Sunday, 26 August 2012


Industrial / Folk
Not to be confused with the other Armenian band ARAMAZD (!

"Egernakan" - Download here:
"Anun Chuni" - Donwload here:

Interview (12.8.2012):

When I visited Armenia and talked to the Metalheads in Yerevan, one name was always mentioned: Artashes "Aramazd" Mkrtchyan. Artashes is one of the fix points and one of the most important figures in the Armenian scene. Not only was he doing various Heavy Metal radio shows, he's also organizing live shows on a regular basis and playing in a really sick and unique Industrial-Folk-Metal (!) band called ARAMAZD (an ancient zoroastrian deity). And last but not least, he's the owner of the only real Metal Pub in the whole Caucasus, the legendary and incredibly cool Troll Pub in Yerevan. Fortunately Artashes took some time to give us a little insight in the Armenian scene and his various activities.

Artashes, I understand you had a big part in the evolution of the Armenian scene with a couple of radio shows. Can you tell me something about these radio shows?

Friday night at the Troll Pub, Yerevan.
I started Metalfront radio show in early 2001 and it was alive until the first part of 2002. The next run of the live show lasted from the beginning of 2007 until 2009. The last time I re-launched the show was in 2011, but for now I temporarily suspended it. It was very influential for the Armenian metal scene. 
Many new bands had interviews and showcases on the Metalfront radio show. Besides that it had an influence on the audience as well. I remember many teenagers who changed their music taste after listening to the show. The main goal of the show was to bring new teenagers to the Armenian metal scene, organize newbies and oldies in one Metalfront community, to support and grow the Armenian metal scene around quality music and Armenian metal bands. The format of the show was "from the lighter to the heavier", from 10 PM until we'd fall asleep at late night. I tried to mix some mainstream stuff like Nightwish, Apocalyptica, SOAD with heavier genres like Death or Black so the teenagers would quickly and slightly start to become real metalheads.

Is there a connection between the "Metalfront" radio show and the "Metalfront" festival?

The Troll Pub - the perfect spot for Metalheads and
worshippers of Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings"
Yes, beside the radio show, Metalfront organized many metal shows, concerts and festivals. During 2008 to 2011 Metalfront organized almost 30 events. The most mentionable one was the Metalfront Fest in 2008, the only two-day international metal festival in Armenia until now. It was memorable. It was the first festival in Armenia with Iranian bands. We did other things also: we printed shirts for Armenian metal bands, we promoted other metal events, we were managing bands, we even tried to work as a label for Armenian metal bands. We produced Sacrond's album. These were good times. 
Oh god, I forgot about "Metalfront Project" band. It was a cover band which played only cover songs from Rammstein to Death, Emperor and Cannibal Corpse. We had a lot of Metalfront Live Cover shows in Yerevan. The bandmembers  were musicians from Stryfe (now in L.A.) and me as an vocalist. For now I suspended Metalfront in some way... but I'm planning to reincarnate it.

You are the owner of the Troll Pub, a very cool Metal and Rock Pub in Yerevan? As far as I know it's the only Metal Pub in the whole Caucasus. Can you tell me more about it? Is it a meeting point for the Armenian scene?

As the host of the Metalfront radio show, I promoted folk/viking/pagan music in Armenia. It has become slightly popular around metalheads. So yeah, I opened the folk/pagan pub, but because of the strong connections with me and Metalfront it became the meeting point of metalheads and people who like ancient history, culture, LOTR, Paganism ... etc. right now 50% of the playlist is metal, the other part is folk or rock.
I love what I'm doing, I love to promote metal in Armenia. It's not important whether it's via a radio show, live events or the pub. I think the main thing is that people should communicate with each other, become a community under one idea. So Troll Pub is doing its best to make metalheads get closer to each other, just as Metalfront did before. Now we are organizing small metal jam sessions in the pub. Metal guitarists come and play electric guitar here, its increasing communication with each other, and maybe preparing the background for the creation of new bands.

Besides your activities with Metalfront and running the Troll Pub, you're also the main man in a industrial folk band called ARAMAZD. Can you tell us something about Aramazd? 

I started in 1999. I recorded the first song "Bekanem Shanter" in 1999. A song about the Armenian Genocide "Eghernakan" was recorded in 2000. "Kochari" also. It was a one man band. So i had some songs. Later the raw black metal slightly moved to a new style, something like ethnic/folk industrial black.  For example, I think "Kochari" has many industrial influences. The last song "Beginning of the AR" has no Black Metal background, it's more like folk industrial metal. The main vision is Armenian history and culture, Armenian paganism, the early times when the sun was God.

Which bands influenced you, when you started ARAMAZD? I can hear some Ministry in your sound ...

I have different influences. I'm not sure which ones are more influential for ARAMAZD. Maybe it's Darkthrone, Nocturnal Mortum, Slayer, Mayhem, Enslaved. Personally the most important bands for me are Slayer, Morbid Angel, Emperor, Black Sabbath, Death and Borknagar.

I think the music in Aramazd is quite unique. I haven't heard anything quite like it before. On the one hand you're using these very cold heavy industrial sounds, on the other hand you're including traditional folk instruments. How does that go together?

I think the genre of Aramazd is very unique. As I said I'm listening to every genre in metal, but I tried to mix "unmixable" things: industrial, folk, black. Yeah, I dont know how, but I know why: Because I think everyone should do more unique things to penetrate the market or the audience. And on the other side it's good for me because I love industrial and folk music, so it's fitting for my personal taste. But if you ask me, I'll say that I'm also interested in creating Black Metal or Death Metal. Aramazd was just some experiment with an unique mix of metal styles. I like the idea that as far as I know nobody tried to do that mix... maybe Tanzwut from Germany. By the way, now I'm the vocalist for Infected Cinema band, we are playing progressive groove metal... close to Gojira, Meshuggah, Katatonia, Death.

What are your views on the current political situation in Armenia? Do you think that it's important for a metal musician to make political statements in his music?

I'm satisfied with the internal political situation in Armenia. Of course there are big problems like corruption, oligopoly, maybe in some way non-democratic things. But I see the growth of Armenia. Unfortunately not in the Armenian metal scene. The bad thing is that many people are leaving Armenia to other countries. I think it's dangerous for us. I'm an optimist, I think everything will be ok. I'm just worried about our neighbours, Azerbaijan. Ok, they think we are enemies. I don't think so, but I'm worrying that someday there will be war between us again. Also I think the geo-political situation in the middle east is not stable, and yeah its also dangerous for us.
Concerning political statements, I think it depends on the music genre bands play. There was some politically addicted bands. But politics influence music also. For example because of the strict Armenian border policies, our bands have low chances to make trips to other countries easily. Low incomes effect ticket prices, and it's becoming harder to invite big international bands here, because of the economic situation. I think musicians should talk about politics only if they understand what they're talking about. But many are just talking because its mainstream in some way.

Yes, I agree. So you're not very happy with the development of the Armenian scene. What are your thoughts on the Armenian scene in general? Especially when you compare it to the Georgian and Azeri scenes?

One of the reasons I've suspended Metalfront is the fall of the metal scene here. I don't know what's going on. Where are the metalheads? Why have they become so inactive? But yes compared with 2006 to 2010 there is a big negative difference. Maybe some of them emigrated, some bands resigned, some bands were tired to spend money and getting no response from the audience. They lost their motivation maybe. But I'm satisfied with some Armenian bands like DAERON or DIVAHAR. There are some new bands, I hope they'll become more professional. Personally I'm ready to help any Armenian band.
Compared to the Georgian metal scene I'd say Armenia is 70% of theirs. I mean, here during festivals we have a 200-300 audience, they have 300-400. We have 4-5 active bands, they have 6-8 bands. I was involved in the Georgian metal scene, worked with them, invited their bands here and can say that the Georgian scene is more sucessful than the Armenian. But there is one difference - live shows quantity, quality and festivals.

Yeah, I heard Armenia is like the Promised Land regarding the live scene. How come?

Arsen [Hakobyan, organizer of Highland Metalfest – MT] and me organized many live events. There was a time when during one year there were six and more metal events organized by Zhesht and Metalfront. So I think we have more events, but less audience.
I can't compare with Azerbaijan, because I have no connections to them, but as far as I know they have a much worse situation than Armenia or Georgia. Maybe because of their government and the non-liberal situation in the country.

Thanks, man! I really appreciate you taking the time. And now you guys reading this should check this amazing and disturbing video for the song "Beginning of the ...AR" by ARAMAZD:

(c) MT August 2012

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