Comatose Vigil is a marvellous Russian funeral doom band, and their debut album - Not a Gleam of Hope - is REALLY one of the best funeral doom releases from the past few years. The band’s keyboard-player - Keyboard Depressant - answered my boring questions. The chat hits subjects as vodka, hospitals and funeral doom. If you feel oppressed by any of these subjects, please stop reading.
How’s life in Russia right now? Russian winter has already begun? Do you like Russian winters and cold, wintry weather in general?
Life in Russia is usual at the moment, at least for russians. But the weather is really unusual - Rain in January is extraordinary for Russia. We like our famous cold winters with lots of snow, but unfortunately I remember such winters only from my childhood and haven’t seen it since that time. Every year it becomes warmer and warmer and less and less snowy and as I live in big city I can really feel it. Outside the cities “russian winters” are better.
Even great Russian writer Gogol said once that “Vodka is very important for Russians”. After 100 years, the image of Russia and the Russians is still somehow connected to vodkadrinking. Being a Russian, how much vodka do you drink, and what kind of role do you think has vodka in portraying your country?
Yeah, yeah... And bears walk along the streets and everybody wears russian traditional caps... That’s a stereotype about Russia... But actually I don’t remember that Gogol said that...well, whatever... The situation with alcohol in Russia is very frustating and dangerous now. As I am a doctor, every day I see people die from poor vodka, and there are lots of young people. Alcohol is a russian social scourge. Speaking about Comatose Vigil, we drink vodka ourselves, but we are not hard drinkers, we never booze. If there is a party or celebration we usually drink, why not?!
Not a Gleam of Hope. Are you people really such depressive ones? Or the album title has just a symbolical meaning and all of you in the band are huge life-lovers and optimistic people?
Well, actually there isn’t a gleam of hope, no hope. We are different people in our band, but there is no optimists here, that’s what gather us, I guess. We bring to our music parts of ourselves and they are different and unique, so it makes music be very interesting.
What were the reasons to create Comatose Vigil? Before CV you played under the name Subhuman Abstract. Why did you choose to change the band’s name? How do you think the name Comatose Vigil reflects the band, the music, the lyrics?
Well, the reasons of creating the band are usually the same: People like music, they see it in their own way, try to compose and finally they get their songs and want to play them, so they need more bodies to make it real. As for Comatose Vigil, first we played black\doom metal and then funeral doom. We are experienced musicians. We all played in different bands of different styles (from black metal to grindcore). Speaking about the “Subhuman abstract” name, we decided to change it cause it didn’t show what is going on in our minds. “Comatose Vigil” perfectly reflects our thoughts. But it doesn’t have an influence to the band and our music. Well, I mean that when I compose music I don’t think if it fits the “Comatose Vigil” name or not...
Anyway, what’s a “comatose vigil”?
Everyone can translate these words separatly and then get it together if he likes and there are so many meanings of this collacasion, so that everyone can choose what he finds the most interesting for him, that is the main point of the name “Comatose Vigil”.
Does the band have any personal message, or philosophy, or do you focus more on the music itself?
No, we don’t have any message; we just play the music, which is taken from the deep inside of us, of our souls. We play music that first of all we like. And the most important thing is to concentrate on music itself; other things don’t mean anything…
Do you think that coming from Russia is an advantage or disadvantage for you, or it’s quite neutral?
Well, for the band it is a big disadvantage…But as for me, I have no regrets that I was born and have lived all my life in Russia.
What do you think are the biggest differences between Comatose Vigil’ sound and music, and other funeral doom bands from Finland or from the USA for example?
Hmm.. I have never thought about. I mean I have never compared our music with music of other foreign bands. And as for our lyrics - I think fans can better answer this question.
Many people said that CV is similar to USA’s Tyranny. I think CV it’s more that a Tyranny influenced funeral doom. What’s your opinion on this subject?
I heard about that band, but… actually I think I haven’t heard their music…don’t really remember why, maybe I had no time or maybe I just didn’t like it… That’s why I unfortunately can’t answer this question.
Does the environment has any influence on you concerning song-writing? Does your natural surrounding affect on your writing, or the influence comes only form the depth of your soul?
Well, I think our music is some kinda symbiosis of the things that happen around us and then affect us inside, then turn into our feelings, emotions and come out of our minds and become music.. That’s it!
How did you inked a deal back then with Marche Funebre? Did you have sent demos for other record labels? How the relations with the label are? Are you satisfied with their work?
First we recorded a demo and gave it to our friends, so we’ve been talked about and Marche Funebre heard about Comatose Vigil and offered us a contract to release our debut album. It was a really good start for a Russian band, so we didn’t even think about - immediately said “yes”. I guess we are the first band whose debut album was completely paid by a label. Usually young bands spend their own money to release a debut CD. And now unfortunately we are not under “Marche Funebre” anymore.
On your previous rehearsal demos, which were released under the name Subhuman Abstract, there are few tracks which doesn’t appear on the debut. Now I see that an old song - Narcosis - will re-appear on the next Comatose Vigil material. Will you ever use the other songs from the early demos on a future release?
Emmm…Actually ALL our old demos and album includes only four songs (Cataracts, Galleries of coma, Mirrors of despair and Suicide grotesque) and no others… they are just played in different ways.
Your next release will be an EP entitled Narcosis. This will be out on Solitude Productions. Why didn’t you released it over Marche Funebre Productions? This means that you changed the label, or this EP is the only release which will appear under Solitude Productions?
Yes, as I have already said we are not under “Marche Funebre” anymore. And the 2nd album will be released under Solitude Productions. Solitude Prod. agreed to release the single in the run-up to our second album, while Marche Funebre decided that it wouldn’t be profitable. Actually in Russian underground scene we are the first to release a single… Although we don’t have anything against Marche Funebre, we think that Solitude Prod. is a very prospective label, not worse than MF.
I see that the track Narcosis will have an English and a Russian version too. Why was this necessary, regarding the fact that the lyrics are anyway hard to understand in funeral doom?
Hehe… Well that thing was made especially for Russian audience, because it is really important for them to understand the lyrics and to hear native language. And actually I think that in Not a gleam of hope words are quite understandable, in distinction from other songs of this genre.
There will be also a „Bonus Track” on this release. This is a new track? Why didn’t you give a real title to this song?
No, it isn’t a new track, it is a cover version to a song of one well-known doom-metal band. It is a surprise!
It’s really cool the wheelchair on the cover of Narcosis EP, who’s idea was that? I think its quite unusual as a cover, but fits very good to funeral doom!
Thanks. It was our vocalist’s idea. And I made it true - I made a photo of a wheelchair in my working place (I work in a hospital).
Talking about CD covers, I am interested what’s on the cover of Not a Gleam of Hope album? I see only some dark/grey smoke, fog or clouds...What is this really and who made the artwork for the booklet?
It is the same as the name of the band. Each person can understand it in the way he likes! The cover was made by the designer from Marche Funebre.
What about your musical preferences? What kind of music do you listen to? Any non-metal stuff?
Usually we listen to black-metal and doom. As for me, recently I was impressed by Mylene Farmer. Her shows are very emotional, especially when she sings and plays the piano alone. She makes the audience cry and feel sorrow.
Could you tell me about your musical background? Who were your early influences, how did you get in contact with metal music and funeral doom?
Each of us has its own musical background… We played in lots of bands… Black-metal, doom… Speaking about funeral doom - we have contact with Russian band Intaglio.
Did you have any musical training any of you? Do you think technical ability/skilled playing is important for somebody who plays in a funeral doom band?
No, we didn’t have any training, we are all self-taught persons. I think that for funeral doom it isn’t important whether you are skilled or not.
What do you think are the most important funeral doom albums? What do you think about the future of this genre? I think in the past years there were only a few really precious albums released. Do you think is there hope for this genre, or not a gleam of it…?
I think that most important funeral doom albums haven’t been released yet! I have lots of ideas and we will do our best to realize them. So I guess funeral doom will be alive at least while we are alive, haha.
Funeral doom being a very personal and almost spiritual music, what are your impressions of the great questions of life? What could be the meaning of life in your view? We are only flesh and blood, or there is also such thing as “soul”, or “spirit”?
Soul… there is…. You know, it is a topic for the whole, individual interview! Even the cleverest philosophers haven’t given strict and correct answers to such questions and I guess won’t give…
Your lyrics are circling around themes like death, despair and solitude. What do you think about death? Is it the absolute end?
Oh… Let’s drop this question, because if I start to answer this question, I’ll write a book with the same volume as “War & Peace”. Don’t even want to try to say it in several sentences…
What is the meaning of these lines: ”behind a mask with no eyes, there is the monolith of a face...”?
It is from Cataracts song… I guess it must be clear from the song…
In your opinion is there any piece of art (be it a painting, book or movie, etc.) which emanate similar feelings like your music?
I think that surely there is and for each person it is really individual.
If Comatose Vigil could do a soundtrack for a movie and it would be up to you to decide, which movie’s soundtrack, or what kind of movie’s soundtrack would be your music?
Well, I think we deny a proposal to do a soundtrack, because we can’t write music for smth, we write it just for the hell of it.
The booklet of the Not a Gleam of Hope CD though is very professional and impressive, contains only the lyrics and your contact address. No info about the line-up, no names, etc. Do you want to keep in secret who are the members of the band?
Well, I as I have mentioned earlier - the most important thing is music itself and other things mean nothing. So it isn’t a secret, but stuff like that distracts from music..
Does touring and gig playing is important to CV? What can people expect from a CV live show? Do you incorporate any additional/special elements beyond music when playing live?
Yes, gigs are really important for us. This plan to use show effects in our performances, maybe they will be simple, but we will try to make it interesting. I think we will start using show elements from Moscow Doom Festival part 2, that will be held in May, 2007.
How do you see the evolution of your country’s regarding metal music? What are the most popular genres in Russia? Any good bands in your area?
Future of the Russian metal music is very very uncertain because press makes popular only pop-music and it is more noticeable than everywhere else.
Are you following with attention what is happening in the (funeral doom) metal scene? Which are the bands, albums that you enjoyed in the past years? Who do you think are the best bands in the genre these days? Do you think Comatose Vigil belongs to the elite of the genre? (I do think myself.)
Thanks. I’d let fans and listeners decide whether we worth belonging to the elite of the genre. Speaking about the bands, early Shape of Despair, from the new DOOM:VS, but actually I don’t follow the funeral doom music..
What are you doing the members of Comatose Vigil in order to survive? Do you have a regular job?
Yes, sure, all we have regular jobs.
Well, before we close this interview please tell me how did you obtain that crispy guitar sound for the debut album? What kind of instruments and geer are you using?
Unfortunately, I didn’t take part in recording guitar sound, everything was done by our guitar player, and unfortunately I have no opportunity to ask him about it at the moment. But I’m sure, he would be proud to hear that words.
That’s all, any special message/news for us?
No, nothing special, just one more time remember that our new single is already available for you and soon we will record our 2nd album. Concentrate on music itself, other things don’t mean anything! Good luck! Comatose Vigil
by Robert Sun