Leaving Behind Dimension so Hollow
CoC interviews Rustam Shakirzyanov of Rakoth
by: Pedro Azevedo
Not many Russian bands have reached my ears to this date, but Rakoth's _Planeshift_ [CoC #45] is a clear indication that there may be plenty of quality there waiting to be found. The new Italian label Code666 fortunately discovered this Russian trio's creativity and talent and recently released their album _Planeshift_. Rustam Shakirzyanov (vocals, keyboards and programming) answered my e-mail interview about Rakoth and Russian metal.

CoC: Where does the name Rakoth come from? Mythology? Can you tell us more about that name and why you chose it?

Rustam Shakirzyanov: No, it has nothing in common with mythology. It is the name of the character invented by N. Perumov, Russian fantasy writer. Rakoth is the demigod, so-called "True Magician", Master of Darkness, who refused to serve Young Gods and overthrew them, thus becoming the New God of Hjorvard. He was the Insurgent One, and that is why we have chosen his name for our band.

CoC: Your musical style isn't easy to describe, as you usually incorporate plenty of variety in your songs. How would you describe it yourselves?

RS: We wouldn't. However, the question needs to be answered, so I'll use the term used by Code666 Productions to describe our style: "Epic Dark Metal".

CoC: Would you like to tell our readers what _Planeshift_ is about, lyrically? What is the concept behind it?

RS: _Planeshift_ does have a concept; not a clear one as our _Superstatic Equilibrium_ MC had, though. The concept of _Planeshift_ is hazy and highly personal for each of us. I wouldn't describe the lyrics -- everyone can read them inside the CD cover. If one reads them and wishes to think about them and interpret them for him/herself, the concept will become personal for that person too. The key song (lyrically) is "Planeshift" itself, but the others aren't less important -- they are like a flower's petals. Something like tales, united by one central (and not quite obvious) idea. The lyrics are painted with fantasy images or sometimes even describe whole episodes from certain fantasy books, but don't get caught up with it -- the album is -not- about fantasy and we are -not- a fantasy band.

CoC: Are you satisfied with your debut _Planeshift_? I personally found it quite interesting; plenty of work and creativity seems to have been put into it.

RS: Yes, we are satisfied. Of course, now we would change some things in it, but it doesn't matter at all. The album is as we wanted it to be when we entered the studio. However, I wouldn't call _Planeshift_ our debut. We have an MC (unreleased yet, unfortunately) which represents a complete and finished album. That was our debut. As for _Planeshift_, we find it more professional than our previous works, but our future works will definitely be even better and more professional. That's for sure.

CoC: The last song on _Planeshift_, "The Unquiet Grave", struck me as very good and also considerably different from the rest of the album. Do you agree?

RS: Well, we find -all- songs on _Planeshift_ very good. But I agree that "The Unquiet Grave" differs a lot from the other tracks. First, it is the only song on the album which doesn't fit the concept -- the lyrics aren't mine, they were taken from "Celtic Miscellany" and used in our own music as a tribute to Celtic culture. Second, it is the only song (excluding instrumentals, of course) which does not feature P. Noir's voice at all, but does feature Dy's voice mixed with mine (on the last verse). And finally, the music itself is different. It is because most parts of it were composed long ago, during the times of our demo _Dark Ages Chronicle_. We used those parts because they fit the atmosphere of the text perfectly. Oh, by the way, there is another feature which distinguishes the song: length. It is the longest track on the CD.

CoC: How did you get in touch with your label, Code666? It seems rather strange that an unsigned Russian band ended up signing for a recently founded Italian label which hadn't yet released anything, either. Is everything working out well with Code666?

RS: I once received an e-mail from them, something like: "We would like to hear your music." I sent them our promo MC _Superstatic Equilibrium_. The reply was: "Great, what about a deal?" That's it. We signed the deal. We are glad to work with Code666. There are certain advantages in being signed to a small (and especially a newly founded) label. You'll see: soon, we, due to Code666, will become rich and famous, and Code666 (due to us, undoubtedly) will become a -big- record company, signing Madonna, Elton John and Pet Shop Boys. <laughs>

CoC: In my opinion, very few Russian bands seem to reach the western part of the European market these days, even though some eastern European countries, like Poland, have several quality bands that are reasonably well-known in the rest of Europe. Do you agree? Why do you think this happens?

RS: The main reason is that Poland, for example, has a much higher life quality level than Russia. So Russian musicians have much less opportunities. However, there are some other Russian bands which are signed to foreign labels. They are (besides Rakoth) Nokturnal Mortum (Ukrainian band, but who cares? It's almost Russia), Mental Home, Ens Cogitans, Satarial (not sure, but there were rumours that they were going to get signed somewhere in Italy) and more...

CoC: Could you give us some details about today's Russian underground metal scene? Any specific bands you would recommend as being especially interesting or promising?

RS: There are a lot of bands, but no "scene". Bands fight as "true/false", as it was in Norway several years ago. There are few bands which I would recommend: Umbral Presence (my solo-project, hehe...), Melissa, Rossomahaar, Stonehenge, Ens Cogitans, Temnozor'. These bands are professional and have a lot of originality. There are other professionally playing bands with interesting music, but they follow the trend by copying bands such as Cradle of Filth, Dimmu Borgir, Emperor, etc..

CoC: How do you think the future will be like for Russian metal? Any hope for improvements?

RS: Sure. I think the scene will grow in quality, not only quantity, and it will attract the attention of foreign labels. I don't think that Russian labels will become competitive against the western ones in any foreseeable future...

CoC: Back to Rakoth, and speaking of the future, what are your objectives with the band? What would you like to achieve in these next few years?

RS: We don't plan to "achieve" something. We just create music. So, the only plans for the future are: 1. we are going to re-arrange and re-record some of our old stuff and release it through Code666 (the deal has already been offered to us) this year; 2. we intend to record the brand new album sometime during the next Winter and release it through Code666 as well. Nothing more is planned.

CoC: Any closing comments?

RS: I'll distort the quote from my own lyrics for the end: "Search for the way inside thyself"...

(article submitted 5/3/2000)

7/9/2003 J Smit 7.5 Rakoth - Tiny Deaths
1/14/2002 V Eldefors 9 Rakoth - Jabberworks
1/15/2000 P Azevedo 8 Rakoth - Planeshift
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