Kauan is ready to turn their latest album into a role playing game so listeners can discover the truth for themselves. The songs featured in Ice Fleet is based on the true story of an unidentified fleet of ships discovered in 1930 in northernmost Russia. It was found completely frozen under the permafrost. In what scared the people who found it was in the fact the crew and passengers’ bodies are well preserved. Most died out of fright than frostbite!
This Russian band isn’t afraid to tackle the grim, and like their 2015 album, Somi Nai, about the Dyatlov Pass Incident where nine hikers died in the Ural Mountains, what this latest album does is explore the what ifs. To accompany the music and enhance the experience, the band has created a 40-page tabletop role-playing game, available now for pre-order along with the LP, CD, and other merch.
The song “Maanpako” erupts into a post-rock storm punctuated by blackened screams. Like some of Kauan’s past work, the melodies paint vivid pictures that range from the melancholy to the rapturous. As a recent Stereogum review puts it, “Serene guitars give way to crashing devastation and back again… Kauan seems to exist just out of reach on the edge of a dream, where equal parts hope, wonder, and despair are all possible.”
Kauan mastermind Anton Belov began making music in 2005 as a teenager in his home of Chelyabinsk, nearly 1,000 miles east of Moscow. His early work was inspired by the landscapes of the region – the Ural Mountains and vast plains. Seeking a language that would be undecipherable to most people (and also honoring some of his favorite metal bands), he chose to write lyrics in Finnish and he named his project with the Finnish word “Kauan,” meaning “for a long time.” By the age of 16, he had written Kauan’s debut LP, Lumikuuro, establishing his unique ability to combine crushing metal and quiet introspection in seamless ways.
Over eight albums, Belov and his collaborators, now based in Tallinn, Estonia, have carved a special path through the underground. 2015 saw the release of Sorni Nai, arguably Kauan’s most ambitious work up to that point, chronicling the Dyatlov Pass Incident, an expedition of nine doomed hikers who mysteriously died in a blizzard in the Ural Mountains. The album received extensive critical acclaim, including this high praise from Stereogum: “Kauan blend elements of folk and metal better than perhaps any other band today, clouding doom in a lush and weary atmosphere… The band captures a sad sense of loss — not maudlin but nostalgic.” 2017’s Kaiho saw Kauan step away from its metal origins in favor of atmospheric rock, featuring lyrics written by the great Finnish folk singer Marja Mattlar. In 2021, Kauan has returned with a new label, Toronto-based Artoffact Records, to release the band’s most ambitious album to date: Ice Fleet.