Epic black metallers Darkestrah have been around, in one form or another, since 1999 and have six full lengths under their belts. The most recent of which, Turan, features the deepest pagan black metal roots the band has mined thus far and is better for it. This album leans towards the output of Drudkh but has a mind all its own. The folk aspect of these six tracks are catapulted by the vicious vocals of Merkith. With a vinyl reissue of their second album, Embrace of Memory on the horizon there’s no better time than now to dig your heels into this absolutely ensconcing black metal. We recently had the opportunity to ask the band our set of Profile questions so read on to see what they had to say.
How did you first get into playing music, and have you achieved the level of success that you hoped for?
Asbath (drums): I was playing drums since I was 6 years old. I was in many different metal bands back in Kyrgyzstan since I was 12 and Darkestrah was just a side project at first. However I soon came to understand that the ideas behind this music had huge potential, so it went on and has proven to be my main and longest-living musical project. As for success, of course we’ve made our name, but one always wishes more.
Cerritus (bass): When I was about 16 or 17 I was in a black metal band of no significance where I was trying to scream. But soon I understood that my screams were no good, so I decided to do something else. That is how I started on bass. I was in several other insignificant metal bands before joining Darkestrah.
What’s the most you have ever debased yourself to get your band onto a show, into a magazine or otherwise promoted, covered, and praised? (If you don’t have a story, please tell us any funny/embarrassing story.)
A: Sorry to disappoint you, but I can’t really think of anything special. In fact we never tried too hard to get a gig, or a review, we’ve never even made any special ads or other promotion on social media though it is a commonplace today. The history of Darkestrah is for a big part a history of lucky coincidences. All things just come on their own, the more we make plans, the stranger are the twists of fate in the end.
What do you see as some of the great things happening in metal and what are some of the worst things happening inside the scene right now?
A: 90s black metal and doom metal are the best things that ever happened to metal, period. I won’t list the bands and albums, we all know our classics.
C: I believe that right now the metal scene suffers from general lack of ideas, which is, of course, pretty bad. However, I may be mistaking. I actually believe that the talks of the lack of ideas accompanying any musical genre through the course of its history since the very beginning, so maybe I am just listening to the wrong bands. I actually hope I am.
It seems that now everyone has a passion for some cause and that those people are very open about displaying their passions. This is probably a very, very good (and progressive) thing socially. What are some of the most important issues (social/political/humorous/etc.) for you and how do you insert those issues into your music?
C: It may be good, but it seems there is no dialog in the society right now, everybody is just pushing their own agenda. And it sucks to be caught in the crossfire. When we write music we try to get as far away from reality as possible, black metal is a pretty escapist genre in general, and our mark of black metal that deals with history and nature of a far away and “exotic” region is not cut for discussing current social issues.
What, or who, got you into metal and how old were you? How did your family take the news?
A: The radio did. The moment I heard Metalllica’s “Enter Sandman” for the first time, I understood that I was lost to this world. I started playing soon afterwards and my family was always proud of me and has always supported me. My mother owns everything I’ve released so far and went to see my shows sometime back in Kyrgyzstan.
C: I was 11 I think, and a friend of mine gave me “…And Justice for All.”. It blew my mind. My family actually was never concerned about my tastes and hobbies, as long as they did not involve violence and controlled substances, which they never did.
What advice do you have for aspiring music critics and outlets out there? How can we all better serve the genre in the eyes of a hard-working musician?
A: Support the underground, be original, have an ear and an eye for new and fresh things.
What’s your goal? You guys thinking world domination? Maybe saving a continent? Maybe invading one? Any interest in starting a cult? Do you guys have day jobs or hobbies you want to share? Whatever it is, please let us know.
A: Of course we do! The spirit of nomadic hordes of old lives with us! To the Last Sea and beyond! As for day jobs, I am a professional musician, though sometimes I have to take odd jobs.
C: I’m a humble software developer by day. Music is my main passion, apart from Darkestrah I also sing in a post-punk band. I also enjoy reading, especially history.
When you’re not obsessing over your own material, what are some of your favorite albums to listen to currently? (Feel free to include non-metal)
A: I mostly listen to the metal classics of 1996. Ulver’s first album is on right now. I’m also into modern electronic music.
C: I listen to post-punk and goth rock these days (or rather months). “Jeopardy” by The Sound was the last one I gave a spin to and “Leading Stolen Horses” by Glorious Din (one of my all-time favorite bands in the genre) before that.
What is the 12-month outlook for you or your band? Any specific events on the horizon that the masses should be aware of?
A: As I told you before, the less planning the better. We have some new material, but right now I have no idea what exactly it will become, could be anything from a 7” to a double album. We are always looking for new gigs of course. Our second album “Embrace of Memory” will soon be re-released on vinyl via Shaytan Productions, at least that much seems to be sure.
Summarize your band in exactly one word. (Disclosure: If you include additional words, we will select our favorite for the final publication.)
Many thanks to Darkestrah for their time!