Interview: ASHAENA (Romanian Pagan Black Metal)

ASHAENA released their second album, Calea, earlier this year. A strong pagan metal album with an emphasis on glorifying Romanian cultural history with some traditional folk influence concentrated on a couple of songs.

Copies of the new album are available now in the distro. We talked to founder, guitarist and vocalist Cosmin about the history of the band and the cultural, historical and spiritual influences that converge in their sound, imagery and lyrics.

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Interview with Cosmin, 10 October 2016

The lineup has changed since the first album, do you think this change has also impacted the sound of the band?

All the time, new members, new spirits bring new ideas. Yes, it did change the sound to a better one, tho’ we had all the songs already composed. But yes, the new guys brought a very good vibe to the band.

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The production quality has improved too from the first album, what was the studio situation for Calea?

Calea is the first album totally produced by the band. We’ve decided to do everything by ourselves, starting the recordings and ending up with the mixing and mastery part. It was a great experience and we’ve learnt a lot. If you are able to learn from every thing happening into your life, then you have a good “setup” :)

Pagan bands often incorporate traditional instruments (as I think you did on the short ambient parts on the first album) and melodies into their songs, have you as much on Calea?

Most traditional instruments were put into “Tara Berladnicilor”, the only pure instrumental tune on the album. The are small parts on “Calea” as well.

You emphasise Introspective in your description, could you explain what you mean by Pagan Black *Introspective* Metal?

I came up with this term trying to catch our music true meaning. We are trying to awake people’s minds. We are trying to raise awareness and let people know that they should look more carefuly around them, there are a lot of things to see and understand, a lot of minor details everywhere around you. Introspective metal would be that kind of music that makes you thirsty for knowledge. Makes you dig deeper on the hidden paths or better than that, makes you dive into yourself and get you aware of what’s there.

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In another interview you referred to studying Românian history and mythology and finding “subtle conclusions which are more related to an ethical way of life”. Do you find from studying your native history you’ve found something you can and do apply to your life?

The most important concepts that I discovered in our ancient history and our mythology are common sense and unconditional help. Again, if the world would understand that common sense is one of the most important pillars of humanity, would be much better.

Do you think it’s something the modern world has just lost, or that the modern world actively turned against?

Modern world is fully covered by Media and false reality emitters. Our individual opinions and the power of choose what’s good or what’s wrong for us and the others around us are strongly influenced by media, unfortunately. We need to learn, to re-learn to live out of it. I am not saying to be uninformed. I say just to filter a lot what media is bringing out to the table.

Is there a specific historical period you are most interested in?

I was always interested in the Romanian ancient history. As a Cultural Anthropologist I have studied other cultures and the history of other people and places as well but I’ve always been attracted the most by our ancient history. I would definitely encourage people to read about, at least, the Dacian wars versus the Roman empire.

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Symbolism is clearly important, they appear in your logo, on the album cover and elsewhere. Could you explain their significance?

Aye, symbolism is another way of saying things. Indeed is more cryptic but is more visual. Is like having riddles spread around all your work. They are intended for the “trained” eyes and open minds. Alchemy, Magick, Kabbalah have the same root in our consciousness, in our world of ideas and their final destination is again, the same. All of them are leading you to discover the God within and make peace, understand and harmonize what’s within with the whole universe.

In relation to symbols and history, you have talked about an interest in the occult. Which, if any, aspects are you drawing from Romanian folklore and Eastern Orthodox? Where does occultism find a place in your music and lyrics?

I don’t have anything to do with the Eastern Orthodox concepts or ideas. I am not on that path. Not anymore. It is not suited for me and that would be enough said. I have started to walk the occult paths a long ago. I think I was around 14 years old. That would make 23 years of walking (I am not tired yet…). Romanian folklore is very gnostic, very dualistic. Is perfect for balancing the opposing forces. As I said above, if you start walking the paths of knowledge and study, more than that, understand what you study, then you start noticing things in everything is around you. You understand hidden meanings and then you make connections between them.

Last words are yours!

People should always stay true to themselves. They should always question everything and always try to understand and learn from everything they do. Above all these, common sense should be the main authority in someone’s life. Be good but not naive.

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