Exclusive Interview: Symphony Of Heaven talk “The Ascension Of Extinction”!

After the release of their new EP “The Ascension Of Extinction“, we were graced with the presence of vocalist and guitarist Pathos from Symphony Of Heaven to chat about the EP and all the myths and legends that surround his band who hail from Southern Indiana and love Melodic Blackened Death Metal. A concept release that lyrically exploring the fall of Man to Humanism and Marxism before the eventual rise of The Man of Lawlessness, otherwise known as The Antichrist, it certainly has a weight and depth of meaning behind it. Here’s what he had to say…

How have you found the reaction to “You Shall Be As Gods” and the signing to Rottweiler Records? The reaction so far has been really good! We are definitely reaching a lot more people as well with our signing with Rottweiler Records. Shawn Browning, who heads up the label, is a great guy and really wants to see the artists grow and push themselves. “You Shall Be As Gods” was definitely a step above anything from the first record “The Season Of Death”, and people have been able to hear that.

Since “The Season of Death” Timōrātus has switched to bass with Eero Tertsunen coming into the band on guitars. How did the idea of the transition come about and how did it affect “The Ascension of Extinction”? Funny how that all happened, lol. Starting out as a one man project in 2017, I kept looking and kept looking for others to bring onboard to be able to play live shows as a real band. Around 2018 is when I got hooked up with David(Timōrātus) and Mason(Asaph) our drummer. Our first live show was scheduled for July 2019, and we didn’t have anybody else available at the time to come onboard who was local. So we recruited a mutual friend from Texas who was traveling to the show to play bass. He would learn the parts beforehand and things should go ok. Unfortunately he wasn’t able to make it so we had to do something. Eero, originally from Finland, who was in the band Renascent, had moved to Bloomington, IN, and I had found that out through Wikipedia. I messaged him and asked if he was traveling to the festival as well. He said yes and I asked if he would be willing to play for Symphony of Heaven on Bass, since that was the open spot. He was down for it, so we were able to have actual practices together as a band now. After that initial show David actually recommended putting Eero on guitar, as that was his main instrument, and Eero is a better player than either David or I by far! Lol. So it was a pretty natural decision for everyone. “The Ascension Of Extinction” is also the first Symphony release to have a song written by someone else other than me. “Mountain Of Man’s Ignorance” was completely written by Eero, I learned the parts and came up with lyrics with some help from a good friend, Karl of Pantokrator. It’s been a little unorthodox as far as how these first 3 albums have come about. “The Season Of Death” was one hundred percent written by me, guitars, bass, programmed drums, due to not having a kit or microphones, or a drummer at the time. “Body Of Christ”, 2 songs from a split with Timōrātus and Bismoth, was also written by me and a friend from Holland, and I had access to a drum kit at the time and a few mics. So I was able to play live drums for that one. “The Ascension Of Extinction”, about half of it was written prior to, or during quarantine, and I had also lost access to that drum kit so I just started with programming again. So we just went with KVLT DRUMS throughout and programmed them to Asaphs playing style. But it helped because we were able to send ideas back and forth quickly within the band. We are actually recording our next album right now, and it will finally feature 100% real recorded drums from Asaph, and it’s turning out amazing. It enables He and myself to more naturally build the songs which gives a more aggressive feel to them.

The new record sounds sharp and abrasive with the variety in the vocals being very impressive. Was that something that you particularly focused on when it came to writing, or did it all just happen naturally? Thank you first of all for the kind words! As far as my vocal style, it’s more of a combination of what I was trying to sound like, and what came out. I take a lot of vocal inspiration from Shagrath of Dimmu, Nergal of Behemoth and Devin Townsend. After a few years of experimenting with a few different techniques, I seem to have finally found that sweet spot. It’s a good combination of “raspy”ness and “chesty”ness that you can transition from high to low very easily.

Having started out as a solo project, playing all instruments, how easy did you find the transition to being a full band, sharing your ideas and letting others influence your vision? The transition has been really good! The first time I heard Asaph start playing “Stratagem” I just looked at him in amazement! There it was, music I had wrote, coming to life! Timōrātus and Eero have been one hundred percent behind the vision of the band. Being good musicians as well it was very easy for them to learn what I had wrote and play it themselves. I always tab out everything for them for reference as well. We all are use to being long distance band members so that comes with the territory.

As a band, being involved in so many other projects (Dead Human Prophecies, Angel Of Sodom, Resign From Humanity to name but three) and with members sharing projects (The Abrasive Realization), how much of a challenge have you found keeping the material between the projects different? It’s actually been quite easy. These different groups we either are apart of now, or have been apart of in the past, have had such different approaches and styles. Timōrātus is all written by David and his wife Courtney, and then I take what they wrote and translate it to how I would play, and also as a guitar/bass dual rig for live shows. Asaph has his band Mystic Winter that he holds down as well, and Eero is apart of a great number of projects. So really, for each different band, each member of Symphony Of Heaven kinda  has the reigns for each different one. So it opens up opportunity for each member to be able to express their own musical ideas and also to support each other’s ideas as well.

You’ve done guitar covers of songs from bands like Cradle Of Filth, Omnium Gatherum and Dimmu Borgir. Who would you say are your biggest influences? What are the chances of a Symphony of Heaven covers album in the future? My biggest influences, I would have to start with where it all started for me personally, and for a lot of other people; Metallica, Pantera, Megadeth, etc. I started out with that early thrash and groove stuff, also bands like Sepultura. Then I got heavily into old school death metal (which wasn’t really old school at the time lol), Cannibal Corpse, Obituary, Morbid Angel, etc. Also around the same time if my life I got heavily into Dimmu Borgir and Cradle Of Filth and Fear Factory. So that’s kinda the foundation of anything else I ever explored musically, and I feel that shines through whether I want it to or not! Lol. It was about 3 years ago that I finally took the dive into raw, old school black metal thanks to my friend’s band Elgibbor. I had always mostly ignored that stuff, and to be honest a lot of it made me uneasy in certain ways. But there was a song by Elgibbor called “To Shrink from Death”, a good black-n-roll style track, and that was the song that made it go “click” in my head. I finally understood it, and then I started to really explore bands like Burzum and Marduk and Dark Funeral and Immortal. So I have him to thank for that. I think there will definitely be opportunity for cover songs in the future, I have a few in mind possibly for the next record. 

There seems to be an upsurge in the amount of bands offering Blackened music at the moment, with the rise in Blackened Thrash acts like Dizastra and Wratheon coming to the fore and using that dynamic side of Black Metal in their music. Do you feel like older bands benefit from that or is there a disconnect between the old and new Worlds? I definitely feel the older bands benefit from it. No such thing as bad press right? Lol. A lot of younger people would never think to listen to these bands unless the newer ones referenced them in their writing style, so I think it’s a good thing for sure!

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