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AEALO or the Odyssey of the Greek Warrior

AEALO or the Odyssey of the Greek Warrior
BANDS : Rotting Christ

More than two decades ago, Rotting Christ have started their own chapter in the book of extreme metal. Continuously pushing forward the boundaries of their music, Sakis and his bandmates have ever since firmly cemented their position as metal legends. You may think that after such a long run they have run out of breath or inspiration. No, not this band. It looks like their creativity, passion and energy reaches new heights as the years go by and Aealo, Rotting Christ's new release, is here to attest to just that. Courteously as always, Sakis has taken the time to answer our questions about all things past, present and future that Aealo has put in motion

Metalfan: Rotting Christ doesn't need any introduction, therefore we are not going to discuss details regarding biographical facts and we are going to focus directly on your last album, Aealo.
In a news update before the release of Aealo you described it as "A concept album about the feelings of a warrior during a battle: fear, grief, anger." What is this concept based upon? There are some hints throughout the album, that Greek's ancient heritage might have been the main inspiration source, is that a correct guess?

Sakis: Yes, the ancient Greek heritage was among others, an inspiration, but the main concept is the one that you have already mentioned and it has to do with the feelings of a warrior  during a battle. Weird feelings, strange feelings, like anger, the fear, the grief and so many other vibrations that a warrior can experiment during a battle. Listening the album will make you feel like you are in the middle of a battle field and you are fighting against your feelings. No, it is not an album that glorifies war… I think it’s even the opposite. When you finish listening to it,  you will feel relieved, you will feel like you escaped from the trials that only a war can create!

Metalfan: I perceive Aealo as an album that continues to explore ethnic musical territories introduced on Theogonia whilst also trying to move forward creatively, the result being fresh and fascinating. Which are, in your opinion the main differences between Theogonia and Aealo?
Sakis: Aealo is the sequel of Theogonia. It is its child. It pushed  our  new style even further and the main difference is, in my opinion, that Aealo sounds like one single song and this is because I did compose the whole album like this, like just one song. It is definitely our most soulful album ever and the band sounds more epic than ever!

Metalfan: Theogonia was a very successful piece of work, which received much acclaim from both critics and fans, to the point it was considered by some your best album ever. Was it hard to create a follow up that could reach the same quality as the previous album? I guess the pressure was high and knowing you are addicted to work it was not at all easy to compose Aealo…

Sakis: It is common knowledge that a very good album is difficult to surpass… so I was kind of stressed because of this and I must admit, I even felt a little insecure! As an artist I had to surpass my abilities. So I’ve been really taking seriously the composing process and I isolated myself for more than a year, in order to find out a way to reach the unexplored paths of my soul. This time I took a different approach: I was based more on thoughts and less on playing guitar; I philosophized a lot and slept little and I finally came up with Aealo. An album that I want to believe will bring the band a step further and considering feedback we got so far, I think that we did manage to create a worthy, and maybe better follower to Theogonia.
Also, this time, I wanted not to rely so much on digital procedures for creating the atmosphere with keyboards and such… I wanted to keep things real, so I chose to work with real choirs and instruments. I used a traditional greek choir specialized on lament songs and I created some really occult melodies that made the whole album sound wild and primitive and, most important, unique. I am a merciless seeker of the concept of Uniqueness and I am struggling to make all my creations sound unique, something that I want to believe that I succeeded to reach by using of all those choirs, instruments etc. The album sound OCCULT! Faithful to our roots.

Metalfan: Being a concept album, do the songs follow a continuous storyline on Aealo, or are they picturing distinct, unrelated moments in order to convey a central topic?
Sakis: They are picturing distinct moments in order to convey a central topic. And this topic as I said in my previews answer has to do with the feelings of a warrior during a battle. I  tried hard to make you feel in awe while listening this album.

Metalfan: It's not so easy to guess what each song is talking about, because most of the songs have Greek titles, could you make a short song-by-song "translation" of Aealo?
Sakis: 1. Aealo (Destruction-Fallen-Thrash)
AEALO...The transfer of the ancient Greek word  ΕΑΛΩ  into latin characters which means Thresh/catastroph/destruction/The Fallen… This is the best way to start an album and to show your intensions
2. Eon Aenaos (Eternal century)
Eternal Century in Greek too… A century full of battles. One of our most soundtrack-like songs and one of our most epic and aggressive… and the battle is going on…
3. Demonon Vrosis (Demon’s food)
Food for demons in ancient Greek. Spiritual feed for you too. Demons recommend it!
4. Noctis Era (Dark season)
Dark era. Maybe the hit of the album. It reminds me a lot of Non Serviam and it is the best combination for both the old fans and the new ones.
5. Dub-saĝ-ta-ke (A curse in a language that doesn’t exist anymore)
A song in a dead language… This is a curse lyrically and musically.
6. Fire Death and Fear
Three words that express the feeling when you listen the song. The addition of the Threnody Choir makes the song really… dark.
7. Nekron Iahes (Screams of the dead)
The voices of the dead…Our most experimental song performed from the lament choir. You can feel the dead!
8. Pyr Threontai (Burn Fire)
A well established  Rotting Christ trademark song; the addition of Magus from Necromantia makes it as hot as Pyr…
9. Thou Art Lord (You are our lord)
You are our lord! The only song with an anglosaxon dimension on this album. Alan from Primordial make it sound …celtic…with a sense of sarcasm against religion.
10. Santa Muerte (Saint Death)
Saint death. One of the most agressive songs on the album with one of the best bridges in the middle of the song, in my opinion.
11. Orders from the Dead
A Diamanda Galas song…We have the mistress of darkness on our album. What can we say about her voice. Her performance will accompany your dreams or, to be more precise, your nightmares. Definitelly our most soulful song and maybe one of the most soulful songs in all history of music!

Metalfan: As you know, a lot of metal bands incorporated traditional and folk elements in their music, probably wanting to be a little bit different in a time of globalization. But the way you have used these influences made your sound even darker and occult. Which is the secret that led to such outcome?
Sakis: The folk elements you choose, my friend. When I listen to folk bands that make me feel that I am at my grandfather’s party, that make feel like… hey this is not METAL! But for those that are searching for ethnic music worldwide, there are always hidden dark voices that are screaming from strange parts of the planet and this is what I did with Aealo. My starting point was a really extensive search for those polyphonic choirs that can be found in the Northern part of Greece and has to do with lament songs and they have their musical roots back in ancient Greece.

Metalfan: You had a traditional women's choir and some artists playing traditional instruments on Aealo. First off, what exactly are those non-metal instruments that can be heard on the album and how did you find the musicians to play them?
Sakis: There are just a few traditional instruments on that album and those were performed by me. I am also the person that wrote all the melody lines for the choirs but, ok, I wasn’t the one performing them!

Metalfan: The traditional women's choir is very present on Aealo and their parts are more than just an exotic feature, they are skillfully merged in the song structure, it wouldn't quite work without them. I'm curious how did you compose the songs, have you worked on the songs with the choir from the beginning, or you added their parts later?
Sakis: I added their parts later on, when I finished with the composing and when I was sure about the melody line I wanted to follow. It was quite difficult indeed to work with some ladies that had no knowledge about extreme metal music, but in the end it worked fine and our cooperation was productive and, most important, the result unique.

Metalfan: How did you get in touch with this choir and how did they respond to your proposal, how easy was it to work together with them, taking into account that your musical background is obviously very different than theirs?
Sakis: As I told you before, it was difficult in the beginning and they were a bit confused when they answered, because they had never listened this style of music before. It was a kind of civil shock, but then they went into the whole  atmosphere and so my long search in ancient greek music found its success in the name of this polyphonic choir that is called Pleiades.

Metalfan: The music on Aealo has a tribal, ritualistic vibe. It was something that occurred naturally during the songwriting process or did you intend from the beginning to obtain this sound? 

Sakis: Everything was created following a schedule and  when I am saying schedule I mean that everything was a product of a deep research in the “avaton” of my soul. I explored a lot the untrodden paths of my soul before I started working on the composition process and this is the result I wanted from the beginning to have. I also payed lot of attention during the production process in order to catch the primitive feeling that I wanted this album to express so this is the reason that we moved to Olympus, the mountain of Gods in the Lunatech Studio and I created an album that was inspired by the vibration of this area.

Metalfan: One of my colleagues thinks that Aealo works perfectly as a whole, but excepting Demonos Vrosis it lacks songs with instant appeal, catchy songs. Did you consider the possibility that you might fail to reach some of those impatient listeners because of this? Are you aiming at a more mature audience with this record?
Sakis: Aealo is the album that works perfectly as a whole and your collegue is right when he says that it doesn’t include the usual “hits” that we have in every  album. That was my goal and I am glad that this has passed. I wanted this album to be listened to as one song! And the great majority of positive reviews come from people that have reached the thirty decade of their lives so it seems that I do answer positive to the final part of your question!

Metalfan: Season of Mist's artist Jérôme designed the 'Aealo' cover and layout. Are you satisfied with the visual aspect of the album?
Sakis: I layed down some ideas about Aealo and Jerome (Season of Mist’s designer) created one of  our best artwork… Maybe the best. He has a deep knowledge on the ancient Greek history and he presented everything really great in Aealo. Actually I didn’t interfere much… I left the artist to make his creation and he did something really EPIC!

Metalfan: You had some guest artists contributing to this record and your tight cooperation has resulted into a groundbreaking piece of music. How did you get in touch with Alan A. Nemtheanga and why did you choose him?
Sakis: Alan is a Metal Brother of mine and I’ve known him since the early days, so  when I was composing the song Thou Art Lord I said to myself that his voice  will fit very well with the atmosphere of the song. So I asked him and he accepted  eagerly. Working with Alan is a pleasure… And yes… it is the first time that you can hear an English accent in  Rotting Christ music!!!

Metalfan: On of the most fascinating songs from Aealo is Orders From the Dead, a collaboration between Rotting Christ and Greek-American diva Diamanda Galas. I most confess you that the song is stunning, one of the most soulful and intense piece of music I've heard lately. How did you convince Diamanda to allow you cover her song?
Sakis: Diamanda is Greek and when I sent my collaboration proposal for this specific song her answer was positive because I just touched her soul. We have our own way to communicate somehow, we all the Greeks around the world. But the biggest challenge for me was just starting: I had to write the music for one of Diamanda Galas’ song. That was a big challenge. I did my best, I went deep into the song and I am more than honored that Diamanda found the result remarkable.

Metalfan: Do you think you could extent this collaboration in the future, maybe to write an album together, like she did with John Paul Jones on The Sporting Life album, back in 1994?
Sakis: It is difficult to say, because she is doing her thing we are doing ours, but if a chance like this will appear again I will be more than glad to write something for the best experimental artist of this world.

Metalfan: Orders From the Dead speaks of the Armenian, Greek and Assyrian victims of the Turkish genocide. I know you always wanted to keep the band away from any nationalist or neo-Nazi ideology, stating with every occasion that this is not the message you want to transmit through your music. Aren’t you worried that this song could be misinterpreted as a political statement?

It has nothing to do with Armenians or Assyrians. It is a just a historical reference that fit well with the whole concept of the album and has nothing to do with nazi or extremist, right-party politics… This is art, my friend, and  Rotting Christ has nothing to do with any political interpretations that some people want to give through this song. Simple as that!

Metalfan: Tell me, what do you like the most about Aealo?
Sakis: Its primitive atmosphere that is a result of the special production that I did for the album. A production based on the soul and less on the gear.

Metalfan: After 20 years of activity Rotting Christ are still alive and more productive and refreshed than ever. Can you tell us which the secret of your longevity and creativity is?
Sakis: I am crazy about music and I have resisted and I rebelled against the so many  restrictions I have faced in order to serve Metal! Maybe it sounds like an easy thing to do for some, but believe me, I have sacrificed so many things in my life in order to be available and capable to create Metal music.

Metalfan: Do you know that Nightfall, another legendary Greek band, is back in business? Are you in touch with the guys from Nightfall?
Sakis: Yes I was told and I am really curious to hear what thay are doing. I hope that they create something remarkable.

Metalfan: What kind of music is Sakis listening these days? Are there some albums that impressed you lately?
Sakis: I loved Overkill’s new album as well as the new Slayer. I am also into ethnic music, music that comes from strange corners of this world. I am a human searcher, I have traveled all around the world; by listening to one’s specific, traditional music you can understand what kind of people they are and I really love to discover people through their music. No need of course to mention names… Doesn’t really makes sense.

Metalfan: It seems you have already planned a lot of concerts and tours for this year, which will include a lot of countries and venues. But I can’t find on your travel map a Romanian town yet. Are you intending to come to Romania this year?
Sakis: Are you crazy? A worldwide tour without Romania can not be called a worlwide tour! Soon we will upload some dates in your territory, too. Romania will be the part of our upcoming Balkan tour that will start up probably in September. Really look forward to performing in your land my friend. We feel great and this is not a copliment.

Metalfan: Well, thank you very much for this interview. All the best from Romania!

Sakis: Hail to all Romanian brothers and sisters and see you soon in your land. Dragos keep on creating and keep on being a METAL FAN!
Autor: Klawz, Dragos P.
Vezi galeriile trupelor: Rotting Christ

   February 26, 2010  | 4 Comments  | 13213 Views « BACK

Comment on: AEALO or the Odyssey of the Greek Warrior

  • Respect!!!

    1. Posted by Sake | 26 Februarie 2010 10:16
  • Sake, multumim pentru support!

    2. Posted by Geralt de Rivia | 26 Februarie 2010 11:26
  • Super trupa, Super album.... Ce ar mai fi de spus? Nevedem la toamna!!!!!!!!

    3. Posted by dioadi | 01 Martie 2010 22:46
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