It took me a while to finalize this interview, but I did it. Between getting my questions answered and after that getting them translated, probably close to 3 months passed. Hopefully, the readership will be rewarded, however, by having a chance to glimpse into the mind of one Master Alafern, the leader of Ukrainian industrial death band Thunderkraft. The interview came out rather philosophical and reflectd on various, sometimes touchy, subject. You be the judge ...
1. Congratulations on the recent record Totentanz by Thunderkraft. As my review stated it was a pleasure to review such competent effort , which interestingly combined death, folk and industrial under one roof. How does an idea come up to have these various metal strands combine to form a single monolithic record? Please tell more about the development of Totentanz, the lyrical concept behind the album, the use of multiple (I counted at least three, Russian, Ukrainian and German) languages.
Thank you for your congratulations, I am very pleased to hear such a positive review, and I am also very happy that you liked the record. Sure, we have worked quite hard towards it, trying to meld all of these styles in one whole. I think that our songs have a perfect amount of each ingredient, i.e. we have found “Aurea mediocritas”, something which lays at the foundation of our music. While working on a certain episode we are constructing a chain of consecutive interrelated musical phrases. This sequence dictates our mood, this sequence interacts with our subconscious, it is based on our outlook, it dictates what and how it will happen next. Therefore, in every moment in our every song exactly the right note, the right riff and the right style comes up when it is supposed to. And they sound they only way they have to. There is no other way. This is an axiom.
2. As much as I liked the sound of Totentanz I happened to think that the folk element was still somewhat underutilized on the album. Is that by design, stemming from the desire of not to be lumped under folk metal label, or the harsher deathier sounds were more appropriate?
In order to discuss this we can state that folk element was utilized in the exact amount needed, and in our understanding it is 100%. Unequivocally, Thunderkraft is not a folk metal band in the most common understanding of this term. Our music has tracks which do not contain any folk elements at all. Therefore, it can be said, that folk is present here to provide our music with a unique national accent and atmosphere of our sacred land. As you have already noticed, our music, being our self-reflection, dictates the style we are in, not vice versa. So, if our creative forays pushed into directions different from the ones showcased on the record, then you would have heard more folk elements, which could have influenced the listener. Yet, it would not work the other way around where the listener would have influenced us.
3. Time to clear the air, of course, and be honest how our connection after the review posting came to be. In other words, time to rebuke me, perhaps, by setting the record straight about the political (or apolitical) stance of Thunderkraft. Why do you think the stereotype of belonging to the Kharkiv scene haunts many of the Ukrainian bands? Why did it come to be that a certain number of the bands (we won’t name any names) decided that NS banner suits their ideology, since it seems to me Ukraine bore an enormous amount of suffering in WWII only 60-70 years ago?
To sing about politics is pointless, since everybody understands what modern politics mean, therefore our songs are significantly above politics. About stereotype and belonging to the Kharkiv scene, yes, we are from Kharkiv, and that is why stereotype exists. About the NS banner and World War II, yes at first it seems that way, but not everything is so straightforward. I would even say that a lot of things were different, since many documents remain “classified”. During Stalin repressions many people were killed. Many experienced and talented officers were shot and otherwise repressed, the whole upper echelon of the Red Army was “cleansed”. That was the direct reason why colossal losses were incurred in the years of the Great Patriotic War (and why Wehrmacht had so much success at first, because the new Soviet Army leadership lacked experienced). Nevertheless, in modern Ukraine they still erect monuments to Stalin, and recently nothing prevented them to take Stalin’s portrait out to the city square in Kharkiv on May 9, Victory Day. So, let’s just leave these themes to be debated during all kinds of charlatan TV shows, and instead let’s drink some beer.
4. How is the Ukrainian metal scene, specifically in Kharkiv, these days? How the political changes in Ukraine play a role in how the scene evolves these days?
I will begin with political changes. This is the situation today. Due to some changes many various kinds of enterprises got closed, many people were thrown out from their jobs, many lost their businesses, many in this country became poor beggars, and musicians are not exceptions, so what kind of scene development are you talking about? Of course, not everything is so tragic, but in our country metal scene is evolving only in large thanks to the colossal enthusiasm of the musicians, domestic labels and those people who have the courage to organize a concert or a tour. On the whole, these people are usually working at a loss, and it is good if anybody has a chance to break even (this is actually more hobby, than work).
5. Thunderkraft features Munruthel on drums. The man is quite famous in the aforementioned Ukrainian black metal scene, but also as an accomplished drummer and composer himself. How was Thuderkraft able to score the coup of landing Munruthel, and does he help you out with composing for Thunderkraft?
We know each other for a long time. He is our good old friend. When our old drummer left the band, we certainly set out looking for a new one. And then we had a show coming up in Sevastopol. Munruthel graciously agreed to help us out and play that show. After that we offered him to join us permanently. As I mentioned already, we knew him for a long time and we were friends, so he fit into our lineup perfectly. He is quite an experience musician and a talented person, therefore some of his thoughts, ideas and useful advises are always very timely. He also contributed a few vocal tracks for the album. But out creative tandem does not end there. Munruthel also played drums in the new album of my project Triglav. The recording of that project is in its final stages. On my part, I participated in the recording of his new album.
6. Master Alafern’s name is associated not only with Thunderkraft, but also with Svyatogor. Can you please fill us in on this other band of yours? It is often asked why talented metal musicians feel the need to be involved with several projects, often very different from one another. How is Svyatogor different from Thunderkraft and how do you plan to develop both bands in the nearest future?
Everything is very simple. It just so happens that inspiration often brings with it a lot of interesting music that does not quite fit the format for a given band, therefore the need is created to use these themes in other music projects. For this very reason I have several of them, i.e.: Triglav - this project has rather lengthy and not very simple history. It has folk metal with the elements of classical music at its foundation; Quintessence Mystica - sympho-mystical black metal, the goal of this is to express in musical form everything which is outside the boundaries of our common understanding of the world. And of course, the band Svyatogor, which has been in existence for quite some time now and I have a lot of interesting memories associated with it. Within the confines of Svyatogor we have recently realized a new album Doctor Veritas, which I wholeheartedly recommend to all who like non-trivial work and experimental music. At times I hear that the music of Thunderkraft and Svyatogor has a lot in common (which in principle should not be that surprising), yet an attentive listener will see a whole chasm between these two mountains. These bands are connected in their desire to produce non-standard music, but Svyatogor is largely balck metal, while Thunderkraft is industrial death. Further development of these bands I see in the novel approach to writing and recording of the material and nothing else, since I want to make music which is different from the large number of existing bands.
7. It looks that Thunderkraft will be partnering with newly formed Svarga Music label to be promoting Totentanz. Svarga’s manager has been at the forefront of our communication, which is very commendable. Can you say anything more about the partnership and whether Thunderkraft hopes to achieve broad distribution with Svarga’s help?
This is a young, yet very ambitious label with lots of potential. It specializes exclusively in Ukrainian metal with the goal of making our domestic music popular outside the borders of our country. We have very trusting relationship with this label, and we hope for a broad and mutually benefiting collaboration. The promo campaign was conducted at a very solid level, which speaks about the serious approach to business on the part of this enterprise.
8. Is Thunderkraft lineup stable enough for the band to tour? If yes, are there any tours planned and where are they going to take the band? If the band plays live, do violin and flute make a regular appearance?
The way things stand today, there are some complicated issues on this front, since especially at this moment our lineup is undergoing certain changes. Yet, to speak broadly, we have ideas to tour together with Svyatogor. If these plans were to come to fruition, then some certain circumstances have to pan out, i.e., specifically the resolution on who is going to pay for all that. As far as live instruments go, we did use the live flute at our concerts. As far as violin goes, sadly not, since playing both guitar and violin at the same time is not possible, and it is me who plays both instruments on the recording.
9. I know that you are as accomplished in your legal studies as you are a musician, and that you possess a law degree from a University. Can you say anything more about Master Alafern as a person, since it always interests me how the real life person behind the band shapes its musical creations?
The real life certainly puts a stamp on a person. Yes it is true, yet I sometimes think that the real life does have the deciding influence on the artist creating a picture. The thing is, when you are under the influence of the creative affect, the reality seizes to exist in its usual form, you are immersing yourself in a totally different world, free of all earthly issues which are posed in front of you in the real world. If this was different, then the artist would not have had any freedom in its creative means. The fantasy would have been polluted with all kinds of garbage distracting him from the creative work. And if you are not capable of leaving the everyday life, then inspiration will certainly pass you by. The issue of sincerity and truthfulness of art lies in the plane of the artist’s relationship with his inner world and his interactions with the world surrounding him.
Any final words for the MetalReviews readership?
Respect death, you will still have a chance to use it!

There are 0 comments on this interview. Last one on Thu Sep 13, 2012 11:21 am
View and Post comments