Interview with Upyr

Upyr3Bulgarian Blackened Doom band Upyr have recently released their very impressive first offering Altars/Tunnels, which is gathering them positive reviews all over the place. I was privileged to be able to grill them on the subject…

For those who are unfamiliar with the band – introduce yourself!

Brodnik: We are five mates who share the same need for expressing ourselves in the most grotesque and depressing ways the music allows.

V.B.: We are what represents the blackest of doom metal in the Bulgarian underground.

What are your influences?

Brodnik: The landscapes of our musical influences are quite vast and the borders kind of fade. If we begin with the ugliest of primitive black metal howls of Hellhammer, Bathory and the first releases of Sodom for example, pass through the mournful mists of Evoken, My Dying Bride and Tiamat, explore the psychedelic dimensions of Sleep and Neurosis and then take it south for a swamp ride with a blast of sludge to break it’s bones – that’s Upyr. The hardest part is to have all that in the bag and still make it sound simple and clear in form.

V.B.: In the cauldron we have mixed the legacy of Black Sabbath and Saint Vitus with the dirtiness of Electric Wizard and Eyehategod. Outside of music we are inspired and provoked by life itself with all its philosophical and everyday aspects.

upyr4What are you listening to at the moment that you would like to recommend?

Brodnik: From the recently produced albums I really appreciate Alkerdeel, Cough and Windhand. The Autopsy new album is a must! That’s what metal should be for me. Also tons of neofolk and post punk.

V.B.: Watch out! A Bulgarian band – Obsidian Sea with their debut album. Venomous Maximous, early Danzig stuff and the everyday dose of Johnny Cash.

What is the Bulgarian Metal scene like? How do you feel you fit in?

Brodnik: To talk about a strong metal scene in Bulgaria is a bit harsh. There are acts of class and original ideas but they are rather sporadic and they don’t lead to one strong core. We were welcomed very well by now. All our shows were well attended and we found bands that we share the same ideas of creating music with. That’s more than we expected. We will continue with the same passion to try and built those foundations of a scene because the audience here is very well educated, demanding and most of all deserving.

V.B.: Ok, Bulgaria is a former “communist” country and the iron curtain was no shit. The metal and the whole rock scene as a whole were almost forbidden and rather marginal till the early 90’s. That has had it’s effects on the forming of any kind of scene unfortunately. There is enthusiasm but it’s still hard for a Bulgarian band to expand its fanbase outside of the country.

What were your motivations to create this release, and why this style of music?

Brodnik: I’ve dig in almost every extreme and provoking genre of music and I had my share of playing in different bands but since I was a kid I was looking for something specific and with each next album and knowledge I’ve got, it was becoming clearer what it holds. You know that feeling. When I found doom metal, and especially depressive doom metal I felt like home.

V.B.: That’s the genre that unites us in this band, no matter of our different backgrounds. The right moment had come and we recorded, mixed and released the demo in the most natural way.

Brodnik: We released our first songs quite early in our time as a band because we needed a kickstart. Also I believe that releasing music no matter on what format is the most important part of the life of a band. That’s what remains in time, that’s the evidence of what you felt together in a certain period of time.

Altars/Tunnels is an extremely strong first release – how did the songs come about?

Brodnik: They came out almost by themselves, just after a few sessions of playing together. There are no newbies in the band and that also helps to achieve exactly what’s inside you.

V.B.: We never start with the idea of creating a certain type of song. It all begins in the rehearsal room with a riff or idea, then it turns into a jam, till we get the right pulsation of the upcoming song. We let our souls do it instead of our brains.

Upyr1What can you share about the meanings behind the songs?

V.B.: The lyrics are all written by Brodnik and they are deeply emotional. ”Hymn to Pan” is inspired by the original text of Crowley and I don’t think that’s a big surprise when you listen to our music.

Brodnik: They are profoundly emotional and true to my being. It’s an enormous amount of suffering implemented in the lyrics and the way I express myself through various vocal techniques. I try to create a world within the world, but the epicenter of it is the really messed up mind that I own. “Before the Altars of Necrotic Karma” is about the never-ending feeling that we’re doomed and we’re not meant to reach happiness, freedom or any kind of a conclusion or meaning for our existence. “The tunnels of my Sleep” is about my expanding problems with sleeping, I have insomnia that can last 4/5 days and cycle every second week, It’s really a different state of mind that you get into…

How did the recording process go?

Brodnik: The others recorded the first two songs live in a cheap studio for about a few hours, after that I recorded the vocals and we spent some time in the mixing room so we can get exactly what we wanted from the sound. The bonus song that’s only on the cassette release is a rehearsal jam of the dirtiest kind and sounds more like a demo.

V.B.: We should not forget that it’s a demo release. A friend of the band helped us with the mixing with great dedication and that brought the raw live material to another level without killing its punch.

Are you pleased with the end result of Altars/Tunnels? Would you do anything differently next time?

Brodnik: I’m pleased that we put out the songs in a release quite fast because that’s what matters. I believe that the magic of it is you can’t touch it when it’s out. I’m not a fan of reissues or remastered albums.

V.B.: I’m completely satisfied with the end product. There’s a lot of atmosphere. Nobody knows what it’s going to be next time but for sure the production will serve the music.

What does the future hold for Upyr?

V.B.: 2014 started more than well for us. The cassette release by Serpent Eve Recs. is already sold out in just a month and the guys from the label are working on a second edition due to the big interest. The reviews were really flattering for us and we will give our hearts to have a great 2014 year together.

Brodnik: We have two shows in February with KYLESA (USA) and TURBOCHARGED (SWEDEN), then we will take a short break and we will come back in April with a surprise. We plan some shows outside of the country too. Thank you for your interest!



Legions of Crows – Stab Me (Review)

Legions of CrowsUK band Legions of Crows play Sludge Metal with a Blackened outer layer.

This brand of Blackened atmospheric Sludge is greatly enhanced by the presence of keyboards and other effects, which add  a layer of depth to the already thick torrent of misery peddled by Legions of Crows.

They also have an ear for a good riff, the effect of which is never to be underestimated. Second track Fellating the Lamb is a great example of this; it crawls along for the most part sounding really sinister and malevolent, with Black Metal shrieks burning over the top of it. Unexpectedly it then rises above the fog into a mid-song gallop with a guitar solo, before inevitably waning, slowing down and falling back into the murk with dying wails. Great stuff.

That’s one of the most enjoyable things about this album – they have plenty of variety and a grasp of mood and songs to envy.

The combination of Gothic keyboards/Black Metal influences and filthy Sludge may not appeal to everyone. Most bands who combine Black Metal and Doom usually do so from the point of view of the harsher, dirtier side of both genres, making the melding of sounds easier as there is less distance to traverse. Legions of Crows however choose the path less travelled and combine the filthy, dirty side of Sludge with the more Gothic side of Black Metal. The overall result of course is bound to still sound on the grim side, but the keyboards have largely avoided the corruption and the juxtaposition of both is a pleasant surprise and largely works in the album’s favour.

Interestingly Paul Di’Anno also makes an appearance on the album, which in keeping with a lot of Stab Me is an unexpected turn of events, but a good one.

The recording is functional and does the job, and I’ve certainly heard worse, but I would prefer the drum sound to be slightly more hard-hitting next time. This is only a minor quibble though, as the sound serves the album well enough.

A very interesting release with plenty of individuality and character. I’ll certainly be listening to this quite a bit more and watching what they do next.

Upyr – Altars/Tunnels (Review)

UpyrThis is the first release from Bulgarian band Upyr.

They play Blackened Doom and do this extremely well. The first track Before the Altars of Necrotic Karma starts with towering slow riffing and alternates this with a more mid-paced attack that evokes murky landscapes and a blackness to get lost in.

Vocals alternate between high shrieks a la Black Metal, and deeper growling and vocalisations. These are quality vocals as the deeper ones sound really menacing and the shrieks, (the predominant style), are savage and as sharp as black ice. Neurosis-style clean vocals are also used sparingly and contribute to the grim whole.

I really like the mood that these songs set for the listener. Although it may describe a bleak and inhospitable environment for the average person, for the connoisseur this is the sweetest of delicacies. The combination of monolithic Doom guitars with a scything Black Metal sheen to them is a dark pleasure to savour.

Taking the blueprint of Doom and infecting it with the corrupting influence of Black Metal is yielding great results for bands like Usnea and Battle Path; now we have another name to add to this glowing list of honors – Upyr.

A top quality first release and may there be many more in the future.