Rhodium – Delirious with HonorSaturday, 25th January 2020
Greek power progressive metal act Rhodium have been rather productive in their relatively short career. Forming in 2017, their debut full-length Screams into the Void came out a year later – gaining acclaim for its wide array of US/European influences both old and new. Signing to Sliptrick Records, the follow-up Sea of the Dead has a new lineup outside of main guitarist Loukas Wolv Antoniou – but doesn’t waver in its strong musicianship, songwriting, and outstanding performances. Comparisons to the work of Iced Earth, Jag Panzer, Iron Maiden, Angel Witch on through to Sanctuary and Queensrÿche come up often, providing the listeners with solid mechanics and upper echelon effort from these musicians.
Reaching out to the band to provide us with more insight into their background, their albums, and future goals, enjoy this interview with guitarist Loukas, bassist Kostas Kiriakis, and fellow guitarist Sergio Tellis.
Dead Rhetoric: What can you tell us about your initial memories surrounding music growing up? At what point did you discover heavy metal, and then want to pick up an instrument and start playing/performing in an original band?
Loukas Wolv Antoniou: First, I would like to thank you for this interview! It is a great honor for us. Despite the fact that we may appear new to the scene, each of us has a lot of background in underground music. My first metal band was in the early 90’s! We had even recorded an LP back then. Unfortunately, the band broke up and I continued to write music on my own.
Kostas Kiriakis: My dad is a big rock fan. I grew up listening to The Doors, early era Judas Priest, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Uriah Heep among others. In addition, I had a heavy exposure to classical music and started studying the piano at the age of six. By the late 80’s I discovered Iron Maiden and Steve Harris. I don’t remember the exact year, but I do remember it was Piece of Mind on cassette. This was the turning point for me. I fully embraced heavy metal and decided to pick up the bass. The rest as they say is history.
Dead Rhetoric: Rhodium began in 2017 with guitarist Loukas Wolv Antoniou – what do you remember about the early lineup and idea behind the band? Did you have a direct vision of what you wanted the band to sound like, or was it through discovering the right lineup/players that the sound evolved?
Antoniou: Rhodium was a project that I had in mind for a long time. When I found the right people and the money to support the effort, I grabbed the opportunity. Aspa was my partner in crime from the very beginning. Not only was she the manager, but also the main lyricist of the songs. I wrote 100% of the music so unavoidably our sound sprung from the bands that accompanied me in my youth (Iced Earth, Metallica , Iron Maiden, Slayer, Fates Warning, Crimson Glory, Megadeth, Paradise Lost, Judas Priest the list could go on forever !) .
The result of our recordings was so satisfactory that I had decided to create a band with a goal to perform the material for an audience. Nothing is more rewarding than performing live shows and seeing people enjoying your music.
Dead Rhetoric: Your debut album Scream into the Void came out independently last year – what are your thoughts on the recording and songwriting sessions for this effort? How do you look back on this release now that it’s been out for over a year?
Antoniou: Scream into the Void was an ideal debut for Rhodium. It was met with great reviews not only from the press all over the world, but also from the fans. It was a fun time recording all these ideas that I have been collecting all these years. I have had the honor of working together with very talented people for Scream into the Void. George Mylonas, who was our producer, is an amazing musician, and my mentor. Mastering is a very important process too and we had the fortune of working with Nasos Nomikos who added the distinct sound of the analog mastering to our songs. The artwork was the creation of Giannis Nakos, an amazing artist, the best in Greece in my opinion. We left nothing to chance and tried to deliver a professional work even with our limited resources.
The sales of our CD and merch as well as the messages we receive on our page are a great way of the fans showing their support. It goes without saying that a band cannot exist without fans. We have been endorsed by many people and media too. But we can’t be accepted by everyone. I would be worried if we were…I would think that we had made too many compromises. (laughs)
Dead Rhetoric: Can you discuss the lineup changes that have occurred between the records – and are you hopeful that this lineup will be more stable and permanent for Rhodium?
Antoniou: The truth is that no one can make it alone. Especially in music. A band in order to advance and make a difference in this sea of bands that is out there, needs to make sacrifices, needs to make an effort and go for that extra mile. Therefore the lineup changes were necessary in order for the band to evolve. I needed to find bandmates committed to our goals and that would have something to offer other than spending the time playing like they were in a high school band. The Sea of the Dead lineup gives me confidence that we can aim high.
Dead Rhetoric: You signed with Sliptrick Records for the second album Sea of the Dead – how did this take place, and what do you believe they can offer that takes some of the burden off promoting the release totally on your own?
Antoniou: Nowadays the music industry isn’t what it used to be 15, 20 years ago. What a band may expect from a label is to expand the distribution points of the end product, but still most of the effort still remains to the band’s end.
Dead Rhetoric: Where do you see the major differences between the newest album and your debut? Were there any surprises, obstacles, or challenges that had to be worked through from the initial songwriting sessions on through to the recordings and final product?
Antoniou: The experience from our first album helped us to create a better end product. One of the major differences was that all the songs were composed in 2019. There were fresh ideas inspired by events that are taking place around us. We had worked with a pre-production plan this time, so when we started the recordings, we knew exactly what to expect.
Unfortunately the challenge that we had to overcome was that our former guitarist and bassist failed to stand up to the occasion, so we had to look for new members in the middle of the recordings. On the other hand, we were lucky enough to find great musicians to fill up the spots and it was then when Sergio and Kostas came aboard.
Dead Rhetoric: You use an outside lyricist Asap Feanor for the band – are there any specific reasons for this, and what do you think she brings to the table to offer another special standout element for Rhodium, as there are some interesting topics she tackles with this record based on her own personal experiences and profound emotions?
Antoniou: Allow me to correct one word of the question. Aspa is far from an outside lyricist. She has been there from the very first notes of the creation of the band and I consider her to be an invaluable sixth member to the band. Her different point of view helps us to go beyond stereotypes and write songs about more sensitive matters, such as children who die on their effort to escape the horrors of war, pedophilia, patients who suffer from mental illness and are mistreated.
Actually, the artwork of the album is trying to capture the essence of the title track “Sea of the Dead,” It shows people (young, old, families) walking towards a stormy sea, hoping to reach a ‘better place’ at the end of their journey. It is dedicated to all the people who have lost their lives in the cold waters of the Aegean Sea, in a futile attempt escaping from the horrors of war.
Dead Rhetoric: Intertwining influences from numerous genres like power, progressive, modern, and gothic styles within a heavy metal context, how important has it been to develop dynamic and fresh material song to song, album to album – and still keep it within a Rhodium style?
Sergio Tellis: Well, you know, it’s important for a band to have its own style. The truth is that if we combine what each one of us likes then we cover the full spectrum of metal music; from Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath all the way to Cannibal Corpse and Atheist. and it doesn’t even stop there, we should even include rock and blues from the almighty Queen to Howling Wolf. Therefore we have an infinite pool of inspiration and the beautiful thing about it is that the point where we find our common ground creates Rhodium ‘s style!!!
Dead Rhetoric: What do you consider some of the biggest challenges that Rhodium need to break through and overcome to ascend up the ladder in terms of a bigger following to develop a stronger presence within not only the Greek scene, but the international landscape?
Kiriakis: Probably to get noticed. I don’t want to sound cocky, but I have absolute faith in our material and abilities. Otherwise I wouldn’t be here.
Dead Rhetoric: Where do you see the differences between the studio and the stage for the band – do you have a preference for one aspect over the other, or do you find that both aspects are equally enjoyable for different reasons?
Kiriakis: It’s true that each aspect has its appeal. Studio work is a great way to brainstorm and create the actual music. That being said live performance is about going above and beyond in order to present a full experience to the audience. For me this is priceless, and the reason I got involved with music in the first place.
Dead Rhetoric: Who would you consider three of the most important metal bands that helped shape your philosophy or outlook on the genre – and who do you believe is a very underrated band that more people need to dig deeper into their catalog and pay attention to?
Kiriakis: As I said earlier Iron Maiden is the band that introduced me to heavy metal. These guys take the first place for me and for a very good reason. Thing is I listen to everything metallic, not only straight heavy or power metal. To list only two more bands is too few for me. I could name at least 10-15 bands off the tip of my tongue from various genres. As for underrated bands, I’d most probably go with Warlord. Their 80’s output, even if small, was phenomenal.
Dead Rhetoric: What types of hobbies, activities, or interests do the members of Rhodium have away from the music that they use to recharge their batteries and renew their personal energy so to speak? And how do you balance the work/life/family activities with the band?
Kiriakis: I read a lot. Mostly literature, philosophy, history and poetry. Not only it’s a great way to recharge and re-evaluate, it is also an excellent source for new music. You could say I am a bookworm (laughs).
Dead Rhetoric: What worries or concerns you most about the current world that we live in today? If you had the opportunity to change anything about the world, what would you like to change and why?
Kiriakis: Dunno if I can point my finger at a single thing, as the world sadly is going downhill day after day in almost every aspect. I’d probably wish for human awareness beyond the self, as I believe most of humanity’s problems start there. Too much self-importance for no good reason.
Dead Rhetoric: What’s on the agenda for Rhodium over the next twelve months for activities, promotion, videos, shows, tours, etc.? Has work already begun on the songwriting for the third album, and if so what can the followers expect in terms of a style – are you satisfied with the direction of the band, or will things consistently change and grow over time?
Tellis: Ahead of us we have our album release party show which takes place in Athens in February 22 @ Crow Club live stage and also two more booked shows in Thessaloniki and Crete. Currently we are looking at our options to start booking some European dates. As far as a third album or new material concerns, we are so full of ideas! And the new members are so inspired that makes us 100% sure that any new material will be really good! Our plan is to create more and more stuff and grow and let the music inside our heads come out and always try to keep it beautiful!