No more games
No more bombs
No more trenches
No more fun
No more killing more than I needed or wanted
“Keep your mind in hell and despair not!” boldly proclaims Bulgaria’s Voyvoda. The Balkan experimental post-punk band announces the release of their third LP: Aramia (out on vinyl by U&P Records). Aramia was recorded in the Krvavi potok studio in Izgrev, Sofia, and originally released in 2014. This offering finds Voyvoda scanning memories of Bulgarian history; finding themselves lost in Mount Paiko searching for the remains of long-lost Aramias, and this dark journey features more of the rebel cold-punk side of the group. Channeling Fugazi, Minutemen, and The Damned, this album takes the listener on a veritable Homeric odyssey of historical turmoil in their homeland.
“War, Peace, War” is a terrifying maelstrom of furious guitar and ominous lyrics, hovering between a horrifying assault on the senses and a foreboding gentleness before another unleashing. “The Owl Over Sofia” closes out the intensity of the album by revisiting this opus of lost utopia, collective pain, and broken promises – insisting that “time heals nothing.” Perhaps we are stuck forever in a karmic time loop, reliving horrors, reliving sins, reliving injustices. If never resolved, they play out in new versions of the same situations. A cautionary tale wrapped in fuzz guitar, blasting percussion and strong vocals.
They Don’t Die (1903) possibly refers to the Ilinden Uprising of August–October 1903, a bloody revolt against the Ottoman Empire. An accompanying film illustrates the bravery and horrors of war in a blood-red monochrome using stock footage from the early 20th century. We see the terror and the heartbreaking aftermath as the graphic lyrics describe.
A Gray Town By The Sea longs for peace and contentment – perhaps “gray” is not the most romantic of descriptors for a utopia, but after the turmoil and fear generated by the previous storytellings, it sounds downright perfect.
This album is a crash course in Bulgarian history, a must for history buffs and understanding the root cause of modern conflicts and sentiments of Bulgaria’s people. It’s a thrilling ride, if extremely intense.
Listen below and order here:
VOYVODA has revisited history before in their fourth album, 2020’s Confessions of a Macedonian Bandit, which took a more experimental Balkan approach, based on the dark, spiritual and tumultuous history of the region of Macedonia. That collection summoned the spirit of American journalist/adventurer Albert Sonnichsen, who ended up in Macedonia at the beginning of the 20th century, seen through the words of the godfather of Balkan anarchism – Spiro Gulabchev.
VOYVODA began in Gainesville, Florida and now resides in Sofia, Bulgaria, in the heart of the Balkans. The band has released three albums and five EP’s and has toured Europe several times, with concerts in Germany, France, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Spain, Italy, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Northern Macedonia and Greece, while sharing the stage with many notable bands from the dark and punk underground scene. Throughout the years VOYVODA has been able to forge its own niche sound, through an interracial marriage of Balkan folk and Orthodox musical influences and classic post-punk, darkwave and indie sounds. The band has also done music for several documentaries and film soundtracks.
Voyvoda is currently finishing their new album Autochthonous and preparing to go on tour.
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