I defy for I am Free
Sarpanit, according to Babylonian mythology, is goddess married to Marduk. His name is also Erua and was worshiped during the rising moon. According to her got the name one of the newer British bands, SARPANITUM. So far they have released two albums, the second one is from February of this year and their output is mainly intended for fans preferring fast Death Metal with dark ethereal atmosphere. Certainly they are musically closest to MITHRAS band which is no coincidence since their drums were played by Leon Macey and whole CD recorded in his Dreaming studios. Questions were answered by Tom Hyde (guit, bass) and Tom Innocenti (guit, vox, keys) living in Japan.
Hello, sure you are often compared to Mithras because Leon plays the drums. Do you take it more as a compliment or those comments leave you annoyed? How much Leon influenced your music and composition?
T.H: Hello there! To be honest I just see it as a way of people wanting to describe Sarpanitum. Both Sarpanitum and Mithras play in the same sub-genre let alone genre of music so there are bound to be similarities. Drumming wise we have always wanted to be relentless and as for the guitars I would say I am more influenced by the riffs rather than the leads. Leon writes quite an unorthodox ethereal and galactic sounding leads where as our leads tend to have more melodic and harmonic approach.
Music of Sarpanitum gives cosmic impressions thanks to the unearthly feelings from melodic riffs or chants, but the lyrics deal with ancient history of the Crusades. How hit you idea to combine these two contrasts together? Can they be merged? Most of the bands take the music and lyrics in the same spirit. Why did you choose just the Crusades? Were you influenced by the Both Thrower's "The IVth Crusade" album as well?
T.H: Well I do not see them as a contrast, in particular the choirs. Lyrically it explores not only a quite brutal time in history but also one that explores morality and diversity through the horrors that occurred in this period. Lyrically we do not aim to fantasize about the horrors carried out during the medieval Europe and middle east and musically we try to bring almost a cinematic like atmosphere to the music whilst using choirs and particular melodies which have that medieval/Gregorian feel to it. Personally speaking I have never been much of a Bolt Thrower fan with the exception of the "Realm of chaos" album which is a very different style to the later material.
T.I: The concept of the Crusades came from our own personal interest in medieval European history and not from a particular artist or album. The IVth Crusade has some absolutely killer riffs on it but I have to admit that Bolt Thrower are not really an influence on our music. Our lyrics deal with madness, religious fanaticism and the notion that individuals must have been conscious of the depravities that inevitably come from war despite the vast majority of people at the time being deeply and unquestionably religious. Not so much the glorifying and 'honoring' of the war-dead which bands like BT are known for.
After the "Despoilment of Origin" debut there was silence around the band. Have you broke up or you were just inactive? What happened then? Following "Fidelium" EP came up about four years later. Even new "Blessed Be My Brothers ..." album was released till four years after the EP. Why such a long gaps between the releases? Do you take the view that good is always short? Then the next album should come out in 2019. Do you have already developed some ideas for the next record or what direction you will go?
T.H: After the release of "despoilment" the majority of the band were in there final year of university at the time so were unable to put in as much time so there was a hiatus period which throughout I kept writing and jamming with Tom Innocenti and eventually we decided to put those ideas into Sarpanitum but also expand and build on it. My philosophy around music is that creating music and recording music should be something you relish and enjoy and not feel burdened to do so. Also myself and Tom Innocenti are our worst critics and like to develop and let songs mature so that we can add or change parts. We are also two close friends who live on opposite sites of the globe who have full time jobs as well as other commitments. We have got some ideas towards the next album a few full tracks and lots of riffs and lead ideas but again we are not setting any dates or dead lines for ourselves.
Who of you is interested in Sumerian or Babel mythology and why you are interested just in this? Do you think it can be a source to understand this world and its creation? The occurrence of any mythology is always shrouded in a veil of mystery.
T.H: Both myself and Tom are fascinated by both history and mythology. The Sumerians are thought to be the most ancient civilization that left evidence to indicate this but also carries a lot of similarities with different mythology and religions from its ancient tablets which leads to different interpretations. One that we find particular interesting is the theories and research from Zecharia Sitchin.
T.I: At the time of the debut when these themes were our main focus, the lyrics were handled by former members. I have to say that my knowledge of Sumerian and Babylonian history and mythology is relatively limited. Although interesting it seems to be a popular theme for several extreme metal bands and we felt that we couldn't necessarily bring anything new to the table in that regard. Also it made more sense to write music and lyrics based on an interest we both share rather than feeling obliged to continue with the themes of the older material.
Could you imagine your lyrics influenced by Lovecraft's short stories? What do you think, what music or bands he would listen to now? Do you think he would liked Sarpanitum? Does foggy and rainy weather in England have any effect on you?
T.H: I think Tom Innocenti is best answering this is not only does he write the lyrics but is also a big fan of Lovecraft's work!
T.I: I am indeed a huge fan of Lovecraft so it wouldn't be so far fetched to link his work with ours. With the lyrics I was almost treating the Judeo-Christian and Islamic God like a Lovecraftian 'Great Old One' or 'Outer God' influencing humanity and driving them to insanity. As for the weather in England I don't think it makes much of an impact on our music! I've lived in Japan for almost two years now and the weather is a lot more extreme but equally grim if not more so than back home and it has yet to change the way in which I approach music haha!
What intention have you formed band with and changed it in any way over the years? If someone asked you today why you are not playing more technical Death Metal style as Necrosphagist for example., what would you answer him?
T.H: The intention was always to be fast and brutal with cinematic moments, the only different outlook we have now is rather have cinematic "moments" we like to maintain that suspense or continuity which we do through using melodic riffs but played in a way that makes them aggressive. It is all about the music, if we have a riff or a idea in our heads that might be a little fast, we just practice and try to be able to play it. We do not really have the mind set to intend to make our music technical, we have a mindset to intend to make our music atmospheric yet energetic and fast in the way we implement it.
T.I: There is a time and a place for that style of technical death metal but I feel that it is often totally devoid of atmosphere regardless of how impressive the techniques of the bands is. It wouldn't suit our ethos or what we want for our sound. I do enjoy some aspects of these 'tech-death' bands but the constant twiddling and breaking up of time signatures for me ultimately leads to a weaker and more mechanical sound which is totally not for us. We like memorable riffs and hooks so that is what we are naturally inclined to write.
Your music is interesting by that you use a minimum of medium paces to head banging. You also have not a lot of slower songs, except maybe I Defy for I Am Free track. At first glance this creates chaos putting the listener from the ordinary earthly sphere into the space and he find himself in a totally different time-space and dimension.
T.H: Hahaha, thanks! Yeah we like blast beats a lot and faster tracks so you can variety and get grooves from the different style of blast beats.
T.I: Yeah I think our speed and intensity is perfect for the subject matter. As you say it does a good job of contributing to a feeling of chaos and almost forcing this situation onto the listener. We wanted to make the album as immersive as possible and the intensity is one of the ways in which we tried to achieve that.
Do you use chants at every live performance? For such a number of instruments you have little line-up. Two guitars, keyboards and bass guitar require about some guest live musicians. Are you satisfied with how often you play or you prefer rather the creative process?
T.H: Well the last time we played was whilst we were promoting "Fidelium" in 2011, there was some moments with choirs on that release as well as despoilment however we did not use anything live to replicate the choirs in 2011 however, when we were playing live on the run up to the release of "Despoilment" Andy Techakosit the bass player at the time would use a midi sampler as a stomp pedal which helped to bring the atmosphere out and when we have briefly used drum machines we would program in choirs as well so it would come out of the P.A although played with programmed drums is not something we would want to go back to as it takes away from the atmosphere we try to create. At the moment we are not playing live due to lack of an available drummer who is able to drum at the correct tempo's and so on but we have not ruled out playing live again. If and when we play live again we would certainly need at least 3 guitarists on stage because of the layers of harmonies hahaha! Either way until we find an available live drummer we very much enjoy the writing and recording process.
What is your attitude towards the current situation with immigrants? Don't you worry it may end unrests or increase in crime? Because England is also one of their major destinations. Are you satisfied with how the European Union solves it?
T.H: My opinion is that it has been engineered to happen because it is another way to divide and rule people. People in Syria are fleeing terrible events and looking to start a new life. People are only concerned with how will it affect the economy and people becoming or feeling like they are socially isolated which is applicable to both ethnic minorities and majorities. Firstly the economy to me is fictional and used as a control system, its literally just digits on a computer there's very little precious metals or resources that actually moved around when large transactions takes place. Tell people they have to work hard to pay the bills and the rent or the mortgage and make them work the majority of there life so that they feel tired and do not have enough time to think about how they are being screwed over in order for the few richest elite to live in gluttony when arguable everyone can and should be able to thrive. As for social isolation that can be eradicated when fear and ignorance are challenged. As for the European union, they are puppets themselves.
What records are you listening to lately or what impressed you the most? What are your next plans? Ok, that's all from me, you have the last words, let you thrive.
T.H: Metal wise I have been listening to a lot of Xasthur, Obscure Sphinx and a band I discovered through youtube called "Crystallium" who split up a few years ago now but play fast brutal black metal. I am also looking forward to hearing Rebaelliun's new material when they release it as they reformed not long ago and I do quite like a couple of tracks of there's from the "Annihilation" album. Otherwise I would just like to thank Necrosphere webzine for the interview and all those who are reading the interview or supported Sarpanitum! Thanks!
Tom Hyde, Tom Innocenti 17. 10. 2015 Storm