I have been a Heavy Metal fan since I was a little girl. My older brothers inspired me to listen to metal and rock ‘n’ roll and, since then, my favorite bands and songs follow my personality and mood and give me inspiration. But I have never learned to play any musical instrument, like most of the fans eventually do. It was when I was a little girl that I also became really fond of writing and reading. So, my closest attention was always turned to the lyrics of the songs, more than to the techniques for plucking strings, and finding chords. Bad lyrics were a determining factor for me when it came to liking or detesting a song, even if the music and the melody were fine. In my home country, Brazil, heavy metal has never been particularly popular. I remember I was the only girl of my age at school who was into heavy metal. Music and books were my main companions and I learned English on my own, mostly by translating the lyrics of my favourite songs and singing along.
While at university and scrolling in a heavy metal internet forum, I discovered a pagan metal band - “Skyforger” from Latvia, which is the band from this small European country which is possibly the best known internationally. The music sounded awesome to me, but the lyrics were initially a mystery. They were written and sung in the beautiful and intriguing Latvian language, which is already musical in its own right.
Skyforger has only three songs in English. But, with the luck of living in theinformation age, it was very easy to find the lyrics in English. And after reading the lyrics, I have enjoyed the band even more. Skyforger’s lyrics are about Latvian history, folklore, mythology, culture and Nature. The historical background and pride in their national symbols and culture gives originality and content to the band’s material, something which I really value and I think is missing in current metal bands. Skyforger’s music made me feel inspired to know more about history in general and Latvia’s history and culture in particular, so much so that I decided to visit the country. I really wanted to see the places mentioned in the lyrics, the fields, forests, marshes and rivers. These verses, for example, really impressed me because they were about something I have never seen before: snow.
The sun has vanished
Freezing northwind now rules the land
From the realm of ice and eternal darkness
Mother Winter snow clouds sends
(Night of the Winter Solstice)
I was very happy when the band played in my country, Brazil, in 2013, in São Paulo. It was a great show. They have a lot of Brazilian fans and it was nice to notice that, like me, everyone was trying to sing along in Latvian during the concert.
One year after the concert, I took a vacation from work and bought tickets to finally visit Latvia, land of Skyforger and snow, and other countries in Europe. It was surreal, thrilling and a bit scary to be in an unknown place for the first time. But the impression was great and I felt very connected and inspired by Latvia, so I returned twice. I even took a Latvian language course in Riga. With a basic knowledge of Latvian, I can use Skyforger’s lyrics to increase my vocabulary. Again music is helping me to connect with the world. It is very useful to learn new words and idiomatic expressions. And now Skyforger’s music has a stronger importance for me because Latvia is no longer an unknown and mysterious country - it feels like home.
“Music touches the strings of the human soul and awakens emotions, good or bad; and sometimes awakens no emotions at all. That’s the main thing; these emotions inform how each person feels, and from their expression comes everything else. Music is beyond our comprehension and I think for everyone music is experienced in different ways. I don’t see music as a spiritual teacher; I see it more as a sound wave that evokes emotions, and this becomes different for every person. Maybe there can be meaning in the words that are sung with the music, but I believe that lyrics have a greater influence on your mind and the way you think than the music itself.” Pēteris Kvetkovskis, guitarist and vocalist in Skyforger, for the book “The Spiritual Significance of Music”.