When it comes to the Hungarian Metal scene, despite it's flourishing there have been far too few bands breaking out into the wider metal world. Bands like Dalriada have taken around 10-15 years to get noticed by the European elite, alongside them are the wider-known Thy Catafalque, Ektomorf, Tormentor and the recent AWS; the latter being Eurovision finalists. But what does this say about the Hungarian Metal scene? The bands are great, but the lack of attention from the wider metal community (labels and all) needs to be addressed.
In spite of this, Hungary has given birth to it's own labels (most bands signed are Hungarian naturally) such as Edge Records, Hammer Music Prods, Hammer Records and Nail Records to name but a few.
Enter Mytra, a sci-fi themed Progressive Metal band of whom are set to release their second album "N.I.R.A." via Nail Records; their debut album "Beta" was also released through this label.
GMA spoke with Robert Hocza to find out more about the band's history, the state of the Hungarian Metal scene, their latest single and the industrialisation of their home town...
"Metal in the past, was completely suppressed in Hungary. Nonetheless, many people like it, although it has always been banished from the mainstream media."
For those who do not know who Mytra are, could you give us a brief background history?
"Hi Rhys and greetings to the readers of Global Metal Apocalypse! Our band was founded in 1996 in Kazincbarcika, a small town in the northeastern part of Hungary. Our name comes from the name of an ancient Roman god, written in a special way. Over the years, we've written songs in different musical styles, ranging from melodic, complex death metal to instrumental rock. Our primary musical goal has always been innovation and eccentricity. Essentially, our songs have a futuristic feeling with sci-fi themed lyrics. We have self-published three singles, and our first album titled "Beta" was released in 2014 by the Hungarian publisher Nail Records. Our second album is to be released in a few days, also by Nail Records."
You just released your new single "N.I.R.A", what was the response like and what does the song title mean?
"The feedbacks on the single are actually much better than we expected. It seems like our new album will reach out to a broader group of people. We will see this more precisely in a few months. The title of the song is an abbreviation for "neural intelligent research assistant". This is a fictive character who has already played a role in "Beta". In fact, it is a brain implant with advanced artificial intelligence. The theme of the song, in a broader sense, is based on an occurrence that emerged recently. It's called digital solitude, which will develop even greater dimensions thanks to more advanced technological tools.
People, as individuals, will seek the company of a submissive, personalized, well-programmed machine, rather than their fellow human beings, which can sometimes lead to serious conflict. This will result in complete alienation within our society."
Your second album "Logos" is due out next month, will you be doing a tour of some kind to promote it?
"We are aiming to distribute the album to as many places as we can, and make it available on as many platforms as possible, with the help of our publisher. Like most bands, we would also like to perform these songs at concerts, because we believe this is the best way for listeners to become acquainted with us. We know there is a lot of work ahead, but this doesn't pose any difficulties for us, because we love to play and deal with the band."
Is metal music popular in Hungary or is it still relatively underground given AWS going to Eurovision last year?
"Metal genre in the past, was completely suppressed in Hungary. Nonetheless, many people like it, although it has always been banished from the mainstream media. Fortunately, things have started to change in the last couple of years. You can hear rock and metal performances on radio and television more and more often, which is very encouraging for Hungarian artists. AWS is an excellent band and we were all very happy that they participated in the Eurovision Song Contest, showing the world that rock music is actually alive in Hungary!"
Do you feel there is a lack of 'Cyber Metal' bands these days? What influenced you in creating your 'sci-fi metal' sound?
"Honestly, I never followed the current trends in the world of metal music, and as to which sub-genre is favoured by more people at a certain time. I know a few bands, who write songs with a similar theme, but the work of the New Age composers such as Jean-Michel Jarre, Mike Oldfield, Vangelis, Enya had the greatest impact on our music. Old electronic artists: Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream, and Aphex Twin also affected our work. Eternal favourites from the metal genre include Death, Cynic, Atheist, and Morbid Angel."
What is the Hungarian Metal scene like in terms of venues, festivals, media, etc?
"There are many metal festivals organised in the summer in Hungary, and these events attract large audiences. There are clubs nationwide, but these don't generally have many visitors. Fortunately for the media, things are getting better: there is press available in print and also on the internet, and we have internet based radio. There used to be a Rock TV channel, but if I'm not mistaken, it doesn't work any more."
For metalheads visiting Kazincbarcika, what sights / attractions could you recommend? Any favourite places of yours?
"We used to have favourite places... since the late '90s, things have been getting worse in our area. Poverty, desolation. These are the characteristics of our region for the most part. As a result, the clubs were closed down one after the other, and the audience slowly disappeared. The last club in town closed in 2018 on New Year's Eve. We were the last performers at the club. We are hoping that this downtrend will end one day, and that there will be active musical life in the city once again. "
What plans does Mytra have for 2020 after the album release? Are there any greetings you wish to send out?
"Organizing concerts, shooting a new music video, and writing new songs. Fortunately, we have collected plenty of ideas for the next album. And we'll see the rest! Thank you for the interview Rhys, and we would also like to thank Global Metal Apocalypse for the opportunity. Our special thanks goes out to the dear readers, for reading this, and devoting a few minutes of attention to us!"
With only a month to go before one of the biggest music competitions hits our screens, AWS from Hungary are raring to go to lay waste on the masses at this years Eurovision Song Contest which will be held in Lisbon following Portugal's win last year. It's not often a metal band gets put forward to represent their country, indeed the genre has only managed to secure one win - Lordi from Finland.
But following Lordi, a slew of metal bands emerged: Terasbetoni (Finland; following Lordi's win), Eldrine (Georgia), maNga (Turkey) and Adrian Lulgjuraj & Bledar Sejko (Albana), now it's Hungary's turn to put the volume up past thirteen and let the lads in AWS fly the flag for the metal music scene worldwide. GMA spoke to the lads who form this Post-Hardcore/Metalcore outfit about their trip through the national selection in 'A Dal', their home town, future plans and the meaning behind their chosen song.
See how AWS won 'A Dal' and began their journey to the Eurovision Song Contest in Lisbon below.
"We do hope there will be more metal at Eurovision from now on... it’s not as easy to consume as pop music for example.""
For those who do not know of AWS, can you give us a brief history of the band?
"Sure, we’re a five-piece band playing Modern Metal. We founded AWS back when we were in the same high school. We started with English lyrics (Fata Morgana album), but then switched to Hungarian (ÉGÉSFÖLD and Kint A Vízből albums). We’ve released three albums so far and we are working on the fourth one. We have toured Hungary many times and also played shows in Europe, for example we recently played a gig in London."
You chose the song 'Viszlát Nyár' to participate in the Hungarian preselection show 'A Dal' and subsequently won it, what does the song mean and were you surprised to win? What were emotions like on the night of the grand final?
"Of course we were surprised! We are a metal band that’s going to Eurovision (laughing). We were shocked at first but then we went to our favourite spot in town to celebrate with our friends. We were happy for our victory. Our song is about dealing with death. We think that in our culture we make things harder for ourselves by avoiding the topic of death carefully and sometimes forget about the fact that our time here is not infinite. Sometimes we forget to pay attention to the loved ones in our lives and we only realize these things when we lose them. If we could give more thought to the fact that we won’t be here forever, we could live a happier, fuller life and spend more time with the people and things that are important to us."
Will you be looking to do a tour before or after your Eurovision performance? Will 'Viszlát Nyár' be featured on a new album?
"Yes, for sure. Originally we wrote the song as a first single for our new album coming later this year. We will play a lot of festival gigs in the summer."
You play a mix of Post-Hardcore, Metalcore and Melodic Metal, do you feel metal music isn't well represented in Eurovision as much as it could be?
"We do hope there will be more metal at Eurovision from now on. Since this genre is quite heavy, full of strong emotions, it’s not as easy to consume as pop music for example."
Surely representing Hungary at the Eurovision Song Contest will be your biggest achievement; what made you enter 'A Dal' in the beginning?
"We didn’t think about the ESC in the beginning. We just wanted to show our music to a broader audience in Hungary. And we are going to Lisbon with the same goals: we are glad to have this opportunity and we would like to give our best shot to show people our music."
What did the judges say to your style of music during 'A Dal'? Has your song 'Viszlát Nyár' had any radio slots across Europe?
"Not yet, but there is an English version in the making, you might hear that soon! Not all the members of the jury were familiar with our style of music, but we received amazingly high from them in every round."
For those metalheads visiting your town of Budakeszi, what sights / attractions could you recommend seeing?
"You should check out our giant pines and our wildlife park with boars, bears and deer."
What are your plans for the rest of the year?
"We are sticking to our original pre-Eurovision plan: we are touring in Hungary and recording our fourth album. We are going to release it at the end of this year."
Finally what can Eurovision viewers and attendees expect from your performance?
"We can’t tell you too much about it in advance, but they can be sure to see a true AWS show full of power and pyro"
Dalriada have been making waves in the Hungarian Metal scene since their inception way back in 1998 when they were known as 'Echo of Dalriada; they changed their name in 2006. Since then they have been gaining considerable attention worldwide despite their songs being sung exclusively in Hungarian.
Having released their eighth studio album 'Áldás' last year, and recently released their latest music video of the same name, it was about time we interrogated the septet to find out what hides behind those fur clothings and the beautiful facade that is Dalriada.
Check out their music video below, this is soon to be followed by a video for the song 'Moldvaggedon', an acoustic album (due May time) and an exclusive concert in Budapest on May 13th which as we have been told, will be part acoustic, part metal. Sounds exciting.
Would you say that over the last decade or so has the Hungarian Metal scene grown in popularity and recognition?
"I think it has, definitely. Sure, there were a couple of bands already around 2000 or even earlier, which made it beyond Hungarian borders but as far as I see it our home country receives more recognition in terms of music, arts and literature nowadays. Hungarian rock and metal bands made it to Japan, the US, Russia and every corner of Europe. Although I still wouldn’t say, that it is popular but some of the acknowledging voices are getting louder".
Because you sing in Hungarian, do you feel that it has that special feeling when playing Folk Metal than otherwise would be in English?
"It is our mother tongue and since we are writing songs about legends, folk tales and historical events from the Carpathian Basin it just feels natural; it fits. Just imagine, somebody singing in a somewhat broad Bavarian dialect about the tough life of an Inuit hunter on the everlasting ice fields of the north. Might be exotic to some extent but “authentic” would definitely not be the correct term to describe this phenomenon".
Your album 'Áldás' broke into the mainstream charts, what are your immediate thoughts? Would Eurovision be of interest to the band?
"Mainstream charts – sounds impressive but let us not forget, Hungary is a small country and if you have maintained a band for 15 years with a new album every 2 years sooner or later you get noticed and since album sales are in the dumps permanently you get statistical recognition even if you are able to sell only a thousand copies. Eurovision – there was a point in the past when we thought about it but at the moment chances are very small to honestly consider participation".
Would you consider touring the UK? If so what phrases should fans chant at your shows?
"Of course, especially since there is a quite notable Hungarian minority in the UK. But even while disregarding this fact, the UK is a destination we planned to visit for a long time now. What to chant? “Pálinkát, bazmeg! (pronounce it: Pa-link-at baws Meg!) or VISSZA! (viss- sa)".
Could you gives us the meaning behind 'Áldás', it's origins and how it plays a part in Hungarian folklore?
"First of all, 'Áldás' means 'blessing' in Hungarian. Furthermore it is one of the ancient Hungarian names for the month of July ('Áldás Hava', meaning the month of blessing). So of course this can be interpreted as the blessing of the soil, a blessing of growth but it also symbolizes new life (three people of the band became parents in the last three years). It is an important symbol in the whole cycle of life. Watch our new video for the title song (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qE98ZI0d2bM ) and you will understand, what 'Áldás' means!"
From the album 'Áldás', what song is your favourite and why? What makes it unique?
"I have several favourites: first of all 'Moldvageddon' because the whole song is a big musical joke (which maybe not all of the listeners will get) and because it reflects the mental state of the band precisely :). 'Zivatar' because it is somewhat different from what we have done so far, I love the simple yet boasting groove of it! 'Futóbetyár' is a nice challenge to be played life, a fast, powerful and aggressive metal piece and last but not least 'Úri Toborzó' - it has something majestic and it is musically a very mature song. But to be honest I could list almost all tracks from 'Áldás'."
'Áldás' is your eighth album, what gives the band energy to strive onwards? Is it the love of metal or the enjoyment of making and playing music?
"Definitely both. And the knowledge that there is always a possibility to improve and to head in a concrete direction."
Finally are there any greetings you wish to send out?
"Dear British Dalriadors and soon-to-be Dalriadors: please convince your local clubs to book us! We’ll drink all your single malt and beer but we’ll do it with love ;)."