Why Carthage like violence and battles
Created in order to release intense brutal death metal, with historical lyrical themes. After their relentless debut album it is time to know about the band and the lyrical theme. So dive into history...
Can you give us a short introduction of yourself?
My name is Leonidas and I know what you are thinking: ‘This is Sparta’!
What dragged you into the metal world? Remember your first contact with metal music?
When I was around 7-8 years old, I was hearing Disco. Then I discovered Greek Hip-Hop, I think around 11. Moreover, around 13, I had access on two tapes: the first one had some Iron Maiden tracks, and I was not actually impressed back then. But the other one was Metallica's ‘Ride the Lighting’ album. I can clearly recall the moment I’ve heard the first distorted riff of "Fight Fire With Fire", it's one of the most brutal riffs ever written. Therefore, I've felt the energy of this music and it really shaped my taste.
So I started listening to this stuff a lot. In addition, I discovered Sepultura and I was blasting all day Beneath the Remains, Arise, Chaos A.D. and Roots. Those are absolutely amazing albums. Now at some point, I got the debut albums of Immortal and Slipknot. The Slipknot album had some good moments, but I clearly remember that Immortal was very scary, especially the vocals. Thus, I found it challenging and unique and I searched for more related stuff. So I was hearing only black metal, like Marduk, Dark Funeral, Emperor, Mayhem and Dimmu Borgir. So after that, some good death metal and grindcore came into the picture. Cannibal Corpse, Severe Torture, Immolation, Dying Fetus, Morbid Angel Suffocation etc. I also enjoyed Napalm Death, Nasum and Rotten Sound a lot, but my grind taste decreased fast.
When did you decided to pick up an instrument and writing own tunes?
I felt the temptation when I was hearing 'Ride the Lighting' all the time. After a couple months, I bought a very cheap guitar with an amp that didn't even have distortion. So I started practising on my own, doing exercises and trying to play material from the bands that I’ve mentioned, obviously not suitable for a beginners level.
As a result, I started guitar lessons that lasted 5 years. Especially the second teacher was really awesome since he was into Heavy Metal and Rock. So in every lesson, after the basic theories and exercises, we were playing full albums like the Black Album etc. Of course I was not able to play all solo's but I was learning a lot of rhythm guitar.
Similarly, as I was getting more experience I attempted riffs of my own. I had this tendency from the beginning, but you need to learn the basics at least, in order to express your ideas musically.
When I was around 17, I joined Cease of Breeding. Gradually, I started having many ideas and I needed to document them somehow. I started doing pre-productions, with very low quality equipment, but I've learned the basics of drum programming, recording guitars and bass etc. Then I've upgraded my equipment. Therefore, I was able to gradually become more independent and present my ideas to others. So I was doing numerous pre-productions. It reached to a point where I started doing the productions of my material. The process took many years.
Diving in history you were playing bass in Cease Of Breeding and released one full length. The 2nd was recorded but never released. Why?
Cease of Breeding was the first band that I've joined. We've released a couple of demos and we did some shows in Greece (Athens, Alexandroupoli, Larissa etc), plus, we've also opened for Vader many years ago in our hometown, Thessaloniki. We released a debut album through Amputated Vein in 2010 and even without live promotion, it went good. For example we were featured in Terrorizer magazine. (Read the review on BRUTALISM.com here)
To sum up, at some point later we decided to release another album. As time passed, the three of us probably felt that we didn't have the chemistry that we had before. So the band was split on good terms. It is expected that this will sound diplomatic and cliche, but the actual truth is that we have very good relations. When you know someone for numerous years, it is easy to maintain contact even after a band ceases to exist.
Fast forward, Carthage was created as supposed to be that 2nd album. Are the songs the same or only the idea of the songs?
In fact, I entirely composed and recorded the album as a Cease of Breeding release, all 10 songs. It is important to state that I was never the main composer for Cease of Breeding. I composed half of the debut album, few songs on a previous release, and nothing at all on the first two demos. All the rest of the material was done by the guitarist and it was very good. So gradually we shared compositions and it happened that I came up with everything for this album.
As a result, when it was obvious that we will not continue (and that was not at all due to the fact that I did the whole composition), I had an album ready, with vocals and guitar reamping as the only missing parts. So I wrote all the lyrics, recorded the vocal lines and send it to a friend of mine in order to replicate them.
So Carthage is different from Cease of Breeding, it is not the continuation, but of course has some related elements like the material of the debut album.
Before Carthage you also had the band Deuteronomy. What is the main difference between those two? And is it difficult to keep them separated?
The band Deuteronomy is mainly black metal. Of course it also combines other elements too. It's very easy to separate them since both bands frequently use different scales. It is very easy to separate them since the reasons of their existence is to release material that totally differs. Also, Deuteronomy is much more experimental, something that you will clearly understand when you hear the upcoming album.
Deuteronomy is also working on their 2nd release or will it be released under another band moniker?
Deuteronomy was not really active, but this is now changing. Actually the second Deuteronomy album is 100% ready, mixed and mastered. Promotion will start very soon, in a very few weeks. Moreover, I have plenty of material for a 3rd album, at least 7 songs, so releases are definitely coming. I'm very busy and music is not the main thing in my life.
Before continuing about Carthage do you have to confess other bands you're in?
I also play bass for a melodic black metal band called Khoraja. This one is much easier to separate from the rest since I don't write any riffs at all for Khoraja. Generally speaking, since I have Deuteronomy and Carthage, I was not interested on joining other bands. But an old friend of mine had this amazing material, that totally differs from Deuteronomy, and since I was sure that the cooperation will work perfectly, I decided to participate. In fact, we recorded a demo many years ago but it was never released.
I do the bass (which is very easy) and everything that evolves recording, mixing and mastering (which is obviously more complicated).
On the first EP that Khoraja released, we had an amazing American singer called Andy Byrd. Andy is now the singer of Deuteronomy and you will hear him on the second album of Deuteronomy. For the Khoraja debut album, that is actually recorded and mixed, we cooperated with Thomas Blanc, a French from the band Gravefields.
You gave me the 2 track promo and that was a nice appetiser. But the album is a smasher as you can read in the review. Happy how it turned out?
I'm very proud that the album was released by an amazing label and that I achieved everything on my own. Also, many people bought it and I didn't expect that, especially nowadays. The response is good. As for the music and the sound, I'm very satisfied. Thus, I strongly believe that hearing this album 10 years later, I will still feel the same.
Carthage is promoted as being a historical lesson. obviously about the Carthaginian Empire. What is your fascination with them? And why not choose something Greek?
The idea came as a necessity, when I decided to write lyrics. Obviously, brutal death metal has a lot of energy and lyrical themes have been associated with violence, like splatter, gore etc. But I'm not into those themes at all and I cannot write something I do not truly enjoy. Since history is full of violence and battles, it was the perfect choice. To do something Greek would have been much more easier, since you have numerous centuries very well documented. There are some bands that use Greek history and also Roman history, so Carthage might be more unique.
There are 3 Punic Wars but the album covers only the period with Hannibal (who also is used on the cover). What triggers you? Maybe identify with him?
Historically speaking, the second Punic War was much more important than the other two, because one can say that is was a natural evolution of the outcome of the first Punic War, and the result of it led to the destruction of Carthage on the final one. Actually the second Punic War is much better documented from the original sources (like Polybius). It's really helpful to have access to the original texts, and of course on recent scholars.
Now of course I'm fascinated with intense and important historical figures like Caesar, Augustus, Genghis Khan, Alexander the Great, Napoleon etc. I'm more interested in their psychological background and what caused this massive energy to be unleashed. That doesn’t mean that I glorify them or that I’m not critical on many of their actions. So I do not accept ‘The Great Man Theory’ entirely.
In the case of Hannibal, one can say that is was his father's behaviour, who taught him to hate the Romans, something really natural since they lost the first Punic War and the Romans wanted to limit Carthage.
However, the most important thing for me personally, is how fast something that was build through centuries of hard work, can be easily destroyed very fast.The Carthagenians were ancient people. It is not suprising if they though their society as being eternal, just like all of those massive empires probably thought of themselves. But if someone sees how fast the Western Roman Empire ended, or Carthage, I think he will be surprised.
A modern example is of course Europe, that hasn't still recovered from WWI (and it's continuation WWII). European dominance in the world that lasted for centuries, ceased to exist in 4 years (maybe less), and after WWII Europe stopped being the main actor in the international environment. I see conflict as being unavoidable and part of human nature, maybe like Hannibal.
How did you start with the album? First doing the music and then search the lyrical topics? Or first the lyrics and compose music that guide those lyrics?
It is fundamental to separate the process into different parts. I never plan when to compose or what type of riff I want to create. It just happens unconsciously and when inspiration comes, I grab the guitar and write some material.
Just like any album, I start with pre-production. After I collect the material, and feel satisfied with the pre-production, I go for the actual recording. When this ends, I'm focusing on lyrics. I always complete the music 100% before start working on the lyrics. On the other hand, frequently I imagine simultaneously some basic vocal lines, usually on the chorus.
What I miss in the CD is some background info about the topic. It's rather sober and bit dull. Is this done on purpose?
My goal is not education but to combine extreme music with interesting lyrical themes. I expect that this is a well know fact - although definitely people do not know most details. Now, on a few small pages it would have been really hard to give the actual picture. It also almost impossible to cover everything even with lyrics, and that is not the point.
Because what actually happened, is that after the battle of Zama, Rome didn't have any peer competitor, and became the hegemon of the mediterranean. Thus, the submission of Carthage meant that Rome was now able to attack and conquer anyone, if it was decided, simply because it would not face any serious attack from a nearby big power. That’s why you see Roman expansion in the West (Gaul, Iberia, Britain), in Northern Africa, and a big amount of the Hellenic world and it's Kingdoms. It would have not been the case if they had a peer competitor like Carthage.
So, this is parallel to the USA nowadays. It is obvious that the Americans are the hegemons in the Western Hemisphere. They achieved this brilliantly by eliminating peer competitors in the Western Hemisphere, like the British Empire and the Spanish Empire. As a result, they were able to expand their influence in the Middle East, Europe, Africa etc by destroying other enemies like the German Empire, the Third Reich, and the USSR among numerous others.
You also have to refer to the background of both Carthage and Rome, the situation in the Greek world and the reasons that caused this massive conflict. The lyrics of course cover history, but frequently they are focused on different point of views. Like that of Hannibal, or that of a simple soldier.
You know you can only use lyrics inspired about the Carthaginian Empire from now on...
I’ve already solved that problem!
The album is released for 8 months now, how is the feedback? Still getting feedback? Amputated Vein still promoting it?
The amount of album sales was definitely beyond my expectations. So I’m satisfied. We received very good responses by important zines abroad. Paradoxically (or maybe not), as far as I know, no Greek zine has referred to Carthage and this album until now. But of course, realistically speaking, what’s happening abroad is much more important. The market is way to bigger.
Promotional pushing on the social media is not very active, your facebook page has only 426 likes! You don't like social media?
I don't judge qualities with quantities. I do know that the majority of those people has actually bought the album physically or digitally through Bandcamp or Facebook. So that's what matters. The album in Youtube has at least 22.200 views. I have better things to do in my life so I don’t care about likes and followers.
Ever thought of doing something live? Or too complicated?
It is extremely difficult to find a drummer that can actually play this stuff. I don't imagine something like that to happen soon. In general, studio time is much more creative. But I will not say no if circumstances are good.
Beside the band(s) you must have another life? What are you doing in daily life and how do you like to spend free time?
I’m currently completing a Master’s degree and I'm working with Alzheimer patients. Except that, I'm also kind of into business. I do enjoy working out, reading a lot, and drink some wine along with some good company when I have the time to go out. Of course, I do spend time working on the upcoming 4 albums (1 Carthage, 2 Deuteronomy, 1 Khoraja) that will be released at various points.
And as Carthage is drowned in history, do you visit other countries to sniff some of their history? If so, what is your favourite country?
I've been only in European countries so far and I definitely preferred England for numerous reasons. Also Switzerland was really amazing, and I've been in your country 4 times that left me with very good impressions. However, Italy was of course more historical. A visit in Egypt and China must definitely take place at some point.
What are your plans for the future? And what do you hope to achieve?
Just release 2-3 amazing brutal death metal albums and this is it!
Must have forgotten a question so be free to so some self promotion.
Here you’ll find all the important links:
We have a new release coming out. Music is ready and vocals will be recorded soon. So….