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Interview With Sõjaruun

Since the Estonian metal scene to me is a complete mystery I was intrigued when I received this young band's first release, which was a potent pagan black metal record. This made me decide to ask them for an interview.
We did the interview by e-mail. I sent the first bunch of questions on April 21st, and I received the final bunch of answers on April 30th.

Hey there guys. Why don’t we start things off slowly by you introducing yourselves to the readers, and letting us know who’ll be answering my questions.

T: Ok, the band formed in 2007 consists of Oliver (O) - Vocals & Guitars, Sander (S) - Bassguitar and Thon (T) - Drums, synth/FX. And we play old pagan/black metal in vein of Nagelfar, Helrunar, old Ulver, Satyricon, Abigor etc, mostly inspired of the black metal bands and sounds of the 90s, but also new bands.

You released your first record, an MCD, late last year. Are you satisfied with the result?

T: Yes, everything has been great. The thing is, we had no previous releases (with Sõjaruun) and this was very exiting also for us, to hear the end result.
O: We do play live and practice also with only one guitar, so it turned out great in the end. I mean how the songs sound with two guitars.
S: There are few things, but that's not a big problem. Like almost always, you notice something after the material is all ready. For example: "this" or "that" should sound more strongly. All in all, I'm satisfied.

So how come you didn’t release a demo before it?
S: We didn't find it necessary to make a demo. First recording was for MCD.
T: Actually we did some rehearsal room recordings, this can’t be called a demo, but it led us to BLACK DEVASTATION.

What’s the response been like from media and fans? From what I’ve read it seems to be generally good reviews of the MCD.

T: So far only good reviews, I myself would like to hear more objective criticism, but well, maybe it has not reached the wider audience yet.
S: I don't know. I've not really thought about it. It's nice to have fans and to communicate with media. Good to hear, that our music has reached somewhere.

You’re currently in the studio recording your upcoming fullength Org, how’s the recording going so far?

S: It's going pretty good. Next and the final step are the vocals. We'll try to make a little experience and record the vocals in a forest. Hope, it will work.
T: I must say, when previously we recorded full-length albums (with other bands/projects) in periods like 5-6 months and even more, then with SÕJARUUN we have managed to lay down everything less than a month, except vocals. And in that same period we did also the song "Tumehall" for the ODAL/SÕJARUUN split. It is going pretty easy..

Can we expect any differences from the MCD, anything you wanted to change for this record, maybe? When will the album be released?

S: Yes, there are some differences. "Org" will be much more darker and intricate.
T: You can expect 9 new songs (aprox. 50 minutes), lots of acoustics, melodies, etc. It is a cliché to say, but the new album will be also a little step further in sound and songstructures than on the MCD. We tried out for this release different recording locations. And we have plans (mentioned before) to record vocals for the album in the forest. The album will be hopefully released in June/July 2009 via Black Devastation Records.
O: This time we already had visions how we want the guitars to sound and bass and etc. Strong lyrics also.

What do you mean by recording the vocals in a forest? Just standing outside screaming in front of a mic?

S: Yes, this was our first plan, but time runs against us and we just have to do it in studio. The idea, you mentioned, is just like we wanted to do.
T: I got this idea from youtube, where people were recording anykind of instruments outside, drums, vocals etc. To get some different atmosphere. I have talked also with lots of my friends, who are recording regularly and own a studio and we just came up with different ideas for recordings, to capture some oldschool vibes. Since some of the cult BM albums are also recorded back then in very weird conditions, but they sound just so unique. Due to lack of time we have to skip this plan first.

What are your lyrics about? I don’t know any Estonian so I could only guess, but when you say “strong lyrics” it makes me wonder…

S: Rage, anger and ancient wars (Estonian history). Nowadays you see lots of stupid things everyday and you can’t change nothing. So, you just transform these feelings into the lyrics. And nature is one big aspect, which is found in our lyrics. Also patriotism.
T: The lyrics I personally have written for SÕJARUUN deal also with dark Estonian folklore. And of course against organized religion and anykind of that braindead idiotism
O: Furious feelings and ancient powers. All in all more man with harmony with the powers of nature.

You’ve also got an upcoming split with Odal, also on Black Devastation Records (whom released your debut and will release Org). So one can assume you’re very happy with their work so far. But have you received any interest from other labels?

T: Yes, the ODAL/SÕJARUUN split will be out in May. We are very satisfied to work with Taaken. Everything is smooth. I must point out that it is for a musician a lighter burden to not have to deal with layout and all the work that is needed to get a product (CD) out. So we had for the first time the change to focus only to the music.
O: We actually did not look (at the time) for a label (because we did not had any recordings), but Black Devastation found us through a BM forum, where we posted our raw practiceroom mp3s.
S: And the rest is history.

I’m not all that familiar with the Estonian metal scene, frankly I hardly know anything. And pretty much the only other two bands I’ve heard of are Tarm (that all of you were members of in the past) and Urt (that all of you’re still members of). But I’m under the impression that Estonian metal is on the rise. How are things with gigs, fans, labels and such over there? Do you get foreign bands touring there? Is it difficult to get your music out to the rest of the world?

S: Gigs are all right here and we have our fans to.
T: At the time Black Metal is not very the issue here. Like in every country we also have trendwavestiles here and at the time metalcore/deathcore is at highpoint. But here are still some black metal bands that exist, despite the fact that none of them are signed to a major label. To name some active ones, BESTIA, THARAPHITA, SORTS (active after almost 9 years of silence), REALM OF CARNIVORA. There are more of them. Here and there are also small pubs and metal bars where BM is represented from time to time. I would not complain that we have not enough gigs. And Yes, we get lot of foreign bands touring here. Usually the Estonian fans know their homecountry bands and are the best audience I have ever seen so far. The only UG oriented metal label here is HEXENREICH RECORDS, led by BESTIA guitarist Andres. And also our own small label ARHAILISED HELID. In conclusion I would say here in Estonia are lots of good bands, and every genre has its strong acts, to get an overview visit

Ok, so Estonian fans make the best audience. Have you been gigging much outside of Estonia?

O: We haven't performed outside of Estonia with SÕJARUUN, but in here we have taken plenty of good concerts! But we hope to go outside Estonia.
S: In Lithuania (URT gig). Ok, let's formulate the last answer - if the Estonians make the best audience, then Lithuanians are much more better.
T: As much as I have seen, I stick to the Estonian audience.

Sorry for lingering around this subject, but I’m honestly very interested to know more about the Estonian metal scene. Any other Estonian bands you can recommend that people should check out?

T: You mean black metal? Otherwise, check out HORRICANE and MASS IN COMATOSE, two very great death metal acts.
S: and also MORIGAN

But let’s get back to talking about Sõjaruun. As I said earlier you’re all also members of Urt. So how come you decided to start Sõjaruun? It feels like the two bands are fairly similar (not that I’ve heard a lot of Urt stuff). Do you just have so many ideas one band wasn’t enough, hehe? Is Sõjaruun to be considered a side-project?

T: Hmm, we ourselves do not see these bands as similar (musically), both perform pagan/black metal but the music is very different. SÕJARUUN is more of a 90s black metal. With easy/melodic riffing midtempo black metal. When URT is more agressive, I would not use the word "death" metal, we use pagan metal in context, but URT is more death/black metal, with heavier riffing, blastbeats, more lower harsh vocals. It is hard to tell, you have to listen to both bands and then you’ll see the difference. Why we formed SÕJARUUN, since we were not more active in TARM we felt like there was an emptiness to fill. We all had/have great ideas, but to put them all in URT did not seem right to us. So we formed parallel also SÕJARUUN. To us it was a natural way of things. And to let you know more, we also have a grind/death metal band - GAS (Oliver, Sander, Thon), then I am still doing REALM OF CARNIVORA (raw black metal) as a one-man-band. Oliver is also active in his first band MELOROTH(Heavy/thrash metal).
S: No, certainly not a side-project. Like you know, we played in Tarm. So, when we split with TARM, we decided to make a new black metal band.
O: Since there where already songs written by us for TARM. So it would also have been a waste.

So you guys have three bands together. How do you diverse time for all three acts?

O: We have our own rehearsalroom. So when we feel like playing, we just go and play.
S: It depends on the needs. Of course, when some gigs are coming or songs to be written/recorded, we take more time to work with just one band.
T: It works, since we all do not live far. It takes us about 5-10 minutes from our homes to the practice room. I am also working/building my own studio, so in the end of this summer, we will also have our own little studio, so I think this will also help us more, so we do not have to go to records stuff outside our town.

What will happen next (I mean, except the album and split)? Will you try to tour some to promote the releases? Will we maybe have the opportunity to see you live in Sweden?

O: Summer is coming, so we hope to give some concerts. Sweden? We will never know, what could happen, but will see what summer brings.
S: Oh, yes, we have some ideas about touring around, but we don't actually know yet, which places the tour will include.
T: Yes, the idea of a (mini)tour has been around, together with some other Estonian acts. We’ll see.

I’m all out of serious questions, so let’s get on with my standard ones.
Latest record you bought?

S: It was "I - Between Two Worlds"
O: Nagelfar - "Virus West"
T: Gehenna - "WW"

Latest record you listened to?

S: It was an exercise pack for bass and drums "Tom-Tomm / Toomas Rull"
O: Orlog - "Reinigende feuer"
T: Seth - "Les blessures de l'ame"

Latest book you read?

S: "Musta pori näkku" by Mihkel Raud
O: I don't like reading.. newspaper maybe.
T: Some children book, for my daughter.

Latest show you went to?

S: It was a "Tom-Tomm" presentation by Toomas Rull and his jazz band.
O: Hammer Battalion North ( Unleashed, Belphegor, Devian )
T: Can’t remember the latest, maybe 2008 BRUTAL ASSAULT in Czech.

Crappiest record you’ve bought?

S: "Venom - Darkest Hour". Actually, I didn't buy it, but it's the crappiest in my small collection.
O: I don't buy crap.
T: Oh, there are some, but nothing worth to mention.

And that’s it. Thanks a lot for your time and I wish you all the best for the future!

S: Thank you for having interest! Look out for ODAL/SÕJARUUN split and our new album "ORG".
Stay metal!

Author: MLC
Zine: My Last Chapter

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