What were the reasons to form The Slayerking in addition to Nightfall where you are the main songwriter as well? When can we note the first steps of this new outfit?
Nightfall is kind of multinational act with musicians ranging from the States to Germany and down to Greece. Rehearsals and everything are planned well ahead. The algorithm behind it all is set since ages and none can bypass it, if you know what I mean. Eventually I missed the time in the studio to improvise with the band at any given day or time. You know, to spend time in the place and playing stuff without any target but just to play. So, one evening I decided to get my bass and go at a friend’s studio and jam there. That was it. Music started flowing smooth, leading the way to some very interesting music riffs. Session after session the whole thing became solid and worthy to be recorded professionally. That was it. The Slayerking have been formed. Simply, sincerely, and true like a baby’s cry.
You are a trio, while you are handling vocals and bass. Can you tell a bit more about their background as introduction?
Kostas is a very experienced musician. He also handled the bass guitar for Nightfall live shows back in the ‘I Am Jesus’ and ‘Lyssa’ era. We are close friends and together we compose The Slayerking’s music. Anna is a young lady, certified percussionist, and a cool type of person. She plays the drums in a relaxed laid back way and lets the whole song groove without any intention to fill it in with needless breaks just to prove her skills or something. Last time I played with such a drummer was many years ago, before triggers and ultra fast playing became a must-to-do thing for drummers.
Are you the main songwriter or did they add significant features to the songs compose-wise?
I do the lyrics. Music is composed together with Kostas and arrangements are made by the whole team. I may start playing a riff and gradually we all hook up and start doing our stuff. No matter if the session ends up close to a song pattern, the thrill is there and it is shaking us all. It is so refreshing we can’t take a break sometimes, which is kind of dangerous as our fingers bleed.
How did you come to the name The Slayerking? That sounds pretty brutal…
Is it? I came up with it one night. Just like that. I like the fact it is not a typical name. Some think it is a tribute band to Slayer and Kerry King, which is fun and I follow, no problem. Others believe it derives from Game of Thrones series or something. One way or another it is a name you won’t forget and it carries all that mystery and lyrical baggage our music and lyrics are about. And hey, truth is The Slayerking might be one of the very few bands around being influenced by the acoustic parts in Slayer’s music! Sincerely.
The music of The Slayerking has nothing to do with Nightfall, let us put that straight and that is fine. Otherwise you could use these ideas in Nightfall. But, does it mean you had some ideas you could not use for your main band ending up on the debut album?
Absolutely no. You put it very nice Vera. The Slayerking have nothing to do with Nightfall.
The album was recorded in Greece and produced by you. It has a warm vintage sound, yet different from the majority of bands that mention to be vintage… how can you explain?
Hey, thank you very much for the kind words. Indeed the album was recorded in a way to sound live and raw. No Loudness War neither multi guitar layers used to boost it. Maor Appelbaum helped a lot in that direction. To say the truth, I was kind of worried about going full live in a world struggling to sound louder and louder every day. From demo bands to top notch ones, everyone use the technological advantages of today to totally fuck the ears of the audience. It is like a competition of who is going to sound louder. The Slayerking is live and their music breathes. You pump up the volume and you hear more frequencies coming out, fat and beautiful. No distortion or noise whatsoever. That’s something I am doing for the very first time in my life and I like it.
Mix and mastering was done in the US by Kaelin Tauxe. How did you end up there and what could they add on the record? Was it refreshing to have an extern mixing process?
I met Kaelin a couple of years ago when he played the bass for Nightfall in a show in Czech Republic. He is a cool, sort of Zen guy. He told me he is into mixing and stuff and I decided to work at The Slayerking stuff with him. It took us many months to complete the first part of the mix as we went through the details. But before we finished it, I asked an old friend from the early Nightfall days, Maor Appelbaum, to enter the scene and give his advise regarding the levels, the effects, and stuff. He did so and a few weeks later we had the perfect mix for him to master. To cut the long story short, it took time and serious work to complete ‘Sanatana Dharma’ the way it sounds and I believe it’s worthy 100%. People listen to the album among others for a couple of times, put it aside and a few days later they put it on again because they get addicted to its sound quality and how the songs develop through it. This is the real thing. I think modern technology is now giving us all the chance to work on old, classic forms of playing, you know “simple” things, with brand new sound that release frequencies it was difficult or impossible to produce previously. The magic of the simple chord in its entire spectrum.
The album has an excellent flow and starts and ends with a bit longer tracks, respectively the mighty ‘She Is My Lazarus’ and the conjuring yet inciting ‘Southern Gate Of The Sun’. Can you tell a bit more about these two favourite tracks of mine?
‘She Is My Lazarus’ is a love song. Love the creepy way many of us have experienced or are afraid to. The kind of thing that makes you feel totally depended by someone or something, but at the same time complete and strangely happy. I have found myself in such situation and have experienced both sides; being the master and being the slave. Not literally, but psychologically I was there. Musically it plays the role of the introduction to the art of The Slayerking. If it was a person, it would be that weird butler who opens the door of the dark mansion to people who want to enter and discover all about that creepy place. ‘Southern Gate Of The Sun’ on the other hand is groovy, it rocks like a cradle that gives the child vertigo as it looks the sky and then the ground and then the sky again and so on. It is built around the word Fire, the catharsis, and I really want one day to make a good show with lights and fires and have that track exploding on stage every time the chorus shouts ‘Fire’. It is a strong visual. We placed it in the end of the album to close it with a peak.
Why the title ‘Sanatana Dharma’? Where does it stand for?
It means ‘The Eternal Order’, the endless in Sanskrit. As a man fascinated by the magnitude of death since childhood and the fear of the absolute end in all aspects, by instinct I attach myself to things and ideas that seem to last forever. It is like my psychotherapy or something I guess.
Can you shine a light on the lyrical contents of the album? Is there a red thread or not in the lyrics?
It is about man, or woman, both sexes have the same impact on this world, and the thing inside our heads called brain. That thing is the source of anything we experience. That thing is “black” like a black hole, or space, or womb and from that very black the lord of light is created. We created god. That is the ‘Black Mother of the Lord of Light’ concept. ‘Sargon Of Akkad’ is about our collective effort to conquer eternity; through monuments or empires, or achievements. And time, the beast, that beast that is not divine, and what man creates it does despise, always destroys and condemns our race to retreat and try all over again. ‘Magnificent Desolation’ is taken from the phrase the cosmonaut Buzz Aldrin said when out there at the edge of space. Alone in the middle of nowhere, scared, stressed yet solid and steady thanks to that thing again in his head. The mind, control the mind, cause soul is blind like god we hide inside. ‘We Are The End’ is about the whole mess the world is getting through after 2008 when the party was over. The power and the glory slowly give their place to depression, anger, anxiety and aggressiveness. People search for enemies. Europe is “invaded” and civilised citizens once partying and having fun with the glass of wine in hand, music, sex and everything, suddenly must choose between their civilised principles or their brutal defence. In that song the voice is louder and gives that dramatic tone to the sung events. Go through the lyrics and you will see it. ‘My Lai’ is talking about the Mai Lai massacre in Vietnam War and makes a direct reference to the atrocities we make as a species and the excuses we come up with after to ease the pain and forgive the deeds. The same magnificent thing we carry on our shoulders stands behind the greatest achievements like the exploration of space and the greatest misfortunes like the massacres and the religious wars.
I read that your music is mainly inspired by the seventies, but I also thought about bands like Tiamat and Paradise Lost when listening. Then we find ourselves in the doom/gothic realms of the nineties. What is your idea about this?
That’s true. I am a child of the nineties and I’ve been an active part of the whole music thing that characterised that era through Nightfall. Can’t change that. But the seventies approach is made on purpose. And the purpose is, as I said earlier, the technological status of today that gives a great opportunity to rediscover the raw, simplistic music forms of the seventies with modern sound that is richer and wider. It is like building the seven wonders of the ancient world with today’s techniques. Marvellous. Thanks to technology, metal music reached its edges in terms of speed. It went faster than anyone could ever think of. Now it is time to reset and reassess the whole process. You know, to check the small things we missed, because we ran too fast to see it in the first place.
How did you come in contact with French label Finisterian Dead End and how did you select them to release and distribute the album on larger scales?
Laurent, the guy behind FDE was introduced to me by Vincent of Above Chaos artworks who did the art for Nightfall’s ‘Cassiopeia’ album. I am the romantic type of guy who believes in people more than in budgets and figures and since most labels I was talking with were talking numbers and shit like we are a mainstream act eager to make a profit out of it all, I was attracted by the simplicity of a prominent young label who wants to break it through because he is crazy about it. The Slayerking is a brand new thing, so what’s better than making a big dive in the years of purity and innocence and give it a fair push like in the good old days? To me it is so refreshing. It makes me feel so great. It is art the way we knew it.
You have made an amazing genuine video for ‘Southern Gate Of The Sun’. Can you tell about this video shoot? Are there plans for other video shoots?
Glad you like it. I am thrilled about the idea I had with the small candles on the drum kit. My guitarist was anxious the whole set may end up in flames haha We played the song live numerous times with smoke coming in tones. Now we have another lyric video that will come out shortly. It is for ‘Sargon Of Akkad’ and it is made by Costin Chioreanu.
What has happened on the live front so far?
We played two gigs with Avatarium last week and it was great. The band is ready to perform on any stage. We only want to ensure the best possible conditions to doing so and to have the chance to establish a steady relationship with a good agency. There is a clash of bands right now out there; old ones try to defend their popularity and maintain a profit amid difficult economic situation, while new comers enter the arena ready to sell anything at any price only for few moments of “glory”. We want to build something solid and we look for the right slot to pour our seed.
The artwork was done by shooting star Costin Chioreanu. That looks really vintage, yet beautiful! Some thoughts of you about this artwork would be nice…
Costin is an old fan of Nightfall and that was an advantage as he knew the way I express myself through art. I told him I wanted something in the Art Nouveau pattern and he delivered. It is so great to see the underground bonding between us all, the people of the international underground scene. Once he was a fan of my music with Nightfall, now I am a fan of his art. It is so inspiring if you think of it.
What are the plans for the near future with The Slayerking?
Festivals and touring. This band is made to play live. Either in the studio or on stage, it is all the same to us.
And to occlude I’d also like to know about the plans for Nightfall this year…
Nightfall keep on in their own calendar. You know, like the Old Calendarists use time in their own notion. I think no new album coming, but I don’t know if any fest or gig will take place yet.
If there is something you want to add, feel free to do so…
Thank you Vera and the awesome Lords of Metal for the opportunity you give to The Slayerking to present their work. We are looking forward to playing live and meet you for a beer or two. Be blessed. FIRE!