Brutal melodies: an interview with Efthimis Karadimas from Nightfall

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It is hard to fully measure the impact Greek dark metal weavers Nightfall have had on melodic death metal and its related extreme metal neighbours not only in their homeland but across the genre itself, but with each album they have explored and stretched its limits with imagination and aggressive hunger. Their latest album Cassiopeia is no exception, the Metal Blade Records released triumph an equally mesmeric and intimidation beast of inspiring imagination and dark melodic grandeur. To find out more about not only the album but the band, Greek metal, and its history we had the pleasure of talking with vocalist and band founder Efthimis Karadimas.

Hi Efthimis and many thanks for taking time to speak with us.

Thanks for your time mate!

For over twenty years Nightfall has been not only one of the major underground metal musical voices but also a leader of Greek metal. As your great new album Cassiopeia spreads its senses wakening qualities around the world do you feel extra responsibility over the impressive depth of Greek metal which only now the world seems to be awakening to?

We act responsibly since day one and this is one of the main reasons why Nightfall is still around doing well. Being true to yourself is a big deal in all aspects of life; Nightfall has always acted in prudent ways to deliver pieces of art sincerely and free of expectations other than that of artistic expression.  Making people around the world paying attention to the Greek scene is a compliment. I am honored and proud at the same time Pete.

How do you keep the fire inside burning so intensely after two decades of offering hard work, acclaimed releases, and impressive creative imagination to the world, how have you kept complacency and obstacles all bands find at bay?

It is the spirit of the Underground that’s marking our ways. We have never treated art as a means to make a living or commercial success or to simply have some fun. Through music we try to cure our broken souls; we literally drag the demons lurking within us all the way out to the light where we burn them out. That effort people seem to appreciate in a high degree. I see no other reason really.

How would you say Nightfall has changed or evolved the most over the years?

That’s kinda difficult question to respond to as I am part of this band since the very begging and can’t really see things from outside. Actually I feel like we do the very same thing described previously; killing demons to relief our souls. Techniques and skills surely change but the essence remains the same.

Like most bands line-up changes are a part of things, has the ones you have experienced also gone towards the freshness you have held onto with your nine albums in some way, the new ideas being brought in by new members over the years sparking new ideas organically?

Playing with new musicians each time is so refreshing it makes me wonder how some bands keep the same line up for years without getting bored or drown into a loop of repetition, which ultimately kills any seed of art and creativity. Each time a new guy comes in we all get excited and longing for the amalgam of new and old tastes that soon will be produced as a result of that addition. Nothing remains stable for long; nothing remains unquestionable. That motion is energy. And energy is life!

Before we move onto your new album tell us how you see things have changed, if at all, for new bands breaking through from when Nightfall did and those trying to do so now, especially in Greek metal.

Back in the old days the whole process of producing, releasing, and communicating your music was too difficult. However, it was these very difficulties that made most of us, the old guard, to build a character through which our sound and style matured. This sort of maturity is something I feel like missing from the new bands. Easy access to high tech gear is not necessarily leading to any better results when talking about art. It is the struggle and the pain that spawn the lyrical drama. I am sure current economic depression will be the ground for some momentous works in the near future. And please dudes, stop playing the rock stars, the party is over and the chicks have already been pregnant by someone else. No hard feelings 🙂

Your previous album Astron Black & the Thirty Tyrants looked at man and his place throughout time as a theme and 543767_10151129285441682_1965301818_nCassiopeia feels the same at investigating with stronger focus man and his attitude and arrogance within the world even with its more mythical title and initial ‘voice’. Can you delve deeper into the premise for Cassiopeia and its inspiration?

I adore history and mythology. It is the manual of human race. Every single shit you face in everyday life is there to read and see how it first appeared, in which ways it was developed and how our ancestors managed to deal with it successfully or not. Furthermore, for huge issues like those of believing in something divine or of trying to make a better living individually or collectively historical data-cum-guidance is imperative since they are eternal and vast issues to cope with within one’s finite life. That very continuity of these problems proves the smallness of our species. Struggling to give sufficient answers to such questions is a two edge sword; it fuels our lust for knowledge but also fuels our egos when we feel like becoming closer to such an “answer”. Arrogance works as an internal mechanism of self destruction that’s detonated once a person feels superior thanks to a sort of power he happened to enjoy at a certain period of his life. Like a mechanism whose scope is to remind humans about our limited range of action. Cassiopeia’s story is a parable. What happens in the western world the last few years fits well in that story. Politicians and economists as Cassiopeia and Andromeda believed their capacity was great to an extent they could solve fundamental problems like those of harmonious coexistence of millions through artificial wealth and unity. So they came forward providing answers as to prosperity and easy life via cheap credit and unification that apparently eliminated hardships like poverty and wars. Soon masses switched from actors in life to viewers of life losing touch with reality.  Depression, anger, confusion now whip the backs of people and nations as hard as the tamer does to the lions and the tigers in his effort to push them back into their tinny cages. I don’t say it was a good or bad decision. We don’t make a political statement here. We only make a reference to the incapability of human race to overcome our smallness and the punishment follows any effort to step into gods fields and play their role.

Do you find humanity and its mistreatment of the world and themselves a continually inciting source for you creativity and lyrical ideas?

Totally. But it is not about mistreatment exactly. We, humans, are only broken. And as broken creatures we cannot achieve perfectiveness. We always struggle to proceed, and that effort takes its toll from time to time.

Do you see your lyrical ideas in albums as a narrative reporting problems and thoughts or as a more forceful provocation where you hope people will feel a reaction and think for themselves?

I express my worries and share my fears with people who feel more or less alike. It is a matter of mental communication I think. It is like telling a friend of yours, hey I have that fear lately about that thing, and he replying to you, yes, I feel the same too. It is kinda relieving, isn’t it?

The members of Nightfall are based across the world I believe, so how long did Cassiopeia take to emerge as the finished album?

We took advantage of technology. Distances have narrowed and ideas reach the receivers in the nick of time. You know, you exchange ideas and then you physically meet to arrange the details. However, that time we took it a step further by doing the recordings in different places, there where each one felt more comfortable to work with the engineer he preferred best.

How was the recording of the album made, together at a certain point in time or in stages without you meeting?

In stages actually. The process was long and enjoyable

How do you make the album sound so organic and united if recording separately and does doing it this way restrict how you evolve songs as a band which maybe you could push further if all together in a studio?

It is because we don’t try to alter the original course of the compositions. It is what we said previously about how important is to be true to yourself. As soon as a new composition emerges we follow it suit; we add anything it wants and not stuff that may sound “better” or more complicated or unique or they fit that or the other audience whatsoever. Ultimately the track becomes solid like any living organism after having absorbed all the vital elements its body requires to become strong. This is a marvellous process full of excitement and surprises as to how the ideas finally evolve to real tracks. The final stage takes place at our drummer’s studios in Germany (Soundlodge studios).

Are you a band which works on a few songs at the same time or take each individually through to a certain point in their realisation before starting another?

Everything starts from a bunch of ideas. You know riffs and forms that pass through our feeding system so to speak. We never say let’s compose a fast or a slow track or anything else like moving with a plan. Inspiration flows rich and we only channel it through strings and wires 🙂

408398_10151177260046682_993383867_nHow has Cassiopeia differed, if at all, in its creation to previous releases whether in writing or how you approached it in the recording?

To my ears Cassiopeia is a Brutal Heavy Metal album whose highlight is the right balance between melody and brutality. The fact that we recorded it in different places played a significant role to the final result. Think about it, being at your favorite place delivering without stress. Awesome!

Do you constantly find how you approach new albums changing due to experience and preferences gained over the years?

I can’t say we pay that much of attention to such technicalities. Life is taking good care of it. It loads us full of shit and negativity and then we discharge it through creativity. Criterion track from Astron Black album is exactly about that actually.

Is there any element or part of Cassiopeia which gives you the deepest warmth in hindsight?

I love guitar work in it and I love the ways their melodies mix with my brutal vocals. Yes, that’s so cool.

In Britain we try to ignore a certain Mr Icke as coming from our shores haha but you have been inspired to write The Reptile Gods by him I believe? Do you find an appreciation of the views from people with the same kind of beliefs as he and how do you see ‘aliens’ in the fabric of man’s history and beginnings?

That’s a funny story cause nobody can prove it right and those who can prove it wrong don’t have the ways to do it in a manner acceptable to the former. I am neither a fan of such theories nor their enemy. I only admire the distance such minds walk into their imagination’s jungle and how much they believe what they “see” there. This is amazing, but hey, don’t try it at home. 🙂

Cassiopeia is your second album since returning from a ‘hiatus’ for the band from 2005 to 2010, and the second with Metal Blade Records, this is a union which seems to be rewarding for both sides maybe more so than previously found in the earlier years for you?

I agree. Both these two albums and the line-up show some strong signs of serious workmanship. I am not sure about the exact recipe but I am sure the pauses played a good role. The industry is pushing many bands to unstoppable releases, promos, and stuff, ok; everyone understands it is not good but hey when you make a living out of it you need to follow otherwise you are dead. Our decision not to play that game but simply be the old school kind of artists who are making their shit around no matter what has helped us to develop a stress free attitude that I think it really works. Think about it. It is so pity so many bands started from the underground with the aim to play music and finally turned into fully pro acts in the vein of mainstream pop music investments, doing every single shit to expand their fan base. How pitiful and distressed is that really?

You are not a band which has an over active intent towards performing live, is there any reason for this or just down to the positioning of members around the globe alone?

Frankly speaking, the best part of being in a band is the composing and recording process. After that everything relates to marketing and promotion. It is ok, no problem about it, but allow me to believe that the artistic value of a piece of aural art is not becoming greater if you performing it live. And since I have a plethora of other interesting things to do in my life, touring is not among my priorities. However, should a good offer comes in, we always take it under consideration. Maybe for Cassiopeia we will go on and do at least one tour. Let’s see  🙂

What is next on the horizon of Nightfall?

We are preparing a video clip, like the old good days, and then we may travel a bit around to give some shows.

Again Efthimis thank you for chatting with us.

My pleasure Pete.

For the last words of the interview would you like to state the case as to why people need to check out not just Nightfall but Greek metal in general?

Hey, good things come in small packages 🙂

http://www.facebook.com/nightfallgr

Read the review of Cassiopeia @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2013/01/25/nightfall-cassiopeia/

The RingMaster Review 18/03/2013

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