How many Greek metal bands can you name? Chances are this number won’t be very high if you’re not from a place near or in Greece. Now, how many bands that recorded a metal album with the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra can you name? Chances are this number is also pretty low. Well, Septicflesh works as an answer to both of these questions. They released a pretty fantastic album earlier this year titled The Great Mass, a follow-up to 2009′s masterful Communion (which was also recorded with the Prague Philharmonic). Fresh off their second release with Season of Mist and currently touring with Obscura, Devin Townsend and Children of Bodom, guitarist Sotiris Vayenas took some time to answer some questions for us about the band’s recent happenings.
OS: Describe the process of recording with the Prague Philharmonic for The Great Mass (much like you did with Communion).
SV: Chris Antoniou was once again responsible for the creation of the classical arrangements of the songs and also the main supervisor of the specific recordings which took place in Prague. This time, Chris supervised the whole recording process from Greece utilizing the great potential of the Internet. As you can imagine there was a lot of hard work and planning for everything to work out as we demanded, especially considering the fact that The Great Mass has the most elaborate symphonic parts that we ever recorded. Chris started working with the symphonic parts at a very early stage of the [creative] process. So we had a lot of time to experiment and at the same time to try to achieve the proper balance with the heavy parts.
SV: With Communion we gained a lot of experience considering the combination of the brutal with the symphonic elements. So now we felt more confident to attempt a bolder experimentation towards the specific musical direction. In The Great Mass, we had a lot more instruments in our disposal and, in other words, a wider range of sound fields to experiment with. Chris had the chance to try a lot of different techniques that are used in modern classical compositions and even in film scores, and that is why the new album has an almost cinematic feeling to it.
OS: It would appear that you guys haven’t created an official music video to any of Septicflesh’s music since 1998–would you ever consider it again? Why or why not?
SV: Indeed, although our music is perfect for visualization we have not a lot of visual material to present to our fans. So we are thinking it is about time to shoot a videoclip for one of the songs of the new album. But we won’t rush things, as we want to create something special, dark and artistic. We will think about it later this year, after the first wave of touring in USA and Europe is completed.
SV: Igor Stravinsky, Wojciech Kilar, Danny Elfman, Clint Mansell, Howard Shore are some from composers that we admire a lot.
OS: What do you think of the performance Dimmu Borgir did with a full orchestra live? Would you ever consider doing an event like that?
SV: It was really cool for Dimmu Borgir to bring the orchestra to the stage and perform their songs in full detail. It is something that we are also intending of doing, although we are not so rich to attempt it in such a large scale. At the time being, we are considering our options and we are in touch with some classical musicians. I hope that everything will turn out well and that we will manage to organize such a tricky special event for The Great Mass.
SV: Esotericism is always one of my favorite sources of our inspiration. The Great Mass is actually a kind of a Black Mass composed from ten psalms, which praises the rebellious spirit. Each psalm deals with a specific theme. Some topics discussed are amnesia, dreams as a uniting bridge between the living and the undead, the importance of forging an iron will and choosing everlasting goals, the duality of beast and man, the secret behind the Pythagorean star of the elements, etc. Something that connects the various themes is the use of religious symbolism in an unsettling, deconstructive way. Also I attempted a word-play throughout the album, with the different meanings that can be attributed to the word “mass”…
OS: If someone were to approach you and ask you to do the score/soundtrack to a film, much like Daft Punk did for TRON: Legacy or Trent Reznor did for The Social Network, would you consider it (why or why not)? What sort of films would you want to score, and which would you not want to score?
SV: It would be great to get involved in film scoring. Our music could fit to science fiction, horror, psychological thrillers, even to epic stuff. Of course it would be out of context to be involved to a romantic movie or a comedy.
The last two Septicflesh albums are absolute must-haves for any metalhead’s collection, especially if they like symphonic or death metal—Septicflesh can’t really be beat in those departments. Skeptical? Check out the teaser trailer for The Great Mass below. If you’re already hip to these guys, props to you as you’ve clearly got great taste in metal. If you’re looking to spend some of your hard-earned cash on some Septicflesh music or gear, look no farther than the Season of Mist official e-shop.