On the 24th of February 2022, Vladimir Putin appeared in a televised address, uttered bogus claims and lies, and effectively declared war on Ukraine. With these words, Putin changed the lives of millions of innocent people. As we enter the fourth month of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, the Ukrainians – army and people – stand firm against the forces of terror and darkness invading their lands. The stories of heroism from Ukrainian women and men have inspired millions of people around the world. However, the valour comes not only from the women and men on the frontlines but also from those fighting the war with different kinds of weapons, people fighting with their pens, their voices, their knowledge, and their art.

I had the honour to talk with one of those people using their artistic talents to help defend their country. Helle Bohdanova is the vocalist of the Ukrainianian Melodic Metal band, IGNEA, a band that has been surging in the Metal scene recently. With an EP already in their discography, a deal signed with Napalm Records, and a debut album in the works, IGNEA is certainly on the way to joining the parade of world-class musicians that Ukraine has produced, especially in the Metal and Rock scenes. However, like every Ukrainian, the war has affected them deeply.

First, I asked Helle how her bandmates, family, and friends have been doing. She told us:

The most important thing is that our families and friends are alive and unharmed, so far. It’s been over 100 days of the full-scale war, so of course, it’s been a rollercoaster of emotions and moods. Because we’re all staying in Kyiv, and because this region has been freed from Russians, it’s been a bit better for the past several months. But air raid threats are happening literally every day, and, with huge battles in the East and in the South of Ukraine, there’s no safe place in the country at all.

IGNEA have recently released a music video for their song “Magura’s Last Kiss”. They announced under the music video:

“We dedicate this song and this video to all brave Ukrainians who have been and who are defending our land, who are preserving the sovereignty of our country, and who give hope for the peaceful future of Ukraine.”

Helle told us the following about “Magura’s Last Kiss”:

According to mythology, Magura is the Ukrainian valkyrie, the winged, warlike, cloud maiden, the daughter of the Thunderer Perun. With her wings, she overshadows the brave soldiers fallen on the battlefield, touches their lips, and gives them the living water to drink from a golden cup. This is how these soldiers end up in Vyrii, the heavenly palace for eternal life. In Magura’s Last Kiss, Magura is fed up with wars and bloodshed. She believes that ‘peace can be bold and knightly’. To end all fighting, she kisses herself and goes to Vyrii.

This song was written back in 2020 and released in 2021 within our split EP BESTIA that we made together with our fellow band ERSEDU. We filmed the video at the end of 2021. Looking at it now and listening to the words of the song, it’s insane how relevant it is to the current events…

It was well perceived by fans and appreciated by people from Ukraine. But because there are tons of Russians who are writing hatred comments and complaining about our YouTube channel now, the video didn’t get as many views as we expected. But on this war, the web is also a battlefield…

You can watch the music video for “Magura’s Last Kiss” through the link below.

When I asked Helle how she and her bandmates have summoned the strength and courage to carry out this project during war, she answered:

Like I said, it was all done before the full-scale invastion. But still, we now continue to live our lives, as much as possible, because soldiers and the government tells us the following: if you’re on a relatively safe territory and you can work, do so. Not only it supports the Ukrainian economy but also helps our warriors to have something to fight for.

And we feel extreme pride for everyone who’s defending our land and for Ukrainian people in general. This is what gives us strength every day.

This is not the first time in history that Heavy Metal finds itself in a war it did not declare against tyrants and dictators. Since the genre has always dealt with the concepts of freedom, which goes directly against the tyrants’ attempts to silence any voice that is not their own and brainwash their people with propaganda and lies, Heavy Metal has always been at war with any form of oppression, and that is why most bands were banned under totalitarian regimes. Therefore, I asked Helle what she believes her colleagues in the Metal and Rock scene can do to help Ukraine during these dark times. She said:

Right now, the most important questions is to keep this war on the radar. I know that everyone is tired of posting, sharing info, donating, etc. But this is war, and Ukrainians are fighting for peace and democracy in the whole Europe. We cannot allow ourselves to be tired, you know.

So, to all people in the music industry, especially, artists who have a following, please don’t forget to put at least 1-2 posts a week reminding about this war and how people can help Ukraine.

Helle also told us about the other ways her band has been aiding in the defence of Ukraine. She said:

There are a lot of ways we’re fighting against aggression, and art is only a part of it. Since the first day of the war, we’ve been giving daily updates about the situation in this publicly available post on our Patreon, we’ve been gathering funds for the army, volunteers, and people who suffered from war, we’ve been giving interviews and spreading truthful information. But of course, we’re artists, in the first place, and if our art can motivate Ukrainians to not give up, then we’ll do it. 

Credits: Sergii Chernov

I asked Helle if there will be any releases from IGNEA similar to “Magura’s Last Kiss”. She answered:

It’s unlikely that we’re going to make official releases until the new album that will be out through Napalm Records when the war is over, but we’re working on some collabs and charity concerts in support of Ukraine. So, stay tuned.

It was a great honour to talk with such a talented and powerful woman. It is a shame that like many artists around the world, Helle and her band have to suffer the consequences of the greed and paranoia of one man. IGNEA’s strength and courage should inspire us to stand up and fight. Whatever effort we can make to face injustice, we should try and make it.

I would like to conclude this article with a message that Helle has left to all our readers around the world who are facing any form of aggression and oppression around the world.

This war has shown that even in the 21st century, there can be a lot of cruelty and insane unfairness. I wish no one to experience this. And I wish everyone who is facing any form of aggression and oppression to find their way to stand up and fight. 

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Vanessa K

I love writing random thoughts and making people think and laugh.