Interview: ARAFEL
Title: The flame of war always will blaze

Their glorious debut album „The Way Of Defender“ offered Folk Black Metal of the noblest kind. A musical storm, completely filled with mighty crushing riffs of wet-dream-come-true-melodic charm and completely thrilling atmospheres.

„The Way Of Defender“ is a concept album about the legendary Alexander Nevsky, an Russian national hero of the XIIIth century. The disc sets devoted pagan hearts immediately on fire. Arafel did without any doubts an outstanding album-masterpiece of timeless class, full of touching Russian folk music influences, too.

Founded 1997 in Tel-Aviv, Israel, this extraordinary talented thunder-brigade finished the creative-process for their new pounding album-hammer, named „Second Strike: Through The Flame Of Ages“. And Arafel made a superior artistic job once more. I got into a lingual crossfire with guitarist Felius.

How do you guys doing at the moment?

„Hello Markus! We are fine, especially since releasing of our second album, that we waited for a long time.“

Please tell the readers about your move and the reasons to get from Russia to Israel!

„OK, at the beginning of 90s after the falling-off of Soviet Union and opening of the "iron curtain" was granted a possibility to immigrate to many countries such as United States, Australia, Canada, Germany and also Israel. This immigration had mostly economical nature; parents took out their children from ex-Soviet Union, and expected better prospects for them in different countries. Someone succeed in that, and who didn’t – returned back to Russia. At this moment there are about 120.000 immigrants from Russia in Israel, and this is around 20 % of the population.”

How´s daily life in Israel, what can you tell about?

„Daily life in Israel is not so different from any other country around the world. When you live inside Israel - you don’t feel this Israili-Palestinian conflict. All military operations are taking place outside of Israelis territory. Yes, sometimes terror attacks happen inside, but now terror acts happen in other places in the world that were considered to be a safely places – England, Spain and others. May be the reason of one-sided view of situation in Israel, like a most dangerous place of living, is a mass media, who is attracting attention only on terror and bloodshed.“

Surely it isn’t easy for you guys, to act as a Pagan / Black Metal band there. What can you tell about?

„First of all, we don’t play exactly Pagan Black Metal, like many people used to consider. We have this stigma as far back as ´97, when band was formed. At this time to relate or to be related to Pagan Metal scene was popular and trendy. And if band uses in music folk elements – the fate was prejudged. Our lyrics mostly are based on historical events and doesn’t deal with Pagan or any other religion's ideology. We try to make a music been guided by our inner emotions and musical preferences, and don’t put it into frames of styles. Here in Israel people like what we do, even if our music isn’t so typical for local Metal scene.“

What do you think about the European Black/ Pagan Metal scene?

„Europe is a motherland of Black/Pagan Metal direction, and this is the reason of a big number of good and interesting bands. From Scandinavian Metal scene could be mentioned Moonsorrow, Ensiferum, Enslaved and Windir. In Germany Equilibrium, Falkenbach and Menhir are being in lead. Now a second wave of Pagan Metal in Europe is more powerful, than in the end of ´90s and of course there are more bands, which we could mention.“

How is the current chemistry between the musicians in Arafel to describe?

„Since the recording of "The Way Of Defender" we as a band had a problem of finding musicians, after Mihail and Candlelight left the band. For 1.5 year we remained as 2-pieces band and spent a time for writing new songs and doing some gigs with session players. Half year before the record session of "The Second Strike: Through The Flame Of Ages" D. Varfolomejev joined the band, and after a short period became a band member from 2 reasons, 1) we liked his playing skill and musical way of thinking, 2) we had a very good chemistry between us. Right now we are recruited 3 new members and working on starting playing live. So all we could say that, yes we have a good chemistry between the band members and satisfying from working together.“

What is to tell in general about the new CD release? Please describe your new creations a bit.

„The material for "The Second Strike: Through The Flame Of Ages" was written between 2002-2004. At the same period we had a line-up problems, that slowed down the working on it. But we’ve overcame the all difficulties and at autumn 2004 we were ready to record. The new album was recorded in Studio X in Poland, with well-known in Poland sound-engineer behind the mixing console, Szymon Czech. We worked with this guy on our first record. Szymon is not a big fan of Black Metal, but we chose him cause he have a huge experiences in Metal recording (for example bands as Sceptic, Vesania, Archeon, Enter Chaos, Demise) and also he is a good friend of us and we work well together. Miron, leader and vocalist of Russian sympho-Black Metal band Tvangeste, recorded all vocal line on "Through The Flame Of Ages". We met him during our first album recording session in polish Selani studio, where Tvangeste made their "Firestorm" opus. Since our line-up problems we didn’t have permanent vocalist at this time, and Miron agreed to help us. Another guest appearance on the new album was a violin player named Monika Bezczynska (Shannon), whose live performance in addition to keyboard parts created for us a wishful atmosphere.”

Please report about the development of your new songs!

„Our new material became more powerful and aggressive, faster and sophisticated. But at the same time we didn’t lose a melody and epic feeling, that was a trademark of our first release.”

Please report about the lyrical contents of the new work!

„"The Second Strike: Through The Flame Of Ages" don’t have one conceptual theme unlike a previous one, which was dedicated to Russian national hero of 13th Century grand duke – A. Nevsky. Half of a lyrics for a new album was written by Arafel and half by our friends. Each song on a new album is telling a different story. For example the song "Saga Of Vengeance" is legendary tale about not unknown historical person princess Olga, who took revenge for husband's murder on her enemies and committed a bloody massacre. "Color Of Death" is a point of view about baptizing of Russia. "Serpent Land" is kind a hymn to all warriors, who are defending their land. "Wrong Future" and "Purification Of Wisdom" are utopian songs about war apocalypse and surviving of mankind.“

What is the meaning of the title of the new album release?

„Actually, the title "The Second Strike: Through The Flame Of Ages" came to put an end of lyrics and to unite the conception of the album. How many time would not pass, how many epoch would not be replaced – the flame of war always will blaze and mankind will continue to fight against itself for land, religion or whatever else.“

How was the songwriting how ran the development of the new songs?

„Songwriting for a new album was started already at 2002 during the record session of our previous album "The Way Of Defender". "Color Of Death" was written even before that, but we decided not to include it in the first album. First of all we write guitar riffs and build from them the primary structure of the song, this structure is programmed to Midi-skeleton by Midi-editor (we use a guitar-Pro Midi editor). After we do a key parts arrangements and add them to a Midi-skeleton. Then all Midi things are done we get into the studio and work with a drummer on his parts. The vocal lines on the album were recorded by Miron from Kaliningrad's Tvangeste, and we couldn’t do any rehearsal together before a record-session. So we did a home pre-production of all songs and sent them to Miron, and he worked with the material by himself, and all details of vocal lines we solved with Miron by internet. This was an unusual way of preparing vocals for us, hehe, but the recording of vocals was a very interesting, cause many vocal lines we completed only in the studio and the recording process was turned from just technical into more creative, and it made great atmosphere and chemistry between musicians.“

To my mind your last album was a bit more catchy regarding melodies as the new one. Do you agree?

„To tell the truth, perception of our music is a very individual thing. "The Way Of Defender" for someone will be a catchy, simple and ordinary album, but others will say, that this is a album, which represent the true spirit of Arafel music. "The Way Of Defender" was our vision of music and life of that period, when it has created and recorded (2001-2002). We were very satisfied by this album, and we still do. But since then we did not stand on a place – we developed as a musicians and as a personalities, and this development was reflected in our music. Our compositions became more professional and technically complex and now in our songs we began to deal with more mature and global themes.“

Are you personally satisfied in total with the new songs?

„Yes, we are fully satisfied with our new material. It also very good sounds live! But of course we will not stop our music development. Not anyone can be perfect in that. But everyone should try to reach to perfection.”

Who made the cover art for „The Second Strike: Through The Flame Of Ages“? What is to tell about in general?

„The cover art was created by 2 our good friends: Andrei Sviridenko (who also did for us cover for first album) and Warmaster (frontman of German band Necrodaemon and also good graphical designer). We used the same concept that was on the first album – each song has own art decorating which corresponds to a theme of a song. Well, and the cover reflects the general conception of a disk. The battle and fire tints on front cover are symbolizing a war, and the vortex in the middle is symbolizing a time rotation. We very liked the done work, and think that the cover art definitely fits to our music.“

Which was your best gig in 2005?

„Heh, actually we didn’t make any gig for the last 1.5 year due to the member's problem in the band. Now, as already said before, we got a full line-up and preparing for gigs.“

Do you like it much to play live?

„We will answer on this question after at least a one done gig, probably in the next interview, hehe.”

What´s special in a show of Arafel?

„Every show we're preparing cover song of some famous band, but doing it a little different from original version – in Arafel's way. We add many Russian folk melodies or parts of popular Russian songs, which a crowd may sing with us.“

Will you ever come to Europe to play live?

„First of all we want to get in shape, and to achieve it we must make at least few performance here in Israel. After it, we very hope and want to come play live in Europe.“

Which was your first self bought album with Rock/Metal?

„Heh, probably “Restless & Wild“ of Accept and "Master Of Puppets" of Metallica!“

In which life-philosophy do you believe?

„It is kind a complicated question, because each one of us have individual life-philosophy and it’s impossible to talk about as a band. But generally we try not to do some stupid acts, which we will regret about!“

What do you do mainly besides making music day by day?

„Every one of us has a normal life like other people – working, studying. Unfortunately we can't earn money from our music yet and we can't be occupied only by playing music, hehe.”

What is your biggest dream as a musician?

„We don’t want to be a banal and to say something about big popularity, many fans, money and and bla bla bla, hehe. The reaching to high level as musicians, songwriters and as a band, but also for ourselves not to get bored with our music and to get from it the energy – will be enough for us!“

What do you think about Religions in general?

„Each of members of the band has own opinion on a theme of religion, and we even sometimes argue among themselves, hehe. But it is not reflected on Arafel in any way. We are not a ideological band and do not carry on any kind of propaganda. Our songs basically are based on historical events, and they are not containing any condemnations or slogans. We only describe events as they are treated by history, and we don’t try to be judges of those events or characters of our songs (as it is done by many bands).”

Your plans for the future?

„We want to dedicate the nearest year to live performances, for which we didn’t have a long time and certainly we shall continue to write a new material. Best wishes in new 2006 year from Arafel to all metalhead readers of Metalmessage!”

© Markus Eck, 04.01.2006

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