Interview mit Sotiris V. von Septicflesh

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With „Modern Primitive“ SEPTICFLESH have both fulfilled and disappointed expectations. In this interview, guitarist Sotiris V. explains why fans might approach the album with too much prejudice, what they placed particular emphasis on during the composition process, and to what extent the pandemic influenced the creation process.

SEPTICFLESH 2022; © Stella Mouzi
SEPTICFLESH 2022; © Stella Mouzi

Since „Communion“ (2008) there were always quite exactly three years between your albums – this time it was five. Was the pandemic to blame for that, or what was the reason?
Yes, the pandemic was the main reason. At some point we had to pause the recordings. It was a weird situation to say the least. A lot of people were involved in the recordings and in 4 different Countries: Greece, Austria, Czech Republic, Sweden. You can imagine the chaos from the different regulations and the carantine phases of each country involved. For a long period of time, even I couldn’t even go from Patras that is my home, to Athens that was the main recording studio for the metal elements of Septicflesh. And then, when we  had at last the material finalised for the release, we had to make careful plans, taking also into account the long period of time needed for the manifacturing of the final product, especialy for the vinyls. As the pandemic is an ongoing situation, it has affected everiyhing. At the specific timeline we are now, the situation is much better in comparison with the previous year, but definetly it is not a complete return to a normal phase.

Septicflesh - Modern PrimitiveSo, in general: How did the recording of „Modern Primitive“ go?
As I mentioned, it was a tricky situation. We had to exercise a lot of patience. But we were determined to have the best result no matter what. Our strategy was to be fully prepared for the recordings and then initiate them with as less restrictions as possible, at the most appropriate time spots. Whenever we had the chance, we utilized trying to finish as much as we could, while obtaining the desired performance.

Since 2018 you have a third guitarist, Psychon. Did that also have an impact on the songwriting, or at least the way you write songs in terms of the new possibilities of realization on stage?
Psychon after all those years playing with Septicflesh, has absorbed the general musical mentality of the band. He has also his own approach on things that was welcome. In this album we gave him the difficult task to find the appropriate metal elements for the song Coming Storm, having as a main guide a complete symphonic piece that Christos created. He did a great job, as the specific song turned out to be of the highlights of the album.

How have the last two years affected you as a band but also as an individual in general? Were you more creative or more inhibited by the situation?
At first we were just waiting for things to get better. After a while, as we realized that the situation was not going to change any time soon, we tried to use our time more creatively. That affected the final “touch”, of Modern Primitive, as we had more time for experimentation on details. Also we had the time to prepare a lot of video-clips for the promotion of the album. On a personal level, i decided to use the spare time, learning 3d animation. It was something that always had an appeal to me. So now, after this period of training, I am able to explore also other ways of creativity.

SEPTICFLESH has been around for 32 years now. I would tend to divide this time into three „periods“: The early, avant-garde-death-metal years with an constant development until „Sumerian Daemons“, the rebirth and refinement of the style as symphonic-death-metal from „Communion“ on – and a phase of consistency, so to say, which you entered with „Codex Omega“: You seem to have found and perfected the style you currently want to play. As a result, at the latest the new album doesn’t really show a big „development“ to me. Would you subscribe to that, or what’s the situation from your point of view?
We were always open minded and tried a lot of different musical approaches. In the first phase we were continuously searching for something that would be our own very distinct sound. And there were some radical differences between albums. I can say that with Sumerian Daemons we managed to approach a lot the sound we were searching for. But things ended abruptly. When we returned with Communion implementing our symphonic element for the first time in a natural way, we felt that this is it. From then on, we still experiment but we have a solid basis, our own 100% Septicflesh sound. In any case, I feel that each album has a personality of its own. For instance Modern Primitive gives me a different vibe from Codex Omega, although we have collaborated with the same producer and that of course gives some familiarity to the sound. But of course in comparison with our first period, there are no radical sound changes from album to album. Now it is more about maturing, creating more direct songs, while at the same time putting a lot of small technical details here and there. There is a lot of delicate work on the compositions. At this point, we are aiming more on creating desired emotions rather than anything else.

SEPTICFLESH 2022; © Stella Mouzi
SEPTICFLESH 2022; © Stella Mouzi

The new album is technically perfect, but (so far) I didn’t find any real „unique selling points“ of this album in particular in comparison with the last one or two. Whats special about „Modern Primitive“ from your point of view, what makes the album stand out from your previous ones – or is that not necessary at all?
It is the most focused album we have every done and perhaps the more soundtrack like. It just flows from song number 1 to song number 9. It is like a musical portal leading to a very specific place. You enter to its world and you stay inside until the end. The most important is how you feel when listening to the album, to enjoy in depth the experience. We have put a lot of passion and energy to the songs. But of course experience is a personal thing and at the end of the day the listener has to decide for him/her self. For me, f..k selling points. Just listen to Modern Primitive and make your own decisions based on your feelings.

The more complex the music is, the more the listener might expect something new all the time … whereas Slayer was just granted to sound like Slayer. Do you see an „injustice“ in that, does it create a wrong expectation?
The problem in general, is treating everything as a logic sequence. After one point when a band has a long history of albums, whatever comes next becomes more and more  subject of a comparison war. When you have never heard something from a band, your ear is fresh and you have no mental distractions from the actual music. When you are following a band for a long time, then everything becomes familiar and sometimes you are focusing more on similarities, instead of the actual effect of a song. On the other hand if the band makes a radical change, most probably you will be no happy at all. Balance is the key. If you put too much logic in whatever you are experiencing, you are loosing the core of the art, as it is art and not algebra.

At the end of the digipak version, you’ve added three songs that sound very different … a purely orchestral version of „Coming Storm“, as well as two songs that remind me a lot of Chaostar, because there are no distorted guitars. This is surprising at first – but might have been an exciting twist within the album as well. How did these songs come about, and why did you decide that they couldn’t be part of the regular album version?
Well, those songs would disrupt the flow of the album. There are already a lot of elements on the album for the listener to absorb. But we felt that it would be a pity not to present at all this different approach and the best option was to put them as bonus tracks on specific album formats.

SEPTICFLESH 2022; © Stella Mouzi
SEPTICFLESH 2022; © Stella Mouzi

Technically, you have a very characteristic guitar sound that lives very much from its almost sterile sharpness – it reminds me a bit of the sound of bands like Meshuggah. What makes this the perfect sound for your music from your point of view? Wouldn’t a warmer, more „rounded“ sound – in combination with the warm orchestral sounds – have been worth a try?
Basically, there is a raging battle of frequencies. We have so many different frequencies to put in order. This type of sharpness on the guitar helps it to stand out, else it would be crashed by the “elephants” of the orchestra. We are aiming for balance between our different dominant elements. We want heaviness as much as we want drama.

Can you tell us something about the lyric concept, the album title and the connection to the cover artwork? I would be interested to know why Serotonin of all things found its way onto the picture, for example …
I am the main lyricist of the band … anyway, the specific world was an idea of Seth that is also responsible for our artwork. Serotonin is a very important neurotransmitter. Interestingly, it is also something that hints to the story of  Neuromancer.

Thank you very much for the interview. Let’s wrap it up with our traditional brainstorming: Last album you listened to: Kreator – Hate Uber Alles
If „Modern Primitive“ were a car … which type? DMC DeLorean
Wagner or Mozart? Mozart
Black Metal: First era Bathory
A food that always makes you happy: Pizza
SEPTICFLESH in 10 years: Symphonic Cyber Metal

 Once again thanks for your time. The last words are yours – is there anything left you want to tell our readers?
The response for “Modern Primitive” was great, thank you all! Time for live shows now!

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