Folk pagan humorous black metallers Изморозь (Izmoroz) from Russia are soon going to release their newest album “Ктулху” (Cthulhu). This mysterious band was formed in 2006, but it has already released 7 full-length albums! I always liked their musical style, but I know only few things about them. Finally the time has come to learn more about Izmoroz from their singer, bassist and founding member Belf.
- Hello Belf. It’s a great honor having this interview with you. Izmoroz has been always a mysterious band for me, since you have a very different approach on folk Viking pagan extreme metal than most bands. Can you go back in 2006 when you started this band (side-project back then) together with Alex? What were your intentions and ambitions when you formed Izmoroz? What exactly does the band name symbolize?
While I was playing in Stigmatic Chorus and Ashen Light, I already have had my own stuff too. I decided to implement it and Alex has helped me in this. I had a friend who wrote pagan texts and with his help the group acquired the ancient Slavic tint. We gave the disc on the label SoundAge Productions and they published it!
- In 2006 you released you debut album “На Закате Багровом”. I think it was more “serious” and epic Viking oriented. What do you remember from your debut album?
The album was recorded during the harsh winter of 2006. And this cold snowy winter influenced the album’s sound and atmosphere. Despite the fact that Alex lives 40 minutes from me, the streets were so cold that could corrode my face! So until I get off to the studio, I was overwhelmed and the mood was the appropriate. Back then, we took it all seriously and planned to write only two albums and close the project. We wanted it to be purely a studio project.
- Next year, your second work “Церковь, что Горит под Горой” was out. What has changed in this work?
If the material on the first album was almost completely my own, this time it was 50/50 with Alex. And the man who wrote the lyrics had already retired. Just at this time, I met Проскофьей Матвеевной who offered me her texts. Despite their lack of seriousness, I liked them and I thought: Since we are doing this project for ourselves, let them be so. On clean vocals I called Dan from Stigmatic Chorus, and Demether of Arcane Grail. With Demether we practically had no deal back then, so I just offered him to participate, without sending him any texts or music. I saw how serious his “heroic” voice was at concerts of the group and decided that it’s just what we needed for this album. Vocals recording took place in a different city, in the studio KIV Records. By the time Dan and Demether came, I was already well drunk and they were initially at a loss on what to see. After all the text was far from seriousness and the atmosphere was pure as the ancient Vikings. So that they too had to enter in the state alcohol and vocals. When the album was released on CD, I was sure that this would be our last release.
- At the same time, you started a “myth” around your lyrics! Would you like to reveal some info and introduce the “writer” Проскофьей Матвеевной to our readers? Can you give us some details about your lyrics in general (from all your discography), for those who don’t know your language? Is there any message behind them you’d like to share?
I was always a Nordic man. I love winter, cold, nature and hiking in the forest. And always eager to somehow convey it in the music. In Russia there are places that few people know. And even if you know it, there are stories you don’t know. For example the song “Избушка Бабушки Зомби” is based on a true legend . There is a village called Suchodrev in the Kaluga region, near the town Detchino. I lived there some time and the locals told me one legend. In the village there is one road, but in the past people used another road. Now this other road turned into a forest glade. Next to that road was a priest, but he was not a recluse and did not communicate with anyone. In the village not a single person told a word about him. Once an old woman came to him, after which he was found killed by axe. Since then, this way people began to die. And people have left this way.
I tell stories to Проскофьей Матвеевной and she turns them into rhyming text. Sometimes it is fun, sometimes not. In fact, people perceive each text differently. Sometimes even in our texts is a mixture of modernity and antiquity, such as in the song “Люди-ублюди“. It’s a song about humans who forgot the nature and fill it with concrete and cut down forests. But the nature of them will remember it. But if the chorus is translated literally, you can easily mistake it! )
- Your next album “Происки Богов” was released in 2010. This time you used some existing tunes interpreted in your own way. How did you come up with this idea? After this album, Alex (co-founder of the band) left Izmoroz.
After “Церковь, что Горит под Горой” a lot of people started writing to us that it’s cool and that we continue in the same spirit. Honestly, we did not expect it. But this positive attitude gave us the impetus to continue. I threw Alex a few music sketches and then he decided to write all the music part alone. And pasting existing melodies was entirely his idea. We gave a master disc to SoundAge Productions in May 2009, but they delayed to release the album until August of 2010. In the meantime, I was preparing material for the new album and Alex had also composed 2 tracks. But he didn’t have the time to write them. So we had to part with him and I replaced him with Igor “Kiv” Korolev. With him, we recorded one of the best albums “Избушка Бабушки Зомби“. The funny thing is that “Избушка Бабушки Зомби” was released only a month after “Происки Богов“. Press and many listeners accused us that we are releasing albums very often and it was difficult to explain all that SoundAge Productions album delayed more than a year. Naturally, we were gone away from them into Gailight Productions.
- The same year you released another album “Избушка Бабушки Зомби”. Your music took a more melodic turn, with a better sound. I actually liked you much more than before. Tell us a few words about this album?
This was a new turn in the history of the group. We finally began to record in a professional studio, we have moved to a new record label and finally we started to give concerts! The first tour in support of the album took place together with Put Solnca and Ashen Light in Siberia. Everything was very successful and we became friends with a very successful team of musicians. Our live line-up never changed. Me (Belf) at bass and vocals, Kiv at guitars, Ischenko at drums. At concerts in Moscow, sometimes Demether sang with us. The album received good reviews in the press and hit “pour booze”, many people set themselves on call and threw off each other on the internet.
- In 2011 you gave a concert with a symphonic orchestra in Karaganda and released it on CD along with some songs from your upcoming album, under the title “Косморозь 3000″. What are your memories from this show?
I’ll be honest. We were very drunk at the time of this concert. And the idea of a symphonic orchestra was only an idea of the local organizer. In general, for us, this concert was very rock and roll. None of us does remember any details
- You next album “Отморозь” was released in 2011. It is my favorite Izmoroz album by far, one album that was (and still is) stuck in my CD-player and made me wait each new release of your band with anticipation! Give us some info and details about this amazing album!
I recorded the first demo of this album together with Arsafes in his studio. Then I said to Kiv that he was ready to write the album. All arrangements were prepared and there were a lot of texts, but Kiv did not have time. So, I had to make an album without him. Arsafes became then both album producer and guitarist. We wrote the album in a few months and after a lot of experimenting. The speed of the drums became really fast. And I really wanted to make one of the songs sound like the soundtrack X-Files. But the sound of our songs was not very suitable. And Arsafes said to me: Let’s play a cover of the X-Files! And we did it.
- In 2012 “Зигомёд” was out. Another great work. Has anything changed this time? I think it was a more melodic album.
It was an album to invite friends, music, party! I invited everyone I found quite unusual vocalist. I thought that no more than one or two people will come. But they all came! And we decided to record them all, and then made a feast! First we used the female vocals. I invited a friend vocalist who sings covers of Rammstein, as well as a Gothic singer, who became the drummer. So when he sang, it was a real heavy metal voice!!! And it was the first time our cover was painted by the professional artist Alexander Tartsus. By coincidence, we had to leave our label Grailight Productions right after I leave the album and all the wheels were in my home. But out of this, I took a good lesson: it is most advantageous when all wheels are yours! We went to a large-scale tour in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus and it was a real success!
- Before the release of your upcoming album, you released the EP “Заебись!“, including 2 tracks from the next album and 2 covers. Are the same versions with the songs in the album? How did you decide to release your first ever EP?
I called Kiv and said he composed a song and he wants to write it in a low structure. I also had a track, but it was not the standard for Izmoroz. At the same time we were offered to make tributes to Impaled Nazarene and Круиз. We recorded my song, Kiv’s song and published them together with the 2 covers as a a mini-cd on the label Sublimity Records, which produces only limited editions of 100 pieces.
- You will soon release your seventh album “Ктулху”. I know you are planning a release party and a tour to promote it! Would you like to give us some details?
The new album will have a completely new sound, interesting sounds of flutes and interesting conceptual songs. Album is divided into two parts: folk fun and occult conceptual tracks. Themes of the songs are completely different. There are songs just about fun and beer, there are whole history as well as magical songs. We also just recorded an entirely acoustic song that is a hidden track. This album will be – a holiday album – surprise! We’re going to tour in Siberia this January to support the album.
- Your first albums were released by SoundAge Productions and the newer by Grailight. Is your new album self-released? What made you leave both labels? How different are things going to be now?
At the beginning, the cooperation with our first label worked perfectly. But they delayed the third album release date for more than a year. Therefore we parted with SoundAge. The conditions changed with Grailight and we are still friends and share CDs. The new album will be released on my own label, Triple Kick Records. I always learn from my mistakes and I know how to do the promotion. So I’m totally happy with the new album and upcoming plans.
- How is Izmoroz on stage? Why should someone come to your shows? How different is your music live?
On stage we are an emotional metal trio. We are all true professionals. Ishchenko – best metal drummer in Russia , Kiv – studio guitarist, one of the leading sound directors in country. I always play with many groups of different styles and try to develop.
- Except for the tour with Butterfly Temple, are there any other gigs or international tours planned?
At the moment we have planed concerts for three months in advance. But all the tours will be in Russia. I believe that in Europe there is no point in giving concerts, since there are no markups.
- You are not only in Izmoroz, but in many other bands too! Would you like to give us some info about them? Your band-mates are also in many other bands and in most of them you are together. Are all these bands equal to you, or do you see any of them as your “main” project?
At the moment, besides Izmoroz, I play in Stigmatic Chorus, Ashen Light, Put Solnca, Butterfly Temple, Tela and Korsika. Each group has its own period of activity and I appreciate those periods. But to be honest, Izmoroz is for me in the first place!
- How do you see the future of Izmoroz? Do you plan to continue the same way, or are you trying to find new ways of expression? Should we expect any musical redirection or experiments from the band?
We will be staying near the folk style, but we’ll experiment a lot. We actually have many plans. Unlike other groups, we are constantly experimenting and write diverse albums.
- Thank you very much for your time. Wish you good luck with all your bands. Last words are yours.
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