I recently emailed Efthimis Karaimas,founder member of Nightfall to discuss the band and their latest studio album Cassiopeia.
Can you introduce Nightfall to the readers, please?
Hello Dennis and thanks for your time mate. Nightfall is an artistic vehicle running for about 22 years now, or 8,000 days if you prefer. This band produces heavy sounds in the vein of extreme metal for the single purpose to release its members’ souls from their demons within. Long pauses in band’s history play their role too and they are not to be taken as breaking ups.
What have been the highest and lowest points so far?
The highest was –literally speaking – the first time we got a flight to go abroad J No shit. Back at the dawn of 90s being a Greek metal band was kinda tropical to the rest of the Western world. Having proved ourselves and the scene as dead serious and committed led to the first invitation from France then, which back then was totally smashing. Still recall some moments of those times; felt like being part of a divine comedy thing or something.
As for the lowest? Well, when we were asked in numerous ways by a label we were with at some point in the past to follow the trend our previous album had made and to avoid any experimental things and stuff in the studio, for the next album you, know. That totally made me feel like a whore. I reacted, but at the same time I realized most bands out there simply follow such demands out of fear or something. Pity. I understand doing it in a mainstream band longing for profit. But metal is underground and there it shall stand and breathe forever; a pure subculture.
What was your inspiration or starting point for Cassiopeia?
All that shit going on recently in the Western world is very dreadful. It is obvious we are experiencing transition times and one wonders if our generation is capable of maintaining control over this dramatic situation. To my eyes the problem is not political or economical only but ethical.
Though cheap credit was poured en masse in our societies making us all looking and acting in arrogant ways by buying any shit around, none minded to buy a proper compass to show us all the right way to move on as civilized species; that cheap one we finally bought from a Chinese shop led us to a fake North and now we badly try to change course. That’s difficult and can be achieved through pain and sacrifices. Just like in ancient Greek tragedies.
You asked me about Cassiopeia right? Yes, arrogance as a built in characteristic of human beings and the brutal punishment that follows suit are the key words behind that concept.
With this being your 9th album, how do you keep you sound fresh ?
Hm, that’s maybe due to changing members Dennis. I know it sounds unorthodox to many, but who said this kind of music is of any orthodox kind, right? We are now in our third period, commenced in 2010 with Astron Black & the Thirty Tyrants album, the first after few years of silent meditation that kept us away from spotlight on purpose, and believe the dynamics of the current lineup are leading the way to the right direction.
Efthimis has a very distinctive vocal style. Has he always sung this way?
Mainly, but not always. I admit that brutal voice or growling is not actual singing and therefore one cannot compare it to real singers. What it does have however contrary to any tenor or super vocalist like Dio (rip) and others around, is that direct link to true human nature where instincts are kings and queens and things expressed and demanded the raw way without artificial input or techniques. In that field, brutal voice is unbeatable.
How did the recording sessions go? Any stories you wish to share.
You know, we have a member in Tennessee, USA and another in Germany, close to Bremen while the rest are all in Greece. That’s so interesting when it comes to contributing stuff and blending all those different cultural backgrounds, but when it is time to enter a studio like a proper band it is not that convenient. Hence, we decided each one of us to use the place and the sound engineer of his preference and record his parts based on the main tracks’ ideas we shared. And it worked man. It worked really good and maybe that’s another aspect behind the cool stuff in Cassiopeia. For the record, the final stage of it all took place at our drummer’s studio in Germany (Soundlodge studios) who did a tremendous work in mixing and mastering it.
Can you give us a quick track by track description please?
Phaethon – A song about the obligation of man to reach his limits by overcoming fear. An action that may lead to fatal results yet once successful it pushes the boundaries of race a small step ahead. You may see a lot of paradigms in human history; from the flight of icarus to the first landing on the moon, man is powered by an endless thirst for exploration and innovation. Phaethon, the son of Sun took the chariot of his father but failed to sustain control of it and crashed onto earth’s surface.
“Here Phaëthon lies who in the sun-gods chariot fared. And though greatly he failed, more greatly he dared.”, Edith Hamilton nicely put it.
Oberon And Titania – The polarity of human nature, or the polarity of nature to be precise, and how deep love turns into an abyssal hate. Yes, that was taken from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Colonize Cultures – Like another tower of Babel we move onwards to conquer the havens our Grand-grandfathers used to talk to us about. The winning team advances though absorbing the defeated one whose members then, in a weird way, become active parts of the former making its capacity greater and greater. Will this time fall to pieces or reach the kingdom of the gods? We wonder.
The Nightwatch – That’s inspired by Rembrandt’s painting with the same title. Anyone going to Amsterdam should spare a few moments to see that marvelous piece of art. The song is about the ways societies come up with to protect the level of civilization their members share from people outside that frame, like crooks, wrongdoers, and other elements of chaos.
Stellar Parallax – This comes from Navigation. The song metaphorically (as any other in Cassiopeia actually) refers to the different angles each one observes something or someone and how outcomes differ thanks to that. In order to understand what the other is preserving we must not omit the exact position he is standing on and he is staring things from. Understanding is a serious thing in life. Exercise it!
Hubris – Human nature seems to be the epitome of hubris. How such a weak and small organism is taking advantage of any pure power around it while it is subject to inner fights, insecurity, and vast fragmentation at the same time is a question I would be definitely delighted to hear someday, somehow.
The Reptile Gods – A story about that conspiracy theory referring to Reptilians, by another British guy named David Icke.
Hyperion – He is the Titan father of Sun and Dawn; the Lord of Light.
Akhenaton, The 9th Pharoah Of The 18th Dynasty – That Pharaoh applied the single god model thousands of years before current religions did. Taking that as an example I try to illustrate yet again the smallness of human nature in front of huge issues and questions humanity struggles to solve since day one and apparently fails to do each single day.
The Sand Reckoner – Archimedes once tried to find the exact number of sand grains the entire universe can be filled with. Do you imagine the vastness Dennis and the true capacity of that very brain that challenged himself with such a question and moreover who created the means which this could be answered with? Amazing. This very song is demonstrating our pure admiration to these great minds (well at least my admiration).
Regretfully, nowadays being a fashion model or a showman of any kind pays much better. This oxymoron is maybe the thickest nail onto our modern world’s coffin that’s based on the shallowness of the icon way too much.
Astropolis – This track is about the efforts to establish a colony on another planet. Metaphorically also refers to a new starting point; a new beginning from scratch with the great hopes such start always carries.
Do you have a favourite track?
Love them all, truly and deeply.
Are you happy to be working with Metal Blade? They have an excellent history with metal bands.
It is a great label with long history and it is absolutely amazing to be working with them.
Any touring plans for Cassiopeia? If so will there be any UK dates and have you played here before?
Touring is not my cup of tea but this time we ought to do at least one. We are not the rock n roll type of band you know ;-)
What are your favourite live and studio albums by other bands?
What comes in my mind right now is Destruction’s Live without Sense and Benediction’s Transcending the Rubicon. Both great!
Thank you for answering my questions. \m/
My pleasure Dennis. Cheers and Beers