SARPANITUM – The ancient Mesopotamian Goddess of Life
Britiske Sarpanitum blir av britisk metalpresse sett på som de nye kongene av britisk undergrunn. Det er en tittel det er meget vanskelig å leve opp til, men dette unge bandet har smakt på tittelen og vil gjøre det de kan for å fortsette å inneha den. Sarpanitum har nettopp sluppet sin debut på det ferske selskapet Galactic Records og fått strålende kritikker verden over og da var det på sin plass med noen ord fra gutta. Det er bandets 2 vokalister Andy og Mark som har besvart dette intervjuet og de trakterer også hhv bass og gitar.
ET – Let's start with the history behind the band; When did you start, why, line up changes etc?
Andy: The band began in its first incarnation in 2003 as a two-man studio project; we recorded and self-released a two track demo namely "Agushaya Hymn" which was positively received by zines that got hold of a copy. The band then went on somewhat of a small disbandantment due to external commitments until i met Tom Hyde (lead guitar) and Tom Innocenti (rhythm guitar) a year later, when we decided to pull the band through as a gigging band. We then went through a couple of drummers and a vocalist amidst 2005-2006. This line up uncertainty continued unfortunately through some of the later stages of the recording of "Despoilment of Origin", but never the less allowed for the frustration felt at the time by the band's members to be conveyed in the recording.
ET – The kings of the British underground scene, that's not a bad title, but hard to live up to.
Mark: It is certainly a title that we hope to live up to. The release of "Despoilment of Origin" seems to have been received with nothing but high acclaim and we hope to carry on in this vein, both with future albums and in a live setting.
ET – Is the album a concept album or do the songs at least have some sort of connection, or does the album contain individual songs with a wide variety of topics?
Andy: "Despoilment…" definitely holds some elements of a concept album with several songs holding connection to the main theme of Inanna's (Sarpanitum) descent into the mythological underworld of ancient Mesopotamia to confront her sibling deity Ereshkigal. That said, there are plenty of other stories and themes running through the entire album.
ET – What is most important for you when you are writing new songs; the lyrics or the music?
Andy: Thats a tough one, I think objectively most extreme metal bands would honestly consider the musical direction as being the primary focus of the writing process. However nowadays its becoming a much more even plain when it comes to juggling musical and lyrical direction. In Sarpanitum we like to mix it up in terms of how a song develops; alot of the time we will already have music and ideas down before we look at the lyrical and mood we wish to convey in the song and then its simply seeing which ideas connect best with each other, but occasionally I will already have a concept and/or lyrics as well as a clear idea of how I want the song to be structure and what dynamics I wish to be conveyed in the song. As with most things, I believe variety is the best way to acheive something that is fresh sounding and not stagnant.
ET – How do you respond when someone say that you have parts in your music that sound a lot like Behemoth?
Mark: It depends how they say it! If it's a complement, then great! At the end of the day, people are always going to be comparing bands, simply because there are so many out there that share certain characteristics. With Sarpanitum, we create very fast and brutal music, drawing on similar influences to bands such as Behemoth. We include the use of relentless drum patterns and adapt eastern scales to depict a sonic landscape of the themes and imagery conveyed in the lyrics on "Despoilment of Origin". We hope that we have, and will continue to, create music that can be judged on its own merit.
ET – Do Sarpanitum have a clear vision? What is your main goal with the band?
Andy: I wouldn't say we have any particular main goal or anything as a band, we are simply enjoying the positive press and support we've continued to receive in the form of the overwhelming press that the album has been getting so far, as well as to the fans who have followed the band as a live unit prior to even having a record deal. We're proud to be very a part of the resurgence of death metal from the United Kingdom.
ET – Are you educated musicians as the guys in Decapitated or are you self-learned as most of the metal dudes world wide?
Mark: As far as I know, everyone in Sarpanitum is predominantly self-taught. I've been playing the guitar for roughly eight years now and am constantly changing the style I play. This is generally based on what I'm listening to at the time or to specifically gain a better understanding of a musical style to better my own abilities. Our drummer, Sean Broster, is also fully self-taught. He's often asked about what techniques he employs to play at the speeds that he does but it's all been down to practice, feeling an approach that works comfortably.
ET – Why the name Sarpanitum? What does it mean?
Andy: Sarpanitum is the ancient Mesopotamian Goddess of Life – becoming fascinated by a deity who meant so much to the people of the period, she also in some ways represented our aim and hope of injecting some overdue ‘life' into our stagnant UK death metal scene at the time. I feel the name captures the spirit of what we hope to continue to do.
ET – Which band(s) would you say influence you the most?
Mark: As a group we draw influence from a wide range of bands and genres. Of course, in the death metal genre, the influence of bands that defined the scene, such as Morbid Angel, Immolation etc, is undeniable, but we also draw huge influence from all types of genres of music. We are all fairy open-minded when it comes to music. This is particularly useful for the development of musical ideas which, from a listener's point of view, go beyond a pre-conceived expectation. The subject matter and themes raised in the lyrics, particularly the imagery that they convey, also has a massive impact on the direction of the music.
ET – Describe the musical style of Sarpanitum with your own words.
Mark: At the core, I'd say that Sarpanitum is undeniably brutal death metal. However, the grandeur of the album really elevates it beyond just being an angry fist-clenching pummel fest. I joined Sarpanitum after the completion of "Despoilment of Origin" which, shortly after, saw the departure of the previous guitarist, Tom Innocenti. Based on the power and intensity of "Despoilment of Origin, I joined without hesitation.
Mark: Sarpanitum signed to Galactic Records in the latter half of 2006 (along with Sepia Dreamer), near the time of the labels conception. We knew Leon Macey (the founder of GR) through his work with Mithras and for a time our drummer, Sean Broster, was a member of their line-up. So far, we have been very pleased with the level of effort and enthusiasm shown by Leon and the rest of the GR team and we're looking forward to completing and releasing Sarpanitum's second album with them, hopefully some time in 2008.
ET – Any famous last words?
Mark: Cheers for the interview and for the support we have and continue to receive from all the Sarpanitum fans out. It's much appreciated from us all!