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Varyag and the Shrike

by Red Cain

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Much of storytelling has historically been in the form of fables, and with “Varyag and the Shrike”, we wanted to create one of our own as a story element for the “Kindred” album saga. This fable and this warlike anthem is about accepting your own mortality and acknowledging your place in the memory of future generations.

A shrike is a bird of prey that kills via impaling its quarry on thorns, barbed wire, or any other sharp points - leaving a grotesque reminder of its hunting prowess. In this track, they play a Valkyrie-like role, taking the souls and bodies of fallen warriors home.

This track is, in essence, a dirge - a lament for the dead, with our hero metaphorically in dialogue with the shrike. To achieve a doomy, thick, and oppressive atmosphere, we dropped down the guitars, sped up the drums, and put 8 layers of harmonies into the massive, haunting chorus that drives the entire track forward. The track art is a reimagining of the warrior’s head from Alexander Pushkin’s epic poem “Ruslan & Ludmila”, infested here by a malevolent Lovecraftian force, and decorated with the shrike and their victims. We can’t deny taking some inspiration from Dan Simmons’ Hyperion Cantos as well, where the entity known as the Shrike plays a similar, but also very different part.

Despite the dark content, our hero and the track itself eventually seek to overcome their own intrinsic melancholy and raise a rallying cry to those who follow, to take up his banner and continue onward. Conceptually, the track represents humanity’s continuity through millennia via retellings of glorious deeds and sacrifices in the name of its survival. For even if one falls, many will step forward to take his place.

So lock ranks, stand shoulder to shoulder with your brothers and sisters - and raise your face to the Sun. This is Varyag and the Shrike.


Every winter
Every sunlit spring
We meet at the edge of the world
To share our joys and sorrows

Every winter
My brothers grow fewer
And you raise your spire to the sky

And soon, I know
That time will soon be mine

Tell my story
Write my name in fire (on your altar)
Where’s the glory I dreamt of as a child?

Look around
Do you see
The blackened wings of destiny
Enfold you
And lift you up

Look around
Savour this
It’s a fight you won’t miss
Your faith - gone!
So draw your weapon

For the Sun
We step up to the tributary stream
Of life eternal

We die young
And every day we die, we resurrect
To win this war!

Into the fire!
We are the tide
Form up, heroes!
Now we ride!

We are the demons out of the night
Form up, varyags!
Now we ride!

Shards of embers
Raining from the sky
I feel them, descending...
Amending life

Distant now...
Echoes of laughter past
In every tale, the end must
Come at last

And who will hold the vigil
At the dusk of man
This precipice
Is this our end? No!

And what of glory
And what of promised glory!
Come at last...

No fear
No lies
No rest
Reaching for the Sun

No fear
No lies
No rest
Reaching for the Sun

Fall, fall from the stars
Hungry like wolves
Riding the storm... to sea

Call, call from afar
Herald of life
Drawn by your poetry

Systems, coming alive
We tear at the Sun
Fight for supremacy

You and I, we break the hold
We’ll break the line
Just wait and see…

Into the fire
We are the tide
Form up, heroes!
Now we ride!

We are the demons
Out of the night
Form up, varyags!
Now we ride!


released October 15, 2020
Written by Evgeniy Zayarny, Tyler Corbett
Mixed and mastered by Tyler Corbett


all rights reserved



Red Cain Calgary, Alberta

Red Cain is a powerful, melodic metal project with European roots, known for intricate storytelling and ambient elements paired with heavy, technical guitarwork and a rich, epic musical presence.

Red Cain is proud to be influenced by acts such as Kamelot, Symphony X, Marilyn Manson, Tesseract, and Alter Bridge.
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