Tucked away in the Eastern corner of Europe is Belarus, a country born from the ashes of the former Soviet Union. Belarus in it's literal translation means 'White Russia', but the metal music scene it has is far from white, in fact it's rather dark, bleak and atmospheric. Enter the Atmospheric Black Metal band known as Raven Throne and their sixth album "I Miortvym Snicca Zolak", which focuses on Slavic poetry as it's main topic and delves into the Belarusian poetics of yesteryear. GMA spoke to Raven Throne about the challenges faced as a metal band in Belarus, the new album and how they came to use their mother tongue as choice of language for the songs.
"Our late lyrics are in Belarusian, so we are definitely in the segment of Slavic culture"
How did Raven Throne form and what do your parents think of your style of music?
"Raven Throne was formed in 2004 in the town of Polotsk, Belarus, by the people who are keen on the philosophy of black metal. The line-up has changed many times since that time, but the band has been moving forward making records and playing concerts."
Will you be doing a tour in support of your impending new release - "I Miortvym Snicca Zolak"?
"Yes. We are going to play some gigs in support of the new album. Details will be later."
For those who cannot read Belarusian, could you give us a break down of what each song means?
"It was always difficult for me to explain or interpret my own lyrics. There are many personal, many things I have experienced, many images and metaphors in my lyrics. I like the flow of consciousness, images from the subconscious. I can quote Sergey Dovlatov on this subject “I thought I was writing a history of the human heart”.
If we talk about the new album lyrics, then the songs were written based on the poems of Belarusian poets who worked during the most terrible and merciless years for individuals. That’s why the key for understanding should be found in those years."
What is it like being a metal band from Belarus? Easy? Difficult? What challenges are there?
"It happened that Raven Throne was always in certain isolation from the community, hangouts, etc. Is it difficult to be a metal musician in Belarus? Now it is much easier, but there are fundamental differences with Europe still."
For those metalheads visiting Minsk, what sights and attractions could you recommend?
"There are many examples of Soviet Empire architecture style in Minsk. There are some more ancient monuments and very clean streets in the city. Minsk is a very organized. It is not much inferior to other European capitals."
Would you prefer your music to be called Atmospheric Black Metal or Slavic Metal? What are your thoughts on sub-genres?
"We do not attach much importance to genre frames, cliché, labels and titles, etc. Traditionally this is called atmospheric metal but historically our roots are in black metal. The forms of our music may differ from the canons of the genre, but this is the result of our natural evolution and development only. Our late lyrics are in Belarusian, so we are definitely in the segment of Slavic culture.
Who designed your artwork and did you have any input into the design e.g. ideas for it?
"The ideas for the artworks belong to us. Sometimes our friends help us. The label also participates in the realization of the final result."
What plans do you have for the rest of the year? Are there any greetings you wish to send out to fans, etc?
"We have many plans. These are creative ideas, writing of new material, preparation for the future gigs. Stay true, be yourself. Improve yourself in everything."