In the year of 2000, in Limassol/Nicosia, Cyprus, Solitary Sabred was born. Their fourth album, “Temple of the Serpent”, focused on Sumerians and the fall of Akkadian Empire, was released on December 22nd, 2023. That was the perfect reason to talk to Petros “Asgardlord” Leptos.
Hi! Welcome to Abaddon!
Hi and thanks for having us!
First, congrats on the new album “Temple of the Serpent”. I am simply speechless. How is the feedback by now?
Thank you, glad you enjoyed the album! Truth is we are also speechless and humbled by the feedback, it’s been amazing so far, both by fans and the press!
For the first time in your career, you did not have a line-up change between the albums. Is this a dream team now?
For sure! Above all we are a group of friends with a passion for classic heavy metal. This creates a chemistry that flows into the music, so we couldn’t be happier!
It is obvious that you have enormous talent and that you are able to make a hell of an album. “Temple of the Serpent” is truly a masterpiece. On this album you are focused on Sumerians and the fall of Akkadian Empire. How important is it for you to research to write historically correct lyrics?
Thanks again for your kind words, we are honored! To be honest, historical accuracy isn’t our strongest suit, hahahaa! I mean the timeframe, places and people are accurate, but we always want to infuse the stories with tons of sinister sword & sorcery tropes to make them ultra metal!
How hard is finding books about Sumerians in Cyprus, since where I come from, it is mission impossible?
Kindle is a godsend, I haven’t read a hardcopy book in ages, mostly due to the fact that between cd’s, vinyls and books I’m running out of storage space at home, so something had to give! But the internet in general is a great source of information, particularly for such ancient history related topics.
Not the whole album is about Sumerians, you interfere with fantasy elements too but there is a philosophical approach to everyday themes as I recognize.
Indeed, that is one of our goals, to draw parallels between fantasy and everyday life. Fantasy can be a good “gateway” to get your message across in an unfiltered manner. So we wanted to put questions out there for the listener, such as “do good intentions justify bad outcomes?” etc! Not in a preachy way, but we do want to have some extra layers for the listener that wants to dig in the lyrics and the story.
The story is divided into four chapters. Shall we reveal the themes?
Sure! So in the beginning King Naram-Sin of Akkad loses his wife to illness, and in his grief signs a demonic pact, denouncing the old Gods to bring her back to life. However, this leads to the fall of his entire empire that becomes a realm of the undead, while his queen is a cursed banshee seeking to take revenge upon he who bestowed her this fate. In the third chapter the two sides clash in an epic battle, and the king – not wanting to fight his former queen – forms yet another pact with the demon, surrendering his soul in exchange for the final rest of his beloved. Thus, he becomes a minion of higher powers, forever damned to harvest the souls of the dead until the end of time…
Each time I am listening to the album, a different song occupies my brain cells. Which song was the most challenging to write?
I think it must have been “Lord of Ganzer”! It went through various iterations and tweaks, and used to be much longer in duration until we finally shaped it in a form that is both narrative but also works as a stand-alone song.
What does the creative process look like in the band? Do you make any plans, sketches or you just let the music lead you?
Everything flows freely! Something needs to spark the imagination: A riff, a vocal line, a lyric, a theme… Then we start jamming and the metal Gods bless us with a new song!
Tell me something about the album artwork. Unfortunately, I do not have a CD, but I know the booklet is rich and full of illustrations.
Yes, both the CD and vinyl edition are fully illustrated by our friend Kostas Tsiakos! He did an amazing job working with us throughout the entire creative process, and we couldn’t be happier with the results!
What is the symbolism behind the snake? It is present in your visual appearance.
It has been the band emblem since our inception, a twist on the emblem of Thulsa Doom from the Conan movie. On this album we used it as the emblem of Naram-Sin’s undead empire, denouncing the old Gods and worshiping the serpent in their stead. We even created a 3d sculpture of it (by our friend Kostas Krasonis of Epic Statues) that we’ll be bringing on stage!
Are the band members equally involved in writing music and lyrics or you have the boss?
No bosses and no egos! We are all equal partners in the creative process, all ideas and inputs are always welcome!
How did your approach to music change over the years?
Our approach remains the same: ATTACK! Always play what’s in our hearts, unfiltered! What changed is our skills, as we became better musicians perhaps we made some parts more intricate, but the passion with which we approach the compositions remains intact!
Your work is focused on concept albums. What is your main inspiration?
Depends on the album. There’s always a spark that lights the imagination, this time it was the story of the Skeleton King coupled with the Fall of the Akkad Empire, in “Redemption through Force” it was witch prosecutions… everything starts with an idea that will make us all go “that would kick ass for an album story”! It’s funny how inspiration works, one moment you have nothing and then the littlest thing might instantly trigger a cascade of creativeness! “Duende” as the Spanish call it!
How hard is organising a concert or a tour out of Cyprus? I guess it takes much more logistics for you who live on an island to reach the continent.
Indeed, especially post-covid when airplane tickets cost a fortune. But we are playing in Greece on the 20th and 21st of April, and are working on some European dates, so stay tuned on our Facebook page (http://facebook.com/sabredmetal) for more announcements! If any promoters are interested, just reach out!
I was reading in one of your interviews, that you never had intention to play epic or heavy or US metal. But still, when we are listening to your albums, we can clearly recognize your influences. As I wrote in a review, it is a unique mix, but you are still an authentic band. How do you achieve that when it is impossible to be original in metal and not ridiculous in 2024?
Glad that you find originality in our music, it is indeed no small feat these days! Well, I believe our sound comes from the breadth of our influences. We are all big record collectors and U.S. metal aficionados, so when you put the thousands of releases that we’ve listened to obsessively over the years in the melting pot, something fresh is bound to come up! To clarify, when I said we never intended to play a certain way, it just means that we never sat down and said “alright, let’s play U.S. epic metal”! It’s what came naturally when we first started jamming with Jimmys almost 20 years ago, which makes sense since it’s our favourite genre! Metal magic from our hearts to your ears, nothing less, nothing more!
Solitary Sabred is an interesting name for the band, how did you come up with that idea?
It can be loosely translated as “lone swordsman”, which fits thematically. It also describes mine and Jimmy’s individual efforts to start a band of this kind, until we finally met, and the vision became a reality beyond our imagination! The fact that we’re still here after all these years, more active than ever, brings warmth to our hearts and thank you all for the support!
From what I see, mostly German magazines support you. What would you say to the potential fans about the band so you can “buy” their attention?
In a time before time itself, in a land whose name is only whispered by sages and fools, lived Solitary Sabred. Have a listen… If you dare! Seriously though, if you’re sick and tired of copy-paste plastic metal, and wanna listen to something with a bite, give us a try!
At first, you were actually playing bass. What made you change your mind and replace it with the microphone?
As pedantic as it may sound, we couldn’t find a singer! So I thought what the hell, how hard can it be! Of course it turned out to be very hard, but if you are willing to put in the work, everything can be done! In the beginning I filled both roles, but over time, as both the singing and bass playing became more demanding, we decided to bring George to the band and I focused on the voice.
Your singing style desperately reminds me of Warrel Dane. Who are your main influences?
Thank you for the comparison, it’s a supreme honour, I love the first two Sanctuary albums! I’ve been influenced by many great singers over the years, including Warrel Dane (R.I.P.), but if I had to mention a top 3 I would say Eric Adams, James Rivera and Ski or maybe the Tyrant! We had the honor to share the stage with 2/4 of them, so not bad!
How did you choose your stage names and how much do you identify yourself through it?
Mostly nicknames that stuck over time! They all preceded the band, apart from Fotis who we named “the Defiler”, as he would defile the drums and rip through the kick drum membrane every other rehearsal when he first joined us.
I have found some videos from your live performances. You have a theatrical approach, so I guess you have to plan a bit what will happen on the stage. How do you imagine your perfect show?
The perfect show would be a stage presentation, with actors that would be re-enacting the story of the concept! Maybe one day…
We just stepped into 2024. What are your wishes for the band?
Our wish is to be able to play for all our amazing friends around the globe! Just invite us and we’re there, our way of repaying all the people who support us is to shed blood for them onstage!
Thank you for your time and cooperation. I hope through this interview you could present the band as best as possible. Take care, all the best!
Thank you so much Ivona for the support and the great questions! Check us out on bandcamp http:// solitarysabred.bandcamp.com, follow us on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/sabredmetal and Instagram http://www.instagram.com/solitary_sabred and find us on Spotify. THE BLOODLUST IS SACRED, SOLITARY SABRED!