Sorrows Path - Kostas Salomidis

Greek philosopher Plato said "Philosophy is the studying of death and knowing how to die" almost 3000 years ago (in his dialogue entitled "Phaedo") and it seems that his compatriots doomsters SORROWS PATH embedded this phrase in the best possible way in their third studio release, "Doom Philosophy", that will hit the stores in a couple of days, including some really sweet guest appearances. So, METAL KAOZ had the chance to talk to Kostas Salomidis, one of the band's founders, about these collaborations, the entire writing process and the lurking philosophy about the album, shedding some light on the Philosophy of Doom! Enjoy!

Hello Kostas and welcome to METAL KAOZ! First of all, allow me to congratulate you on “Doom Philosophy”! In my opinion, it’s a bit different from your previous works; I think it’s the Doom-iest album you've ever released; the most complete, pure Doom SORROWS PATH album.
Thank you Maria for the honor to host SORROWS PATH at your page and for your kind words. Sure, “Doom Philosophy” is more Doom album than anything else we've released. We used lower tuning on guitars this time, but on the other hand, you can still recognize the SORROWS PATH style; borrowing elements from Power, Progressive, Oriental, Gothic Metal, I think we've created our own distinct sound. And this by the way, I believe is important for a band to have its own style and personality.

Of course it is. Was in your initial intentions to make the most Doom record in your discography or it was something that came up after you had entered the studio?
Yes, it was in our initial intentions to record a real Heavy / Doom album, because our debut that came out in 2010 was like a compilation, containing tracks that were mainly composed in the 90s, so they didn’t represent the band of today. “Doom Philosophy” expresses absolutely what SORROWS PATH is.

Why did it take so long to release “Doom Philosophy”? If I’m not mistaken, the album was ready from June 2013?
The album was ready from April 2013; it was mixed and mastered at Fragile Studios by Vangelis Yalamas. With Rock It Up, our previous record label, we had agreed to release a new album two years after “The Rough Path Of Nihilism”, so sometime in 2013. Despite the fact the album was recorded since April, the label didn’t respond as we expected, saying that they’re gonna release it sometime in the future but no in 2013. So we put a deadline to them to respond with a certain date (December 31st of 2013), they didn’t answer, so we had to search for a new label.

Was it difficult to change record label since you had already recorded the album?
It sure was really unhealthy for the band; having a label that you know and trust, and then have all this happening. But we searched for a new home, and fortunately, within the first month of 2014 we had already three offers from foreign record labels, with Iron Shield Records being the best of them, from the best country (since I believe Germany is the country of Metal), and we agreed to release the album in September 2014.

What did you do differently this time as compared to your previous works?
The big difference was the guest appearance of Snowy Shaw, who listened to “Empty Eyes And Blackened Hearts” and liked it very much, so he honored us with his presence in guest-appearing in “Doom Philosophy”. Also, we told him that his work was one of the biggest influences of our founding member Takis Drakopoulos who passed away in 1995, and that the band was influenced by the MEMENTO MORI style, and then he agreed to sing on “Everything Can Change”. Plus, the huge honor that Edgar Rivera did for us - the ex-SOLITUDE AETURNUS guitarist, a band that also influenced SORROWS PATH very much. I’d like to underline the fact that these musicians influenced us, because I think it’s really important for a band to have a ground and start building on it and then have something to say.

How did these guest appearances work out? Did you face any difficulties?
Everything went really smooth; both of them were on time in everything - we didn't have any problems at all. And especially working with Edgar whom I now consider a friend; you know, a musician of his league to know all these facts about the band, and not only he didn’t ask for money for his part, he wrote second and third time the guitar solo till the point he was satisfied with it. In my opinion, all the metalheads around the planet should drink water in the name of SOLITUDE AETURNUS [note: Greek saying meaning to honor someone], since it’s one of the most important bands in the Metal history, and I’m saying this as a metalhead and a fan. I only wish to watch them live onstage with the original lineup someday...

Are there any tracks that didn’t make it in the new album’s tracklist?
In every album, there are some tracks left aside. After the band’s hiatus-period, there were some tracks left aside of which we chose some. For “Doom Philosophy”, initially we had 16 tracks, so we left 5 of them aside.

Are there any thoughts to use them in a special release as bonuses, or like an EP?
No, I don’t think so. You know, every track should be connected to a specific philosophy, like a concept, a centered theme around a release. So, in the next SORROWS PATH, we’re gonna write new music.

I see what you’re saying. Even if there isn’t a specific concept around the album, I mean a story that links the tracks with each other, I think “Doom Philosophy” is dealing with death, the end, the completion, and please, correct me if I’m wrong.
If we speak about the lyrics, they are based on this philosophy; the philosophy around death. Besides that, the owl on the cover artwork, which is a symbol of wisdom in Ancient Greece and in many eastern cultures, is linked with death as well. And it represents the human being that understands its limits and discards any thin desires, like fame, glory and worldly goods. And there we meet with the philosophy of death that guides every human to his salvation. We had already developed the human pain in our two previous works, so the philosophy of death brings the desired salvation. Sure, you can spot some influences from other cultures and religions like Buddhism and Christianity, but we didn't want to focus on a specific religion.

So, was in your intentions to create the conclusion of your two previous records? I mean, did you want to complete a circle and then feel free to start something new?
Exactly, there was this sentiment of pain and sympathy in our previous works and we wanted to speak about our personal experiences, so now we wanted to speak about something more general, having finally solidified our opinions in this album. I hope for a new album to come and continue the same way the expression of our general way of thinking through music.

So, did “Doom Philosophy” was a kind of salvation for SORROWS PATH? Do you feel that the shadow of pain and sorrow has left the band’s camp and now, let’s say, you’re ready for new adventures?
Yup, you can call it like that, but it’s not on a personal level anymore; it’s like a salvation from ‘myself’ and we’re addressing to the ‘whole’. That’s why I was referring to Buddhism earlier, and that doesn't mean that we support a certain religion - no, not at all.

I see. By the way, who had the idea for this awesome cover artwork, which clearly has some Platonic references?
Generally speaking, in SORROWS PATH, all the members decide together about things; we all believe in democracy and we like to apply it in our decisions. There was a general philosophy way back in the band, so there was the idea and we did some changes, and Lisa Heschl applied our ideas very successfully to the cover you see today. Actually, we chose Lisa from a long list of new artists we really like and it was fun working with her. I suggested the idea of the owl, and we all agreed to the picture that is used now. This is what a band means after all; deciding all together.

Nice! So, what does Doom Philosophy mean personally for you?
The thing I mentioned before; it’s the philosophy that talks about death and about maturing as a human being and realizing that sometime you’ll die, and through your death, you can respect every other being that exists on this planet, and not depend on controlling things. They say “Give power to a man, and you’ll see what kind of man he is”. His decisions and actions will define his true character.

Yes, you’re right. So, what are the band’s plans to promote “Doom Philosophy”? Have you scheduled any live appearances?
We have scheduled our release party for “Doom Philosophy” at Bat City Club in Athens, Greece on October 04th where the fans will be able to find the album on CD format, plus we’ll play with SCANNER in February 2015, again in Athens. There are also some possibilities to book some more shows to the rest of Greece. And then, maybe we’ll schedule a mini tour in some European countries for 2015, not earlier. You know, we have to see the budget and be careful about it because we want the band to survive through these difficult times we’re living.

Do you think it’s hard nowadays to be a member of a Metal band? I’m asking this because of the tough economic conditions is a global phenomenon. How difficult is to combine day-jobs with band promotion?
It’s difficult for every Greek band I think, with few exceptions for the widely-known Greek bands, like FIREWIND or SUICIDAL ANGELS that may gain some money via their music. The rest of us, we spill our blood. For example, if “The Rough Path Of Nihilism” wasn’t sold out, we couldn’t be able to release this album. Fortunately, all went well and with the fans’ support, we made it, and we hope the same for “Doom Philosophy”, in order to release its successor that we’re thinking about.

Do you mean that you’ve already started thinking about the next SORROWS PATH release?
Yes, and this was the case with the previous one, but because of the record label hiccup, we had to delay it a bit. 2014 and 2015 will be years where the band will be on the road for live appearances, and then in 2016 we’d like to enter the studio and start recording our next album. Like I said, we want to release new material every 2-3 years.

This is great news! So, my last question is; when you started SORROWS PATH 21 years ago, were you thinking how things will go for the band? I mean, signing with a big record label and releasing three albums, and thinking even about the next one?
When you have vision, you give everything you've got to succeed it. We have succeeded very little things, and if you ask ROTTING CHRIST, I bet they’re gonna say the same. I mean, when you ask a humble and serious person this question, this will be his answer. What matters to us is getting the fans’ attention and spreading our music to as many people as possible, and get emotionally connected with them.

Can you imagine where SORROWS PATH will stand in the next 20 years?
I can’t answer that. We surely look at the next step, and we want to make it happen. When you complete one step, then you look ahead and schedule about the next one, and so on. And this is what I think matters the most - as long as we’re good in our health, we should take one step at a time.

Well, these were my questions, Kostas! Thank you again for your time to talk to METAL KAOZ! Please feel free to spread your message of Doom to the SORROWS PATH fans out there.
We’d like to thank you for the interview and your kind words, and also I’d like to thank all the people who keep supporting the band, purchasing our albums and coming to our shows - it really means a lot to us, and that’s why we’re still here and still play Doom.

…And like you say, Doom rules eternally, right?