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,
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.
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
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.
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?
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
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,
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!!
the latest news & updates on Asguard make sure you check out the
- Official website
- Devil Doll Records/This Dark Reign Recordings website