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Blackdeath – “Maybe liberalism is shit, but I assure you that Sovietism is a hundred times more shit”

blackdeath – “maybe liberalism is shit, but i assure you that sovietism is a hundred times more shit”


Russian Blackdeath have always been a band to keep an eye on, while their music had a very strong foundation in traditional Black Metal, they never shied away from a somewhat distinctive approach. While the basis might be everyday Black Metal, the band always managed to come up with a recognisably intellectual and somewhat contrarian sound. This resulted in a very respectable discography, of which the latest album, ‘Also Sprach Das Chaos’, is the provisional highlight. This album, released by End All Life Productions, is the reason for this interview with vocalist/bassist Col. Para Bellum in which he elaborates on his views on the current situation in Russia and his Russian background, and of course looks back on ‘Also Sprach Das Chaos’…



Hello Col. Para Bellum, welcome to VM-Underground. Thanks for taking the time in answering my questions. How is life in St. Petersburg these days?
Hi Felix! Well, it feels like a giant time machine has turned on, and life in St. Petersburg/Russia has been thrown into the past. The world around us really looks sometimes like it’s the 90s now. Due to sanctions and political/economical isolation I mean. Here in St. Petersburg combat activity is reflected only in the news feeds, it’s just that periodically there are waves of panic among the population, all goods become more expensive, and Western brands disappear from store shelves. I think in other cities the situation is worse, because St. Petersburg is a rich city, not like Moscow, of course, but all the same. Nevertheless, sometimes, yep, sometimes you can get a feeling that nothing is changing at all, as people still laugh, and fuss, and buy… But the time machine is still working, and life is moving confidently into Soviet times, that’s for sure. You know, it’s not the best feeling, especially for artists, especially for Black Metallers. But we try not to be discouraged.

Blackdeath was formed in 1998, first under a different name, but now a quarter of a century on. How do you look back on these years and how do you think your Russian background and cultural upbringing have affected Blackdeath’s music?
I’m not nostalgic for those days, if that’s what you’re wondering. I will never agree to exchange my accumulated experience for the neophyte delight that I had at the Beginning. We are still interested in creating our own music, we enjoy it and feel delighted, we have just risen to a new level. We’re moving forward, for us it’s much better than sighing for the “good old days”.
As for the influence of the origin/background, Russians are usually expected to say something along the lines of “we have harsh winters here, so we play harsh music”, but I don’t believe in such a climatic influence on art. Well, I’m not a romantic or a pagan. I think it is better to judge about it from the outside. For me my origin is natural, so I may not notice its influence. I think that the Western listeners can understand better how our origin is manifested/affected in our music.

Maybe it could be that in the Beginning we were strongly influenced by Norwegian Black Metal, and in the following years we tried to get rid of this influence in order to find our own unique style. You see, Metal music came to the USSR/Russia from the West, here all bands are inspired by Western Metal bands, that’s why, for example, the most famous Russian Heavy Metal band Aria is just a clone of Iron Maiden. I firmly believe that any band should rise above what it started with. Well, we found our unique style through a series of experiments, it’s a pretty common story I think.

A bit of a corny questions perhaps, but I am curious anyway. What is it like to play in a Black Metal band in Russia (St Petersburg), I imagine it’s different from when you are a band based in Europe or America. And has this changed more in recent months?
Again, the underground system, the system of concert clubs/venues, all these tools were copied from the West in Russia, so in fact the differences lie only in the health of the economy. When the economy is in good condition, the local scene rises to the European level, well, almost to the European level. But more often it is the opposite. That’s the whole difference between the Russian scene and the scene of any European country, as well as of the United States.

Well, we started playing Black Metal back in 1995 (as Draugwath), but then the influence of the dead USSR was still very strong (it collapsed back in 1991). In society, economy, etc. But at that time we were wildly enthusiastic fanatics and paid little attention to the outside world. Perhaps, at the end of the first decade of the 21st century and until the middle of the second decade, some “semblance” of Europe was established here in St. Petersburg. This is commonly referred to as westernization, you know. But then a slow return to Soviet times began, yep, such a psychopathic mood swingand, and now, as I said above, this process has accelerated significantly.

I can’t say that at someone or other period we experienced difficulties because of our music/ideology, but, of course, in times of liberalization of society it was much easier for us. We really felt free. Well, you in Europe like to criticize liberal values, but we cannot criticize liberalism here because the only alternative to liberalism in Russia is Sovietism. Maybe liberalism is shit, but I assure you that Sovietism is a hundred times more shit.

Now, of course, the situation is getting worse. As an underground, we all somehow adapted to the new conditions and do not give up our business, our goals, our dreams. So Black Metal concerts still take place here, but much less often than before. New Black Metal albums still come to Russia too, well, according to complex logistics, but they are very expensive. And so on. Anyway, it’s almost Soviet Union, this is exactly what I’m talking about. And I think this is just the beginning. Some predict that Black Metal/Satanic “dissents” will be imprisoned, almost like in Iran. Don’t know. Anyway, it’s too late for us to become normal people, too late.

Quite a lot of Russian Black Metal bands seem to be a bit more inward-looking, although that seems to be changing a bit in the most recent years you guys have never really been. Can you shed some light on that?
We started developing contacts with Metal maniacs from other countries around the end of the 80s when we listened to Thrash Metal, so we have some experience. It’s hard for us to see ourselves out of touch with the international scene. Well, every band from Russia wants to find acceptance in Europe, of course. I assure you that they only look “inward-looking”, in fact they are not “inward-looking” at all. The main reason is the language barrier, of course. Not everyone in Russia knows English, even among musicians. Also I think there is some problem in that barrier between East and West that exists at all times. The Slavs will never be “insiders” in/for Western Europe, although sometimes such an illusion arises. Maybe some Russian Black Metal bands don’t even try to clear that barrier.

The latest album, ‘Also Sprach Das Chaos’ is quite a different album from most other records in your back catalogue: two long songs spread over two sides of a vinyl. Was that a preconceived plan and did you want to challenge yourself to write longer and equally exciting songs?
Yes, you are right, it was just a challenge to ourselves. On the other hand, the idea for the new album was to create a piece, well, a piece of music, you know, some stage play with action. Although we don’t have any dialogues and all that, but the point was precisely to convey the action with music. Therefore, the songs were created long.

I tried to see through the concept of the last album, perhaps the listener is meant to put their own spin on it, but what was your thinking behind the concept of ‘Also Sprach Das Chaos’?
Regarding the lyrics, “Also sprach das Chaos” is a poetic/scenic description of an occult mystery, an Anti-Cosmic mystery, and the narrator is a dead man. The first song, “Paralysiertes Äquinoktium” (“Paralyzed Equinox”) describes a colossal event, the collapse of the Cosmos, which is destroyed through the initiation rite/ritual. While the second song, “Im Labyrinth” (“In the Labyrinth”), explains why it happened. Yes, exactly this way, the sequel comes first, and the prequel comes second. Well, that collapse is a result of the initiation rite/ritual, the ultimate goal of which is liberation from the laws of the Cosmos, that is, a return to primordial Chaos. Maybe we can say that the lyrical component also required to form the musical material into two songs.

Your albums feature a certain intellectual level when it comes to topics and conceptual thoughts. What are your main motivations behind this?
Ah… mmm… Honestly I don’t know… Thoughts and ideas live in our heads, they need to come out, so we just give them free rein, that’s all.

Across your musical career, you have used a lot of lyrics in German, what is your thought behind this?
Even before we organized our first Black Metal band Draugwath, the Slovenes Laibach made us going mental with their early albums in German. In addition, you see, despite the many years that have passed since the Second World War, the German language is perceived in Russia as something disturbing and even disgusting. Well, every Black Metal band dreams of being the most hated, haha, and we were no exception. To a certain extent, we have achieved our goal, it seems that we are valued more in Europe than in Russia.

Can you take us into your own world when looking back on all Blackdeath albums? ‘Fucking Fullmoon Foundation’ is commonly considered a favourite, does the same apply to you?
I can go into detail about strengths and weaknesses of each of our albums, but that would take up too much space and time. The idea behind each album was great, beyond all doubt, but the end result didn’t always live up to it. Roughly speaking, my assessment of our past work is as follows: “Saturn Sector” is more or less, “Fucking Fullmoon Foundation” is rather good than bad, “Bottomless Armageddon” is pure shit, “Satan macht frei” is just shit, “Vortex” is shit again, “Katharsis: Kalte Lieder aus der Hölle” is more or less, “Phobos” is more or less too, “Gift” is rather good than bad, “Phantasmhassgorie” is very good, “Also sprach das Chaos” is almost excellent.

You’ve been writing reviews yourself for some time now, for Metal Observer and Metalegion. How did you get into that?
I think this was a pretty common scenario. Some bands and labels asked me to write what I thought of their releases, and since I did not want to limit myself to a short remark “guys, this is awesome”, I described my opinion in detail, and it had some success among the review originators. Well, I’m far from new to this work as a writer, I’m an editor of Sotsirh Susii ‘zine (“Jesus Christ” in Russian inversely), which was started back in the 90s. At that time there was only a Russian-language edition, and relatively recently I resurrected this project, now exclusively in English, two issue were released in cooperation with Arjan of Heidens Hart Records/Cultus/etc. The revived project does not contain reviews, while the Russian version had a lot of them.

Well, I thought why not write reviews in English now and ventured to write them for the Metal Archives. I wrote a little less than a hundred reviews there, and Alex, an editor of The Metal Observer, noticed my efforts and offered me to write reviews for TMO. It seems that I published about fifty reviews on TMO when Ricardo of Metalegion approached me with the same proposal. I thought these two responsibilities would complement each other well. For me, these are two fundamentally different tasks: TMO is a digital magazine, I can express all my thoughts here without looking at the text length, while ML is a printed magazine, there are strict limits for the size of reviews here. I do not always have enough time for reviews, but I really like this activity.

You write very detailed and clearly like a fellow musician, sometimes quoting details on the second per song. Has writing reviews changed your view on music (of others)?
I must confess that now it is difficult for me to listen to music just as a listener. It’s not easy for me to stop myself from compartmentalizing music. I have to make a fair amount of effort just to listen to some album and get some emotions from it.

All three of you also play in Cthulhu and Nuclear Cthulhu, how did those bands come about and what are the recent activities? It seems a bit quiet around those bands for a while now…
Ambient/Drone project Cthulhu was born back in 1996 as a side project of Draugwath. Cthulhu Biomechanical (Electronic/Militant Industrial/EBM) and Nuclear Cthulhu (Goat Stoner Metal) came later. The reason for these three projects was the same: we had some musical ideas that didn’t fit Black Metalesque Blackdeath. Starting from “Also sprach das Chaos”, we decided not to limit ourselves in musical experiment and to use elements of other styles for our Black Metal. So right now we really don’t need Cthulhu, Cthulhu Biomechanical or Nuclear Cthulhu. I’m not saying that we have buried other projects. But I really find it difficult to say what will make us write new material under their banners.

Also, as a band, you have become quite intertwined with Heidens Hart Records, with whom you have released some records, and all three of you play in the live band of Cultus, the band of Heidens Hart Records owner Arjan. How did this close collaboration come about?
This is another common underground story. Our music found a response from Arjan, he suggested us to release some our material on his label. If I’m not mistaken, the first release was “The True Bottomless Armageddon” CD by Black Draugwath. When we understood that despite the agreement with Unexploded Records it is not going to release our “Phobos” album, we entered into an agreement with Heidens Hart. Later Arjan released our albums “Gift” and “Phantasmhassgorie” too, as well as several minor releases. Arjan also organized our European tours, so he remarked to us that we would sound much better live with two guitars. To be honest, we never thought about a second guitarist and didn’t even look for one. Arjan offered his services as a guitar player, so he became a live member of our band. In turn, when he had problems with the live line-up of his Cultus, he asked us to help him, so we became the live members of his band. We had several tours during which we performed both with Blackdeath and Cultus. Actually, that was the intention/plan.

Still, for ‘Also Sprach Das Chaos’ you turned to End All Life Record, a label with a long history of mind-bending records. What was the reason to change labels?
Well, every band aspires to be released on a more established label. Arjan understood this very well and supported us in this our goal. He even agreed to wait for “Phantasmhassgorie” to be released while we tried to find a major label. That time it didn’t work, but it did with “Also sprach das Chaos”. Arjan was and remains our closest friend, we are very grateful to him for his support. Now we do not give joint concerts, but this is not our fault at all.

A question that is more on a personal level, something I always enjoy asking. What records have you recently acquired yourself and what can be found on your turntable these days?
I’m not such a crazy collector, I rarely buy CDs. And even more so, I’m not a vinyl maniac at all. The last records I’ve bought are CD reissues of albums I listened to on vinyl as a teenager. These are Russian, even rather Soviet bands: Master “Master” (1988, Thrash Metal), Master “With the Noose around the Neck” (1990, Thrash Metal), First Aid “With One’s Own Hands” (1989, Heavy Metal), and Kruiz “Kruiz-1” (1987, Speed Metal). In fact, I was really surprised that even with my accumulated knowledge of music, these albums are still interesting to listen to now. These days as usual I listen to Old School Thrash Metal and Black Metal, while in the evenings I prefer early Uriah Heep and Scorpions.

One more time back to your Russian background, can you recommend any Russian bands to us that we really need to hear? Of course, in today’s metal scene, Bandcamp and Spotify make it much easier to get music from all corners of the world. But the knowledgeable eye of a scene veteran and an insider is obviously worth much more…
Well, maybe it’s Аспид “Кровоизлияние” / Aspid “Extravasation” (1993, Technical/Progressive Thrash Metal). Of the modern bands, I can name Затемно “В аду” / Zatemno “In Hell” (2022, Avant-garde Black Metal), I recorded additional vocals for this album.

‘Also Sprach Das Chaos’ is from 2021, usually you guys keep up a solid work rate, what can we expect in the near future?
Yes, we are currently hard at work on the material for the new album. It will be even more varied and experimental than “Also sprach das Chaos”. But of course, it will be Black Metal appropriate to us: ruthless and piercing. I can’t say anything about timing, sorry.

Thanks for your time and your comprehensive answers, the last words are for you….
Felix, thanks for your interest in our band. Maybe someday we’ll meet. Although now it is absolutely impossible to guess at the future anything. I would also like to thank everyone who has listened to us over the years. Well, even those who joined us relatively recently. We very appreciate your support. I don’t know what to add… Maybe check out the NoEvDia online store for our merch?