Alexander Afonchenko - Asguard

June 10, 2005

First of all tell me about where you hail from and tell me what got you started in music?

We are all natives of the former Soviet Union, so to speak. The same Soviet Union that has been destroyed by democracy back in 1991. After the changes, we reside in the state of Belarus with a population of around 10 million citizens. That count is small due to the poisoning of our people by radiation, chemistry and social cleansing. We started the band in 1996 under the name Ancient Castle, but soon changed the name to Asguard. You can read more about our start at either our label's website (www.devildollrecords.com) or our website (http://asguard.metal4.com/).

Who were some of your musical influences?

Presently, that is hard to say. It's hard to get a lot of new music here in Belarus. However, the influences that got us started playing extreme music are old school heavy metal, melodic death metal, and other forms of music. At this stage, our development as a band and the band's direction would certainly be black-death metal.

Tell me a bit about Asguard.

Again, the best bet is to read our biography on either or both of the websites, but in a nutshell, we are an extreme band from Mogilev, Belarus. We have the largest fan base by far in both Belarus and Russia because we are playing gigs all of the time. We want to bring our art to more countries throughout Europe and the U.S. as soon as we can. We have a handful of recordings, all of which have been or are in the process of being released through our label This Dark Reign/Devil Doll. We have shared the stage with many bands like Sanatorium, Mayhem, Darkthrone, Emperor, Neglected Fields, Vader, Marduk, Behemoth, Nomad, Hate, Dementor, and so many others. We recently recorded with the Belarus National Philharmonic in an attempt to eliminate as many unnatural sounds as we could when recording and we simply want to write, record, and perform our music to as many metal fans out there as possible. We're the real deal.

Tell me a bit about your new CD Wikka.

Well, Wikka is actually a compilation of sorts. After we recorded and released Black Fire Land, our label asked if we would be interested in re-releasing Wikka worldwide. At the time, it was only available on limited edition cassette. Tape trading is still alive and well in Eastern Europe. Anyway, it was released by a local label with the original title of Summis Desiderantes Effectibus in 1999, but was obviously limited in its distribution. Not long after that, More Hate picked it up and spread it around the C.I.S. countries, but again in limited release. Originally it was simply a six track release. This Dark Reign picked it up and has made it available worldwide and we added a handful of tracks to bulk it up and make it a more official release. It certainly is early material that doesn't show us at our current state, but as they say, our past makes us what we are today. Black Fire Land and our soon-to-be released Dreamslave are a better representation of what we sound like today, both musically and in production. Everyone should pick these records up right now.

So, this obviously isn't your first release. Can you tell me the titles of your other releases?

Sure, here is our complete discography:
In the Darkness of Night was our first commercial release and was released in 1998 by Fatal Ecstasy Productions on MC format. The material and sound is raw and dark. Definitely would appeal to a lot of black metal fans out there if you can still find it.
Summis Desiderantes Effectibus was a promo cassette released by us in 2000, but would later be picked up by Bloodhead and then later by More Hate and This Dark Reign/Devil Doll to be renamed Wikka. Again, it is raw with poor production value, but it still shows our growth as a band and the sound we would eventually achieve on our later releases.
Black Fire Land which is our first universal release on This Dark Reign/Devil Doll in 2003 and is a killer record of black-death metal. The production is good, the material is superior, and really shows our maturity as a band.
Finally, there's Dreamslave. This record will be out some time in September on This Dark Reign/Devil Doll and is nothing short of monster sounding, epic extreme metal art. We recorded a lot of it with the Belarus National Philharmonic and there is a running theme throughout the album. I can't wait for everyone to hear it.

Tell me a bit about Dreamslave and will this be released worldwide?

I guess there's a slight outline of it above, but this is by far the best work we have done as Asguard. We worked hard on this album and it took us four months in the studio to get it just right. We used the symphony and created an incredible conceptual album of multi-genre extreme music. You will just have to wait to hear it. I promise you it will be one of your favorite records of all time.

Tell me a bit about the tours you're going to be doing this summer and what your plans are for the fall?

We are currently gearing up for the summer festivals, all of which we'll be performing at as co-headliners. After that, the new album will be out and we'll begin our support for it by touring around Eastern Europe and if we can find a reliable and honest agent, hopefully we can play in other countries like the U.K., France, Germany, Spain, Italy, and everywhere else we can. Our shows are currently listed on our label's website.

What countries have you toured and what countries would you like to tour?

Because of where we're located and the financial status of the country, we are limited to touring mostly in the C.I.S. territories. However, we would love to tour in all the places I mentioned before, including the USA and Canada. We want to tour everywhere. This is what we do. This is who we are. We are committed to this 100 percent and would like to do this for the better part of our lives. We want to make our living playing extreme music. We feel we're getting closer to that with our signing to This Dark Reign and the support we get from them. Now all we need are some outside sources to lend us a hand so we can get out there and prove to everyone we're a force to be reckoned with.

Any other thoughts or comments?

Thank you for the opportunity to do this interview. I hope it's one of many. I hope that this will help open a door for other bands in our country, where there is ample talent and creativity in the metal arts. I hope Asguard will be playing in a town near you. Buy the records and hopefully that will be sooner than later. Thanks again and we'll see you soon. Rock!

Asguard