The many layers of Septicflesh

April 19th Septicflesh will be releasing "The Great Mass" in the US on Season Of Mist. What has the feedback been from the european fans?
Sotiris Anunnaki V: The reaction is amazing from both the fans and the press.

In 2007 you spent most of the year supporting Cradle in Europe and the US and Vader the year before. Do you feel the band got better with the experience you got from touring?
Christos Antoniou: Of course a band that tours so extensively  wins  in every aspect from fans to experience on stage. We were really lucky that we had the chance to support bands of the status of Cradle Of Filth and Behemoth and I am pretty sure our performance was of high standards.

In your opinion, how well was the US tour experience as far as gaining new fans that haven't heard of Septicflesh?
Christos Antoniou: I believe the US fans are really friendly compared to Europe.
The feedback was always full of enthusiasm and imagine we were newcomers! We strongly feel that the future for Septicflesh is in USA.

I'm listening to "The Great Mass", I like it very much, it's like guys really "turn it up a notch" on this release.
Sotiris Anunnaki V: We worked really hard in order to achieve the result you are listening. Especially the symphonic parts are unlike anything we have done in the past. There are so many musical layers on the album and at the same time we didn't lost our brutality. I believe it sums up, all the strong points of Septicflesh that were developed during our history while going one step further.

When did Christos get his degree in classical composition and how many years he had to study?
Christos Antoniou: I started quite late to be honest. When I was 15 I took some guitar lessons and around there I heard Mozart's Symphonies and Requiem Mass. I was so impressed from his music that I started to play Mozart's pieces on my guitar. But the work that changed my life and said I want to be a composer was Stravinsky's Rite of Spring. It is a masterpiece that even now after nearly 100 years sounds fresh. Then at my 18 I went to London to study composition and by 25 I had a Degree and Master's in Composition/Orchestration. Also all of us like Soundtracks and classical music and was natural to add our classical influences to Septicflesh. You can see that in our song Mythos from our first album Mystic Places of Dawn. Mythos is an orchestral instrumental song that ends the album.

This time around you picked the legendary and talented Peter Tagtgren for the production duties. Why did the band decided to roll with him?
Sotiris Anunnaki V: We wanted to try a new approach to our sound. Peter is a very talented and experienced producer. We felt that he could manage to keep the right balance between our symphonic and our extreme element. And we were right. He did an amazing job. The sound is a Great mass of death.

Can you tell me how he motivated the band and how he pushed you guys to the full potential?
Sotiris Anunnaki V: He didn't interfere to the creational process of the album, or the performance of the band and the various artists that contributed to the result. Peter's job was to take care of the sound, mixing the recordings that we gave him. We didn't need motivation but a strong, experienced mind to put chaos to order. We were determined to blow your heads off.

I just finished watching season one of Spartacus on DVD. Some of the parts of the album especially the orchestration parts reminds of the music from Spartacus?
Christos Antoniou: I have never heard of it! I will definitely listen to it but our approach is more towards horror movies. There are some epic moments but they don't play such a dominant role.

Can you give the readers a little interpretation of some of the songs on the album?
Sotiris Anunnaki V: Each song deals with a different topic. However I envisioned all the different themes as parts of the same mass, in a sense that each song is psalm of the same dark liturgy. There are some ongoing references about the battle between life and death. Actually, there are some things that connect us to the world of the living and when we are losing them, we are going one step away from life. To give you some insight, the song Oceans of Grey is about the loss of memories, Mad Architect is about the loss of the mind, A Great Mass of Death is about the ultimate loss, Rising is about the ultimate goal etc. The lyrics have many layers, just as the music. It is up to the listener to go deeper. Besides, the main lyrics, there is a prologue to each song that is composed from strange questions that are aiming to create appropriate food for thoughts. In addition, in the documentary DVD that accompanies the digipack and the special artbook edition of the album, there is a whole chapter about the lyrics.

I recently saw Rottting Christ come though the Dallas/Fort Worth area. When you guys coming back to Dallas?
Christos Antoniou: Dallas I remember we played with Cradle of Filth in the House of Blues, amazing gig. Unfortunately the tour in June/July with Children of Bodom , Devin Townsend and Obscura don't have Dallas. I hope in the near future to visit this great place.

Lately Greece has been producing alot of good bands like Burial Horde, Dodsferd, Ravencult and many others. Seems like the greek metal scene is finally getting it's day in the sun?
Sotiris Anunnaki V: Greece always had some great extreme bands, with personality as Rotting Christ, Varathron, Necromantia, Horiffied, to name a few. It seems that finally after long years of effort, the Greek bands are getting more and more recognition. Hopefully more opportunities will be available for the new bands. You should keep an eye on the Greek scene.

The song that really got my attention is "The Undead Keep Dreaming". Some of the parts has that Morbid Angel type of vibe?
Sotiris Anunnaki V: It is probably the groove and that gives you that vibe. The specific song is groovy, with sudden outbursts of speed, melodic in a sick way. It is one of my favorites.

Who's doing the clean vocals on this album? Is this the same person who did the vocals on "Communion"?
Sotiris Anunnaki V: I am responsible for the clean vocals of SEPTICFLESH. It is something that we had as an element from even our first album Mystic Places of Dawn, as songs like Crescent Moon prove. With the passing of time, I worked a lot to develop the clean vocals. The give a specific mood to the songs, allowing us to experiment more, creating interesting interactions with the brutal main vocals.

The band also included some female vocals on the album. Is this the first time the band used female vocals.
Christos Antoniou: The guests allowed us to use more  sound colours  to our compositions. In a sense, we had more  actors  available for our disposition. We had a lot of discussions about the various instruments and people involved and made decisions, giving the appropriate role to the appropriate instrument or vocalist, having in mind a wider perspective about music, aiming to enhance specific emotions. On these 2 songs you mention we have 2 different approaches. Oceans of Grey has a more dramatic operatic colour on the contrary The Great Mass we wanted a feeling towards folk music. Both singers Androniki (Chaostar) and Iliana gave a unique performance.

Where did the band record the choir parts at?
Christos Antoniou: In Prague. Nearly 150 people involved for this project. When I was student in London my dream was to see orchestras perform my works and I was lucky enough to record and perform with several Orchestras. As you can see challenge is always there for me writing from smaller ensembles to big orchestras like that. I have also here to praise the Orchestra and Choir of Prague. Their interpretation and professionalism is of high standards. Imagine I was listening and supervising the recordings from my studio in Athens. They have big team and focus in order the session to run smoothly otherwise you could end losing thousand of euros if everything is not perfect.

What are some of the subjects the band covers on "The Great Mass?
Sotiris Anunnaki V: The artwork is filled with symbolism from the themes of the album. There are so many small details involved, that very easily many parts of the cover could become covers on their own. Basically, there are many figures made from mable and flesh, human and therianthropic, that are forming a mass in the shape of the triangle with a god figure at the top. It is a bizarre self cannibalistic symposium, as their purpose, is to devour parts of the god figure that is also a part of them.

I like to say this is one kick ass album. I feel this has to be one of your strongest efforts yet?
Christos Antoniou: Yes it is our most mature work and most intense as it has all the elements of our previous albums and our unconventional use of Orchestra gives a new breath not only to our music but also in the Symphonic-Metal idiom.

I want to say thanks bro and I'm looking forward to seeing you on tour.
Christos Antoniou: Thanks and see you soon!!
Interviewer: Paul Lewis
May 11, 2011

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