Alexander Afonchenko - Asguard - Back
Interviewer: Jeffrey D. Adkins

Extreme metal has reached all corners of the world and has branched out into numerous directions. Belarusian metalers Asguard are no exception to this ever-expanding genre. Their new disc “Dreamslave” has many magnificent heavy and melodic notes that showcase their technical ability, while their music continues to improve. I would like to welcome from the band, vocalist and bass player, Alexander Afonchenko! Thanks for taking time to answer some questions from us!

Metal Fanatix: Could you explain a little on how Asguard started, and what your musical direction was from the start? How much has it changed since the bands inception?

Alexander Afonchenko: Yes, we started out in 1995 as a band Ancient Castle. We used to play basically everything ranging from heavy metal to brutal death. In 1996 we changed the band name to Asguard. Along with that the music we played underwent changes, too. We gained a tendency towards melodic death, but the elements of heavy metal still retained in our repertoire, as in “In The Darkness Of The Night” and “Wikka”. During concert sets we played songs from different albums, so one could hear a lot of musical variety at our performances. It had lasted till 2000 this way when we finally decided to move in the direction of hard black-death metal which we retained on "Dreamslave", too.

Metal Fanatix: Where do you pull your inspiration? Include anything from movies, books, mythology, dreams, music, environment, etc.

Alexander Afonchenko: Inspiration is impossible to anticipate, it may come under the influence of alcohol, stress, psychological or nervous experience or bad mood, and of course, the mood of what you come up with depends on that, though it mostly concerns music. The lyrical side of Asguard – that’s mostly reflection of some event or natural phenomenon, life, emotions in a veiled fashion. Each piece of our work is a mirror of something positive or negative against the background of emotions.

Metal Fanatix: The name Asguard seems to be as unique as the music you create. Where did you get the band’s name? Is there any special meaning?

Alexander Afonchenko: Asguard – that’s an ancient city, the city where Gods dwelled. The name was borrowed from the Scandinavian mythology.

Metal Fanatix: If you read my review, you can tell I was quite pleased with what I heard on “Dreamslave.” In general, how have people reacted to your new disc? Any big surprises?

Alexander Afonchenko: Yes, thanks for a good review of our work. The reaction of people varied greatly. Mostly they were surprised with the piece and we received hundreds and even thousands of positive reviews from all over the world, and this was really pleasant and unexpected. "Dreamslave" is rotated at many radio stations of the world, and people like it – that’s of the greatest importance, it means that we have achieved the goal we set. Nevertheless, some of our fans who appreciated our previous works (Wikka, Black Fire Land, etc.) didn’t really believe that it was Asguard when first listening to this album, and they had no clue what to think of the new album, they didn't understand it expecting to hear melodic black death similar to our old works. So after the first time of run-through they just put the CD away for a couple of days, digesting what they had heard. In several days after that they gave "Dreamslave" a shot once again and said: - Yes, the guys did a great job on that! We gained the new sound, and people accepted us in the new appearance.

Metal Fanatix: I notice quite a few tracks on “Dreamslave” that were intros, interludes or outros. Were these special arrangements due to the theme of the lyrics? Or was it because it’s a concept album? Maybe even, just trying something different?

Alexander Afonchenko: Yes, the album is logically divided into 4 acts each of which reflects a certain part of the main character’s life, of whom the album tells. Each act starts with a Prologue that expresses the mood of the act following it. This was done for a more emotional and proper perception of the album lyrics. I believe that they suite the general atmosphere of the album and help to feel the spirit of that fantastic and dreadful night which inspired the main character for this story.

Metal Fanatix: How would you explain your sound on “Dreamslave” if you had to explain it to someone who hasn’t heard it yet?

Alexander Afonchenko: I guess, it would sound as follows - a mixture of melodic black-death metal with some elements of classical heavy, specific symphonic features, and elements of mystery and a cold nightmare.

Metal Fanatix: I have a huge list of favorite tracks off your new disc, including “Masquerade” and “Dark Veil of Dreams.” What are your favorites? Is there anything that didn’t make the disc that you might use in the future?

Alexander Afonchenko: I can’t point out any specific tracks. "Dreamslave” is my brainchild, pain, utopia, anger, dream, hatred and love! Yes, there’s some stuff – it’s just a sequel of the fate of Dream Slave.

Metal Fanatix: If you could come up with the ultimate tour for Asguard, what other bands from past or present would you like to go on tour with? Any specific reason?

Alexander Afonchenko: Great question. Dark Tranquility, their “The Mind I” and Italian Agarthi inspired me when I was writing the lyrics for "Dreamslave". Also - Judas Priest - the best band of all the times! French Misanthrope and Swedish Hypocrisy - just because they appeal to me.

Metal Fanatix: You can tell a lot about a person by looking at what type of music they listen to. If we were to look at your personal music collection, what would we find?

Alexander Afonchenko: I have a great variety of stuff in my collection. Ranging from ultra brutal death metal to usual light Russian rock which I really enjoy listening to for the purpose of rest. Sometimes I like to listen to some black-metal, for instance Ragnarok, Gorgoroth, melodic death a’la Dark Tranquility, Hypocrisy, and also Brutal Death – Cannibal Corpse, Morbid Angel. Priority list may be endless.

Metal Fanatix: Beer and liquor are kind of are synonymous with extreme metal. What do you prefer, beer or liquor? What’s your favorite drink while jamming or playing out?

Alexander Afonchenko: Yes – beer, no – liquor. We mostly prefer beer, vodka and good wine. All musicians of Asguard enjoy strong drinks, but prefer vodka and beer. Yeah…we also have home-brew, that's our national drink, heh-heh...And no drugs, huh-huh...

Metal Fanatix: I want to thank you for taking time and answering some questions from us at Metal Fanatix.com. Is there anything else you would like to say to the metal world?

Alexander Afonchenko: Yeah, thanks for the interview.

You should definitely listen to “Dreamslave”, and somebody may recognize himself in the story of Dream Slave.

Metal Fanatix: Cool…thanks again!!

For all the latest news & updates on Asguard make sure you check out the following websites:

http://asguard.metal4.com/ - Official website
http://www.devildollrecords.com/ - Devil Doll Records/This Dark Reign Recordings website