I love Greek metal. Whenever I get a chance to interview a Greek band I take it. CAELESTIA is my latest Greek metal encounter. ©2015 Anders Ekdahl
Gould you please introduce us to the band?
-We are a female-fronted progressive melodic death band from Athens, Greece. The band was initially formed in April 2012, by founding members Nick Palyvos (bass / vocals) and Dimitra Vintsou (lead vocals). The band just released its second studio album “Beneath Abyss”, on February 16th, 2015 under Finnish Label “Inverse Records”. The album was recorded and mixed at “Basement Studios” (with sound engineer Michalis Meleteas) in Athens, and mastered at the renowned “Fascination Street Studios” in Sweden, by Tony Lindgren. A first studio album titled “Last Wish” was released in the end of 2012, under independent label IKK Productions (the band was still called “Me And Myself” then). We have undergone some line-up changes, since the band was initially formed, before we end up in the present line-up. We also recently released our official video for the title track “Beneath Abyss”, which was directed by the renowned German director Matthias Kollek (Kreator, Lacrimosa etc).
What has been the greatest catalyst in forming your sound?
-In our new album, we have strived to achieve a well-balanced combination of the styles, that each of the band members favors, thus melodic death metal, symphonic / gothic metal, visible elements of progressive metal, but also black metal passages. The goal was head on to achieve a unique style of our own, and not try to sound like an impression of any other band, which is quite difficult nowadays. Our music is greatly based on diversity, large amounts of guitar riffing and phrasing (it is quite indicative that each of our songs contains at least 7-8 different guitar riffs), changing time signatures and varying tempos, that range from 130 to 210 bpm. We tried hard to break the so called “conventional” form of songwriting (intro / verse / chorus / verse / chorus / solo / chorus / outro etc), and introduce various and altering parts and bridges in our songs, so that the listener is constantly left curious of what’s going to come next. That is quite a big turn compared to our previous album, which could easily be characterized as alternative / gothic metal, with more “conventionally” written songs, and not so many complicated passages, bridges and altering time signatures. Apart from that, our music and lyrics explore a wide variety of subjects, with the main focus being in the eternal war between good and evil, light and darkness, either taking place internally, thus within an individual’s soul and thoughts, either externally, in the outside world, not leaving aside subjects, such as disrupted states of mind, occult etc. We also tried to give a certain theatrical sense in our song lyrics, introducing dialogues (e.g. in the track “Mi Ultima Vida”) between characters, and lyrics written in Spanish and Latin, besides English. That is a key element in our lyrics and music, which we plan to continue and expand in our future work.
How hard is it to record and release new songs?
-Surely the process of making “Last Wish”, and the experience that came thereof, helped us in the recording of “Beneath Abyss”. However, there was a significant difference in the recording process of “Beneath Abyss”; what most bands usually do, is book a certain amount of bulk time at a studio, and then go record their album as a whole. What we did, is to break that “norm”, by recording each track, after we had already finalized its song-writing process. This meant that the tracks for “Beneath Abyss” were recorded with approx. 7-days intervals between each one of them. During these intervals, we finalized, re-considered and edited parts in each track, so that the final outcome was what exactly the band wanted (from a musical and structural point of view). In this way, the process of the recording may have taken a little longer than usual, but it gave us the ability to control every aspect, and do changes and corrections at the same time, ensuring that the outcome was “complete” to our ears.
Has digital made it easier to get your music released?
-Of course it has, since you can send your music (as .mp3 files) to any label via e-mail, and wait for their response. This kind of process has made it easier for all of the bands to release and make their music known, outside their country’s boundaries, and even get an international record deal. The digital era makes it easier for the record labels too, to promote a band’s music and take it to larger audiences. Surely, the whole process of releasing music was a lot harder in the past years. Nowadays, a band can release its music on an international level solely through internet platforms, even without being signed to a record label, and that is a significant breakthrough.
If you release your music digitally, is there a risk that you release songs too soon, before you are ready, compared to releasing them on cd?
-As we said before, there are bands that release their music only through the internet, and never print a single cd. If a band chooses to release its music both through the internet and on a cd, it means that the band is ready to release the songs, and that the songs are ready for the listener (in their final form). It doesn’t mind at all, actually. If the listener really wants to buy the band’s cd, he/she will buy it, regardless if the album has already been released through digital platforms. People buy physical cd’s for a lot of reasons, and we think this will never cease to exist, no matter what. It’s for the same reason that people still buy vinyl records, and/or cassettes in some cases.
What kind of responses have you had to your recorded music?
-Although it’s been roughly a month since the official album was released, we have begun receiving feedback by metal sites since beginning of January 2015, which have reviewed our new record as a whole (thanks to Inverse Records’ very good network and promoting actions). Our album has been characterized as “haunting from start to finish”, or as “an inspiring effort that gets the balance just right between beauty and destruction”, whereas other reviews state that “the combination of metal styles into one package gives Caelestia a musical identity of their own”. Our grading in all reviews (that come by the dozen now) so far has been well above average (between 7,5/10 and 9/10), which motivates us, as well as boosts our confidence, to work harder and make our music better and better.
We live in a world where there are no real distances between people communicating anymore. What has been the most surprising contact so far?
-That’s a very intriguing question. As we mentioned before, our label has promoted our album to hundreds and hundreds of sites, webzines, magazines etc. so far, and we’ve been receiving a handful of reviews since January 2015 (that still keep coming by the dozen). We were very surprised to find out –sometime in February- that a very good review of our album came from someone who runs a metal webzine in the Islamic Republic of Iran…! Everybody knows how strict Islamic laws apply to that country, and we were very surprised to know that our music has reached and touched people in such “closed” societies…
Do you feel like you are a part of a greater community playing in a metal band?
-Of course we do. We are sure that every person playing in a metal band does have a sense of belonging to a bigger “scene” or the greater metal community. And so do we; we are a part our local Greek metal scene, and we also belong to the international metal community.
What is the live scene like for you? Do you feel that playing live helps building a bigger following?
-That is a great truth, indeed. The more a band plays live (both locally and internationally), the more it helps the band to build a larger audience. The more the band plays live, the more it helps the band to become influential, and build a better sound and a better scenic appearance. Despite being a recently formed band, we’ve had quite a few live appearances under our belt, but the most stand-out live performances of the band, were: a) at Katatonia concert in Athens Gagarin 205 Club, as a supporting act, along with “Maplerun” and “Scar Of The Sun” on February 22nd, 2013, and as b) a sole supporting act to German horror metallers “The Vision Bleak”, in Athens Club Kyttaro, on February 15th, 2014. When the band opened the Katatonia concert in Athens, it was the band’s first major live performance, and it was well welcomed by a crowd of 700-800 people below stage, so it was a very good starting point. As the band finalized its new musical identity, more live shows came along (spring & summer 2013), which served as a means for the band to get a “tighter” sound. Our best live show so far was definitely the opening for “The Vision Bleak” in February 2014, where we presented a significant number of the new songs (that are contained in “Beneath Abyss”) and unveiled the new musical direction of the band, and this performance received many positive reviews. As a band, we try not to be too static on stage, and we try to transmit our songs’ energy to the crowd, and that seems to work. Of course, there always are things to improve, and we tend to judge ourselves quite harshly, so that every live performance of ours gets better and better.
What plans do you have for the future?
-First of all, we have touring plans for the future; we have engaged a management agency for that means, and the idea is to begin with a European tour sometime in Summer 2015 (not a very large number of shows for starters), mainly in northern & central Europe. Our next tour slots will be planned for October-November 2015 (including appearances in Greece), whereas appearances in metal festivals for 2015 are also included in our plans. We also plan to make some publicity moves, such as a new photo-shooting (which will include all new band members), an endorsement photo-shooting for “Schecter Guitar Research” (which is our official endorser in guitars and basses), interviews, TV appearances and generally publicity gestures through magazines and internet sites. To sum up, and from a strictly musical point of view, we definitely see ourselves pushing and evolving our melodic / progressive death style, by writing both faster and more aggressive songs in the future, but at the same time not setting the melodic elements aside. It is hard to strike a perfect balance between these two, but it’s surely is worth the effort and time.