In some ways many metal listeners have divided opinions when the topic is “black metal.” Most of them find it raw or pretentious, but there are some that adore every melody that could come out of a black metal song. Juodvarnis, a lithuanian Epic/Pagan Black Metal band is just like a problem solver at this point. This band’s versatility lies in combining epicness of the pagan take on the black metal genre and folk, heavy, doom, and stoner metal elements, wrapped with a touch of progpower.
The band from Vilnius released two albums so far. “Mirusio Žmogaus Kelionė”, their second album carries every single element that is specific to the mentioned genres. Very epic, at times softened by great high pitched clean vocals, you can also find a fair dose of doom metal. Lyrically the album has its own dark side either. The songs are written in Lithuanian, a language that sounds as a perfect fit for the music Juodvarnis creates.
There is astonishing black metal drumwork in the songs, there are great heavy metal guitar solos, accompanied with tasty folksy elements. But besides that what takes the attention at the most is high-pitched clean vocal that is combined with screams. A rare singing style, which also makes the album unique itself.
There is a similarity between with the known doom bands such as Candlemass, While Heaven Wept, maybe a little of Solitude Aeternus and there is a smell of Void of Silence in the vocals. In some parts you find similarity with Moonspell and a little bit of early Amorphis. As all these bands are far from black metal, and that is what makes Juodvarnis different. A must-listen album of the year right here.
Antti Silkela of Finish “so-hard-to-categorize” band Pearly Gates answered our question about the band’s sixth EP release “Unchained,” a great four-track EP that is a release for everyone. He also talks about the influences, favourite albums, and unforgettable moment of the band’s career so far.
How would you describe your new EP “Unchained”?
Unchained-EP includes 4 songs that combines prog rock arrangements, heavy riffs, dark lyrics and big wall of sound. It was recorded during one year in studios, cellars and cabins in DYI spirit.
Do your personalities reflect on the lyrics or music?
Me and our singer Jonne are responsible for all the writing in the band at the moment. It’s natural that your personality shines through the lyrics and music. I can say I’m a sensitive person, who tries to see the world trough an analytical lens. In music you are allowed to express a bit naive thoughts and emotions so that’s great therapy. Our music and lyrics are basically about soul searching and reaching to the unknown.
Do you see the band’s music as serving a purpose beyond music?
Composing and playing music is just one part of being in a band. It’s a perfect reason to travel, drink beer with the fellows and meet new people, a way to challenge your sonic and visual creativity, follow your childhood dream and impress the ladies. Quite neat way of life I would say.
Do you believe in progress, and how does that reflect on each new Pearly Gates release?
If there’s no ongoing progress happening, there’s no reason to release anything new really. We want to keep getting better and better and reach the band’s full potential some day.
Are you satisfied with where Pearly Gates stands currently?
We have been doing this since we were young kids: spending hundreds of hours in the rehearsal place, playing gigs for full bars and empty ones around Finland and Europe, writing songs, doing long recording sessions and trying to get our voice heard.
It’s been a great ride but financially it’s still a nightmare. We hope that this new EP and music videos get more people exited so we start to get more following.
Which bands influenced your work at the most?
Pearly Gates has taken influences from the bands like Pink Floyd, Tool, Karnivool, Black Crowes and Hellacopters. The list could go on and on… Our band has had our Action Rock and Southern Rock phases in the past but now days we are more into some more heavier and complex stuff.
What are the benefits and drawbacks on technology and Internet in your opinion?
It’s not the best music that is heard, it’s about who makes most noise to be heard. Internet is an incredible tool to promote your band’s music globally but you are one in a million who is doing it. It’s hard to stand out without the help from big media companies.
New technology has made possible to record albums with perfect sounds and no mistakes whatsoever. For me it doesn’t necessary mean it’s laking soul because of that. I love big and wide soundscapes! Sometimes the lack of technology can bring more to the sound too. If you are listening Robert Johnson for example you know what I mean.
What are your all-time favourite albums and why?
My favorite albums are Pink Floyd’s The Wall and Iggy and The Stooges’ Raw Power for very different reasons. The Wall deals with themes of alienation and loneliness which I’ve been struggling with especially when I was younger. Classic songs and the whole concept of the album made it really special to me.
Raw Power is dynamite to our senses. It makes your heart race, your feet move and you feel like you are on fire when you are listening to it. I took the CD with me to all the parties I went to when I was about 14 years old.
What was one of the most unforgettable moments you guys experienced as Pearly Gates?
The first thing that comes to my mind is our trip to Trieste, Italy at the end of our first European tour in 2012. It was the perfect couple of days after some big problems we had encountered on the road. Some one had broke into our van couple of days earlier in Prague. They stole 5 guitars, bass and a laptop from us so we had to drive to Germany to buy some new equipment to keep going. Then we drove to Udine, Italy where we found out that our Slovakian promoter had lied us about our gigs in Italy: we didn’t have any.
We were forced to cancel couple of gigs booked to France for the next week, because there were no money coming in without gigs. We drove to Trieste to chill out before our long drive home and while playing guitars on the beach we met some amazing local people who showed us the best places in the city and partied with us for couple of days. I miss that town and the people.