German Dark Metal outfit Agathodaimon recently returned from their eight-year hiatus with their seventh studio release, The Seven, and this is certainly a welcome return. MetalTalk’s Jools Green spoke with guitarist and founding member Sathonys about his family life and found out why he prefers playing live to songwriting.
The Seven has nothing to do with its place in their discography. Thematically The Seven has a far deeper meaning, centred around the seven deadly sins. “Back in 2013, we released In Darkness, and my favourite track on that album is entitled Favourite Sin,” Sathonys told MetalTalk. “We were heading towards our seventh album, so that seemed to make sense. I wanted to elaborate a bit more about the concept of ‘sin’ and how we perceive social morals and how their religious roots still affect our daily lives.”
Estrangement is an album track where Sathonys’ clean vocals are implemented well, with a harrowing edge, becoming more tortuous as they progress, adding a doomy bleak aspect to the theme.
“I was a bit unsure every now and then,” Sathonys says, “as the seven sins is a big topic that was touched by many bands, books, movies, but then again, it’s still a topic that is valid today, so I thought it’s ok to go for it. We weren’t aiming to dive into a full-blown story concept like King Diamond. All the songs are connected to the main topic of sin. There’s a ‘dedicated’ song to every one of the so-called deadly sins, along with dedicated artwork provided by the awesome team of Credo Quia Absurdum.”
Kyrie / Gloria features a guest appearance of Benighted frontman Julien Truchan. “We are both calling the Kohlekeller our preferred studio,” Sathonys says. “Agathodaimon has been working with producer Kohle since 2001. We’ve been recording there, and also Julien was about to visit for some of Kohle’s YouTube specials. He runs a channel there. As we were looking for someone to add some additional tone and colour in terms of vocals, this was a perfect moment. So we sat together and experimented a bit.”
There was also a guest appearance from former vocalist Vlad Dracul (Rusu Andrei) on Mother Of All Gods, Sathonys first collaboration with him since 1999. “To me, it was awesome,” Sathonys says. “We’ve always been in touch since he left the band and often exchanged ideas, but finally, the time was there to have a proper collaboration for a track on our album.”
Dracul shared a few of his ideas with Sathonys. “This particular track, back then consisting of only keyboards and a simple drum pattern, did have the same feeling as the old Agathodaimon songs we worked on in the ’90s. So we agreed to proceed with this one and ended up with this version. I’m very happy we pulled this off after all this time.”
The 2014 split announcement, but with a good chance of getting back together, was made to concentrate on fatherhood. How has that gone, and are the two children blossoming?
“They’re fine,” Sathonys says. “I think it was important I took that time to focus on my family. I never experienced a proper family situation myself, my father was often busy, had to work too much, so I wanted to do this differently and be there while the little ones were still young.
“They grow so quickly. Once you start raising your own family, you’ll get to know what this feels like,” Sathonys says, smiling. “Nowadays, it’s quite relaxed, and they’re happy to take their first steps alone, so there’s time again to focus on the band when and where it’s needed.”
Agathodaimon has had a lot of lineup changes over the years. Since the release of In Darkness in 2013, Sathonys and Ashtrael (Chris Bonner), one of the longer serving members, are the only remaining member of that lineup. We asked Sathonys how he found the working dynamics of the new lineup?
“It took us about two years,” he says. “We started first auditions in 2018, but we wanted to wait until the lineup felt ‘proper’. So there were some fluctuations even before we were sure the lineup was stable and had the proper chemistry in place. We put out adverts, set up posters at some spaces where they rent rehearsal rooms and went through many talks and rehearsals until we found this particular lineup. We began writing songs together, and after we had some songs done and recorded a first demo together, we decided to announce the return in 2020.”
The new album The Seven makes an engaging and intriguing listen and has seen fans celebrating a welcome return by Agathodaimon. “Luckily, the response has been very, very nice and positive. Of course, and I do understand this, there also have been people saying, ‘but it doesn’t sound like this and that anymore’, but as I mentioned before, that’s life.
“Things change, yet my focus was to close the gap between our old roots and a modern approach. Not modern in the sense of ‘trendy’, but just living in the here and now. From my perspective, I wanted to continue where we left off with In Darkness, and I think it turned out really well.”
After such a long break, thoughts can now turn to getting back on the road and playing live. “That’s always been my main motivation,” Sathonys says. “I really dislike the songwriting part. It’s awful. I rarely feel satisfied when I come up with my own ideas. To me, it’s a long process until I can embrace a song or idea of my own and be comfortable with it. I somehow always think it’s not good enough at first.”
Sathonys has found great support from the new guitarist Nakhateth. “He had a lot of great ideas, and it often helps me playing with others’ ideas and then incorporate my own, and once the flow is there, be more comfortable about my own stuff. That’s usually a long process, and I really need to dive into it for several days. I can’t just sit there and write something. I need to take time and focus and find the mood and feeling for it.”
Agathodaimon albums have always gone consistently with a blue colour theme. “Well, it’s just something I wanted to have right from the start,” Sathonys says. “I do like bands that have a certain continuity and keep a certain aesthetic aspect. Of course, you change over time, as everything around you changes. But I had a certain vision about the frameset and rules in which this should happen. The blue colour is one of these aspects.”
Like most of the Heavy Metal universe, Sathonys says live is the peak. “Playing live is something different,” he says. “I do think seeing a band live is the best aspect and the proper way to experience the music, so I’m also feeling best when on stage.”
The Seven is certainly an album that deserves to be heard and heard loud. Agathodaimon are back, and Sathonys is relishing the future.
“Thanks for all the support given,” he tells the fans. “Please spread the word and tell your friends. We appreciate it. We hope you’ll like the new album as much as we do, and of course, we hope to see you at one of our shows.”
Agathodaimon their first show for the release of The Seven on 2 April 2022, at the Mainzer Cultural Club Schon Schön. Support is from Pentarium.