Dargedik Rock Metal Webzine


Graveland is one of the most prolific projects on the world metal scene. Creation of the unmistakable Robert "Darken" Fudali, he releases on this occasion, from the Lithuanian label Inferna Profundus Records, his 20th album in his 30-year career, under the name "Hour of Ragnarok". This production is the continuation of what the Polish band has been doing throughout its extensive career, so there are no major surprises in its sound, which is not bad at all since it is already a band that has consolidated its sound and he knows how to deliver what his fans expect of them, musically close to Black Metal although on an artistic level and lyrically they drink from the great Viking history, both from historical events and the mythology of said culture. With spectacular art on its cover featuring the mighty Fenrir, the album fits perfectly with the times we live in where it seems that the tree of life is beginning to wither and we are approaching an inevitable end. On the occasion of this great release, we were able to interview Rob Darken about this release and other topics related to the band.

Lee la entrevista en castellano en: Entrevista con Graveland

DARGEDIK: Welcome Robert to Dargedik webzine pages, I am a great fan of your work and your prolific career. I would dare to assure, it’s one of the richest and most extensive worldwide into extreme music. And of course, I take advantage to thank one of the most anticipated shows in my life: Graveland in Bogotá, on May 18, 2018. What are your memories for this tour in Latin America? 

GRAVELAND: Hello! At first, I would like to thank you very much for your words of support and at the same time apologize for having to wait so long for my reply to this interview. I am very happy that you were at our concert. We knew that we had to give our best so that people would not forget about us. The fact that Graveland appeared on a tour in South America was an event that probably surprised many fans around the world. Few people, including me, thought that Graveland would play concerts one day. When we came to South America, we wanted to play in such a way that people would remember us for a long time. Because it was not known whether we would ever return to South America later. As you can probably guess, it is not easy to organize a Graveland tour. Here in Europe and also in my country, we practically cannot play concerts, which is hindered by all kinds of censorship agendas. Musicians face increasing censorship pressure, and our creative freedom is limited. Graveland's music has something deep and real, we wanted to convey it as much as possible on stage, I'm glad you felt it too and you still remember it. I will also never forget this tour! I expected him to be received well, but what we saw with our own eyes completely surprised us! South America is full of metal fans who devote themselves completely to this music genre! These people sincerely believe in music and in their favorite bands! I have heard about this from other bands that have also praised audiences that come to live in South America. It is an honest and real audience that expects the same from the bands that come there. So Graveland came to South America not only to play concerts, but also to show his respect and respect to fans from this continent. If one day it is possible for Graveland to come to South America for the next concerts, we will try to make it possible to visit even more countries on this continent.

DARGEDIK: I remember this event with special affection because Graveland is this type of band that we never expect to see in Latin America, and I would like to start with this. At what point did you become interested to know this side of the word? What experience did you have in the countries that you visited? would you consider it unforgettable? Did you think to find such a welcome on this side of the planet? 

GRAVELAND: I got to know South America from the point of view of my interests in ancient pagan cultures and civilizations from this continent. when I was very young I read a lot about the Aztecs or the Incas. Although these cultures have always been treated lightly here in the area of ​​so-called Western civilization, it is obviously connected with the Christian perception of the world by Europeans. It is for me personally that demonizing the beliefs of South American indigenous peoples has never had a negative impact! I don't think it was more and more fascinating because I felt a lot in common with our pagan roots. You have to understand that for me the term Paganism refers not only to the Slavs or Vikings, but also to other civilizations, cultures, and races on earth. All polytheistic religions are similar and even bear the traits of having common roots, the story of which is lost somewhere in the ancient times of the beginning of man on earth. When my pagan identity was born, it combined my old passions and interests for various pagan beliefs and cultures. When, after many years, thanks to my music, I was able to fly to Mexico and climb the moon pyramid in Teotihuacán, it was a tremendous spiritual experience for me personally! This is my path that leads me through the ancient places of worship related to my faith and worldview, which gave meaning to my life. I want to follow this path to the end! For many years I have also watched more and more people in South America return to their true beliefs, to the roots of their ancestors! Sometimes it seems to me that some part of the involvement in this is metal influencing people, that genres like Pagan Metal inspire their fans to take an interest in paganism and the beliefs of their ancestors. If this is true, I am very happy about it, because it gives much more meaning to our work, musicians who create not only for fame and money but for some higher values! When I founded Graveland, in 1991–1994 I already had contact with South American fans. Many of them were active in the metal underground and later in the black metal underground. I corresponded with them and exchanged demo tapes, we also responded to zine interviews. I listened to bands such as Sarcofago, and also to a large group of other bands, whose names I do not remember to this day. But I had a lot of their demo recordings. These old contacts of mine, which were later maintained with other people, had an influence on the fact that Graveland is liked in South America today! I treated these people the same as my other European fans. Now, on the tour, I had the opportunity to get to know them up close. Metal music connects people from all continents! It crosses borders naturally and connects people around common values ​​and ideals. It is not some kind of propaganda tool of globalist corporations! For me, metal music is a symbol of freedom and it should stay that way until the end! Death to Censorship!

DARGEDIK: Into the matter of "Hour of Ragnarok" release, which I find one of the best works of the project so far Do you consider it that way? Do you think Graveland reached the peak of his creativity with this new album? 

GRAVELAND: I don't think this album shows our true capabilities yet. Because it was recorded in a way that was much more difficult for all of us. We had to record this album remotely using mainly the internet. This was because in 2020 the pandemic closed the borders of our countries. And my new musicians who recorded this album with me come from Germany and Italy. We couldn't get together for normal rehearsals or recordings together in the studio. Instead, all our work was done over the internet and was then combined in the Rocket Booster recording studio based in Italy! Live drums were recorded in this studio, but we had to send the guitar tracks to them for re-amping! The material recorded in this way later made another trip via the Internet, to Poland, where it was mixed in his studio by Mikołaj z Mgły! Thanks to this method of work, we managed to finish this album. however, if we could develop it together live and then record it together in the studio, we would probably do a lot of things with it even better. First of all, better arrangements of the songs would be created. Skyth, He is not only a bassist, but above all a guitarist, I wanted him to record one guitar in addition to the bass, unfortunately, I was not able to teach him my specific style of playing via the Internet, so he only recorded bass. In the meantime, new guitarists joined Graveland who will play in a new concert line-up. These are the people who can bring even more new elements to Graveland's music in the future, helping to raise the level of the music. When we can all get together for rehearsals, put together new songs together and then record them together in the studio, it is quite possible that then an album will be created that will make all my dreams come true. While composing the music for Hour of Ragnarok, I worked a lot on composing the symphonic instrument tracks, which I used in the keyboard tracks for all the songs on the album. I did it for the first time, on such a large scale, to such an extent that later it was getting harder and harder for me to finish it and close the album. I did such symphonic backgrounds early on on the songs, we prepared so much for the concerts, and then we recorded for the album 1050 Years of Pagan Cult. I discovered then that not only did the symphonic backgrounds fit Graveland's music, but also bring a very original atmosphere! They emphasize the character of Graveland to a large extent and distinguish it from among hundreds of other bands. I decided that I was "Hour of Ragnarok" and I create symphonic backgrounds from many instruments. Working with them was an adventure for me, but sometimes also a science. Today, when I have gained so much experience, I know that I could compose these tracks even better! Faster and easier! It gives me the conviction that on the next album, I am able to take another step forward! For example, I had already changed the computer that I was using to record symphonic tracks, I had too little RAM on it. Today my computer is much more powerful and has 32 gigabytes of RAM installed! You need a lot of RAM to handle all the samples that play in symphonic tracks! A powerful computer will now allow me to use more widely samples of choirs that can sing texts written for them! My dream is that in Graveland the choirs will stop being mute and finally start singing lyrics! I love how in Therion music the choirs sing the lyrics, although they are recorded by real vocalists, modern music applications using powerful banks of choir samples, can imitate the singing of a choir well! You just need to learn how to use such applications and, of course, have a talent for composing melodies and lyrics for the choir. And it is not easy! Ha ha

DARGEDIK: You are recognized in the world metal scene for being a musician who has played most of the instruments in almost all of his productions. What motivates you in Graveland to include Ahrin and Skyth in the recording of this "Hour of Ragnarok"? 

GRAVELAND: That's how I recorded Graveland albums myself for many years. I got used to it, and for a while, it was enough for me. This style of recording the album has always allowed me to fully pursue my own musical vision. It has its advantages and disadvantages, I could create songs as I wanted and not argue with anyone about any details. Music created by only one music always acquires its original characteristics. But it also often becomes too personal and therefore difficult to listen to for a larger audience. The changes that took place in the band in 2016 due to the fact that I hired new musicians to Graveland also translated into my approach to my music. I felt and appreciated again what it is to create music together with other musicians. I am reminded of the times when I was playing with Capricornus and Carcharoth. While preparing the songs for our concerts, we rediscovered this music together. Her strength and Spirit gave us a lot, drawing us completely into this dark epic world that was once created by my imagination. The songs in the new arrangements sounded amazing and were full of powerful Graveland energy that has never been shown on stage before! I created completely new symphonic and keyboards for these concert songs. I tried to reflect the spirit of those old Black metal songs as much as possible, it made the music even more spooky and dramatic! we later recorded our live songs on the album “1050 ​​Years of Pagan Cult”. Listening to him, I understood that what we created for him could only be created as a joint work of several musicians. Mscislav, who played with me then in Graveland, was a very experienced musician, he recorded albums together with many bands. Mscislav did most of the new arrangements for these songs and then recorded guitars and bass on the album "1050 Years of Pagan Cult". My collaboration with him taught me a lot, including the collaboration with the drummer Sigrunar. We did some concerts together and recorded this amazing album “1050 ​​Years of Pagan Cult”! All of this for me was a huge experience from which I drew the right conclusions! I am not able to make such good-sounding albums myself! As a musician, I still have to learn a lot and it's good to create together with someone from whom you can learn something new! When I prepared the new Graveland songs, there were some misunderstandings between me and Mscislava which caused him to leave the band. I was involved in making music for the new album and neglected matters related to playing concerts. it caused Sigrunar to depart again. In their place, however, I found new musicians who want to play new Graveland music with me, such as pagan epic metal. With them, I recorded this new album "Hour of Ragnarok"! Personally, I am much more connected with the new Graveland music than with the music from my old Black Metal albums! In concerts, I always felt better on stage when we played songs like "Possessed by Steel" or "King of Aquilonia"! this is the Spirit of Graveland! Sword and shield!

DARGEDIK: This release was born in one of the most complicated times for the modern world, not only due to sanitary conditions but also due to the social and economic impact that the crisis has brought to the entire globe. Is this situation related to the title of the album? Do you think this new album is related to the current world situation? 

GRAVELAND: The new songs by Graveland concern the old distant times from the beginning of human birth on earth, but also concern our modern times, because history likes to repeat itself. I already showed it on my previous album "Thunderbolts of The Gods" when, while designing the cover or for him, I created a vision showing the angry God Odin, who destroys a city resembling Atlantis with powerful lightning! I wanted this Atlantis to look like a city from centuries ago, thousands of years ago, but also to look like a modern city. When I sketched my vision of mine and handed it over to Kris Verwimp for painting, he got a very hard task to paint something that would meet my expectations. kris understood me perfectly and he really did his best, in my opinion he painted one of the most intelligent and epic covers in his oeuvre! The cover, which also had a message and a prophecy in it that began to be fulfilled after a few years! I have always believed that the Gods always intervene at some point, and when a man behaves very badly on earth, he will be punished for it! If we look at ancient religions, we will notice that they have a lot of such messages in them, because the memory of the terrible events from the earth's past has been encoded in them. Events such as floods and earthquakes, meteorite falls may be just ordinary natural phenomena, maybe nature defends itself or reacts to problems that threaten the eternal harmony on which the survival of anything depends. For me, perceiving these things and perceiving them as supernatural phenomena related to somehow spirituality and religion has never disturbed my normal life. Receiving all of this and treating it as epic, paranormal or even fantastic events has always served my own spirituality and fed my imagination with incredibly creative matter! Once, when I played Black metal, I also used to say that in music such as Black metal, the spirit and the atmosphere matters the most, because this genre, through the themes it covers, becomes a kind of religious music! "Hour of Ragnarok" is a continuation of the same track started on the album "Thunderbolts of The Gods". Although he writes music and texts about mythical or fantastic events and pictures, contemporary reality is strongly reflected in them. When a person looks at the contemporary reality that surrounds us, he notices that something is wrong, something is not going as it should be, and even senses the imminent catastrophe in the air. The collapse of the values ​​that made up our civilizations, swallowed up by Chaos and degradation, be it through the deliberate actions of conspiratorial modern "warlocks" or through a normal natural cycle that every great civilization will eventually end. As it is described in the Mahabharata. whether all of this fits perfectly with the "Hour of Ragnarok", inspired by the end of the world in Norse mythology. Or should it be so, maybe Fenrir should be released? Perhaps this is the only path that has any faint signs of hope in it. When the ruins are gone and the ashes fall, the sun will rise again!

DARGEDIK: Robert, as a collector, as a fan and as a person who listen all your albums since the beginning. Why only 200 copies for this new album? This album is perhaps one of the most anticipated jobs on the underground scene worldwide, why limit it to such a small number? 

GRAVELAND: Hour of Ragnarok will come in many more copies as this album is released on several labels in Europe and the USA! At the beginning, these are limited collector's editions with various additions of the form of gadgets such as flags, posters, patches, Viking bracelets. The packaging of these releases is also carefully made in the form of, for example, wooden boxes with engraved inscriptions and the band's logo. such editions are usually limited! on the other hand, standard CDs and vinyls come out in much larger volumes and will be reprinted later when they run out. The album will simply be released in subsequent editions as long as metal music fans will want to buy it. I always entrust the topics related to the release of my albums to the label and try not to interfere with them too much. My task is to write music, learn to play and take care of the proper image of the band in order to proudly represent the hope and respect of the fans placed in the band. The sophisticated ones that release this album are small independent labels, not in some sort of relationship with music corporations such as Nuclear Blast Records. These big labels luckily avoid Graveland and even boycott my band and me in some way. Maybe they're just afraid of censorship or trying to be politically correct. However, such large labels would never give me the freedom of creativity that these small labels give me. It suits me very well and I will probably continue to work like this in the near future. however, our joint success, the band and these small labels, depends only on you, on independent music magazines and websites, and of course on our fans around the world. Support us and we will repay you with music worthy of this support!

DARGEDIK: Reviewing the history of the band it’s notable that during the first 10 years Graveland. The releases were practically annually. However, the releases from 2007 have been increasingly spaced on the contrary and there are several re-releases, is it possible that this is due to your Lord Wind project? What is it like to work on two parallel projects?

GRAVELAND: Lord Wind only had a little influence on that. Although I was preparing this band for concerts as well, and it took a long time to prepare it for the concerts, I was still working on Graveland's music. These were not new Graveland albums, but re-editions of old albums with re-played Polish vocals. This idea came from the Warheart Records label, which wanted to release all Graveland albums in Polish, starting with the album "Creed of Iron". This plan was feasible because since the album "Creed of Iron" I have in my archives all Graveland recording sessions! when we started to add Polish vocals, it turned out that on these albums we could change many more things. We could play guitars, keyboards and even drums! Drummer Miro, who also played with me in Lord Wind, helped me with these reductions, and then played the first few Graveland and Lord Wind concerts with me. During this period, there were re-editions with Polish vocals such as: "Memory and Destiny" (Memory and Destiny), "Law of Steel" (Creed of iron), "Dawn of Iron Blades", "Fire of Awakening" (Fire of Awakening). Apart from Miro, Alruna and my wife Olya also helped me with the recording of these reissues! Olya also sings in Lord Wind, she is the main vocalist, and also plays several folk instruments. It seems to me that Lord Wind suffered the most. After the new album "The Forest is My Kingdom" was released, we soon had quite a few more new songs for the next album. Unfortunately, when the pandemic started, Lord Wind had to wait because everything slowed down and we didn't have the opportunity to get together and play together. It was easier for me to work on the new Graveland album and although it was difficult to record it remotely, I finally managed to finish it in spring 2021. Now it's time to get back to Lord Wind's music and start the recording session for the new album! during the "Hour of Ragnarok" recording session we also recorded another three new songs for a split cd with Finnish Commander Agares! These songs are 90% complete, I just have to write the lyrics and do some vocals! We can also take care of Lord Wind and in my free time I will play vocals in Graveland songs. Split cd will be released by Inferna Profundus Records which is currently releasing "Hour of Ragnarok" on vinyl.

DARGEDIK: Every work of art is the daughter of its time. Do you think that composing this work precisely at this moment gives it added value? or do you think it could have happened in the same circumstances at another time?

GRAVELAND: I think there is some truth to it, although I had the title of the album "Hour of Ragnarok" already chosen three years ago. The text of the song "Conspiracy of the Wizards" fits the most to our modern dramatic times, when you read it you will probably understand what I mean. What is happening in the world today affects everyone to some extent. I have never been a Satanist who cultivated La Vey's "Bibles of Satan", I have never managed to build my selfish shell that would immunize me against my own emotional hesitations and sensitivity. I am sensitive to the environment and the changes taking place in it. It seems to me that real musicians who have some spiritual depth are always sensitive, therefore they really care about what is going on in the world! These feelings then leave an imprint on our work. Especially since, for example, my music was never created with any commercial motivation! Some higher values ​​have always counted in it, and the path I followed allowed me to create and write completely independent music. Everything I created was only inspired by my imagination and my values. Big commercial bands can be more disciplined and stick to making music that no one likes. Their task is only to entertain fans, create a show around them for commercial and marketing purposes. I have always despised my life like this and appreciated those musicians who wanted to tell us some truth. Bands like Manilla Road and Bathory will stay in my heart forever. They, among other things, taught me to be faithful to my convictions and stick to the marked path against the prevailing fashions. Hour of Ragnarok can become an album that will always be equated with Graveland, as happened with Thousand Swords.

DARGEDIK: I always considered Graveland very close to the mythical No Colors Records label with sporadic approaches to other things. Some moment i hoped with this album you would bring back to the german label. And I find very interesting that you continue to dabble in other things and find other labels. This time you chose Inferna Profundus Records, in Lithuania, a country not well known for its extreme scene, what led you to make that decision? 

GRAVELAND: I still work with this label, it releases my older albums and new re-editions of such albums as "Carpathian Wolves". However, I didn't want to give them a new album for release because their capabilities are currently very limited. In Germany, this label has huge problems with censorship! Virtually record sales on this label dropped to zero! Her paypal account was blocked, where the label took most of the money that came from the online store orders. In recent years, Paypal has been blocking accounts with labels and bands that are often attacked in Germany by various censorship agencies. In the past, people were threatened that when money is replaced with payment cards, the system will have the ability to put pressure on society in the form of a constant threat of cutting off a person from his money in banks! These were visions that were compared to Orwell's 1984 book! Back then it was said to be a fantasy or a conspiracy theory, but today we see it with our own eyes! That this scaring one day, today becomes a real thing! Germany has enormous internal troubles related to illegal immigration or the application to society of subversive gender or LGBT ideologies. All this arouses more and more resistance from German society, which can be seen, for example, on the German metal scene. More and more new metal German bands are becoming very radical in their views and in the legitimate genre of Black Metal. The German government is responding by strengthening censorship and building up the political police! It is thus becoming the most undemocratic police state in Europe! Independent labels such as No Colors Records, which have never adhered to political correctness, allowing the artist wide artistic freedom, are targeted for repression and censorship, cut off from the music market and intimidated by possible financial losses! Censorship in Germany has been for many years, but in recent years it has become very noticeable, it is possible that it is also a problem with the bureaucratization of its organs. Let me remind you that in Germany for almost 10 years such Graveland albums as: "In the Glare of Burning Churches", "The Celtic Winter", "Follwoing the Voice of Blood", "Immortal Pride" have been banned by censorship! So, the classics of Black Metal! you can get a fine for possessing these CDs and the police have the right to confiscate the CDs! I remember that No Colors Records had 3 visits during the last 10 years by the police, which confiscated thousands of records! No Color so ecords and these confiscated albums have nothing to do with politics or with the problems that are happening in Germany right now, but they are harmed by overly complex censorship bodies! For me personally, this is a symptom of Germany's disrespect for democratic values!

DARGEDIK: To finish, I know that you are not a lover of digital environments. But despite current world circumstances. Have you thought about launching via streaming platforms or some social media? or the launch will be exclusively for people who can acquire it? Will you wait for the return gigs? 

GRAVELAND: Our new album "Hour of Ragnarok" will have its digital premiere on August 23rd! A little earlier before the premiere of LPs and CDs, the production of which was just a bit delayed. Platforms such as iTune or Google Play will definitely not make this album available. Ever since the corporate puppet took over as the US President, these platforms have removed all Graveland albums from their distribution! Bandcamp also deletes my band account regularly! All these platforms are politically involved in promoting certain political views and ideologies! They break all laws related to the creative freedom of artists! Unfortunately, these are other phenomena that go hand in hand with the so-called "collapse of Western civilization"! These are phenomena that the artist associate unequivocally with and then, of course, reflect on such albums as "Hour of Ragnarok"! Fortunately, there are many more other digital distributions in our land! And most of them don't censor Graveland's music! if you can't find my albums on iTune, try looking at other distributors. I even thought about digitally distributing my albums myself. Receive money from people and send them later links to download albums in mp3 or wav. It is probably possible to do, but you would have to design it well.

So "Hour of Ragnarok" will be available from 23 August! I think you will find this album on the internet, and it is possible that he will upload it to his official youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCx1hJTOjVuoUHvS5QoDRCYA

Also upload the whole album to your Youtube channel Inferna Profundus Records!

Also, be sure to visit the official Graveland website: www.graveland.org from time to time

DARGEDIK: Well Robert, the sad time arrived at this interview, I hope you enjoy this one as I did and thank you very much for your time. Take care during this pandemic situation and our best wishes from this part of the world. Any last words for your new fans in Latin America and Dargedik readers? 

GRAVELAND: Thanks a lot for your time with my team and for wanting to promote them! Once again, sorry for the long waiting time for my replies! the new album meant that I now get quite a lot of interviews to which I have to write back one by one. Some are really great touching on the heavy topics of philosophy and religion! Sometimes I have to think a lot before I answer something like this! I am very curious how to deal with translating my answers from Polish into your mother tongue. I admit that I am writing back this way for the first time, before, my answers have always been translated into English by friendly translators. Now, during the summer period, most of them are away and rest somewhere in the mountains or by the lakes. This was the only time I could write back to you quickly. I would like to thank all the fans from South and Central America as well as our concert organizers and distributors of my music for your support! All of you together contributed to the fact that Graveland could create such an album as "Hour of ragnarok"! Your faith in me and my team gives us strength and meaning in further work! All of Graveland's success over the years is precisely that they are supported by my band, direct fans and small independent labels! There have never been any large commercial music corporations behind Graveland and it will probably never happen again. I have always been faithful to underground music and even though my band is already too big in the underground, I still follow these old rules! Naively believing that when all the illusion of freedom on the Internet has collapsed, the underground will be reborn again in some new form adapted to our modern times. So support Graveland!

Up the swords! Glory to the Pagan Gods!

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