Now You Know: Solace of Requiem

Thursday, 9th October 2014

Formation: 2001
Location: Virginia, USA
Style: Extreme metal that balances technicality and melody
Personnel: Jeff Sumrell (Bass, Vocals); Dave Tedesco (Drums); Richard Gulczynski (Guitars)
Latest Release: Casting Ruin (ViciSolum Productions)

Usually our Now You Know segments are more feature-based, but Jeff’s answers were too rich and insightful to condense and break apart. – Kyle

Dead Rhetoric: Solace of Requiem doesn’t exactly scream “extreme metal” when you see it. How’d you decide upon the name?

Jeff Sumrell: We always felt our name should mean something significant to our sound. The word “solace” means comfort in a time of sorrow. While “requiem”, is a piece of music dedicated to the dead. So, our band name is simply the consolation you receive from death metal. We have a part in the overwhelming majority of our songs that is somewhat somber and soulful. That attribute of our band led to our name selection back in 2001/2002. Having said that, I think the name is quite appropriate for us because we sound so odd and unique. Why not have a name that also lends to that same sense of mystery, complication and depth? ! I believe our name makes people more curious about us. Especially once they hear our music.

Dead Rhetoric: Who are some of Solace of Requiem’s biggest influences?

Sumrell: A lot of different artists have shaped my personal direction for this band. I listen to a lot of classical piano, rock, southern rock, rap, metal of all genres, alternative music and even some more obscure forms of world music. I would assume, like all people, I am a product of all my influences. So it would be really hard for me to pinpoint only a few influences when in reality there must be hundred, at minimum. I know this isn’t a proper answer, but the closest thing I could do would be to name some of my favorites that are more easily discerned from our style. In that case, I would say Chuck Schuldiner, Trey Azagthoth and Jerry Cantrell are the easiest to hear within my work.

Dead Rhetoric: There are a lot of different elements and extreme subgenres present on Casting Ruin. What do you think is the main component of the band, stylistically-speaking?

Sumrell: We consider ourselves “extreme metal”. However, we consider most all likeminded bands to be extreme metal. I don’t really like all the subgenres because they can’t truly explain a sound. You just have to hear some bands and SOR is one of those bands that you just have to hear. I often see our band classified as “technical blackened death metal”. We even subscribe to that classification and say that ourselves on a few of our websites. However, when using the word “technical”, most people would assume we sound like Necrophagist, Origin or another technical band of that genre. However, Solace Of Requiem sounds absolutely nothing like any of those bands! We do sound complex and technical, no doubt, but still we sound in no way similar to the bands considered to be technical. It is unfair to say we are this or that, because the truth is that we don’t sound like anything that anyone would be able to properly relate us to. So to say what style is the main component of SOR, I’d have to say our main component is “darkness”. We are very dark, macabre, eerie, creepy, off, strange, disturbing. We sound like “evil”. And for the most part, you can understand the words being sung. Which, for some, can add to the macabre nature of our art.

Dead Rhetoric: Casting Ruin never falls prey to the verse-chorus-verse type of patterning you see with most bands. Is it a conscious decision to avoid that particular songwriting approach?

Sumrell: No. I can’t say that I purposefully try and avoid a specific format. I think it ends that way not because of a decision that is made to keep it from happening, but only because the way the songs are written doesn’t allow for that to take place. Each song is written as a movement, containing three acts. The number three appears often in the album. It’s based around it in many ways. But I digress, my point is that the songs are written to flow in a forward motion, from start to finish, passing through three separate acts. So there is no place for things to repeat and hooks to be present. It’s not that kind of art. It is its own animal, unique from snout to tail. There’s no place for a pattern to truly form. However, each part is reminiscent of each of its sister parts inside the song. They are not all built to be within the same key or cadence, but in the same atmosphere and using those similar atmospheres to be bridged to each other in familiar ways. It’s very complex, but it works!

It’s almost as if it has its own biology. No matter how much you think you know the song, it seems to grow, and offer you a new version of itself, a new way of perceiving it, every time you hear it again. Each song is a living, breathing art form. Every small detail is related to the motif in more than several ways. The music, meanings, atmospheres and sound are all married in perfect harmony. A complex and intricate marriage. There is simply no room for repeating things, when one is trying to tell a story in proper fashion.

Dead Rhetoric: Recording in Mana Studios, do you feel being there shaped the sound of the band at all for Casting Ruin?

Sumrell: For me to say what the album would have sounded like if it had been recorded at a different study would be pure speculation. However, I can say with the utmost confidence that we did indeed record the album at the correct studio. The reason for my confidence in that statement is because of the work ethic of our main producer, Brian Elliot. Brian was the most professional and hardest working perfectionist that I have personally ever met in my life. He drove our band to points that even we had no idea we could reach. He demands the best from his bands and we really needed the attitude he displayed consistently during our entire studio experience. The man took no shortcuts and accepted nothing other than perfection. So although I can’t speculate what the album would sound like if it had been recorded in another studio, but I can say that I would doubt any other producer could have pushed us to the same point that Brian got us to.

On a side note, we have recently learned that Brian has given up the studio business and has went to be a missionary. We weren’t his last band he ever worked with, but we were very close to being his last project. It was my pleasure to have had the opportunity to work with him. He was the best producer I’ve ever met and although I am happy for him and wish him success in all he does, I’m deeply saddened that the chances of being able to work with Brian again are very small. A great man should have a great life. We wish him luck!

Dead Rhetoric: You made a “clean” and “18+” version of your video for “Soiling the Fields of Putridity.” What was the vibe that you wanted for this video, and why create the two different versions?

Sumrell: I’ll answer the second part of this question first. The terms of service for Youtube require us to “age restrict” our video if it contains brief, artistic nudity. Our new video contains exposed female breasts, so it was mandatory to age restrict our video on Youtube. Which, of course, is the biggest outlet for video media in the world. So we had no choice other than to age restrict the video, which causes the viewer to be logged into Google/Youtube or Facebook in order to verify they are at least 18 years old before they can watch it. Many people don’t want the hassle of logging in to a site in order view a video, so we decided to make two versions. One version is censored, so we can post that video and not be afraid that someone won’t be able to watch it because they’re not logged in to an affiliated networking site.

Regarding the first part of your question, the vibe for the video was meant to be disturbing. We wanted to make it as creepy and odd as our music was, but, most importantly, we wanted the lyrical message and the cinematic message to be the same. I think we have achieved that nicely. The cinematic meaning and lyrics are both available inside the video description on each respective upload, but for a basic explanation, the video is about the stranglehold religion puts on science and the justification of atrocities and human rights violations made in the name of religion, consistently throughout our history.

Dead Rhetoric: Reading an interview the band had done recently, it was mentioned that science was the only true measure of the world that we live in (as opposed to religion). Does this aspect reach into the lyrics of the band?

Sumrell: This subject is our main focus within the album. However, each song has three songs in it (there’s that number three again). The song in your left speaker, the totally different song that’s in the right speaker, and the third song you hear when those first two songs from the left and right speakers are combined. Now, just as each of our songs actually has three songs within it, so does our lyrics. Each song’s text is a triple entendre (again, the number three). One meaning is superficial, one is about the music/band and one is secular. So although it is only 33.33% of our meaning, I definitely cover that topic quite well in this album, as well as our prior releases, for that matter.

Dead Rhetoric: As a band that has been around for well over 10 years, what drives you to continue to create music?

Sumrell: The force that makes me continue making music, is the same force that drives the seas to rise and fall, that make the sun warm our planet, that make the stars shine in the heavens. It is simply because it is what I am and what I do. I am my music and my music is me. We are one thing! I cannot be separated from it and it can never be severed from me. I make music, it’s what I am.

Dead Rhetoric: Likewise, where would you like to see the band in 5 years or so?

Sumrell: I would like to see us succeed. I would like to see us being a band that people know and respect. I want us to be considered in the same breath as the people I consider to be the best. I want nothing different for my band than every musician wants for their band. I want for people to enjoy my music and understand what is in my music. To try understand what my art is all about. That, I think, is the first wish of any artist.

Dead Rhetoric: Now that Casting Ruin has been released, how will Solace of Requiem spend the rest of 2014?

Sumrell: We’re going to be on tour in Europe this November and December with Ulcerate. So, now that the album is out, as well as having already released our album trailer and music video, we plan on trying to tour for the album as much as possible. So touring will remain our top priority for the next several months. We are going to start working on new material soon as well. It takes a very long time to make a song that is extremely complex and intricate, so we plan on starting that process sometime before the end of the year as well. We love to make videos and release new material! That is a very exciting time for any musician, but I will be really happy when we can just focus on playing live and bringing our music to people all over the world. We really love playing live and I’m sure I can speak for the whole band when I say that touring is very stressful and requires a lot of hard work, but it is our favorite part about being in a band. Performing our music for an audience that can appreciate it is the whole reason we make music. So we are all really excited and happy to be finishing out the rest of this year on tour.

Thank you for your time and allowing me to communicate to your audience. I would just like to say that we have a duty as humans to discover the answers to life’s many questions. The greatest questions ever asked by mankind have been constantly and habitually answered falsely, to assume or maintain control over other human beings. The charlatans that claim to hold the answers to these great question have continued to halt progress and segregate our people for long enough. It is time to make a final stand against all religion and once again make the greatest questions in life an open debate for all mankind.

To show our support of our beliefs and message, we are donating 10% of our online clothing sales to three children’s charities that help children all over the world by providing services and education in regard to science and the arts. More information about these charities, as well as our new video, album trailer, a free stream of the entire new album, as well as links to buy the CD, LP and digital formats are on our website. Hail Science!

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