I’m a huge fan of forward-thinking aka industrialized death metal. I found Fear Factory to be the future of death metal in the early days (I have changed my mind since to come to the conclusion that it’s in the fusion of multiple genres). There are acts like Oracles with Aborted and System Divide members who’re doing something similar albeit a lot more modern, and going back a few years, The Project Hate MCMXCIX from Sweden. The beauty of those bands lies in the fact that heaviness is alternated with contrasting moods affected by usually clean female vocals, and it’s this mix that is highly stimulating, for the lack of a better word. Conflict from Russia are doing something similar. Self-professed perfectionists, they have put out a stellar full length, and of late even a stunning video that got featured in our video roundup article.
Transcending Obscurity (Kunal Choksi): Looking back at your mammoth full length ‘Transform into a Human’, what are your thoughts about it? How well was the album received and how far did it propel your band into limelight?
Rodion (guitar): It is quite difficult for me to esteem the album objectively. For me, as a musician, Conflict is the first serious music project in which I participate.
Over time, I have improved my skills as a musician: in composition, structure, riffs, approach to songwriting in general, all that is changing and undergoes metamorphosis, because for me the album seems to be something very far, if I look at myself in the past.
I definitely like the album, but if we had done ‘Transform Into a Human’ now, some things would have sounded a little differently. With the release of the CD, our group gained international fame, and this is a good achievement. Interest in the band has grown considerably; we receive people responses from all corners of the globe. The release of the music video increased awareness of our band drastically. The very fact of our interview now shows the significant attention paid to us.
TO: Besides the obvious band Fear Factory, your band also reminds me of this underrated group from Sweden called The Project Hate MCMXCIX, what with the modern outlook and clean female vocals contrasting with massive growls. Of late, members of System Divine and Aborted released an album under the name of Oracles which was similar. Is this the future of metal? Once a novelty, female-fronted bands are being well-received and respected as well.
Michael (drums): I believe that the future of metal in a mixture with other genres. Now lots of bands are moving in this direction and it is highly refreshing.
We believe that the future of metal heavily depends on the mood that conveys the genre. If music represents the atmosphere that grows associations, feelings or reflection to inner entity then there would be desire to listen to music all over again. We also believe that it is unnecessary to drive ourselves strongly in frames, metal is very flexible musical direction, which can be converted infinitely by adding new elements from other genres.
TO: Can you tell us about the concept of your full length album? The artwork looks stunning and I’d love to know more about it.
Anna (vocals): There is a certain pattern in the album. I moved forward, back and forth in the lyric lines to describe transformation from a human being to a machine (literally and figuratively); what a man feels when he comes up with a system, whether it is a policy or internal chains or slavery. Some songs are written upon emotional response to a science fiction film, to its idea. On example, “The Elements of a New Era” based on “Blade Runner” main theme or Infinite Travel on Bicentennial Man’s idea. Both tell about freedom, even a mechanical creature born to be a man’s right hand searches the meaning of its own existence. A unique fact showing that a robot can be more human than any human can. “Rebuild the parasite” shows another side of a story, where machines are the darkest cluster which reflects a society, trying to decompose a soul and uniqueness of everyone. All these thoughts are so old, maybe somebody calls them banal, but still urgent, reflecting our consciousness today. We have to do everything just not to become a machine of uncontrolled consumption, of war, of ignorance… As for the album name, it was kinda flash in my mind. While we moved further in recording the material, searching of ideas for lyrics, the pattern became more and more colorful and definite. The phrase came up in a second, as envelope for message.
Regarding artwork – after the minimalistic design of “Prototype” we craved for something different, something that would catch an eye, or at least raise questions. We had a big number of designers and artists in mind: the first on the list, who agreed to work on a cover design, was a Greek artist, the leader of “Septic Flesh” – Seth Siro Anton, his style is very outstanding and recognizable.
However, still we doubted whether his artwork would be able to transfer the atmosphere, the mood of the music. Anyway, we took a break to think it over again and, just at that moment, we found through the net some artworks of Pierre-Alain Durand, the French digital artist and illustrator. All uncertainties, questions on who is going to be the author of the cover disappeared at once!
TO: You have released a slew of singles (mostly covers) since. How has that panned out for you? Do you think singles are important in metal? Is there a risk in doing covers of non-metal acts such as Lana Del Rey?
Rodion: Well, facing the current state of the music industry, the release of singles is a vital necessity! The flow of information is so powerful that if you produce a full-length album every 2-3 years, you could fully drown in this flow. The fans’ attention is unfocused and if we want to stay afloat, there’s need to periodically remind of we are still here and making music!
We definitely like to record cover songs, always wondering how this or that song will sound in a new interpretation, and if it is a pop song, then the process becomes even more interesting! No risk at all, we do not abandon metal as a style, so that our fans may stay calm. At the same time, we are not hostages of the genre and allow ourselves to do what we really like.
Anyway, our fans have choice to listen to our music or not. As you can see, cover versions we make are not limited to the styles of artists taken for covers. In the near future, you may rest assured, and find out the main audience likes our cover versions and still wants more.
TO: The death metal influences lend extra heaviness to your band. Do you want to go with the same sound or do you want to be more progressive in your approach in the future? What can we expect from Conflict in the coming years?
Rodion: Musical roots of Conflict go back to the music that we still like, resonating with every member of the band and this is not easy listening music; we refuse to step off the origins. However, in new tracks, we plan to complete our usual formula with more atmospheric moments, diluting the barrage of machine-gun riffs with catchy melodic fragments. This trend is being seamlessly traced through “Transform into a Human” and we are planning to improve and develop the blend in future.
TO: Your video was mentioned by me in our video roundup article. I love how there are fitting futuristic animations like Tron in your video. I couldn’t help but notice how popular it has become too. What can you tell us about the video? Did it prove to be very expensive to make that one and how important was that as an investment for the band?
Michael: Among our colleagues, our band stands out with huge perfectionist approach to our art, our releases is the evidence, so what happened to the debut video. In general, work on the video took a very long time and was quite expensive. We are not signed to any label, and completed work relying on our own strength and resources, so you can understand what cost we paid for the action! In any case, we are satisfied with the result.
Initially we did not intend to produce an average music video and film it somewhere in the forest or at an abandoned factory, too many pointless videos out there. Our course was set to computer graphic fulfillment. Visuals entirely based on CGI, everything was created and modeled from scratch; the huge work was carried out!
The higher the quality, the more passionate idea you deliver, the bigger the audience pays attention to a band. That was the most important investment to the video.
The video “Mechanism of Life” executed in the art style of symbolism, where a character becomes a kind of a conventional sign, there is innuendo and hints. The plot tells the story of how man seeks advanced technology to enter the era of “post-humanity” where it is possible to abandon the usual human appearance and cross the border of immortality, completely changing its essence by modifying his/her own body and maybe mind…The aim of the project was to create a high quality video product that would seriously differ from the majority of videos on the metal scene and recognized by audience.
TO: With such surprising and diverse covers – from Fear Factory to even Eiffel 65 – it’d be interesting to know about your influences, past and present. Are there any bands that you look up to?
Rodion: This is a very interesting question. In general, the idea of making a cover on Eiffel 65 came to us on the way home after a gig. We were seating in the car and listening to the retro radio – “Hits of the 90s”. Of course, we are familiar with Eiffel 65 and their music, but when heard the first notes of the song, almost everybody said – “Hey, we gotta cover this song! It would be crazy!” Each member of the group listens to tons of music of different kind, from jazz and hits of 60s to extreme metal.
I used to explore areas of metal music, but now I am an absolute melomaniac. I may listen to Depeche Mode in the morning, then avant-garde jazz in the evening. Even synthwave! It helps to bring new elements into our music and not be limited to the metal genre.
TO: I couldn’t help but notice that your band is still unsigned, which is surprising considering that you seem to have your shit sorted – right from nailing the sound to the presentation, and doing everything that needs to be done with regards to the promotion. Is this deliberate or are you eventually looking to get signed to one of the bigger labels out there that would be a good match for your kind of music ?
Michael: The decision about self-publishing for the second album was made fast enough. 3 years ago we already had the idea on how the album should look like. No label would not undertake such a clearance. We were also well aware that firing, in fact, a collector’s edition in conjunction with high-quality musical material, we would be able to sell and compensate the edition, collectors still remain. We are glad that people can have a fragment of our work as a token, and not just a set of numbers on a computer that is why we continue to produce CDs.
However, there is another side, of course, a band needs a good label, we are sorely lacking in advertising and distribution of the music and information about the band! We think a label could help much, but so far, no proposals we have. Perhaps with the release of a new record we will approach to the search of a label more responsibly.
TO: How often does Conflict play live? Have there been any international tours for the band yet? Are there any plans for that in the future?
Rodion: Yes, Conflict plays live gigs, we are fully functional in this aspect, rather than a studio project. Now, basically, we try visit Russian cities. Moscow public is very fastidious and picky people who mostly prefer famous artists to domestic bands. Unfortunately, due to the deteriorating economic situation, it is difficult for us to afford international tours, although we receive invitations, for example to South America. We hope that the situation will somehow change and the band will be able to visit with concerts different countries of the world. Maybe India? 🙂
TO: How challenging is it to play forward-thinking metal in Russia? From the looks of it, most Russian bands seem to be playing more old school-rooted music. How is the support for your band in your home country?
Michael: It is hard for us to find vast audience here among bands who play death, heavy or folk metal. Development and approach in many cases in Russia go with some delay in comparison with the majority of countries in the world, at the same time conservative view is very strong, therefore, more comfortable for people to listen and to go to concerts presenting understandable and comprehensive music they got used to. Sometimes it seems that we have more fans abroad than in Russia, and their warm support grows every day. The fact of lack support at home is a bit disappointing, but we continue to do our job without lowering the bar! Anyway, our fans’ attention and support give us inspiration and strength to go further!
TO: When can we expect new original music from the band? Are you working on an EP (wouldn’t be a bad idea) or another full length?
Rodion: Now we have started working on a new material and a couple of tracks are almost ready. The plan is to record 10-11 new compositions for a full LP. As the parallel, we are defining a conception. There are some very interesting ideas, but everything has its time. In addition, we have been frequently asked about a cover album, so we decided to release one to gather all of them, maybe with some new ones. We also do not forget about a new music video and planning its production accordingly.
TO: Thank you for your time and refreshing music. Last words are yours.
Conflict: Thank you very much for your interesting questions. Finally we are not asked why the band is called Conflict! 🙂 Follow our news and online resources; we are moving forward with a good bunch of interesting ideas and plans! Support your favorite artists and listen to interesting and high-quality music!