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German outfit Suidakra has always regaled its heavy blend of black and death metal with gracious folk elements. That makes them one of the pioneers in the genre, surely in the German metal scène. In the meantime, these guys under guidance of the sympathetic, accomplished front man Arkadius have managed to create their eleventh studio album, entitled 'Eternal Defiance'. It has resulted in another very engrossing work with a perfect balance between harshness and Celtic refinement. High time to speak with vocalist/guitarist/composer and Jack-of-all-trades Arkadius again!

By: Vera | Archive under bluesrock

Hello Arkadius! How are you doing? Great to have another interview with you now that SuidAkrA's amazing new album 'Eternal Defiance' came out! So it is time for an update. Let us start with the questions…
Yeah it's been a while Vera. Great to talk to you again!

The release of your former album 'Book Of Dowth' was followed by lots of touring in Europe and the US. How do you reflect on those tours?
The time after the release of the 'Book Of Dowth' album was awesome. We had the opportunity to play many tours in countries we've never been before. I have to admit that all those shows were very successful and I enjoy looking back on the time we've spent together on the road.

Suidakra has become a band touring the world indeed. Once it was different long ago… In the meantime you have been to China (2009) and even India (2012). We like to hear some words about these adventures for you…
India, Brazil and China were really special shows for us because we didn't really know what we had to expect. We didn't know much about the metal scenes in those countries and the bigger the surprise was when we played our first shows there. The metal fans were freaking out and gave us such a warm welcome. I didn't even know that we were well known there before we played the shows. I'm looking forward to go back and play there again because the shows were one of the bests we've ever played and we also found a lot of new friends.

Then we arrive at the making of the new album 'Eternal Defiance'. What can you tell about the writing process this time? I found out that even Tina Stabel and bagpiper Alex Römer were more involved in the writing…
Yeah the song writing process was a bit different this time. In the past I have written the material first and then added the guest musicians to the finished songs. Because of the fact that we have worked with Tina and Axel for years now, I wanted them to involve much more into the story and the song writing. So I wrote the songs together with them and they also had influence on the songs as well. It was much more relaxed and a real creative process. I can't tell you, Vera, how happy I am to have the chance to work with such talented and professional working musicians.

But… important is the cooperation with Kris Verwimp as well! He is your long term artwork artist, but for the third time he has written a special story. Can you go a bit deeper into this story?
Kris did an amazing job again. The main character in the concept, which is based on a Welsh story is Macsen Wledig who became later the Celtic Emperor Magnus Maximus. The concept tells the story of his life, starting with the chapter where he leaves his home to join the Roman legion, going on with his time in Britannia and his revenge battle against Rome. Beside the historical fact there is also a mythological one, where Mascen has visions in his dreams and became later immortal. At the end of the story, after he gets beheaded, he lives on as a head and serves as an oracle.

Cover art and illustrations are – as usual – amazing! Even a comic is included. Can you say a few words about the CD booklet, the cover artwork and so on…
You know, after releasing ten albums before, we always try to add something new to the finish product because we also want to keep it interesting for us as well hahaha. The idea to include the comic was born before the release of 'Book Of Dowth', but we had no time left to realize that plan. So this time Kris started to work on the comic even before he finished the front cover artwork. The 'Eternal Defiance' artwork is in my opinion one of the best and most interesting we've ever released, because it contains so much details of the story and I also like the look of the whole album.

For the first time orchestration is used. I know you have always been a fan of epic movie soundtracks, but how did this come into being for SuidAkrA? I guess it made the recordings more complex, or not?
Yeah I have composed orchestral music for my own for a long time, because this is my second passion. After the rest of the band had heard the tracks, they asked me to add this influence to the new album. It was a lucky circumstance that the story concept of the new album is really epic, so it fits to the whole orchestration. Of course I was happy to work on my both musical passions at the same time, but on the other hand it was a challenge indeed, because sometimes it wasn't easy to combine those sounds with the heavy sound. But at the end everything worked out 100% perfect for me and I am very proud of it!

band image

Recently you had to face some line-up changes again. What happened? Can you tell a bit more about the background of 'new' guitarist Marius 'Jussi' Pesch?
Marcus, our long time bass player, told us right after the release of 'Book Of Dowth' that he will leave the band. He was tired of the whole band touring-recording-touring process and wanted to do something different. We accepted that and it was not a problem for us because we still are friends and thankful for everything he has done for the band in the past. Jussi didn't really sing the backing vocals in the studio, he is doing that only live. Sebastian our former guitarist did the backing vocals on 'Eternal Defiance' as a guest musician.

At the time of our former interview Tim Siebrecht used to play guitar, now he has switched to bass. I remember you told me he could not become a full member, due to his full time job. What has changed on that level, since he is (fortunately) still in the band?
Yes that's right. Tim has still the same job, but the economy here in Germany relaxed a bit, so now he is able to be a full-time band member. We had a lot of luck, because after we split with Marcus, Tim told me that he would be interested and to be honest he would be my first choice anyway. We didn't have to search for a new player, which made it much easy for us, because Tim knows Suidakra as a friend and a musician.

What about the vocal duties? Does Jussi do all clean vocals now? Or do you divide them?
I am responsible for all the clean vocals, Jussi and Tim are doing the backing vocals live. I started to sing clean when we have released the 'Crógacht' album and I worked a lot on my singing. So now I am able to do both, the screaming and the clean vocal parts.

One of my favourites on the album happens to be the song with the banjo: 'Dragon's Head'. Can you tell a bit more about that song?
'Dragon's Head' is a really special song for me. It deals with the part of the story where Macsen doesn't trust his dreams any more. That leads to wrong decisions and at the end he gets beheaded. This song is a mixture of epicness, but it also has a melancholic touch, which makes it special for me. That song is also the only one which was composed in a different way.

Another remarkable moment is the melancholic, ballad-like 'The Mindsong', sung by Tina. This is never done this way by SuidAkrA I think…
No hahaha usually all the Suidakra acoustic songs are full of melodies and harmonies on the guitars. But this time the story of the song had such a strong vibe that we've decided to use the acoustic guitars only for the rhythm parts to make sure there is enough space for Tina's vocals. I love her voice and the special thing about her voice is that she doesn't sound always the same! In “The Mindsong” she could show the softer side of her voice.

On the digipak we have the bonus track 'Mrs. Grath' and two videos. Please give us a few details about these extra's…
We wanted to add a cover song to this album and our drummer Lars had the idea to cover the Irish traditional song 'Mrs McGrath', because he also loves Bruce Springsteen, and Bruce did a cover of this song as well. I listened to the Irish original version and knew we will do this one with Tina.
The video clip for 'Storming The Walls' was made by a friend of mine who's creating art video clips. I thought it would be cool to have a different video clip than the one people expect. And last but not least we've also added the 'Inner Sanctum' studio clip, which I've made. In my opinion it's interesting for fans that are interested in how a band works in the studio. The main idea was to add as much as possible for the fans.

At the moment you have done two video clips: one for 'Inner Sanctum' and one for 'March Of Conquest'. Can you tell a bit more about the making of these beautiful visuals?
'Inner Sanctum' was really easy for me to shoot and cut. I did everything during the recordings of the new album, so the clip was finished even before the new CD was mixed hahaha... For the 'March Of Conquest' clip we've worked again with the producer David Thelen, who also did the videos for 'Balor' and 'Dowth 2059'. This time we've spent much more money on this clip and invested more time to shoot the clip. But it was a hell freezing experience, because we were shooting outside with -8° C and we were performing with T-shirts... So you can imagine how cold it was hehehe.

In Germany I have bought the recent issue of Legacy magazine. It includes an exclusive SuidAkrA EP. Well, this is the moment to tell people what we can find on it and make any extra publicity…
I am very happy and thankful that Suidakra get the chance to be promoted like this. There is a big co-title story with a lot of info and the extra CD of course. On the CD itself we've put two new songs and two songs from 'Book Of Dowth'. I had the opinion that there should be also something special for fans and so I decided also to add an AC/DC cover song, a live track and a never released demo version of the 'Caledonia' acoustic song 'Ramble'.

What are the plans for touring? I am glad to welcome you on another Heidenfest tour in our areas I see!
Oh yeah, it has been a long time since we've played in the Netherlands and Belgium. That's also one more reason why we are happy to be part of the Heidenfest tour this year. We're looking forward to be with those bands on the road again. Beside the tour we will play a few single shows and some festivals. We cannot wait to present the new material live!

What are the plans for the near future?
Right now at this point I have to admit that the last few months were stressful and we've worked hard on the new release. This is also the reason why the only plan for the near future with the band is playing live shows and relaxing a bit (laughs).

If I forgot covering something, please feel free to add your words here…
I would like to thank all our SuidAkrA friends worldwide that support us. Check out the new album
'Eternal Defiance' and let the metal do the talking!

Thanks a lot in advance for this interview! See you in September/October in Belgium and the Netherlands!
Thanks a lot Vera, looking forward to meet you again!

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