All pictures belong to DAVE REFFETT.
This is the english version of the Anguish Sublime interview published on the latest HeavyRiff issue. You can check it out online for free.
Who answers these questions?
Aleksandar: ¡Hola amigos! My name is Aleksandar, I am one of the founders of Anguish Sublime, a guitar player, songwriter and a producer of Anguish Sublime’s releases. Besides that, I am responsible for all non-music related things, such as band website, online presence, social networks, etc.
Tell me about the band history. When was started and how were the early years like?
Aleksandar: The band was founded in October 1998 by me (Aleksandar Crnobrnja) and Arpad Takacs (responsible for vocals and lyrics) in the small town called Temerin, in the northern region of Serbia.
It took us a long time, 5 whole years, to find the right people to actually form a working band and to start rehearsing. During these 5 years, Arpad and I were active in making songs, so by the time we gathered the full band, we already had a good number of songs to start with.
So in 2003 the first full line-up was assembled and we started practicing. In May 2004 we had a first gig that was also a promotional gig for our demo album titled “Among the Raven Skies”. It took place in an underground club named “NS Riders”, in the city of Novi Sad, in front of approximately 180 people – it was a great experience!
We played on many gigs and festivals during the period from 2004 to 2007. In 2008, several members left, and we tried to regroup, but with not much success. In 2009, Andras Ispan joined the band as a bass guitar player. Till 2011, we struggled to find the remaining members, but with no success, so we decided to go back to the state of the project.
In 2013, the decision was made to push harder and try to at least do some serious studio work, and to try to release the material that was created throughout the years. And so we did and we still do. ;)
About the name. What do you mean with "Anguish Sublime"?
Aleksandar: When the band/project was started, Arpad and I intended for it to be a doom metal project. Most of the tunes and themes, which were created back then, had a sorrowful and sad atmosphere, but it still carried some sublime, exalted feeling – well at least it did to us J - and because of that Arpad proposed the name "Anguish Sublime" – I thought that the name suited well on the music, it sounded a bit uncommon and original to me, so we agreed that “Anguish Sublime” should be the name of our project. Soon after, Arpad created 2 logo versions for the band, and we decided to use the one we do now.
As I became more experienced in guitar playing, I started to introduce faster and more complex elements to the songs I was writing, and it all led us to the musical form Anguish Sublime has today, that is not doom metal, but a mixture of diverse styles. Although the latest EP is more a melodic death metal than anything else, if you take a listen to the demo album, you’ll see that AS music has many slow or more epic-type themes, keyboards and orchestral elements, clean and acoustic parts, with diverse vocals, which all, kind of, kicks us out of melodic death genre. So, when asked what style we play, we like classifying it as atmospheric death metal, or simply – metal.
Your last work was released ten years ago. What happened on that decade? Why ten years of silence?
Aleksandar: As I said in the second answer, we’ve been through many band lineup changes, then there was the period when we tried to play as much as we could, efforts to make the band whole again, etc. These are some of the reasons that slowed down the studio work, but I would say that the biggest one was our personal and professional life. In the country we’re living in, it is very hard to live out of music, especially underground music, like we are playing.
But, as I mentioned, at the certain point we decided to put more work into the Anguish Sublime, and become more active, at least by releasing more often.
The only thing that was not suffering that much from the above mentioned is the creative work. During all these years, we’ve been writing and creating AS music, so today we have more than 40 tunes that wait to be released.
Can we expect more activity after the release of this EP?
Aleksandar: You surely can! We are currently working on our next EP release. It will be a 4 track release, with one song that was composed before Anguish Sublime was actually founded – back in 1997, and another that Arpad and I actually created for a side project we were involved in, but due to the short life of it, we decide to include that song into the AS repertoire.
Our expectations are to finish the work on it in the first half of this year. After that we will be focusing on a full length album, and we hope to get it done by the end of this year, or in the beginning of 2016. So you will be hearing from us much more often than usual! ;)
Who participate on this EP? This is not the same line up that recorded the first demo, is it?
Aleksandar: No it is not, not entirely. For both the demo album and the EP, most of the work was done by me and Arpad. On “Among the Raven Skies” demo album, one guitar solo and part of the drum arrangement were done by members of the first crew, and on the “Unveiling the Origin” EP, besides Arpad and me, Andras was responsible for playing and adapting bass guitar parts.
I can see on the lyrics that every song has a year. I guess that is from when it was created. Why did you choose those five songs?
Aleksandar: Yes, you are right. On both “Among the Raven Skies” and “Unveiling the Origin” we put the date of the song creation, and I think we will continue to do so. This is mostly because our songs were created in the pretty long date range. I mean, we exist for 17 years already, and I mentioned that there’s a song that was even from 1997 that we plan to release soon.
So, our releases are often mixture of new, old and even older material, and it will take some time and several releases to change that, and for us to actually come to the point where all old songs are “out”.
But to be honest, I actually love the fact that we’re able to do that, that we’re mixing old and new material, because, by doing that, we’re trying to actually make a unique feel and atmosphere of the release. It is also allowing us to choose which song will match which album or EP, and that makes it much more interesting and challenging.
Regarding the songs on the EP, the first and the last songs were kind of created around the other 3, and they serve as intro and outro of the release. The remaining 3 songs, as you can see were created back in 1999 and 2004, but what was more important to us is the fact that we played them live, along with demo album songs. Because of that, we decided to make a release that will be based on these three songs, in the attempt to kind of close one chapter of Anguish Sublime’s voyage.
Are there more songs than the five we can hear on the EP?
Aleksandar: Yes, there is the first demo album fully available on many sources – you can find it on our official website (http://www.anguishsublime.com), facebook page, reverbnation, soundcloud, myspace and who knows where else. To ease you the access to some of these pages, just visit the “Links” page on the official site.
Also, there is another single that we self-released in 2014 – “Under the Runes” - it’s a tribute cover song to Quorthon, Bathory. You can find it on youtube and also on our website or facebook, soundcloud, myspace, etc. So far we have released 13 tracks so far, 7 on the demo album, 5 on the EP and that one single.
Nowadays you haven't signed with a label, right? Are you looking for a contract or you'll keep as an independent band?
Aleksandar: Yeah, you’re right – we haven’t signed any contract yet. I think that soon we’ll try to do something about that. The main reason for that is that it’s very hard to reach a large number of people without all of the connections and tools a good publisher has.
Honestly, we didn’t start all of this because of profit, and it remained like that all this time. Our main intention is to bring our music to a large audience. Don’t get me wrong, we would love to be able to make a living out of this, but with the music industry of today, the country we’re living in, and many other factors, I doubt that that’s even possible.
Some may say “you’re not playing live, not promoting your material” – but we were playing, and back then there wasn’t much difference, so I began to think that it might not change things for the better if we do K. On the other hand, that doesn’t mean that we will remain to be a studio project and never step on the stage again ;).
How is the Serbian scene like? We barely hear news from that part of the world (musically speaking). It’s awesome hear something from that place!
Aleksandar: There’s a lot going on over here. We have few great festivals, like EXIT Fest – the biggest in Eastern Europe and one of the 10 best major festivals in Europe, then “Gitarijada”– biggest rock (metal, punk, hc, …) competition festival in the Balkans, “Guča“ - biggest trumpet festival in Europe, and many more. It’s a nice place to visit, not expensive, with good food and drinks, and nice people. So don’t hesitate, come visit us! ;) This year EXIT Fest has a killer “Explosive stage” line-up too, you may love it.
Regarding the underground scene - I would love to see it to be more organized and united. There are many good bands, and gigs are becoming more frequent. I really hope that things will change for the better in the years to come, and that we will manage to survive this flood of mainstream crap we’re diving and swimming in. If you like, check out the Serbian Metal portal (http://www.serbian-metal.org/), you can find many news about the region.
How would you invite the people to listen your music?
Aleksandar: Hah! Well, I would say that if you like melodic and atmospheric metal music, with both brutal vocals and clean singing, with diverse tempo, shredding riffs and sublime melodies, and deep lyrics, come, take a listen! You won’t regret it! \m/
Is there anything you'd like to add to all the readers?
Aleksandar: I would like to send a big CHEERS to all of you on the other side of the world! Stay true, stay metal! Greetings from Anguish Sublime! \m/
And also would like to thank you, the “Heavy Riff” crew for supporting us, and for supporting the underground! We raise our glasses in your honor! Cheers!
This the english version of the VÄNLADE interview published in HeavyRiff No.29. You can check it out online totally free at this location: HeavyRiff No.29
For what purpose did you start a band back in 2006? (It was 2006, right?)
The band in its earliest form started in 2006. I wasn't in the band for several years, but I have always been around the guys and am familiar with the history. It was a high school project started by Nick on bass and Zach on guitar, along with our friend Tim Benzing on guitar and then later on drums. It was mostly an outlet to jam and it progressively became more serious. I think the driving concept has remained the same throughout, and that is to make high quality, melodic, and intense heavy metal. That idea seems to be a rare one these days, and was especially so back then.
Almost ten years of history! How do you feel about that? It seems that your journey almost begins.
It's definitely strange to see that it has been that long! I joined the band at 18 in 2009 and we were all pretty fresh when we started taking our music to venues in and out of our hometown. We've done a lot of growing together and I think it can be heard in the music. We have been able to hone our craft all these years together as a unit and that chemistry is vital. It doesn't feel like it's been that long because time really does fly when you're having fun and working hard towards a goal!
Who came up with the name of the band? Does it have any special meaning?
There is a funny story to that. Long ago the band was called “Vampyre” (silly, I know), and Zach had drawn out this detailed, ornate “V” logo for the band. This meant that when it was time to change to a better name, the decision was to choose one that also began with “V.” A list of ideas was drawn up and the one that was chosen was “Vanlade,” who was a figure in Norse mythology. The name was chosen more for it's originality and sound than for the character itself! We added the umlaut and threw some wings on the logo and the rest is history!
Did you want to play Heavy Metal since the beginning or it just happened?
Absolutely! The only metal you will hear where we are from is either angst-filled hardcore music or monotonous death metal. It came naturally to us. We were all fans of the older, more melodic, empowering, and energizing music, and it only made sense to emulate that style. We don't know anything different! Through our growth as musicians we have been able to take control of these influences and turn it into something new and unique.
Why do you think that 30 years later we can still listen to bands like yours? With a great heavy metal feeling.
It may not be on a grand scale like it was in the 80's, but there is always somebody there who is looking for the style. We have crossed paths with so many great, like-minded bands that we never would have heard if not for playing with them. It's definitely underground, but it can never die.
Let me be honest. It surprises me that you are from the States. When it comes to Heavy Metal we usually take a look at Sweden (Enforcer, Air Raid) or Canada (Skull Fist, Striker). Big heavy metal capitals nowadays. It doesn't happens with the United States. Do you agree? Do you think this has changed?
I can tell you that it is not popular, but it is definitely here. Spread out all throughout the States you can find little pockets of great music. You just have to look hard! It's a little bit disappointing to see how little interest there is for this kind of music here, but the value in finding a band in the middle of nowhere USA is that much more rewarding and exciting.
How is the Kansas scene like? Are there more bands like you?
Not really! In the Kansas City area there are only a few bands that have steered themselves away from the modern-metal tendencies. Alsatia is one I could name. They are comprised of good friends and a couple ex-bandmates of ours, and they play a great, very melodic orchestral power metal style. Ancient Creation is one that we really looked up to when starting out. They play a darker, super shreddy type of power metal and we are lucky enough to have become good friends with them in our time here. Other than that, there are several great thrash metal bands, and the rest is death metal in various forms.
Why are you sharing this album online?
We just wanted to get the album to people! We know that if somebody really wants to support us, they will buy a copy from us. At this point, it's about getting our music to as many people as possible.
Did you have any plans to do something with that album?
As far as “Iron Age” goes, we will probably repress it when we run out of copies, but it has run its course. It's always a proud part of our history and we will always have copies available!
Do you already have any release date for the next album?
Not at the moment, but we are 99% of the way to completion. Our last mixing session is coming up and then we will send it off for mastering. The biggest hurdle is funding and distribution. We are planning on an independent release stateside and then looking into options for distributions in other regions. Once we iron out a few more details we will have a solid date to announce.
How about was the experience writing and recording RAGE OF THE GODS?
It's been a long, fun journey! After wrapping up “Iron Age,” we dove right back into the writing process. The songs were based on a joint concept and this helped in the process. I think that our growth as musicians and songwriters is very evident in this album. We have also gone up and above in the production. Everything has been done carefully and as professionally as possible within our own means. Of course, this is all out of our own pockets, so it's taken a lot of time and energy, but it's been an incredibly rewarding process! I think you guys will really dig the music.
I read that your drummer left the band the last year. Does this affect the release of the album?
He left on good terms and has still been involved with the recording and production for “Rage of the Gods.” CC has left very big shoes to fill, but we were able to find a permanent replacement in our longtime session drummer, Nolan Weber. We are aiming for a seamless transition into the next phase of Vänlade.
Will this next album be a conceptual album? The cover suggests so.
Good eye. It is! I can't give away too many details, but I can say that each song is connected by an overarching fantasy-style story. Each song explores a different theme while still continuing the story. It uses metaphors to touch on different social themes regarding politics, religion, and so forth.
What are your plans for this 2015?
We are planning to release this album along with a brand new line of merchandise. After that we are looking towards a brief US tour in the summer to support it! We have also come up with several ideas for our third album and have already starting the writing process!
How would you invite all the readers to listen your music? What are they going to find?
If you are looking for speedy, melodic, catchy, and epic heavy metal, look no further! We have studied all the tricks of the great metal bands of the 70s and 80s and have rolled them into our own unique sound. In Vänlade, you'll find the banshee vocals, dual guitar shred, driving double bass, and huge choruses that the rest of the USA seems to have forgotten about.
Where can they find some of your stuff?
Our main hub is our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/vanlade. This is where you can stay up to date on our activity and contact the band, as well as find links to our merch store www.vanlade.bigcartel.com (more merch to come) and Reverbnation page www.reverbnation.com/vanladeofficial, where you can find a free download our debut album, “Iron Age.”
Do you have any final comment for all the readers?
Give us a “like” on Facebook and we will keep you up to date on all things Vänlade! “Rage of the Gods” is coming soon! Stay heavy – or die!!!!! Thanks for having us, and thank you all for reading!
Noticias que por cuestiones de tiempo no pueden entrar en la revista pero que deben darse a conocer.