Talking Riff after Heavy Metal Riff with Sacral Rage
Heavy metal is the law and Sacral Rage are the masters at playing at playing it. Fast, technical, and with gloriously soaring high vocals, they’re the current masters of their style, and have a new album out now on Cruz Del Sur Music. If you’re unfamiliar with the band, you can read my review of it here. I’ve been a fan for a few years now; with the release of Beyond Celestial Echoes I was curious about a few things, and the band were kind enough to answer some questions for me. Though I spoke directly with Sacral Rage’s vocalist, Dimitris, all of the band worked collaboratively to answer the questions for me. As readers may be able to tell we started this interview before the album came out.
Hey guys, how’s it going?
Hi there Brandon. Everything’s OK on Sacral Rage camp.
Sacral Rage has a new album coming out on October 19th, and all of the pre-release attention seems to be very positive; I’ve listened to the album a good amount of times and loved it.
Yeah, it seems that a lot of people are interested in our new stuff. The feedback so far is very positive. We are very excited about the release and we are really looking forward to start play our new material for all the metalheads out there.
Does that mean that we should expect some gigging to support the new album? Have you guys ever played outside of Europe before?
Of course. You should expect some serious raging in various stages/countries. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the chance to spread our lunacy outside of the European borders but we hope this will change in the near future.
I hope so too, man, would love to get a chance to experience Sacral Rage live!
Illusions in Infinite Void was a glorious affair of speed metal and old school heavy metal that danced a bit with thrash but didn’t completely embrace it; however, Beyond Celestial Echoes is significantly more of a technical thrash album. What led to the change in directions?
As you said those elements already existed in our sound, so this is not a change of direction for us. With “Beyond…” we wanted our music to be stretched into its edges. The thrash element is more predominant but we’ve also added some death and even black metal riffing at times. This made the outcome more aggressive but at the same time we added more melodies both in music and vocal lines. We are glad that you can’t listen the exact same thing as our previous release cause we really don’t want to repeat ourselves. The core and soul of Sacral Rage is there, but now, it’s served with a bunch of new ideas.
The lyrics on your debut had a wide range of topics and I felt that was reflected well in the cover art it had. However, the new album looks and feels a bit more science-fiction oriented; is this an intentional move or am I just reading too far into things without access to the album’s lyrics?
Actually, not much has changed regarding the variety of our lyric themes. Each song has its own storyline. From forbidden religions and Egyptian gods, to sci-fi and psychological analysis of twisted minds. We have an extra, behind the scene concept that follows the sci-fi paths, but we use that to connect all of our songs with our live performances and with Sacral Rage in general. As for the cover art, we decided to give extra emphasis to our 15 minute sci-fi novel called “The Glass”. It has the strongest storyline of the album and we believe that it is something that worth the attention of the listener. It’s our “2112” or “Hemispheres”.
How does the songwriting of each track tie in with the stories you tell?
Each song theme had been inspired by the aura and the atmosphere of the music itself. We are focusing on the images that pop up into our minds. From the things that we have read in books to the things that we have seen in movies or even better from our imagination. So the dark lyrical themes makes sense in comparison to our music. We are trying to create a complete experience for the listener and transmit both sound and image to the receivers.
Have you ever started with an idea for a song from a storytelling standpoint before writing any of the music, or has it been the way you described for everything you’ve ever written? Do you work collaboratively to tie these dark ideas together to write stories, or is that the sole domain of Dimitris?
Actually we did came up with a story before writing any music. “The Glass” was an idea that I had during the recordings of “Illusions…”. Marios had to envision the story from this novel and transform to a director that would create a living sound to the listener. Most of the lyrics are written by me and Spyros. But we all enjoy this kind of stories and the rest of the guys might come with an idea for a lyric theme.
Speaking of Marios, Sacral Rage seems to have maintained the same lineup for several years now, going seemingly all the way back to the founding of the band. How did a bunch of guys that work so well as a band come together so quickly, and how have you guys managed to make that endure?
It’s true that things out there are pretty tough and most bands fail to maintain a concrete line up due to many things such as as musical differences, lack of time, lack of interest etc.
I guess we were lucky the four of us to meet and start this band. Simple as that. We all knew each other from years back but never actually crossed our minds to do something together. Until 2011 where the timing was right. When we did our first rehearsals we knew that something good was happening and the connection between us was intense. The really strange thing though, is that we all had pretty much same influences, so this kinda helped the development of the band
Truth be told though, it’s never easy to keep the balance between four individuals since we all have our ups and downs, but during the years we managed to find a way to handle this and overcome the obstacles. You adapt to the circumstances and try to deliver the best you can with what you got.
Long before everyone came together to form Sacral Rage, Vagelis played in a few extreme metal bands; even now both Vagelis and Marios play together in Necrovorous, a death metal band. Vagelis, when did an interest in playing heavy metal start, and how does that feel compared to playing extreme stuff? Does it ever conflict with Sacral Rage’s goals to have a couple of the guys be extremely active in other bands, or is this part of the balance you guys mentioned?
First of all, we believe that what we do, is quite extreme. Maybe not in the same way as a death or a black metal band, but we have our extremities. Whether this is some of the technical shit or for the continous high screaming vocals. Secondly Vagelis was always a fan of classic metal. He is the classic example of a metalhead that knows a shitload of things and bands. An overall metal maniac. Thirdly, no man couldn’t be active with all these bands at the same time.This would be disastrous. Moreover, we don’t have such a tight schedule in order not to be involved with other projects. On the contrary we always believe that it is better to take some time off from something, in order to come back with fresh ideas and full of energy.
Do you find that your communal obsession with heavy metal is the standard for your scene? Greece has a reputation for being a stronghold of classic heavy metal that lives it far more than most of the rest of the world. Has that been your experience? How has your reception been at home compared to your global fanbase?
Well, it’s true that we have a strong and devoted core of metal fans here in Greece. Compared to our population, the metal community is really huge. This has also to do with the fact that most of the Greeks are located in big cities, especially Athens, so the ratio of metalheads seems even bigger.
We were always known for our extreme scene (black and death metal) but during the last years, the classic metal has gained strength. See for example all the festivals that are taking place in Athens.
I guess this obsession with metal is due to our distant geographical position, compared to the metal capitals of Europe, so we have developed this unique attitude and bond. Of course during the last years with the rise of the internet, this may not be so clear, but the previous generations set the standards for this stronghold.
Regarding us, we were pretty much well received from the metal community here. But this has two sides. You have to always deliver your best in order to keep the fans thirsty for more. The Greek audience is not so forgiving.
Last but not least, although our vocalist Dimitris, is known for is comfort to sing in high frequencies, you should keep in mind that when he was younger, one of his favorite singers was Coburn Pharr. The reason was that he actually had ”helped” back then to find more possible ways on how he could managed to reach lower and more aggressive volumes. Summing up, without Never, Neverland for sure our space would be poorer and less innovative.
Does the love for classic Annihilator tie in heavily with fact that Sacral Rage chose to make a style of heavy metal so different from the epic metal Greece is often associated with, or was it something else?
The Annihilator worshiping is really a chapter of its own within our book of influences. Our style owns a lot to that “riff after riff” formula and the unexpected changes/structures. Something that they perfected in their first albums. We wouldn’t be the same band if we hadn’t heard albums like Alice in Hell or Never Neverland. But this has nothing to do with the fact that we play this particular style. Besides some landmark albums, we were never so much into epic metal.
The band’s axes, tired from recording riff after riff during the studio sessions for Beyond Celestial Echoes.
The music that Sacral Rage plays is very much rooted in your love of ‘80s bands. Does that love extend to other forms of older media?
ONLY VINYL IS REAL! Yes, we do enjoy the older media very much. Each one of us owns a respective collections of vinyls. With both classics and some little gems!! It’s a disease that we can’t cure.
I’m with you, man! Can’t wait to get Beyond Celestial Echoes on wax. Speaking of old media, do you guys read physical zines at all still? How does Sacral Rage discover and consume music?
Yeah, I mean it’s always appealing to read and be informed via zines/magazines. It is somehow nostalgic nowadays in the same manner as listening music on vinyl. All the four of us have experienced how it is to learn new stuff and discovering new bands through printed matter. So it is in a way more familiar to us than to an eighteen year old kid for example.
Personally, most of the time I get informed and listen to music from Web and the various webzines. If I like it though, I always buy it in a physical format. I still try to grow my record collection. All the four of us basically.
Sacral Rage appears to have gotten a good amount of attention from Metal Hammer Magazine, and you guys have appeared in several compilation CDs that they’ve put out. Were you guys in touch with them before the band started or has your relationship with them grown naturally from their appreciation of your music?
No, we didn’t have any relation with the Hammer guys before the band. We knew who they were from the magazine and from the TV show “TV WAR” that they are doing, but not on a personal level. By the release of our first EP we started to be in touch and since then, we have a really good relation.
It’s funny though, because the most things we know regarding Metal is due to Metal Hammer/TV War and right now, we have this cool relation.
What led to the decision to approach Dimitar Nikolov for artwork? He did an excellent job with the cover for Beyond Celestial Echoes.
Of course he did an awesome work. We were aware of him and his work but the decision to approach him was made after seeing Demolition Train’s Bound by Horror, Sealed with Blood cover artwork. After that, we knew that he was our guy. So we approached him, giving minimum guidelines as well as the lyrics of our song, “The Glass”, in order to gain inspiration. Then, he came back to us and presented the artwork you see. He is a genius.
How often you guys play shows, and how often outside of Greece? Do you guys like playing abroad?
We try to play as much as possible and in as many places as possible. Think that, we have done more shows abroad than in Greece and the reason for this is that we don’t want to do live shows if we have nothing new to present. Also truth is that the Greek scene is not so big, so the chances to play in the same places are pretty big. On the other hand we always enjoy playing abroad and seeing new places/meeting new people.
Thank you for your time. Is there anything else you’d like to say or news you’d like to share?
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