Interview with guitarist Marios P. and bassist Spyros S.
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: June 28, 2015
Greece has always had a strong and varied Metal scene and has produced internationally popular bands for many years. Their ancient culture has provided a source of inspiration for several Greek Metal bands. Progressive Speed Metallers Sacral Rage combine ancient arcane stories with lyrics about outer space resulting in frequent comparisons to Californian alien merchants Agent Steel.
Sacral Rage released their debut album, Illusions in Infinite Void, this spring on Italy's Cruz del Sur Music and have impressed people with their intense live performances as well, sharing the stage with internationally well-known acts like Sanctuary and Titan Force.
The Metal Crypt was curious to know more about Sacral Rage and guitarist Marios P. and bassist Spyros S. were willing to open the doors into the exciting world of the band...
Luxi: How's life in Athens these days? Did anything special happen to you today or even yesterday?
Marios: Just the normal stuff, really; hot weather these days, same political shit, rehearsals, relaxing, etc. Nothing special, nothing fancy.
Luxi: Sacral Rage isn't yet a household name for many people so let's start this chat from the beginning, shall we? Can you enlighten people about the history of Sacral Rage and how it all started?
Marios: All right! The whole story began back in 2011 when our singer and drummer were hanging out at a Metal club in Athens. After some high-pitched screams our singer did along with a Helloween tune that was playing, our drummer put the idea on the table of forming a band. Since then we released demos in 2011 and 2014, an EP titled Deadly Bits of Iron Fragments and our debut full-length album Illusions in Infinite Void via Cruz del Sur Music on CD and Underground Power on vinyl. We've played several gigs in and out of Athens supporting great bands such as Sanctuary and Jag Panzer.
Luxi: I have often seen people comparing to Sacral Rage to US Speed Metal outfit Agent Steel. I guess you understand why with lyrics about aliens, Dimitris K.'s vocals, all kinds of outer space related things and stuff. The connection is definitely there, right?
Marios: Yeah, people out there connect us with Agent Steel most of the time because of the futuristic concept, which by itself is so cool. To tell you the truth though, I don't believe we are directly influenced by Agent Steel. They were rawer and direct. But Dimitris is influenced by John Cyriis for sure. The initial idea for our concept came from all those great 70's prog Rock bands.
Luxi: To me, Sacral Rage is far more complex, progressive and Heavy Metal-oriented than those LA Speed Metal veterans. I would pick Crimson Glory's name as a comparison. How much has Crimson Glory influenced Sacral Rage? What about Annihilator because a song like "A Tyrannous Revolt" has some peculiar sounding riff work that could be taken from Jeff Waters' notebook?
Marios: He he, you are right. Indeed Crimson Glory has an influence on our music. I remember when we started composing "Sutratma" that CR was our guide. We wanted to achieve the intense atmosphere they had. Regarding Annihilator, their early works have played a vital role in shaping our sound and our riffing. Jeff Waters is the master so I guess we have learned from the best teachers out there.
Luxi: Why did you choose to sing about life beyond our planet? What's so fascinating about extraterrestrial life?
Marios: Not all of our songs have this outer space concept. We have many songs regarding mental illnesses or even ancient arcane stories. In general, dark concepts are what we dig. The thing that makes space-oriented concepts so great is diving into the unknown, I guess. There's a world out there not yet discovered and that gives us the freedom to create stories and have the listener dive into all these details and search for their own answers.
Luxi: Are you aware of the Swedish Speed Metal outfit called The Hidden that also seems to be heavily into themes of outer space, U.F.O.s, aliens, abductions and stuff related to the mysterious side of the universe?
Marios: Hmm, to tell you the truth, not really. I haven't heard the name before but I am going to check them out right now. Generally, the bands that made us want to explore other worlds would be Voivod and newer bands like Vektor.
Luxi: I have to admit it that your debut album titled Illusions in Infinite Void is awesome, no exaggeration. Congratulations on coming up with this goodie. Was it hard to make or was it a pretty easy and painless process?
Marios: Thanks so much!! It was hard as hell. There wasn't a formula for creating these songs. All we wanted was for our songs to be a fresh take on all the classic Metal reincarnations and at the same time be cool. We are really bothered by all those bands trying to sound like Priest or Maiden or Accept not only musically but stylistically as well. We felt like we had to overcome this trend and make something that was our own. It was a lengthy and at times painful process but I believe we achieved what we wanted to.
Luxi: Illusions in Infinite Void was recorded at Entasis Studios in December 2014 then mixed and mastered at Feedback Studios in January 2015. What kind of experience was that? How much did you learn about working in a studio environment and do you believe you were able to record the album without compromise?
Marios: We had already worked with both studios in the past for EP recordings. Also we rehearse at Entasis studios so we spent LOTS of time there recording and otherwise. You could say that it is our second home so there was no anxiety during the recordings. The only compromise was we wanted to best ourselves. Besides that, we already knew how we wanted the songs to sound. We were ready before entering the studio.
Luxi: How many songs did you have when you entered the studio? Was it just the 8 that appear on Illusions in Infinite Void or did you record a bunch of other songs to be used later perhaps?
Marios: Nope, only the 8 songs. One step at a time, they say. We wanted to be 100% ready for Illusions, so we concentrated on these only.
Luxi: When you entered the studio last December did you have a clear vision of how you wanted Illusions in Infinite Void to sound?
Marios: As I said before, this studio is our second home ha hah!! We knew from the very beginning what we had to work with (in terms of equipment for the recordings). No compromises were made. During the mix process we had still our vision but Harris (the sound engineer) also added some of his taste and knowledge. He created the perfect Sacral Rage sound. At least till now.
Luxi: How important is it for you to have facilities like a kitchen with a big enough refrigerator for cold drinks, a break room with TV, games, sofas, etc. when choosing a studio or are those things secondary for you as long as the recording room is equipped for decent recording?
Marios: Well I can't answer this question. We are not big enough to choose which studio we would like to record in. We didn't have a budget for that. I believe that nowadays there are only few bands that can do that. Both of these studios are located close to our homes and since we knew that they do a pretty good job, it was no brainer for us. If we were able to pick a studio, I am pretty sure that we would have gone to Morrisound studios ha ha ha!!
Luxi: Do you feel like Greek bands have the opportunity to record high-quality products in professional recording studios there in Greece or are they lacking in your opinion? What are some most popular recording studios that Metal bands use due to their excellent recording possibilities?
Marios: Well, things have changed rapidly during the last decade. There are countless recording studios here in Athens. In the past you had to spend a really huge amount of money just to make an "ok" production. Now, the knowledge and experience of many studios producers is stronger than in the past and everyone can get a really professional outcome for an album. You can take our album which we didn't have a large budget for, as an example. The final result is really professional. We have many studios here that do great work and it would be unfair to name just a few. But there is no longer any need for Greek bands to fly abroad and record their albums. Some of the biggest Greek Metal have recorded and produced their more recent albums here in Greece.
Luxi: Sacral Rage has had some good gig opportunities, for example Keep It True Festival, the XVIII edition, which must have been a very memorable for you guys. You even had a very special guest sharing the stage with you guys; Alan Tecchio of Watchtower, Hades and Heathen's Rage fame. Could you tell just a bit more about this experience?
Spyros: It was absolutely a great and intense experience! We had the chance to play in front of almost 2,000 metalheads. This made us feel extremely blessed and lucky as it is always difficult to have the audience on your side when you are supposed to be the opening act. Concerning our time on stage we really enjoyed it and gave 1000% without being agitated or anxious. It was tremendous up there and we really hope to get the opportunity to find ourselves in such a situation in the future. As for the cooperation with Alan Tecchio, everything was already arranged. Our vocalist, Dimitris had communicated with Alan days before the festival and expressed our willingness to share the stage with him and he accepted. The bands he had done vocals for were some of our all-time favorites so we couldn't miss the chance to play together! He performed as we had rehearsed and that shows his honesty and respect for what he does. He is an absolute hero in our eyes!
Luxi: Were you also able to make friends with some of the other musician like the guys of Exciter or Riot that both headlined?
Spyros: Actually not with those guys but we came in touch with Harry "The Tyrant" Conklin from the mighty Titan Force who is a very good, friendly and open-hearted man and probably the greatest influence of Dimitris. We had already met Tyrant once in the past but this time I think we all became friends, ha ha!! Other than Harry we also had good time with the rest of Heathen's Rage and with The Unholy. We found we had so many things in common with these guys as we are both newcomers taking our first steps abroad and chasing our dreams.
Luxi: I also happen to know that you guys have played with the guys from Jag Panzer who you consider personal heroes. Do you mind sharing this experience with us?
Marios: The Jag Panzer guys were really great. This was our first time supporting a band that has directly influenced us both as a band and as individuals. After their sound check Dimitris had a conversation with the Tyrant regarding vocal lessons, tips, how he manages to keep his voice, etc. After that Joey Tafolla told me stories about the nineties and his relation with Paul Gilbert and Mr. Big. So coool!!! Such great guys!!
Luxi: I am curious to know how Dimitris is able to keep his high-pitched vocals going when you play several shows in a row. His singing sounds very demanding which undoubtedly puts his voice to the test in live situations...
Spyros: The fact is that we haven't played many shows in a row yet so he really hasn't tested his voice in that way but he knows some techniques to keep it fresh. I think that he would be able to overcome any obstacles he might have to face because he really takes care of his "weapon" and doesn't push when he feels tired or weak.
Luxi: How does 2015 look as far as new gig opportunities are concerned?
Marios: A tour is on our list but nothing is arranged yet. We will make any necessary moves to make this happen. We have some one-off shows that are already booked. The priority for us now is the single shows and especially festival appearances. A tour needs a lot of planning so it takes time. We want to play everywhere and we've got some offers but no solid suggestion yet.
Luxi: What can people expect from a Sacral Rage show?
Marios: they'll have to be prepared to witness a war on stage. Cut throat falsettos, Laser beams, pounding Metal bits, solid bass attacks and lethal flying notes over their heads from start to finish. Live shows are one of our key points.
Luxi: Do you believe there's life somewhere else in outer space? Would you like to be abducted by aliens?
Spyros: We are definitely aware of the opinion that we're not completely alone and the inhabitants of the Urals are very well aware of this! Of course we would like to be abducted by alien forms of life but I think it would be better to welcome them to our planet for they have paid many visits to Earth without any interesting result. It would be nice to exchange experiences, ideas and in general have a serious conversation with these guys.
Luxi: Does anything else come to your mind that you'd like to share with the readers of The Metal Crypt?
Marios: We covered the topics that had to be covered. Stay tuned for more news, the future endeavors of Sacral Rage and a potential out of this world intrusion.
Luxi: Thanks so much for taking to time to answer my questions. Hopefully it was worth it and I want to wish you all the best with the future endeavors of Sacral Rage. May all the friendly aliens be with you in this universal ride towards the shrouded infinity...
Marios: Thanks to The Metal Crypt for this interview!! We hope you enjoy our Illusions... album. Support Metal, not trends!!!
|Other information about Sacral Rage on this site|
|Review: Illusions in Infinite Void|
|Review: Illusions in Infinite Void|
|Review: Beyond Celestial Echoes|
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