(Last November, roughly 15 years after their inception, the Sicilian band Sirrush released their debut album Molon Labe through Non Serviam Records, and it led Comrade Aleks to reach out for the following interview with the band’s founder Otagron to discuss the band’s past, present, and future.)
Sirrush isa Mesopotamian hybrid, a kind of dragon you could see on Ishtar Gates, one of Babylon’s most remarkable monuments. And this Sicilian band indeed dedicated their blackened death metal to Sumerian myths back then in 2007 when it was founded.
Years passed, but not much happened in Sirrush’s lair, as the EPThe Era of Išhtar (2011) remained their only official release. Things changed along the band’s concept as Sirrush came back to life with the stories of 300 Spartans in 2022. The singles A Son Set His Father Free and Molon Labe proclaimed the release of the full-length with the same title of Molon Labe through Non Serviam Records, so the band’s founder Otagron (vocals, guitars) is here to shed some light on Sirrush’s story.
Hail Sirrush! How are you? What’s going on in your lair?
Hi guys!! Always fighting, but we keep going on! More than a lair, I would say a laboratory, as we’re creating the scenery for Sirrush‘s live shows.
Do you want to organize the show with 300 helots against the Persian army on stage?
Not really, we have something else in mind.
Did you already perform this material live?
No, we’re still preparing our stage setting, but we’re almost done. You’ll soon see what we’re working on!
So the band has existed since 2007 and you have the first full-length only now. What prevented you from recording it earlier?
The band was born in 2007 as a tribute of the Swedish band Marduk until 2011, the year in which we released our first EP The Era of Išhtar to give life to something of our own! The following years we played the EP live until we were forced to stop for line-up reasons, but in the meantime I, Otagron, continued to develop new ideas and together with Tiyris we worked on them, realizing the new full-length Molon Labe.
Did you compose it altogether as a band or do you have a mastermind behind this album?
I composed most of the riffs while trying to get the band back together. Once Tiyris joined the band, we completed all the existing raw songs and wrote new ones together.
How did you actually spend this first period after the band’s foundation? As I understand, only Adranor was intensively involved in other bands. Were other guys occupied with their own projects too?
We rehearsed and played many gigs as a tribute band until, as I wrote before, we produced our first EP and then started playing it live in several venues. Yes, they had other projects too, I was the only one having only Sirrush.
The band’s name and the band’s EP The Era of Išhtar deal with Babylonian mythology, while Molon Labe clearly points to your interest towards the famous battle between Spartans and the Persian army. Why did you change the concept?
The theme of Molon Labe is the result of a strong inspiration due to a book I read in the past, Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield, where he narrates the story of the battle of Thermopylae in a very accurate way. Fascinated by this story, I decided to pay homage to the bravery and deeds of the Greek soldiers in the new Sirrush.
How do you like the story’s Hollywood’s adaptation? Or do you prefer the good old peplum movie from 1962?
Really enjoyed it, it helped us a lot in creating the right atmospheres of the album!
How did you build the album’s structure around those heroic events? Did you compose each song according the lyrics or were lyrics born first?
Initially there was no idea of a concept album, but I still worked on the guitar riffs maintaining an epic and violent tone, knowing that this passion for the ancient Greek world was growing inside me. When I then decided that I would focus the themes on Thermopylae, we managed to complete both the music and the lyrics hand in hand.
How was Sirrush’s blend of black and death metal born? Which qualities of death metal did you seek to incorporate into your sound?
We decided that the new work would be different from the first EP as it was very static with few transitions. In Molon Labe we added a lot of riff changes and more technical drum tempos. This helped to bring the style towards a more death line.
Did you feel a seduction to add more acoustic and “folk” or “pagan” passages in your songs?
No, not really. The black metal… well, any metal scene is over-saturated today with the bands both old and new releasing their material as a constant flow.
Okay, do you mean that more folk stuff in the album would have made the material over-saturated?
You know, the usage of some folk instruments, for example. You don’t have to force it out!
How do you think – what does differentiate Sirrush from others?
Well, we play for the pleasure of doing it because it’s a common passion that has been following us for years and not easy to give up, and for this reason Sirrush will always have a story to tell under their notes.
Do you aim now to keep Sirrush alive and active or will you now put it back into slumber for 15 more years?
If it were up to me, I would never have stopped it, but when difficulties corner you, there’s little you can do! Now Sirrush have seen the light again and, if fate wants, we are willing to go ahead with our heads down!
So what are your plans now for 2023? And do you have a few more words for our readers?
Play as much as possible! We already have two confirmed shows, one in Slovenia and one in Germany at InFlammen fest. It was a pleasure answering these questions, and thanks for reading! We look forward to catching you on the road!