Mar 25, 2012

Doom Frozen Over: Interview with Who Dies in Siberian Slush ...

Moscow funeral death doom formation Who Dies in Siberian Slush is well known to the connoisseurs. Yet another reminder of the band was the release of split album "Four Fragments of Fading Light" together with Canadian funeral project Ego Depths. Looking for truth and answers to a number of questions I addressed to the mastermind of the Moscow band, comrade E.S. Feel the bitter taste of Siberian Funeral Traditions!
And don’t forget to check new work of the band – their split-album with Ego Depths “Four Fragments of Fading Life” which was released by Moscow Funeral League a month ago.

Salut, comrade! My congratulations on the release of split album Who Dies In Siberian Slush/Ego Depths "Four Fragments of Fading Light", we shall talk about it later, however, let me in the beginning ask a number of general questions. Firstly, what was the momentum to create Who Dies in Siberian Slush?
-Hello. Thanks. Siberia is only one of the many places in Russia, where talented people pass away without an opportunity or time to fully express themselves. WDISS is somewhat homage to certain people. And not only for me.

The band’s name bounds to some “Russianness” in works. Where is it expressed, besides the shot of vodka on the cover of full-length album "Bitterness of the Years That Are Lost"?
-The table-glass covered with bread is a Russian symbol of a funeral feast. As far as “Russianness” is concerned, let us turn to the listeners. After "Funeral doom", the most popular tag for WDISS is "Russian".

If WDISS were from England, the tag used would be "English", if from Colombia -- "Columbian". This national component most vividly shows in the only album of another origianl band Vo Skorbyah. How is it revealed in your songs?
-Music does not necessarily need folk instruments and tunes to have Russian spirit. I deeply respect the above mentioned band. However, I don’t think that the way the national component is expressed in their album is the only way. We consider our music Russian in spirit and intelligible exactly for the Slavs.
We are all Russian in WDISS, and we would like Russians to know Russian poetry, literature, music and Russian culture as a whole. We want Russians to appreciate and be proud of the legacy of our great people. One of our tracks is based upon “The Will” by Nikolay Gumilyov. Maybe, for some youth the lyrics will become the first conscious step towards the Russian classical culture.

Why as a means of expression of this concept funeral / death doom metal was chosen? According to the metal clichés black metal describes best the severe Siberian climate zone.
-Why do you think that the music of WDISS describes “the severe Siberian climate zone”? For us funeral/death doom is an up-to-date artistic means, most understandable and close to us as performers. Through this style the listener can resonate with our own vibrations… if you will…

In any event, this topic is touched upon in the name of the band. Moreover, in your section on the metal-archives the songs’ themes are listed as: “Siberian nature, alcohol, depression”. How full and just is this characteristic?
-I don’t know who gave such characteristic. As far as I know, there is no description of Siberian nature, alcohol or depression in WDISS’s lyrics.
In our band we think that the lyrics of Who Dies In Siberian Slush’s debut album are united by feelings of a man whose soul is frozen over with an endless severe winter. The man builds relations with the environment and with himself based upon this condition. 

Please, name your models in the world of funeral / death doom music.
-Mournful Congregation, Colosseum, Loss, Worship, Reclusiam, Profetus, My Shameful.

What is WDISS lacking to attain their level?
-It’s hard to answer definitely. Firstly, all these bands are different; each is special in a way. Secondly, every collective of any level has always something to work at. WDISS is no exception. Thirdly, it’s not our goal to fill a niche or attain some level.

What are your goals then? Gather together from time to time and make records or performances? How are the songs composed?
-What goals can there be… This music is something like breathing for us, so vital and so inevitable. As long as this feeling carries on, the band is like a living body. When it disappears we will be dead as a band. Albums and concerts are signs of life. It’s mainly me who writes the material, as ideas, and then each band member finishes his part as he sees it. The subjects of the songs are mine as well, my friends from Bulgaria, England, Canada and Russia help with adaptation. 

What are the milestones of Who Dies in Siberian Slush’s history? How did the line-up form?
-Nothing special: from 2004 to the middle of 2008 it was a one man band; in the autumn of 2008 the band acquired a full line-up that has been changing, like in many collectives.

Did things become easier with new people? Nowadays one man bands are popular, there are some good examples. 
-I agree, there were good omb examples, like Reclusiam or early Nortt, and still are, like The Howling Void or Dreams After Death. I think the obvious advantage of a omb is authenticity.
When WDISS acquired a full line-up, on the one hand, things became easier, as the responsibilities were shared; each one took up some work. On the other hand, a collective means people with their views and stances, which do not always coincide. There is a certain difficulty. 

"Bitterness of the Years That Are Lost" is an album with participation of expert vocalists from Abstract Spirit, Comatose Vigil, Elnordia, Yantarnye Slyosy, representing Russian doom-scene. What was the reason for their invitation?
-I just showed the material to the friends, they liked it. I don’t remember exactly, but one of them himself offered participation, that’s how the idea came up.

How did the guests share the responsibilities on the album?
-Screaming parts in "Leave Me" were performed by Stellarghost (Abstract Spirit, Twilight is Mine). The second verse of "The Woman We Are Looking For" was entirely sung by A.K.iezor (Comatose Vigil, Abstract Spirit). In the last verse of “Gumilyov’s Will” the second growl by Anton (Yantarnye Slyozy) makes accents magnificently. In the title track the second growl and epic recitative were performed by Spartak from Elnordia.

If I’m not mistaken, you were a constant member of one of Russian Internet doom communities. How can you describe the progress (or degradation) of this part of the doom universe? I think that forums, once active, have seized to be. Live shows are attended much less then sites where one can download music. 
-For the last 7 years I haven’t left a single Internet doom-community I’m in. However, somewhere my participation is more active, somewhere less. It has nothing to do with the quality of the users of these sites. 

What other features of "Bitterness of the Years That Are Lost" can you name? A certain degree of originality is evident; however, I wouldn’t call the material innovative.
-It was not our goal to astonish the listeners with wonders of performance or innovative compositions. We just expressed our thoughts by musical means.

All bands published at Solitude Productions, note the label’s professionalism and reverent attitude. Do you support this?
-I can’t say anything bad about Solitude Prod.

I was not expecting the contrary. But how could you assess the label’s work? Say, is it enough oriented to Russian listeners, or more to Western ones? And what is your attitude to the fact that Russian doom audience is few and passive? The listeners’ reaction usually motivates bands greatly.
-I think that Solitude Prod. has an international status, notwithstanding its indie stance. It is seen from the range of distribution, number of releases and amount of business connections. Doom metal audience is few in general; funeral & death doom -- still fewer. We, as well as the label, are aware of it. Hence, I think that for some time the label has been internationally oriented (apparently not at the expense of Russian listeners).
That is why we respect Solitude Prod. for publishing and promotion of something far from the mainstream.

Now let us speak about your joint effort with Ego Depths "Four Fragments of Fading Light". Comrade Stigmatheist has recently recorded material for another split album, based on a philosophical concept. How did the idea to record the album come to you?
-Here’s the concept: 4 fragments – 4 tracks, the snuffed-out candle on the cover is a symbol of a fading life. We planned a split with Ego Depths long ago. We started to discuss it in 2009 or 2010. It is a common idea.

 How has this concept been implemented in the songs? The material sounds too aggressive for a “fading life”.
-Our two texts are two stories of tragic life ends.
The first one, "The Spring" is based on a true story: a small geological party in Siberian taiga was taken aback by the flood. Everybody died at once, except for the main character, who in vain tried to reach people, making his way through the taiga.
The second track, "Refinement of the Mould" tells about a man who woke up one day to discover on his body a growing fast farinose spot covered with disgusting ooze. After spending the day in despair and nightmares between the reality and nihility, the man harnessed his willpower and decided to end all that by committing himself to fire.
As far as the two tracks by Ego Depths are concerned, in "My Hearse Immortal" the author noted that the essence is the concept of a fading character of our life, or more exactly its metaphysical background. “My hearse immortal” is only a pun.
"Unmasker of the Absurd" – the track was written under the impression from the work by a not very well-known, but extremely talented artist Seeming Watcher, which amazed Ego Depths’ Mastermind with its refinement and meaning. The track does not reflect in full the essence of the picture, it’s more the interpretation of the musician. However, the views of Stigmatheist and the artist correspond in some ways…

How different is this material from "Bitterness of the Years That Are Lost" from your point of view?
-Apparently, it became more difficult. We abandoned the keys. Primordial Studio made experimental, moderately gritty sound. In the two our tracks the listener will find melodies and changes of mood, unexpected within the style.

Is MFL Records an independent label, or was the disc released by means of the band’s members? How important for you today is publishing the material on solid media?
-Like in community MOSCOW FUNERAL LEAGUE, which part the label is, the key decisions for the label are taken by a number of Moscow musicians.
Yes, for me publishing on solid media is essential.

 Extreme music, like any other, is an integral part of modern art. If something is left from the humanity within next couple of centuries, the cultural legacy will apparently be analyzed and re-estimated. Do you think that together with Who Dies In Siberian Slush you do something more than mere playing doom-metal based on own feelings and works of predecessors? I’m talking about the musicians that worked on ground zero of death doom and funeral doom and established main principles of these sub-genres.
-I, for one, don’t like the phrase “modern culture”. I wouldn’t like that which is understood under this term nowadays be associated with the cultural legacy of the humanity.
As far as me and my band is concerned, we hardly have the right to be mentioned alongside with the musicians that established the principles of death doom and funeral doom. It was done not 10 or 20 years ago, but in the 19th century… That’s my opinion. Beethoven, Wagner, Grieg -- these personalities were the originators of heavy music, not Led Zeppelin or Black Sabbath, as it is considered in the last 10-15 years.

Did the Presidential elections of 4th March provoke any emotions?
-It was just another day-off, a reason for us to get together, rehearse and communicate. We are far from politics.

Thank you for your time. Anything to say to the readers?
-Stay true to yourselves.
Interview By Aleks Evdokimov
Russian text: Metal Library
Offical Website
Mfl Records  - link to splits download.

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