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Belarusian band Adliga are a hard to quantify blend of Doom and Post-Metal, with various other influences in play. Following the release of their debut full- length 'Vobrazy', Comrade Aleks had this in-depth chat with almost the whole band.

Interview with Adliga.
"Belarus has its share of Doom, that’s for sure, but there aren’t actually that many Doom bands, so the first album ‘Vobrazy’, by Minsk-based Adliga attracted my attention. Being originally inspired by bands like My Dying Bride, Draconian, Theatre of Tragedy and Paradise Lost, they started out as Moonswarm in 2016 but changed the name two years later. The band line-up was stable and they soon recorded EP ‘Kali pacіače nіeba’ (2019), then changed their mind as one and turned to experiments around Doom and Post-Metal with a noticeable Folk vibe for the full-length ‘Vobrazy’ (‘Images’). You should probably be aware that the album was mixed and mastered by Cult of Luna’s Magnus Lindberg, and as for other things… Let’s just ask Adliga’s crew. "

Adliga: Roman Petrashkevich (bass), Ignat Pomazkov (guitars), Katja (Kate) Sidelova (vocals), Uladzimir (Vladimir) Burylau (guitars), Artem Voronko (drums).

Hi Adliga! How are you? Your first full-length album ’Vobrazy’ was released on November 5, do you have options to play it live? Covid, uneasy situation in Belarus - I wonder if there’s space for luxuries like old good Metal gigs?

Kate: Hi, thanks for asking! We are fine! Honestly, we have real doubts at the moment about playing live. We currently reject most of the offers to play local gigs because nowadays it’s more about the risk to our and public health and a bit less about delighting the audience. If an opportunity for a unique concert or collaboration with some nice band arises, then we’ll probably think this possibility over. But to be honest, for the past several years Belarus hasn’t been a place for the so-called good old metal gigs. But we hope things will change one day.

Ignat: We hope to participate in a really impressive show in Minsk, together with two great bands, soon. It’s planned, but not confirmed yet - let’s keep our fingers crossed!

Roman: Maybe the good old metal gigs are exactly what we need right now to clear out the gloominess of the Belarusian life in 2021! So I too hope that we get to play the show that Ignat mentioned.

Okay, fingers crossed then! The band was started as Moonswarm back in 2016. What are the differences between Moonswarm and Adliga? What were you doing during this first period?

Kate: He-he :) Actually, it’s very pleasant that you could somehow find this information :) It was a very short period when our band had this name. The main difference was that back then we used to play covers of our favorite bands/songs and didn’t even think or dream about making our own music. But when our first own song appeared, we decided that it was much more interesting to create something new than to just play what others had created before. So we decided that from now on we needed another name which would tell a better story about us and our music.

Ignat: Yeah, we were Moonswarm till mid-2018. Once we created our own first song with lyrics in Belarusian, we reconsidered our position and vision and decided to go further with a new band name, Adliga.

Vladimir: Yeah, what we were doing back then was just playing covers at rehearsals for our own private enjoyment. We didn’t even have a name for a long time, we had to come up with it when we decided to record and release our first full-band cover video. But after some time playing covers became kinda stale, and when we tried to play our first own song, the interest in the band grew significantly. Playing covers was restricting in a way, there was always the original version that felt better than our attempt at it, and the best we could do was try to get closer to it - but never truly reach it. With our own music, it’s different, we have all the agency and influence to try and change things as we feel at the moment.

What kind of bands did you cover during that early period?

Vladimir: As I remember it, the first two songs we tried to play were ‘For You’ by My Dying Bride and ‘Pale Tortured Blue’ by Draconian. For me it was the first ever experience of playing music together with someone, and although songs were not that hard technically, it was really challenging. Especially ‘For You’, since I had to constantly use a footswitch to change amp channels back and forth, and play some small parts all alone, the anxiety was overwhelming back then. ‘Pale Tortured Blue’, on the other hand was easier, but contained the parts with growling vocals, which we had none at that point. It inspired me to try and learn this technique, and I am happy I did. Eventually we even made a music video for this song, it’s our first and still the most watched video on the channel.

Roman: I also think My Dying Bride’s ‘For You’ was the first song the band played together. Overall I’d say that MDB was the band we did by far the most covers of. Aside from them we also covered several other gothic and doom-metal bands such as Draconian, Theatre of Tragedy and Paradise Lost. We also mixed in some stoner/sludge goodness, like Kylesa and Red Fang, as well as post-metal classics like Cult of Luna.

Adliga’s first release was EP ’Kali pacіače nіeba’, where you already mixed Doom and Post-Metal elements. Who brought both elements to the band? And which bands formed your vision of Adliga’s sound?

Ignat: All our songs begin from the guitar parts, and all of them are written by me. So, the blame is mine :)

The overall sound is inspired by Cult of Luna, My Dying Bride, and Amenra. I can name some more bands, but the main direction is clear. They use different techniques to achieve the haunting, sorrowful atmosphere. Different vocals, different guitar styles, and effects, different tempos. But the result is the same because our feelings are almost the same when we listen to them.

Adliga - 'Žyvy' (Official, 2021):

How is it comfortable for you to balance between these genres? We have Traditional Doom, Death/Doom and the mix of Doom and Post-Metal remains (at least for me) something that came from the US scene, something "non- traditional", maybe even "non-doom".

Kate: For us, this situation is absolutely natural and looks like a logical result or the evolution of these genres. Yes, there are difficulties for us to find our audience or label because of this mixture, but for us, it’s simply boring to artificially set bounds for our music and to stay only in one genre. Why should we do this when we have so many ideas on how to travel through all of the genres and create something new?

Ignat: I think, it wasn’t like ‘I would like to mix this and that’. We create music without thinking about the genre. The main thing is the mood, the atmosphere, and the emotions, which the music brings to life. That’s why you can hear some doomy riffs interlacing with post-rock tremolos and then it can jump into black metal territory. We already learned that such a mix is a great thing for people, who like to listen to the album more than one time and it is terribly horrific for one-time listening because almost nothing is left in the head :)

Yes, a lot of bands provide which "genres" are needed to labels and journalists to let people understand what to expect from the band. So, do people understand your blend of genres, regardless of "doom" or "post" tags?

Kate: Based on the reviews which we received from some magazines and webzines, I would say that the people who more or less understand our "blend’ definitely exist. I feel it is more about whether one accepts such music or not. It’s the same story as with cuisine: some people are ready for experiments and always check something new and others do not. At the same time it seems to me that most of the people don’t care exactly which genre we are playing. They just listen to our music and decide: does it have some influence on their souls and moods or does it not touch them at all. And there comes the problem of us still being in search of a way to best make our potential listeners find and hear what we are creating.

Roman: I don’t think that either "doom" or "post" tags can surprise anyone these days. The journalists, bloggers and critics seem to know their meaning pretty well, and if someone doesn’t it’s not a huge issue, since genre is more of a convenient search tag rather than a definition of what you are going to hear.

How long did you spend recording this material? What was the most difficult part during the recording of 'Vobrazy'?

Kate: The process began in August 2020 with the recording of drums and ended in January 2021 with the last vocals sessions. Since that time we could only wait for our portion of magic from Magnus Lindberg.

Ignat: We tried our best on all stages. The logic was quite simple - to have the sound, which we like and which we want, straight from the recording stage, we wanted to have as few corrections on post-processing as possible. But it’s easier to say than to do:)

And this was our most difficult part - to find That sound on all stages. For drums, guitars, and, finally, vocals. Sometimes we spent almost half of our recording sessions time playing with mics, amps, cabinets, and all this stuff. I’m happy with the resulting sound (Magnus did a great job on mixing and mastering). It’s much better than our debut work, but lessons have been learned and we can improve it even further now. Path to the perfect sound - it’s a never-ending process, every musician knows that.

You released 'Vobrazy' on your own, and one of the interesting elements of the album are the separate photos (images) with the songs’ lyrics. What is the concept behind these songs? Do you have an idea which connects them all in one album?

Kate: Yes, these cards are not just some randomly chosen pictures. The album’s name stands for "images" or "imagery". Hence, all of these images are unique yet intertwined, beginning with the album’s artwork and ending with the lyrics and music. So each photo somehow interacts with the lyrics and mood of the particular song, and at the same time, they symbolize some important things or topics.

For instance, one of the album’s artworks - the picture of the cradle - was taken in the historic house-museum of the famous Belorussian poet Yakub Kolas, the same house where he was born. So it’s not just a cradle from the song ‘Bol na Sercy’ (‘Heart Ache’). The cradle itself is a very huge symbol. It’s like a start to everything in our lives. At the same time for us, it’s not some random cradle - it’s a notable place for our country and language. Finally, two of our five band members were also born or raised in a district not far from the Yakub Kolas’s birthplace. We also used a fragment of his famous poem A New Land when we worked on the visual presentation for the song ‘Apošni Raz’ (‘The Last Time’). For the piece ‘Naščadkam’ (‘To Descendants’), we used a picture of the ruins of Graboŭskijs’ mansion in the Dikushki village, visited by us during one of the trips to the remnants of our country’s cultural heritage. And of course, it’s not the end and people can think about it further and find their own new meanings behind these images.

Doom, Post-Metal… I would add a "Folk" element to your musical palette because of Katja’s sorrowful chants and the lyrics written in your native tongue. How do you see this "folk" aspect of Adliga? Was it something natural or did you plan it from a start?

Ignat: Hm, that’s interesting, because I haven’t planned something like this from the beginning, at least in the music. I think Kate can definitely say more about this.

Kate: Yes, there are some elements of folk both in some of the vocal melodies and lyrics. It wasn’t anything planned. It’s just my view and reception of the music we are playing. Lyrics to ‘the Paparać Kvietka’ (‘Fern flower’) were given to us by our dear friend Vera Kramko, and they fit perfectly and without any adjustments to the previously composed instrumental track. By the way, this song perfectly complemented the social theme of the album: the search for happiness and a human’s place in the world. Since it is based entirely on the Belarusian folk legend about a magical fern flower that grants wishes but blooms only once a year on the Night of Kupala, it’s definitely a real folk element that came to us in an unplanned way but perfectly fit our album.

Vladimir: Our mix of genres seems confusing enough already, so we try to avoid ‘folk’ labels when talking about our music. But only as labels, since it may convey certain expectations of likeliness to other folk-labeled bands, of which we have none. However, the specifics of how our language sounds, thematic references in lyrics, and song titles - these connections to folk we have, that’s true.

Roman: I think that lyrics-wise all of the songs on the album have some folkish roots to them and connect to the intuitive existential search, worries, or fears of the common folk. Sometimes the connections are just thematic, but sometimes they have more obvious reference points. As Kate mentioned, ‘Paparać Kvietka’ goes the farthest in that regard, being directly based on the mythos of the traditional summer solstice festival of the countries of Eastern Europe and Belarus in particular. Expect to see the development in this direction in our future release. ;)

With what kind of bands did you play before? It’s another side of that question regarding Adliga’s genre...let’s say, with what kind of bands is it comfortable to play live, for you?

Kate: Unfortunately the situation in Belarus with concerts of underground bands is very sad. Firstly, there is a lack of such gigs at all. Secondly, their organizers are very often mixing completely opposite genres and bands. So one evening we shared the stage with bands who played slam core and power metal! All gigs we took part in were for us just an opportunity, let’s say, to check the stage. After that experience we understood that it’s almost useless for us: it’s quite doubtful we are going to find new fans among the lovers of power metal or slam core)) So now we are trying to somehow cooperate with the bands who create the music and atmosphere similar to ours. Though right now it’s also not so simple because of the Corona and because of the situation with the Belorussian underground scene generally.

Roman: To be honest, I’m fine sharing the stage with anything that’s not a cover band. It would certainly be preferable if our musical styles aligned in some way, but it’s certainly not always possible. :)

Adliga - 'Kali Pacіače Nіeba' (Official, 2020):

The lyrics are performed in Belorussian and there’s no translation in the booklet, so can you comment on the lyrics on 'Vobrazy'?

Kate: Originally, our idea was to publish both variants: in Belarusian (to let people sing with us) and in English (to let the English- speaking people understand what we are singing about). Unfortunately during the development of our artwork, we had to leave only the Belorussian version on our cards. But you can find the English language translations on our Bandcamp page: each song has both its original and translated lyrics there! I feel like it’s a very ungrateful task to describe your own lyrics, but we touch upon various themes in our songs, from the man’s place in the society (in ‘Zman’ / ‘Deception’) to the topics of war ( in ‘Boj’ / ‘The Battle’, ‘Žyvy’ / ‘Alive’) and legacy (‘Naščadkam’ / ‘To Descendants’). Vladimir: Yeah, it’s hard to tell anything specific about the lyrics since they are pretty vague and can convey different meanings for different people like is often the case with post-metal lyrics. And their meaning for us is often very personal, but not only that - sharing it would kinda ruin their suggestive nature.

Roman: I feel like Kate did a good job describing the main topic of our songs. I’d just add that all of them cover some existential fears and worries of the common folk, either speaking of them directly like in ‘Bol na Sercy’, or wrapping them around some kind of a description like in our war- themed songs or in a mythical ‘Paparać Kvietka’.

How do you promote the album now? Have you already had positive feedback? How do you see the band’s prospects from the current point?

Kate: It’s a very painful topic for us. We invested a lot of time and effort to make our album a little bit closer to our potential listeners: sent it out for reviews to hundreds (and it’s not a figure of speech) of different reviewers, bought some advertisements on social media, and so on. And yes, we’ve managed to receive some really worthy reviews and new listeners. We see that this situation with COVID-19 restricts the main possibility for the artist to get known and accepted - playing concerts. So for us, this means just a longer path to our listeners, but we remain quite optimistic and are going to continue creating our music. Right now we are working on our next album and we try to avoid some mistakes we made previously. So we hope it ends up having an easier time finding its way to the audience.

Ignat: Nice question! THIS is the most important part of the work on the album :) And I’m not joking. Today it’s really hard to be only a musician if you want people to hear your music. Of course, things go differently if you hire a PR agency, but here we have a next quest - how to find a really good PR agency?

This is the part where we have a lot of questions (and almost all of them are without answers at the moment). For example, we’ve already tried to use some context ads on different socials, but the outcome was quite low. And then we realized that it’s just a strange combination - deep sorrowful music and context ads (or there was something wrong with our configuration of them). People shouldn’t listen to this music in the background and it’s almost impossible to get into it from a 10-seconds teaser, then how can we use those ads efficiently?

Only our own experience can help figure this out. Our album received broader coverage than the EP (well, much less than we expected, but we are still quite happy with the result - or trying to be happy :) ). Regarding the current promotion, we are planning to create one more video or to record special versions of some of our songs, to keep up the interest in the album.

We remain very positive about our next album and we don’t want to give up!

Vladimir: Nowadays there are so many bands, styles, and genres fighting for listener attention simultaneously that it is so easy to get lost in them. On top of that, there seems to be an entire industry of ‘music promotion’ aimed to solve that problem, but it requires even more expenses from musicians than the record production, and it doesn’t give any guarantees. We navigate this maze at our own pace, trying each turn to see where it leads us, and sometimes it may just lead nowhere. But that always gives us something, sometimes it’s an album review, sometimes it’s some other kind of coverage, a valuable connection in the industry, etc. In the worst case, we still gain experience and the knowledge of things that do or don’t work. We believe in this path and that it will eventually yield results. So we continue to relentlessly plant the seeds and water them hoping they grow into something, this interview being an example of one :)

Adliga - 'Vandroūnik' (Official, 2019):

Let’s hope this interview will help a bit with reaching more listeners, and that was my final question for today, so did we miss anything?

Vladimir: We would like to thank the editorial of doom-metal.com for this interview, and each and every reader who spent this time with us while reading it: you are appreciated.

Roman: Yeah, thank you guys for having us and giving us the opportunity to answer your wonderful questions!

Click HERE to discuss this interview on the doom-metal forum.

Visit the Adliga bandpage.

Interviewed on 2022-01-20 by Comrade Aleks Evdokimov.
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