Calyces Frontman Manthos Stergiou Discusses Debut Album "Impulse To Soar," "The Great Void" Music Video And Greek Metal
One of the great things about writing for a heavy metal website is finding out about brand new bands coming through. This year, we've seen stellar debut albums from Volcanova, Let Us Prey and Konvent, as well as awesome sophomore efforts from Blacklab, Ages and Serpent Omega. Only this month, another stunning debut was let loose on the world, that being "Impulse To Soar," the world's introduction to one of the most fascinating emerging bands in Greece, Calyces.
A progressive metal band who walks on the groove metal side, this Athenian quartet has brought a fresh sound to listeners around the world and nothing demonstrates that more than "Impulse To Soar." With its incredible front cover enticing in metalheads, the music within proves to be every bit as vibrant, captivating and even challenging as the artwork and is a strong contender for debut album of the year.
Recently, I had the pleasure of finding out much more about Calyces by putting questions to vocalist Manthos Stergiou, who explained all about the album, the music video for "The Great Void" (see below,) the Greek metal scene and much more.
Diamond Oz: Congratulations on the release of your debut, "Impulse To Soar." How long had you been working on material before being able to release the album?
Manthos Stergiou: Hey, thank you! The idea of Calyces started at the end of 2017, when Tardive Dyskinesia (my ex band) was put in ice. I decided to start something new, something I really needed to do for a long time. I gathered all the ideas and riffs I had and they got put together in my home studio. After a few months, the first version of 10, still instrumental tracks at the moment was well into pre-production stage. Then, I approached my friends and great musicians, Alexis Stavropoulos (Drums), Giannis Golfis (Guitar) & Stelios Tragos (Bass) all of them already being key members in top notch Greek bands.
They listened to the material and they were on board immediately, so we wasted no time, got to study on and rehearse all the tracks intensively, until they are solid and feel alive. This process lasted about 1 year and in early 2019 we got into the studio to record this album. “Impulse To Soar” was recorded in 4 different studios in Greece, co-produced by Ektoras Tsolakis and mastered by Alan Douches at West West Side Music Studios (New York).
Oz: Lyrically, what kind of themes are represented on the album?
Manthos: Each track on the album has its own story to tell, musically and lyrically. The human is always the point of reference, his weaknesses like greed and selfishness, the addiction around the image they project through social media and everything that goes on in the world and the way it affects all of us.
Oz: You did a very interesting music video for "The Great Void." How much creative input did the band have in making the video?
Manthos:Glad you find it interesting! When we were recorded the Great Void, we had no idea what was going to follow. A few months later, after the appearance of covid-19 and during self-isolation at home, I read the lyrics again and realized that it could partially describe a quarantine situation. I passed on the idea for the script to my friends Costas Konstantinidis and Panagiotis Tsalavretas from Napan Visual Arts, who are known for their great works they have done for the band Mother Of Millions from Greece.
They immediately grasped the meaning; meticulously developed it and then the two actors just killed it! At the end the result was beyond our expectations. The video describes the situation we have been living lately during the pandemic. A story of an estranged couple deals with the escalated alienation between them, growing further apart each day. A realization of a distant life turned into a spiral of disinfection in the way the long gone pandemic of the 21st century taught them.
Oz: You've also posted the whole album online to YouTube. Do you feel this could be helpful in selling more albums or is getting the music out to people more important?
Manthos: For a “new” and small band like us the most important thing is for the music to be heard by as much as many people possible. Of course selling is important too, to cover the album costs. But I do not think that free streaming affects the album sales, at least the way the music industry works lately. For that reason we released the album in a nice packaging of vinyl format, so the people who really like it and dig physical formats to have something special in their hands.
Oz: The artwork for the record is breathtaking. How well do you think it represents the music and will you be continuing to work with Maria for future releases?
Manthos: Yes, Maria did a great job!! Definitely would want to work with her again. After all, I'm her little brother and she could not refuse!
Well, the title “Impulse To Soar” is the vocal interpretation of the painting that Maria has created particularly for this release, it represents diversity and the caring instincts of a mother who will hold tenderly and take care of an “ugly” cocoon until it hatches and transforms, so when the time comes for it to fly away, she will provide that boost that will define the most important moment of its life. You could say that our music has this diversity too. Sometimes it’s wild and complex, sometimes calm and easy.
Oz: How badly has the album been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Manthos: "Impulse to Soar" was released in a very difficult season for everyone. For musicians and people who live from concerts, even more so. The damage is huge. And who knows really how long all this will last. We would love to make plans for shows and tours but everything is uncertain at this point. We only hope that all this will end up and will return to normal life again soon cause Damn.. we miss live shows so much!
Oz: There always seems to be great metal bands coming from Greece. What do you think it is that keeps the spirit alive among Greek metal musicians and fans?
Manthos: Well, I don’t know really.. maybe is “tsipouro”, or the weather, or maybe the financial crisis. The fact is that in recent years a lot of greek bands have surfaced, especially in stoner heavy rock community, and then a whole scene was passed to another level of popularity, with sold out shows in big venues and bands touring around the world etc. I mean, except from established bands who everyone knows that they are from Greece, we have a big underground scene right now, that is boiling! Perhaps not so underground anymore…at last. This is something very good that happening right now and something that pushes us to keep going as a band and I’d like to see other rock & metal genres from Greece let their turn come.
Oz: What do you think the future holds for Calyces?
Manthos: A world without covid will be a nice start. After that, another album for sure.
Oz: Thank you very much for answering my questions and I wish you all the best!
Manthos:Thank you so much for your time and for your support!
"Impulse To Soar" is out now and can be purchased at the band's official bandcamp
Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com since 2007 and a metal fan since 2001, going as far as to travel to other countries and continents for metal gigs.
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