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Het Griekse Septicflesh heeft met 'Communion' recentelijk een knaller van symphonische black/death metal plaat uitgebracht. Er zijn wel wat dingen gebeurd met de band de afgelopen jaren, de band viel zelfs geheel uit elkaar. Maar het bloed kruipt waar het niet gaan kan… Lords Of Metal vuurde wat vragen af op gitarist Christos A.

Door: Roel de Haan | Archiveer onder black metal

Hi there! First of all, how are you doing?
I am fine, thank you. It is just a very busy time as we have so many things going on. We are currently promoting 'Communion' and have an incredible number of interview-requests. At the same time there are the rehearsals for our upcoming tour and so on. I have built a studio with our drummer and there is my regular work in England, but is great to use all my efforts on labours that I really enjoy.

I must congratulate you with your excellent new album 'Communion', it is in my honest opinion your best work yet. How do you feel about the album and how are the reactions in general?
Many thanks again. We feel the exactly the same about 'Communion'. It is definitely our best release so far. We had faced the difficult task to surpass 'Sumerian Daemons', but I think we succeed in doing just that. It is the first time that we have worked so much as a team. We used a very diligent approach to every detail and aspect of the album regarding each single note, lyric and the production as well. I know it sounds cliché, but we are really excited about this album as it marks our comeback and will have a special place in our discography. The reactions from the press and the fans are overwhelming. We never have this kind of feedback for any of our previous albums. Time will tell if 'Communion' will be our breakthrough and trademark release.

Before we delve into the album some more, there is the topic you reuniting after your split a while back. Why did you split up and why the decision to come back together again?
We had many discussions and after we gave it a lot of thought, we decided to reunite Septicflesh. We had a break of four years in order to cope with decisions crucial about our future. Let's take the perspective back to the beginning. Our relations with Hammerheart were getting strained. The company had financial problems. Then Sotiris and I had to take some important decisions regarding our future. İ found a job in England as an exclusive composer of a company that specialises in video-games and my brother also went along his own path with his artworks. Septicflesh could not continue that way. If we had done it, that would have affected our music. We just did not want to deceive our fans. Now it is great to experience once again the atmosphere and entity of Septicflesh through our creative work, live shows and studio sessions as well. The circumstances have much improved now. We have our work, we have a label that supports us, we have an agent and most important of all: We are in our most productive period even and feel full of inspiration.

The band name used to be Septic Flesh but now it has changed into Septicflesh, a small difference. Why was this done?
There is not something important behind this move as the meaning remains the same. It looks just better and is also like a statement that we are on phase two now.

Even though the many changes for Septicflesh the music hasn't changed much since 'Sumerian Daemons'. 'Communion' has dense songs packed with a lot of ideas in every song, while 'Sumerian Daemons' was rather elaborate in the execution of the ideas and influences, therefore it had more songs. How would you compare the two albums?
'Sumerian Daemons' uses a more a chaotic approach in the manner of its production and "obscures" – of course not in a bad way – the overall meaning behind it. Furthermore the structure of 'Sumerian Daemons' had more embellishments, but this doesn't make it difficult to listen to.
In a way the songs of 'Communion' are more complicate now without losing the character and the energy of our sound. This album has more aggression and maturity due to our 4 years break and the dissonant elements are more evident than on our previous releases. 'Communion' definitely follows the dark path of 'Sumerian Daemons' and develops its virtues within a modern sound.

The usage of a 80 part orchestra and a 32 part choir really gives the bombastic and symphonic that extra realism and dark atmosphere. These arrangements and the direction of it was done by Chris Antoniou, your guitarist. How did working with an orchestra influence the song-writing of the metal parts? Is it hard to work with an orchestra as a metal band?
Yes, I was very lucky to be able to collaborate with such great musicians. The Filmharmonic Orchestra consists of the best players from Prague. Their members are recruited from the Philharmonic National Prague Orchestra as well as various other ensembles. Czech-Republic is a country with a rich history of orchestras and classical music in general. We used nearly a 140 musicians for the orchestra including a choir. The result is excellent and their musicality as well as the interpretation is unique. I did not have any problems. Everything was under control as they have done many film scores and video games. Of course many people worked on this project. We had a producer from England, there was a contractor, assistants, copyists and so on. As regards the composition process we wanted to create a solid result and not just a musical puzzle consisting of unfitting parts from the classical world and metal music roughly patched together. In order to achieve that, we tried a lot of different versions of each song, before we felt that everything was right in place. Then we decided which musical parts were fitting for the orchestra. Of course our imagination was in ecstasy, knowing that we were going to have a great orchestra in our disposal. The orchestra plays a main role and acts as our fifth member. We decided to use some modern techniques in orchestration with many dissonant and atonal elements as our music was ideal for this purpose and on top of that avoided the traditional use of an orchestra.

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The music on 'Communion' is very powerful and aggressive, even more than ever. What would you say is greatest drive behind this album ?
Well, I might say that our absence was a big motivation to release an album of such a tension and primitive aggression. We were “hungry” to unleash our artistic fury and concerns again. Furthermore the teamwork and passion for creation played a major role. We knew, that it would work again with Studio Fredman and the Orchestra, which very much helped to focus exclusively on your music. When you have all the inspiration and some other valuable tools in your hands, the result has to be unique.

I haven't got any lyrics, unfortunately. What are the lyrics about, is there a concept?
The lyrics are very important for us. Sotiris is the author of all our lyrics. On "Communion" there are many different topics. As in our whole discography they cover mainly myths, ancient civilisations as well as esoteric and occult themes. The content is often cryptic and even caustic at some points. I can comment on songs such as 'Communion', which is referring to a mystic kind of communication between a human and a "higher" intelligence often viewed as a god, demon or in modern ages alien. 'Persepolis' describes how the Persian capital was destroyed by an order issued by Alexander the Great after his victory feast. It was an action of revenge and a display of power. But even the Greeks were not proud about this deed after they had carried the order out. 'Narcissus' is based on the famous Greek myth of Narcissus and Echo. 'Lovecraft's Death' is a homage for the American novelist as the story describes his final moments in the world of the living.

Looking back from 'Mystic Places Of Dawn' to 'Communion' now, what would you say is the common denominator that distinguishes all those albums as purely Septicflesh?
Right from the beginning of our career we had a characteristic sound based on fast blast-beats with many melodic elements. When a band succeeds to be recognized by the listener only by its very own identity it has achieved a major victory. With each consecutive album we evolved our sound further, pushing our boundaries while keeping our basic identity intact. We have albums from ranging from brutal like 'Sumerian Daemons' or 'Communion' to a melodic gothic style such as can be found on 'DNA'. Although the difference between all our albums is evident we keep our own identity and originality.

The album was recorded in Studio Fredman and the sound is massive! Did the album turn out exactly as you wanted it?
Yes, it did! Fredrik once again did miracles in the production. He gave us some valuable suggestions and his treatment of the orchestra was excellent. He had the experience on how to push forward the symphonic colors as he worked with Dimmu Borgir before. We were satisfied and sure of the result right from the start. You could listen the tracks of the drums, guitars and all other instruments and you already knew that the sound and the result would be amazing. Of course we had some arguments, but that is natural for any recording.

What kind of beast do we see on the cover? How is it connected to the album?
We wanted the cover to be symbolic and simple in order to invoke the right mood in the listener. It represents the animalistic and dark element blended with an intelligence that seems out of the ordinary. It is a sculpture from a Swedish artist and when we saw it immediately captured us. The sculpture combines an animal, an alien (the eyes) and a flame of a human intelligence which supports the atmosphere of 'Communion' very well.

Now back together again and with a new album under your belt, you are going to tour again. What are your hopes for this tour? What are your experiences with playing in The Netherlands?
We are eager to be on the road and stage again. It is our first time to promote an album with such a big tour, which will not be the only one to come. We will be on tour again with Vader in Scandinavian and Baltic countries in October. We will get out and play as much as we can in order to present our new and old material to our earlier and recent fans. We have played 4-5 shows now and the reaction of the crowd was very positive.

How do you see Septicflesh develop in the future? What do you hope to accomplish with this band still? As you've reached so much already?
I am happy and proud of all the things that we have achieved with Septicflesh. At the same time, I won't fall for the delusion that incredible things would happen to us, if we were just touring all the time or signed to a bigger label and so on. As mentioned earlier, the core elements of our music still prevail and stand out as characterising our sound and individuality. We will never deny our past and our identity. Our aim is to grow stronger while writing better songs and developing new ideas to keep the creational fire burning.

Thank you for your time and as tradition demands it, the final words are for you!
This album is dedicated to all our fans and their loyal support through all this time even when the band was inactive. Many thanks for the interview.

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