Album Notes: Ashaena – Calea (Romanian Pagan Metal)

ASHAENA – Calea (Romania, 2016)

Track / album guide written by: Cosmin “Hultanu” Duduc

Distro: Calea CD

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  1. Tapae 87
    The tune that opens the album is the most aggressive song. It describes one of the biggest battles in our Romanian ancient history, between the Dacians and the Roman Empire. In 87 A.D. Dacians has won this great battle, totally vanquishing that Roman legion and capturing their flags and all their stuff.
  2. Calea
    The song that gives the album title as well is about our ancestors. Is somehow an ode to them, a way to praise them and glory them through this song.
  3. Tara Berladnicilor
    It is an instrumental song. Perhaps the most folklore infused one, thanks to the all kind of flutes that were recorded by our friend Andrei Oltean. Is a tune inspired from several folk tunes from our birth zone.
  4. Crapat di Cer
    This song evokes a huge, epic storm but its meaning stands in understanding the nature around you and make it a part of yourself.
  5. Spirit – Sageata
    Maybe the most cryptic song, lyrics wise. The song has a Kabbalistic structure and its lyrics are based on the ascension along the Sephiroth. Of course, the metaphors make a big part of the lyrics and again I have intertwined the Kabbalistic concepts with some concepts from our Romanian mythology. The song title refers to the Spirit- Arrow analogy, comparing the seeker of knowledge’s spirit to an arrow launched towards the sky.
  6. Zbor Insetat
    This one is somehow, lyrics wise, an obvious continuation of the one above. “Thirsty flight”. The spirit is thirsty for knowledge and he walks/fly along the paths of acquiring this knowledge.
  7. Mos Urs
    The Old Bear is definitely my totemic animal. The song is about the bear image and symbolism in the Romanian Folklore and Mythology. This song is one of my favs from all that I ever made.

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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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The original text source for Yggdrasil – ENSLAVED (Frost) – Hávamál (Codex Regius scan)

As posted yesterday, Frost was released on this day in 1993. The song Yggdrasil takes it’s lyrics from part of the Hávamál poem. The poem is presented in the Codex Regius, an Icelandic collection with many Old Norse poems dating from the late 13th Century. FALKENBACH are another band that used this poem as inspiration.

Here is a detail of the manuscript containing the section of the poem used for Yggdrasil (parts 138 – 141). This source is Finnur Jónsson’s Facisimile Edition of 1891.

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And here is the full page (bottom, starting at II, ending just before the last line)

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An English translation of this section by Olive Bray, published 1908:

I trow I hung on that windy Tree
nine whole days and nights,
stabbed with a spear, offered to Odin,
myself to mine own self given,
high on that Tree of which none hath heard
from what roots it rises to heaven.

None refreshed me ever with food or drink,
I peered right down in the deep;
crying aloud I lifted the Runes
then back I fell from thence.

Nine mighty songs I learned from the great
son of Bale-thorn, Bestla’s sire;
I drank a measure of the wondrous Mead,
with the Soulstirrer’s drops I was showered.

Ere long I bare fruit, and throve full well,
I grew and waxed in wisdom;
word following word, I found me words,
deed following deed, I wrought deeds.

You can find the complete reproduction of the Codex Regius manuscript here.

DRUDKH / HADES ALMIGHTY – One Who Talks with the Fog / Pyre Era, Black! Full Stream Pre-Order

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New material from both bands!

HADES ALMIGHTY released these songs last October digitally, this is the first time on physical format. It’s also their first release in over 14 years (The Pulse of Decay in ’01)!
DRUDKH’s side comes highly recommended – the first song is an epic that captures the sound and feel of vintage DRUDKH perfectly!! The split is essential for these two alone.

This release is available on CD and Vinyl (black vinyl and transparent red, both hand-numbered). All formats are currently available from the distro.

DRUDKH – Той, Хто Говорить З Імлою

HADES ALMIGHTY – Pyre Era, Black!

20 Years Ago: BATHORY releases Blood on Ice – Does the North Star still shine on me?

Released 20 years ago today, but the material dates back further – to the days of BLOOD FIRE DEATH – and could have been the fifth BATHORY album if released in 1989.

Re-recorded/re-worked at Hellhole Studio in June-July 1995 Blood on Ice was finally released on the 27th May, 1996. Original recording sessions were between February-October 1988 and later in June 1989. In August of ’89 Quorthon began recording Hammerheart.

…at the end of the eighties we started working on a project-to be more explicitit was about a conceptual album, the actual “Blood In Ice” -but in the end we decided that it wasn’t the best thing for Bathory. The making of a conceptual album is a very risky business especially for a band like Bathory, I mean one has to make this album in such a way that it sounds like Bathory so we decided to drop this project and continue recording the usual albums like “Hammerheart” or “Twilight Of The Gods”. Although our fans knew there is another material that could be turned into a new epic album and actually we also thought that we could resume the work to complete this material, to record a few additional parts on the guitar, and to remake it at 40% with the intention of releasing the album as a souvenir for our fans. And so”Blood on ice” was released.
– Quorthon, Heavy Metal Magazine #22, June 1996

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12 Years Ago Today: VELES – The Black Ravens Flew Again

Great album by an important band within the notorious Polish 90’s underground! Released by Der Sieg. Rich atmosphere aided by Darken (GRAVELAND) and a strong production. This is not the savage Black Hateful Metal album from a few years previous; it’s closer to Night on Bare Mountain and still recognisably part of the great Polish legacy.

Out Now: Arkona – An Eternal Curse of the Pagan Godz (Polish Black Metal 1994 Demo!)

The debut demo of Polish underground horde ARKONA!! Recorded live during nightly rehearsal, 26 March 1994.

Samples and details at the distro

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A zine ad for the 1997 CD release (which had the same name but included the second demo)

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The second release of cult Polish underground black metal, following SACRILEGIUM Wicher
This is a co-release between Todestrieb and Night Birds Records!

Daily Noise: Cristalys – Gallus Malleus

Taken from their début album Suréminence – released in 2009.
Epic heathen metal, honouring the lost, forgotten ancestry and history. Black & Pagan/Heavy Metal with fairly prominent keys, and always strong atmosphere. Brilliant and unexpected shifts in this song…

Herstal !
Ta francisque marque nos lendemains
Frappant tel un marteau surhumain
Pulvérisant la razzia d’une lune malsaine
Battons nous pour ce grand Domaine!

Unrelated to the music, but demonstrating their approach – every CRISTALYS release has been funded and released by the band on their own label. Each copy we offer in the distro was ordered directly from the band. They have some new merchandise for the latest album, In Hoc Signo Vinces, we’ll try to get some soon but you can also order from the band.

Pour l’unité du sang, pour la loyauté de nos ancêtres. Francs, fidélité!

Daily Noise: Crom Dubh – Kings II (Live – UK Black Celtic Metal)

Epic Black Metal based in London.

I’ve been fortunate to hear CROM DUBH’s debut album for a while now, and this live recording from earlier in the year gives an indication of what’s to come…

Heimweh, likely to be released later this year, is a huge album! A triumph for the band. CROM DUBH have been building their sound over 10 years but the concept really began to crystallise on Defir in 2009 – atmospheric, epic black metal with almost professorial appreciation of history and culture.

I wanted Defir to be a record I could listen to at the top of a hillfort in Derbyshire or Wales, or looking down over the still-standing colonnades of a city built under Augustan Rome, that would tell me the same story regardless of location.

However, none of the past releases really prepare you for Heimweh. When the opening song Cutting Teeth tears into it’s leading riff, you’ll realise how special this record is. It continues to impress. Six songs, three interludes. The title song – my highlight. Studio production has improved the sound dramatically, giving drums a new clarity and power, and the lead-guitar[s] independence.
Influences do include ASH BORER, PRIMORDIAL and DRUDKH – you will hear it in the intelligent integration of song melody, history and lore… you may also hear some DESASTER – the mix of black and thrash metal with brutality and killer riffs!
Sound is clearer, but they hold on to a rawness with the guitar and bass tones. Matching the breath of the sound, the concept of the album is generational – a narrative of human life-to-death, metaphorically the life cycle of a nation. The power, the scope of this album stretches to the horizon.

CROM DUBH’s next gig is: 15 November at The Black Heart, Camden (London)