Eastern Europe’s Top 5 Hidden Gems w/ Sisyphean
This week we talked to rising Lithuanian band Sisyphean about the treasures that lie in their neck of the woods.
Late last year we had the pleasure of premiering the band’s remarkable debut album Illusions Of Eternity, and rather than shamelessly waffle-on about it all over again, I’ll shamelessly copy/paste an excerpt from the stream’s accompanying blurb –
“Maybe it’s just the delusory effects of confirmation bias at play, but I hear nods to the nascent Icelandic black metal scene throughout this album. In particular, the elegant yet precariously poised atmospherics of Zhrine and the dismal narcotic-drenched dread of Svartidauði. If you can listen to “Nekrokatarsis” without feeling the grip of finality tighten ever so slightly around your throat, then congratulations, you’ve made it! You’re already dead”.
Now you’re all acquainted, you can (skip back) hit play and we’ll get straight into the interview…
Can you give us a little background on the band? How long have you been together?
The band was formed in 2012 after K.U. returned from life in UK. Originally we started playing a strange blend of black/thrash under the name Division. It was kind of an “infant” stage for us in musicianship and it took some time till we found our sonic identity. For most of us in the line-up of those times it was our first band, so naturally a cliché idea period was inevitable.
We eventually grew tired of cliché concepts and ideas which wasn’t anything that touched us on a personal level. We took a different angle of view on things and decided not to go after recycled banners of ideas. Over the years we started to understand that we want to continue our creative road with something more personal, something we directly relate to, suffer from, experienced. We wanted to go after a creation process which was more influenced by these various thoughts roaming in our heads.
Over the years we experienced a bit of everything. Line-up changes, musical searches and discoveries and a lot of personal things. It shaped what would later become of us. The clay took shape eventually and Illusions of Eternity is the first monument of it for the moment.
Illusions Of Eternity was one of my favourite surprises of the year, had you been working on those songs for very long?
After the previous release Perpetual Cycle of Absolution there was a period of searches and some changes in the line-up. Around the times of that release we had a lot of thoughts to where we want to go further with our music. A lot of various material was written. Some of it was even planned to be released, but eventually we decided to not do it. However this period served us well in our sonic searches for new paths both in the technical and ideological sense. Of course this unreleased material would have probably made more sense in realizing the whole musical transition, but oh well.
The album itself was fully recorded and mixed almost a year ago before the release. Arrangements for a proper way to release the album took some time and that’s where eventually we got with Drakkar Productions.
How strongly integrated is the Sisyphean concept with your music?
I tend to think sometimes how and why certain bands choose a specific name to represent them. Sometimes reasons are simple, sometimes with a more interesting story.
In our case the decision was quite a direct one, based on where we plan to go ideologically. The whole idea for the name was originally inspired both by Greek mythology, but together various writers from existentialist and nihilism movements like Albert Camus or Sartre. It’s the name of the mythos made an adjective stating a condition of an endlessly desperate and futile cycle of existence. A condition representing a perpetual search for meaning.
At the beginning it was an idea of fascination and contemplation, but eventually the name took up its toll and became a metaphorical representation for itself of sorts, as the concepts we eventually materialized and we continue to do, relate to us in one way or the other. Would it be ideas/thoughts we contemplate or various events, experiences we have over gone through our lives and continue to. It is a banner to express the energies inside us into sonic flesh.
For someone (read: most of us) who is not very familiar with Lithuanian metal, how would you describe the scene there? Would you say Sisyphean fit into the prevailing style of black metal played there or do you feel like outliers?
I would say the metal scene here was always kind of a rollercoaster. It had its up and down moments. The 90’s was a rich period full of potential death metal and black metal bands. At the dawn of the new age things got pretty slow and quite. There was still a fair amount of interesting bands appearing from time to time, but no big movement or anything. The metal community up to now is quite underground. You have quite a fair share of gigs and festivals happening here, but not a lot of active live bands. However most of the ones who are – are the ones who truly craft their music from the heart.
I would say the true banner carriers of the Lithuanian metal scene today, who are actually doing something interesting, are Luctus, Erdve, Extravaganza, Crypts of Despair, Au-dessus, Faršas, Nahash. The black metal scene currently has a small circle which brings a lot of unified philosophy into the bag, but together a lot of individualism musically. Every band is quite different from each other, as every each one has quite a different stylistic and ideological approach to the craft.
Do you have any tours planned? Who are some currently active bands you’d most like to tour with?
No specific plans yet, but we are thinking of possibly organizing something through Europe in 2018. Time will tell. No specific preferences in regards to bands, as long as it’s a like minded collective of a similar ideological ethos.
Right on, well today I’ve asked if you could give us a little insight into some of your region’s lesser known bands that deserve some more attention, let’s check ’em out –
The following are 5 hidden gems from East/North Europe. These are some albums that have been spinning around our heads for quite some time now. The list is in no particular order and is not genre bound.
Tyrant Goatgaldrakona (Hungary)
When it comes to death metal, we are used to seeing most of the top releases coming from countries such as Sweden, USA or Finland. However, recently discovered Horns in the Dark showed us a glimpse of Hungarian death metal scene and it surely did not disappoint. The first track of the album instantly reveals what TGD is all about which is swamping your ears with relentless blastbeats, fierce low tone riffage and gory vocals that hardly let go throughout the album. Though these guys seem to be mostly influenced by Scandinavian death scene, there is some sort of specific vibe that makes them stand out from other „classical“ Death metal acts. If you are into death, this one will definitely make your day, as these guys deserve much more credit than they have gotten so far. Maybe it‘s the name. We‘ll let you decide.
If you relate to darker vibes of various rap artists such as Mobb Deep, Wutang Clan, Dälek or any other “to the streets” artist, can also understand the more suicidal black metal bands like early Shining, Silencer or Nyktalgia and you are open to more modern approaches to the genre, then you should definitely get into this.
This is something in the black metal genre that you should check out, if you are looking for something quite different in the atmosphere. Nyksta aims to represent their music through the art concepts of urban and mental decay together creating quite a bleak and fatalistic atmosphere supporting it. Technically post black metal, but fully DSBM in the atmosphere and emotion the music does create.
Lieka Tik Sienos (Only Walls are Left) goes worlds away from common DSBM traits. It’s not overstuffed with melodicism, but together equally controlled from face-melting aggression. This album is definitely greater as a whole than as individual parts, because all of the material perfectly combines itself into a concentrated journey of raw emotional weight. And it is quite a bitter journey filled with melancholia, paranoia, fear and despair. Of course separate songs are a good listen to, but I strongly recommend to try it in full for a spine-chilling effect. A perfect listen for a walk around your local urban slums at night.
Our country has a humble history of grindcore bands and Faršas I would say is one of the most interesting, promising and brain-smashing ones. Their quite a loved band here, as they play a good formula of catchy grindcore mixed with quite interesting and humorous themes. They go around lyrically about various social topics. Recommend to check “Atmerk degtinei akį” – “Open your eye to vodka“, “Georgijaus juostelė” – “Ribbon of Saint George” or all of the releases straight away. Let‘s not forget this is grindcore.
Grey Heaven Fall (Russia)
Although Russia is an enormous country, but I personally don’t have a long list of favourable bands there. However in 2016 we found Black Wisdom and were amazed what a crazy fuck of an album this is. Grey Heaven Fall play quite an interesting sound based mainly on black metal, but with tastes of those French dissonance tricks and sometimes death metal punches. Together it’s heavy in melody, progressive in dynamics, avant-garde in song writing, haunting and psychedelic in atmosphere.
Although at some length it could seem they go quite a “trendy” path with the direction, but at the same time this can be fully denied, because they are something totally more evolved and different. They have created a tense yet inviting sound with Black Wisdom that shows they can hold their own with their contemporaries. Strongly recommended.
Mallephyr (Czech Republic)
New act from Czech Republic formed in 2013 released a debut album called Assailing the Holy. Technical, atmospheric death/black metal with lots of dynamically varying riffs, interesting approach to both black and death metal. Sharp memorable leads and ferocious drumming. Wild, uncontrollable and sinister. If you missed the classical hammer smashing Marduk sound, but together something more complex, then this is the thing. Something to consider listening while driving.
Previously On The Friday Guest List
Everlasting Spew Records head Giorgio coughed up the Top 5 Bands He’d Love To Sign.