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With Servants to the Tide's debut full-length just recently released, Comrade Aleks goes in search of band founder Leonid Rubinstein to discover how this new German Epic Doom outfit came into being.

Interview with Servants to the Tide.
"This relatively new Epic Doom act from Germany was founded in 2018 by Leonid Rubinstein (guitars, bass, keyboards) who already had experience of playing different forms of Metal, including quite traditional Doom with A Sickness Unto Death. His passion towards mournful, monumental and hymnal music has been redirected through Servants to the Tide. The result of his work in this direction is the self-titled debut full-length album, recorded with Lucas Freise (drums) and Stephan Wehrbein (vocals), both experienced musicians and expressive performers. Released by No Remorse Records on March 26th 'Servants to the Tide' is a short but sweet example of heroic Doom Metal as we like it. Leonid tells the story of his relationship with Doom, and how that turned into the band."

Hi Leonid! How are you doing? How has the current quarantine affected the release of your debut album?

Cheers! I am doing considerably fine; hope you are doing fine as well! The good thing is that it did not affect the release at all if you ask me. As this whole thing started off as a one-man-project, most of the instruments were recorded completely in line with all Corona regulation - alone, in the bedroom. Our drummer did everything by himself as well, and while I recorded our singer, it was still on the "allowed"-list, I guess. Usually, a band that releases an album tries to get on the road, or at least plays some one-off-shows and festivals, which we can't do now, but that's not a problem as we wouldn't have a full line-up anyway. However, if this goes on for much longer, it will affect us, and I'm not too eager to see that happening.

So you don't consider Servants to the Tide as a "real" band, do you?

Not yet - but we are transcending into being one! It was never my goal for Servants to the Tide to be a project, it was just an effective way to get it started. But as we are looking for additional members to complete our line up, I really want to see it becoming a full-fledged band sometime soon!

You've stated that Servants to the Tide is a homage to bands like Atlantean Kodex and While Heaven Wept. What attracts you to these bands?

The epicness, the melancholy, the sheer scope. I always felt drawn to this kind of emotional, soaring music, and ATLANTEAN KODEX and WHILE HEAVEN WEPT have perfected it in my opinion. I can't make it any better, we would end up being a mediocre copy; But I can give it my personal spin and see if we can create something on our own that is rooted in the love for these bands and this particular style.

Leonid Rubinstein (guitars, bass, keyboards).

How quickly did you find the right people to complete the band's lineup? How did you describe to them your expectations or demands for work in Servants to the Tide?

The reason that Servants to the Tide was started by me alone is that I tried to find musicians to create this band for about 10 years. I tried to create such a band early on in my teens, but it was literally impossible to get enough band members and, on top of that, a rehearsal room at the same time. Once you got one element, you lost the other. Also, Epic Doom Metal is a niche even within the Metal genre, only a few people are interested in playing it, let alone capable to do so. Most want to do traditional Heavy Metal, or Melodeath, which is why I ended up in a lot of Melodeath or Heavy Metal bands over the years. And the few that I found who showed even remote interest in Doom wanted to make Doom Death, or some occult '70s Black Sabbath-Worship, or Stoner. The closest I came to SERVANTS was when I was with VISIONS OF MORIBUND and, later, A SICKNESS UNTO DEATH, but VISIONS was short-lived and A SICKNESS UNTO DEATH, as much as I love them, were not what I had envisioned.

At some point, I gave up the idea of an organic, real band being the root of my Epic Doom Metal band; I just started to record everything myself, probably for an EP or something. And with material already recorded, it became easier to approach potential members, that's when Stephan and Lucas showed up and gladly, they were both eager to participate!

The line-up is not really complete now, though. We still need two more members to have a line up that is ready to take a stage, so ask me how easy it was when that is accomplished, haha!

Servants to the Tide - 'A Wayward Son's Return' (Lyric, 2021):

It seems the album was recorded during quarantine; how were recording sessions organized? Epic doom demands proper conditions for recording - I wonder if it's possible to record vocals like Stephan does at home.

I recorded all guitars, bass and keyboards in my bedroom, that's really easy nowadays if you have a laptop, an interface and a faint idea of what to do. I used a drum machine for the first takes. Then I sent the rough recordings to Lucas, who recorded his drums by himself in his rehearsal room. As for the vocals, I met up with Stephan and we spent a weekend in his parents' house where we recorded all vocals. It's actually quite common for people to record outside of a studio environment nowadays. I'm pretty happy with how those recordings turned out, even though I think that there are clearly more professional ways to handle such recording sessions and we might go down those roads in the future… or maybe not? We'll see!

If you ask me - 'Servants to the Tide' sounds really good for a partly "home-made" recording. Don't you miss the studio work aesthetic as well as the opportunity to play gigs? How much do you value such old-school ways? Or does effectiveness turn out to be a priority nowadays, isn't it?

Let me be honest here with you: none of the albums I played on were recorded in a studio. I would love to do it some time, but it's just very money-consuming. Even if we would go into a studio, we'd most probably do drums and probably vocals there, because of the better acoustics and the high-end microphones there. I think you can record guitars and bass anywhere if you have a half-decent interface, and you can take a lot more time to do. I'm not against it, I just don't see many reasons to work that way in 2021.

Stephan Wehrbein (vocals).

How did you work with Andreas Libera over the album? I remember his Spirit Descent was very close to the Epic category.

Andreas was basically responsible for tuning in the guitar tone and for preparing the tracks for the mix, and I think he did an awesome job with both - the guitar tone is crushing, and I didn't hear Michael complain about the tracks too much, haha!

There are three guests on this album, why did you choose to invite musicians from outside?

Two reasons. First, I really like to make music together with friends and acquaintances. And second, they all brought elements that we didn't have in the band at that time, at least not in that quality. They enriched the album and gave it more uniqueness.

Do you see more space for more global collaborations with guest musicians in future?

Sure, why not? That's the beauty of the internet, isn't it? We had Luc from Luxembourg, Paul from Finland, Jeff from Canada, and they all were able to record their parts at home and send them to me. It opens completely new ranges of creativity to be able to collaborate with so many interesting artists!

Lucas Freise (drums).

Epic Doom metal usually deals with heroic and dramatic events like personal or global Armageddon, ancient battles (Evangelist), ancient ways (Scald and Solstice) or even the church's criminals (Fvneral Fvkk). How do you see the essential themes for an Epic Doom album?

Pretty much what you just described. I don't see many limits to what we can sing about, and that's a good thing, right?

Exactly, but each genre sets its own rules, do you feel yourself bound by Epic Doom chains to some point?

Mh… I have yet to write lyrics that I find unfitting for Doom. Maybe it's because the things that are on my mind generally fit to this kind of music, I don't know. I don't feel any desire to write about pink unicorns at this point. Ask me this question in 5 or 7 years and I might have a different answer for you, but as of now, I don't feel any boundaries at all - quite the contrary, I feel free to explore the topics I want to write about without anything holding me back. I can write strong, almost positive lyrics like "Descending From Miklagard" or open up in a fragile, emotional way like on "Your Sun Will Never Shine For Me" and it fits to the music.

What kind of lyrics did you choose for your songs?

Some of them are rather metaphorical, some are quite personal. Some tell a story, some don't, some seem to tell a story… I'm quite happy with how the lyrics turned out and am very proud of them, so I'm looking forward to see what people make out of them.

Servants to the Tide - 'Your Sun Will Never Shine For Me' (2021):

Well, there's no doubt of the level of your songs' epicness, it's beyond expectations. But the album's running time is just 34 minutes, don't you think you were hurrying a bit with the release?

Not at all. The last album I played on was the third CRAVING album "By The Storm", with a running time of… uhm, 78 minutes or so? An absolute monster. Writing an album this short was somewhat cathartic to me - there is not one song too much, not one moment that I would want to cut out, not one chorus that I think that drags on for too long. There was another demo song named "Lot Of Man" that would have brought the album to roughly 40 minutes, but it did not fit in with the other material and, while not being a bad song at all (we might do something with it in the future), would have disturbed the flow and feeling of the album in my opinion. The next album will be longer though!

Oh, one more thing: "Reign In Blood" tops at 29 Minutes, and if this banger is not an album, what is? It's not our fault those guys played faster than us, haha!

What's about next album then? How soon may we expect Servants to the Tide return? What may we expect from you next time?

We're working on it, and as I don't need a sauna to get the music finished, I think we'll have new material in reasonable time. I can't say too much as of now, but we have a few songs demoed now. It might get a little darker, and there's a monolith of a song that stands at about 13 minutes as of now, dealing with the very end of existence itself. I'm having a blast writing this material and look forward to have it ready for you guys!

Leonid, I'd like to thank you for this interview, let's hope the album will find its listeners and Servants to the Tide will get an opportunity to play it live soon. Well, didn't we miss anything?

Thanks a lot! I sure hope so too - let's stay healthy and support some underground Metal until then!

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Visit the Servants to the Tide bandpage.

Interviewed on 2021-04-25 by Comrade Aleks Evdokimov.
Aesthetic Death
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