Sarpedon have just released their début album Anomic Nation, an album that takes Progressive Metal and drapes it in Extreme Metal influences with dramatic, powerful vocals. Definitely a band to watch out for. I wanted to find out a bit more about this impressive band…
Give us a bit of background to Sarpedon
Carl, Eirik, and myself started the band a few years back, to be honest I don’t remember exactly but I think it was in 2006. The line-up was a bit of a mess at times but we released two demos and were gigging quite frequently around Norway, and began eventually recording what would later be “Anomic Nation” around 2009-2010. However, due to several fuckups with former members, different priorities, other bands, day jobs etc., things stalled “a bit” (several years, to be honest) – but in 2013 we together with Børge Finstad finally managed to get the mixing done, and after the mastering from Peter in de Betou was finished it didn’t take too long before the deal with Inverse was in place.
For songwriting – Savatage, Nevermore, Queen, Rainbow, Blind Guardian, Symphony X, Emperor. For guitar playing – Yngwie J. Malmsteen, Brian May, Nuno Bettencourt, Ritchie Blackmore, Criss Oliva, Eric Johnson, Andy Timmons, Jeff Loomis, Dimebag Darrell, André Olbrich (etc etc etc).
What are you listening to at the moment that you would like to recommend?
The new Blind Guardian album (and very much so) – other than that I’ve had a Swedish kick lately with Lefay and Tad Morose, Extreme due to Nuno being in Oslo for the Nobel Prize concert. It’s a shame he only did “More than Words” on that occasion, but I don’t think Malala would appreciate “He Man Woman Hater” or “Mutha (I don’t wanna go to school today).
What did you want to achieve with Anomic Nation?
Lifetime sponsorship for Burgundy red wine and maple syrup pancakes! No seriously, it’s actually a slight sense of relief to finally have the album out, due to former frustrations and the way too long time it took. The reception has been very good, and hopefully we’ll be able to continue in a more constructive manner this time around, have a bit of fun, do some gigs, and eventually make a new album.
Are you happy with how it turned out?
YES! 🙂 Haha, no but we are. The songs had been with us for so long so we had almost lost the ability to hear if the music was actually any good at all – but the response has been so good that it gave us back the belief in what we are doing. Even when we got the record deal and decided to release the album the plan was basically to release it, do a gig or two and then call it a day. But now we will make (at least) one more album, do as many gigs as possible and really have some fun with it all.
What can you tell us about the lyrics?
There are different subjects, but also some recurring themes. A few songs are about specific incidents – “Dead Birds”, for example, is about a horrific series of suicides in a certain area of Wales a few years ago. The number “17”, which is sung several times, is the number of young people that had committed suicide in Bridgend in Wales at the time of recording, the number has increased since. “Lusk Letter” deals with the Jack the Ripper mystery, which has always fascinated me – George Lusk was the man who received the infamous “From Hell” letter in October 1888. One recurring theme is the little man against the big society – “Anomic Nation”, “The Claustrophober”, “My Mysteries…” 1 and 2.
Give us a bit of information on the songwriting process.
I do most of the music – although the only songs I’ve written entirely on my own and then presented to the band as complete pieces of music are “A Seed of Evil” and “My Mysteries Unwind Pt. 2”.The rest of the band are also heavily involved in the arrangements and also contribute both riffs and melodies for several of the songs, and of course Eirik comes up with most of the vocal stuff himself.
In my review I comment on the Black Metal influence on your sound. Can you expand on this?
There is definitely a black metal influence – Emperor is one of my favourite bands, and Carl and Andreas have basically only played in black and death metal bands until Sarpedon came about (and still do – Endezzma, Unspoken, and others). In a way Sarpedon is about incorporating all the different influences we have and musical styles we enjoy into one band, and it’s definitely refreshing for me as a guitar player and songwriter to be able to use riffs and harmonies which maybe belong more in other genres than in “traditional” prog/power metal.
How do you see your position in the wider Metal musical framework/genre?
It was Eirik who came up with the slogan “Declaring war on progressive metal as we know it”. And without trying to be overly arrogant or anything we try to create our own little twist on progressive metal – which is a genre which, inevitably, is not very progressive any more. We’re not the most technical band out there, but we try to put heavy riffs and drumming with both thrash and black metal influences, into a context with strong melodies which might hint at Broadway/West End influences, atmospheric synths and huge choirs.
How do you see your songs/direction developing in the future?
To quote one big hero of mine – “MORE IS MORE” 🙂 We will begin working on our next album next year, and I think we will use “Anomic Nation” as a starting point and then try to do a bit more of everything. The choirs will be (even) bigger, the riffs will be heavier, the melodies will be catchier, we will incorporate more dynamics –
What’s next for Sarpedon?
We have our release party in Oslo on February 14, celebrating Metal Express Radio’s 30th anniversary – then we’ll see what more gigs show up before we begin writing songs for the next album. It’s been a blast to finally hold a proper Sarpedon CD in our hands, and to hear that people actually enjoy what we have come up with. We’re really enjoying playing together, and hopefully there’s more fun to come in the upcoming months and years. And thanks to you Nigel for taking the time to do this interview and for the review you gave us – we sincerely appreciate it! 🙂