Friday, 18 May 2012

Holodomor interview

I feel weak and pain in every part of my body this morning… it almost feels like someone ridden over me, massacring my body and breaking every bone… But fuck, that’s just flu, what makes me feel like a weak and lousy human. This pain and feeling are nothing, comparing to what the Ukrainians must have felt when 80 years ago Stalin has pushed them into the genocidal famine, which took millions of lives. Would you imagine dying in such starvation like that one? Anyway, there’s a bunch of metal freaks, who decided to take the word “holodomor” for their band moniker. And “holodomor” is a word, which translates to “killing by hunger” and describes this Ukrainian famine. Holodomor has just debuted with their first recording, „Témoignages de la Gnose Terrestre”, so I decided to ask few question Adam, a Pole, who lives in UK now and who decided to spread the musical terror with his band there.

I think I’ll start with something what is not really dealing with the band, but this question is more about you, Adam, personally. I just wonder how and when did get to Plymouth originally and what are you doing there? I ask about that also because myself I used to live in the neighbourhood, in Cornwall (Newquay area), for about seven years. I’ve visited Plymouth several times so it’s a shame that now I’m back to Poland and we cannot meet at the White Rabbit! What do you like about this part of England most? Maybe the landscapes, beaches (and bitches hehe) with surfing, Cornish pasties, Plymouth Argyle or whatever hehe?
Smack, prostitution and radiation are the most prominent features of Plymouth, I would say. (Haha how could I miss those?? – ad. Astus) We've got this largest nuclear military base called Devonport where they keep submarines and supposedly there're plenty of nuclear weapons stocked in the hills near Saltash so there's a lot of genetic aberration going on in some parts of the city which take radiation from that. That's what some people say, anyway. Despite that, the landscapes are indeed beautiful over here. We've got Cornwall with its vast natural resources minutes away from the city centre. I'm also lucky to live directly by the ocean so I can swim in the sea whenever I feel like it. Besides, the city is small enough not to get overwhelmed with manic rush and crowding such as is the case in, for instance, London. For the price of that, however, the level of cultural life over here is beyond pathetic... People generally prefer to stay in and smoke their weed, lazy society with no ambitions – this is how I see it. I came here in the summer of 2005. Initially it was meant to be a holiday trip, but I got stuck. Then I started my music studies here and now there's Holodomor so at this moment I'm not thinking of moving, although fucking off from Plymouth at some point is inevitable. Don't know if it's going to be Poland or Timbuktu where I go from here, but I definitely don't plan dying here.

Have you acclimate in England already? Do you feel like at home or still more of a stranger (one of the reasons why I personally decided to move back to Poland, really)? How – as a foreigner and someone new in the town – have you found your band mates? Where have you met together at first – maybe at the local gig or in the pub? And when and how did the idea of creating a band Holodomor pop into your heads for the first time?
I think I adapted well, but being from another country you're never feel at home I guess. Now when I go back to visit Poland, I don't feel at home even there so I basically dropped the notion of “feeling-at-home” somewhere. When it comes to the band – I met Steve, the guitarist, long time ago. It might have been 2006 or 2007... I was buying a guitar at the second-hand shop and somehow we started to chat. I had some material already written by then so I asked him if he wanted to help me out with recording some guitars and so we started. Steve eventually left his, then current, band and stayed with me. We rehearsed for over more than two years – just him and me in my room on these tiny 15 watt amps – with no perspectives for getting the rest of members. You see, there is no extreme underground scene in this part of UK. All the decent bands are either in London or up north. Most of the bands I have seen here to date have this wanna-be-a rockstar attitude and playing some trendy post-Pantera shite. These days we have Chemical Tomb who are great fucked up grind core with part-polish line up as well but it's still not anything like modern interpretation of what bands like Bestial Warlust, Blasphemy or Angel Corpse stood for. Anyway, I found the other two of members – Dan (drums) and Steve (bass) through an ad – one of those you leave on board in music shops or wherever. I don't really go out so it would be difficult to meet people just like that but fortunately the guys were convinced they wanted to give it a go and here we are. Sometime in 2009 we had a full line up – Holodomor was officially formed.
The music... I always had a clear idea what my band would sound like. I listened to all these horribly extreme bands and yet I craved for more intensity, more tangible violence. This was my concept from the start. I think speed has always been for me more important than heaviness (after hearing “Reign in Blood” when I was maybe 13 or 14...) I wanted to play something very fast, which would also have this sickening dark ambiance to it. I was involved in other projects still back in Poland in late 90’s and early 2000’s but none of that worked out, however I always knew that if I played metal it has to be something vile, intense and disturbing not and not merely brutal. I think everybody in the band was aware of this when they were joining. The themes of genocide, increasing inhumanity of our species resulting from civilisational progress and general nihilistic implications of the course of the Western Society provide conceptual framing for Holodomor's music. The spite for humanity is a source of it all, the perversity of the sonic medium follows...

Have you played in any bands here in Poland, before moving to UK? Have you been active in the underground scene, reading zines, attending to the underground gigs, listening to the demos, tapetrarding, etc? And do you still keep an eye open for what’s going on in your native land, with new bands, new demos and zines and magazines (although there are not so many magazines left, probably along with 7Gates and Old School Metal Maniac there’s just Musick Mag… and that’s it???)?
Yeah I was involved in the project called Nebula Gates towards the end of 1990s. The 1998 demo “Quintessence of Denial” was released by, then young, Seven Gates of Hell. I look back with nostalgia at those times drenched in booze, LSD and my early fascination with underground Black Metal scene. With Adam from Nebula Gates we did Naamah Zine, which unfortunately didn't manage to survive and died after the first issue. My favourite zines of the time were Infernal Death, Sadistic, Holocaust, Agonia... Nowadays I don't follow what goes on in the scene, not only Polish but any. If I'm recommended a band or a publication by a mate I usually have a go and check it out, but don't buy magazines anymore. I'm getting old I guess...

I’ve compared this bestial black / death metal, which Holodomor plays, to such bands as Throneum, Revenge, Angel Corpse, Witchmaster and to the Australian scene. Do you care about such comparisons and think that mine is very close to your feelings or maybe I’ve completely missed your intentions and inspirations, which were in your heads when composing the songs from the debut MCD?
You got it spot on, man. The bands you mention have been a huge influence over the years on my taste in metal. Consequently they all contributed to the overall sound of Holodomor. Obviously the old classics like Bestial Warlust, Blasphemy, Sadistik Exekution or Nifelheim have set the trajectory for the whole movement which we identify with, to an extent. I would also add Conqueror, Arkhon Infaustus, Deathspell Omega, Antaeus, Angel Corpse or more recently Adorior, Kerasphorus or Apocalypse Command. These acts present more than brutal music. It is this element of perverse darkness, an aura of nihilistic esotericism emerging from their productions, which sets them apart from most of bands. It stems from the particular attitude towards world and society. One must live with these values every day in order to produce genuine documents of such sonic iconoclasm. Otherwise, the works by those individuals would not be as directly impacting as it is.

The white colouring of the booklet of „Témoignages de la Gnose Terrestre” is very misleading and in many ways it differs you a lot from the usual black colours of the metal booklets. Was it intentional to have one like this, something what would distinguish „Témoignages de la Gnose Terrestre” from the majority of metal albums (just like what Isvind did with their “Dark Waters Stir” debut album, they also went for the white colouring and very simple layout… not to forget about Immortal’s “Battles Is the North”, whose white colours were about to differentiate it from all other black metal releases)?
Yes, you're right, I wanted the cover to be white because since music on the CD is so extreme this could only contribute to the overall design. I love black on my favourite records but it so exploited in the metal genre that I thought it would make a good contrast to have white colour. It makes it stand out from other CDs. There's a lot of clichés in the aesthetics of metal music. I don't like conformism.

The mysterious title „Témoignages de la Gnose Terrestre” means “Testimonies of the Terrestrial Gnosis”. A quotation from Nietzche of it can be found on your webpage. I guess there must be some sort of conceptual content in the lyrics, so please tell me something more about it. I have a feeling that with such extreme music as yours and with the band moniker, which deals with the death of millions of people the lyrics won’t be telling any nice love stories!?
Title ”Testimonies of Earthly Gnosis” simply expresses contemplation on our condition as human beings on this planet. As an author of lyrics and executor of the concept behind the band I don't attempt to add any metaphysical ideologies to it. What I try to convey is to convey a vision of what it is like when all ideologies and systems of beliefs prove feeble in the face of our insignificant existence, full of contradictions, afflictions and purposelessness of endeavours. Holodomor is a secular rite focusing on extra-religious reception of life, although some metaphysical terms are employed in the lyrics. Mutilated humanity finds ways to actualise itself in acts of creation. Viable testimonies these days can only be expressed in language of negation. Hence the cultures like ours, like the metal culture – a culture of aggression and violence. It is a sign of discontent with the current state of affairs on planet earth: hypocrisy, exploitation, inhumanity. This is why we are here doing this interview – we care about these issues, just like those who read it. If we did not care we would not think about it at all and merge with mass-culture. Many a one will not admit that as they never honestly faced the problem spreading brainlessly slogans like “Death to mankind” proving worthlessness of their conforming with herd-mentality. If they committed a bit of time to seriously think about it, perhaps they would find out that the problem is more fucked up than they suppose it is. Nietzsche, whose words many metal bands have been quoting, was the first to state this paradox explicitly: one needs to feels one's life as a service to Earth and mankind in order to truly wish death to what has left of it. Living my life in this paradox is the motive force of Holodomor.

Have you already got some feedback on „Témoignages de la Gnose Terrestre? The CD is available in Poland at the HellShop, what about the rest of Europe?
The response to the EP is fucking excellent throughout the world. It certainly is rewarding to see that people appreciate all the hard work that has been put into it. There has been an increasing interest in the band from various parties globally, but it's not yet the time to speak about any details. Zibi of 7Gates and Greg of Godz Ov War have been doing a marvellous job promoting us in Polish and international media and everything looks like the triumph of Holodomor is imminent. So far we've got a fine distribution network in Poland: in addition to Hellshop, the material is now available at Old Legend, Arachnophobia and soon also at Gruft Productions. In Britain you can get it from Scottish Bestial Invasion Records. That's it for now. Of course maniacs from Europe are welcome to order directly from our website where we keep the price convenient for most of countries.

You’ve opened for Gorgoroth and Vader at one of the gigs in White Rabbit, so tell me how did it feel like to be an opening act for such well known and respected bands? Do you play live often or only very occasionally and what were these gigs like in your opinions?
Yep, we supported Vader and Gorgoroth as a local act. We were also offered playing before Vulcano in April but had to cancel that one due to personal differences with some people involved in organising it. These days we don't play around much. We played quite a lot during last year in the local area but now I don't see much point in doing it as there are no bands to fit the bill with a band like Holodomor over here. Playing with Vader and Gorgoroth was okay for us as we're a new band and it always is flattering to be invited to such an event. I liked Vader in the past, I really liked them during the “De Profundis” era but soon after that I've lost my interest. Anyway, it felt like a kind of honour to support the band which influenced me during my early days, however I haven't been following their career since the late 1990s. When it comes to Gorgoroth, I always thought they were boring and so they were this time. Waste of time, they should split up.

I would like to ask you about the British scene. You know, it used to be such an exciting country for the death metal, once there were bands like Bolt Thrower, Benediction, Cancer, Carcass, Anathema, My Dying Bride, Paradise Lost, Decomposed, Impaler, Burial… All great early 90’s bands! But then everything fucked up, the bands have either split up or changed their music into some gay poppy stuff. I guess only very few like Bolt Thrower and Benediction remained great (although I’m not a big fan of post “Transcend the Rubicon” Benediction, to be honest). Luckily after few years, when some pseudo goth/black shit was dominating, the Brits show their potential once more, with hordes such as Grave Miasma, Cruciamentum, Scythian, Adorior, Spearhead… Even Vallenfyre. What do you think about those bands? I would also like to ask you about Zero Tolerance Mag, which I think is very cool underground magazine, one which I consider to be much better than the famous Terrorizer (which from the other hand turns into some sort of Bravo – an old, 90’s, teenage weekly magazine for teenagers - for metal kids).
Adorior are great. Their “Author of Incest” was a real hit for me for a long time. Scythian have their own formula of retaining the archaism of death metal and delivering in a fresh way. Spearhead are OK but personally I'm not that much into their music. I think I actually like Cruciamentum best of all of them. As I said before, I don't buy magazines but if I did, I would be into Zero Tolerance – a very nicely conceived publication.

What does the future hold for Holodomor? Any plans for recording of EP, demo or even a full length album?
At the moment we're focusing on writing material for a full-length. This will take a bit of time... Not expecting to gig much unless something attractive comes up. The time will come to strike other cities in UK like Birmingham, Dublin, Glasgow or London – we'd be glad to spread the disease there in near future but as I said it's time to concentrate on making new tracks anyway so will basically wait and see what happens during next months. We're also contemplating recording two tracks on the split tape with our friends from Chemical Tomb, maybe sometime in the summer. Will see how it goes.

OK, that would be all for today. Cheers for those answers Adam and good luck with the band! And maybe for the end, just like in Necromaniac zine, you can unveil us the top five of your current playlist of vinyl, CD or demo or whatever else have you been listening to most in the past weeks?!
Haven't been listening to much metal lately, actually. Although, I did listened to a bit of Bestial Mockery: “Slaying the Life” and “Gospel of the Insane”. Amazing albums – so primitive, oldschool and naïve – excellent stuff. I have also been listening to some more contemporary classical stuff, like Xenakis, Webern or Bartok. Some of it is worse that metal... Bartok String Quartets and especially Webern is pure genius. I don't really put much emphasis on what audio format to use for listening music, but I don't do mp3. CD is okay for me. I once had a vinyl player but my mate tried to scratch with it and broke it. Never tried it since. Most of the time I just sit in silence – it's brutal. Thanks for your support Marcin and an opportunity for Holodomor to be featured in Panzerfaust Zine!

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