Enemy of Reality – Uncovering the TruthThursday, 23rd March 2023
When it comes to symphonic metal, the landscape has spread far and wide for artists putting their own flavor into this widely appreciated style. Greek band Enemy of Reality have been active since 2013, releasing two previous full-lengths before returning to the scene with this third studio record Where Truth May Lie. Another solid outing, the eleven tracks intertwine heavier textures with cinematic orchestration, infused with exotic textures beyond the impressive operatic melodies from vocalist Iliana Tsakiraki and supplementary growls/screams as needed. Those followers into Tristania, Xandria, and even Therion will find plenty to enjoy here.
We reached out to Iliana to answer our questions about the long break between studio records, the fascinating conceptual storyline for the new record, what makes for an ideal Enemy of Reality song at this point in the band’s career, her insights as a vocal coach and what she works on with her students, favorite memories related to the band, plus future plans.
Dead Rhetoric: The third Enemy of Reality album Where Truth May Lie is finally out. What took place behind the scenes to cause a six and a half year wait between releases beyond the pandemic? Where do you see the major differences in this release compared to the first two records for the band?
Iliana Tsakiraki: The reason for the long gap between releases was mainly due to pandemic. We had already composed everything just before the first lockdown, but it took some time to feel certain that we would be able to perform these new songs live and do them justice. As for the differences in Where Truth May Lie compared to our previous albums, I would say that this release is more mature and cohesive, both musically and thematically. We took our time with this album and really focused on creating a concept that would tie all the songs together.
Dead Rhetoric: Can you provide more insight into the ancient Greek fictional storyline that runs through this conceptual piece? Also how did it come about to use some traditional string/wind instruments to add more context/depth to the normal instrumentation you hear on the record?
Tsakiraki: I ‘m going to refer to this short passage that our lyricist, Thanos, wrote to describe the concept because I couldn’t describe it better.
“The story unfolds in ancient Greece, one dreadful night when a mother and daughter were lost into the flames of their worship; their praying mutters becoming their eulogy when the fire of their offering candles sealed their fate. Ashes and piles of coal was what remained of them when the tragic father returned, the Priest. How ironic to be denied all you ever loved by the same gods you worship. Manic laughs and cries escaped his mouth as he kneeled upon the ashes of all he held dear. This funeral pyre burnt out his faith. Desperate he began to wander away from civilization, losing himself inside the forests, where all kind of creatures dwelled. Satyrs and Nymphs, Centaurs and illegitimate offspring of the gods, the outcasts of society, were excited to welcome yet another soul into their circle. Some offered spiritual healing, through alcohol and manic dance, while others insisted that he fed the needs of his body, the most hidden sexual desires. Yet, both remedies could lead to a horrible demise, should he become enslaved by them. The tale of Marsyas that defied Apollo with his musical talent and the nymph Echo that became a victim to the devouring love of Pan, woke him up from the trance. His only hope was to follow another forest whisper, a rumor about the Philosopher, an all-knowing entity hidden on the top of the mountain, long forgotten by a world desperate to relinquish the truths of the past. But not as desperate as he was to uncover them. Though restless, he must learn what lies beyond his painful existence, who weaves the fate of men and his own.”
As for the traditional instruments, we wanted to use these types of instruments to blend our sound with those colors to better suit the story.
Dead Rhetoric: You’ve shot two videos for “Serenade of Death” and “Downfall” – do you enjoy the process of expressing yourselves in this medium, as it seems to lend itself well to the imagery and costumes of the band and visuals you can explore to get more of the band’s material across to a global audience?
Tsakiraki: We definitely enjoy the process of creating music videos, as it allows us to express our creativity and bring our music to life visually. It’s also a great way to reach a wider audience and promote our music. We put a lot of thought and effort into our videos, from the concept and storyline to the costumes and visuals, and we’re really happy with how they turned out.
Dead Rhetoric: What are some of the key ingredients that you feel make Enemy of Reality’s sound distinct and special when it comes to the symphonic metal genre?
Tsakiraki: It has been ten years that we have been playing together. Our sound has evolved. According to the fans and critics, the common denominator has always been the vocals. At first, it was about blending our different influences together to create something new, typical symphonic influences, along with more extreme drumming, and progressive/ power guitars and bass. On the second record, Arakhne, we went to some extremes as far as how important the orchestras were to our sound. Since then, we played many, many shows together, which brought much experience to the band, and we even experimented with our older songs live, changing bits that made them sound better. So right now, the identity of the band is usually good metal songs that tell a story, and we hope the people will love as much as us.
Dead Rhetoric: You’ve appeared on a number of recordings as a guest vocalist – including your work on The Great Mass from Septicflesh. Do you believe these spots improve the profile for Enemy of Reality and gain more attraction to your work as more people discover your professionalism and soprano vocal range?
Tsakiraki: Absolutely. Collaborating with other artists and bands has been a great way to expand our reach and gain more exposure. It also allows us to showcase our versatility as musicians and reach new audiences who may not have heard of us before.
Dead Rhetoric: What do you consider some of the biggest challenges facing the band at this point in your career? What are some of the next logical steps you would have to take to gain more of a stronger fanbase not only in Greece, but abroad?
Tsakiraki: One of the biggest challenges we face as a band is to reach a wider audience and expand our fanbase not only in Greece but also abroad as you said. We are constantly working on promoting our music and reaching out to new listeners through social media and other platforms. We also hope to be able to perform live even more often in the future and go on tours to promote our music.
Dead Rhetoric: With your profession as a vocal teacher, what types of students do you work with, and where do you see most of the struggles that take place in trying to improve the skills of the people that you work with?
Tsakiraki: As a vocal teacher, I work with students of various ages and skill levels, from beginners to advanced singers. One of the most common struggles that I see among my students is developing proper technique and control over their voice, as well as overcoming stage fright and performance anxiety. It takes a lot of practice and dedication to improve as a singer, but with the right guidance and mindset, anyone can improve their skills.
Dead Rhetoric: How did you personally handle the prolonged downtime of the COVID-19 pandemic? Did you develop any new hobbies, passions or interests – and did you make sure to take care of your own personal mental and physical well-being?
Tsakiraki: The COVID-19 pandemic was a challenging time for everyone, but I tried to stay positive and focused on my personal and professional growth. I spent a lot of time practicing and writing music, as well as having fun with my close friends.
Dead Rhetoric: What have been the best live performances for Enemy of Reality to date? What do you hope audiences take away when experiencing the band in a live setting that may differ than the studio records?
Tsakiraki: Some of our best live performances have been at festivals such as Metal Female Voices Fest, Dames of Darkness Fest, Maximum Rock, Artmania and more recently, one of our favorite moments was Release Athens festival as well as our album release shows. We hope that audiences take away a sense of energy and emotion from our live shows, as well as a deeper connection to our music and the story that we are trying to tell.
Dead Rhetoric: Where do you think you saw the greatest growth when it came to your musical and vocal abilities? And do you agree with the sentiment that the best opera singers should often be compared to elite sports athletes due to the training and work behind their craft to elevate themselves to the top of the ladder?
Tsakiraki: I have seen the greatest growth in my vocal abilities through years of practice and training, as well as performing live and experimenting with different styles and techniques. I do agree that opera singers can be compared to elite athletes due to the rigorous training and discipline required to master their craft.
Dead Rhetoric: What’s on the horizon for activities, live shows, touring, and promotion for Enemy of Reality in the next year or two? Will there be a fourth album that hopefully hits the streets sooner to make up for the long gap between releases?
Tsakiraki: As for what’s on the horizon for Enemy of Reality, we are planning on performing live as much as possible and promoting our latest album, Where Truth May Lie. We are also already working on new music for a possible fourth album in the future.