Interview by Demitri Levantis
With the release of their fifth studio album “Lamia Satanica” last month, I caught up with Maltese melodic black metal force Martyrium to discuss what they have in store for their fans and how it feels being a leading metal force for their country.
Hi and thanks for joining us, let’s start with Lamia Satanica – what is the meaning of this title and what made you choose it?
Greetings from the Martyrium Horde and thank you for this interview – the story behind ‘Lamia Satanica’ is derived from a Greek mythological tale, one that spells love, hate, betrayal, revenge, all emotions akin to what is the embodiment of human nature. It is strewn together through the consequences of human actions and their subsequent aftermath. We chose this means of expression to fully embody a concept were the listener may find him or herself in a mystic, long lost world of darkness imbued in human fantasy, a world between those of gods and men.
As this is the first album to feature new vocalist Sandra Misanthrope, does it showcase anything new in terms of experimentation or songwriting, etc?
Sandra was already with the band during its live shows in 2018, and both concept and material was already very familiar to her. Gladly, her splendid delivery on vocals added a further diabolical dimension to crown each and ever song, one which we are very happy and proud of and is fairly new to the overall the sound of the band.
What made you guys choose Art Gates Records for the album’s release and will you work with them again?
Art Gates were recommended by a common friend and they offered us a great platform from which to work. We will gladly do so again in the future.
Did you work with anyone notable in the making of this album and do you have any fun stories from what went into it?
Fun stories we have aplenty (and some less funny…) however this album was fully planned, recorded and mastered in-house by the band itself, so regretfully we didn’t get to share any of these with others this time round.
Who was behind the album’s artwork and have you worked with them before?
The name of the artist is Etienne Bugeja, and it’s the first time we have worked with him as a band, although one of our ranks did collaborate with him for one of his previous bands. It has been a pleasure to work with him and we are very satisfied that he has delivered
What are your personal favourite songs from Lamia Satanica and why?
My personal favourite would be Starless Opacity, I love all the emotions that this song is capable to evoke in me. I also find Sandra’s voice is impressive on this track, complimenting it with such undiluted power and diabolic energy.
Are there any guest appearances on Lamia Satanica or does it feature any contributions or influences that make it stand out from your other releases?
There haven’t been any guest appearances, but it does stand out in a way that it sounds like it draws a lot of diverse elements from the four previous albums into one, something which might not have been planned entirely, but which we are glad that came out that way.
You guys help put on events in Malta such as VOTS Festival, what sort of impact do you feel those events have had on your country’s metal scene?
Always glad to put up a show! Regardless of the impact, it is something which we enjoy immensely and help us meet like-minded individuals with whom we may share and enjoy our passions.
How, in your opinion, has the Maltese metal scene changed in the times you’ve been making music, do you think it’s gotten better or needs change?
There has been a lot of change from the old days, and mostly for the good – we now have a large spectrum of different styles which we can enjoy in the local scene. One thing I miss though is a certain unity which was fairly strong, more present back in the days and growing up, but we are all nowadays a product of these times.
As well as Martyrium’s typical song lyrics of Ancient Magic and Satanic Philosophy, is Maltese history and culture an influence on your music in any shape or form?
No Maltese history for the time being, but we do draw up our concepts from other and diverse sources as well – everything that surrounds us serves as an inspiration, and that inspiration is summed up and conjured through our material and spiritual influences.
For me personally, Martyrium was the first Maltese metal band I discovered, how does it feel being of that status when it comes to new blood in the metal scene discovering your country?
Always proud to carry the Maltese flag unto uncharted territories! The scene back home is blessed with some very good and interesting bands, and the community is small but strong. It all feels very good to us.
Have you ever considered releasing an album entirely in Maltese or based on any periods of Maltese history?
I have been in a band named ‘Memento Nostri’ which dealt with the Grand Siege of Malta of 1565, and it was a very pleasurable experience. Martyrium might have never explored such a possibility, however, there will be some very interesting changes in both art direction and visualizing of concepts for the upcoming releases.
How has the Covid pandemic affected you, did you have to cancel much, or did it push back the album at all?
It has affected us greatly, like any other touring band or one with an imminent release in the pipeline – unfortunately, all the shows have been cancelled, but at least most of them have been postponed for when this damn situation eases up. Needless to say, we just can’t wait to get back to doing what we love the most.
Going back further, at what age did you decide you wanted to be a musician, can you remember the first instrument you owned or first time you performed?
I started at an early age due to the musical influences within my own family, but I got to choose and pic my own interest in an instrument on my early teens. And yes, who can ever forget the first instrument (I still have it) and the very first time that they perform? All things which we hold close to heart.
Are any of Martyrium involved in any other projects you think we should all check out?
Unfortunately, there’s not much going on right now apart from our full commitment to Martyrium – Sandra is in another two bands, I and the guys also have or do some side collaborations however all is pretty much stalled right now. On the bright side, this helped to concentrate on the recording and production of the new album.
Do you have any fun anecdotes from your years on the road you’d like to share with us, like anywhere amazing you’ve visited or funny things you got up to?
I think every band hold to heart funny stories or memorable anecdotes from what is life on the road… when we can remember them that is! I think we have a collective penchant for getting lost, which can be considered funny if you ever manage to get to your destination er even back home.
What do you enjoy the most about being a musician, is it the lifestyle or the creativity or getting to see the world?
Music is our veins; it is our life’s blood and without it, there is no enjoyment whatsoever. The cherry on the proverbial cake is that throughout this means, we capable of communicating and express ourselves in a way that we would not know how otherwise. The lifestyle and the world just go hand in hand with it.
Finally, do you have anything you would like to say to our readers?
Thanks to your readers for reading this and for the opportunity you gave us to talk to them all – to our fans, a heartfelt thank you for all the marvellous support throughout the years and to date, and on behalf of Martyrium I wish you to stay strong and stay safe… see you on the rood soon!
Thank you so much for joining us, I wish you all the best for the future!