Feature @ latest issue#128 of Legacy mag/CD + English version of the interview
we are stoked to be featured in the latest issue#128 of Legacy mag with a very positive Sublimation review (13/15 for those who care about scores), a participation in the Legacy 05/20 sampler CD with Βορά Των Αιώνων (Devoured By Aeons), as well as an interview. Oh and there’s also a free Napalm Death CD included, so there’s absolutely no reason for our German speaking friends not to collect it!
For those who don’t speak German, we got you covered by including the English version of the interview, so you may get a bit more of a background concerning Sublimation!
Without further ado, sit back, relax and click below!
Interview with Dominik Irtenkauf, August 2020. Answers by Panos Agoros (vocals/lyrics).
- DEPHOSPHORUS follows a certain approach to extreme music. Would you like to elaborate on that?
Our approach is to create the type of music that we would love to hear as music fans! Our tastes in terms of music and art being rather eclectic, Dephosphorus’ style is a blend of all things extreme and heavy.
- With your new album “Sublimation” you follow a concept, developed by Iain M. Banks. As I understand, Mr. Banks never wrote the generic science fiction novel. He always searched for a challenging turn. What can you tell our readers about your new album’s background?
Well, it’s our 4th full-length album. Dephosphorus being a cosmic themed band, the lyrics and artwork gravitated this time around Iain M. Banks’ concept of Sublimation. To quote The Culture Wiki,
“Subliming is a process that allows a civilization to transfer the consciousness of its individual members (biological and/or artificial) from the material universe that we experience to another plane of existence.”
Iain M. Banks was one of the greatest authors of our time and an amazing personality. He has written some ultra-inspiring science fiction, including the Culture series which are a persisting inspiration for our band ever since our debut “Axiom” mini-LP, as well as some mainstream fiction as “Iain Banks” (he used the middle name initial “M.” to separate both bodies of work).
Other than that, it’s our first album with 4 members, as we have now on bass Kostas Ragiadakos. Until “Sublimation”, bass was played on record by our songwriter Thanos who’s primarily a guitarist, so it feels and sounds good to have a real bassist bomb the bass!
There’s also some more new stuff to find out for underground folks who’ve been following us… For those who’s their first contact with Dephosphorus, hopefully they will want to dig in into the rest of our discography and compare. 🙂
- The first 4 tracks on “Sublimation” are written in Greek language. What made you do so?
Singing/screaming in Greek has been for us -as well as for many other extreme local bands- a taboo, mainly due to the fact there’s A LOT of cheesy music out there with lyrics in Greek.
This has changed for Dephosphorus around 2014 while recording the Collaboration LP with our Finnish comrades Haapoja. The record’s concept was for each band to participate to the other’s side, so I had to write lyrics and scream for Haapoja’s first track.
As Haapoja sing in Finnish, they were set to return the favour with the track that later became “Aika”, so while discussing our own contribution they have challenged us to come up with Greek lyrics and vocals. So, we have obliged and decided with Thanos to try using as lyrics the poem “We See With Teeth (Κοιτάμε Με Τα Δόντια)”, written by legendary Greek poet Miltos Sahtouris – of which we’re huge fans of.
After recording the first take of the vocals (and if I remember correctly, that was only this one), we had an epiphany finding out that using our native tongue not only felt good as it made the whole approach more direct and sincere, but also that the sonority of Greek language perfectly matches our style as it can sound quite majestic…
Since that experience it was a no-brainer to incorporate more Greek lyrics. The next occurrence was on our 3rd album “Impossible Orbits” with track “Asteroskoni” (which is the Greek expression for stardust). Further exploring that path, “Sublimation” turned out with almost half its songs in Greek. We’ve also included translations the lyrics both online and in the packaging, so check that out!
- In your titles I recognize a certain metaphorical language. Is this the only language which can possibly grasp these cosmic processes you write about in your music?
I would characterize the nature of our lyrics as either abstract, in which case there are indeed some metaphors used, or more straight forward where it’s more obvious what they deal with.
I like to use both types because with the more abstract ones I try to conjure mental images to the audience, as well as invite them to connect the dots and come up with their own interpretation of our lore.
At the same time, it’s also very important for us to make our positions clear and share our worldviews, therefore the more explicit type of lyrics. The balance of both may vary from album to album…
- ‘Into The Glory Of Eternal Orbit’ speaks about ascending to a state-of-mind where you can stay above all-too-earthly matters? I’m just guessing but the title provoked this kind of meaning to me.
Following-up on the answer to the previous question, a big part of the lyrics and concept are based on sci-fi or cosmological/scientific concepts, so it’s interesting to see how they can be perceived by somebody who’s unfamiliar with the source material.
That’s your case here, as even though you’re unfamiliar with the Sublimed concept with which this song deals with, the song lyrics have took you out there nevertheless!
So yes, you’re right in a way, please see the answer to the 1st question for more details concerning the Sublimed.
- You call your style “astrogrind”. So you’re always interested in topics and matters related to the stars? Whereas your musical direction changed from grindcore to more epic sort of extreme metal music? Didn’t it?
Our guitarist Thanos has coined the term astrogrind while joking after a rehearsal in the early days, we found it fun and as our music style is composite, it kind of stuck with us ever since.
In 2008, during the last days of myself and Thanos’ previous band STRAIGHTHATE, we were discussing about the possibility of starting a new band if things didn’t work out, and at that moment it occurred to us that we would want it to be a cosmic-themed concept band. That’s how it was, how it is and how it will be until the end…
The core of our music style hasn’t changed throughout the years, even though we like to experiment a lot. Dephosphorus isn’t one of those bands that change drastically music style from one record to the other. Not that this approach is necessarily bad either… Some of my favorite records are albums where bands have diverged from their original style, often alienating fans (“Wolverine Blues” for example).
- In DEPHOSPHORUS I can hear some hardcore influences of the darker kind. But you haven’t ever been interested in politics?
Everything is politics! Even though I wouldn’t describe ourselves as a political band, we often express our world views in our lyrics, albeit not so much in “Sublimation”. We don’t belong to any particular political party or movement though.
We believe that human civilization should re-arrange itself towards the common goals of optimally using our natural resources, embracing science and reason in order to survive and thrive by exploring and colonizing the cosmos.
That would involve the downfall of current socioeconomic, religious and moral systems. This radical change will take generations to complete, but it’s something worth fighting for. We should already be working on it, starting with how we raise the future generations…
- One Greek party owns a rather mystical name (Golden Dawn in English; Χρυσή Αυγή) – one of their members has a relationship to metal music (Kaiadas from Naer Mataron). So what is the party about and do some Greek metal bands experience problems with their mystical imagery because of the ΧρυσήΑυγή party?
I guess that most people interested in European politics already know that Golden Dawn is a neo-nazi political party. They’ve been represented in the national parliament from 2012 to 2019 but they’ve been left out as of the latest elections.
The side-effect of Kaiadas’ political career is that both the mainstream public as well as the wide metal audience, largely associate black metal with the far right.
- When considering Greek history, sometimes German people I know of, wonder why Greece has lost this heritage in a way that the country faced some serious problems with its economy and only bad news reached other European shores about this cradle of civilisation. Is this old image of a European beginning incorrect when it comes to Greece?
It’s very simple. Between the fall of Ancient Greek civilization following Christianization (~600 AD) and the modern Greek state established in 1821, 12 centuries and two empires (Byzantium and the Ottoman) have passed.
The bigger part of Ancient Greek civilization has been destroyed by Christianity, therefore only a portion of that heritage has survived. As with all newly founded states, a national consciousness was fabricated around the time of the Greek revolution by local and foreign powers, and Ancient Greece was used as the cementing material. Locals at that point were almost totally ignorant about Ancient Greece and not even all of them spoke Greek.
So, Ancient and Modern Greece are two different things, even though Greeks will often try to convince you otherwise by pretending they’re the direct descendants of Plato, Socrates, Leonidas, and whatnot. The harsh truth is that the vast majority of modern Greeks have a superficial, oversimplified, idealized and fantastical perception of Ancient Greece…
- You cooperate with 7 Degrees Records in Germany for the vinyl edition and with Selfmadegod Records from Poland for the CD edition. What is your cooperation with these labels like? As I know, Selfmadegod focuses on brutal death metal and grindcore. 7 Degrees Records also publishes much grindcore stuff. Your music is not the typical blend of grindcore, the vocals are similar to some black metal vocalists, especially from the Suicidal Black Metal genre. However, do you think you fit to their roster nevertheless?
My vocals make you think of suicidal BM, seriously? 🙂 To be honest, I don’t care as long as you like them!
Back to your question, as anyone who will press Play for the first time on one of our songs will find out, our music is not confined within a single music genre. We have our own style and it’s a blend of different influences, ranging from extreme metal, post-hardcore, doom/sludge, and crust punk to noise rock, electronica and rebetiko…
So, we don’t belong to a specific genre and that’s both a blessing and a curse. Grindcore is the music scene to which we feel the closer though, and the one we’re most often associated with. I guess that playing fast, grinding music helps to that effect!
I think that also explains why 3 great grindcore labels chose to work with us and why we get along fine with them – I’m also counting Nerve Altar handling the Sublimation vinyl in North America who has also co-released the Collaboration LP with Haapoja. Some of the label owners are also musicians (Simon Degrees plays in Keitzer and Aaron Nichols from Nerve Altar used to play in two legendary grind bands: Defeatist and Kalibas) which is something that definitely helps better understanding each other!
The grindcore audience is in general quite open minded, with a confirmed taste for the experimental and the bizarre, so we feel quite comfortable amongst their rosters’ ranks!
- As you are called “avid SF readers and gourmets”, what writers and books have appealed to you recently?
After finishing all of Iain M. Banks’ sci-fi novels, I’ve been hooked by James S.A. Corey’s “The Expanse” novel series. You might have heard of the TV series, which is a great show, but still a long way from the depth, complexity and richness of the books. I’ve recently started book#8 “Tiamat’s Wrath”, which is the latest in the series, with one last volume due to conclude the series later in 2020. Highly recommended!
Outside the realm of sci-fi, I’ve recently read and recommend your compatriot Peter Wohlleben’s “The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate – Discoveries from a Secret World.”, Neil Gaiman’s “Norse Mythology”, Michel Onfray’s “Atheist Manifesto: The Case Against Christianity, Judaism, and Islam”, my old friend’s Ian Glasper (Warwound, ex-Stampin’ Ground, etc) “Contract in Blood: A History of UK Thrash Metal”, as well as the retro-computing books “The Bitmap Brothers: Universe” by Darren Wall and Duncan Harris, as well as “Britsoft: An Oral History” by Alex Wiltshire.
- Have you ever considered writing more music in the vein of soundtracks as these sounds could support a SF scenario as well?
We haven’t discussed this as band, however I personally thought a lot about the soundtrack idea as I’m a big fan of soundtracks (including those of Blade Runner, Space Odyssey and Star Wars) and more recently in the occasion of Carpenter Brut’s contribution to the amazing “Turbo Killer” and “Blood Machines” videos!
I don’t think that we would do so by recording in a different style than ours though – unless it’s under a different name.
- Can you tell our readers some science fiction books from your native country? I don’t know many Greek writers in this genre. Maybe you could help out?
You got me on this one! I’m totally embarrassed to admit that I’m unfamiliar with local sci-fi authors. If we do an interview together for our next album, I hope I will be able to enlighten you by then!
- When can we see you in Germany / Austria / Switzerland playing live? Now I’m hearing about special corona concerts with fewer paying guests and distancing or sitting on chairs while the concert. Have you thought about touring plans since the pandemic broke out?
We’ve only played live twice in 12 years of existence as our guitarist works and live in Sweden, however this might change soon… When/if the Coronavirus plague ends, we will be happy to consider any offers to grind your shores!
Concerning this new type of gig that you describe, doesn’t sound like much fun, does it? 🙂
- Any last words?
Hopefully some readers who’ve made it this far will be intrigued enough to check us out! Thanks for reading and for the opportunity that Legacy gave us to speak up our minds.
“One should never mistake pattern for meaning.”
― Iain Banks, The Hydrogen Sonata