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Interview

Demether Of Arcane Grail Discusses The Band's Latest Album "Arya Marga"

Blending symphonic black metal, melodic death metal, and pure opera, the Russian group Arcane Grail has created a unique mix of sounds rarely found together in the same place. Arcane Grail unleashed a second full-length album titled "Arya Marga" last year, and just recently released the tracks online in digital format. The band's front man and male vocalist Demether explained the group's recent member shakeup, the distinctive mixing of various metal styles, and the story behind the lyrics on "Arya Marga."

xFiruath: We've recently lost three famous metal musicians, Peter Steele of Type O Negative, Paul Gray of Slipknot, and the legendary Ronnie James Dio. Would you care to comment at all about these musicians death or how their music influenced you?

Demether: There have been a lot of deaths and we unfortunately shall also lose more of our favorite musicians. I was not a fan of Type O Negative, but some of their songs since my childhood I love very much and in any case I consider both of these points: Peter's voice is magnificent and more importantly as a person he’s pleasant and wise and a very charismatic person. To Paul Gray and Slipknot, to be fair, this music is very distant from me and I didn’t really know much about him. But the deaths that have really amazed me are Dio and Juhani Palomäki from Finnish bands Yearning and Colosseum. Both great creators, they created magnificent music. And, certainly, Dio the father, the grandfather of all of us, our culture, music, devil horns. When I learned about his death I began to cry. Then I began to listen to his albums all day long. A divine voice and, in my opinion, he is one of the finest people in metal. And as he gigged even in the past year, such driving power and energy. Inexpressible. Colosseum, simply one of the best funeral-doom metal bands in the world, music of a chasm, a chasm of beauty. Let everyone rest in peace. In any case, metal musicians for me are people that are more sacred than any other people.

xFiruath: When did Arcane Grail originally form and how do the members know each other?

Demether: I formed the band in December of 2001, together with our first drummer with whom we studied together in college and lived in adjacent streets. Other people have been included in that first lineup but it did not become settled. So there were other people who joined as replacements and they were in the band for much longer. They had been around the band already, through friendship with the first short term lineup.

xFiruath: Are you involved with any other bands outside of Arcane Grail at the moment?

Demether: Yes. I sing now in two bands. Skylord, which is a high speed and super melodious symphonic black metal. We have now finished the recording of our debut album, and also I sing in Winged, which is orthodox true black. Also I help different bands with the recording of backing vocals for their albums or the producing of vocals.

xFiruath: What is your personal history in music and what bands have influenced you throughout your career?

Demether: In difference from the majority of my friends I started to listen to metal late. I was 16. Before I listened to folk music, not folk rock, but authentic folk from 12 years old. Then I heard Rammstein, and it was incredible. Bands like Metallica, Helloween, Gamma Ray, and Manowar. Within six months I discovered Therion and Rhapsody, and after another six months Tristania, The Kovenant, Bal-Sagoth, and Cradle of Filth. The last six bands have very strongly affected me, and have inspired the creation of my own band, and till now remain my favorite, except late Tristania, surely. Though now I listen to absolutely all styles of metal, except for hardcore.

xFiruath: How did you guys get hooked up with Hunters Moon records?

Demether: We have got acquainted with the owner of Hunter’s Moon, Mike, on the Internet. He liked our music and now here we’ve released the album on iTunes.

xFiruath: How would you describe the specific style and sound of Arcane Grail to any metal fans who hadn’t heard your band before?

Demether: We name our music symphonic extreme metal art, that is to say more precisely it unites the uniform mixture of classical melodic death, sympho-black, gothic doom, and classical and opera music, plus a man's growl, screaming, a pure vocal, opera, both a female soprano and female screaming. There is all of those in the music of Arcane Grail.

xFiruath: Arcane Grail lost a couple of members last year. What prompted the split and has the lineup change affected the sound of the band?

Demether: Yes, after the release of the second album our four musicians were sent away, or have been dismissed. I do not know how precisely to name this situation, but in general, it was a very heavy psychological year. These former musicians did not wish to continue to play symphonic metal anymore and they have based their own projects in an alt-metal style, and there was no sense to continue to cooperate with them. To the contrary, now I have collected new musicians, wishing to continue to play the style of Arcane Grail and to develop it.

xFiruath: How has Arcane Grail’s music changed in this second album, “Arya Marga,” from your previous work?

Demether: The music became more symphonic, more adult and much more varied. The female vocal became much more and I began to sing more with a pure voice, perhaps these are the basic differences.

xFiruath: Where did you record the album and did the band do their own producing?

Demether: I have produced both of our albums, and “Arya Marga” we have recorded and mixed in the Moscow studio KI -Records that’s very convenient, professional, and result are happy for us on 98%!

xFiruath: Is there a specific theme or story to the lyrics on the album?

Demether: Our second album is conceptually like the previous one, "Mysteries of the Ancient Charnel.” But if the first CD has the fairytale like story about ghosts, kings, the inquisition and love in a King Diamond-like style, the new CD is more serious and non-fairytale. The lyrics of Arcane Grail are latently or directly connected nowadays with mythologies of Russian and Indo-Aryan heathenism. There are various themes on the second album, but all of them are united in the uniform concept of finding the true ninefold noble path of life by the man (“Arya Marga” in Sanskrit– an esoteric term in Vedism and Buddhism), the revolt against the present and desire to be cleared from all nasty defects of modern human society. And first of all, returning to the sources of mankind, to cleanliness of soul, thoughts, to natural laws, to ancient beliefs, to wisdom of ancestors and to divine condition of human spirit.

xFiruath: How does the band go about composing the different elements of any Arcane Grail song? How do you decide which parts should be female vocals and which should be extreme growling parts?

Demether: From the very beginning of the existence of Arcane Grail I wished to do varied songs, doing in everyone of them any individual and unique elements, including atypical instruments for metal, that necessarily nothing repeated in different songs. For example, keyboard effects, except for the pure piano, don’t repeat in all songs on two albums, and it is a rule. Vocal parts are distributed for me and Natalie off the mark depending on melody or a text component. Naturally, the majority of the lyrical moments of music are sung by Natalie, and aggressive and high speed by me. Though in the songs there are also exceptions to the rules.

xFiruath: What is your local metal scene like and are there any bands you perform with regularly?

Demether: I love Russian metal and I am the owner of the metal label Grailight Productions, which releases melodic extreme bands of the CIS. Russia has very worthy and interesting bands nowadays. I would name Ambehr, Blackthorn, Atoll Nerat, Kartikeya, Dorgmooth, Astel Oscora, Welicoruss, Little Dead Bertha, Wine from Tears, Crystal Abyss, Ruthless Order, Ordalion, and Ea.

xFiruath: What’s in store for Arcane Grail in the future? Do you have any live shows planned or are you writing new material?

Demether: Now I am composing new material, and in the Fall, I think, we shall renew our concert activity. It would be desirable to do gigs, tour, and certainly head for Europe.

xFiruath: What bands and albums are you personally listening to lately?

Demether: Nowadays I listen to new albums of Astel Oscora, Carach Angren, The Vision Bleak, Aeternam, Ea, Smuta, Arkona, Butterfly Temple, Nokturnal Mortum, Kiuas, Orphaned Land, and Ensiferum.

xFiruath: Is there anything else at all you’d like to discuss, either about music or anything else?

Demether: It would be possible to discuss a world situation with uploading mp3s, dying of bands and labels, but it has already left a bad taste in mouths. I consider that it is necessary to survive simply for the sake of an idea! Simply I wish to tell to all of your readers love and play (insert name of band or musician here) metal sincerely because metal is the most fair and strong music on the Earth!

xFiruath's avatar

Ty Arthur is a freelance writer who writes for both entertainment and technical instruction sites. An avid fan of many different forms of metal, he has been involved in reviewing music for several years and is currently a contributing editor for Metalunderground.com

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