Their music is mesmerizing. Their live shows are mystifying. Their occult heavy metal, singular and consummate, will take your breath away. It is Serpent Lord (GR), a Greek occult heavy metal band, which, having released the single “The Gospel of Judas” and working on its upcoming studio album, is ready to conquer the world of metal. After listening to the band’s music, Myth of Rock was thrilled and soon came in contact with the members of Serpent Lord (GR) for an interview. Below you can read all the interesting stuff that we talked about!
by Dimitris Zacharopoulos
To start this interview, we would like you to tell us, when, by whom and other which circumstances Serpent Lord (GR) was formed.
Konstantinos: Firstly, we would like to thank you for this interview. Serpent Lord (GR) was formed by Giorgos Savvidis and Konstantinos Sotirelis in 2016. It was an idea of Giorgos (our ex – singer) and it was immediately decided that also Giorgos Terzitanos should enter the band – he of course remains in the band as an integral and composing member. After some line-up changes, the band took its current shape with Marios Arikas taking over the vocals and Lazarus Bouroutzoglou sharing the rhythm/lead guitar duties with Giorgos. I think that the circumstances under which the band was formed were, more or less, the usual. We wanted to create our own music, inspired by bands like Ghost, Iced Earth, Mercyful Fate and Candlemass. Later on, of course, some other influences were added, for example from more extreme bands (Behemoth, Death, Immortal, Rotting Christ), however, we didn’t change our first concept. From the beginning we agreed that we wouldn’t like to be a covers band, that’s why from day one we had our own songs and we presented them to an audience.
Which are the official releases of Serpent Lord (GR) until now? Can you give us some information about each one of them?
Konstantinos: Our debut release was the “Serpent Lord” demo (2017), with the first line-up and Vasilis Katsikas on drums, as a session member. It included our first two songs, “Sacrilegium” and “Blood Offering”, and was recorded with our permanent since then producer, Giorgos Stournaras (Mass Infection). It was our initial effort to create something of our own, that period had a lot of ups and downs and some mistakes, which made us stronger and more experienced for the future. “Towards the Damned”, our first full-length album, followed in September 2019. Although we had gained a very small fan base thanks to our demo and our live shows, essentially, that album gave us the ideal boost in order to make a European and a Greek tour. One year later, in November 2020, came “Horned God”, together with a cover of Death’s “Sacred Serenity”, which introduces a new chapter for Serpent Lord (GR). We get even darker musically and lyrically, we have a stronger black metal vibe and add some more extreme metal influences. Our latest release, which comes just before the new album, is “The Gospel of Judas”, a song which summarizes our releases until now and indicates what will follow in our upcoming full-length album.
You get in the spotlight again with the release of your new single, “The Gospel of Judas”. How did it come and you decided to release such a single?
Giorgos: We know that due to the current situation, the period we all live in in very difficult for everybody. We wanted to create a song, which would narrate the life and times of a person misunderstood by history. Such interpretation of things is really food for thought, is something we wanted to render though music in the best way, making the listener wonder about the concept of good and evil and their role in the course of life until its end. “The Gospel of Judas” is the last omen for our upcoming album. It betokens the dark side of Serpent Lord (GR), it is a sample of what is to follow.
How would you describe the music and lyrics of the “The Gospel of Judas” single? Is this single indicative of the direction of your next studio album? Can you give us some information about this next album of yours?
Kontantinos: We think that it is pretty much indicative, that’s why we chose it. Essentially, it is a connection of “Towards the Damned” with “Horned God” and it presents something new. First of all, it is much more mature musical wise and more impeccable technical wise. What is more, we handle our influences more efficiently and gradually we give our own character to our music. Lyrically, “The Gospel of Judas” is the album’s forerunner – it’s much more mature than “Towards the Damned” and it’s lyrical style is very close to that of “Horned God”, although now it is clearer.
The single talks about Jesus Christ’s betrayal by Judas, through which God fulfilled his Divine Plan, which was the resurrection of Jesus Christ. According to the Apocryphal Gospel, Judas, Christ’s favorite student, was ordered by Christ himself to betray him, for the salvation of humanity. However, God didn’t keep his promise, which was Judas’ ascension to Paradise, but left him wandering in remorse, having lost Paradise, due to his suicide. So, the song talks about the fact that God betrayed man, about the vanity of prayers, and in general, it refers to everyone’s betrayal by his/her beloved persons, in some moments of life.
Although we won’t reveal the album title, we can say that it is based on the Apocryphal Gospels, giving a different concept. Lyrically, we refer to topics like betrayal, death, love and faith, This time our direction is more personal, more philosophical too. Musically, this album will be a step forward compared to “The Gospel of Judas”, being more extreme and melodic at the same time, with many heavy/thrash and black metal influences, all through the occult character. You will find some progressive elements too.
Who are the main composers and lyricists in the band? How is a common Serpent Lord (GR) song composed?
Konstantinos: The main composers of our music until now are Giorgos Terzitanos and Konstantinos Sotirelis. Sometimes we write together, sometimes we present one another some riffs and we make songs based on them, sometimes we present one another a complete song and we work on some details. Nevertheless, all the members of the band have a say in the composition process, we don’t restrict anyone. Marios has composed a song and Lazarus has contributed on the new album, with his exceptional ideas in some points, adding his own touch.
As far as the lyrics are concerned, Konstantinos has the main role, having written the majority of the lyrics, but also Giorgos has contributed on several tracks. Here things work a little different. Usually we write the lyrics, we present them to the other members of the band and then we make some minor changes, in case there are objections. In general terms we pay a lot of attention to the song lyrics, that’s why we work equally focused on this sector.
You call yourself an occult heavy metal band. Can you explain this definition please?
Konstantinos: Firstly, let’s make a clarification about the term “occult”. There are two concepts. The first one has to do with pseudo-sciences, like astrology, alchemy and spiritualism, whereas the second one has to do with Paganism, Christian Cults and some more personalized concepts of the metaphysical. Although we greatly focus on the second concept of the occult, since we mainly deal with it, there are songs, like “The Lesser Key”, which refer to alchemy topics, making a mix of the two concepts. That’s why we put this “occult” label to the band. Namely it has to do with the lyrical and stylistic side of the band.
As far as the term heavy metal is concerned, although none of the band members thinks we play in a classic heavy metal style, since we have influences and obvious elements from subgenres like black, thrash and doom metal, we like to adopt Chuck Schuldiner’s saying, that everything is heavy metal. So, as we combine different heavy metal genres in our music, we believe that the term heavy metal, together with the term occult, describes Serpent Lord (GR) better.
Why did you baptize the band Serpent Lord (GR)?
Konstantinos: The name of the band came out after a lot of effort. Although we were still in the beginning, we had two songs already composed and we knew what our direction would be. Therefore we moved a bit towards that direction, so that our band name reflects the lyrical, musical and stylistic character of the band. A lot of name proposals were made, we finally agreed on Serpent Lord, since serpents are a personalization of evil - both evil and the Bible have an important role in our lyrics and image.
Do you still cooperate with Alcyone Records? If not, are you in negotiations with other record labels or are you planning to make a self-release?
Giorgos: In our last two releases we have not collaborated with Alcyone Records, we chose that both of them would be self-released. Regarding our next album release, we are in search of a record label, however, we haven’t decided yet if we will choose to cooperate with a label or if we will publish it ourselves.
What do live shows mean to Serpent Lord (GR)? Can you describe a Serpent Lord (GR) live show? Your sound and image?
Marios: Live shows are a part of own self. This connection with the audience, the atmosphere, all these keep us going. You can’t tell about a band only from its studio sound, but also from its live shows … mainly from the live shows. Every live performance of Serpent Lord (GR) is a unique chapter for us. Theatricality and its combination with music is significant for us. That’s why we use banners and various other occult objects, which have become an integral part of our live shows. The bottom line is that anyone can go up to a stage and play ten songs perfectly without making any mistakes, but what will make the viewer want to see you and see you again is the interaction you have with him for as long as you are on stage. You have to give a good show. Your own show. That is when you will be rewarded.
You have opened as a support band for many well-known bands. With which band did you enjoy it the most? With which band would you like to tour together in the future?
Marios: I think that we can’t select a certain band. Fortunately, all our collaborations for one or more live shows were flawless. We surely gained valuable experience from all these live shows and we met people of the music business outside the stage lights in some more relaxed moments and conversations with some nice and funny highlights (maybe we share some details another time). As far as a future tour is concerned, we would like to cooperate with Rotting Christ, Candlemass, Behemoth and many other bands, who have influenced us a lot. It would be ideal if we could play together with such bands.
How much were you affected as individuals, as musicians and as a band by the COVID-19 pandemic? How do you imagine the time after the lockdowns, the restriction measures, etc.?
Konstantinos: Fortunately, it did not hurt us as much as other bands, since we didn’t have scheduled tours. Of course, it delays us in some of our plans, nevertheless, we didn’t have many financial losses. On the contrary, the pandemic helped us in some matters, for example in focusing on the completing of the composition and the recording of our second album. I think that the biggest impact was on a personal level, regarding the jobs and the psychology of everyone of us. As we don’t want to stand still, we tried to take advantage of this time as best we could and to improve both on a personal level as musicians and on a band level.
As for the post-lockdown season, it is difficult for us to think about what will happen and when or if we will return to normalcy. If we talk about the band, whether there will be concerts again, when and with what criteria, will determine much about the future of each band and about the evolution of the music industry. However, it will be a major blow to any musician. We already have a year without live shows and apart from the revenue, the mood and motivation for improvement are lost. We try to remain optimistic, to do whatever we can and work as hard as we can to take advantage of even these times.
Your message to the metal fans!
Serpent Lord (GR) Be prepared. Apocrypha is coming. The truth will shine. Get ready to be baptized to the eerie sound of the Serpent. Are you ready to be damned?