Hailing from the snowy peaks and vast prairies of Alberta, Canada, the modern progressive metal band Red Cain has made its name for intriguing songwriting, potent vocals, eerie soundscapes, and a compelling electronic-backed groove. The band has continually strived to push the boundaries of what is expected in their genre, as is evidenced by their latest album ‘NÄE’BLISS’, a grimdark homage to Robert Jordan’s fantasy epic, The Wheel of Time series.
The charismatic Evgeniy Zayarny, the vocalist of Red Cain, recently sat down to share insights on their new album, the creative process behind it, and their love for fantasy.
The band’s fascination with the blend of fantasy and music is palpable in their works. “We are all massive fantasy fans, and for us, Wheel of Time rubs shoulders with LOTR as a genre-defining epic fantasy series that started it all,” Zayarny said, equating the series to the monumental works of J.R.R. Tolkien.
On the new album, ‘NÄE’BLISS’, they have explored a unique perspective by delving into the world of the antagonists, the Forsaken. “The world of the Wheel is a brutal, compelling world with multitudes of fascinating characters, and we were particularly interested in exploring its more visceral aspects – an area which begs to be paired with heavy metal,” Zayarny elaborates.
Red Cain’s decision to focus on the darker side of the Wheel of Time series in ‘NÄE’BLISS’ is motivated by their interest in exploring the grey moral areas often overlooked in the series’ more protagonist-focused narrative. “The series is truly epic in scope and philosophical underpinning, and it covers the protagonists’ point of view very well, but we’ve always been interested in the opposite viewpoint,” Zayarny said. “There is a lot of grey moral area to be explored when it comes to the motivations of both sides in the WoT universe.”
Integrating fantasy themes into their music has always been an organic process for the band, as Zayarny explains: “A lot of it comes with understanding the characters and the world, and striking a balance between referencing specific themes and names from something like Wheel of Time, but also keeping a more universal message that would resonate with and appeal to listeners who are not necessarily fans of the novels.”
The sound of ‘NÄE’BLISS’ resonates with the state of the Forsaken. “There is a lot less glamour and polish in the sound of this album; it’s visceral and aggressive which reflects the state of mind of the Forsaken as antagonists fighting against an omnipresent and all-powerful cosmic force,” Zayarny said.
The creation of ‘NÄE’BLISS’ was a collaborative process involving not only the band but also engineers Tyler Corbett and Alan Sacha Laskow. Both have been long-time friends and collaborators of the band. Their input and ideas heavily influenced the sound of the album.
Born from a love for fantasy and a desire to tell unique stories through music, Red Cain has enjoyed considerable success, including multiple #1 hits on the Canadian National Loud Charts and being a 1x winner and 3x nominee for the Metal Recording of the Year at the YYC Music Awards. Their music videos for “ZERO” and “Juliet” have received 17 awards at international music festivals.
Despite their achievements, Red Cain remains focused on their love for creating music and telling stories. With ‘NÄE’BLISS’, they have once again shown their innovative approach to music, combining fantasy themes and intricate soundscapes to create an experience that resonates with fans.
With a concept album such as ‘NÄE’BLISS’, Red Cain faced unique challenges. As Zayarny points out, “Part of being a fan is respecting the original content of the series and understanding where the lines are drawn on writing essentially fan fiction while staying true to the source.” This delicate balance between respect for the original series and crafting their own interpretation reflects Red Cain’s depth of love for the Wheel of Time series, and the lengths they’ve gone to honor it.
Asked about the tracks that best encapsulate the album’s concept, Zayarny pointed to the eight-minute epic, “Fires of Heaven”. He also revealed that the band collaborated with talented vocalist James Delbridge from the Canadian band Lycanthro on this track, showcasing Red Cain’s history of successful collaborations.
On the title ‘NÄE’BLISS’, Zayarny expanded that it’s a reflection of several elements: the title of the Champion of the Shadow from the Wheel of Time series, an homage to their Swedish metal influences with the use of an umlaut, and a representation of the Forsaken’s ultimate objective – a complete destruction and renewal of the established order.
In terms of influences, Red Cain looked to bands like Blind Guardian, who have successfully merged fantasy themes with metal. “They showed fans it could be done in a masterful way without detracting from the music itself and without alienating fans who weren’t familiar with the concepts,” Zayarny said, highlighting how they aimed to replicate this approach in ‘NÄE’BLISS’.
The album also represents a departure from their previous conceptual saga that began with “Kindred: Act I” and “Kindred: Act II”. Zayarny referred to ‘NÄE’BLISS’ as a “reset”, suggesting the band’s continuous drive to innovate and explore new territory.
While creating a concept album based on a well-known fantasy series presents its unique challenges, it also offers certain advantages, such as an existing fanbase and a wealth of content to draw from. However, Red Cain is not reliant on these, with Zayarny expressing the hope that the strength of their music can attract even casual listeners.
When asked about the influence of their Alberta background, Zayarny gave credit to the local musicians they’ve had the opportunity to work with. Red Cain’s distinctiveness within the prog-power metal scene can be attributed to their unique conceptual approach, Eastern European themes, and a sound that refuses to be confined within a single genre.
As for touring, Zayarny assured fans that they are working on it, expressing a strong desire to meet fans face-to-face and bring their music directly to their audience. With their latest album, ‘NÄE’BLISS’, Red Cain proves that they are not only willing to tread new ground but also capable of crafting a unique and engaging musical journey that truly sets them apart.
With the release of ‘NÄE’BLISS’, Red Cain indeed takes a significant step forward in cementing their status as innovators, shedding a new and compelling light on the reverse side of the Wheel of Time story. As fans eagerly embrace their latest work, one thing is clear: Red Cain is a band that isn’t afraid to break the mold and explore new territories in their musical journey, making each turn of the Wheel a compelling ride for their listeners.
Visit Red Cain at redcain.ca.