Barry: So, it's been over four years since your debut, what has been happening since? There's been some amount of line-up changes... what caused all that?
Tom Hyde: Yeah, it has been a while! Well we played our last show with the line up of me, Mark Broster, Sean Broster and Vic Lochab in late 2008 and since then the band went on hiatus. At that moment in time we wanted a break from playing live in order to have some time to write new material and towards a second album. However at that time between the band we were either advancing in our careers or our education, half the band were in the final year of university and of course that takes up a lot of time and concentration so somehow the band was put on hold for a while and the writing gradually became less often. Throughout this time I still jammed with Tom as we really did not want to stop writing music, particularly extreme metal. At this point, as not much as happening with the current line up of Sarpanitum and myself and Tom were busy writing and jamming together we believed the best thing was for Tom to come back in the band. Mark and Sean had a amicable split from the band as we wanted to start releasing new material and play live again which, at that point in time Mark and Sean were not able to commit to this.
Barry: So does the band have a full line-up that can play live now? I know this is sometimes the hardest bit...
Tom Hyde: Yes defiantly! So whilst me and Tom were writing, I asked my friend Luke Archer who used to play in Visions Through Hate to take the duties for rhythm guitar and we got in contact with Steve Powell (Anaal Nathrakh, Detrimentum) who seemed very keen to play and blew us away! I think the hardest bit is to find those who have the ability to play fast and tight as well as the desire to do better which explains why we have had so many line up changes. All I can say though is that Me, Tom, Luke, Vic and Steve feel confident and ready to hit the live arena again!
Barry: Well that's good news... so let's look back at the debut album for a moment. When I reviewed it in 2007 I thought there was a massive influence from Behemoth - did you hear that a lot about the album? Were you listening to them a lot at the time or something?
Tom Hyde: Hahaha! Yes, we did. Well with the concept of the first album its based on "The Gilgamesh" which is this ancient Mesopotamian story and of course being based in the middle east we did want the music to interpret a certain "eastern" flare in the style of music which I find also when I listen to Behemoth. I think with the Behemoth comparison again, they like to play big almost film-score like parts with fast speed which makes the riffs particularly brutal. At that time we did listen to Behemoth, but that was one of many bands that we listen to.
Barry: So now there's the Fidelium EP... does it have an official release date?
Tom Hyde: Yes it is released now. It is a independent release through ourselves, we released it as online download to begin with in Spring this year but have now released it on EP and is available via our website.
Barry: It's a really cool EP, quite different to your debut album... more atmospheric elements in there, what influenced this direction?
Tom Hyde: Well we wanted to keep the ethic of being brutal although having stand-out atmospheric elements. We knew that when we were going to release again we did not want to do "Despoilment Of Origin Part II" and in particular wanted to change the concept and did not want to limit ourselves to just basing our music on ancient Mesopotamia. I think Tom will agree on me here that we love brutal music but when you bring something else to it, it make it that much more interesting and diverse. It's trying to keep the balance between brutality and being melody and it's very easy to slip to either side. So back to atmosphere as a band we do not just listen to metal or extreme metal but find many genres of music bring influence. Particularly classical, new-age ambient and sometimes even some electronic music.
Tom Innocenti: I'm personally heavily influenced by black metal in particular. Also some of the riffs come from listening to post-rock and of course Gregorian chant and renaissance choral music.
Barry: So looking at the change of theme, can you explain it to me - the cover of the EP and lyrics, is it about the Knights Templar or something? I know nothing about history, hahaha...
Tom Hyde: Yeah sure! Okay so mainly the concept is based on the first crusade of the Normans going to the holy land in order to conquer and to be repented of their sins. Each of the four tracks covers a different event in that period of history which we explore both in the structure of songs and the lyrics.
Tom Innocenti: Just to correct Tom it wasn't just the Normans haha. Anyway, the crusades, particularly the first have always fascinated me. The EP has quite primitive lyrics to reflect the subject matter really, all-out warfare. The first track being about the fall of Jerusalem through Christian eyes, the second being the fall of Antioch through an Islamic perspective, the 3rd instrumental being from the Islamic perspective again and finally the last track being about the founding of the Knights Templar.
Barry: What inspired this as a theme for your music?
Tom Hyde: Well Tom (Innocenti) had done a solo black metal project called Balor a few years ago which was based around that period of history. When I heard Balor I thought it was great how Tom integrated Gregorian choirs and a feel of that time into fast black metal. So we toyed at first the idea of using Gregorian and medieval styled riffs and integrating it with both black metal and brutal death metal and were really pleased with the results. Also lyrically we found more connection with what was happening at that moment in history and how it provoked moral questions and behaviour. Before Andy Techakosit left we had spoke about doing the next release based on Genghis Khan which we had discussed but found that we had a lot more connection at that moment of time with that period of history which we hope our music captures some elements of this.
Tom Innocenti: As Tom said it was the connection with current affairs that was really key in using this period. The middle-east has always been the subject of desire be it for sacred religious ground or oil.
Barry: You had Leon (Mithras) master it, and you recorded it in his studio - you can certainly hear his influence in there comparing to the Mithras sound... is that what you wanted to go for?
Tom Hyde: Yeah defiantly. With the first album we had recorded it in different studio to Dreaming Studio's (Leons Studio) and it had only been mastered there so we were keen to record and work from scratch there. We worked with Leon doing some of the vocal takes and lead guitars for Despoilment Of Origin and it was great to work with someone so driven and enthusiastic about the music that we play. We are fans of Mithras and I think that we play pretty much in the same sub-genre of music so we thought it would be wise to work with him. He gets the best results from us and genuinely wants that for us as well. Yes, it is different from Despoilment Of Origin and we are really happy with the sound of the latest EP.
Barry: So you must be working on your follow-up album now... what's the progress for it like? Do you think it'll be in the same vein as the EP?
Tom Hyde: Yeah, were still quite keen on working around the idea of the crusades. So far we are still at the writing stage but will make more announcements once we have more material. All further material will be made towards a full length, in the mean time we are hoping to gig and tour with Fidelium before releasing more material.
Barry: That's cool. So I saw the band at the Zero Tolerance show in London in 2008 and I presume that was one of the last shows you did... did you get to tour the UK much before that, or even on mainland Europe anywhere?
Tom Hyde: Yeah that was our last show! Yeah we played around the UK including Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham, London, Bristol and we were lucky enough to play the Eindhoven Deathfest in 2006, that was great to finally play abroad. Something we hope to do again!
Barry: Yeah, I'm sure it'll happen - there're so many death metal festivals around now.
Tom Hyde: At Eindhoven it was great as well as we finally had the chance to meet, see and play with some of our favourite bands... Yeah, in the UK we have Bloodstock which is for various extreme metal bands, I've heard Germany and America are great for festivals. It's great to have a variety of bands at these shows.
Barry: Yeah, there's a million festivals in Germany. So anyway, in the meantime are you going to be searching for a label to release the album, or do you have other ideas about releasing it?
Tom Hyde: Yeah we will be sending Fidelium to various labels to release our next album.
Barry: So we've talked about the EP and the future, I guess things are looking up now the ball is rolling with the band again. How big do you think Sarpanitum can get? Are you interested in being "big", or is this just like a hobby?
Tom Hyde: I'll let Tom answer that one.
Tom Innocenti: Well to be honest as much potential as we have, especially with this new line-up, it would be very unrealistic to think we are going to 'make it big'. That's not to say that we don't take the band seriously, we take it very seriously indeed. Its more than a hobby definitely but we all have lives outside of making music the other guys being in full time work and me being a student. We would of course like to 'make it big' but what interests us the most is making music that both Tom and I would personally like to hear come from an extreme metal band.
Tom Hyde: I think Tom's explained how I feel better than I can! I mean yeah, I would love to write the music I do for a living but I honestly don't know how big we can get... Sarpanitum is definitely a lot more than "a hobby" I find it vital to write music and very constructive and positive to make a sound structure of your thoughts and feelings which we do in Sarpanitum. We are really happy with the line up and we are all driven to play shows and write more songs which I think are more valued principals than just "wanting to make it big".
Barry: Is it true that the guy who designed the Emperor logo also did yours?
Tom Hyde: Yeah it was Christophe Szpajdel - he met us in 2003 or so when he was living in Birmingham and was very keen to listen in to our band practises and draw various different band logos. He would spend most the time doing that, he's a really talented guy! We told him about the concept of the band and how Sarpanitum is the wife of Marduk (ancient god of war) and how we wrote songs on ancient Mesopotamia and he drew the snakes in the logo which we thought was pretty cool and how it is not too difficult to read.
Barry: Well that answered my next question, hahaha. I was wondering what "Sarpanitum" was...
Tom Hyde: Yeah it is another word for "Ishtar" another term was "Sarpanit"
Barry: It would be pretty funny if you toured with the band Marduk...
Tom Hyde: Hahaha yeah! Im sure there is a joke in that somewhere but I'll leave that to the readers!
Barry: Haha, have you ever been tempted to go on Britain's Got Talent for a laugh?
Tom Innocenti: Haha, we could be the next Lordi!
Tom Hyde: Well I saw a YouTube video of a guy from Norway I think? How had corpse painted himself up screeching at the judges, but the poor sod was just shot down really. I don't really know Simon Cowell would dig Sarpanitum, although I like how assertive and driven he is! There is no messing about when it comes to Simon Cowell!
Tom Innocenti: I could never trust a man who has a parting in hair as short as his
Barry: They do live auditions in front of a big audience in some arena now I think, you'd get the chance to play half a song in front of a few thousand people... someone in there might like it, hahaha.
Tom Hyde: Yeah but those trousers? Only a determined badass wears trousers that high whilst wearing sunglass's sipping champagne at a nice resort in Spain!
Barry: Hahaha, he does it because he can. So anyway, in my review of the EP I said that there was a slight tone of The Monolith Deathcult in there... do you know about this Dutch band?
Tom Innocenti: We love them yeah! Tom H especially.
Tom Hyde: Yeah we love them! I First heard of The Monolith Deathcult when they were just called "Monolith" on a French metal magazine Metallian CD sampler and continued to listen to the band. When they released The White Crematorium I was amazed. It is still one of my favourite death metal albums, so when we got to play with them and Macabre in Birmingham I felt really honoured to meet them and play with them. Nice blokes as well!
Barry: That's really cool, I'd love to see them at some point.
Tom Hyde: There amazing, you have to see them, they have a samplist live when I saw them which really brings out the energy that you hear on the albums! I have not seen them play any off their latest CD yet, but I really hope we can meet and play with them again!
Barry: So I've pretty much asked what I can - your EP is out now, what would you both like to say to get people to check it out?
Tom Hyde: Firstly I would like to thank everyone for taking the time to read this interview and to Barry and Metal Storm for organizing this for us! What I would say if that if you are a fan of brutal death metal and black metal with atmospheric elements then check us out. We have one song online from our latest EP Fidelium titled "Before The Walls" if you are keen on this then you can grab both our releases from our website or Bigcartel site. Alternatively we are playing live in Birmingham soon November 19th at the Aslyum 2 and have more gigs to follow around the UK. - Tom want to add anything?
Tom Innocenti: No not really that covers it thanks for the interview though its much appreciated.
Tom Hyde: Yeah thanks for that Barry!
The review for the Fidelium EP can be found at this location.
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