Reinventing Black Metal Part II: SRD

Photo: Simon Pelko

In the first part of this series I implied black metal is overrun with Satanic imagery and it just isn’t interesting anymore. However, we also focused on the unique situation of Al Namrood and their struggles. Today, we’re taking a look at Srd, a band which will unfortunately be much less known to most readers. Slovenia isn’t traditionally a country that produces a lot of amazing metal and I’m sure the large majority would struggle to name a single band coming out of it. However, as a Slovenian myself, I’ve been lucky to have seen Srd live quite a few times by now, even though the band is rather young and has only been founded in 2016. Now, you might think I’m biased because everyone tends to like supporting their local scene. And you might have a bit of a point there, which brings me to my next pretentiously philosophical idea. Black metal’s relation to ethnic culture.

So who is Srd? A five-piece band that has been referred to as black’n’roll and has now joined several other influences into the sound, such as atmospheric black metal, and just a dash of a folk metal touch with an accordion. This, especially, gives their latest album, Ognja prerok, a touch of connection with their native land. The band has also resorted to singing (well, growling) solely in Slovenian in their second album, and repainted a very famous Slovenian poem “Soči” with a fresh coat of black metal. Which, given that the partial theme of it is predicting the bloodiness of WW I feels very right. Does that mean one can’t enjoy black metal that’s in some way foreign? Well, of course not. But familiarity helps and subtle folky touches combined with native languages and stories can add a lot to form a sort of ethnic black metal that should hopefully evoke some feelings of home, belonging, possibly patriotism. Offering more thoughts on the band, their sound and black metal we have an interview with Srd below.

Srd – Ognja prerok

First of all I’d like to thank you for taking the time for this interview. Not much time has passed since the release of Ognja prerok, but it has resulted in some international attention. How content are you with the reception?

Greetings. Thank you for the opportunity. So far the reception has been quite good, but this isn’t an indication of anything important.

Unlike the predecessor, Smrti sel, Ognja prerok’s lyrics are entirely in Slovenian, why did you choose to do so? Along with that, you use exclusively formal Slovenian, can we possibly expect some lyrics in dialects in the future?

Smrti sel seems like a foretaste in many ways. The three songs that were written in Slovenian have proven themselves to be the best, both performance-wise and the audience’s reception of them. Of course, because we are Slovenian, it’s more natural to write in our native language. As we’ve said before – we don’t exclude writing in a foreign language in the future, but for now we’ve decided for formal Slovenian, which doesn’t necessarily mean there won’t be any written in dialects – namely the Prekmurje dialect.

How important do you find the lyrical content to be to black metal and what are your most frequent inspirations for your writing?

The question is ambiguous. I think that lyricism in music, when talking about popular music, shouldn’t be neglected. Therefore, if there are lyrics, they should tell a story or at least attempt to do so – of course, the interpretation depends on the listeners and that’s something I wouldn’t comment on. But if we speak of lyricism as a form of personal expression, then that’s the content that a person will most easily hold on to and write about. It describes the here and now, even if with a reflexion of another work of art. Having said all this, I’ve already essentially answered the latter part of the question. Inspiration comes from life or from other forms of art, and at the end of the day, Srd serves as a creative outlet.

Why the decision to make the vocals fairly “clean” for black metal standards?

The vocals aren’t as clean as they are natural. Over the years the vocals change, one’s own voice comes to light, and with that – fewer cases of vocal abuse.

Of course, I can’t omit the surprise of the album – the accordion. How did the band come to that idea and why the accordion specifically? Perhaps its connection to Slovenia or because it’s the instrument that seems to fit into black metal the least?

The accordion has appeared in black metal before, but we’ve used it because of the nature and the theme of the song. The track is an ode to madness and the accordion gives a nugget of joy to it – which is not unfamiliar to us as humans. If we were from somewhere else, we might have used another instrument, so there’s definitely a connection to Slovenia. But this isn’t Romana Tomc. The song was created before her ode to accordion.

Srd – Zlohotne zvezde pleme

The album has a few Shining influences and overall goes into atmospheric black metal at times, is that something which we can expect more of in the future?

The album is closer to some other band than it is to Shining, but we’ve gotten used to frequent comparison due to our collaboration. What the future holds we cannot say, we’ll create based on our feelings.

What do you think of the black metal scene in general? Does the subgenre maybe need some fresh blood?

Subgenre and “scene” like any other. Some continue with the same philosophy as they had in the start, some have moved on, others are going back again. I don’t like to speak about genres because there’s no end to it. To get stuck in one genre either as a listener or an artist is nonsensical. Practices of teenagers or people in their mid-life crises. The genre will continue its path, it will evolve. We’ll see what comes of it. Probably plenty of good, probably plenty of shit. But of course, to each their own.

In which (sub)subgenre or style of black metal do you see the future of the genre?

I believe I’ve stated my opinion on genres in my previous answer.

Assuming it’ll be possible in autumn, are there any plans or desires for a second European tour? Which bands would you like to join that would fit with your sound well?

To plan anything at this point is futile. What awaits us as part of the global epidemic is unknown. Firstly, we wish to thoroughly present the album to the domestic audience. When that’ll be possible is unclear. Then we’ll start thinking about concerts abroad and tours. It’s likely this album will pass without any bigger opportunities for presentation, but that means there will be more time to create a new one. Who we’d join on a tour is hard to say. Of course, there are bands we’d like to perform with, but that’s not conditioned by genres. I don’t want to give away much at this point. If anything happens, let it be a surprise.

Thank you again for the answers and I hope to see you on stages again soon.

Thanks to you as well!

Many thanks to Srd for their time!

– Didrik Mešiček

Ognja prerok is available now on the band’s Bandcamp page. For more informtion on Srd, visit their official website.

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