Logo Eastern Front

Some Lessons in the History of War

EASTERN FRONT are one of the bands breathing new life into UK's Black Metal. And one doesn't have to wait long for those who jump to a conclusion considering the band name, track titles and pseudonyms like Krieg and Holocaust. Here's a different story...

"We were aware that due to our subject matter some people might point their fingers and label us 'Nazis' or 'Communists' before even researching further into the band," guitarists Holocaust and Krieg admit in view of the fact that especially in Germany some people are literally keen on misunderstanding such issues all too often. "This is why we have clear disclaimers on our websites and statements regarding what we are about, clearly stating that we are a non-political band. We write about the Soviet and German campaign of the Eastern Front so we wanted names that were more befitting members of a Black Metal band dealing with this subject matter. 'Holocaust' is an extremely dangerous name to use, as the first thought that anyone has on hearing the name now conjures up thoughts of concentration camps and genocide. People only seem to recall this meaning of the word, however the word also means 'complete devastation/destruction' which is one of the things we want to capture in the sound of our music due to the devastation that was caused on The Eastern Front." And Holocaust adds that "the Holocaust is also one of the most shocking events in history that we feel shouldn't be forgotten so by using 'Holocaust' as my pseudonym we hope to remind people of this tragic event so that the victims can be remembered."

"We all have band names that are synonymous with the most brutal campaign of WWII - The Eastern Front. We are not trying to be disrespectful or show allegiance to either side, we are trying to be philosophical and give a sense of history via the medium of Black Metal music. Our vocalist 'Nagant' is named after the famous Russian rifle, 'Mosin Nagant', so this should also show we are not showing an alliance to either side." And same goes for the tank on the cover artwork which seems to be a bit reminiscent of Marduk's "Panzer Division Marduk" album as Krieg explains. "As a band we decided we wanted an image that was less brutal than just showing dead bodies or a tank driving straight at the picture, as we knew this had been done before. We wanted an image that reflected an anticipation of what was about to happen. Having a German tank on the album cover would have been too similar to this Marduk album but more than that we wanted to ensure that people could immediately see that it is a Soviet tank and so may spurn any allegiances of NSBM followers." Furthermore all members of EASTERN FRONT enjoy travelling to other countries and meeting people of different cultures. "Therefore we don't have the narrow-minded attitudes of typical NSBM followers. We also live in the UK which is known for its multiculturalism so to have racist opinions when we have grown up around many different cultures all of our lives and have friends/partners of different races, would be totally absurd." A precise statement that doesn't leave room for interpretation.

EASTERN FRONT's concept bears some resemblance to the conception of Dutch death squadron Hail Of Bullets but Krieg cleary sees some differences as well.
"EASTERN FRONT had already formed and released our "Promo 2007" CD before Hail Of Bullets had formed/released any CDs, so we were not aware of their existence until a few months later. We feel it is good they share the same passion as us. Actually, one of their songs ´Nachthexen´ is about a subject matter I had also been reading about and wanted to do a song about but that's on hold for now. The difference between EASTERN FRONT and Hail Of Bullets is that we are mainly focused around the campaigns on the Eastern Front in WWII, it appears to me that Hail Of Bullets' focuses are not set on one specific part of WWII, as their new album, from what I understand, is about the Japanese empire."

In general, WWII holds an inexhaustable pool of subject matters for the historically as well as politically interested individual. So what is it that EASTERN FRONT find so interesting regarding WWII, both generally and personally speaking? For Krieg it's "beyond comprehension today to imagine the millions of people that fought on the Eastern Front, recognising it's only part of the overall picture of WWII. It's mind blowing. If I was born in Germany or Russia at a different time I would have no broader picture to believe in anything different other than what my country was telling me. Propaganda can easily be a dangerous thing, there are so many different books and memoirs one can read and the more one reads the more interested and curious one becomes. It's interesting to find that Romania fought most of the War alongside German soldiers and then changed sides near the end of the war. Currently everyone is very aware of the war in Iraq and the fighting between Shia and Sunni Muslims, yet most people are unaware that they fought together on the Eastern Front. Many of them had been taken from Russian prisoner of war camps and were then conscripted to fight for the German army. The emotional side and the personal feeling felt in these times, the strategy of different armies, the developments of the equipment and the suffering of millions all have their own stories to tell..."

Eastern Front
picture provided by Eastern Front

Musically EASTERN FRONT roam freely in the realms of Black Metal but stay open-minded towards other genres as Holocaust explicates. "We are primarily a Black Metal band but like to experiment with different genres in oder to create different atmospheres in our songs. The best way to describe our sound is Brutal and Atmospheric Black Metal with elements of Old School Death Metal, Doom and Folk. We feel it's very important not to set limits on our music. This often means our music will naturally flow into different musical genres but the basis being a sound of traditional Black Metal." As not only the brutal and violent side of the Eastern Front is explored but also the tragic and emotional one, EASTERN FRONT's music is eerily spiced up with a lot of melodical, atmospherical and acoustical elements. A natural development it seems, reading Holocaust's explanation. "We like to write songs that evoke the experiences of battle and capture the sound of being on the front line of war, these songs will be faster paced and brutal. However, we also write songs that are from a more personal and emotional point of view that capture the emotions of the soldiers and families during these times of war. This will include a range of feelings from hope, pride, comradeship, and victory to misery, solitude and sorrow. By using acoustic guitars, violins, e-bows, piccolo snares, samples of war and by not limiting ourselves into what genres of music we include in our songs gives us a wider range of dynamics to create these feelings and also helps to create an atmosphere of the time and place we are writing about.

Regarding the production just choke on your trueness, folks, if you prefer it all too raw and thin as EASTERN FRONT definitely prefer a powerful and dynamic sound as Holocaust confirms. "We felt it was very important for us to have a strong production on the album in order to capture the different dynamics used in our songs and to help bring out the Death, Doom and Folk elements of our music. We worked very closely with Anders Backelin (Lord Belial) who co-produced the album with us at Sonic Train Studios in order to get the sound we want. We worked very well together and are all extremely proud of the final sound we have created." Two guests at the studio were Anathema's Les Smith and DFA's Brian Moss, contributing to the track ´Dvenadtzat Kilometrov ot Moskvy´. "Les Smith was a member of Cradle Of Filth and he used to live in the same town as Cradle Of Filth and us, called Ipswich. Therefore he is an old friend of ours," explains Krieg. "I discussed with them about the band and if they would be keen to do a contribution to the album. We didn't want to have a regular keyboard player in the band so we felt it was a good opportunity to introduce additional atmospheres on this one track. Both of them took great interest into EASTERN FRONT so therefore wanted to be involved with the album." This being a very satisfying cooperation for everyone involved he adds that "they're very impressed with the final results so have also agreed to do more tracks with us. This is something we all look forward to and will hopefully be a continued feature on our albums."

Being already quite well known in the UK, EASTERN FRONT have also been invited to play in East-Central European countries several times but the rest of Europe - apart from one show in Greece - is still waiting for some live performances... "We would love to take EASTERN FRONT to as many countries as we can!", Krieg and Holocaust state. "In our two years of being a live band we have already played shows in Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia and Serbia, which was on "The Black Curse Over Europe Tour 2008" with Lord Belial and Graveworm. We were then invited to Romania last year to headline a festival in Bucharest and most recently played in Crete, Greece supporting W.A.S.P. and Orange Goblin at Chania Rock Festival 2010. We will be returning to Romania in November to play shows in Bucharest and Cluj-Napoca and from there will look to play more shows around Europe. We are very keen to find a good booking agent to book us in countries we haven't performed at and are already in talks with some promoters about playing Germany next year."

It's hardly possible, or let's say one can't resist to ask about UK Black Metal when doing an interview with an English band. Lately, there'd been quite some stir in this scene, bringing names like Winterfylleth, Wodensthrone or EASTERN FRONT beyond the country's borders. Holocaust thinks "UK Black Metal has been progressing slowly over the years and there are some great bands here in the UK. The scene here is still very small compared to other countries in Europe as a lot of bands here don't perform live, or if they do it's only a few times a year in the UK. We are one of the very few UK Black Metal bands that have pushed to take our music overseas and represent UK Black Metal in other countries and will continue to do so in hope to encourage others bands to do the same. The UK Black Metal scene as a whole is a very strange one, as many fans of Black Metal here in the UK don't support home-grown bands like other countries do and instead slate any band that dares to raise their head above the trenches and puts the effort into performing at bigger shows and festivals. Hopefully in time all this will change, as there are many great bands here in the UK the rest of the world should be exposed to. Candlelight Records have recently done well in supporting this scene and it's great that they are pushing UK bands like us."

A band which seems to support this reputation of being strange a bit (just check out some of their cover versions of songs like ´What A Wonderful World´) and who are also label mates on Candlelight Records, are The Meads Of Asphodel, the initators of a Black Metal Xmas song for Terrorizer Magazine. "They have created this track titled "Song of a Hundred Roars" to help unite the UK Black Metal scene. Thez are well known for doing some crazy cover songs and this was another idea of theirs," recounts Holocaust. "They wrote the music (which is mainly based around Christmas carols) and anti-Christmas lyrics. We contributed some screams/roars to the song along side 28 other UK metal bands, some people who work for Terrorizer Magazine also contributed to the track. The outcome is very interesting and quite impressive, certainly something that had never been done before. If you get a chance to listen to the track (there is a video of it on youtube with a list of all the bands that contributed to the track) then do so but keep in mind it's merely a piss take of the Christian Christmas." Now, seriously, who in Germany is able to name 28 UK Black Metal bands without looking at that list, eh???

The final words belong to EASTERN FRONT, of course... "Thank you for the interview and supporting EASTERN FRONT! We appreciate for some people our name/s and subject matter may make them feel uncomfortable, we advise these people to read our lyrics and look further into what we are about and hope to achieve. If we invoke some level of discussion, contemplation or further reading into the history of war we feel we would have gone some small way to help remind people of the losses and suffering their forefathers had to deal with in recent history."

For further information check out EASTERN FRONT's myspace.

Interview done by A. Schulz. September 2010.
Editing for starspawn.de by Endrew.

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