Mastered for vinyl by Patrick W. Engel at Temple of Disharmony
»Will Of The Gods Is Great Power« by Scald from Yaroslavl in Russia has over the decades become a true doom metal cult classic. The album was originally released in October 1997 on cassette only. At this point in time their charismatic singer Agyl was already dead, and the band as such didn’t exist anymore. Now, some 24 years later, High Roller Records is proud to present the ultimate edition of »Will Of The Gods Is Great Power«.
As bassist Velingor explains, the true story of Scald begins when the band started recording their first official demo »North Winds« in 1994, a year after their actual formation: “The first song we composed for that demo was ‘Night Sky’. Its original working title was ‘Morning Stars’, but later we accidentally discovered that ‘Morning Star’ was a name of an English communist newspaper. We also found out that it was one of Satan’s names. So Agyl insisted we change the name of our song to ‘Night Sky’ – he didn’t want Scald to be associated neither with politics nor Christianity (as well as anti-Christianity). All this happened at the very beginning of 1994.
However, even before that (in the second half of 1993) Scald already had two other songs. One of them was named ‘My Sin’, and we discarded it as sounding too speed/thrash metal like. The other one was the very first version of ‘Ragnaradi Eve’, which we thought was not epic enough, so we kept working on it. As a result the song became 15 minutes long, so we had to edit it a little bit. This shorter version later became part of the demo and also found its way onto the album »Will Of The Gods Is Great Power«.”
Originally »Will Of The Gods Is Great Power« was only released on tape. “The reason is simple,” explains Velingor, “back then releasing stuff on CD was way too expensive, the production costs were too high. So only the most famous bands could expect a record label to spend that much money on them, and of course not so many people knew of Scald in those days. That’s why MetalAgen (one of the biggest labels in Russia at the time) released the album on tape only. And to be honest, this edition was far from perfect. First of all, the label chose which cover art to use – after they simply lost the one we prepared and sent them! The one they used was some random photograph and it looked like a sort of tropical waterfall and had nothing to do whatsoever with what Scald’s music was all about.
Furthermore, they also made a mistake in one song’s name – it was ‘A Timulus’ where it should have been ‘A Tumulus’. This led to years and years of confusion as to this song’s name. Even when after Agyl’s death the band Tumulus was formed, like ten years later people at live shows were still shouting: ‘Timulus! Timulus!’. Quite upsetting, to tell you the truth…”
In following years »Will Of The Gods Is Great Power« was also issued on CD (in a re-mixed version): “The original recording was re-mixed at some studio in Moscow, but only in the late 2000s – this was the initiative of Wroth Emitter Prod. who was working on yet another re-issue of the album. The first CD edition happened in 2003 on the same label.
As to the High Roller edition, the album was mastered for vinyl by Patrick W. Engel at Temple of Disharmony. And the bonus tracks were remastered a few years ago by Scald guitarist Harald at his home studio named ‘XIII’.”
The original title of the record was »Will Of Gods Is A Great Power«, which has been changed to »Will Of The Gods Is Great Power«. Why that? “There is a bit of confusion about the album title,” confesses the bassist. “’Will of the gods is great power’ is the actual line of the ‘Night Sky’ song, and that’s why we prefer using this version of the title, even if it’s not entirely correct where grammar is concerned (back when the album was composed it was hard to find anyone in Russia with a decent knowledge of English). Apparently, MetalAgen tried to improve it by adding the ‘a’, but for some reason they lost ‘the’… Anyway, we intend to use »Will Of The Gods is Great Power« as the album’s title in the future.”
The overall sound of »Will Of The Gods Is Great Power« is pretty rough, which adds a special charm to the record. Would it have had the same impact with a huge, warm production like prime-time Candlemass or more currently Sorcerer? “This is a difficult question,” reflects Velingor. “Back when we were recording it we obviously wanted to achieve the best possible quality of the sound. But for all of us it was the first time working in a professional studio (it was called CheckSound), and the guy who owned it, Nikolay Chekmasov, while having quite extensive experience of sound engineering, never recorded a metal album before. So the result was what you call a ‘rough sound’, and now, after so many years, we realize this is a part of what made the album so special and atmospheric.
Would it have achieved the same cult status with a Candlemass-like production? It’s hard to tell, maybe it would, but I think it would have had a different reaction from the public, probably losing most of its ‘out of this world’ atmosphere. In my opinion Scald’s music is much closer to Viking-era Bathory rather than classic Candlemass. And this rough sound suits »Will Of The Gods Is Great Power« more than the clear and ‘distinct’ sound of Candlemass… or Sorcerer… or Solitude Aeturnus… (or basically any other quality doom metal band with clean vocals – just take your pick.”
In the 1990s not a lot of people were actually aware of »Will Of The Gods Is Great Power«, so would it be true to say that the record was re-discovered by a broader public several decades later? Velingor explains: “The album was released by MetalAgen in October 1997, a month after Agyl’s death, when the band was no more. In those years a band which no longer existed and only had one album recorded had a very slim chance to be remembered. Active bands kept releasing their albums, and they could support them by gigs and tours, so the memory of Scald was soon overshadowed by new events and releases.
Russian media featured Scald for a couple more years, and then simply forgot all about the band. So »Will Of The Gods Is Great Power« was only listened to by the true fans, who knew Scald well and remembered us from live shows. For this we’ll be eternally grateful to them.
Only when in 2003 »Will Of The Gods Is Great Power« was released on CD by Wroth Emitter Prod., and via trade started to spread worldwide, was Scald discovered by doom metal fans throughout the world. The first vinyl edition by ‘Kyrck Productions and Armour’ in 2005 also helped a lot to spread the word of Scald. People were surprised and sad that the band they only just found out about no longer existed. Since that time there were a number of new editions of »Will Of The Gods Is Great Power«, in various formats, and by then it had definitely become a doom metal cult record.”
“In the 1990s doom metal was very popular in Russia and there was a considerable demand for it among the metalheads,” continues Velingor telling the story of Scald. “But mostly it was death/doom, or any other variety of it where growling vocals were used. Right now I can only remember one doom metal band which used clean female vocals – Canonis from the city of Naberezhniye Chelny. But then again, they were closer to gothic metal than pure doom.
Without a doubt the leaders of the doom metal scene back then were Mental Home (from Moscow, Russia) and Gods Tower (from Gomel in Belarus). Stonehenge (these guys were our buddies) and Saints’ Everlasting Rest, both from Moscow, were also prominent doom metal bands of the 1990s. There were others, obviously, but it’s impossible to name or remember everyone. What I am sure of is that none of those bands used powerful clean leading vocals. That’s what set Scald apart.”
As mentioned before, when »Will Of The Gods Is Great Power« was originally released in October 1997, it was not possible for the band to support it live (because they had already broken up). So the band’s live activities took place between 1993 and the summer of 1997: “The very first Scald gig took place in the autumn of 1993 when we played at the Yaroslavl rock festival. Karry was not a part of the band yet (he joined us later, in the beginning of 1994), so the second guitar was played by Andrey ‘Chief’ Terentyev. We played our two songs (that were mentioned earlier). After that we took every opportunity to play – in Yaroslavl, our home town, in Moscow, or in small towns nearby.
We often had to share the stage not only with other metal bands but with punks, grungers, and guys who played so called ‘Russian rock’. Sometimes in Moscow there were festivals featuring metal bands only, but mostly more aggressive and brutal kinds of metal. Nonetheless we always had a great reception by the crowd.
By 1996-97 Scald already was a very well-known and respected band – thanks not only to the shows but also to the »North Winds« demo. Although we were not among the top bands of that time and were not considered “number 1” in Russian metal. But we had quite a number of true fans, including those in Moscow – and having fans in the capital of Russia was considered a real achievement for a provincial band. Of course we never got paid for any of our shows (we considered ourselves lucky when we at least had the travel expenses covered, and this only happened a couple times!), but we were young and eager to prove ourselves, and also proud to have an opportunity to play and see the enthusiastic response on the part of our fans. That’s what made us realize we were ready to take a risk of recording a full-length album.
Our very last show with Agyl happened in the summer of 1997, when we played at the Yaroslavl stadium in front of more than 1,000 people. Scald were scheduled to play right after the cult Russian heavy metal band Aria, so we used to joke about Aria being our support band that day! This show was also unique in the way we had to play without our guitarist Harald, who was called to duty only a few days before the festival. We had no time to make arrangements for a replacement, so it was up to Karry to handle both his own and Harald’s guitar parts, which he did brilliantly.”
Regarding the lyrical concept of Scald, was this influenced by Swedish bands like Heavy Load and Bathory (»Hammerheart« period) or did the inspiration also come from literature, film, theology/philosophy or historic writings?” There was some influence by Bathory for sure,” agrees Velingor. “We were often inspired by some mesmerizing phrases and words in their lyrics. As to Heavy Load, I’m afraid we hadn’t heard about them back then, and I don’t think anybody in Scald listens to them now (well, maybe except Felipe) – at least personally I have never heard of this band.
Some ideas for lyrics were conceived by Harald, who was reading the Scandinavian saga called »Heimskringla« – in Russian translation, of course. Some were suggested by me, like ‘Eternal Stone’, which is based on an actual runic inscription I read about, or ‘A Tumulus’, inspired by an ancient Russian poem of the 12th century called ‘The Tale Of Igor's Campaign’.
And of course many ideas came from Agyl himself – many of them being dedicated to the natural wonders of the North. Also ‘Sepulchral Bonfire’ is entirely his creation – the inspiration behind it was a great Soviet movie about ancient Slavs called »The Primordial Rus«. For the re-issue of »Will Of The Gods Is Great Power« by High Roller Records we decided to use this song’s lyrics as a basis for the new cover artwork (created by the brilliant Andrey Andreev).
The idea with Scald was to use both Slavic and Scandinavian themes, but we never really thought of trying to set some sort of proportion here. So in the end two songs from the album – the mentioned ‘Sepulchral Bonfire’ and ‘A Tumulus’ – are inspired by Slavic paganism, and the rest is based on Scandinavian beliefs. It just happened naturally. ”
Unfortunately, original singer Agyl is no longer with us, he was an important factor in the overall concept of Scald. Was he maybe the most important musician in the band, his vocals surely were one of the main trademarks of the band’s sound, weren’t they? ”Without a doubt, Agyl was a fantastic singer and the band’s leader,” confirms the bassist. “But let us not forget that Scald is a band, and Scald’s music is a result of a collective effort. The unique sound of the band would not be possible without any of its members. That’s how it always was, and it remains so now.”
Along with Felipe of Procession/Capilla Ardiente on vocals, Scald did indeed issue a new 7” single. So will there be a new full-length album as well? “Sure, there will definitely be a new album!,” beams Velingor. “It’s already in progress and will consist of new songs only. Felipe and us have to work online for now, obviously. We compose and perfect new songs, record their demo versions and send them to Felipe, along with lyrics or some ideas for them. And then it’s up to him – he works on the lyrics, composes magnificent vocal parts, suggests some musical ideas. Some contradictions are inevitable, of course, but we always manage to find compromises.
I can honestly tell you that the re-birth of the band would not have been possible without Felipe. He is the only vocalist we know who really understands Scald’s concept and can truly perform the old songs the way they were meant to be sung. As to the new ones, check out our EP »There Flies Our Wail!« to get some idea of what is coming and get ready for ancient doom metal!”