If you ask me to point some really valuable newcomers on the scene of Heavy / Power Steel I would refer to Cypru's Astronomikon for sure. Their three track debut release was a real Metal attack to my ears and I still enjoy it a lot. Well the band is back in action getting ready to deliver a new album that will take you by storm. So I guessed that the new album was a fantastic reason for an in depth interview with bassist Paris Lambrou and Vocalist Nicholas Leptos. Grab a cold beer and enjoy what the guys have to share with us.
Hello guys and thanks for accepting the invitation to do an Astronomikon interview into Forgotten Scroll.
ASTRONOMIKON: Hello Chris, thanks for the invitation.
Let’s get to the basics. When did the band start and under what circumstances?
Paris Lambrou: I started writing the songs early in 2008. Back then we were finishing the songs for the debut album of Prodigal Earth and we were also gathering ideas for the second one. The musical direction of Prodigal Earth was straight forward heavy/power with Socio-Political lyrics, and my epic music didn’t fit at all, so I decided to create a new project.
Which was the initial line up of the band?
Paris Lambrou: After finishing the music for a couple of songs I asked Nicholas if he was interested to participate in this project. Arrayan Path was inactive, at that point, so he was positive to work on some epic stuff. The rest of the members (Sokratis Leptos and Stefan Dittrich) joined the band in 2010.
What about the name of the band? Who got the idea for it and is there any special concept behind it?
Paris Lambrou: It was very easy to find a name. Astronomy, the science of observing celestial phenomena, is one of my hobbies. The night sky is the biggest book of mythology. It’s full of gnosis, mystery and charm. Every constellation or any other celestial object is accompanied by a myth or an exciting story. Since, long ago, people around the world have associated the heavens, the stars, and the patterns they make in the sky with their gods and heroes. Through the music of ASTRONOMIKON, you will learn about the myths and legends of different cultures, depicted in the sky. So for the lyrics there is a limit…SKY!
In your own words how would you describe your music to someone that has never checked the band out and which bands and / or artists would you point as main influences to your musical concept?
Paris Lambrou: Our music is epic heavy/power metal combining elements of both US and European metal schools. My personal influences surpass the boundaries of metal. All kinds of music have something interesting. Some metal bands we like are Manowar, Iron Maiden, Riot, Virgin Steele, Dio, Crimson Glory, Omen, Stormwitch, Heavy Load, Savatage, Fates Warning, Europe, Warlord, Judas Priest, Helloween, Heir Apparent, Accept, Angelwitch, Queensryche, Running Wild, Tytan Force, Manilla Road, Yngwie Malmsteen, Rainbow.
Both of the main members of the band Paris Lambrou and Nicholas Leptos are involved with some very important -and great- bands of the Cyprus scene; however you started a new project under the name Astronomikon. Which is the spot that the music of Astronomikon fills? And which is that very special reason that have driven you to make this project even if you have the chance to deliver so special music with bands like Diphtheria, Arrayan Path, Prodgal Earth etc...
Paris Lambrou: Diphtheria and Prodigal Earth have split up! In 2009 Nicholas decided to re-activate Arrayan Path. Arrayan Path’s direction is close to that of Astronomikon, but still I had so many songs finished by then, that they could not be absorbed by Arrayan Path. Actually some songs in Arrayan Path’s “Terra Incognita” like Cassiopeia and Minas Tirith were originally intended for Astronomikon because after Arrayan’s re-activation I was considering to cancel the project of Astronomikon. The most important difference between the two bands is that, music for Arrayan Path is mostly written by Nicholas, while in Astronomikon music is mostly written by me. The common thing is that we both write music for both bands and that the preproduction process is done in the same manner.
Can you focus a little to Stefan Dittrich and Socraptes Leptos? Were they full members of the band or what?
Nicholas Leptos: Stefan and Socratis joined in after the songs were ready and some time before the recordings. But I feel that the album would not have been the same without their capabilities and experience. Their performance was magnificent!
Tell us about your debut and only release Dark Gorgon Rising Mini CD, when it was recorded and in how many days?
Nicholas Leptos: There seems to be a misunderstanding here. Astronomikon did not release any mini-cd. What we released was simply a pre-production demo of 3 songs from our debut album. We did it simply to announce the existence of the band. The first ASTRONOMIKON official release will be our debut album ‘Dark Gorgon Rising’ coming out shortly.
Paris Lambrou: I guess what led to this misunderstanding was that the demo was well taken care, with colour cover and printed CD. Now all the songs from that demo have been re-recorded and the new sound is amazing.
When it was finally released and in how many copies?
Nicholas Leptos: The demo was released in 2010 at Power of the night festival in only 65 copies!
Which is the recording line up of this release?
Nicholas Leptos: Actually, the demo was simply pre-production software! Only the vocals are real. As I said, it wasn’t an official release. It was simply to let the people know how ASTRONOMIKON sounds like.
What was the feedback from the fans and the press for this release? Did it help you to spread the word of the band around?
Nicholas Leptos: As far as I know the feedback was very positive. Of course you can’t judge anything more than the actual song-writing as it was simply a computer-made demo.
Paris Lambrou: We had orders from Germany, Greece, Italy, Ukraine, Russia, France and Cyprus, of course. A fan base has been formed.
I bet a cold beer that Rocka Rolla Sword is written for the famous Cyprus Metal club and it is NOT a tribute to Priest's debut. Have I won?
Nicholas Leptos: Yes exactly! We wanted this fantastic bar to have a hymn of its own and I think we have composed a great song for it.
A small comment on the lyrics of the rest of the songs. Who is the Dark Gorgon?
Nicholas Leptos: Our debut album? It is the story of Perseus and Medusa, the ancient Greek myth that we all grew up with. It’s a really fascinating story!
Why you have recorded only three songs for the demo? Financial reasons? Or what? You have done this release yourselves right? Was it a hard task?
Nicholas Leptos: As I said, the demo was done on the computer, all except the vocals. So it was not very hard and had nothing to do with financials.
After the release of the demo, what was the band's next step?
Nicholas Leptos: Now we are ready for our first official release, our debut album ‘Dark Gorgon Rising’! It will contain 13 songs. I am sure you will enjoy it!
Have you ever played live? Is it difficult to transform the power of your music on stage?
Paris Lambrou: We hope that very soon we will announce some live shows. The songs are very demanding, but this won’t be a problem as the band consists of very capable musicians, We are on and Astronomikon still rock on.
Which is the current line up of the band?
Nicholas Leptos: The actual line up of this project is Paris Lambrou-bass, Nicholas Leptos-vocals, Socrates Leptos-guitars, Stefan Dittrich-drums. Keyboards were programmed by Paris and Socrates except one song written, recorded and produced by George Kallis. We also had some death metal vocals on 2 songs by Constantinos Machairiotis, the fantastic Ud playing of Demetrios Argyropoulos on one of the songs, Evagelos Maranis on choirs and some backing vocals and finally Constantinos Constantinou played the guitar solo on the song Rocka Rolla Sword.
Can you spread a little bit of info about your upcoming debut album, musically what paths it will follow?
Nicholas Leptos: The music, as Paris mentioned before, is a mix of European and US metal along with the personal touch of the participating musicians of course. I think I would call it a ‘Iron Maiden and Warlord meets Crimson Glory and Helloween’ kind of record.
Paris Lambrou: Blended with Manowar attitude of course J, and powerful feelings. It was a big challenge for us to work on a concept story, trying to bring the metal version of the myth of Perseas to life. Through our music and lyrics, we tried to achieve the contrast in emotions according to the original story.
Is there any chance to share with us any song or album titles?
Paris Lambrou: There will be an announcement about the album cover, tracklist etc. middle/end of November
Where have you recorded the debut album, who is the producer?
Paris Lambrou: The songs were recorded in Germany, at Maranis Studios (firstname.lastname@example.org) and they were produced/mixed/mastered by Evagelos Maranis (ex-Sanvoisen: vocals). The overall outcome is great and the guitars sound really huge!!! We are very happy with his work, as it really helped elevating the songs.
Are you going to release this one yourselves once again or are you going to co-operate with a record label?
Paris Lambrou: Please forget the demo!!! J. Our debut album will be released through the German PURE STEEL RECORDS. I met them at Keep It True Festival and they said they like the music of Arrayan Path. I mentioned them that we were working on a new project called ASTRONOMIKON and they told me when I have something ready to send it to them. A few weeks ago, when mixing/mastering was finished, we decided to send them a couple of songs and they answered back that our music is absolutely great! For obvious reasons, it is very important for us that we have signed a deal with people who believe in our music.
Being involved with so many bands and projects do you find the suitable time to focus on Astronomikon?
Paris Lambrou: Actually these days I am only involved with Astronomikon and Arrayan Path. What takes most of the time and effort is the preproduction process. We have our own home studio and the last 3 years Nicholas, Sokratis and I, along with some other friends have been working very hard and non-stop to have 4 albums ready, 1 Astronomikon and 3 Arrayan Path (we are currently recording the new Arrayan Path…) So the truth is that we are very busy with these two bands. We all have families and other obligations, but when there is will there is a way.
When shall we expect an album release?
Paris Lambrou: The album is expected to be released in February of 2013.
Nicholas Leptos: We are of course releasing a few songs before that as preview to the album, so stay tuned!
Paris Lambrou: Actually one piece from our upcoming album can be found at
www.astronomikon.com (plays automatically on the site’s home page). It’s the song Rocka Rolla Sword that was firstly released on the Cyprus Metal Scene United Compilation CD. It will be included in our debut as bonus track and it’s the only song that is not related to the story of Perseas, Andromeda and Medusa.
After the release of the album which will be your next move?
Paris Lambrou: Very soon we will start planning the second album. I have written a lot of music in the past, enough for many albums. Nicholas already told me he has some music suitable for Astronomikon. So we will start working on these, along with some fresh ideas, of course, that will occur during the song-writing/preproduction stage.
Well that was it guys Thanks very much for your time LONG LIVE CYPRUS STEEL. LET THE GORGON RISE.
ASTRONOMIKON: Thanks for the interview and keep up the good work.
www.twitter.com/astr0n0mik0n (“0” are zeroes)