Back to its roots. That’s what we could call the return of the Hellenics ON THORNS I LAY with Aegean sorrow. A look back to a heavier sound and more focused to melodic doom/death metal, with an album that has surprised strangers and acquaintances. For that matter and because we wanted to know more about these veteran musicians, we sent them this questioner.
Subterráneo Webzine: Greetings from hot Spain. Here’s Jonathan from Subterráneo Webzine. As a ritual, while I am writing these questions, I am playing Gothic by PARADISE LOST, Mirror reaper by BELL WITCH and Futile by RAPTURE. What have you been listening to these past weeks?
ON THORNS I LAY: Hi Jonathan from the hot also Greece and thank you so much for this interview. I just took some days off for vacation and currently I am listening to the new KHEMMIS, HAMFERð’s Tamsinslikam, and Greeks OCEAN OF GRIEF new album.
Subterráneo Webzine: Aegean sorrow has been published for barely five months. After all the time invested on the recording, are you happy with the result? I have seen many good comments about it and articles on renowned media.
ON THORNS I LAY: Yes we are very satisfied with how the whole album sounds. It is for sure our best sound ever as we were very careful at everything from the beginning of the recordings. We chose to record it at a very good studio here in Athens where SEPTICFLESH and ROTTING CHRIST recorded also their last albums. As for the mixing and mastering we worked with Dan Swanö and the result is just amazing, very wide, deep organic sound. For the next one we will also follow the same path for sure.
Subterráneo Webzine: One of the aspects I value the most on Aegean sorrow is that it has a really good cohesion between the songs, and simultaneously it is dynamic and has got superb arrangements. Which compositional aspect would you outline from this new issue?
ON THORNS I LAY: Thank you very much for your kind words again. While we were rehearsing for this album, we knew that this time we had something special. The new tracks were having this different dynamic from before and we were all very enthusiastic about this. Some of our old fans that had attended some of our rehearsings were just mad with what they were hearing just from the jamming at the rehearsal studio. I really cannot outline something specific. I am just sure that the best days of OTIL are just ahead as I am composing the next album and all I can tell is that I am amazed with what is about to come after Aegean…
Subterráneo Webzine: How has it been to work with an engineer and a musician as Fotis Benardo? I am sure that there is an old friendship behind choosing to work with him in Devasound Z Studios, am I right?
ON THORNS I LAY: Of course. We have toured in the past with him when he was the drummer for SEPTICFLESH. He is a multi-talended person and a great composer. He plays drums extremely well but he is also a great singer and a great sound engineer. Very open-minded person with a high level working skills, lots of experience and as I told you we will start working on the next album with him in a couple of months…
Subterráneo Webzine: I am not going to go over Dan Swanö’s whole story, but how was working with a metal icon like him? If I were on you shoes, I would probably have been nervous when giving him instructions during the mixing.
ON THORNS I LAY: He he… We did not give anything…. We just sent it to him, he wrote us that he liked it a lot and here is the result. Dan knows metal, he knows exactly how to get the best out of the bands recording and he needs no instructions on this. It’s an honour for us to work with a person like him and of course the next one will be also with him.
Subterráneo Webzine: Tell us more about the filming process for Erevos’s video. We can observe beautiful scenery and landscapes, which I understand they are from your Mediterranean Greece. What message are you sending out with Erevos?
ON THORNS I LAY: It describes in a poetical way the darkness from the journey of the soul during life…
The clip was filmed in the area where fire just destroyed everything just two days ago… it is the sea that you see where many died in their way to escape from hell…. we are currently all shocked with this new catastrophy in our hometown…
Subterráneo Webzine: Speaking about landscapes, I really love the album’s cover. Is that some place near Athens? What’s behind an enticing title like Aegean sorrow?
ON THORNS I LAY: It’s a view somewhere in the Aegean sea. The album speaks about the drama of all refugees that in their way to escape from hell died in these waters… Aegean is a water tomb where thousands of souls are lost… and we are afraid that all this will not finish soon…
Subterráneo Webzine: You have developed a diverse musical career and are getting back to your roots with Aegean sorrow, how do you value your musical legacy so far?
ON THORNS I LAY: We have eight albums so far and a couple of demos. We started in the early 90’s with very promising albums like Sounds and Orama. We changed our style and we managed to have also another very good album Crystal tears back in the days. Future narcotic that followed had a lot of quality but now, as I see more clear things, we should be more careful with everything we did from that moment and then.
I know that we disappointed many fans of ours with some of our next releases, we did not respect our name and our musical legacy but now we are back with our best album of our carrer. I can only promise that our fans can wait more from us pretty soon, doomier and heavier sound than ever…
Subterráneo Webzine: You have released the album with Alone records and The vinyl division, are you happy working with both companies? Will you continue with them in a future, or is it still too early to know about it?
ON THORNS I LAY: Yes we are happy as they showed us that they wanted a lot to have this album out through their labels. It is very important for us to work with people that really admire our music. Of course things have changed a lot since the 90’s, sellings are low and we were away from the scene more than twelve years. The feedback is great and we are getting very good reviews from everywhere. Our old fans could not believe this comeback and we are getting everyday new fans also. Things really seem very promising but we have to work a lot supporting this album as much as possible.
As for the future we will see. We are composing the next album, we will do some more gigs and we will see then how we will move forward as now we have to support this one a lot…
Subterráneo Webzine: Greece has brought many bands to the underground metal world, especially with black metal, like ROTTING CHRIST, NECROMANTIA, VARATHRON, THOU ART LORD or ZEMIAL among others. Which current bands would you stand out from your country?
ON THORNS I LAY: A big respect to all the bands above. ROTTING CHRIST made our scene famous worldwide all those years and they are still alive working currently as I heard, on their new album. VARATHRON also had their new album out a good one. Our fav band is SEPTICFLESH. Their Codex omega for me is the best death metal album of 2017 and their talent and perfectionism will soon get them to the top, I am quite sure about this as they really deserve it.
Subterráneo Webzine: Last question. Are you taking the step to present the album around the old continent? Concerts, festivals… I found it strange not to find you on some festivals on which you would have fitted perfectly.
ON THORNS I LAY: We have just signed with Flamming arts (BEHEMOTH, MARDUK, etc) and we are waiting for some dates. We played with SATYRICON here in Athens and we did another two gigs with SEPTICFLESH here in Greece. We were away from the scene many years but now we are back with a very good album so we are sure that it is a matter of time and we will have some good slots at fests through Europe.
Subterráneo Webzine: That’s all from my part. Thanks a lot for your time. I recommend doom followers to give this album an opportunity. Cheers!
ON THORNS I LAY: Thank you so much again for this interview and for you kind words and hopefully we shall meet in any future live in Spain!