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Interview

Sybreed Discusses New Album "God Is An Automaton"

The Swiss industrial wizards in Sybreed have unleashed a fourth full-length album titled "God is an Automaton" (reviewed here), which bridges the gaps between the previous three and still moves the band forward into new territory.

With the album out now, guitarist "Drop" was eager to chat about the new release and what went into writing and recording these tracks. Drop also discussed the album's artwork being handled by Seth of Greek act Septicflesh, and the title of the album referring "to the fact that there are people willing to use the excuse of a higher being as a justification to their deeds and misdeeds." See the full interview below.

xFiruath: To start off with, where do you think “God is an Automaton” lands on the Sybreed discography and what’s different about the music this time around?

Drop: I personally think this new album is a mix of everything we did in the past, it has the grooves of “Slave Design,” the melodic parts of “Antares,” and some of the chaotic riffing “The Pulse of Awakening” was made with. Everything digested with a live shows aspect and more solid arrangements. I think every old Sybreed fan can find itself on this new record. I don't think it differs that much from the previous ones cause the only thing we had in mind during the writing process was writing typical Sybreed songs, with paying a particular attention on how they will sound live. The songs we've played in concert so far reached our expectations.

xFiruath: What’s happening as far as the lyrics and themes on the album?

Drop: “God is an Automaton” refers to the fact that there are people willing to use the excuse of a higher being as a justification to their deeds, or misdeeds, which are usually pretty mundane and humans. This isn’t a critic of the notion of faith but rather of this tendency we all have to try finding external reasons to our acts more than taking responsibilities for them. By extension, this is also a stand against the cynics who’d like to use organized religion as a tool of power and control. The second aspect of the title refers to the idea that more than a transcendental entity separated from its creation, “God” in the general sense might be the operator, the machine and structure of the universe itself, all at the same time, perpetually self-designing, conscious of its existence and its functioning, so as to say the “ultimate automaton” or the absolute intelligence which is somehow what humankind try to become through technology. Regarding the lyrics, it’s usually linked to Nietzschean philosophy (deconstruction of values), Transhumanism (the idea that man should control his evolution somehow with technology) and other themes linked to “cyberpunk” culture.

xFiruath: Where did the recording take place and who did you work with?

Drop: We have written and recorded the entire album in my studio in Geneva called Downtone Studio. Our live sound engineer came to set the drums up, and the microphones, and for the rest I took care of it myself. Then I went in Los Angeles, at Surplus Sound studio with Rhys Fulber in order to work on keyboards, programming, arrangements and finally, the mix. We spent 3-weeks together working on the last details of the songs, mainly synth and FXs, then he mixed the entire album on its own after my departure, and finally he gave the whole thing to his friend Greg Reely for the mastering.

xFiruath: When were these songs written, and what’s your writing process like?

Drop: We wrote and recorded three demos in 2010, one of them was released as a digital EP, called "Challenger," before taking almost a 1-year "break," waiting for my studio to be built. And then on we wrote the rest, as to say eight songs, from September to November 2011, before starting the recording in December. For this album we've written the whole songs as a real band, I mean all together in the studio recording ideas and stuff. During three months we've seen each other once a week, everyone was coming with some ideas, even our recently arrived bass player Ales, which has composed some of the riffs of the new album. As soon as the ideas were recorded, I kinda digested the whole thing making it a song. Then I started working on the electronic side of things. It's the first time in this album that most of the songs are written starting with a guitar riff of drums pattern, except "Challenger" which is the most electronic song of the album.

xFiruath: The artwork has that iconic feel created by Seth from Septicflesh. What was the process like working with him on that and how do you feel about the end result?

Drop: We first started talking about it with him during a Septicflesh show in Switzerland. He was really inspired by the album title and told us that he already had some ideas and that he was looking forward to work 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 artists which needs to be alone to fully express his art. After the mix was done, we sent his an upgraded version of the songs, and so on 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, and it’s stunning.

xFiruath: You guys have been with Listenable Records for several albums now – how has that relationship been and is that going to continue into future releases?

Drop: We've released 3 albums on Listenable Records and we are pretty happy so far. The collaboration with them has been really cool, they did an amazing job for Sybreed. Now we reach the term of our contract and we will see what will happen in the future, with them, or with someone else.

xFiruath: What’s on the horizon for Sybreed now that the album is coming out?

Drop: Now we will already focus on writing the new album. We have some early ideas and I know that Benjamin already has the album name as well as some song titles, let me say that it's gonna be twisted! We will also try to tour the most we can, also book some festivals for next summer. And, in August of 2013 it's gonna be the 10 years birthday of Sybreed, and we want to do some special shows, but we are currently discussing it, yet I can't give you more info.

xFiruath: Switzerland has its fair share of great metal bands like Samael and Eluveitie. What is your local scene like these days, and do you get to play hometown shows often?

Drop: Yeah Switzerland always had some really good bands, even few of them already are legends, such as Samael, my favorite, Celtic Frost, Coroner, The Young Gods, etc. I know some really good bands emerging these days such as This Misery Garden, Promethee, Neosis, Nakaruga… I see a really interesting future for Swiss metal music! We don't play hometown shows really often, we only play in Switzerland two or three times a year, and I can say that we did not play in Geneva since three or four years. I really hope to play here sometime in 2013, I know we got some proposals, so we'll see.

xFiruath: What bands and albums are you most excited to be hearing this year?

Drop: On my side, without a doubt, Katatonia’s "Dead End Kings." They are one of my all time favorite bands, and I was so looking forward to this album, and it totally blew me away, it's almost perfect. I also enjoyed Dave Gahan's (Depeche Mode) side project called Soulsavers, their last album "The Lights The Dead See" is a total masterpiece. And as we speak, I am digging to hear to new Deftones album "Koi No Yokan," they are a band which never disappointed me, so as usual I am deeply looking forward for their new album!

xFiruath's avatar

Ty Arthur is a freelance writer who writes for both entertainment and technical instruction sites. An avid fan of many different forms of metal, he has been involved in reviewing music for several years and is currently a contributing editor for Metalunderground.com

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