Back in March 2018, we featured a towering and ambitious demo by a young German trio calling themselves Festung. Part black metal, part doom, and with lots of dungeon synth throughout, Festung was the work of three young men who all moved to Leipzig in the same year, and then discovered each other through their various solo projects. Our contact within Festung was the band’s vocalist, Belgun. We remained in contact with Belgun since that Demo:listen, but mostly concerning his dark ambient project, Mythenmetz. Of course we hoped we’d eventually hear something about Festung, but for the most part, that line was silent.
Imagine our surprise then when the person behind the mighty and ecstatically triumphant sound of this brand new Bulgarian black metal band turned out to be none other than our old pal, Belgun.
“Hajduk’s only member is myself,” he told us via email. “It doesn’t have to stay that way, but for now, it’s the right thing.”
Belgun goes on to write that he started Hajduk “for multiple reasons.” He counts them: “On the one hand, to maintain a connection to my birthplace, on the other hand to strengthen my abilities. After the release of the Festung demo in 2018, the band had undergone some lineup changes and instabilities. I wanted to see if I would be able to shoulder the weight of the whole band, if I needed to, and started Hajduk, where everything so far was exclusively done by myself.”
Even a quick glance at Hajduk’s Bandcamp page will tell you that Hajduk eschew black metal cliches in favor of substantial and meaningful themes. Unfortunately, with everything in Bulgarian Cyrillic a lot of that meaning is lost on most of us. But there’s no missing the substance of those riffs!
Belgun kindly breaks it all down for us: “‘Hajduk’ has multiple meanings. It was a term for bandits operating in the Balkans and for the freedom fighters against the Ottoman Empire.
“The biggest inspiration for the music is surely my birth country, Bulgaria, where I also write the biggest part of the songs. The beautiful nature and the writings of the revolutionaries, to be more precise. Sadly, as I live and study in Germany, I only see it roughly once a year.”
Before many of us could add Hajduk’s first demo tape Кръв to our want list, while most of the riffs were yet sinking in, he dropped another demo on the unsuspecting world. Called Природа, this second demo is only three songs in length, and much more brooding and slow. Like a dark and sorrowful silence after the battle of the first demo.
Belgun reveals: “Кръв and Природа are the first two parts of an EP trilogy, which will conclude with Свобода this month. Each of the EPs has its own theme and concept, corresponding to a color of the Bulgarian flag. Кръв, meaning ‘blood,’ is all about the Bulgarian revolutionary battles in the 19th century, which results in the sound: raw, fast, aggressive. Природа on the other hand, is about the nature: slower, more mellow, folky and hypnotic. Свобода will be about freedom, resulting in two longer, epic songs.
“All of these releases had to be separate as they also correspond to different approaches I used while writing them, and reflect the experimental phase of the ‘band.’ Writing shorter, faster, more aggressive songs, writing folkier and more hypnotic songs, and for the last EP, writing longer and more epic songs. The results will all flow into the final sound of Hajduk.”
Indeed, Hajduk’s by turns incisive and sprawling black metal takes inspiration from his home country, but don’t get it twisted. This is not nationalist propaganda.
“The response was surprisingly big, but mostly of pleasant nature. What I worry about is the considerable part of listeners who seem to misunderstand my music as some kind of NSBM. While it’s true that I thematize Bulgaria as a country a lot, one has to know that the Bulgarian revolutionaries, especially Vasil Levski and Hristo Botev, [whose] poems [I use] as my lyrics, hold leftist and anarchist ideologies, which I share.”
Looking ahead, Belgun says: “After the trilogy, there will be a split, but I can’t share more information about it… I’ll also try to concentrate a little more on Festung, before, one day, I turn myself to do a full-length for Hajduk. But time will pass until then, I have a lot of stuff to do.”
Don’t miss the conclusion of the Hajduk demo trilogy next Friday November 22nd at Hajduk’s Bandcamp.