from the cocoon of the last few years here and find a unique voice in the black metal landscape.
This is immediately clear on ‘Luminary Eye Against The Sky’. The music works more as a flow, with a particular glow, seemingly moving in a more post-metal direction. The harrowing vocals of singer Kristiāna Kārkliņa are still there to raise the hair on the back of your neck, but it’s Marko Rass who really colors the sound with effects, keys, and even organ sounds. A slight folky element seeps into the song at the intro already. It’s the core of the music that changed most though, dynamic drum work by Edvards Percevs and a throbbing bass by Tomass Beķeris make the world of difference.
Guitars do much to even put more feeling and drive in the sound. Edgars Gultnieks, formerly of Grondh and also active in Protean, knows his stuff. Mārtiņš Platais, also in Pulse of Nebulae, adds work on guitars, bass, and keys to the whole array of sound as the producer. That wealth of instruments is particularly clear on the second part of the album, titled ‘The Night of the White Devil (part I, II & III)’. A big piece, filled with elements of postrock and even proggy sections as the suite spirals forwards, exploring various musical directions on its way. An interesting fact is that the mastering was done by DanSwanö, perhaps explaining the clear and melodic sound of the record. The second song is definitely a big masterpiece, where Kārkliņa can demonstrate the full range of her vocal talent.
This is Eschatos at its best this far, I love it. MÆRE offers a journey that is exciting, every step of the way. Full of surprising elements, but in all its variety always coherent in its majesty.
Label: Independent Band: Laiva Origin: United States
The waves, the sea, the Balts
I came across this band from Seattle, because they use Latvian titles and themes for their shoegaze. Maybe a connection exists, but information is scarce on this group. What I can tell you is that they make great music. Music that overwhelms you with its calm cadence and free-flowing stream of the guitar.
The band appears to be part of the ‘dreamgaze’ scene in their neck of the woods. The band has been praised in announcements for their live shows, but more I can not say at t his point.
We hear the sound of the sea on ‘Pūt Vējiņi’, which has a sung intro performed by Edmunds and Valentine Rekevics in San Diego. The title means ‘Blow Wind’, which is a Latvian folk song. I’m not sure if the couple is part of the band or simply Latvian migrants that recorded their beloved songs. It offers a contemplative opening to this record with the beautiful song reverberating in my ears.
The band truly has an oceanic quality to them, completely submerging the listener in waves of tranquil guitar play. Wavery, warm sounds wash over you on ‘Come Now’, that beckons you to join in the water with its alluring, hazy sound. The flow keeps a steady pace, but never is it rushed. Vocals are used sparsely and even then they are hard to hear in the middle of the complete current of the music. On ‘Sea Legs’ we get a few changes, where the sound becomes a gentle trickling guitar for a moment before a complete haze overwhelms you again.
The EP is a beautiful record that feels like a whole that stretches on a bit much. Call it shoegaze or postrock, it has something haunting. It offers a feeling of swimming in the ocean. Completely submerging in the massive sound.
Velnezers is the creation of Roberts Blūms, a Latvian musician who did everything on the first demo and album, but now the group is continuing as a four piece band. Bringing full weaponry to the table that means on their second full length ‘Pēdējā Saule’, which translates as ‘last sun’. An interesting endeavour of violent black metal.
The band has a very down to earth approach to it. So much that I’d call their sound earthy as well. The songs are rather straight forward, but with an ethnic element of rolling up your sleeves and getting in on it. The cover speaks of some sort of pastoral sound, perhaps inspired by the wintery countryside, but this is not what you get with Velnezers. The band name might be derived from a Wagars track, but I’m not certain about this.
There’s something typical about the sound of Velnezers, from the vocals (in Latvian) you can see that the language shapes the way it fits in with the music. Something I find typical about many Baltic bands. The riffing is often not too complex, but much more expressive and tasty. The track ‘Raganu Medības’is a nice bit of thrashy black metal, with rolling sound and threatening effect. Jumping from the thrashing passages, straight into the blast beat-tremolo roll, it shows how easily the band shits sound. It’s a sound that is feisty, furious and energising, but always with that darkened edge, which makes them so accesible.
Though the band stays pretty close to a rough sounding black metal band, there’s definitely a good rock’n’roll vibe going on. The clear production helps the musicians articulate their sound clearly and cohesively, without becoming the static broth you often hear. Still it sticks close to the ghoulish original Mayhem sound with the bombastic power of Behemoth at times. The clear sound helps in creating space for that vibe. The clear atmosphere never gets lost in a pile of guitar distortion. Both influences can be heard on ‘Meži Deg, Dūmi Kūp I’. On the other hand, you can detect some death/sludge influences on ‘Svētīts Tiek Mirstīgais’.
Stranger even then, to suddenly hear a mellow, acoustic track. The vocals on ‘Meži Deg, Dūmi Kūp II’ sound distant, far removed from everything. The song flows forward like a calm river with repetitive waves and singing. It is a unusual song for a black metal album, but like most bands from the Baltics, there’s something eclectic to the sound of Velnezers. This song swells up to a gloomy expression of despair, ending with some mere piano tones. The title track closes of with some big riffs. This is a great record, if you can get past the Latvian language vocals. Enjoy!
I’ve come across many kinds of music and many artists and some stick. Sometimes I don’t even get the words directly, but something in the way they are sung tells you of their meaning.
Header photo by Olafs Osh
One of those artists is Imants Daksis, a latvian singer/songwriter, who makes ‘screaming folk’ music. Daksis is a peculiar figure in the Latvian music scene. Deeply artistic, expressive and solitary caught between the east and west. Check out the latest record right here by the way.
I was extremely excited to find him willing to answer some of my questions, so without further ado, here goes:
How did you get into music and how did you end up on this specific path? Which artists inspired you? When I was 15 I realized that guitar is my instrument. I began writing songs at 17/18 and at the same age I had already planned and written down concert repertoire for many concerts which was even far from planning. So it happened quite naturally.
In 2001 we made a post-punk band together with my friends. The band was called “Pasaulesgaisma” (Light of The World). After few years I began my solo act.
I experienced my first musical revolution at 13 when I heard Jimi Hendrix. I am still fascinated by the way how liberated he was in his playing. In my opinion, it is possible to reach true virtuosity by doing things your own way and not according to the so-called canons.
My own music has been influenced by 60s’ psychedelic music and ethnic/world music, post-punk bands (such as Swans, Bauhaus, JoyDivision, etc.), Russian punk scene (Grazhdanskayaoborona, Instrukciya po vizhivaniyu, etc.), and some local artists as well. Also I have great love for Russian singers-songwriters VladimirVisotskiy and Alexander Bashlachev. I have always been loyal to independent music and ground breaking avant-garde, though I am more interested in particular artists than genres. Not to mention the influence left by classical music and music for cinema. The last one has particularly leaded the way on how I make my own albums.
However, for the past 5 or so years I am mainly getting inspiration of my own musical work which has been recorded in the past and developing my own ideas.
Are you involved in any other projects at the moment? Right now I have collaboration with one electronic music artist and I am also a lead singer in s rock band. At this moment these projects are focused on making records and there are my songs involved.
Music is not my only occupation. For the past six years I have also been making photo collages.
What does making folk music mean to you? I don’t associate myself as a folk musician and I have never felt the need to belong to any music scene. I think that my music is more expressive and controversial than a typical folk musician could tolerate. I could say that it is somewhere between folk, psychedelia and post-punk. Some time ago my Latvian audience invented a new genre to describe what it sounds like – screaming folk.
What are the thoughts, images and messages you try to convey in your music? I am into such themes as death and transcendental processes of any kind of consciousness, weather it be human mind or mind in wider meaning.
Is there any political element to your music? Or a religious one for that matter? In my music I actualize the need for spiritual freedom. That is the most important thing for me. There are also motives of reincarnation and transformation in general. My music is not political. However, from all political systems social democracy is the one I prefer the most.
How important to you are the traditional elements in music and culture in present day Latvia? Where do you see your own role in this? For me traditional elements are as important as any other elements are, if they are used to create something good.
Not too long ago I was a vocalist in a post-folk project “Pērkonvīri” (Thundermen). We were looking for innovative sounds and interpretations of Latvian traditional music and recorded a very good album together, which you can listen here. This has been my closest affair with traditional music so far. However, I have composed a couple of songs by the same principles as Latvian folk songs are based on (speaking of the text layout and rhythm). I don’t like to tag my music with genres, but I see it more as a combination of acoustic post-punk, indie, psychedelia and folk in general.
Can you tell a bit about your latest album ‘Mūžīgā ģeogrāfa piedzīvojumi’, which is a great record. I understand it’s an album with global themes, for example the Judah Song. Why did you choose such topics?
“The Adventures of Eternal Geographer”. This album is dedicated to the eternal geographer – a character which has repeatedly appeared in my music. For eternal geographer our so-called reality and civilization is something only so-called. He does not cling to anything and does not see the statements and ideas made by this society as something unconditional. Eternal geographer is not attracted to any ideology – he laughs about the borders which are made by human society (for him human life is only a temporary challenge). This album is not only about global themes, but the abstract nature of them. It is about human in the world and the world in human, and in general it tells about spiritual processes.
When I try to read translations of your lyrics and texts accompanying music, I feel and see a lot of poetry and literature, also in referencing. Do you take this as an important influence on your work and which writers most of all? I have always had an ability to perceive and memorize huge amounts of information. When interested in something, I literary start studying it. So when an image, reference, rhyme or anything else is needed, it just emerges from this storehouse. I am interested mostly in spiritual and explorative literature. And in some spare moment I will read children’s or adventure books – that adds some ease and buoyancy to my daily life.
Folk music has a risk to sound outdated, how do you keep your music so catchy and relevant? It never feels repetitive to me. My life is hard both internally and externally, that makes my music catchy… Well, every joke has a gain of truth. I have very wide range of interests and influences. For example, right now, besides answering these questions, I am listening to Syrian traditional music and Sardinian polyphonic singing. I also experiment a lot till my music reaches my mental state (a song has often gone through several wholesome versions). My aim is to achieve unexpected results, while using minimal resources (that especially refers to live performances).
What plans do you have for the near future? I have some very divergent musical plans and projects for this year, and also my photo collages soon will be finally finished.
If you had to compare your music to a dish (food) what would it be and why? I would like to think that my music is more eternal than food. Food is something that has to be taken to provide this physical life, but I make music to transform it.
Label: Self Released Band: Ēnu Kaleidoskops Origin: Latvia
Sometimes you need to find the sound that is lcoser to nature, by venturing into nature and trying to get in touch with it. This is what Mārtiņš Links did, while studying in Lithuania. It is the origin story for the band ĒnuKaleidoskops from Latvia. A group that creates neo-folk with a particular calm and natural feeling to it.
This is as far as I can gather the third full length album of the band. The engineering work was done by Kaspars Barbals, who is a familiar name due to his work in Skyforger in the past. The group is a loose collaboration of artists, joining forces where needed to create beautiful music. On ‘Tie, kas šķietami zuduši’, the third effort under this name, they succeed for sure.
The music is typical for the Baltic tradition. A bit heavy handed, a bit dark sounding, but also very cozy and natural. A lot of chanting and a wide array of instruments to create all the different little sounds in the clean recorded songs. The vocals are mostly in harmony with backing vocals and instruments, like very clearly audible on ‘Asā zāle’. Meandering, wavery instrumentals put no pressure on the listener.
The playful folky medleys, like ‘Elpa’ with a Jethro Tull-y flute are very pleasant to the ear. Catchy, but also a little dark and unpredictable. On ‘Bula Laiks’ we even hear the intense rhythm section stepping back for just an idyllic bit of flute a few times, which sounds so heavenly peaceful and calm. The combination with the vibrant energy of the percussion is a thrill for the ear. I think that ‘Rūķu armija’ with its jolly intro is even a little bit of a hit potential song.
The core of the music is typical for Baltic volk. The reciting tone of the vocals, the repetitive patterns of the music and all are very much reminiscent of an act like Romuwe Rikoito and I guess a dozen groups, since this style of folk is simply quite popular. Not that it’s a casual thing that the people enjoy, it seems that there’s quite some younger people inspired to re-invoke the heritage in this type of neofolk music. The repetitive element is a common feature, but the flute play and expansive instruments are not necessarily so. It does function in such a way to create a feeling of otherworldliness, even trance by the repetition. The listener sinks away into a much emptier, younger world.
The mystical sound of this group definitely works for me.
There have been numerous sounds from the underground worthy of capture like Toska, Protean, Der Weg Einer Freiheit and Krallice. This one packs a punch!
Toska –Toska Self Released
The band Toska is inspired by poetry of Tadeusz Micinski, a polish poet, gnostic and playwright who was an early expressionist or even surrealist. That’s about all there is known about the black metal band, which surprisingly is not from Poland or anywhere around, but from Iceland. This is the debut of the band, which only came out very recently this year (2015). Let’s check it out.
There’s a cold in the sound of the band, like you can feel in the air when frost is approaching. It becomes clear, while the tracks pass by, that there’s a certain amount of electronics involved in the production of this bit of music, which gives it a particular industrial-like cold feeling. The drums therefor lack the organic, furious feel that you’d expect. They feel too tight, to automatic. Some weird samples of keys are played through the music at a very low volume. This is rather peculiar and a bit spooky. Regardles of all that, the music is intense, full and like a blizzard storm in aural form. If you like you black metal cold and technical, this is the record for you.
Protean – The BurningCenturies Beverina Productions
Protean is a Latvian band with (former) members of various bands from the Baltic state, such as Eschatos, Urskumug, Frailty, Grondh and many others. Guest contributions were made by no other than the guys from Skyforger, making this a bit of an all-star record for extreme metal LV. Protean is a musical project that takes a journey through the history of warfare, mythology and legends. From the Punic Wars to the Hungarian Black Legions clash with the Ottoman turks, the longboats of the north and ancient Latvian myths. This is very promising material.
What we get is a clean production and sound that is big and mean. Protean embodies the sound of battle, history and a passion for metal in one furious ball of force. From the chanting on ‘Bringer of Fear’ to its thunderous main song, it resembles the more bold and heavy in the blackened genre, like Behemoth (which I find it resembles a lot). The focus is on atmosphere and grandeur, without much regard of genre boundaries, which is something I love in Latvian metal. The clean singing on ‘Swordwraith’ for example, gives a power metal like vibe combined with machine gun drums. It makes it sound big and honest. I particularly like the long track ‘The Longships Are Burning’, which is a bit of a nod to good old Unleashed and their beer guzzling favorite. A long track full of ambiance of Opeth-y guitar play and brutal bursts like a reign of fire. It shows a feeling for the dramatic as well as great musicianship. This whole album is a demonstration of strenght, a tour de force if you will, of a group of musicians that is highly talented. I feel like I’m just the jackass that wants to tell you that… Please listen to this band.
Der Weg Einer Freiheit – Stellar Season of Mist
This German black metal band was one of those that I missed out on on Roadburn. I thought, judging by the name, that this was some sort of post-apocalyptic folk ensemble. Yeah, you know the kind. Nothing of the kind however, but brutal, icy and melodic black metal (yes, all of that). The band from Würzburg is inspired by philosophy, death and life in their music and has 3 records under their belt this far. Yes I know that ‘Stellar’ has been out for almost 9 months, but have you heard this record? How could I not include it in this section of my website.
The sound of this band is like a warm bath with ice storms. The music provides the bath in the sense that its full and soothing with some major elements creating that immersion. Thematically and through the vocals and hard hooks there’s the storm, stirring unease in the general pool of sound. There’s blistering fury in the sound, but also the anticipation in the calm parts of ‘Repulsion’. Then there’s the catharsis and bliss united in ‘Einkehr’, a chastizing pilgrimage into destruction, total annihilation of the self. Closer is one beautiful and harrowing soundscape, under the title ‘Letzte Sonne’.
Krallice – Hyperion Independent
I feel like I’ve just finished with the previous full length titled Ygg-Huur, which I discussed in #19 of Sounds of the Underground, and then this band of rascalls from New York suddenly drops another one. Hyperion was recorded back in 2013, but only now is released on bandcamp. An interesting mention on bandcamp was the comparison to Sonic Youth, which is hard to distiniguish, but definitely present in the experimental sound of the group. It’s their way of saying Happy New Year I suppose.
The cover shows what appears to be a mountain range or maybe water? It speaks to the imagination, like the music of Hyperion. Blistering, radical twists open up the grandeur of the title track, with roaring drums and intense blasts. The band is like an uncoming storm, taking the most surprising twists and turns in their sound and obliterating any opposition. I can not understand how someone would not classify this as black metal’s next evolutionairy fase. The inspiration for the almost cacophonic, primordial ceremony that is performed on ‘The Guilt of Time’ makes you think of Lovecraftian sources, with copper beaten, clanging and grinding distortion. Krallice proves that they’re here to stay.
New music for the people! A batch from the underground with Khemmis, For Giants, Les Attitudes Spectrales and Benoît Pioulard. Good music for your ears, this is.
Khemmis – Absolution
Though the name is not ringing any bells yet, the cover of the new record by these doom lovers reminds me of 70’s fantasy and immediatly attracted my attention. A big sounding band with a classic influence. Towering riffs and majestic solo work. The Colorado band has only been around for a short while, releasing their debut on 20 Buck Spin. Production was in hands of Dave Otero (Cobalt, Nightbringer). This promises much for the future of these young men, since their sound is that kind which has a quality that doesn’t tie itself to certain decades.
Six monumental tracks of clean vocal doom, sounding mournful but still keeping an energetic pace that works pretty well from your lazy chair. It has pretty much everything going for it. A fancy cover, good production and the sound of earthy catacombs. Lyrically the band is in love with grandeur and dark themes. How else would you like to have it? There’s a certain pop sensibility to the sound of this band, that makes the music very accesible. I would argue that this is a good thing for what they are aiming to do. Doom traditionally has that element and these guys put it to their best use.
For Giants – You Are The Universe
Nothing beats a good bit of atmospheric, instrumental rock music. Specially if it masterfully sets down a mood and tells a story on its own without using words. This continent spanning American project has produced a couple of releases over the last few years and this is the most recent album, number two if we were counting. The sound is a clean, sharp and spacious. It feels a bit like an outer space adventure sonically.
The feeling this music gives can be described as a bit of Ayreons grandeur (call me crazy if you will) and The Mars Volta’s experimental zoning out. Add a bit of that good old Devin Townsend weirdness and I guess you got a bit of the vibe these guys offer. The clean, soaring guitar parts take over where you’d expect vocals and do so rather succesfully. The band themselves put their sound between progressive, djent and metalcore and that seems pretty much fine as well. It’s a good listen, thats for sure though.
Les Attitudes Spectrales – Floral Wreck
Maybe its a personal thing, but a noisy/experimental French/Latvian duo that is being compared to the White Stripes is for me reason enough to check some music out. The result is a psyched out, primitive, jangling series of pop tunes featuring drums and guitars from the duo. There’s a certain weary drag to the sound that is slightly remniscent of the more dreamy and hypnotic psych bands of these days.
The unpolished, raw sound of the band is in fact the greatest charm of their sound, which is natural and free in shaping itself. Labelling it as compost rock or ghost punk seems rather fitting. The lo-fi sound only adds to the charm of the band, which has been performing in the Baltics mainly. Truth be told, I feel this is a worthy candidate for next years Eindhoven Psych Lab. The sound is much more adventurous, daring and yet minimal to the almost primitive with a good dose of weird.
Benoît Pioulard – Stanza
Thomas Meluch decided to take up an artist name with Benoît Pioulard for his organic work. It’s music and photography, and the two seem to have become intertwined somehow. The soothing, fuzzy sounds are like the nature pictures accompanying them. Free of human intervention, clean and pure. Meluch is extremely productive and every other month another record appears to be released on his bandcamp. A good thing, if you ask me.
The seven songs of this record are not action packed tracks. They embrace a sense of tranquility, calm and atmosphere like the sunrays through a forest on a summer morning. Life is slowly awakening and things are still quiet. Slow droning sounds quiver in the air, sounding a bit distant as if its a concious lo-fi recording to create more ambience. The record is intended as a companion piece for the LP ‘Sonnet’, but I’m fairly sure it stands strong enough on its own as a soothing piece of ambient.
A bit more than a year ago I did an interview with Latvian black metal band Eschatos. It was published on Alternative.lv and can be found here.
I loved the sound of this band and their genuinely intellectual approach to the genre. This is the unedited version that I received, giving you the raw insights into this band, which I hope to see in action some day. Reading this interview again also gives me some insigths into my own journey. I really was not sure about the stance I was supposed to take, so rather than being inquisitive I might have seemed boastful to the band. Lessons to be learned I suppose.
What remains is my admiration for this band, who make amazing music and have received raving reviews from pretty much anywhere
What can you tell more about how you guys got together and formedup a black metal band by the name of Eschatos? What have you guysplayed in before apart from Grondh and Ocularis Infernum?
Jānis: The formation of Eschatos was a natural outcome of things. We all knew each other, we knew what we wanted to achieve and what to expect from one another.
If we talk about other bands, Edvards is playing in a prog/death metal band „Opifex”, I – Jānis, Edgars and Edvards played together in another black metal band, called „Velna Krusti”, back in the days.
Did you have other names in mind as well? What does the word Eschatos mean for you guys?
J: The name symbolizes many things for us. It’s the end of something and life after death. It is also the highest point. It came to us pretty naturally. Before that we did briefly pass some other names, but when „Eschatos” rose up, it cleared all the doubts.
What do you guys do in daily life?
J: I earn my daily hunk of bread by working as a graphic designer. It’s one of the things I don’t dislike a great deal amongst the rest useless shit.
Kristiāna: There are a very few things I do not.
I am studding theory of art, designing, taking pictures, painting, making movies, organizing exhibitions, etc.
Edgars is studying Theory of Culture.
Edvards: Most of my time is occupied with Social Anthropology studies, but I somehow always find myself to be immersed in a vast variety of things, ranging from playing music to doing graphic design, video or audio editing, building something, and learning every new thing that I come across.
I find it interesting that you call black metal music Art, can you elaborate on that? Do you approach it as making art in the sense of creating something with beauty? (I’m asking this, because early black metal musicians and many purists still heavily oppose the term art)
J: Art is not necessarily associated with beauty. Although that which is ugly and rotten to one, is beautiful to another. Art is a product of creativity and imagination that triggers an experience. We use the term to describe the passionate and majestic work of our creation.
For me black metal has always been a really deep form of art. I can understand, that some people don’t understand, how destruction can be labeled as creation, but you do create it, right?
K: Considering the fact that the essence of art is still in discussion among art critics and theoreticians, especially due to the strong conceptual tendencies in visual art emerged on the other half of 20th century, I will not argue the nature of it. There is one thing I can say for sure, in “Eschatos’s” case music as art presents itself as combined spiritual experience resulting in a birth of entity of autonomous existence – music.
Is Art something outside of the personal, a product or expression if you will, or is it a part of life as you lead it?
J: Art is always personal. It’s the expression and reflection of the artist. A little piece of the artist’s soul, if I may say so.
K: I would supplement that the true art always involves personal perspective whether it is a painting, sculpture, symphony or a black metal composition for that matter. Art is the only way to travel to whatever layers of consciousness you can endure.
What are your main inspirations, musically and otherwise?
J: It is hard to emphasize specific things, because there are so many things that inspire me. Mostly it is not music that lights something in me that I strive to manifest in our creations. These are experiences from meditations, visions and vivid emotional bursts I’ve had.
Musically, there is a broad variety of genres, that I listen to, starting from black metal, to experimental, progressive, classical, ambient and even some indie music, to name a few. What I do search for in music is strong atmosphere and artistic and ideological background, because without that the music is empty. I really admire the Swedish and French black metal scenes of nowadays. They kind of have these profoundly dedicated scenes with so many good bands, but, as I said before, many things inspire me, and this is just the tip of the iceberg.
It’s probably a lame question, but how’s having a female vocalist working out in a scene that is pretty much from its start been devoid of women?
K: I believe this question was not meant for me, but I will answer it anyway. At first, I think that women in black metal are not something entirely new. There are bands like “Darkestrah”, “Astarte”, and “Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult”, etc., but unfortunately none of these bands are amongst my favorites.
Secondly, I cannot start to explain the insignificance of gender when it comes to musical abilities, talent, if you will.
So, about the Latvian black metal scene. How is that, are there many bands that play black metal and does it have some typical sound or own identity to it?
J: There is no Latvian black metal scene. You can count the active bands on the fingers of one hand, if you skip all the bedroom projects. There have been many bands that come and go without leaving much legacy.
Skyforger is a great band, but they haven’t got much black in their metal anymore. Dark Domination are the sole survivors of Latvian black metal, as they are the only band that has lasted so long. Urskumug is a notable act, also I want to believe, that Ocularis Infernum and Grondh have left a mark of influence on the scene. The rest, for me at least, are just dust in the wind.
If you try to find parallels in the sound, I guess you can stumble upon few bands, that had something in common, but not enough to talk about typical local sound.
Can you give me an overview of how black metal came to Latvia and what developed there?
J: I think, that black metal is still „coming in”. Of course, we have our history that started in mid 90’s but I don’t feel that black metal in Latvia has strong foundation and dedicated scene.
Is the Latvian metal scene tight knit or divided into the different genres?
J: I would say, that it is pretty divided, with emphasis on some genres like death metal and alternative metal, where the last one is like a completely different scene. I’m glad that the last years have brought more tolerance and appreciation for more experimental and unorthodox music in the metal scene.
Edvards: I would like to add that the whole scene thing, while being much divided, maintains certain interaction, due to the fact that almost every metalhead plays some kind of an instrument and is usually involved in a number of different projects. There is a saying in Latvia that “where there are two guys – there are three bands”, or something like that. Everyone seems to know everyone. And in concerts, the genres are usually very inadequately mixed together, which results in the mixing up of the sub-scene representatives attending those concerts.
Black metal has been associated with Satanism, white supremacy but also paganism ideals. I’ve noticed that Grondh for example also mentions Satanist philosophy as one of their ideals. Do you feel confined by the overall black metal culture and the strict anti-attitude towards what is conventional and what do you consider to be the views that Eschatos represents?
K: As unconventional as it may seem there are no such boundaries to our art as traditional black metal ideals – Satanism, racism, paganism or any other “ism” for that matter.
At this point I believe black metal has grown to be more of a unifying phenomenon than restrictive bridle.
It is not our purpose to express absolute ideas. Our art is quite autotelic, but surely – one who is willing to listen, will find one’s own truths as well as ours.
Edvards: In a way, the black metal culture with its ideals can also be seen as the conventional black metal culture, which seems to be in contradiction with the anti-attitude towards the conventional. I do not believe it is wise to present our attitude through some already given instructions/manuals, like the above mentioned “-isms”, because it is often the case that those ideals become in themselves the main point, and not what they represent or were used for in the first place.
Where from do you get lyrical inspiration?
K: I have always believed that in art only pain, suffering and loss can awaken the true genius. For me to write, a strong trigger is required, and the last year has been just that. Of course, amongst the sources of my inspiration there are literature, philosophy, visual art, music and after all – a human being, concealing such a great variety of different self-destructive passions.
What is a show of Eschatos live, what do you try to give people and let them take home from a live performance? Do you prefer to record or to play live?
K: I can say for sure that those are both completely different experiences and both – vital. Record gives the advantage of perfectionism when one is needed. Live performance appeals to all the other senses. For me it is hard to comment on the last one due to the fact that during performance the bound with reality is quite loose.
Edvards: I do not prefer any one thing over the other. When we play music it is almost as a spiritual experience, and during live shows we provide the opportunity for others to immerse in it. That is a difficult thing to capture in a recording, but nevertheless it is an inspiring and a very creative activity, which provides many new insights and ideas.
What do you hope to achieve in the next few years as a band?
K: We have already achieved the only thing that truly matters – we create.