In 2015, we use the Internet more and more as a communication and sharing tool – that’s the the reality of the fast paced 21st century. In fact, we’ve got ourselves into such a comfortable position, that everything is accessible with a click of your trackpad – shopping delivered at home? Click; You and me, me and you? Click; that new EP from that underground Icelandic black metal band? Click; what about some Kazakhstani yodelling? Click, and they’re both on your hard-drive.
Thanks to the online generation, we see a number of exciting opportunities for young bands from young countries who would otherwise have limited resources in keeping on point with global music trends. The best part of this internet age is the eroding of musical stagnation, thanks to new musical ideas being able to reach newly-born or recently-independent countries faster than previously imagined.
Lithuania is not an exception to this rule, as it falls right in the category of “recently-independent country” – just 25 years after freeing itself from the oppressive shackles of Soviet occupation, it has established itself as a Baltic cultural phenomenon, with Vilnius, its capital, leading the way.
As part of Lithuania’s blooming music and cultural scene, we headed off to one of the country’s biggest and most popular metal and rock music festivals, Devilstone. Held each year in the small north-eastern city of Anykščiai, the festival has gained a reputation for finding and attracting a variety of new musical acts; This year continued that tradition, and we watched five debut album acts from local artists.
Our late afternoon at Devilstone started with Phrenetix, the flagship of the Lithuanian thrash metal scene – you won’t hear any delay or reverbs here. Good, because we weren’t there for that. Led by front woman Lina, the band combines an angry, back-to-the-roots thrash metal sound with fluid West Coast modernity. The band contemplates the struggles resulting from Lithuania’s break from the USSR.
Rumours of a big black metal act started circulating a couple of years back, and it turned out the guys from on the most respected Lithuanian death metal bands, Paralytic, were not so paralytic after all, as they became Au-Dessus. Turning their whole sound around, they announced their new name, and signed a record deal in Poland without even making a debut gig.
With an eclectic sound that takes advantage of the freedom that black metal provides, it’s impossible to deny Au-Dessus are one of the genre’s trendsettersright now, even if their post-metal sound may not be to purists’ tastes.
Walking around Devilstone, the phrase “don‘t forget to be at the stage at midday” was commonplace and while 12 P.M. at a festival is quite the mission, breakfast with Faršas (English: minced meat) made the early bird start well worth it.
Some say that one man in a field is not a warrior. Nonsense. Forget that [possibly made up] axiom, and listen to some of the finest grindcore around right now. In fact, Kažkaiptai Nejuokinga, Faršas‘ third album is one of the best music releases of 2015.
The dreamy and melancholic NRCSSST showed the locals how romantic black metal can truly be. Hearing the influences of the genre’s pioneers Slowdive, Les Discrets, Amesoeurs and Alcest, it was impossible to not fall into a paradoxical trance – how can these swooping guitar sounds be in harmony with black metal’s trademark screams?
NRCSSST struck a blow to the “traditional” black metal formula, and showed how broad the genre’s framework to become avant-garde can be.
Have you ever thought of what the soundtrack to the most splitting hangover in a Las Vegas desert would be? These guys obviously did, and maybe they had even experienced it. Anyway, Sraigės Efektas’ (EN: Snail’s Effect) sound crashes low and slow, and while it’s neither palm desert rock nor Delta blues, the band has a unique sound with an undefinable genre; something previously unexplored – in fact, they were the best performance at Devilstone, and are a band that should be exported and listened to by the rest of the world.
Photos by Algirdas Šapoka.