Russia is truly a land of contrasts. A vast Nation that stretches over a large part of Eastern Europe as well as Northern Asia it is a place of indescribable beauty, dazzling architecture, varying local cultures and ancient traditions that date back to pre-Christian times. From the magnificence of St Petersburg to the shores of lake Baikal there is a lot to take in and explore. Russian cultural heritage, it’s classics, poets and artists have earned their rightful place as some of the greatest in world history. It is also a land very much afflicted by its tragic history. The Bolshevik Revolution and the resulting tyranny, mass genocide and war has ravaged the Nation and deeply scarred the Russian people. Perhaps this history of hardship and loss has at least to some degree inspired many bands in extreme metal to produce truly heart-wrenching and impactful projects. One such act is Rame. A two-man project that has recently released a new album – Chants to Maim Again. Today we interviewed Exile who started the project in 2017.
This Is Black Metal: Hello, thank you for sitting down with us today. Let’s get right into it.
Of all the sub-genres of metal why Black Metal?
Exile: My opinion is that we, men, never have the right of our own choice, when it comes to such things as the true work of life (for me its music and literature), women and gods or goddesses. In all the three issues, in my point of view, it’s we who are chosen, but it’s not we who are making our own choice. If your soul is really connected with such spheres as mission, love/sex/passion and participation in a certain egregore, it’s you who will be meticulously chosen, and if you are confident that you are the only one who has the right to choose in such issues, you are partially mistaken. Music chooses us, women choose men, gods choose humans. So, one day, in 2007, Black metal started staring at me and I was hypnotized, I stared back at him. We have much in common, probably: my whole life I tended towards the wisdom of vibrations from Below and its system of justice and power of will. Only Black metal can express what I’ve come through in my life at least up to a certain age, and all my passion I have and, I guess will have for quite a long time. And, my grandmother was a true witch not by chance – my life, since my early childhood is full of mysticism, of such serious events, which nowadays won’t find enough of material proofs in modern science (at least partially) to be explained away.
TIBM: What are your biggest musical influences?
Exile: Lately I have come to the decision that the Polish Black metal still number 1 for me on the Black metal scene (maybe because Poland and Russia, though so different, have something in common in their Slavonic roots). So, this is Mgła and Behemoth, of course, Crionics and Devilish Impressions, Vesania. Number 2 is Iceland: Misþyrming, Svartidaudi, Sinmara. Number 3 is Austria: Harakiri For The Sky, Karg, Belphegor (up to the album “Bondage Goat Zombie”). Finnish “Totalselfhatred” also influenced me a lot.
TIBM: What can you tell us about the Black Metal scene in your home country?
Exile: Well, to tell the truth, I don’t have deep knowledge of the history of Russian BM scene. I don`t know exactly who were the real pioneers here, but as far as I heard, one of them is Baal Zebuth and some side projects of Sadist, the mastermind. Such projects as SS-18, Lashblood, Deathmoore.
Culturally Russia always tends to lag behind, so lately I see that we have serious BM or BM-based bands that are already highly appreciated in the world: Ultar, Grima, Todestriebe, Second To Sun, Morokh. I would also mention the bands which are just gaining their popularity, and they deserve to be mentioned: Черноявь, Illt. I`m also a fan of our Psalm 666, which is not active many years, regretfully.
TIBM: Do you think that Russian history has influenced the Russian underground metal scene as a whole and your music in particular? If so, how exactly?
Exile: Of course the history forms a sort of collective unconscious, the mindset of a nation, types of world outlook, separating the society into different and mostly closed hypothetical social groups. Black metal is always a subculture of society’s outcasts – one way or another, but anyway a culture of separated individuals. Russia has always been a country, tending to different authoritarian or totalitarian regimes, which always tried to suppress natural personal enhancement. That is mostly the same reason, I think, why punk was born exactly in conservative England. But Russia is a much more complicated maybe firstly because of its too big territory. Nowadays Black metal expresses many things which were the torns of Russian collective subconscious, I think: Magic, as the endeavour of personality to grow spiritually either Below or Above, (as it is shown by Hermes Trismegist in the Caduceus), creating your own will; Heathen themes expressing the strife to find real roots of your blood; Strife for freedom as throughout the history we can witness suppression of personality from Russian Orthodox Church, monarchy and communist party and secret services also.
Rame – Nav’ The Everlasting (Black Metal)
TIBM: Could you tell us about the name of your project? What is the meaning of Rame? Why is it important to you and why did you choose to go with that name?
Exile: When I started Rame, I wanted to find the name, having several essential features:
Alas, there are few active and split up projects in rap, latina, rock and synth-pop, which are also called Rame)) But when I was searching for the name, I didn’t even think about digging into the lists of the projects of those styles, at least the abyss between Black metal and rap, latina etc is too big.
TIBM: One of your EP’s or singles is called Nav’ The Everlasting. The term Nav has to do with souls of the dead in Slavic mythology. It would be akin to Hades in Greek mythology. In light of using that name could you talk a little bit about your view of religion and spirituality? How has it influenced your music?
Exile: As it must be understood from my previous answers, spirituality means a lot to me. And that’s also why I’m playing Black Metal because I think that in extreme music only Black metal must have a strong spiritual core. As for the certain esoteric discipline, I tend to those, which have an encompassing view on all the religions, defining the common archetypes of gods, finding the original clues, and, thus, uniting the symbolism, like it does Thelema, and also it speaks a lot about the individuality and choice, and free will, though, still, every human has a lot of “destined” ways, but there anyway myriads of variations of where and how to go. Thelema unites many traditions in one, giving the clues and explains many things, despite the vibe of Aleister Crowley`s bummer and apophenia, and he was a genius and still is. Thelema is Qabbalah, Alchemy, Astrology and review of many religious traditions, though I`m not a thelemit. Exploring Thelema also influenced my music. And also Asatru has a special place in my heart, due to several troubled periods in my life I’ve taken some knowledge of Scandinavian tradition and realized how close it is to me to such extent that, maybe one day I will devote my life to its priesthood. And the main spiritual influence for me is my kin daemon, it was gifted to me through my grandmother.
Rame – Motherwhore (Black Metal)
TIBM: How about another hot-button topic. Can I ask you about politics in Black Metal. There are many who say that politics do not belong in metal. Others disagree. There are bands playing heavily political music ranging from NSBM to RSBM. What is your view on this subject? Do politics have a place in Black Metal?
Exile: There are two ways the politics can be in metal and in art in common, I think.
The first way of the bands of the most socially progressive countries of mature economies, where the freedom of speech (but, sometimes, except the certain topics) is a basic right of every human. And, thus, every musician feels free to think for himself whether he wants to make songs on this or that topic or not. So, this is the way politics enters the field of art.
The second way is how it is in authoritarian, totalitarian or theocratic countries – you have no right to speak your opinion either you’ll be imprisoned or killed and if you once dared to speak something loudly enough – politics often enters your home and life. The economies of such countries are often weak and one-day politics also enter homes of every simple citizen in their refrigerators, in their monthly bills and in their salaries of course. The consequences always differ in matter and time. That’s how I think politics have a place in art, Black metal is not an exception.
TIBM: As far as I understand it you are a two-man project and you keep your identities secret. Why did you choose to go that route? Why is it important to remain behind a mask? What does that signify?
Exile: There is a considerable range of reasons, to tell the truth))
TIBM: It seems to me that there quite a few new atmospheric Black Metal projects coming out of Eastern Europe in general and Russia in particular. Many of them sound like they are heavily influenced by Drudkh. Your music is quite different and comes across as somewhat experimental. The new album, for example, has aspects of atmospheric and even Melodic Black Metal as well as some riffs which would feel organic on a Black Death record as well. Could you talk a little about your sound and how you came up with it?
Exile: Perhaps, the number one reason is that I never listened Drudkh except one their song… But, as I already mentioned, Rame was created only by means of my ideas musically. And, as there was a freedom to create, it summarizes every kind of music I’m fond of. There you can hear the vibes of Behemoth and along with Misþyrming and American Death Metal vibe. You can hear the vibes of Alcest along with Dissection and even some chord moves akin to the Russian 80`s post-punk band Kino.
TIBM: While we are on the subjects of your newest release. This is your first full length. How do you feel it has been received? Are you satisfied with the work as a whole?
Exile: I see the feedback on the album: many comments on the posts with the release excerpts in my Instagram, my Instagram Direct is overwhelmed. Some web portals (One of the biggest is No Clean Singing), forums and VK and Instagram communities in the Western and Russian internet posted and reviewed “Chants To Maim Again” even without me asking to do this. So, I see feedback and its majority is positive.
TIBM: The cover art on the album is rather striking. Could you explain the significance to us and our readers?
Exile: The fact is the cover art concept appeared in my mind spontaneously. Further, I unravelled it and saw that the meaning of blood in the cover concept is suffering and is sometimes considered as the physical essence of the soul. The wheat is the bread, which is the essence of soil. Furthermore, I noticed the congruity in the card “The Hermit” from Aleister Crowley`s Tarot: the hand, the wheat, red colour are basic symbols there and as you know, my nickname is Exile. Also recently one of our Brazilian fans, Leticia Dumont (aka Maria Mausoleu), saw the congruity with the Bible story of Cain – he was the first who spilt the blood of a human, and he was a grain-grower.
TIBM: The record is very tight musically. Relentless and precise drum attack, eerie guitar melodies with a tremendous and original lead and barking vocals create quite an atmosphere. Could you talk a little about what went into making the album musically?
Exile: If you speaking about the instruments and tools, there are guitar, bass, synths from a computer program, programmed drums (as I had no live drummer), different styles of my vocals and a great deal of studio work of our sound engineer from Ukraine, Anton Vorozhtsov, (TA Production studio). Also was added live pan flute in the last track “Under the ill-fated star”, the pan flute part was composed and recorded by Ukrainian musician Roman Borisenko.
Rame – The Ritual of Soul Burning (Black Metal)
TIBM: Since the band consists of two members at the moment could you tell us about the creative process? Who creates the music and writes the lyrics?
Exile: I’m the author of guitars, bass, vocals and lyrics. Demonoir is the author of drums, synths, also he was making the design of artwork booklet and visualization of our album stream, uploaded in our official YouTube channel. He also took part in the process of sound-producing.
TIBM: Working off that question, what comes first, the music or the lyrics?
Exile: It happens both ways. More often its music, which comes first.
TIBM: Speaking of the lyrics you cover some very interesting themes. Right from the start with the engrossing lyrics of Motherwhore which seems to cover the dualism of humanity, to the occult-themed The Ritual of Soul Burning, to religious subjects brought up in Until The Light Do Us Part, to exploration of human relationships in Nausea of Love the album has a sweeping scope in terms of your poetry. Would you care to say a few words about your lyrics? Are you inspired by any of the Russian classics?
Exile: Lyrics are very important for me, as well as music. And, being a philologist, I wouldn’t call my texts as “poetry”, because rhyme is missing there, but as for poetic tropes, its poetry in fact. My favorite poet is Mikhail Lermontov, but as for Rame lyrics, I wouldn’t say that his poetry inspired me.
TIBM: Let’s talk a little bit about the future of your project. Do you see yourself as a touring band in the future? Are you interested in playing concerts? If yes, what are some places that you would most like to “conquer” and play in?
Exile: Yes, I see Rame as a touring band, and already try to form a concert lineup. I want Rame to become fully involved in worldwide touring, though I`m conscious of how expensive and problematic it is, how much it depends on the gaining of popularity, but, anyway, I hope one day Rame will be a touring band. First of all, I would like to play in Europe and the USA.
Rame – Other Side (Official Lyric Video)
TIBM: Why those places in particular?
Exile: Because this is the land, where the extreme music took origin.
TIBM: Are you working on any new music? Are your future releases going to follow the same formula as the last release or will you be breaking new ground?
Exile: Yes, the guitars for the second album are already composed. The release will go mostly the same formula as “Chants To Maim Again”.
TIBM: Where do you see the band in 10 years? What is your ultimate goal musically?
Exile: Well, I`m trying to break myself from the habit of looking too much ahead
TIBM: Any parting wisdom for our readers?
Exile: Stay thoughtful, think for yourselves, strive for freedom.
TIBM: Thank you so much for sitting down with us.
Rame – Chants To Maim Again (Full Album)