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Following the surprise 2019 announcement that Russian Epic Doom band Scald had reformed with the original line-up and a new vocalist, Comrade Aleks needed to find out more from the cult legends.

Interview with Scald.
This interview was organized by Tatiana Krylova.

"The Yaroslavl band Scald was a frequent guest on the pages of the first Russian metal magazines and fanzines in the mid-'90s. Although Doom Metal has never been a popular trend, and the genre never really took root in either Traditional or Epic form in Russia, Scald have always been mentioned with respect. They based their sound on Bathory's Viking period, and added the loftiness and weight of Candlemass to that.
Combining the talent of Scald's members with the fanatical enthusiasm of vocalist Agyl (in the real world, Maxim Andrianov) for the mythological themes of his songs guaranteed recognition for the demo 'North Winds' (1994) and popularity for the full-length album 'Will Of Gods Is A Great Power' (1996, re-titled 'Will Of The Gods Is Great Power' on all subsequent re-releases). They performed not only in Yaroslavl, but also in other cities, and thanks to tape-trading the band became known abroad.
Agyl's tragic death in September 1997 ended the career of Scald, and the most of the remaining line-up - Velingor (bass), Ottar (drums), Harald (guitar) and Karry (guitar) - went on to create the progressive Folk Metal band Tumulus later that year. Unfortunately, Tumulus - despite creating two solid albums of authentic material - did not achieve the attention they deserved. Velingor, Ottar and Harald continued to perform together as part of the Death/Doom/Pagan studio project Intothecrypt, and in summer 2019 Ordo MCM released their first album, 'Vakor'.
It might have seemed that Intothecrypt could be considered a more extreme incarnation of Scald, but later news put that into a different context. Long-time fan of Scald Felipe Plaza Kutzbach - of Chilean Epic Doom bands Capilla Ardiente and Procession, had been in correspondence with Scald's members. And when the stars finally aligned correctly, it was announced that Scald's original line-up plus Felipe on vocals would participate in the German Hammer Of Doom festival which took place in November 2019. It turns out that this performance was not to be a one-off event, so it was decided that Scald should be contacted."

Scald 2019: Harald (guitars), Velingor (bass), Felipe (vocals), Karry (guitars), Ottar (drums). (Photo: Stepan Sorokin).

Hello SCALD! Thanks for your time and this opportunity to spread the word about you! Straight to the point: you performed at the Hammer of Doom in Würzburg on November 16, 2019 with the new line-up of SCALD. What does it mean? Is it a full-scale comeback of the band?

Velingor: Let's hope so! We are working on a "full-scale" comeback but it is a rather complicated task, and not everything is entirely up to us. The music market nowadays is loaded with all sorts of bands so even for SCALD (with our cult status in doom metal circles) it is immensely difficult to make a break-through. But, in any case - our show at the Hammer of Doom was supported by so many fans from all over the world (which was quite a surprise for us, to be honest)! That gives us hope that we, indeed, have made a full-scale comeback.

Ottar: All of us were quite young when we first started playing instruments, and the reason why we did so was that we simply loved music as such and wanted very much to be a part of the action. In the end it was this desire that united us, brought us closer and led to the forming of the band and recording of our only (for now) album. All these years, after Agyl was gone, the spirit of those time remained alive. While creating music separately (each of us had a different path…), deep inside we were still SCALD. So, when we got the offer… we were ready for it. The answer about a full-scale comeback depends on quite a few things, but in the memory of Agyl we will continue what we started.

SCALD performed their old material as the almost original line-up, with the exception of the singer, Felipe Plaza Kutzbach (also known as the front man of Capilla Ardiente). How did you manage to form this line-up?

Velingor: Well, as to me I've known Felipe (via email, not in person) for quite a while - must be five or six years, if I'm not much mistaken. I heard a cover version of the SCALD song "Night Sky" made by PROCESSION (with Felipe on vocals) and I really loved the way he performed it. In my opinion, he truly understood Agyl's way of singing this song! So I contacted Felipe to let him now how much I appreciate this cover version; turned out that Felipe was a huge fan of SCALD and Agyl's vocal manner (which influenced him a great deal). So when the Hammer of Doom promoter invited us to play his festival he suggested Felipe as the singer, and all the band members thought it was a great idea. In the beginning of 2019 Ivan "Harald" Sergeev, Tatiana Krylova (our manager) and I had a meeting with Felipe in Moscow (where he played a show with his other band, DESTROYER 666), came to an agreement and started working - both online and in person. In September Felipe visited Yaroslavl for two live rehearsals with the band; he also visited Agyl's grave (on September 6th, the day of Agyl's tragic death) and left there a copy of PROCESSION LP featuring the cover version of "Night Sky" as a sign of respect and appreciation.

Felipe was magnificent at the Hammer of Doom - and it's not just us who think so, for many people who were present or watched video fragments afterwards expressed the very same opinion. I'm convinced that he is a worthy successor to Agyl.

Agyl the Scald. (Photo: Ottar).

How was your participation in the festival organized? Who initiated the band's reunion?

Velingor: It was Tatiana Krylova who initiated the reunion - she used to help us back in the day with TUMULUS and recently INTOTHECRYPT (studio project started by Harald and myself). She suggested that we meet (and some of us haven't seen each other for years!) and discuss a possible reunion for one show with a suitable singer. So that's what the four of us (Ottar, Karry, Harald and I) did; we came to a decision to try and make it happen - since this idea seemed fascinating to all of us (and the fans, we knew it, would feel the same way). During that historical meeting we made couple of pictures which later on were posted on our Facebook page - and we got the offer from Oliver, the Hammer of Doom promoter, straight away (the same day, actually!). It was Tatiana (who is now our manager) who handled all the negotiations afterwards.

As to the idea to not just do one show but make it a full-scale comeback of SCALD, it was suggested by Harald. Everyone, including Felipe, found it very inspiring!

I'm sure that getting ready for the show was rather complicated since the four of you live in Yaroslavl, while Felipe's place of residence is Stockholm. How did you organize the rehearsals? Did Felipe make any changes to the original versions of your songs?

Velingor: We only had three live rehearsals with Felipe - two of them in Yaroslavl and another one in Würzburg, the day before the show. The rest of the time we rehearsed to Felipe's recorded voice, while he used tracks that we recorded for him. Felipe tried his best to sing the same way Agyl used to, but since his voice is different the songs have changed slightly, too - but not too much : )

Ottar: Felipe is a highly skilled professional musician; right after we came to an agreement with him we decided to work online. The plan was as follows: first, the band must recall all the songs (and we haven't played them for more than 20 years!), rehearse and record them; second, the recorded tracks would be sent to Felipe so that he could practice the vocal parts to them. Finally, when Felipe came to Yaroslavl for the live rehearsals we realized that the band, in its new line-up, is ready for the coming performance.

Scald - 'Live In Yaroslavl' (1996):

What's your impression of the show? How did it go and what was the reaction of the audience?

Velingor: It was splendid! As I said before, the reaction of the crowd was beyond all expectations!!! The people sang along with Felipe the entire "Night Sky", which was our opening title. And the overall way of how things were arranged at the Hammer of Doom was simply perfect, in all respects. After the show several enthusiastic reviews of SCALD's performance were published, while many of our German fans plan to travel all the way to Greece to see the band on stage one more time!

Ottar: First of all, we would love to thank the promoters of Hammer of Doom for inviting us to play and for the warm welcome we received in Würzburg. We were very much impressed by the way this whole event was organized (how we were picked up at the airport; perfect accommodation was arranged for us; a fully equipped rehearsal studio was at our disposal etc.), as well as by the crowd's reaction to our appearing on stage and the great support throughout the entire set. Saying it was a warm greeting simply doesn't cover it! The flame of emotions was burning in the venue, getting stronger with every track we played.

This was your first show with Felipe - would you say you were completely confident? Did you feel fully prepared for the show?

Velingor: As to me I felt really anxious - for as SCALD we haven't played for over 20 years! But Felipe has got a lot of experience playing live, including such festivals as Hammer of Doom; so in the end our hopes that everything will be great came true!

Ottar: As I already said we first felt confident after we had the rehearsals in Yaroslavl. Felipe is a professional; he also can, like no other, feel our music, understand it and make it a part of himself. The confidence was later strengthened by the final rehearsal before the show in Würzburg.

Live at Hammer Of Doom. (Photo: Stefankova Margarita).

You shared the stage with both new and old well-known bands - for example, Mirror of Deception, The Skull etc. Did you manage to see any bands which were truly interesting for you?

Velingor: We were too preoccupied with getting ready for our show - since none of us ever played such festivals before; so we didn't have much opportunity to listen to the other bands. On the first day of Hammer of Doom (when we didn't play but were present) there were so many people willing to talk to us backstage we hardly had time for anything else. I managed to listen to Antimatter at some point, and on the second day - to Thronehammer (whom I liked a bit more). Felipe said he really loved Mirror of Deception, whereas Karry was truly impressed with Atlantean Kodex who played right after ourselves.

Ottar: Sure, we listened to The Skull with great pleasure (I would love to wish them further success; would be great to share the stage again some day!); we also discovered for ourselves some new names - for example, Antimatter were really great.

Would you say that SCALD now is more popular than back in the 1990s? Or did you have plenty of opportunities even then to play live and sell your records?

Velingor: SCALD ceased to exist more than 20 years ago, with not much hope of ever coming back. But over all these years our only album 'Will Of The Gods Is Great Power' was being released and re-released constantly, and the band gained a cult status in epic doom metal. So, without a doubt - SCALD definitely is more popular now than in the 1990s. The interest in SCALD keeps growing - which means more options, more opportunities to release our records.

Ottar: It can be said that SCALD's fame is now greater than ever before. Back in the 1990s we were a popular but still underground kind of band, followed by a limited audience whose only options were to either attend our shows or buy tapes released by Soyuz Records. There was no chance whatsoever to earn a living by playing music. Things changed a lot since then, mostly thanks to internet and streaming services. It allowed our music to spread worldwide and find new listeners in many different countries.

Scald - 'In The Open Sea' (Rehearsal, 1996):

What are your strongest impressions of the shows back in the 1990s? The scene was developing fast back then, and in all directions, so, according to many bands' recollections, shows used to be very different depending on where they were happening.

Velingor: Back in the 1990s in Yaroslavl there were plenty of punks, grunge fans and people who listened to so called "Russian rock". Accordingly, lots of bands played in these styles. So many of such people used to attend SCALD shows as well (because we shared the stage with various bands back in the day). They were there just to party. But they would normally headbang to SCALD as well : ) You can see it clearly in the surviving videos - lots of punks and grungers jumping in front of the stage while SCALD is playing, and almost no metalheads.

Ottar: In those years the scene was constantly growing - the way shows were organized improved greatly; gradually professional equipment became available - both in terms of musical instruments and sound. Old Soviet speakers were replaced by new, powerful ones. Musicians could feel these opportunities and it influenced further development of rock scene.

How smoothly did such shows usually go? And was there a huge difference in the way shows were organized in Moscow and Yaroslavl (as well as other places, even further away from the central region)?

Velingor: In Yaroslavl nothing ever went smoothly: poor, quite often not even properly tuned equipment; dreadful sound quality on stage (and sometimes in the whole venue); drunk sound engineers… But we were so young, all we wanted was to rock! By the way, in Yaroslavl we almost always played for free - just because we wanted to be on stage. The best part of it was the number of people to attend the shows - normally over one thousands (and that's to see the local bands only, no big names). It was quite different in Moscow in those days. Both equipment and sound were way better. And the shows were more specialized - in Moscow SCALD only played together with other metal bands. But in most cases we also played for free, except for maybe couple of times when our travel expenses were covered.

Ottar: Surely, the further away from Moscow - the more difference could be felt in the way venues were equipped. Well, the audience was the same everywhere: very loyal, not yet spoiled with too many bands playing in their cities, greeting every band as their heroes. It used to make us all feel powerful, like we were real rock stars, so we'd put 100% of our energy into every show. But where the equipment was concerned - the further from Moscow you'd go, the less it'd satisfy both musicians and their fans. We still remember one show in Uglich where we played in the pouring rain (the stage was only half covered). The rain went down the strings, so fingers would slip off them; it formed miniature lakes on the drums, while the sound tried to burst from the old speakers but got lost somewhere in the middle - so the endurant audience, hiding under umbrellas, only got a feeble something, remotely resembling rock music. But the people would not leave! The audience of those days was so loyal that it stayed with you until the last chords would die out.

Scald live in the mid- '90s.

It has already been decided, but still - who else, apart from Felipe, would you want to see as a singer for SCALD? Hypothetically speaking, of course.

Velingor: We have considered several options (none of which worked out in the end), but we'd prefer to keep them a secret : ) Now, already having played a show with Felipe, we are convinced that he is an ideal singer for SCALD. No idea how things would have worked out with someone else!

Ottar: Agyl grew up listening to MANOWAR - he could sing along with Eric Adams for hours at a time. So it would be fascinating to hear Eric Adams sing our songs. But this, of course, is just an appreciation and gratitude to MANOWAR for the influence they were on SCALD. We are quite happy to work with Felipe and would not consider anyone else for this position.

It's been 20 years, and still SCALD are the only well-known Epic Doom band from Russia. Why do you think that is - lack of interest to this particular style in the country, or rather the fact there are no suitable vocalists and musicians capable of writing truly epic tracks?

Velingor: Honestly - I do not know. Well, actually for us it's a good thing - no competition. But to me personally it's also something puzzling - really, why? I'm afraid this question simply has no answer.

Ottar: It might be because of all the other, alternative and more aggressive styles developing too fast. They are oriented more to making an external impression. Nothing stays the same, and in time it became obvious that doom metal cannot compete with this; simply because it is a completely different kind of music.

Do you have any regrets about your other band, TUMULUS, not having been appreciated enough, despite all the years of its activity?

Velingor: Personally, I do. A lot of effort was put into TUMULUS, but, in spite of this, the band stayed in the underground. Even though, in my opinion, we played very interesting music, not alike anything else, and had an original style and concept. A lot of people loved it, but, as I already said - music business is highly unpredictable. TUMULUS were never lucky enough to find a proper label or promoters, although we spent a great deal of time trying to do it. I don't believe we'll make another attempt any time soon.

Ottar: We used to create the kind of music we loved. We worked on our material, our image and were fully absorbed by the process. We've got our share of appreciation and pleasure out of being creative, so we have no regrets.

Scald - 'Live At Hammer Of Doom XIV' (2019):

SCALD played a new song at Hammer of Doom; it is already known that the band plans to keep working in this direction. How far has that gone now? Was that song written specifically for Hammer of Doom or was it some old material which was used to create a new song?

Velingor: Initially this song was recorded for INTORHECRYPT's Vakor; it was called "Leti, voy nash!" (Fly There, Our Wail!) and had lyrics in Ancient Russian; the vocal parts were performed by yours truly. But for the Hammer of Doom we rearranged it somewhat, while Felipe changed the lyrics and wrote his vocal parts. So now it is called "There Flies Our Wail" and sounds like a SCALD song is supposed to! We kept this song a secret until the very moment we performed it - it was our surprise for the fans at the Hammer of Doom. It was also meant to let them know that the band is back and going to work on the new stuff.

In the meantime we work on the new material as well as try to recreate some old songs, written just before Agyl died and meant for the second album of SCALD. We hope they will be released at some point - but let's not go into any detail right now.

Ottar: At the present moment we are in the middle of working on new songs. We do not set deadlines for ourselves - creativity cannot be controlled in this way. Once the album is finished - we'll announce it!

You told me before about an INTOTHECRYPT song transforming, thanks to Felipe, into a SCALD one. Would you consider doing it again with some TUMULUS or INTOTHECRYPT songs?

Velingor: No. One is enough. And as to TUMULUS - this band played music which had nothing at all in common with SCALD. We'd better work (already working, actually) on the new SCALD songs as well as on recreating the old ones which were composed with Agyl (but never recorded).

Ottar: This was a once-only thing. That song was written by SCALD musicians so it was only natural for it to transform easily and work equally well for both INTOTHECRYPT and SCALD. But this was just an experiment - one and only. The rest of the material will stay a part of the history of the bands having created it. We have quite a few of fresh, unrealized ideas we would love to present to the audience.

Scald, summer 1997.

SCALD's demo 'North Winds' was released on tapes by Messe Noire Prod. Was it your idea or theirs?

Velingor: This was entirely Messe Noire Prod.'s idea. What can I say? It is great that even such ancient stuff of SCALD's is in high demand! As to Messe Noire - they are highly reliable and efficient, it was a pleasure working with them; we hope to continue our cooperation with these guys!

By the way, 'Will Of The Gods Is Great Power' was re-released by Hammerheart Rec. about a year ago. Did you take part in making it happen? Who owns the rights to SCALD music now - you, Wroth Emitter, MetalAgen?

Velingor: Sure, we picked a few exclusive bonus tracks for this edition; we also suggested Andrey Andreev as the artist to create the cover artwork - he already did a great job on INTOTHECRYPT's Vakor; we are convinced that his style is best suited for SCALD music. As to the copyright - everything ever recorded by SCALD belongs to us, the four original members of the band. When labels are interested they approach us and, given that the offer is satisfactory, we give them the license.

Original line-up, winter 1995.

The next opportunity to see SCALD play is at Up the Hammers festival in Athens, March 13, 2020. But the question is - are you going to go even further? Meaning - will you play somewhere else this year?

Velingor: We get all kinds of offers to consider - almost all of them coming from abroad (and if the conditions are satisfactory - we accept them, of course). We do not organize anything ourselves. As to Russia - things here are rather complicated at the moment. Our participation in Metal Over Russia festival (17-19 of July, 2020) was just announced, so all our Russian fans can definitely see us there. We are negotiating more shows, of course, but we cannot tell you anything definite for now. Keep in touch and see you at our shows!

Ottar: We would gladly go on a Russian tour but… organizing shows in Russia is a complex task. For now we would much rather concentrate our efforts on working on the new material. We are open to any offers; some negotiations for shows in 2020-2021 are already being conducted. Once we have anything - it'll be announced! See you there!

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Visit the Scald bandpage.

Interviewed on 2020-02-12 by Comrade Aleks Evdokimov.
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