• Angelus fest : 03/06/2023

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Organizátori Angelus Festu sú samozrejme tiež zároveň fanúšikmi metalu, navštevujú koncerty a festivaly, kupujú si CD obľúbených kapiel, sledujú dianie na domácej aj svetovej scéne. Blogy slúžia na uverejnenie ich subjektívnych názorov, reportov z koncertov, recenzií albumov a podobne - skrátka všetkého, čo súvisí s hudbou, ale nesúvisí priamo s Angelus Festom a benefičnými podujatiami.

Interview with Augustinas from Juodvarnis band

Lithuanian band JUODVARNIS will be the first metal band from outside of the Czech Republic and Slovakia to perform at Angelus Fest. Their dark metal, influenced by Lithuanian culture and folklore with lyrics in their native language, will surely be a welcome addition to the program of the 4th edition of the festival. Drummer Augustinas told us more about the band, the music scene in Lithuania, and also something about the attitude of Lithuanian society towards the unfortunately still ongoing military conflict.


The Lithuanian metal scene is largely unknown to the average Slovakian metal fan. To kick off our interview, let's introduce the band JUODVARNIS. How long have you been active in the scene? How would you describe your style and why did you choose to focus on this particular style? Does Lithuanian folklore or mythology influence your music?

Hi! JUODVARNIS has been around for thirteen years already. I’d say in the beginning we were heavily influenced by traditional heavy metal and folk metal and the first album reflects that quite obviously. Later on we drifted further from our folk influences and delved into darker sounds.
It’s hard to describe your own style… I kinda like the tag ‘dark metal’. It’s not yet black metal, but also not death metal and not quite progressive. It’s somewhere in between.


The meaning of your band name, JUODVARNIS, translates to "black raven." Does the raven hold a special place in Lithuanian culture or mythology? Why did you choose this particular name?

Yes, the raven, in Lithuanian folklore, is the one that carries the soul of the deceased to the other world. Seemed like a good name. :)


Your lyrics are in Lithuanian, which sounds very interesting and unconventional to us Slovaks. I personally really like it when a band decides to write lyrics in their own language, and I think writing meaningful lyrics without sounding banal is much more difficult in one's native language than in English. Why did you decide to create in Lithuanian? Don't you think that lyrics in Lithuanian could be a barrier for you in breaking through to the international scene? Who is the author of the texts and what do they focus on?

Our main songwriter Paulius once said to me: ‘I wouldn’t be able to write lyrics in English.’ So that basically explains why we sing in Lithuanian.

As for the ‘breaking through’, I don’t think that that’s an issue. There are many examples of big bands singing in their native tongue (RAMMSTEIN, SOLSTAFIR, ALCEST, KVELERTAK). I think people are naturally drawn to things that sound different, language being one of them. I think that Lithuanian could sound exotic to someone. Same as, for example, Icelandic sounds exotic to me. 


How would you describe the Lithuanian metal scene to a Slovakian fan? Do you have any mainstream metal bands in Lithuania? Are there any major metal festivals held in Lithuania? How's the club scene? Are there enough clubs and do you think there are enough concerts? How's the attendance at club metal shows?

The Lithuanian metal scene is quite big for such a small country. There are bands in all genres and a lot of actually active bands. Some have big label contracts, some are independent. There is a feeling of community in the scene, because most concerts are organized by the musicians themselves and a lot of musicians are part of the scene in different ways. Some are sound technicians, others are designers, music video creators and so on. People help each other out and that’s how we keep it alive.

I guess the main festival to mention nowadays is Kilkim Žaibu. It’s not that big, but it’s very well organized and always super fun. The club scene is really good. There are gigs happening all the time. The attendance varies, because people can’t be going to gigs all the time. But I’d say it’s good.


In 2014, you triumphed at the Lithuanian Wacken metal battle, earning you a spot on the stage of this iconic festival, the world's largest metal gathering. How do you recall those moments? What impact did this event have on the band JUODVARNIS?

I recall it as pure excitement. Everyone was super hyped and wanted to deliver the best possible performance. It was an adventure, but also in some way it was our coming-of-age moment. Once you’re in that kind of environment, you really start to understand how small you actually are, so in that sense, it was a humbling experience. 

Last year, you embarked on a mini-tour with the Slovak band Solipsism, which included a stop in Bratislava. How did this tour go? Did it meet your expectations? How was it playing alongside Solipsism from Banská Bystrica?

The Solipsism guys are great. They were very friendly and helpful and we are very thankful to them. The tour went like a breeze and I don’t recall any problems whatsoever. We are two different bands, but I think the tour package worked fine. I hope the audiences enjoyed it.


Lithuania shares a border with Belarus, an ally of Russia in its military campaign in Ukraine. I would like to take this opportunity to ask you about the situation in your country in connection with this military conflict. What is the mood of society in Lithuania? Has the war also affected the daily lives of your people? Does the majority of your nation stand behind Ukraine, and is public opinion still set on helping the defending country? Are there any concerns in your country that the Baltic countries could also be targets of Russian aggression?

I’ll correct you here a bit. Lithuania has borders with both Belarus and Russia. 

Yes, definitely our lives were affected by the war. There is a tension in the air that’s felt by everyone. I must stress that Lithuania is one of the top supporters of Ukraine globally by share of GDP, so that tells a lot about our stance on the matter.
We are members of the EU and NATO and we have no intentions of coming back into russian hands.


Has this war somehow affected JUODVARNIS and your music?

I want to say yes, but I’m not sure. I’d say it’s still a bit early to tell if our new songs are somehow a reflection of the current events. Our lyrics focus on man’s relationship with the world, so there’s a chance that subconsciously we write songs about it even though the songs might not be about war in the direct sense.


Where have you had the opportunity to play abroad and which country stands out the most in your memory and why?

We’ve performed in the Baltics, Poland, Czech Republic, Germany, Ukraine, Slovakia… I can only speak for myself here, but I’d say that my favorite ones were always the local open air and indoor festivals. Lithuanian crowds are awesome and the energy is always great.


You're performing at the charity metal festival Angelus Fest in Banská Bystrica on June 1st. How would you invite fans to your show and the festival?

Come to the festival, enjoy the music, come say hi. It’ll be great! :)


Slovak version of this interview is here / Slovenskú verziu rozhovoru nájdete tu.


Interview by: Peter Javorský

Photos: Lunaria Wonderland, Kristina Trumpaité, Mantas Puida, daGera Studio, Vidas Černiauskas