This is one of the most interesting interviews I've ever made and I was amazed to see how close my beliefs and points of view are with this band! I haven't got much to say other than Elvenpath is a great, dedicated and really promising band, with a true passion and love for power metal and that I agree 100% with their answers here. I'm really happy to see that there are still some really sharp minded and down to earth people in heavy metal music!!! I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did!!!!
1. Hello! How are you? I have noticed that 4 years have passed since you have released your first album “Gateways”. Why did it take you so long? Do you think that these 4 years brought some changes in your sound?
Hello Nikos! I’m fine so far, thank you very much. Yes indeed some time passed in between “Gateways” and “Spyrol”. The main reason for this were line up problems. The “Gateways” line up split in 2004 and since then we’ve been in a more or less constant struggle with musicians leaving or having to leave. It’s not easy to find the right guys to continue with and this held the band back a lot. We recorded the main part of the album in early 2006, then went on tour and had more line up problems afterwards so the album wasn’t finished before 2007. And then we tried to get a good label deal first which didn’t work out either, so the album has now seen the light of day in 2008. I sincerely hope that our next release won’t take another four years, haha…
Our style changed a bit since “Gateways” but not only because of time. New band members also brought new influences with them, and we matured as composers, thus the new songs sound a bit different than before. The keyboards also play a much smaller role in our music these days because I wanted to make our music more basic and more underground, this just suits me better by now. Probably all those visits of Keep It True and Swordbrothers festivals left their mark on me, haha.
2. In your opinion what should a listener expect from your new album named “Spyrol”? Is there something that you think they have to notice?
Mainly a listener can expect a pure Power Metal album with good songwriting, good musicianship and a good production. We’re probably not the band to be picked when you’re in search for originality but this was never our goal anyway. We only want to play our music from the heart, no matter if other bands do the same. So if you like good Power Metal Elvenpath isn’t the worst choice, I believe. If anybody’s looking for lyrics beyond swords, dragons and battles we might also be of interest. As for what people have to notice – I prefer to leave this to the listener. I guess everybody finds other parts in our music or lyrics which he likes or dislikes, so it’s up to them.
3. Although your name reminds me of fairy tales the lyrics on the new album are quite realistic and few are based on fantasy topics. Why did you do that? Don’t you think that fantasy has more symbolisms and can make the listener think more than a straight in your face way of talking?
Fantasy lyrics can be a wonderful thing if they’re written the right way – to me, that is in a poetic style and not as shallow as some bands do. There should always be a good story behind fantasy lyrics and we might do this again in the future. We haven’t given up on fantasy, just this time I (as lyric writer) felt more like taking on reality. A lot of things happened in the world which moved me and made me wish to write a song about them, for example the war in Iraq, the death of Quorthon, people endangering themselves and others by drinking too much and then driving, the political situation with muslim extremists in Germany…these lyrics can also make the reader think a lot, I guess. For example a song like “The mask of sorrow”: the situation of muslim women here who are oppressed because of religion is a complex subject and cannot be told in five minutes. But five minutes are enough to raise the subject and make people think about it and get further information. If people actually take an interest in my lyrics and think about what I wrote, I’m really proud, no matter if they agree or disagree, as long as they don’t just ignore the lyrics.
Besides these reality based lyrics, we will also continue writing fantasy lyrics but not with the intention of stirring people’s thoughts. Fantasy lyrics should guide you to another world and give you a break from reality. That’s what I find in the lyrics of Blind Guardian, Zed Yago, Battleroar or Manowar and what I also want to do with Elvenpath.
4. If I am not mistaken in the song “Angel Of Fire” you continue a story that you have started on your previous albums. Can you tell us some more things about it and how was this specific story inspired?
“Angel of fire” isn’t really a follow up to a story on “Gateways”, just similar. On “Gateways” we had the song “Amazone queen” which was a fantasy story about a warrior princess leading an army to free her land from slavery. “Angel of fire” tells a similar story but the two aren’t really connected to each other. I must admit that I have a soft spot for beautiful fantasy heroines though, haha. Actually “Angel of fire” was inspired by a book from Croatia (hence the Croatian dialogue in the middle of the song), but I changed the story a lot to put it into this fantasy context. There isn’t really a deep message behind it – just entertainment for people like me who like to leave this planet once in a while and travel to worlds where steel is worth more than gold.
5. You also have the song “Northern Son” which was inspired and dedicated to Quorthon. What made you write this song? In which ways do you believe Quorthon has influenced you as musicians and people?
Ever since I started listening to Metal Bathory was one of my favourite bands. I bought “Twilight of the gods” when I was 14 and worshipped Bathory ever since. Quorthon’s sudden death was a great shock to me. I always had admired his music so much – it felt as if a close relative or a friend had died. So I wanted to write a song in honour of this man, trying to give him back something of what his music had given to me and pay tribute. I hope “Northern son” is worthy of him. Quorthon’s influence on our music was huge because of the many times I listened to Bathory. If it wasn’t for him, we wouldn’t have this epic/dramatic touch to our music, and it was also partly Bathory that got me interested in Germanic history and paganism, which have grown to be an important part of my life.
6. By the way we talk so much about the album and I didn’t ask you about the title. What does exactly “Spyrol” mean and how is it connected with the songs included in the album?
“Spyrol” is a game of words consisting of “spiral” and “pyro”, so it should be understood as a spiral of fire. It’s a metaphor for all the things going wrong in the world; war, terror, oppression, death and so on. The spiral is turning endlessly and the world never finds peace because whenever a conflict is fixed another one starts somewhere else. These are the topics our lyrics deal with, and we even have some song titles connected to fire like “Burning skies” and “Angel of fire” (we also had planned to include another song called “Enflaming demands” but decided to leave it off because it wasn’t good enough – it will probably be reworked and recorded for the next album).
7. Why did you choose to release your album on your own? Maybe it’s a way to see how you can manage to promote your music on your own?
To be honest, this was the only option left to us because we didn’t find a label willing to release the album. We negotiated with two labels (one from Italy and one from Germany) but things didn’t come to pass – the Italian label somehow didn’t send us the contract and didn’t answer any e-mails after a while any more, and the offer we got from the German label was more than ridiculous. So we decided to release “Spyrol” by ourselves. It’s not that bad, at least we have some good distribution partners and don’t have to deal with any label shit we don’t want. Still, it would be nice if we could score a good deal for the next album.
8. Recently the metal scene is overpopulated by bands that produce their own albums and then find a label to release it, without paying anything for the production. Do you believe that this affects the quality of metal music and makes it hard for the good bands to distinguish from the others?
That’s a double edged sword in my opinion. On the one hand it’s good that studios aren’t as expensive as they used to be so most bands can now record and release their music without having to depend on a label. This way a lot of great releases came along by bands who never would have been signed because their music isn’t commercial enough. On the other hand of course the number of mediocre or weak releases also grew. Nevertheless the fans still decide which albums they buy, and nobody will spend his money on a weak album. So I believe in a kind of natural selection here: the good bands (with passion and hunger) will survive while those who don’t put all their heart in their music will perish. And quality music is often found in the underground scene more than in the big labels. Despite a large number of mediocre bands we really can’t complain about the scene of today – there are so many good bands that one can’t think of a scene going downhill. I buy a lot of CDs and go to a lot of concerts and I keep discovering new great bands every couple of weeks, so there’s no worries.
9. Let’s relax a bit. Imagine that you have a neighbor that doesn’t like metal music. Which song would you play very loud in order to make him leave the territory? :)
First I would play some good songs to him in order to change his mind and infect him with the Metal virus. Some classic songs by Savatage, Helloween or Manowar might do the job. If this doesn’t work – the first song that comes to my mind is “Territory” by Sepultura. I can’t think of a better line than “War for territory” here, haha.
10. How did the audience and the magazines receive your album so far? Is there something common in all the reviews that you read so far about your music?
Most reviews were really good and we managed to sell a good bit of albums so far, so we can’t really complain. What most reviewers said about our album is that the songs, musicianship and production are good but the vocals aren’t good enough (I don’t agree) and we lack originality. What can I say to this? No we don’t lack it, we don’t need it! We want to play our music and play it well, nothing more and nothing less. Originality never was our goal. I would understand the criticism if we tried copying a certain band but we don’t. It’s a bit sad that especially bands playing this melodic kind of Power Metal are often accused of lacking originality. Well, if somebody doesn’t like this kind of music he can always go to the nearest construction site and listen to the sounds there, it’s very original. If you have this passion for Power Metal in your heart (the reason to pick up an instrument in the first place) your music will reflect this. Sounds logical, doesn’t it? It’s especially funny if a reviewer first knocks us down because of our lack of originality and then praises a band like Ram or Metal Inquisitor (great bands in my opinion) because they sound “just like Priest and the other great bands in the 80s”. Makes sense…
11. Which “cliché” of heavy metal music do you like and which one you despise and why?
I must confess that I enjoy all these clichés concerning outfits and lyrics consisting entirely of steel, swords, fire, blood, chains, spikes etc…it’s great entertainment but I take it with a grain of salt. We also did our part in this with our song “Metalwar” (available for free from our website), though some more salt is necessary to enjoy it, haha…
What I find more and more annoying are those fights between “true” Metal fans and the so-called “posers”. I know this started back in the 80s and will probably never cease, nevertheless it’s senseless. Just let everybody listen to what he wants, right? And if somebody only listens to In Flames and Children Of Bodom because he doesn’t know about the magic of Metal history, instead of bullying him you’d do better to record some stuff for him and show him what Metal can be. Nobody was born as a Metal expert and we all started out as 13 year old kids not knowing anything about Manilla Road or Omen. Also the glorification of everything that was Metal in the 80s is ridiculous. Come on guys, wisen up, a lot of great music was released back then but some bands were really shitty too and we don’t need them reunited at Keep It True just because only 10 people know about their existence. Some fans seem to believe that only bands from the US who made a demo in 1986 which nobody knows are worth listening to – it would be nice if they noticed that a lot of young acts are around who play their Metal with passion and who deserve to be supported too.
12. Thank you very much for your time! Good luck with your new album! The last words belong to you…
Efcharisto to you so much for your interest in Elvenpath and for giving us the chance to speak to the fans here. Readers, please take a look at our websites www.elvenpath.com and www.myspace.com/elvenpathmetal to get a glimpse of Elvenpath. Greek Metal fans can order our album from Eat Metal Records and Secret Port Records. We hope to play for you some day and I’ll buy Manolis of Battleroar a truckload of beer if he lets us play Up The Hammers next time. Keep the flame of Metal burning in your hearts forever!
Nick “Verkaim” Parastatidis