Greece is known for a lot of things. The southern European country, that basically is one big open air museum, has islands like Kreta, Kos and Rhodos to please the tourists and can look back on a long, rich history. But Greece also features a few excellent female fronted symphonic metal bands and ENEMY OF REALITY is one of them. The band from capital Athens has, after a gap of seven years since “Arakhne”, just released their third album “Where Truth May Lie” on Vinylstore.gr and we got to interview singer Iliana Tsakiraki about the new album.
INTERVIEW BY: HENK VAN NIEUWENHOVEN
Hello Iliana, long time no hear. ENEMY OF REALITY’s last album “Arakhne” was released in 2016. So a lot has happened in between?
Yes, it has been quite a journey for us in the past years. We have been working on new music, playing many live shows which affected our sound for the better as we gained experience, and also dealing with the challenges that the pandemic brought to the music industry. We are excited to finally release our new album, “Where Truth May Lie”.
Despite the six years gap between “Arakhne” and this new album the line-up of ENEMY OF REALITY hasn’t changed. You must be very good friends then?
Yes, we are all very close and have a great musical and personal connection. We have been working together for a decade now and we have a lot of respect and appreciation for each other’s talent and creativity.
“Where Truth May Lie” was released on February 24th through Vinylstore. First the title. It leaves room for ambiguity. It could be “wherever the truth may lie” (usually in the middle) or “where truth is allowed to become a lie” (often in politics). Your explanation of the title?
The title “Where Truth May Lie” refers to the fact that the truth can be hidden or distorted in many ways, and it can be difficult to discern what is real and what is not. The album explores this concept, plus the eternal question of the meaning of life, through different themes and stories, and encourages the listener to question their own perceptions and beliefs.
Then there is the matter of the label. You’ve changed from F.Y.B. Records to Vinylstore.gr?
Yes, we decided to work with Vinylstore.gr for this release and we are very happy with their support and collaboration. They are a great team and we feel that they understand our vision and our music.
I also noticed that the vinyl edition of “Where Truth May Lie” has a different cover art than the compact disc version and will be released later, on April 20th. And it has a bonus track, “Tin Patrida M’ Ehasa”? What does it mean and is it sung in modern or ancient Greek?
Yes, the vinyl edition has a different artwork and it is somewhat of a variation of the main concept ánd also features the bonus track “Tin Patrida M’ Ehasa”. This song is a cover of a Pontic Greek folk song, which means “I ‘ve been deprived of my homeland”. We also released a music video during the pandemic for this track, it speaks of the Pontian Greek Genocide (1914-1923). We decided to include this track as a tribute to our Greek roots and it is sung in Pontic Greek.
What do we see on the cover art of both versions?
The cover art represents the main concept of the album, which is the search for truth and the exploration of different perspectives and realities. It features a philosopher, which represents the idea that search for truth can only come to an end through philosophy. The artwork for the vinyl edition is a variation of this concept, with a different color scheme and some additional elements, made by our drummer Philip Stone (Thoth Graphics).
The first video that came out from the new album was for “Serenade Of Death”. Beautifully done by the way. Most striking aspects in the video are the clothes and accessories you are wearing. Can you tell us more about them and the story of the video?
Thank you, we are very happy with how the video turned out. The clothes and accessories were designed by Alexandros Loggos and his team Dimitris Filios and Alexia Gloria. They worked closely with us to create a unique and dramatic look that would complement the dark and haunting atmosphere of the song. Regarding the story of “Serenade Of Death”: Marsyas was a Satyr with unparalleled musical talent. The melodies of his flute drove those who listened to them crazy and seduced even the nymphs into ecstatic dancing. When Apollo found out about him, he challenged him to compete. But no one was a worthy match for Helios, the God of Music, who with his lyre plunged the forest creatures into an overwhelming silence and tears flowed from their eyes. But the god was not satisfied with this and to punish the Hybris of the Satyr he removed his gallows and hung him from them, a barbaric reminder to all, mortal and demigods, that they must not provoke the true gods.
Your voice in the video sounds amazing, Iliana. Where did you learn the classical trained vocals and the harsh vocals?
I am a vocal coach and have studied for many years classical singing. Over the past 4 years I worked on my growls and fry screaming with my teacher and friend Chrysa Tsaltampassi.
Recently, a new official video was released for “Downfall” with another beautiful storyline in the snow and a fire artist. Isn’t it very expensive for a band like you to create such a video and even use a drone?
“Downfall” is the first song of the record (after the intro which is somewhat of an overture) where the main character the Priest has lost his family to flames. During the album we walk through his long journey between forests and mountains to seek for the truth (the meaning of life, or maybe some reasoning behind his loss). Yes, the production was high, but we always try for the best results for our listeners, we believe in this record a lot and this is why we prepared two music videos… so far.
“Where Truth May Lie” is the third ENEMY OF REALITY concept album. Do you plan to make concept albums only and can you tell us what the concept of this new album is?
So far it feels natural for us to tell a complete tale through music and lyrics. The story unfolds in ancient Greece, one dreadful night when a mother and daughter were lost into the flames of their worship, their praying mutters becoming their eulogy when the fire of their offering candles sealed their fate. Ashes and piles of coal was what remained of them when the tragic father returned, the Priest. How ironic to be denied all you ever loved by the same gods you worship. Manic laughs and cries escaped his mouth as he kneeled upon the ashes of all he held dear. This funeral pyre burnt out his faith. Desperate he began to wander away from civilization, losing himself inside the forests, where all kind of creatures dwelled. Satyrs and Nymphs, Centaurs and illegitimate offspring of the gods, the outcasts of society, were excited to welcome yet another soul into their circle. Some offered spiritual healing, through alcohol and manic dance, while others insisted that he fed the needs of his body, the most hidden sexual desires. Yet, both remedies could lead to a horrible demise, should he become enslaved by them. The tale of Marsyas that defied Apollo with his musical talent and the nymph Echo that became a victim to the devouring love of Pan, woke him up from the trance. His only hope was to follow another forest whisper, a rumour about the Philosopher, an all-knowing entity hidden on the top of the mountain, long forgotten by a world desperate to relinquish the truths of the past. But not as desperate as he was to uncover them. Though restless, he must learn what lies beyond his painful existence, who weaves the fate of men and his own.
The album starts with some soundscapes that merge through an orchestra into “Downfall”. But what exactly is whispered in the very beginning?
The sound of prayers of the Priest’s wife and daughter. Or maybe the whispers of the Fates deciding they don’t care about them much at that moment.
Did you write all the lyrics for the album yourself? As some are very profound. Do you have a favorite song already?
Thanos our bass player is our main lyricist. I love the whole album, but my favorite is “Serenade Of Death”.
Did you use some traditional Greek instruments on the album?
Yes, we did use some traditional Greek instruments on the album, such as the ancient avlos and the lyra. We wanted to incorporate our heritage into our music and create a unique sound that reflects our background. And we are always open to experimenting with new instruments and sounds in the future.
None of the songs on “Where Truth May Lie” exceeds the five minutes border, except for closer “Baptised In Fire”, which is rather strange for a concept album. Writing expanded songs is not an ENEMY OF REALITY thing?
We always want to let the songs develop organically and allow the music and lyrics to guide us. So while some songs may be shorter, others may be longer, depending on what feels right for the song. So far people say that they listen to the record on repeat many times and we believe that this is a result of keeping things to their essence without anything unnecessary.
Final question. Do you already have tour plans to play the songs from the new album live for the fans?
Yes, we are currently working on tour plans and hope to play the songs from “Where Truth May Lie” live for our fans as soon as possible. We can’t wait to share our new music with our fans and perform for them once again.