The Power Of Metal Webzine -
Skyforger were formed in Riga, the capital city of
Latvia, in 1995 and play a vein of music that mixes modern Metal with
traditional Latvian elements. The band has played countless niche festivals as
well as more ‘eclectic’ festivals such as Hellfest and Summer Breeze Open Air.
“Kurbads” is Skyforger’s sixth album.
a chance for you to tell our readers about your most recent album “Kurbads”. But
first, could you please tell us how you think Latvian folk tales differ from,
say, Greek or Norse mythology?
Oh man! This could be a theme for dissertation! Folk tales differs from
mythology in its core - I think, they are more like fairytales told by the
simple folks, whereas mythology are tales about gods made by priests and
religious persons. But all in all we share same common things in our Baltic
folktales as well as in mythology with all other Indo – European nations. The
very core came from the same roots when we were one nation long, long time ago.
back to your question. Tale about Kurbads is more related to tales about heroes
than mythology, it can be compared to Irish Cuchulain, English Arthur and
Knights of the Round Table and German Siegfried and the Nibelungs – they could
be called a tales about dragonslayer, a man with unnatural power who fights huge
monsters and demons.
tale was told for generations from mouth to mouth, no one knows who made it - it
was written down only in late 19th century, while Greek and Norse ones were
known for long times already. Also comparing to Greek or Norse legends our
Baltic ones lacks their epicenes due the fact that they were created by simple
people instead of skilled bards, writers or poets.
There are more other local differences to be found in Kurbads and Greek or Norse
mythology, but I think you get the picture.
‘Folk Metal’ epithet is a bit vague when describing a genre. For instance
Korpiklaani, the new Cruachan and “Kurbads” are musically quite different. With
this in mind, how important is it for Skyforger to be perceived as part of the
Folk Metal scene?
I don’t know, I think it is not really important to us. Of course there are some
similarities we share with the bands you named and it could be answer why we are
put in same “folk” bag, but I don’t think that we clearly belong to folk metal,
maybe Kurbads is, but it is an exception due to the theme of the album, though
our other albums are more harsher and can hardly bear a folk metal label.
But then again it is true that most of our auditory are those fans who listens
to folk metal, but in the end we are doing things what we like and how we like,
instead of pleasing as much people as possible to become widely popular.
onto “Kurbads”… track-by-track, what inspired you, what topics are you dealing
with, what you wanted to express with the songs etc.
As the whole album is one
long story, then each song tells its parts.
01. Curse of the Witch
This song tells about how people with their greed and bloodlust awaken ancient
evil forces. It also bears subtext which connects whole theme to nowadays and
shows us that nothing has changed in nature of the man; the same foul instincts
rules the Earth.
I remember that I made intro riff listening to Manowar - I think it was Thor
song. Then there comes in one thrash inspired riff as well as main riff on which
I sing was taken from band’s archives, from some very old song we had forgotten
about already. In the middle of the song there is one heavy riff, started by one
guitar which in reality is melody from one of our Latvian folksongs! Yeah, that
is what happen when you mess around with folkmusic he he.
of the Mare
It’s about birth of the Kurbads and his childhood, it tells how he was born from
white mare that ate magic pike fish and grew up very fast and became very
strong, that he could easily lift huge stones and already went to hunt in his
There is a chorus riff, which was inspired by early Metallica and main bagpipe
melody was inspired by Celtic music – I remember how I wanted to put some Celtic
alike melody in my music instead of always used Latvian folk tunes and there it
It tells about how Kurbads is going to clean new built barn from the evil
spirits and finally he must fight many headed ogres every night – starting from
three-headed, then six-headed and finally Nine-headed, which was the strongest
and deadliest of them all. In Latvian folktales ogres or devils with many heads
are very present and mostly the heroes fight them down.
song was inspired by 80’s heavy metal, there is something from AC/DC Hell’s
Bells, but again chorus riff comes straight from Latvian folksong!
This one tells about how Kurbads went out in the world and rides through
bewitched forest and how three witches, wives of killed many-headed ogres, tries
to kill him with their witchcraft. Witches turns into many various things and
tries to lure Kurbads to his death trap, but he always outsmart them and finally
kills them all, except one, who escapes. She was wife of deadly Nine-headed.
This song was inspired by Bathory – I remember we even called that song
“bathory” when there were no lyrics still written. Then there were one riff on
the second part of the song, composed by our bass player, which in the beginning
reminded very much to us Black Sabbath’s Iron Man, but later on luckily we later
had idea and changed it to more folkish sounding, though someone can still find
some similarities there if they like.
the Yard of the Father's Son
It’s just a short folk song about men who clears his yard from devils. It’s one
of those Latvian folksongs, though we tried different approach and instead of
leading vocal to sing as always we tried to make him sound more rough and
powerful. But lately I remember I read somewhere that for someone it sounded
like main singer is drunk!
It’s a name of Kurbads’ sword which is made for him by blacksmith - Sky Forger.
In his pursue of escaping witch, who turned into winged snake and flied away,
Kurbads arrived at sea side and met legendary Sky Smith, whom he asked to forge
a sword, strong enough and so heavy that only Kurbads to lift it. Blacksmith
tries three times and only on third time he was able to make such a sword.
starting riff can remind to someone of the early Helloween, in reality it is
pure Latvian folk melody! I remember how still there was no lyrics for this
song, guys in band thought that this will be most boring song in album, but in
the end it turned into one of the best ones (at least in our view)!
Oh and there is sound of smiting in the middle of the song – we especially went
out and recorded the real blacksmith at work. We found that in reality it didn’t
sound as powerful as we thought before he he.
Here Kurbads arrives in
some distant country where he heard that king’s daughter was kidnapped by some
strange devil. He finds out that she was taken into Underworld and only passage
there is in some swamp covered by huge stone. Only he who can lift this stone
can open a passage downwards. And Kurbads is the man – he easily throws aside
The Stone Sentinel and venture down into black hole.
was inspired by death metal. Those riffs sounded too death metal for me, that I
chose to invited one of my friends, who before sung in local death metal bands
as leading vocal. So, we both are doing duet singing. Also I thought that such
song will give the whole album bigger variety and be as some surprise.
It tells about what adventures Kurbads experienced in the Underworld on his
quest for saving king’s daughter. He killed devils down there, saved the girl,
whom he married later, saved nestlings of great eagle from heavy hail and in
acknowledgement the great eagle took him out back to Earth.
riff of this song was inspired to me from our bands old songs, we made even
before Skyforger. The chorus melody is again Latvian folk-tune. The middle part
of song can be easily detected to be inspired by Iron Maiden!
This one tells about great ogre, called Black Rider, who is going to invade
Kurbads’ land and wants to kill him, instigated by infamous Snake Witch. This
was mix of various riffs without any special inspirations behind – we just
wanted one fast and furious song there, though I remember one riff was stolen by
me from Saxon’s Metalhead album. Ahh.. and another riff was inspired by
Obituary, the riff at beginning of song. It tells how easily we mix various
metal styles in just one song!
It is about final battle between Kurbads and Black Rider and Snake Witch. In the
heat of the battle Kurbads manages to strike down Black Rider, but becomes
wounded. The Snake Witch flies up to him and spits venom in the open wound on
Kurbads’ shoulder. In the end Kurbads raises his left hand and crush the Snake
Witch, then raises his right hand and splits the skull of the Black Rider and
then weakened by poison he falls down and dies.
wrote down this tale, added his note at the end of story - that he thinks that
end part was made by teller himself, not original, because almost all Latvian
folktales always ends with happy ending by hero marrying king’s daughter and
then they lived long and happy.
part of song is inspired by Latvian folksongs, though all riffs are made by us.
In the second you can hear great influence of 80’s heavy metal and final
“tragic” outro is Latvian folk melody again. This song was made as last one for
this album with clear direction in mind that it will be final song - I tell it
because all the rest of song was made without any lyrics and clear concept about
what they will be.
This is a cover song of local Latvian heavy metal band Opus-Pro made in 1986. It
tells about this mythical hero Kurbads and how he will return to help our nation
in the fight for our freedom.
We thought it could be great for Latvian people to hear this track in new
version - it was done back in 80’s, long time ago and how comparing to this song
again is our story about Kurbads.
made a lot of misunderstandings, because people always think that this is the
title song of album, but it is not. Though we had no chance to change its name
and it is how it is.
a bit about the artwork – for example who made it and what does it represent?
on album was painted by Mārtiņš Pētersons, who was second guitarist in our band
at that time of Kurbads album. He had finished high school of Arts here in Riga
and he has own definite style. Though he joined only at the end of recording
session, nevertheless he shared enough of his work on album.
that many people didn’t liked cover artwork of CD, but for me it is great and
portrays precise atmosphere of this story. It reminds me very much of some
fairytale books I had read in my childhood. I think people today are easily
spoiled by all those great artworks made by artists like Kris Verwimp. Looking
at magazines it’s obvious that most of all CD covers looks the same. And that’s
why we wanted something different which would stand out.
picture you can see the last moment of Kurbads life: he killed the Black Rider,
but Snake Witch spits venom in his wound on shoulder. There is withered tree
behind him, which separates upper world and Underworld; it is like Kurbads
already stepped into realm of the dead!
last words you want to round this interview off with?
for this chance to explain our album – I hope my comments will stimulate someone
to buy and listen to this record, which in my view is one of the best
(as answered by Peter Kvetkovskis – vocals, guitar, folk instruments, warrior