The aim of the open series of the blogzine´s Seven Gates of Hell interviews is to introduce the bands and their music that struck my metalhead´s heart and soul recently. In seven questions, the gates are open for those who make their music of true metal spirit, pure dedication and of what I understand as underground approach and aesthetics.
The incorporeal vacuum of a Chilean black metal solstice unfades into solar esoterism that is struck with bursting eruptions and tempered in elevating atmosphere. One can witness that on the debut album "Unfading Incorporeal Vacuum" spawned last year by the promising Santiago act SOL SISTERE. The band was formed by a bunch of metal devotees in 2013. Before putting out their first full-length that made them audible within the wider black metal underground, they tempted the scene with the EP branded "I". As their debut, shortly after its release, unfaded with strong resonance within myself, in ignited enthusiasm for its charm I turned to the band's guitar player, Ricardo Araya, with a set of interview questions.
I When you started toying with the idea of founding SOL SISTERE, did you have in mind from the very first instant a clear determination to play that kind of black metal built on an aggressive heavy substance, yet abounding with mesmeric moods and being deeply emotionally charged?
"I think one of the reasons the band has had a good run so far is because the musical idea was very clear since the beginning. At that time, I had listened to an emerging form of post-black metal, blackgaze and also some atmospheric stuff, but none of those bands made me feel the kind of emotions I was looking for in music with such labels. In a way, I felt the balance was too leaned to the non-metal elements and I was missing the black metal feeling of my 90's influences. I was a lot more into melodic Swedish bands like Dissection and Dawn, and also I've always loved certain doom metal bands, some post rock, and soft emotive and melancholic music in general, so I thought "maybe I should make my own recipe, adding the ingredient quantities that I like to the blender instead of playing with the established rules". And that's how I wrote "Death Knell", the very first SOL SISTERE song. It has that Swedish vibe, a sort of doom metal middle section, some post-rock-influenced intro and effects in the lead guitar, but above all it's easily considered as black metal, the balance is exactly where I wanted to. I think slow parts are really important to the whole atmosphere, but I like it better when it's just a touch, and the whole songs are actually fast, but not excessively fast. It's everything about the right balance."
II. The prime movers of the band from its very onset were you and the drummer Pablo V. However, the distinctive characteristics of your music emerged when the guitar-playing vocalist C. joined the horde. Now when C. is gone and the band goes on with the new frontman Luis Z., what kind of imprints, would you say, each of these stages had on SOL SISTERE's metal face? What do you retake from the legacy of C.'s artistic assets and what kind of difference does the fresh spirit circulating now within the band's veins make?
"As you mentioned, C. joined the band in and early stage and contributed with his lyrics and was part of the team effort that led to the whole concept behind SOL SISTERE. At an interpretative level, C. did an outstanding work on the vocals in both, the EP and the full-length. Now that we had to part ways with him, Luis Zapata joined to refresh things in the band. We still have to write a lot of new lyrics for our next album, but he has already contributed in that area, always considering the type of lyrics and ideas we have always had. As a guitar player, he is quite skilled and has a different but good touch. On the vocals, he keeps the heartbreaking and anguished, but aggressive kind of screams, keeping the long tails with a great respiratory capacity, so that aspect of the vocals will remain a band seal.
It's always a pleasure to work with new ideas and points of view, and Luis can deliver those things in a very open and easy way."
III. In the band's philosophy you venerate the sun in its peak above the tropic of Capricorn, the solstice, as a symbol of a struggle for spiritual perfection. In a different kind of symbolism, as one can read in your lyrics, the sunrays cast their shades and make visible all the misery and decay in the mundane world around. How much of positive and negative connotations does the image of the sun give to SOL SISTERE's imaginative art?
"Well, as a natural element, the sun is not positive nor negative per se, it just exists. It is vital to life but it can also burn you to death, so as everything that exists in nature, including humans, it's up to our vision and our understanding and even our experiences to determine if something is positive or negative. Actually, both points of view are equally valid, and you can focus on any of them, because heaven and hell, good and evil, alpha and omega, those are within us all the time.
The sun also has a cycle, and sometimes we are closer to it during perihelion, and sometimes we're in the farthest point during aphelion, just like our lives are sometimes close to inner balance, and sometimes it's quite far. It's all a cycle, and I think it's quite interesting to write about both sides of the story.
Of course, as a metal band, it's easier and more natural to us to focus in the dark side, the negative aspects, suffering and melancholy, but it's not all doom and gloom. We also can write about spiritual achievements in a way that sounds consistent with our music."
IV. Your debut album is quite compact in its music composition, with dominant, catchy guitar patterns, blastbeat hypes and alleviating respites. Did you set with the album the very essence on which you want to build SOL SISTERE's music further on?
"Yes, this debut album is a good example of how we perceive music creation. Its sound came in naturally and was the product of an honest songwriting process. Personally, I think good melodies are quite important to the way we perceive music and all of the emotions that we want to transmit, so as vocals are not really sang but are rather screamed in a sort of flat way, I think the guitar has to be in charge of the melodies that will finally get stuck in your head and will induce the kind of emotions we want the listener to feel.
Regarding our musical future, the new songs are based in the same foundations as the ones in "Unfading Incorporeal Vacuum", but this time, drummer Pablo Vera has been more involved in the early stages of the creation process, so he sometimes has some ideas that I wouldn't have thought of, like chord progressions, etc. This means that, even though the new music will continue the same path, there are some new tricks that will add a refreshed air to the overall perception."
V. From your three-track premier EP just one song titled "Relentless Ascension" found its way on your subsequent debut album. What's so special about that particular piece that you put it on both the recordings?
"We like that song very much and we think the audience like it too. It also represents quite well our musical style and we think it's great to start our shows, we even created an intro for it that can only be listened to during our live presentations.
I think we like it because it has a lot of energy since second one, wrapping melodies, and a beautifully calm middle section. It's an easy song to play, but there's something about it that is really enjoyable for us while playing it, and for the audience while listening to it."
VI. Judging out of the band's prevailing temperament, I would expect your stage performance to be soaked in a foggy, detached aura. But it is rather a very energetic, headbanging experience, as one can see either right at your shows or through a few video recordings of your gigs on youtube channel. You seem to be more of the heart-driven metallers, than contemplative spirits detached from reality, right?
"Yes, I think the songs are very energetic, and we like to express that with our movements and the way we enjoy it on stage. But since there are also lots of soft and kind of introverted parts, we also try to express that when the moment suggests it. We feel like our show has to be consistent with our music and the visual part is also very important, so we're constantly trying to improve that aspect with little details. But, you know, even the fact that we don't wear corpse paint or use many other elements common for the black metal world is not random, we try to keep it simple and honest, but maintaining a certain aesthetics."
VII. Lots of European bands who had a chance to play live in Latin America praise South American metal fans for their hot-blooded enthusiasm. What other aspects, would you say, your regional scene could boast about? And what do you expect from a number of gigs you plan to stage this summer in Europe?
"That's right, the Chilean audience is very wild and passionate in big concerts, so bigger bands are usually quite happy with the experience, and I must say that this also applies in other genres besides metal. Regarding smaller local shows, I think people are more passionate outside the capital Santiago, but this energy tends to be a lot more contained in comparison with big concerts. Nevertheless, the local scene is quite faithful and we have had a great audience response in the different cities where we have played.
Regarding our little European tour, we don't really expect big crowds, except for a festival that I can't name because it has not published its lineup yet. It will be a small tour, only a few dates, and we hope to announce them soon, but we're still planning and finishing some details."
Thanks a lot for your answers! Let every new dawn be as much inspirative for you and your music as it has been so far!!
"Thank you for this interview and the interest you show in the band. We really appreciate your support!"