Lithuania isn’t particularly known as a hotbed for metal but something is rumbling in the Baltic state. Enter ERDVE. The quartet have been rumbling in their local underground since their formation back in 2016, but now, the Lithuanian noise makers are ready to stamp their name on the global metal scene. Pulling influences from sludge, black metal and hardcore, their recently released debut Vaitojimas is a visceral and ear-splitting sonic assault and looks set to catapult ERDVE into the spotlight. We caught up with guitarist/vocalist Vaidotas to get the lowdown on their debut album, including its themes and sound, alongside discussing the benefits of the cross-pollination of genres and how ERDVE will put Lithuania on the map for heavy music.
So your debut album, Vaitojimas, is finally here. For those who are not familiar with your sound, how would you best describe Erdve for the uninitiated?
Vaidotas: Thanks for speaking with us! Our sound is mostly based on experimenting with different elements within extreme metal, hardcore, noise and many different kinds of other music. We try to portray our own perception and understanding of what is heavy music to us and tend to symphatize the unconventional attitude towards experimentation.
The record arrives just two years after your formation back in 2016, can you give us an insight into the writing and recording process for this record?
Vaidotas: It’s getting a more common thing for bands to record everything by themselves these days, considering numerous financial and logistical reasons for that I suppose. Probably, what was more interesting about Vaitojimas is that we have worked on the sound of the record before we had any songs written. At first, we have recorded some very rough conceptual demos of how we would imagine our soundscapes to be like, and then worked on the mix to see whether it’s possible to accurately deliver our vision by ourselves. We were satisfied with the result, so we kept on writing more music and recorded at the same time. For us it was more creatively convenient to write music in such a way as you have a possibility to almost immediately hear how your ideas would sound on the actual record. Once you have the sound already in place, you can make adjustments to your playing rather than the sound in order to complement the music.
Musically, Vaitojimas is absolutely punishing with it being clear that you have a wide range of influences channelling through to your sound. Can you tell us some of your musical influences that have bled into the sound of Erdve?
Vaidotas: We really do appreciate a very wide spectrum of artists and communities with whom we share a similar attitude towards art and creativity. Somehow, unintentionally, we do find inspiration in more unconventional parts within music scenes and genres. I would say, a lot of direct inspiration comes from HYDRA HEAD, NEUROT and other communities, from which many iconic bands arose with their unique approach towards music. To be more specific there would definitely be NEUROSIS, ISIS, OLD MAN GLOOM, SUMAC, KNUT, GAZA, BOTCH, TESA, CELESTE and many others. As I have mentioned before, we have quite a wide range of influences in the experimental, jazz, electronic, avant-garde categories who have shaped our perception of music as an art form in numerous ways, to mention a few names like SWANS, THE NECKS, BOHREN & DER CLUB OF GORE or KILIMANJARO DARKJAZZ ENSEMBLE.
The cross-pollination of hardcore with other musical styles has been gaining quite the momentum in the past several years. What do you believe are the core strengths of pulling influences from a variety of different styles in heavy music?
Vaidotas: I do believe, that in time you tend to appreciate many different things in art that you filter and keep some to yourself, what later becomes your own tool for expression. When you have an intention to induce a certain emotional reaction with your music, you might encounter certain genre limitations that you have to either commit to or try and explore something else, which could help to channel the idea the way you imagine it. In order to transmit your own power of thought, you have to determine the right tools in order for you to become flexible enough to portray your vision accurately. A painter is choosing a certain colour spectrum that he wants to use in order to show what he wants to show on the canvas. In a similar way, we could consider our stylistic variations and approach to playing as that kind of a colour palette in order to express our musical aesthetic. Yet, we do not perceive such creative effort as a direct genre-mixing, it’s about letting music ideas flow by itself without thinking too much, apart from the emotion that it emits.
That being said, not everyone is on board with the fusion of various styles. Have you been met with any hostility for this fusion?
Vaidotas: It’s a natural progression and that’s how essentially new genres are being developed, isn’t it? I do not personally see any logical reasons for such hostility, at least for me and how I personally appreciate other artists in that regard. I have only witnessed some discussions questioning whether our music fits in the metal category or should be considered solely as hardcore, like if it would make any difference. People like to be explained things before they try to grasp them, as it saves them the effort on finding the answer for themselves, sort of a filter perhaps. However I do not incline that every kind of art should be understood or appreciated by everyone, in fact, the more questions it raises, the more value it creates. I think at this time, certain genres are more about defining a creative approach, rather than sound.
In terms of the album’s themes, according to your press release the record revolves around a concept of an emotional void filled without any moral barriers. It’s quite an elaborate concept, so can you give us an insight into the what sort of themes and messages you are looking to portray with Vaitojimas?
Vaidotas: The concept mostly revolves around immorality, but from a viewpoint of touching the variables that influence a certain immoral behaviour. By setting a different a reference point, the whole spectrum of mental, emotional or physical needs may become a justifying factor for immorality. Such concept lets you explore the thoughts and feelings which such immoral participant might have upon acting, trying to understand the reason behind them, how such reasons or feelings are similar to ours in many ways. The narrative of the album is graphically illustrating such emotions and thoughts in many themes that personally terrify me – current conflicts around the world, sociopolitical factors, religion, domestic and poverty issues alongside substance abuse or social abruption from reality within the massive amount of superficial information. The main idea behind the album, in relation to the narrative, is to help reflect upon yourself on those matters, by helping you understand what is important to you and what should be appreciated or cherished.
And with this being your debut record, what are you hoping to achieve with Vaitojimas?
Vaidotas: To be honest, we did not even remotely expect the album to be released properly when we recorded it. So you can imagine, that a worldwide release might be a little overwhelming for us. I believe that the album is a great first statement, as it has so much of what we’ve been hoarding within ourselves for many years, so it can be considered a truly personal album. Maybe that’s why it’s a little bit frightening to present the album widely.
Despite being just two years operating as ERDVE you have already snapped up the attention of Season of Mist. What does it feel like being on their roster and how have the helped your development as a emerging band?
Vaidotas: This partnership means a world to us, mainly because it was the music itself that has brought that attention. We feel that what we did in our honest effort was recognised by someone whom we appreciated for many years, so that definitely acted as a stimulus to develop our band further. The future definitely looks very exciting for sure and very extremely thankful to Season of Mist for the opportunity to work with them.
Lithuania isn’t particular known as a hotbed for established and recognised metal bands. Can you give us an insight into your local scene and do you think ERDVE are going to put Lithuania on the map for heavy music?
Vaidotas: Our scene is relatively small, yet we do have a few active communities consistently working with their contribution to the scene. In many cases, those are circles of musicians involved who are looking to channel their art in an appropriate context. As there been quite a few of such communities throughout the years, our scene is quite interesting and dynamic. Small scene means a lot of challenges as well in regards to show attendance, logistics and supply of bands which results in lack of persistency in a lot of cases. Many touring bands do not perceive our country as an attractive touring stop which is also quite unfortunate, but the situation keeps getting better. As for ERDVE being on the heavy music map, we will do everything that we can to help our scene to step forward as we have many talented and unique bands that have something to say and show.
And to close, we will offer you the floor. Do you have anything to say to the readers of Distorted Sound?
Vaidotas: Thank you for reading and we would appreciate if you reach out to us with your thoughts and experience while listening to the album.
Vaitojimas is out now via Season Of Mist.
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