photo by Anthony Dubois
Easily one of the most intense and immense albums to ignite the year was God is an Automaton, the fourth album from Swiss metallers Sybreed. The release unleashed everything which is good about the cyber metal magnificence of the band and took it to another insatiable and irresistible level. Heavy, shadowed, and destructive, the album was a triumph of imagination and enterprise which kept the band to the fore of world metal for us and waves of other fans as well as inspiring deserved critical acclaim. We had the opportunity of finding out more about the release and its inspirations with the sure pleasure of talking with Sybreed guitarist Thomas “Drop” Betrisey.
Hi, welcome to The Ringmaster Review and thank you for taking time to talk with us.
With your outstanding new album God is an Automaton unleashed on the world for a few weeks now how are the band feeling?
Drop: Really good! We are very happy of the result! The fans and the press are giving us a really good feedback and so far I think we’ve reached our expectations.
Not a musician myself I often wonder if there is any feeling of an anti-climax once an album is out because of the intensity and passion it takes to create and release it?
Drop: There is something really hard to describe, something between happiness and sadness, ’cause we always put all that we have into a record, and when it’s finished it’s like all the pressure is released at the same time, a kind of baby blues, I think. But there is always that awesome moment, when you have the final product in your hands and you remember the 1st demo, the 1st track you’ve recorded and all the hard work that has been done, this is really intense.
For us God is an Automaton is easily your best work to date. I don’t expect you to disagree of course haha, but where for you does it take a leap forward compared to The Pulse of Awakening or is it a small evolution?
Drop: For God is an Automaton we only focused on writing typical Sybreed songs, a blend of our 3 previous records. I think, Pulse of Awakening went a “bit too far”, God is an Automaton might be the balance between Antares and The Pulse of Awakening, a kind of late transition. But if their writing and recording were inverted, none would have been the same, so it’s a bit dangerous for me entering in this kind of explanations haha. We reproached to The Pulse of Awakening not having enough catchy songs, I mean live oriented songs, shaped for live shows, the songs were a bit harsh to reproduce on stage and we managed to correct it with God is an Automaton, and to reach this goal we had to look back and keep some feelings we had on Slave Design and maybe Antares. I think it’s not a leap forward, but just a blend of everything we did in the past.
So it is fair to say the album reaps essences from earlier albums and moves them on?
Drop: Yeah that’s exactly what I meant in my previous answer. We took our 3 previous albums, and blend all the highlights they had in order to make new songs. Actually the writing of God is an Automaton went naturally, we wrote without searching ideas during hours, it’s a feeling-oriented album.
We found the music heavier and darker than ever on the album, would you agree and was it an organic move rather than a deliberate intent brought to the writing?
Drop: Exactly! We really wanted this live touch I spoke of before, without 100% edited tracks; we really focused on having the most organic sound, played and sound-wise. We removed every barrier we could have, and just wrote with feeling. We really like heavy and dark stuff, so it came naturally.
Did you approach and record the new album with any different working and recording ideas compared to your previous albums?
Drop: Yeah, this time we really wanted to play the longest parts possible, obviously not the whole songs in one take as our music is a bit skilled haha, but we really managed to edit the less possible things, and even keeping some “mistakes” sometimes, some little noises on the mutes, or some noisy voice breathing. It gave the album something more “human”.
I believe you started work on God is an Automaton last December? How long did it take from then to the final finish and was it an intense album only period or did you have breaks for shows etc?
Drop: We demoed 3 songs in early 2011, one of them has been released as an EP called “Challenger”, then we took a one-year break in order to build my new studio. So we started writing the remaining 8 songs in September, it took approx. 3 months, we’ve seen each other in my studio almost once a week. We started recording the album in December until end-February, then we took a one-month break to headline a tour in Australia, and as soon as we went back I went in Rhys Fulber’s studio in Los Angeles for the remaining keyboards and the mixing duties.
Are you a band which creates from scratch when together or it is a case of coming up with ideas alone and fleshing them out together, and was God is an Automaton written on the whole before the concentrated studio time?
Drop: We all come with ideas, Benjamin brings a lot of choruses, he has really precise ideas of his melodies before we start building up the music around. Kevin brings some tortured drums patterns, Ales, freshly arrived wrote down few riffs for the new album. On my side, I always have a few unfinished pieces of music, sometimes a few riffs that I feel going on the same song, sometimes only a keyboard line.
For the first time, we left almost the half of the synths and programming aspect blank before I went to Los Angeles working on them with Rhys Fulber. We wanted him more involved than on our previous album, and so I asked him to add some of his magical keyboard things to the songs. I’d really like him even more involved in our next album.
photo by Anthony Dubois
The album is the first with bassist Ales Campanelli, his work on the album we described as ‘lurking and delivering bass lines which crawl into the psyche’. Did he bring a new or different dynamic to the recording compared to before?
Drop: Yeah for sure. Actually, I don’t know if it’s a good thing for me to reveal such details, but let’s go forward and let me tell you that it’s the first time a bassist record a Sybreed album. On the previous ones I was recording the bass, so both guitars and bass were really close, cause of the same hand playing each of them. This time, we had another hand recording the bass, and I think he brought even more organic feel to the overall sound. He has a style, I would not say dirty style cause it might be taken in the wrong way, but he has these ultra-groovy skills, and I think it’s really easy to hear someone else plays in this album, a real bassist.
Though it changes daily at this moment in time Into The Blackest Light is my favourite track on God is an Automaton. Is there a moment whether a track, riff, line etc which gives you a personal tingle?
Drop: Oh yeah almost every riff are my favourite during a period of time. While writing, I always say “this is the best part of the album”. Sometime I keep listening to one riff during few hours, haha. The new things are always the favourites, at least for me. A good example is “Posthuman Manifesto” the album opener, I was so bored of that song that we chose not putting it on the album. After having Rhys Fulber working on it, adding keyboards and arrangements we chose to put him at the best place, first song, and I still think it’s my favourite. A good example of how things can change quickly.
Can you tell us about the great artwork for the album?
Drop : It’s the work of Seth Siro Anton (Septic Flesh), he has already done the artwork of our previous album The Pulse of Awakening, we were really happy about the result so we asked him to do the job again for God is an Automaton. We started talking about it with him during a Septic Flesh show in Switzerland. He was really inspired by the album title and told us that he already had some ideas and he was looking forward to working on this one. We first sent him some rough-mixes of the new songs, without any guidelines or concept, mainly because Seth is the kind of artist which needs to be alone to fully express his art. After the mix was done, we sent him an upgraded version of the songs, and therefore he started working on the artwork. I am really happy of the result, it’s for me the best Sybreed cover art, it fits perfectly the music and lyrics, it’s stunning.
Now the album is out, Sybreed will be touring it to hell and back?
Drop: That is the main goal of every band, releasing albums to be able touring, the most we can. We made a small European tour with Mnemic and Hatesphere, it was really cool and we’ve tested some of the new songs on stage and they reach our expectations. As we speak we don’t have any confirmed touring plans, but I hope we’ll confirm something early 2013.
Will you be playing all the tracks on God is an Automatonacross your shows, a few in each or building shows around the album?
photo by Anthony Dubois
Drop: The goal is to promote the new album, but not all of them, cause we are not headliner at each show, so we have to shorten the sets, we have 4 albums now and the fans want some songs from each album. But when an album is freshly released we try to play the maximum of the new songs, our longest set for the promo of God is an Automaton was 16 songs and we played 8 new songs out of the 11 that are on the album, so it’s cool. I told you at the beginning of this interview that we focused on writing songs “to play live”, and I must admit that almost every song of God is an Automaton is my favourite to play, mainly “No Wisdom Brings Solace” for which we filmed a live video clip during Euroblast Festival 2012 with Anthony Dubois and it should be released really soon.
How long does it take after an album before ideas come and the urgent need to write again usually proves too much to resist?
Drop: Actually as soon as we finish an album, we directly start writing the new one. As we speak we already have few parts of songs and Benjamin already has the album title as well as a lot of song titles. We really love writing, and we are always writing music in our houses. On my side I compose a lot of music, not only for Sybreed, and I also make some remixes under the nickname DropRMX
Once more many thanks for chatting with us.
Any words you would like to end with?
Drop: Thanks for the interview. Check out our new album, I hope you’ll like it, and come to see our shows and party with us.
Check out the review of God is an Automaton @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2012/10/09/sybreed-god-is-an-automaton/
The RingMaster Review 25/11/2012
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