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Abandoned Elysium
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Last year Estonian Loits impressed me with their third full album. Again "Must Album" is a masterpiece about the Estonian heritage, musically written down in their own styled flak 'n' roll genre. It took singer/guitarist Lembetu half a year to get back to me! But I'm glad to share his story about Loits and Estonia. This magnificent band simply demands your attention!

I'm really stunned by the new album. When a band releases a new album there are always some goals they want to accomplish. So what's the plan for "Must Album"?

The objectives of Loits have remained unchanged since the conception of the band. We talk about things that are unjustly kept under wraps, or that people feel uncomfortable discussing, because they clash with the view of history universally accepted by the international mainstream. Yet these themes are an important part of the history of our nation, denying them or covering them up is a rather myopic, yellow-bellied thing to do – something characteristic of a slave nation. But not of Loits! The story we’re telling, daring to call things by their rightful names, is the story of one small nation. Loits has always been a living monument to the joys and sufferings of our people, and will remain one. “Must album”, illustrating one of the darker periods of Estonia’s historic timescale, is no exception to this credo.

Do you think there's much different between "Must Album" and the previous "Vere Kutse Kohustab"?

"Must album" picks up where “Vere kutse kohustab” left off, telling about the more sinister side of the same era, i.e. about individual tragedies that was acted about during the course of the war. There are no battle-spirits praising songs or vivacious rhythms on this one. “Must album” is gloomy, devastating and soul-searing to the core, remarkably slower, more melancholy and much more melodic than "Vere Kutse Kohustab".

Why did you choose for an English title this time? And does "Must album" refer to something special or so?

When choosing a name for the record, we were quite aware that such confusion is likely to arise. The title “Must album” is in Estonian and translates as “the black album”. Yes, I know - at the first glance, this title might seem rather unoriginal, other allusions and connotations are quick to pop up, but once you hold “Must album” in your hands, lend an ear to the music and browse through the inlay sleeve, you might start “getting it”.

The Estonian language is not only a beautiful tongue; it's also un-understandable for the rest of the world. That immediately brings me to the next question: all song texts are translated into English, apart from the lines under the pictures. Do they form some kind of story?

Yes, the lyrics have a rather important role. The limited version of “Must album” comes with six cards, one side of which features faux-historic pictures of band members and the other has the same captions in a slightly longer form and translated. These are semi-fictional biographies. For example, the story on the reverse side of the picture of my “character” actually combines the life stories of my grandfather and his half-brother. Those familiar with what Loits has been doing in the past, know that by telling our story - by releasing our records - we aim to identify ourselves with the actual souls caught up in the tumultuous events outlined. This time, it’s truly up close and personal.

Loits does not write solely about the Second World War madness, but more about life in general that time. I wonder, what fascinates you concerning that topic? In what way Estonia was involved with the war? Do you actually want to live that time?

To want to live in a period when one’s convictions would very likely have earned one a leaden “present” in the back of the head sounds suspiciously masochistic. Then again, who can say with absolute conviction those very similar times might not be waiting in the future? History has a habit of repeating itself, and as a nation living on the Western side but very close to the political border separating Orient from Occident, we see warning signs and ill omens every day. Great nations keep discussing vital matters and making decisions over our heads. We must remain vigilant. Those who deny their history, have no future. Our will to freedom and independence have always irked the greater countries, and while the Soviet regime did everything in its power to erase this will from our national memory and to portray the fight aimed at their preservation as mere criminal activity, we were more than surprised when, after the collapse of the aforementioned regime, the West welcomed us with a rather similar mentality. I know that this might sound somewhat unjust, but the history of the victors is the history of the victors. Estonia’s trials and tribulations in WWII is a matter that I’d rather not go too deeply into in these pages; everyone interested in an in-depth presentation of the events may turn to this webpage:

Guitarist Gates has left the band for the second time now. For good? It's the usual story: no time, no interest, etc.? Though I hope you've got some good gossip like Gates being taken in custody because of capturing the Russian embassy, haha…

Yes, Gates is now gone for good. The main reasons for his leaving were commitment to family, Loits’s growing demands and complicated intra-orchestral relations. For a short while he was replaced by comrade Lauri Kuriks from Nitrous, and it appears that this interview is the very first one whereby it is my pleasure to announce the newest addition to Battalion Loits, no other than infamous Draconic from such bands as Manatark, Tharaphita and Carnifex.

What about a European tour? And don't forget Belgium!

That’s a touchy subject. We’ve signed a deal with the Portuguese concert agency Icon Music, but thus far our cooperation has remained fruitless. We do get quite a lot of offers for one-off shows from all over Europe. Maybe it is time for Loits to take matters into our own hands and start organizing a small-scale tour by ourselves. Which means that we are still, as always, open to all offers in this matter.

You've swapped from the obscure Ledo Takas to the more mainstream Nailboard Records. Why the change? Ledo Takas seems to suit Loits better, because of its underground reputation. I also couldn't order "Must Album" over here in Belgium and had to order it from a Germany distro. Perhaps the step to Nailboard was evident, because you're working there? I'm pretty sure Loits can hook up with every sub-major label in Europe!

No step taken by Loits is governed by chance! Ledo Takas did an excellent job with Loits, and we sincerely and deeply respect that. Loits, however, needed to move on, and Nailboard Records was the best platform for that. Nailboard, being much younger than Ledo Takas, may not yet have as big an underground distribution network throughout Europe, but one must not forget that Nailboard Records is a branch of a much greater local label, which greatly adds to the development potential. Personally, I feel very good about the current situation. We shall see what future brings.

I started my review with "Big in Estonia and ready to subject the rest of the world!" Well, how big is Loits in Estonia and abroad?

This is a question we have to keep asking ourselves. I’m not sure if I can give an adequate answer. Quite often I am surprised at the fact that we are known in certain circles, then again we have a very long way to go still. The fact is that we are one of the best known metal bands from and in Estonia. Maybe the true question should be: how great is it possible for Loits to become, both here and abroad. Local media has been rather Loits-friendly. When “Must album” was released, we were interviewed by most of the national dailies and weeklies. We’ve also received quite sufficient radio airtime, and now that we’re about to make public our new video, I’m sure we won’t be cold-shouldered by any of the local TV channels. The interest of Terrorizer, Zero Tolerance, Legacy and other foreign metal zines is a pleasant bonus. The growing international circle of friends and affiliates motivates us greatly.

In between "Vere Kutse Kohustab" and "Must Album" you've released two DVD's ("Vere Kutse" and "Leegion laval 12.01.07"). Why two? And how come both are self-released? Ledo Takas or Nailboard weren't interested? Well yeah, Loits must be big; otherwise you wouldn't release a DVD, hehe…

“Vere Kutse” and “Leegion laval 12.01.07” are two very different DVDs. The first one is a short film about the story of the birth of flak’n’roll, i.e. history of Loits from the very beginning to the “Vere kutse kohustab” album, cpiced up with interviews and historical footage from the band’s private stash. Actually, it was first put together to be shown at the series of release events for the aforementioned album. We showed it at several locations in Estonia, and the feedback was very enthusiastic. As there was enough demand, we decided to release it as a DVD-R. “Leegion laval 12.01.07”, however, is a Loits gig filmed with just one camera, where we sort of said goodbye to the old setlist before holing up for a while in the studio to record “Must album”. Both of these DVDs are purely fan-oriented, so it was only reasonable to release them by ourselves, on our own. At the moment we are making preparations to release an official DVD. It will feature all of our previous videos together with a new, ultra-professional, original and Ugric video to the track “Haavad uulitsal”, plus a related “Making of”-rockumentary. There is also a concert video in the making, and we plan to announce a fan video contest, the winner of which will also end up on the DVD; I’m sure this list doesn’t really cover all the fun and interesting stuff that we may come up with in the end. We haven’t really started searching for a label for this planned release, and should it happen that we don’t find a suitable one, we’ll release it on our own.

People from the Baltic States are often not that fond of the Russians. How come – Teach us a bit of important Estonian history.

We have a lot of fellow countrymen originating from the Eastern neighboring country here, who we live side by side and share our land with, but whose understanding of the world and its history drastically differs from ours. A lot of the Russians have still not yet understood or accepted Estonia as an independent nation, not a part of either Russia or the Soviet Union, the mental legacy of which is still upheld by many people to both sides of our Eastern border. To this day, Russia has not admitted to ever having occupied the Estonian state; quite the contrary: they deem themselves liberators of Estonia. And that’s the start of all of this trouble. Maintaining this conflict is vitally important to Russia. They need a scapegoat to divert attention from internal problems, which makes hatemongering anti-Estonian propaganda a daily occurrence, and most of the local Russian-speaking contingent gather information from Moscow-oriented foreign media, as they have not even bothered to learn Estonian language. This situation was the seeding ground for the so-called Bronze Night riots of last April that I’m sure you’ve heard of. Please do not misunderstand me. This conflict is not one of nations. We have a great number of Russians here who are quite aware of the current situation. One of my very own grandmothers was of Russian nationality, so I know full well what I’m talking about.

Personally I'm very interested in both Russia and Baltic States. I was thinking of doing a next trip; the triangle Helsinki, Saint Petersburg and Tallinn. How is the nature over there? And how is live? You're definitely proud of your country – But it's a good and wealth place to live? Would you advise people to come over?

Go ahead and take the trip! Go far deeper into Russia and share the impressions, please. I already know what to expect. I know enough to appreciate Russia’s cultural and artistic heritage (“Kukushka” (“The Cuckoo”) by Aleksandr Rogozhkin is one of my favourite movies ever), but the current situation in Russia is rather destitute. Saint Petersburg, though, is one of the more tolerable locations, surrounded by beautiful nature. To the north, for example, lies Karelia – a region seized from Finland by Russia in the course of WWII. I’m proud to invite everyone to Tallinn, the old town of which is included in the UNESCO World Heritage list. You’ll find endless joys of discovery here. I’ll be glad to take you to the wild woods, as well as introduce to you the more terrifying regional legacies left behind by the Soviet power – shunned, faraway places that one is advised to avoid poking around in unassisted. The contrasts here are tremendous, yet Estonia is the best place to live for an Estonian. Here, you’ll find the sense of “good old Europe”, something that for Middle Europe is already distant, if not mythical history...

You've banned the nationalistic symbols out of Loits' logo. That's done on purpose? I know people are still linking Loits to German National Socialism.

The logo of Loits remains unchanged; we just haven’t used it in the designs of the last two albums, as it just didn’t fit together with either. Also, there aren’t any symbols incorporated in our logo that would even remotely hint at any National Socialism. All of the sigils and markings used have a very certain story attached to them, reaching much deeper into the past than the roots of the aforementioned political ideology. Loits has nothing to do with German National Socialism – please try to get that through your skulls once and for all!

Last, but not least: I wonder, what does "loits" mean?

An easy question to answer. Loits translates as “chant”.

Author: Filip Dupont
Zine: Vampire Magazine

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