Marras is a new Finnish project featuring members of Förgjord, Nekrokrist SS, Vargrav and Mimorium. Their debut album “Where Light Comes to Die“, had great reviews and showed us that Finnish knows how to blend Traditional with Melodic Black Metal in a perfect way. This Is Black Metal Webzine had an interesting talk with Valgrinder (Bass, Keyboards) about everything you want to know about this unique project and their debut album “Where Light Comes to Die“.
This Is Black Metal: Hello Valgrinder, thanks for providing us with the opportunity to learn more about the project of Marras and how it has come to be. So how did everything started?
Valgrinder: Couple years ago Obscurus introduced me some songs he has written. Unfortunately, his previous bands had faded away and he had no lineup to complete them. After hearing them knew that they were just too good to be forgotten, so we agreed that we will start a whole new band together. Been knowing him for some time ago and we’ve been playing previously in same bands, so we both knew what other was capable. I gathered a group of comrades that I knew would be perfect for this band. And after a while, we had gathered Marras.
TIBM: What’s the driving force behind your music and where do you seek inspiration?
Valgrinder: We want to create black art how it was done in the days when everything was fresh and the flame burnt bright. Those bands in the early nineties had a strong vision, but there wasn’t anyone they could follow, so they created their own path. If you listen to some early Satyricon, Immortal, Graveland, Burzum or Emperor, you can hear that they didn’t know how to technically capture that vision. So they created their own with those resources that were available at that moment. That “lo-fi sound” ain’t done in purpose, its best sound they could do with those equipments and without doing any compromises. When comparing to nowadays, everyone can do professional sounding things with VST-effects and modelling amps. Nowadays problem when recording is that sound is too polished and kids need to make it uglier in purpose. Back in the nineties it was another way around, recordings were amateurish and bands tried to make them sound best as they could.
And that is how we get to the purpose of Marras. We want to create music in the same way as bands before we did it. We don’t want to copy anything but more like to go back into the same basics as bands in the nineties. We record our stuff in rehearsal places or in someone’s garage. We don’t use studios and don’t want anyone “professional” to mix our music because we want more like “best that amateur mixer can do with strong vision” like a sound. Plain and simple, back to basics, back to the roots of Black Metal.
TIBM: How did you come up with the name ”Marras”? Whose idea was it?
Valgrinder: It was me who found the name “Marras”. It’s an old word of death or signs of death. There are old traditional stories of Finnish people who have seen people who have already died earlier. Like ghosts. But in those days they were called a marras and they predicted that someone is going to die. So maybe a sign of death is the best way to describe it. One has to remember that old Finnish words have plenty of different meanings so don’t get confused if you hear different versions. And by the way, that’s also one of the greatest advantages in the Finnish language; it’s not always what you say, but also how you say it.
TIBM: Tell us some things about your debut album “Where Light Comes to Die”.
Valgrinder: “Where light comes to die” is Traditional Black Metal. It might be “Melodic Black Metal” but still just Black Metal for us. It’s a record that I would personally listen more than once and enjoy it. It doesn’t try to be something more than it is. It sounds pure and not too polished. It has a goal and a meaning, and that’s much more than many other records have to offer nowadays. “Where light comes to die” is recorded and mixed by us and that’s why it came out as it should be, with its every errors and mistakes. One could even say that it’s perfect because of its imperfections!
TIBM: Having heard your debut album I would say that the thing I admire the most is that you managed to blend the second wave of Black Metal with DSBM elements while also creating an identity for yourselves. Do you think that maybe identity is something that is missing from the modern day Black Metal scene?
Valgrinder: Every one of us has his past from previous bands and history of listening to this kind stuff since forever. And it surely has left its mark to our creativity. So I don’t think we need to “try” to do anything specific because we all have our personal style. Even if we try “hey, let’s do this song that it sounds like Burzum or Emperor”, it still sounds like it’s done by its creator. Just listen to H, he has his own style to sing. I and Obscurus do very different kind melodies, even if we try to aim at some point.
I don’t know what is duller; copycats or those who try to invent something new. Of course, honest music has to sound like it’s done by his creator, but hate when people are trying to invent something new because usually, it means just more or less progressive riffs and weird rhythms. Have to say that mostly I despise when Black Metal is done by THE musicians, especially if they are not aware what Black Metal is all about.
So if you’re trying to make Black Metal, be sure it sounds like you. If you can’t play properly, let it sound that way and not try to be something you’re not. And if you’re not some weird-artsy fartsy-lunatic, then don’t force your music to sound anything like that. Music has to present its creator and his personalities. Then it’s honest and pure. But if its anything else, then it reeks pretending for distance. If you’re dull and simple, let it show.
TIBM: The use of keyboards and some interlude parts throughout were something like a trademark for your album adding a layer to the whole atmosphere. What’s the concept behind the use of these interludes?
Valgrinder: We wanted “Where light comes to die” sound as a whole album, not just a group of songs thrown in random order. Those interludes clue the album together and there is a concept for the whole album. Not just musically but if you are familiar with this thing called “Jonestown death tape”, those interludes are starting to make much more sense.
MARRAS – Where Light Comes to Die
TIBM: What served as your main inspiration for this album? It feels like a journey out of reality to a cold decaying world, do we see a shadow of yourselves also in there?
Valgrinder: Raven from Utgard has written most of our lyrics. He has really good vision and interesting way to express it. His style reminds me of Varg Vikernes style and I can stand behind his words totally.
Lyrics are about depression, a wish of dying and of course, death itself. We don’t want to sing about demons raping the angels, that’s just too easy and too fantasy for us. Nobody takes those kind lyrics seriously, they’re just not real and that’s, why they don’t possess the same feeling as Black Metal, should give to its listener. The message has to be real if you want that people would identify themselves to it. Lyrics have to touch something inside you and give you real feeling like fear, sadness, hate or even hope.
I have plenty of feelings inside me and creating Black Metal is my way to express them and let them free. Be it visually, musically or lyrically, it doesn’t matter cause everything is connected to everything. I don’t want those feelings to encapsulate inside me and poison my soul. I mean for example, hate is a really strong motivator and gives you inhumane powers but it will drain your energy in the long run.
For me creating Black Metal is like meditation, way to express something that I didn’t even know lived inside you. It’s like when you see mental patients doing paintings. They are just vomiting their emotions to the canvas and letting their demons fly free.
TIBM: What does Black Metal represent for you? What was your first interaction with the genre?
Valgrinder: I have lived with Black Metal way over half of my life so I can’t even think what I would be without it. Probably just an empty shell that reminds like a real human but is just grey mass, nothing. Black Metal and my band activities have been in my heart so long time that I can’t separate where my personality ends and where Black Metal starts. Everything is connected to everything.
But still, Black Metal ain’t “it”. It’s just perfect way to express something bigger, something truly meaningful. You can call me an elitist, but if there is anyone who is doing Black Metal “just for music”, he doesn’t have to wonder why I don’t want to relate to him and don’t see anything common between us. It’s BLACK Metal and not Black METAL.
Don’t remember how got involved in Black Metal. In my teen years, I worshipped bands like Kreator and Slayer, later in the early nineties came Death Metal and some years later Black Metal hit so strongly that I got rid of all my Death and Thrash Metal tapes and shirts. It was the time of puritanism for many of us. I lived and breathed Black Metal in those early years. Good times, the fire burned so brightly. We might be quite naïve back then but we had a mission! And that’s different between youngster and old fart like me.
TIBM: How would you describe the evolution of the scene throughout the years? Do you think the scene was better back in the day or that this whole diversity has been a good thing?
Valgrinder: Nowadays Black Metal (and Extreme Metal) is accepted in national television and there are bands that are like national export items. There are bands and artists that are interviewed in regular magazines and in commercials and stuff like that. So, of course, there is plenty of people involved who aren’t serious and don’t have any clue what Black Metal is. I call them tourists. Usually, they are young boys and girls who try to be rebellious and like to shock elder people. But really they are just trying to be cool and listening to Black Metal because it’s cool. But if things get serious, they are first to turn their backs.
Back in a day Black Metal was hated and despised. Being connected to it was a real risk because your relatives and friends would most likely condemn you. You’ll become an outlaw. So those who got involved in Black Metal were serious about it. For example, here Black Metal was truly hated among the society when “Satanist murder” happened in Hyvinkää ’97 or ’98.
Nowadays Black Metal is popular and everyone can compare past days to these days and think what saying “quality against quantity” means.
TIBM: Your riffs are certainly indicative of freezing cold Finland. How would you describe the notorious Finnish scene?
Valgrinder: Finland is a small country, we have something like six million people living in here. So, of course, our circles are small, everybody knows someone who knows someone. That’s why people do things together and are helping & supporting each other. If someone is trying to hassle things or starts talking shit behind other’s back, it’s just a matter of time when he has taken responsibility for his words.
We have good bands and Finnish Black Metal is quite respected, so even smaller bands are trying their best not to ruin Finland’s reputation.
TIBM: What are the future plans for this band? Are you working on new material or planning any future gigs?
Valgrinder: We are now preparing our new full length. Don’t know when it’s going to be out, but all the songs are now composed and we are slowly preparing to record them. But like with “Where light comes to die” we aren’t in a hurry. When we can do everything ourself, we don’t have any schedules and can take some time off if it needed. Because true art is something that doesn’t like to be forced. If you think that time ain’t right for doing something, then you shouldn’t do it.
TIBM: I leave up to you to say some last words for the end of this interview and I hope to hear again from you in the near future.
Valgrinder: Thanks for your support Dagon M.! And for all the readers, be true to yourself.
Marras – Where Light Comes to Die (Full Album)