Withered Land - Atmospheric Epic Black Metal
‘’The idea for the project and some of the material had been ripening for a very long time. For a number of reasons, I did not have the resources for a long time to put everything together and decide to do what I wanted for a long time. I was passionate about my other projects in other genres. And this is a big plus. Over the years, experience, skills and inspiration have grown. The project was born when the optimal time came for it. From me on the debut album composing of all songs, arrangements of all parts, lyrics, bass recording are presented. After I put together the material, it was great to invite my friend Alex Rabets, with whom we have already worked on other projects, to record the vocals. And for the recording of guitars, as well as sound engineering, I invited another friend Koliopanos Filippos from the Greek projects Ocean of Grief and On Thorns I Lay.
''The name was not born at once, it was a rather active reflection, I had many ideas. But then, after some time, the answer came as if immediately. From the lines of the beloved Tolkien:
"...In the black wind the stars shall die,
and still on gold here let them lie,
till the dark lord lifts his hand
over dead sea and withered land...".
''It seemed to me that the devastated land is what just surrounds me. A metaphorically scorched earth, ready at the same time to be reborn in order to then wither again.
At the same time, the lyrics are not closely tied to Tolkien's topic, but a little contain some references/inspiration from heroes and places from his books. In my lyrics, I try to convey the dualistic nature of a character or location. Try to show both the beautiful side and the unpleasant side. In general, I read a lot of different historical literature, war novels and the collective images of warriors come from there. The withered land is all that wars leave behind, at first it is watered with blood, then it dries up. And it will take many years for everything to return to normal (maybe).’’
Olga Kann is the creative muse and multi-instrumentalist behind the epic Black Metal that is Withered Land, a band that has just released their excellent debut album The Endless Journey an album that took time in creating ?
‘’Not really long. Although the background for the creation of the material is quite long, most of the material was written in a short time, I completed the arrangements quite quickly. Then, for a long period, it was required to emotionally reevaluate and comprehend the result obtained. The recording also took a relatively short time.
You wrote all the tracks by yourself , where does your inspiration come from musically?
''More often than not, inspiration is required for the mood to the work process itself, for creating a concept and defining directions for work. And then, it is more mathematics, put on a whole layer of emotions and impressions, divided by experience and multiplied by the coefficient of subsequent production / design / finishing of a final look. Feelings are born from where you often do not expect it. Some beautiful or disgusting phenomenon in life is catchy. Some kind of historical character or fictional. Just a household story or a whole opus. You never know where the idea will come from. It's like a dreamings.
It is almost a concept album about man, war and the afterlife ?
‘’Life itself is a powerful source of inspiration. Playing in such genres it is quite easy to escape from reality to some kind of your own world and freeze in it. It is very difficult to do this so as not to remain a shadow of yourself. I often relive too personally the stories of other people's defeats. There is a real person behind every story, coup, and battle. And more often than not, he does not have such a rich choice of how to act. He is a hostages of their time, frozen in the sands of the universe.
‘’For me, almost any historical battle is a melodrama that touches the senses. And you always ask yourself philosophical questions that you don't want to ask. You come to the conclusion that all this is an endlessly revolving wheel, where everything is repeated, dies and reborn. The answer always lies on the surface, but a person tends to hide it deep inside his soul. Afterlife has always interested people of any culture, religion, any time. Existential questions move us to find answers to it. Sometimes we find, but more often than not, it's best not to find.
The use of battle chants and traditional elements to tell the story ?
''In the future, I would like to use more folk chants, attract a clean choir. On this release, I used such cinematic samples as sounds of battle/weapon strikes, the creak of burning logs, the clatter of hooves, the screams of ravens, and so on.
The Synth work is beautiful and earthly. Are they major parts and influences?
''Thanks! I can definitely say that this project, among others, is special for me. Here I am trying to embody my love for synth elements. If someone tells me that I use too many synths, I will definitely use even more of them, hehe. There is never much for me and never enough. Orchestral arrangements came from the love of classical music and cinematography. From dungeon synth partly too. Well, it's hard not to mention retrowave / synthwave etc. Where these elements can be used, I will definitely use it.
Does nature influence your music?
''Sure, I also inspired by nature. Belarus is a country of a thousand lakes. There are also beautiful forests here and breathtaking nature overall. It is a pity that there are no epic mountain ranges, otherwise I would disappear in the mountains for days on end. But in general, our nature is wonderful, authentic. And in many ways in our nature there are dark notes that undoubtedly affect the mood.
What do you think sets you apart from other medieval styled bands?
''I try not to be attached to one or more styles, and in the future I would like to continue experimenting with genres and concepts. For the rest, the listener knows better, heh. I just write what has accumulated
Where do your amazing riffs come from and how you found the guest guitarist to play on the album ?
''Riffs, like all parties, come from my head, hehe. Some songs I start writing with general harmony, using keys, sometimes it all starts with guitars. We previously collaborated with Filippos on other projects, also remotely. So I was pleased that he was able recorded the guitars in addition to doing an amazing job on the sound. I will say even more, he made it too cool, that some points had to be worsened a little to be faithful to the genre, heh.
You have many musical styles , most of them based in the heavy genres, are you proud to be known as a metal musician or much more?
‘’I am an absolute music lover. In each genre, I try to find something interesting for myself. I am with special trepidation about underground projects, one-man projects, in which the power of a mastermind composer is manifested in a holistic concept, in its purest form, without imposed feints from the outside (how it happens with the producer-dependent artists). Something dark and avant-garde, sad... But in the one playlist I can have atmospheric black, dark Americana, soul singer, old school death metal, cinematic soundtracks, post-punk, Pink Floyd, jazz and symphonic doom. Literally. But I haven't listened to much music lately. I compose it more, hehe. Most of all, of course, my work, both music and art/design, is tied to the metal environment. And, of course, I am pleased that I find interesting people there and I am found by very interesting people with whom there are many common interests.
What inspired you to play heavy music and so many instruments !?
‘’It all started, probably, from childhood. I was surrounded by heavy music from the very beginning. It seemed to me that there was no better honor than to become a musician, and that along with the records of great projects, there would be my own. Why did I choose the bass? From the very beginning, I was interested in this instrument, in large part because it is often underestimated. Although its possibilities are endless. Having not yet truly discovered the underground world, I was inspired by Steve Harris as a person (and later many other pleasant discoveries followed outside of heavy music: jazz, blues, funk and more). For me Steve was and is a vivid example of the fact that a bassist is not just a dude who is too lazy to play something multi-stringed, but as a really person who makes a piece of music and makes it better. It was interesting for me to master this particular instrument, as well as immerse myself in composing. Creation something from myself has always been more interesting than playing someone else's. A little later, in many respects to improve my arrangement skills, I also comprehended other instruments, guitar, keyboards, drums. At a minimum, it is just exciting, at a maximum, it is very useful for outlook and musical development. It's important to understand why you write such parts to your partners and how best to use the capabilities of each instrument so that it looks harmonious in the overall sound.
‘’In my lyrics, I try to convey the dualistic nature of a character or location. Try to show both the beautiful side and the unpleasant side. The lyrics are very important for me, they are part of the storytelling. In general, I read a lot of different historical literature, war novels and the collective images of warriors come from there. Each song focuses on a different theme. In the beginning, I praise nature and look forward to the thickening fog of war ahead. In the second song, we are transported into the epic battle itself. There is not only a historical moment here, but also some fantasy stuff. The third song is inspired by the scene of death and farewell to the main character. This is the culmination of the album that bisects the narrative. The dark visions visit the hero and memories fly by one after another. He is kissed by the dead shadow and he sets off, as it seems to him then, on his last journey. In the next composition, we experience an esoteric journey to the other side of life and again enjoy the beauty of the surrounding nature from above. In the fifth song, the hero, having survived his strange visions, comes back. He still has unfinished things here. He is led home by faith and longing for his native shores. He rethought a lot and comes back a different person. However, at home his life will turn upside down again. And then he will be devoured by a feeling of bitter loss and, subsequently, a thirst for revenge.
‘’Movies and art also definitely influence my perception. But rather not immediately, as something postponed and rethought, through layering and gradual complication. No character is more inspiring than a collection of images. Worst character traits from each and some of the best. A hyper-realistic mix of traits that evokes a storm of emotions. And there must be an internal struggle and contradictions. I don't like purely positive and purely negative characters, they are boring.
‘’In all, I am very impressed by the story of the heroes who lost, but fought bravely, who did not retreat, even knowing that they were doomed to failure in advance.
What is it we can learn today from tales and legends?
‘’Any fairy tale is a story that came from the collective unconscious. We can and must learn not only from metaphors. The significance of folklore / fairy tales is no less than that of official history. Through myths and legends, people from time immemorial have written about what worries them, what they see or what they fear. Also for certain reasons. Fantasies don't come out of nowhere. And, of course, thanks to cultural continuity, they do not go away. If we draw parallels between different cultures, we can see a lot of similarities, simply called by different names. Truth and fiction are rather blurred lines, so we can and should definitely find patterns and important elements in the legends of the past. It does not lose its relevance and is unlikely to lose it.
Mournful Story Never Ends is brilliant .
‘’Many thanks! This is a rather special story. If I'm not mistaken, this is the first song for which the lyrics and arrangements were ready. I definitely wanted to start not from the beginning, but from the moment of the fall, from the culmination. And then create a back story and a post story. The ending was thought differently, but the hero returned from the afterlife and his story is not over yet. Partly I was very inspired by the scene of death of the notorious Boromir. Also it's inspired by the scene of farewell and rafting in the boat. In general, the character is as interesting and complex as possible. His inner struggle is a big highlight for me. He is not black and white, but a confusing character. But, as we already know, my hero has not died yet. And in full measure, in his story, everything will end much more sadly. Although, as noted in one of the lines "Everything becomes a dust". And this is just part of the journey from eternity to eternity.
‘’I would really like to shoot a video for this song in the future. Every scene from beginning to end is accompanied by images in my head, all these dancing shadows of ghosts near the dying warrior, all the bitterness of the devastated land.
Do current events concern you in any way?
‘’More often than not, no than yes. I love to dream and I love to retrospect and get away from reality as far as possible. But, of course, it would not be very correct to ignore any one of the aspects of this reality, everything that happens in one way or another excites, consciously or unconsciously. Finds then reflection in creativity, actions, etc.
Do you have any other projects in development or released?
‘’Yes, I have a lot of projects in development. I'm scared to imagine where to look for the strength and time to release it all, hehe. From what has already been released, I have a few anonymous projects and a couple that should be mentioned. For example, the dark deathcore project Bleeding Malice, where I also compose, play bass / keyboards. And a dark ambient / drone project for the soul, Cryo Depth, soundscapes and soundtracks in it I do for horror games and films.
What is next for Withered Land
‘’I've been working on new material for a long time. Songs and ideas have accumulated for several albums ahead. There will be a continuation of "The Endless Journey", and of course, there will be a new concept too. I am also looking forward to the denouement of the virus story to give concert life to this project too. There will be many new songs ahead, new invited members, and some relic instruments.
Top 6 albums of all time
''That's always the hardest question for me! I can't say that I can put together my top even 66 of my favorite/influence band/albums. This list contains several hundred projects, hehe. And each is unique in its own way.