Through meeting a new friend in Kostya Aronberg of Globmetal Promotions we have been introduced to some real treats and pleasures in the shape of bands and music from around the globe. One of the biggest enjoyments came in the debut album Star Of Delusive Hopes from Israeli metal band Desert. The album was not particularly demanding or challenging but was one of the best examples of honest and irresistible impressive metal. Given the chance to find out more about the band we took no time in bombarding keyboardist Oleg Aryutkin with questions.
Hello and thank you for talking with us at The Ringmaster Review
Please introduce the band.
Hi, and thanks for the opportunity.
We are Desert, a band of six guys who just enjoy playing a decent metal song!
The music we play is a blend of good old heavy metal and something we hope is unique.
With Desert you get epic feel for the lyrics and sing-along choruses from power metal Stratovarius, Dragonforce,, but also punchy beats and riffs from heavy metal, and crapload of keyboards to give it a more theatrical vibe.
Sure. Let’s see… Our lead guitarist, Max, started a band back when he was in the military service, just to play some cover tunes he enjoyed. It was Stratovarius, Dragonforce, stuff like that, fast melodic power metal. People joined, people left. Around 2004 stuff got more organized, Max played a gig or two, I’m sure you know these really obscure gigs in basements with soundmen selling pot at the entrance :)
Is there any relevance to the band name?
Heh, you be the judge of that. Back in 2004 we all used to literally live in a desert, with camels and what not. So when it came to choosing a name, the guitarist simply looked out a window and went “oh well..”
Just like that.
How has the band evolved over its decade of existence?
It sure did. First, we all learned to play our instruments a bit better. We also managed to find our voice, and not simply copy the music of famous power metal bands like we used to.
Max used to be the sole songwriter, over the years he found the way to come up with these weird riffs I didn’t hear before.
After some time I too started writing, and my approach is completely different.
You have had a few line-up changes during your time as a band too, have these had major impacts on the way your sound has grown?
hmm. we did go through few drummers and bass players. I guess every time it just sounded better and better!
A big upgrade was when we invited a second guitarist, about two years ago, right before the album release, it really gave our live sound more punch, and more aggressive direction to the songs.
For those new to the band how would you describe your sound?
hh, like I said, simple sing-along choruses, low baritone vocals, phat guitars, and well, it’s heavy on keyboards :)
We like to keep it technically simple, so no weird breakdowns, but instead we go for almost theatrical vibe, each song is a story.
You bring many elements to your heavy metal sound, what are your major influences that have inspired this?
Talking about our rock ‘n’roll heroes, we grew up listening to Grave Digger, Freedom Call, Helloween, Ozzy, stuff like that.
I look for influences. I really try to absorb everything I hear, be it the new Behemoth CD or a dubstep track I heard on Youtube.
I guess closest to my heart is 80’s music, both metal and popular.
But in the end it all goes through a filter, so no, we’re not black metal meets A-ha :)
Wow, a long time. It was a first major work, we worked the hell out of each tune.
The lyrics went through numerous revisions, the solos were practiced and thought through.
I’d say it took some 3 years to complete the writing. Then, a month of pre-productions, and three weeks in the excellent Nick Savio’s studio.
The album was recorded with Nick Savio (White Skull, Cyber Cross) who you just mentioned, and subsequently mastered by Andy LaRocque, the -nominated guitarist of King Diamond, both doing a great job with your excellent songs. How did you get them on board?
I think we found Nick on-line, and we really liked his work as a producer, so we went for it. Was a right decision, Nick really knows his stuff. And a great guy, too! Spent three weeks in his studio in Vicenza, Italy, so cool!
hm, Andy was an on-line acquaintance, too. He mixed by himself, we did not want to humiliate ourselves by suggesting stupid ideas. We just trusted him to do what he does! It’s funny how he sent us a first mp3 file, going “here guys, it’s like a pre-pre-pre-beta version, suggest something”, and we were like “yeah, don’t touch anything, it sounds golden!”
Can you tell us about the theme and stories that storyboard the songs within Star Of Delusive Hopes?
It’s kinda concept album, or maybe an idea album. All the songs share the same direction. It’s about the struggle for freedom. Most of the songs deal with and tell stories of historic personalities and events, like the title track, which is about the French revolution and the fate of Napoleon, or Victim of the Light, which is about Joan of Arc. We are really into history, and try to take our view on events and why we see them important.
Some songs are more ‘abstract’, like Whispers – it’s about an inner struggle within a person, I created the spoken intro to help understand the song. And there’s even a pirate song, Letter of Marque, which was kinda meant as light-weight, lyrics-wise, but came out pretty ‘honest’, and I’m really proud of it.
It’s not called Star of Delusive Hopes for nothing. The stories told are all with a touch of bitterness, we tell about betrayal, delusion, failure, but also hope – the whole deal. We try to describe real life, not a fairy tale.
The ideas and song inspirations are quite intense but your music also carries a surprisingly light and exuberant feel within its powerful sound. Was this a determined aspect or something that simply emerged whilst writing the album?
Hmm, never thought of this. I guess it’s just something we did, the way we write. I like a punchy riff, and a good uplifting chorus!
But we always pay attention to unity of music and lyrics, they should deliver the same message, fortify each other! There are tracks like Letter of Marque, with epic feel and a cheerful vibe, but there are also tracks like Whispers, which is darker, since its lyrics are nothing happy…
I’m really glad you’re mentioning it. There is, I think… Not as theatrical as some progressive or gothic bands, who create almost full-scale theatre plays, like Silentium.
We weren’t set to create a theater music project. It just came out that way. I realized that our songs have a lot of this after Whispers was written. It actually has spoken parts, monologues of sorts, and these weird sound effects that I created, to increase the sense of madness going on.
One track one the album which also became a single was Lament for Soldier’s Glory, It also featured a guest performance from Joakim Broden of Sabaton. How did that come about?
We met Joakim back in 2008 I think when we opened for Sabaton in Tel-Aviv, Israel. Joakim and the guys turned out to be a great bunch, full of life and super-friendly. So we chatted, drank some beers, but no business talk at all.
Some months later, we were working on the album, and this particular song demanded a male duet, at least in my head. So we started thinking who’d be right for the part. The song being about the WWII, Joakim’s name came out first. I was like, ‘yeah, right’. This guy never collaborated with anyone before, and actually refused some serious offers. But we gave it a shot, asked him. And he agreed to take part!
The track came out just perfect in my opinion. Joakim’s vocals fit the tune like a glove, it’s like we wrote it for him. Perfect.
Since then we’ve met quite a lot, Joakim flew in for our album release party, and later performed with us live in Israel, Sweden, and Cyprus. I hope its right to say we’re good friends now.
Desert is renowned for its live shows with you having shared stages with the likes of like Sabaton, Draconian, Nightmare, and Tim “Ripper” Owens. Live shows are a very important aspect of the band for you?
Heh, you forgot Helloween and Stratovarius :) I loved these particular shows! Oh, and Van Canto, they kill!
But let’s get back to us, he-he.
The most important. Desert is all about live shows. We put a lot of effort into rehearsing, thinking through the set, preparing all kinds of interactive experiences with the audience.
And we sure go crazy on stage. We run and we jump, and scream, like there’s no tomorrow!
The moment when I finally got my hands on a keytar (google it!) was a game changing one for me. Finally I can jump off the amp stacks, run into the audience, climb the lights, whatever, while still playing! I just LOVE playing live shows.
As I said, I value live music a lot, and try to attend as many live shows as possible.
But making records is still necessary, you gotta document your creations, and people enjoy the live performance more if they already heard the song, and read the lyrics.
How do you find things as a metal band in Israel, is there a strong scene for you and others there?
It’s tough, like everywhere else.
In Israel metal is not mainstream, it’s in the underground. But the scene, while not that big, is really strong in the sense of connection between people – bands, fans, writers, photographers, journalists. People are warm, and there are some great bands, too!
We have plenty of shows here, and many bands from all over the world come visit, and they are always amazed by how people here make them welcome!
How effectively has the internet taken you beyond your homeland borders into the wider world?
We have great friends all over the world we wouldn’t have a chance to meet if not for the web.
We have great friends and fans in countries like Poland, Bulgaria, Italy, Mexico, Canada – people write us and buy records.
So yeah, internet is super. Still, there’s no substitute for a good live show! Hold on, we’ll get to play everywhere eventually, and meet all these great people in person!
What has the rest of 2012 got in store for you or rather you for it?
hhh, I like the play of words. Well, we kinda took few months off to finish the next album, that’s what we’re after now – releasing a great album. I hope it’ll be ready by the end of the year.
Still playing some live shows, because its great fun and we don’t wanna get rusty!
Do you set yourselves any targets or aims during a year or just let things evolve?
We do set goals. Otherwise things just don’t move. When recording or rehearsing there’s a real schedule, a plan. We take music-making real serious.
Writing, on the other hand, is out of control. We can’t say, ‘ok, we’ll write two songs by next Friday’. Doesn’t work like that, unfortunately.
Again thank you for talking with us.
Would you like to leave with any last words for your fans old and new?
Thanks for the chance to chat about the band!
We are Desert, we love what we do, we believe in what we do, and we’ll make your head go Bang!
Stay true, stay metal, and go see a good live band next chance you get!
Read the Review of Star Of Delusive Hopes @ http://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2012/03/23/desert-star-of-delusive-hopes/Star Of Delusive Hopes
The Ringmaster Review 31/05/2012