Having doubts and remaining dubious while being able to ask the questions has never been my style. More so when it comes to a band that has blown your mind with each one of its songs. Emerging, self-managed, from Russia and with two EP in the street: they are BIRTH OF THE MONOLITH. Let the interrogation begin…
Subterráneo Webzine: You have been active for more than three years now. Since then you have edited six songs divided into two EPs (Birth of the monolith, 2017, and Cult, 2018). Did you choose this format so you can continue shaping BOTM music step by step or did you just want to release bits and pieces and maybe get some opinions/reactions?
BIRTH OF THE MONOLITH: We believe that this format of music production is the most convenient and productive for us. It allows us to convey our music and ideas in the most capacious way and at the same time not to bore the listener. Also, our approach involves paying great attention directly to songwriting, so only the best ideas in our opinion get into the release. Thus, releasing LP would probably not be entirely appropriate, since it would take much more time, and the listener would end up paying less attention to each track than with the EP.
Subterráneo Webzine: It feels really short for me, but at the same time I am expectant for any kind of news… In a way it is «strategic». It is fresh new music every twelve months or so. Have you thought about how you will be releasing your next songs?
BIRTH OF THE MONOLITH: So far, we continue to work according to the same scheme – one EP every twelve months. Intermediate works in the form of singles can also be released.
BIRTH OF THE MONOLITH: We will certainly release the album on physical media when we collect enough requests from listeners for this. We are currently planning to invest in promoting our music to bring it to the listener.
Subterráneo Webzine: There currently is some kind of a boom with post-music, and I think your material would be (and should be) very exploitable. Have you contacted any label, or are you looking into it?
BIRTH OF THE MONOLITH: Actually, there were several proposals, but none of them interested us. Thus, at the moment we are in search of a proposal that we can’t refuse.
Subterráneo Webzine: An aspect that fascinates me about your work is how well recorded it is. Particularly Cult. Everything sounds perfectly measured. The instruments (among which I include the voice) have the same amount of prominence, and that is exactly what your music asks for. Where have you recorded? The technician must have really understood your music. Is this the sound you were looking for?
BIRTH OF THE MONOLITH: Thank you for such feedback on the quality of the recording. We performed recording, mixing and mastering completely on our own equipment. This is partly why the release takes a long time. But in the end the sound turned out as it was conceived.
BIRTH OF THE MONOLITH: Well, deviations in one direction or another from the genre – this is normal. We are all influenced by the music that we listen to. And it contributes to the writing of the tracks. And this is not about copying or «stealing» music. It means that by listening to the work of other artists you can note interesting tricks and ideas that can later change your own approach to writing music. At the same time, good ideas can often be heard by performers in completely different genres of music, but later rethought and applied in our works. Actually, this is how new genres in music appear – by rethinking ideas received in other styles.
Subterráneo Webzine: Your theme is based on the worlds of Lovecraft. If I’m not mistaken, you have even captured him on the cover of Cult. And some songs sound like perfect soundtracks for his writings, such as «ОкеанПроклятых» («Ocean of the damned») from your previous EP. Is it a tribute to Lovecraft or is it some kind of metaphor to raise a message?
BIRTH OF THE MONOLITH: Yes, you were not mistaken, it is really H. P. Lovecraft on the cover. The whole EP is dedicated to him. While working on the lyrics, we did not want to talk directly about what these songs were about. But for your magazine and for those who are interested in our group, we can make an exception. The song «Cult» is a kind of ode to the work of Howard, which after many years acquired the status of a cult. «Unspeakable» describes Hastur, the King in Yellow, the brother of Cthulhu, and the god of insanity. The «Ritual» describes the ritual of summoning Shub-Niggurath. As for the «Ocean of the Damned«, it turned out to be quite interesting. It was written under the influence of a collection of short stories by followers of Lovecraft. But it has nothing to do with it. It so happened that the atmosphere of music, vocals and lyrics gave an unconscious association with Lovecraft. Andit’sverycool.
As for tribute to this, or a metaphor, this is definitely tribute. We planned only one release dedicated to Lovecraft and to close this topic.
Subterráneo Webzine: For a while now you have been wearing a very Chthulhian atrezzo with masks and tunics. Why did you take that step? Do you mean toadd an extra to your live shows with it? Isn’t it too uncomfortable? (Laughs).
BIRTH OF THE MONOLITH: Yes, this is wildly uncomfortable, especially for guitarists and drummers (laughter). But that damn cool looks on stage. In the future we will make them more comfortable, and maybe even change our style. We took this step to stand out among other representatives of our genre, plus, again, I repeat, it impresses the audience. Now we are thinking about how to make our live performances even more spectacular, with smoke machines, lasers, projectors, etc.
Subterráneo Webzine: Not too long ago we talked about ULTAR at Subterráneo. It is a post-black metal band, also from Russia, that works with your same theme. Do you know them? What other bands from your country would you recommend us?
BIRTH OF THE MONOLITH: Of course we know ULTAR band. We had to share the scene with them. ULTAR is now one of the most successful bands in the Russian post-black scene. And this success is deserved. They are very productive.
Speaking of ULTAR, BELOW THE SUN comes to mind. These groups from the same city are released on the same Temple of Torturous label. BELOW THE SUN play doom/post-metal. And if you have not heard their music, be sure to listen to it. Both of their albums are great. We would also like to mention SLEEPWALKER (guitardrone/dark ambient). This is one man band from the leader of the black metal band APOKEFALE, which is also worthy of attention.
BIRTH OF THE MONOLITH: It is difficult to single out any specific genres. It is worth recognizing that in general, heavy music in Russia is now experiencing a decline in popularity. The paradox is that at the same time, the quality of music has grown significantly in recent years. Especially if we are talking about an underground post/doom/sludge/black scene. Maybe this is because this scene is moved by those people who come not because of fashion, not for money or popularity.
Subterráneo Webzine: Speaking about your origins, I find it curious and positive that you have chosen your mother tongue for the lyrics. The tone of Russian language (from the point of view of someone that has no idea about the language) gives an extra intensity to the already powerful voice of Ivan Fimbul. Was this your intention or did it just arise on a natural way?
BIRTH OF THE MONOLITH: Our very first single was written in English, it was an experimental song, we just wanted to decide which way we should move. After that, Ivan decided to try to write the text in Russian and it turned out fine. As it turned out, the Russian language is just great for post-metal. Since then, we have not receded from this decision. And judging by the reviews, everyone likes it, not only to domestic but also to foreign listeners.
BIRTH OF THE MONOLITH: We plan to release a track from the teaser in a single format in 2019. Later it will be included in the next EP, which is scheduled for release in 2020. Two tracks are fully ready, we are working on the third one
Subterráneo Webzine: In addition to BOTM, are you or have you been involved in any other musical projects?
BIRTH OF THE MONOLITH: At different times, we all played in different projects and for some time there were parallel to BOTM projects. However, at the moment, BOTM members are not participating in other projects.
Subterráneo Webzine: This is it for now. We are really looking forward to hearing new material. Keep in touch and thank you very much for your time and answers!
BIRTH OF THE MONOLITH: We want to thank you for these interesting questions. Listen to metal from Russia.