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Solitary Saberd's Jimmy Demetriou: "The idea of a “mythical rock star” is long gone, as thanks to the internet everyone seems more human. It seems music keeps getting more and more fragmented into sub-groups, just like society if you think about it"

Interview with Jimmy Demetriou & Petros Leptos from Solitary Saberd
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 06 March 2020, 1:22 PM

True passion nowadays, even when presented or written on paper, is rather hard to find. For the sake of the music, for the sake of heaviness, for the sake of Metal, all might be phrases but there is a lot of heart behind them for some of the groups crafting and playing nowadays. For Solitary Sabred, the mean of expression is law, and their methods and spirit appear true in form. With their new album, “By Fire & Brimstone” incoming, Steinmetal had a chance to talk with Jimmy Demetriou & Petros Leptos about the nature of the album, musical development, new age of Metal and more…

Hello guys, I am very pleased to have you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine, how have you been doing mate?

The pleasure is all ours! Everything’s going great, the band is rehearsing hard for the upcoming gigs!

Solitary Sabred is close to introducing its third album epos, “By Fire & Brimstone”, challenging the listener’s mind with the spirituality of old along with a few tricks up its sleeves. Soon enough I will be playing songs from the album I am sure at the German Swordbrothers Festival, alongside Iron Kingdom. I guess that the excitement levels are on the roof?

You bet! German fans have been supporting us since day 1, so it’s a pleasure to finally be able to play for them!

How has the album been received by the press? Is there an argument about the rating of your work this time around, perhaps even deeming it as your courageous work to date?

So far all reviews have been great, and the album has been getting top scores or near top scores across the board! This is especially gratifying since – like you said – we did incorporate new elements this time round and reviewers seem to appreciate it since most consider “By fire…” to be our finest album to date! That being said, reviews aren’t everything, we have to please ourselves with the end result first and foremost, but it’s always nice to hear praise about something you poured blood, sweat and tears into!

Prior to the release of “By Fire & Brimstone”, you signed with the Greek label No Remorse Records, which I can also see as natural order of things. After releasing the previous as independent, what changed this time with your decision to sign under a label? How do you feel about the promotional activities dedicated to make “By Fire & Brimstone” better known?

Christos and Andreas are old friends, and as soon as “Redemption through Force” released they made us an offer to re-release it through No Remorse and handle the release of the next album as well. So far, they’ve done a very good job and the album has generated quite a buzz even though it’s not officially out yet. Of course, we don’t rest on our laurels and try to do our part in promoting the album as well.

From what I could conjure from your previous albums, including “By Fire & Brimstone”, storytelling is your chief marker. What would you say is the shared element within your new epos?

We are deep into sword & sorcery and this element will probably be forever woven into our music. The last album was a concept; this time we explore different lyrical themes all within the fantasy tapestry. However, we do find that fantasy provides us a means on commenting real life and human nature, so we always like to hide parallels in the lyrics for those willing to find them.

How do you find yourself related to the characters, sights and sounds in your theatrical scenery on “By Fire & Brimstone”? What is your personal note that is part of this mischief philosophically?

At the end of the day sword & sorcery is human nature stripped down to its core. There’s courage, greed, lust, kindness, hatred and wonder all in equal measure. It’s our choice whether we give in to our lowly instincts or rise above them, and it’s a choice presented every single day in real life. Like the immortal words of R.E. Howard say in “Disillusions”: “if life is an illusion, then I am no less an illusion, and being thus the illusion is real to me”.

After each listening session, reality comes back knocking on one's door, letting him or her know that it is still there, sometimes in a wicked form. What can each listener take from “By Fire & Brimstone" as a sort of a lesson to everyday life? What kind of a message is born through the album?

Will and perseverance will always win the day. If you want something bad enough, and work hard enough, no motherfucker can stand in your way. The path to victory is hard, if it wasn’t everyone would be a winner. Keep your eye on the prize, and the good days will come!

I think that “By Fire & Brimstone” maintains your fascination with NWOBHM while in the process create a form of drama, largely dwelling in the dark other than bathing in the light. However, there is always another stage of development. How do you find Solitary Sabred's musical evolution with this album?

We’ve all been fans of this music since we were kids, we grew up in classic heavy metal, and classic metal has a very wide variety of emotions, as does the human psyche. So, we don’t control which of these emotions come up, we just harness the music that’s floating in the atmosphere when we play and give it flesh. This time round the flesh was more rooted in the technical epic metal of old, with atmospheres ranging from doom to outright speed, but hopefully all woven together in a cohesive musical offering.

Which characteristics in the newly forged music on the album were provided with attention in regards to previous works of the band?

None whatsoever! Initially the stellar reception that “Redemption through force” had was a bit daunting, and we started thinking that maybe we should try crafting something similar. Then we punched ourselves hard on the head, to remember that the sole reason of this band’s existence is to play the music that we enjoy. Being the greatest fans of our own music, we realized that all we had to do is dig deep within our souls and let inspiration take its course, rather than force it towards a certain direction. And judging by the result, I believe we were justified in our approach.

With a rather long line of traditional Metal albums coming out in the last several years, what is the prime aspect that makes “By Fire & Brimstone" special?

At the risk of sounding like pompous assholes, name one recent band that sounds like Solitary Sabred. I don’t think there are that many and if you think about it the sort of occult u.s. epic style that we play was never all that populated to begin with. So, to answer the question, we offer people the kind of metal that we enjoy, which we find is not represented very often nowadays.

Other than the crunchy melodic features, which are impressive, I noticed that most of the album's songs aren't what you would call hit oriented, but mainly due to the fact that their arrangements are varied. What can you tell about the songwriting process? Were there considerations to actually go for a few traditional styled hits alongside the epicenes that took hold of the album?

We never write looking for a “hit”. The songs basically write themselves in an organic manner that involves all of us playing together. Now if one turns out catchier than the others, so be it. You are absolutely right in the fact that “By fire…” is a complex album, but I believe that it rewards the listener who puts time into it with hidden elements that appear with every spin, rather than offer easy listening gratification. And in our book this approach is a lot more precious in the long run.

"Servants Of The Elder Gods" sent me back listening to early 90s Virgin Steele, surely one of the album's strongest export. What can you tell about the song's theatrical proportions? What is the source of inspiration for this tune?

“Servants…” reflects to the “Age of Sigmar” books in the Warhammer universe, where the Chaos warriors descend to annihilate the world of man. It draws parallels to religious fanaticism which unfortunately still exists in the world. We wanted the theatric element to be strong, with the chorus sounding like cultist chants, and being in dialogue with the voice. We are very happy with the way it turned out and believe it or not Rotting Christ’s “In Yumen / Xibalba” was a strong influence for that part of the song, especially the chanting on the intro!

I was also impressed by "Dissolutions", it demonstrates a powerful atmosphere, driven by tasty riffing and one hell of a vocal performance. Possibly the album's toughest tracks. It has a little Middle Eastern nature in it. Does it have any relation or you simply connected to your surroundings?

Thanks, we find “Disillusions” pretty special as well! You know we’ve been told that some “oriental” elements come up in our music, like the rhythm during the mid-part of “Disillusions” or the solo in “Burn Magic”, but we never realize they’re there until someone points it out! We live in the Mediterranean, so at the end of the day it’s inevitable for local sounds to find their way into our music. Then again we don’t listen to this type of music, so it’s funny how the subconscious works sometimes!

The album's sound is clean, neat and polished, actually very clear to distinguish nearly every channel for the naked ear. Who engineered the sound of this release? What is your appreciation of the overall work?

The recording and engineering was done by our guitarist Nikolas Moutafis, at his studio Steel Fortress, and he is the hero of the album since we basically recorded everything in a couple of months! The mixing and mastering was done by our good friend Paris Lambrou at Play on 10 studios. Overall the sound is exactly what we wanted – powerful yet distinct. Like you said, we wanted everything to ring clear and true, because there’s a lot of detail in the playing and singing that we didn’t want to loose in a more effects-rich production. What you hear on the album, is what you hear live.

Being a band from Cyprus, I am sure that it has its own challenges when it comes to the band's pursuit for a glorious career. What do you think are the band's challenges when it comes to the Metal market and of course how to support your new album?

Nowadays thanks to the internet I believe anyone can get heard. Problem in being away from central Europe is the cost of touring, but now that we are becoming a bit more well known it becomes progressively easier to take on the world stage!

Recently, Ozzy Osbourne more or less said goodbye to a long span career. After the departed Neil Peart, as another example, it feels that we are almost out of gods. Is there such a thing as Metal gods nowadays? Are there still rockstars or it remained an attitude?

We were having the same conversation the other day. What happens when the arena bands are gone? I guess the same thing that happens with every type of music, it withdraws from the forefront, mutates and comes back as something different. But if you think about it, the idea of a “mythical rock star” is long gone, as thanks to the internet everyone seems more human. Ozzy used to be the insane guy who ate bats and pigeons, but by now you’ve also seen him wearing a robe and sipping coffee with his kids. Not that “humanization” of a star is inherently a bad thing, but times change, and it seems music keeps getting more and more fragmented into sub-groups, just like society if you think about it.

Where will it be possible to see Solitary Sabred next for the support of “By Fire & Brimstone”?

We are playing “Up the Hammers” in Athens on the 13th of March, “Swordbrothers” in Germany on the 14th, and “Power of the Night” in Cyprus in April. More dates will follow!

Guys, I wish to thank you for the time and effort for this interview. You inspired me with a wonderful album and I await your next. Cheers.

Thank you for your kind words and the ongoing support to the band, as well as the insightful questions. We are honored! All the best to Metal Temple, chaos descends BY FIRE AND BRIMSTONE!



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Edited 06 October 2022

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