About Me

Interview with On Thorns I Lay

On Thorns I Lay kicked off their career playing a very melodic, gothic-influenced form of death/doom metal, thirty years ago. This Greek band has been undervalued for many years but they didn't lose hope and now they seem to be on their prime. Season of Mist signed them and they released their 10th album which is also self-titled. Christos Dragamestianos talked to Metal Imperium about their latest output and the band's plans for 2024.

M.I. - First off, many thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. Thanks also for the great music! In October, the band released its 10th and self-titled album. Why have a self-titled album now? Most bands choose their own name when they release the 1st or 2nd album. Most bands use one track to name the album but it didn’t happen here. There is no track titled “On Thorns I Lay”.

Thank you for your kind words. This is by far our best record in our 30 year career and we wanted to shout this as loud as we can.

M.I. - Your new album was released on Friday, the 13th October. Many think of Fridays the 13th as days of bad luck whereas others love them... was this date randomly chosen?

No; we don’t believe in such things. In fact, we are very confident about our new album. We are very optimistic and the release date was randomly chosen, of course.

M.I. - Tell us more about the concept behind this self-titled album. Is it a concept album in some way? What topics do you address?

It’s not a concept album, but it deals with the way we feel living in such a world these days. We are very pessimistic about the humanity’s future. Everything you see everyday has to do with wars, killings, misery, death, environmental destruction, etc. Are you still optimistic?

M.I. - The album includes 6 tracks and you relesead 3 singles “Newborn skies”, “Fallen from grace” and “Thorns of Fire”... is this a good marketing strategy, considering that there are only 3 tracks left for the fans to listen to? Who makes these decisions?

Yes; we believe that the early single release strategy is a modern strategy approach. We are in full agreement with our label, and in the future, we will try to have more singles out before our next  album release date.

M.I. - Usually the singles unveiled before the release of the album, are some of the strongest tracks. In your opinion, which track is the strongest featured in the album?

I would choose “Thorns Of Fire”, as this is the most representative track of our current musical style.

M.I. - Reviews and reactions to the singles have been overwhelming. How stoked are you? How confident were you in this material?

We feel very confident about our new album. Our music is pure. We try to have a modern sound production wise. But most of all our songs come from the heart.

M.I. - The covers of the band’s albums have been quite different one from the other... this one embraces a gothic influences. What’s the connection of the cover artwork of “On Thorns I Lay” with the tracks on the album?

Regarding the cover, we faced many difficulties, as we changed it three times. I thing that, in the end, we made a good choice. The cover was made by me with Dimitris Tzortzis and I think that it fits with what you hear in this album.

M.I. - The band blends different Styles which result in an unique sound, even though you are manily categorized as Death-Doom Metal. What’s the best way to define the band? How would you define On Thorns I Lay’s style? 

We try to have a modern sound wise production. Our musical style on this album, and the next one we’re working on now, is a mixture of Doom Death and Melodic Death metal, with an ethnic approach.

M.I. - What instruments do you use in order to create this intense, unique sound?

For the first time, we used ethnic instruments from our geographical region as Duduk, Shazi, of course my 12 string guitar, Kanun, Violin, etc.

M.I. - Peter Miliadis is the band’s new vocalist. What did he bring into OTIL’s sound that is an advantage for the band?

Peter is a very talented vocalist. Together, with his great voice, he brought to the band his fresh touch regarding the way he sings. He also is a highly motivated person, transforming the band in a very energetic style while on stage during our live shows.

M.I. - There was a collaboration between the band and members of The Athens Orchestra. How was the experience of working with a professional orchestra?  

Yes; in this album, we worked with a small orchestra. For the next one, we are preparing a bigger surprise...

M.I. - The first 4 albums of On Thorns I Lay were released by Holy Records and then you were hopping from one label to another until you signed with Season of Mist. How did this deal come up? Did you sign with Season of Mist before you recorded the album or did they sign with you after listening to the new material? 

Season of Mist’s president just listened the album and gave us the contract. It’s a big opportunity for us. More people can listen to our music now. I think it was a critical moment in our career and we are so happy about this.

M.I. - How do you think the band will benefit from being signed to such a huge label? 

You get more exposure and more chances of course. But everything depends and on what the band does in the end, always. You have to play as many live gigs as you can and of course you have to have a good material and good albums and being active as much as you can.

M.I. - In your opinion, could have things worked differently from On Thorns I Lay if you had signed to a bigger label earlier in your career?

This is a hypothetical question, but if you want an answer to this one, I think that the answer is yes.

M.I. - It’s been 30 years since the band’s formation. Even though there were several line-up changes and breaks in between, what does it mean for On Thorns I Lay to still be active? 

We started the band at the age of 15 years old. Our lives have changed since then. So have our priorities. For me, personally, music was and still is a very important issue. You need to do many sacrifices in you personal life that many times cost a lot. That’s the main reason of those changes during all those years but the current line up (its now three years at least with the newer guys) feels so stable. Everyone loves the band and want this to go as far as it can...

M.I. - You have been in the band ever since its formation. Can one assume you are the one in charge of the most important decisions for the band? Are responsabilities shared equally or does all the weight fall on your shoulders?

I try to discuss everything with the band members. Of course, being in the band from the beginning makes me the one that has to make the final decision. We have our disagreements, but in general we have one goal :Our passion for music and to make the bands name as big as it can get.

M.I. - The band just toured with Sakis Tolis and Machiavellian Gods. How was the tour and what other plans do you have for 2024? 

We played 12 gigs in less than two months. The crowd was amazing and the reactions were great. We sold all our merchandise and for sure we are living in the greatest times of our band at least so far. I’m feeling that justice is been given finally . Of course we have  few more shows booked for 2024 and we try to participate in one European tour. More to be announced soon.

M.I. - Recently, the band announced their first ever show in Israel (Tel Aviv) in December. With the recent events and conflicts between the Hamas and Israelis... was the show postponed? Playing in countries with religious extreme views and on-going conflicts is something that makes the band feel anxious before the performances? 

Yes; sadly this concert was postponed for the near future… but at least not cancelled. Humanity seems to not learn from their mistakes. You see the same situation over and over again through all those centuries of our existence as a race.  Differences been solved only through violence and catastrophies. Money goes to the developement of mass destruction wepons and technology is being used for our annihilation. On the other hand, you still have billions of people starving from the lack of water and food and diseases like cancer. They still remain untreated despite our gigantic scientific progress that we’ve made over the last 50 years. I ask these leaders: do they believe that they earn something from this situation? In the end, it’s always the same result. Death.

M.I. - Greece is the crib of insanely awesome extreme metal bands, namely Rotting Christ, SepticFlesh, Necromantia, and many more. Why do you think Greek musicians are so prolific when it comes to creating interesting music? Is it the whole Greek culture and ancestors that inspire you?

Sorry to disapoint you, but I think that the level of our Greek metal scene hasn’t made as much progress as it seems. Think about this... let’s say that tomorrow the bands of the extreme sound of the 90’s would stop playing (Rotting Christ, Septicflesh, Nightfall, Varathron, On Thorns I Lay). Except for Suicidal Angels, can you tell me the name of any other death metal or black metal band that has a full biography or is well known abroad? I will answer this for you! There is almost no one there with more than 2 albums that is still active and has the potential at least of doing something in the very near future. We have to make a bigger effort. The gap between the big bands from the UK and Scandinavia of our style of music has disappeared, of course, but the new bands have to try to add more personality in their sound because scenes like the Polish for example is far away for the moment. Of course no words regarding the American bands...

Listen to On Thorns I Lay, on Spotify

For Portuguese version, click here

Questions by Sónia Fonseca