Septicflesh

Septicflesh barely need any introductions as one of the few bands from the somewhat unexpected boom of extreme metal bands in Greece in the early 90s that not only managed to truly receive international acclaim, but did so, while remaining highly original and edgy only challenged by one other band from that era. With their thirtieth anniversary approaching fast and a new and final testament delivered in the form of “Codex Omega”, their most recent studio effort, we felt compared to reach out to Sotiris Vayenas (guitar, vocals, synthesizer) to have our curiosity satisfied, about what’s going on with these Greek demons…
Septicflesh band pic

Hello Sοtiris… Congratulations on your new album. Can you give us a few details about it? When and where did it get recorded? Does the title “Codex Omega” signify the end of something (or it just sounded cool)?…
 
S: “Codex Omega” is the title of the 3rd and final bible, the testament that signifies the end of all bibles. We used three different studios for the recordings for practical reasons. So the main recordings took place in Greece at Zero Gravity studios, the recordings of the Filmharmonic Orchestra of Prague took place in Czech Republic at Smecky studios and for the recordings of the drums we used Fascination Street studios in Sweden.
 
 
This is like your tenth or so release in a career that will soon have spanned three decades!? Did you even expect the longevity and the popularity of the band to reach these levels? Are you preparing any special event(s) to celebrate your thirty years?
 
S: We have three more years in order to close our 3rd decade, so we haven’t thought about it. At this point as we are focused on the current phase and the promotion of the new album at hand. But of course it is a good idea to do something special when that time comes. We are grateful to our fans, the labels, the magazines and all the people in general that supported all those years as they are the reason that we have such a long musical carrier. Although we were always aiming high, we couldn’t imagine at the beginning that we could manage to do achieve this longevity and such a worldwide success.
 
 
Also through all those years what has been the highest and the lowest point?
 
S: We strongly feel that the bar for the highest point seems to go up with each album we release. About the lowest point, undeniable it was the period that followed after the release of “Sumerian Daemons”, when for various reasons we decided to split. Fortunately, we managed to rise from our asses like a burning phoenix.
 
 
Any anecdotal “stories” from the early days that still stick to your mind and you think might not have been mentioned in the past?
 
S: There are so many crazy stories. For instance during the recordings of “Revolution Dna”, I was recording a solo for a song and suddenly our producer Fredric Nordstrom that enjoyed making funny things, left the console while I was still playing the guitar and he approached me with a duct tape and started wrapping me up like a mummy. As you can imagine that was a really funny moment.
 
 
A few albums ago you “broke up” but then reunited; almost in due time for a new album (without really breaking the circle). What was the reason? Lack of interest at that point? Feeling tired or wanting to take a break?
 
S: It was a turning point that each member of the band wanted to focus on a different personal goal. We simply didn’t have the time and the energy to give to the band and needed some time for our own.
 
 
You seem on an endless quest to create a bigger, more epic sound and you always manage to sound darker and heavier. Is there a template – or is it just ideas of different people and the way each one writes, the different aspect of each of you guys, causing the results to vary ever so slightly each time, yet sound typically SF?
 
S: It is the second. Each member is a composer with a characteristic style contributing a different but important element to the whole. Also, we are perfectionists and we are pushing each other beyond our limits. It is frustrating at times, but at the end it works in our favor. The SF sound is the result of all the different elements brought by the members of the band.
 
 
You got a new drummer. Did you hold auditions, did he come recommended and how do you feel with him in the band Vs Fotis?
 
S: We simply considered our options and he was on the top of our list with the most talented death metal drummers that were available for collaboration. He had a very good reputation, a good professional background with recording experience with Decapitated and other bands and a live experience with besides the aforementioned band, Behemoth. Also, he had made quite an impact with his YouTube channel having uploaded countless videos of him playing in a variety of different drum styles and songs. In addition, he had obvious composing skills as the albums of his solo project band clearly suggested. Finally, having spent some time together, we realized that he is a very good person with a compatible personality with the other members of Septicflesh. We are very pleased for his performance in “Codex Omega” and in the live shows of course. As for Fotis, he is a great talent and his work in Septicflesh was amazing. He will always be an important part of our history. However, now our roads are different. But of course in any case I wish him all the best.
 
 
The latter part of the album seems to make forays into your past, with more melodic parts leading up large portions of the songs. A conscious decision or a chance happenstance?
 
S: We make the decision about the order of the songs when we have the finalized material. At that point we can see more objectively the whole picture. In general we prefer to start an album with the more aggressive songs and progressively insert the more melodic ones.
 
 
Basically, most of your albums seem to have mythology, fantasy or philosophy inspired lyrics and titles… what are your inspirations as a collective and as individuals (ie Seth’s favorite visual artists and bass/vocalists etc.)? Are there some influences that are common to the entire band?
 
S: We all admire bands as Celtic Frost, Death, Morbid Angel and composers as Danny Elfman, Basil Poledouris etc. Personally, I am also very fond of gothic bands as Fields Of The Nephilim, The Cure, Clan Of Xymox etc. Christos admires neoclassical composers as Stravinsky. Krimh likes bands as Led Zeppelin, Slipknot, Gojira etc. As for Seth he also listens to bands as Korn and soundtrack composers as Hans Zimmer. About visual artists he admires Francis Bacon, Salvador Dali, H. R. Giger, J.P. Witkins etc. As for vocalists he admires brutal vocalists as Glen Benton and John Tardy.
 
 
What drove you towards art – and is it something you regret in retrospect? How hard is it to survive as a band and as individuals today? (Do you think it’s the economic climate? Piracy, etc.)…
 
S: It is very hard, to survive only by doing art in whatever of its forms. Indeed the economic climate is very harsh in our days and people prefer to get whatever they can “for free”. However we will never regret being so intensely involved with art, as we didn’t took that decision based on the criteria of making money. Our choice was something instinctual, a deep esoteric need to express ourselves and not a decision about finding work. And all those years we have gained some priceless experiences and our lives in general are more interesting and vivid. 
 
 
We’ve seen several bands doing “symphonic” recordings with orchestras either as a novelty (ie Paradise Lost) or as a main element of the music “Nightwish”, “Therion” etc..Therion are even supposed to be doing a 3 hour “pure” opera… do you have similar ambitions for the future? Maybe in the 30th anniversary?
 
S: Our albums are already filled with symphonic recordings. For instance on “Codex Omega” there is a bonus CD about 24 minutes long, presenting solely symphonic versions of the songs.
 
 
You’re one of the “old” school Greek metal bands that made it and since then very few people seem to have “made it”. Most seemingly had to go abroad to make it… ie Gus G, or Nightrage’s Marios… and I suppose Suicidal Angels; why do you think that is so and why despite having some pretty good musicians that are even partaking on international bands and projects, the concept of a Greek band making it big is exotic?
 
S: We are in a small country and to put it nicely, not exactly in the center of the European music market. There is a big competition from other countries that are traditionally “making the wheels of the music industry turn” and the bands and musicians there have better chances to succeed. So, one coming from Greece that wants to make it as you say, has to “fight” intensely and for many years just to grab the attention. And the serious labels, besides finding your music interesting, must be convinced that you are doing all the necessary promotional efforts, especially that you are touring a lot outside Greece. Of course, this also means that you have to pay a lot of money from your pockets in order to support your touring activity at the beginning and of course that for a long period you must cover all the other necessary expenses to keep the band going. In general, one besides having talent, must have patience, dedication to his dream and great inner strength to keep on fighting, without even knowing that his efforts will ever be reworded with success.
 
 
It goes without saying that you will tour, so can you be a bit more specific about where and when? I suppose it goes without saying that you will do local shows, but again – are you at freedom of revealing when? Surmise and end this as you wish...
 
S: The Codex Omega tour has already started. The first leg of the tour is with Fleshgod Apocalypse in Latin America for October-November this year. January of 2018 will find the band touring with Inquisition on Europe. As for Greece on 17/2/18 there will be a show in Athens (Piraeus 117 Academy) and on 24/2/18 a show in Thessaloniki (Principal Club Theater). Then back to America this time for a North American tour with Dark Funeral and Thy Antichrist. And there is a lot more...
 
SepticFelsh band pic
 
It’s time for our “weird questions”!!! How did you come up with the name SepticFlesh initially?
 
S: A close friend of the band suggested it. And at the time most death metal bands had some extreme name.
 
 
If you could “erase” one thing from modern music, what would it be?
 
S: I am not into erasing things. If people like something that I don’t, it is OK by me. Anyway, one of the music styles that I really consider as garbage is Hip Hop.
 
 
Which person from the “Greek Scene” would you single out, as “important” and why (excluding SF members)?
 
S: Sakis Tolis is one of the most important artists in the Greek metal scene. He did and still does a lot to present the extreme Greek metal music far and wide. Also he is a very good and down to earth person.
 
 
What do you think of the “free downloading & the free streaming issue” of our time? Will that help music generally or not?
 
S: It helps for music to be spread.
 
 
Which is that band that you’d like to be part of (any time & era)?
 
S: King Diamond.
 
 
Which is the record you wish you had written and why?
 
S: “Somewhere in Time”, because simply it is an amazing album, with great guitar melodies. One of my all-time favorites.
 
 
Which are the best 3 extreme metal albums according to you?
 
S: Bathory – “Under the Sign of the Black Mark”, Celtic Frost – “To Megatherion”, Morbid Angel – “Altars of Madness”…
 
 
Fill in the phrase… “Extreme metal music wouldn’t have evolved the way it did, if it hadn’t been for…”
 
S: Venom…
 
 
Top 3 thriller movies of any era?
 
S: The Beyond, Evil Dead, Hellraiser…
 
 
Were you obliged to give just one album to extraterrestrials that would represent the whole human music, which album would it be and from which band/artist?
 
S: It is impossible to find an album that contains all different kinds of music expression that exist. I would go cautious on this one, giving a great classical music recording like for example Vivaldi – “Four Seasons”.
 
 
If you had the chance to travel in time… where would you choose to go? To the past or the future and why?
 
S: I would prefer to go to the past as I would have a big advantage knowing things that will happen.
 
 
Which do you consider to be the best female & male vocalist in metal history?
 
S: Rob Halford and Joan Jett…
 
 
Who is the sexiest female Rock Star of all time?
 
S: Lita Ford!
 
 
Which of the Seven Deadly Sins do you reckon is the one, that’s more likely to send you straight to Hell, in the afterlife?
 
S: Hell exists only as a fantasy in the minds of those that believe in it. Anyway, I believe that someone should act properly not because of fear, but because of reason and wisdom.
 
 
Which character from the “Game of Thrones” would you have been – if you lived in the Seven Kingdoms?

S: Eddard Stark...
 
 
Imagine that your girlfriend is selling your whole album-collection just to buy an expensive ring for herself. How would you react?
 
S: Showing her the door…

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