Interview with A. (instruments) and K. (vocals, lyrics) of Epitimia
Interview by Kira Levine
We caught up with two-thirds of Epitimia ahead of the release of their upcoming album, Allusion, discussing the record and more.
Hello! Thanks for your time, hope that you are keeping safe and well. Please state your name and position in the band.
A. and K.: Hello, we are A. and K. from Epitimia. A. is responsible for instruments, and K. stands for vocals and lyrics.
Epitimia were founded back in 2008. How did all the members meet?
К.: We became friends at school. And it was music that probably brought us together – at first, A. introduced me to the world of metal, he recorded his favorite songs on several cassettes. And when my love for metal was formed from the first listening, we started to listen to the mountains of releases together. In the last year in school, we began to try ourselves as musicians, recording all sorts of playful tracks on cassettes. Our first serious band was Autarchy, which performed melodic/symphonic black metal. But, unfortunately, the group did not exist for a long time and split-up, leaving only one demo and some recordings from rehearsals behind. After that, around the end of 2007, we came to the conclusion that we want to try ourselves in much more atmospheric, emotional music since it more characterizes us as individuals.
А.: Me and M. we have known each other since childhood, but we started working together in 2005 when we played in the melodic metal band Syntagma. I was playing keyboards then, and M. was just started learning to play drums. We did a few gigs and split-up in 2007. Already then we played in Autarchy together with K., and after Epitimia was formed, we invited M. to the recording of the second album of this project. Since then, we have continued to cooperate with her.
The band name translates to “penance” in English. How did you decide on calling yourselves this?
A. and K.: When choosing a name, we were looking for something that signifies some kind of spiritual experience. And we stopped on the Christian term “Epitimia” which means “repentance” because it reflects the whole spectrum of mental states that we convey in our music. We do not take this term in a literal religious sense, for us, it is rather the personification of sacrifice and atonement.
When you first started creating music, what influenced you to do so?
A. and K.: Each of our works were created under the influence of our experiences – in our personal life or what happens in the world; under the influence of those thoughts, ideas that were formed over the years in our heads. The lyrical hero that we have in our works is in many ways not mythical, but quite real.
Do you have any advice for those wanting to start a band? Were you given some yourself?
K.: The only advice I can give for all those people is to be sincere in their thoughts because any creativity is the realization of oneself.
1. Clue I: Animist
2. Clue II: Melencolia I
3. Clue III: Waiting for the Doom
4. Clue IV: I Aspire Like a Bird
5. Clue V: Altered State of Consciousness
6. Clue VI: Schizophrenia
7. Clue VII: Post Scriptum
Five full-length albums precede “Allusion”, which will be out on October 23rd. What would you say sets your forthcoming release apart from your prior releases?
A. and K.: We would not say that our new work is separated from the previous ones; on the contrary, it is closely related to all the rest of our music, although there are differences in the Allusion’s sound that we worked thoroughly on.
If we talk about the musical component, then this release is more melodic and even, probably, a little faster. We continue to bring new things to our music – for example, we think that in some compositions you can notice the influence of hardcore and even screamo – in the rhythm section and performance of the material. Clue VII: Post Scriptum also contains elements of styles that are far from black metal and will come as a surprise to many listeners.
What were the main influences when writing “Allusion”? Would you describe it as a concept album?
K.: Allusion is conceptual, but not because of the storyline (as we did in Faces of Insanity and (Un) reality, but because of its idea. This is a reminiscence of all our creativity, this is a meta-commentary for our creative path, which was our main inspiration while making this album. We wanted to do something that would catch the spirit of our previous albums, so Allusion contains a lot of musical references to them.
What gear did you use when recording “Allusion”?
A.: We’ve been recording with the same equipment for a long time. We record guitars at home on a simple m-audio card, emulating the sound. We record vocals and drums in the studio. We also mix and master at home.
Allusion’s beautiful album artwork is by Dasha Pliska (with the layout and design by Alexander Glukhov). Did Dasha come up with the illustration before the album was made, or did you commission her specifically to visualize the music on “Allusion”?
K.: Dasha Pliska has really great works, her style complements our music very well. We did not order a new design, but chose the finished work since we believe that it perfectly reflects the idea of the album.
Do you have a favorite song from “Allusion” or your previous records?
K.: A very difficult question. And it seems to me that I can’t answer it. It is as if you ask a loving parent what is his favorite child. I think it is worth leaving these questions for the fans of the group.
How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard it before?
A. and K.: I think the most correct characteristic of our music will be “eclectic”, “free”, since we have always tried to bring something new and interesting into it. The sound is quite raw and minor with different types of screaming vocals and with the addition of acoustic and electronic instruments.
Has the global pandemic impacted any major plans for Epitimia this year?
A.: No, it hasn’t. By the time the pandemic began, we had recorded almost all the parts of the instruments and vocals, so during the quarantine, the process of mixing and mastering was held.
Is there anywhere in the world that you would love to tour, once it is safe to do so?
A. and K.: Epitimia is not a live band. But it would be great to tour to Europe or America. In general, it would be great to see our listeners live, because this is what the studio project lacks so much.
Are there any other music projects that you are currently part of?
A. and K.: We have a side project – Depicting Abysm – and it was conceived as an offshoot of the main group. At one moment we started experimenting a lot in Epitimia, and in Depicting Abysm we wanted to continue playing more conventional black metal. A. also has a black metal project called Mute Ocean, which focuses on space and science fiction in its lyrics.
Do you have any interests outside of making music that you would like to talk about?
K.: Due to the heavy load at work and high involvement in the creation of music, there is absolutely no time left for some other hobby, except for reading books and watching films / TV series
A.: Besides music, I am also into photography and writing poetry.
Can you describe what the metal scene is like in St. Petersburg? Are there any other bands that play atmospheric post-black metal in Russia?
K.: St. Petersburg is a pretty big city, so there are enough good metal bands here. I would like to highlight the excellent, powerful debut of the St. Petersburg group Cross Bringer, The Signs of Spiritual Delusion, which I discovered recently. Talking about other Russian bands, there are interesting post-black metal projects, for example – an unusual experimental release from Carnation Maze.
Drummer and violinist M. makes up one-third of the band. It is really refreshing to see a metal band that does not overtly use their sole female band member’s likeness in their visual promotional material. Do you think M. being a member influences people’s opinions of Epitimia?
A. and K.: In our group, we try not to focus on the personalities of the participants, because the main thing is music. M. brings some of her own personality to the sound of Epitimia, so, of course, she helps to form an opinion about us.
Are there any up-and-coming bands that you admire?
K.: From the promising bands I would single out: “Gates of Tyrant” – although these Chileans were formed in 2012, but it was only this year they released their debut album with wonderful melodic black metal. Talking not only about metal, then I will highlight the French “Barqué”, who issued in 2019 a delightful EP with chaotic hardcore. And, of course, the French “Mur”, although it consists of experienced musicians, which, in my opinion, released one of the best albums in 2019.
Can you name any established artists/bands that have inspired you as a musical artist?
K.: We have inspiration not from the music of other bands, but from life itself. But there are bands that we like more than others. There are a decent number of bands and artists whose releases I enjoy listening to, and not only in metal music. My Top 5 would be “The Ocean”, “Gris”, “Battle of Mice”, “Envy” and “*Shels”.
A.: The main source of inspiration from the music of other bands for me is technical death metal and raw black metal.
If you could only listen to three records for the rest of your life, which ones would you choose?
K.: Without hesitation, in the first place I would put the work of Harold Budd and Brian Eno with Daniel Lanois – “The Pearl”, since this album is associated with some personal moments of my life (and you can even say that it became a soundtrack to my life), so its sounds and the atmosphere has strongly strengthened somewhere in the subconscious. In the second place there would be album “Андрей” by Дельфин – I love this artist for his excellent lyrics, and this release has a wonderful minimalistic arrangement. With the third disc it will be more difficult, but let’s put there ColdWorld “Melancholie²” – a piercing and beautiful atmospheric black metal.
A.: I think my three records will be: Dvar “Rakhilim”, Katatonia “Viva Emptiness” and Archspire “Relentless Mutation”.
Are there any highlights during your career with Epitimia that you are particularly proud of?
A.: I would single out the (Un)reality album creation process because there was one of the strongest creative impulses. And I am very glad that it ultimately led to the creation of an epic and at the same time very intimate piece of music.
K.: I would say a little differently – I am proud that I have Epitimia in my life (and all the musical projects in which I am involved) because the creative activity is a very important, integral part of me.
What do the next 12 months look like for Epitimia?
A. and K.: Our main plan for the upcoming year is to stay active creatively.
Thank you so much and congratulations on releasing “Allusion”! Do you have anything else you wish to add?
A. and K.: Thank you so much! It was nice to talk to you. And we wish everyone strong health and a lot of creative energy!