A Different Shade Of Black Metal Zine (США)


Can you give us an update on what is going on with the band these days?
Now we prepare our material for recording of an Internet single. It will include 2 songs. The single will be titled as "Winds’ Heady Mead" by name of one of our songs. In our previous albums we’ve already dealt with the topic concerning the Upper Volgian settlements of free men – a special phenomenon which can be compared to Vikings of Northern Europe or Cossacks of the Southern borders of Russia. Extensive and sparsely populated lands of Northern Russia – from Baltic to Transurals area – were a part of the state of Lord Novgorod the Great in the Middle Ages era. For development of these lands, and often for predatory attacks against adjacent lands the teams consisting of military youth were created in Novgorod and the cities within its power. Participants of such teams were called as ushkuiniks – according to the name of a river rowing and sailing craft – an ushkui. However, ushkuis could sail in the sea as well. The Swedish city Sigtuna, for example, still remembers a shattering campaign of the Novgorod groups. In the 14th century ushkuiniks had raided along the Norwegian coast, having ruined some regions. It was made as retaliation. Tatar aggressors also got hard lines from ushkuiniks, although they subdued Russia in the 13th century – but they could not overpower Northern Russian outlaws. The Tatar cities across the Central Volga went through devastating attacks of ushkuiniks more than once. Russian northerners, being skillful in prompt and impudent attacks, took the cities by storm ruthlessly suppressing any resistance. They quickly embarked the taken loot and left upstream the Volga, leaving the glowing fires as a revenge for humiliation from the Tatar sovereignty. Territorial coverage of the campaigns of ushkuiniks was really great – from the Central Volga to Northern suburbs of the continent, from Scandinavia to Western Siberia.
Campaigns of ushkuiniks often began from the Upper Volga (from the Sheksna River’s inflow to the Volga), so it’s namely our lands - as Rybinsk city is located in a junction of these two Russian rivers, and OPRICH comes from Rybinsk. I needed such a long introduction because I tried to bring narration about the essence of our nearest plans. Our single "Winds’ Heady Mead" will be dedicated to ushkuiniks, their campaigns, their daring and luck, and also to the topic what is life on the Volga. It is the deep breadth, slow current, this fresh wind and cries of seagulls, the shine of the sun on waves, this feeling of freedom – all of this is the Volga. We will try to enclose such feelings and impressions to our new songs. Stylistically the single’s material will move away from traditional pagan metal in a way and will move towards hardcore – however with all Russian ethic flavour.

How would you describe the musical sound of the new album and how it differs from previous releases?
 I do not know what our listeners will think, but as for as us the sound of our new album can be described as more various – than ever before! :) We applied new folk instruments and we used them in arrangements more widely. Guitar sound changed as well. Besides distortion effects we used the drive effects – as real rockers of the 70’s :). So, if everything goes further in this way, sometimes we will play the real blues from the bank of the Volga :).

What are some of the lyrical topics and subjects the new release explores?
The album "Birdless Heavens" is a conceptual work about Winter. About Northern, Russian winter. The first song, "Valedictory Hymn", parts with Summer, green leaves, and tender heat of the Sun. Summer raises a farewell bowl, giving way to Fall with its chilling wind, dark rough waves of the Volga, rains and fogs that creep among fir-trees. But Autumn will also not be late –the first ice holds down pools here, and fallen leaves become covered with hoarfrost. Also there comes the special time – "The First Wintry Touches". The first snow buries the earth. The twilight, a silent beast, is creeping up. And here comes Hiems – with blizzards and snow, holding everything down with frost. Time stands still in shining ice silence. "This Light And Joyous Death" is a song about a fierce, ruthless triumph of white ice space without spots of life. "Beldam-Snowstorm" follows, and it is about how the beldam-snowstorm pursues a traveler, trying to carry him away in the vortex embraces, whirl him in a blizzard round dance and lull among soft snow for eternal rest. But the traveler managed to take cover in the warmth of a house, and the blizzard hits against the walls, groaning and being angry with relentless senile rage. The fifth song, "The Sit’-River", is about a fight between Russian warriors and Tatars, that took place on the outcome of winter of 1238 in the woods of Zavolzhye. Forces were unequal, and the Russian hosts lay down on the snow fields for Russian Land and their knjaz’ (prince). On this tragic note the album turns in the way, where in the middle of low blizzard clouds, between cold and death, a thin, but persistent beam of hope shines. "Guslar the Prophetic" (gusla player), with his singing, recovers the recollection of bright haying meadows, magic singing of nightingales in ravines and groves – and this ringing of gusla strings becomes the spring thaw, and beams of the spring sun make their way through clouds as hot blades. And now, a playful breeze smells of forthcoming high water, and old ice of the Volga, at any moment, will crack under the pressure of melt water. "Soon, Very Soon!" the Volga will become free of its ice armor, and the boats of the northern teams will rush for a new campaign! This campaign shall be, when "Winds’ Heady Mead" makes sail towards the warrior’s good fortune.

What is the meaning and inspiration behind the bands name?
The word "oprich" is of Old Russian origin, and nowadays it is not used in colloquial speech. Those people, who are familiar well with history of Russia, may know about Oprichnina – a special phenomenon during the reign of Tsar Ivan the Terrible. However the sense of our name is not connected in any way with this era, and the words "oprich" and "oprichnina" are just paronymous ones. The word "oprich" means something special, isolated, separated from a general series, opposed to something. As it happens often with ancient words, the sense of the word "oprich" is rather wide, and it depends on particular application. It is both opposition, denial, isolation, and “on the contrary”, “from the outside”, “against”. Generally, by means of such name, we let you know that we came to music with our specific aims, and we will reach them by our own means.

What are some of the best shows that the band has played so far and how would you describe your stage performance?
 All of our last concerts were the best! :) We did not play alive for two and a half year because of different reasons, and in autumn of 2011 we decided to break off this vicious circle and return on the stage. The trip to the Moscow big festival “Volh Pagan Fest 1” began for us from a serious car accident, in which the car was broken completely, but miraculously nobody suffered – bruises and abrasions are not counted. Having got into other car, we reached Moscow, but with some delay. We played with big enthusiasm – because after the accident we could not have any fear of returning to the stage! At all! :)
Then we played a concert in a small town Danilov. It is a real Russian province – not high houses of the 18 – 19th centuries, ancient churches, a lot of trees. Concerts in such towns are a rarity; therefore the audience met the groups with special enthusiasm and sincerity. In general, friendliness, openness and sincerity are specific features of Russian province, and it’s a very pleasant feature.
 After that we played in our city Rybinsk. There all people together, all people are friends. And the atmosphere was the most benevolent. So, if you want to sing your songs about the Volga, the most correct pastime is to perform them on the bank of the Volga :)
The next trip to Moscow, this time to “Volh Pagan Fest 3” with Romanians of Negura Bunget as headliners, stayed in our memory due to the pleasant and cheerful atmosphere of the travel, as the concert itself gathered very little audience – either owe to insufficient advertizing, or because there were much other metal gigs that day in Moscow. But in any way we had good memories.
This time performance in the center of light industry, the city of Ivanovo, which is also called as "Russian Manchester", took place in a packed house and had good support of audience. Praiseworthy organization, new friends and excellent groups – it is all about the concert in Ivanovo.
The last one in the list of the visited cities is Cherepovets – the steel industry capital of the Russian North. There was all – a picturesque road among snow-covered coniferous forests, a beautiful city on the bank of the Sheksna river, old friends, and high quality performance. Leaving the stage after such concerts, you never know what prevails – pleasant tiredness owe to well-done work or desire to continue. There is a video of this performance, it includes our almost whole set list of that evening: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aZ88zcfLZpY

Do you have any touring plans for the future?
Literally saying, the presentation of our recently released album "Birdless Heavens" will take place next week. It will be in our hometown Rybinsk. We don’t have any other plans for now, but we are open for any concert offers. However, the main task for us now is work on a single.

On a worldwide level how has the feedback been to your new album by fans of folk metal?
 The album has been just released, and at the moment we don’t have many responses. The first reviews mention a variety of our material and its originality. In general the feedback is positive; however I cannot say that our album is praised only. Someone needs more growling, someone wants more fun – generally it’s a matter of taste. As usual we are compared to Arkona – probably, from the present moment it will be the destiny of all Russian groups ( In one of reviews on our previous album a German author called our group as VolgaJugend – the youth of the Volga. We liked this expression, and now we use it. Well, and in an Italian review we were called as “Soviet folk metal” :) So we look forward for reviews! :)

What direction do you see your music heading into on future releases?
It is hard to say right now. Our creativity is free, and it’s difficult to predict where our inspiration will bring us next time, so we don’t make plans for the distant future. I can tell you one thing: we will use more hardcore groovy riffs, and we will bring our national component of our music nearer to authentic folk. It seems to us that such direction is right, and it is possible to develop it for a long time.

What are some bands or musical styles that have influenced your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?
All of us have different musical preferences, and they influenced each of us in its own way. However if we speak about any collective musical taste which allows us composing music in this, but not different way, then Russian music, first of all traditional, influenced us strongly in a large extent. Secondly, probably, music of Russian composers, because their influence on any Russian musician is so strongly, that it is impossible to avoid or ignore.
Certainly, all of us listen to metal. All kinds of metal – from heavy to grindcore. Interesting representatives may be found in any style, however now the quantity of music in the world is so great that we have to spend a lot of efforts and time for identification and selection of the best music for ourselves. Personally I prefer Russian and Slavonic folk music – especially those authentic recordings which were gathered by ethnographic expeditions during the time of existence of the tradition which has not been interrupted by TV and mass culture. Also I love old school hardcore.

How would you describe your views on Paganism?
If we talk about ancient Paganism – Paganism that existed before x-tianity era – then it is necessary to study it. Study laboriously, carefully, applying scientific methods, collecting knowledge little by little. It is not necessary to idealize it – we need it in the way it was, instead of such we would like to see. If we talk about new, revived Paganism, then we should understand that it is a radically different phenomenon, because it was recovered in absolutely other time. At present Pagan world-view becomes topical for many reasons: the crash of x-tianity and spiritual emptiness which appeared on its place; the eternal call of the archetypes of our ancestors; a dangerous ecological situation when it is impossible to treat the Nature as a storeroom for human needs anymore – as it was during the era of the triumph of x-tian ideas. Also we may add another reason: globalization tries to destroy our memory of ancestors – the memory that knocks at our hearts more persistently. And of course we should not forget about the amazing spirit of the Universe calling the Human of the New Era into its spaciousness!

Outside of music what are some of your interests?
OPRICH is not just a group of musicians gathering from time to time for solution of creative problems. We are friends. We celebrate holidays together (including Pagan ones), birthdays, and weddings. All of us are from one city, not so big if we measure from a Russian point of view – the population of Rybinsk is 240.000 people. Therefore our interests besides music not only coincide in many respects, but they are embodied together as well. Outdoor activities, travelling, sport, militarized games, studying of history and many other things are those occupations, which are both rest and entertainments for us. As for me, that absolutely short time that remains after working and playing music I spend for photography, design, sport, and firing a pistol. I read a lot of really different books, but in any way they concern history, sociology, political science.

Any final words or thoughts before we wrap up this interview?
 I think it’s time to see us at concerts! :)