This interview with Maria Abaza of the Russian death metal band Merlin was done through e-mail in June 2001.

Hello, how are you?
We're fine, thanks. Our THEY MUST DIE album was released via GWN Records, Canada and that's great!!! We were in a few tours and now are working on a new album which seems to be still more brutal, a real symphony carnage.

Merlin is still rather unknown outside Russia. Could you please give us a short biographical background on the band?
Well, we started in 1992 and got known in Moscow in a few months. We played shows around Moscow and the area and were known as the most aggressive and brutal death metal band in Russia. But our first album DEATHKOTEQUE was released only in 1997 and it appeared a real good album. It was reviewed in a lot of fan 'zines worldwide and got a pretty rapturous appreciation. After that we were suggested to release our next album via GWN records, Canada. So we released THEY MUST DIE album there.

I guess that you are very much influenced by Morbid Angel and other death metal bands of the kind. Could you describe your sound to those who haven´t had the chance to enjoy your music yet?
I can't say we were so much influenced by MORBID ANGEL. Rather BLACK SABBATH and DEATH. I grow up listening to BLACK SABBATH. They were and are my favorite band, especially an old version with Ozzy. I used to sing most of their songs with my old band and I'm a fan of Geezer Butler as a bassist. Later I got to listen to SPIRITUAL HEALING by DEATH and I was impressed by Chuck's vocal and the way he created music. Besides we got a great tradition of Russian classical music and it influenced upon us very much. So I think our style got to be our own style, I can't describe the sound the way 'it sounds like some important band", I think it sounds like MERLIN.

Have you heard any words about your new album "They Must Die" yet?
In general a positive responses. All the reviewers note my vocal style, a high technique and a high recording quality. Somebody described the style as an old school of death metal and they didn't like that. But we were called the kings of Russian metal almost in all reviews.

Could you tell us something about the lyrics? Are they an important part of the band?
Evil, evil and evil. I'm not a kinda maniac and I'm not so ruthless and bloodthirsty myself as you could think seeing my lyrics but these themes are rather interesting for myself. Most of people like detective novels and thrillers, so do I, so do my fans. The more blood and corpses- the more interesting. So evil, evil and finally evil. I think the lyrics is an important part but the music is the main part. You can write a real cool lyrics and a boring music and nobody will listen to you. So the music is first, ya see.

What kind of backgrounds do the current band members have? Have you always been involved with metal? Are you involved with any other bands or projects?
Well, all of us had got a great experience of playing in various styles from hard rock to thrash. As for me I studied singing in jazz school. Our drummer Nick plays in several bands playing thrash and industrial.

What is it like being a woman playing metal in Russia? I know of a few other Russian bands with female members like Neotruth and Satarial but there are not that many I suspect?
In general women play keyboards and back vocals in black metal bands. But I don't know any frontlady in Russian extreme scene. Seems I'm the only one.

What do you think of the metal scene in Russia today, are there any good bands that deserves more attention (besides you that is)?
There are a few important bands such as MASTER and ARIA playing thrash and heavy metal. That's the mainstream. And there are good young underground bands I think in every town. For example CORPSEGRINDER from Tula or NAHEMA from COLOMNA. Tons of good bands…

What do you do when not playing music?
We earn money. Alex and me are restorers of tempera painting, Nick is a programmer and Arteom is an anatomical pathologist.

What are your top 5 bands ever? I suspect Dream Theater is among them? [Ed. note: sorry for that mistake, I happened to copy questions from another interview..., strangely enough they didn't seem to like Dream Theater that much...]
The only theater I love is Arteom's, ha-ha-ha…


Any final words of wisdom?
We've never been to Sweden but I think it's a beautiful country and we'd love to play there and I hope we will. We know and love Swedish death metal and I'm sure Swedes are a very nice people. Good luck guys, listen to MERLIN and keep it brutal!!!

Links of interest:

GWN Europe