Nightrage Interview

Despotz Records

One of the more prolific and reliable purveyors of melodic death metal despite an oft-changing lineup, Greek/Swedish outfit Nightrage return with their tenth album, Remains Of A Dead World. We sat down with long-time guitarist Marios Iliopoulos to find out more.

Brendan Crabb: Nightrage is releasing its tenth studio album in a 20-plus year career. How has the band remained so prolific and energized throughout its run?
Marios Illiopoulos: Yeah, it’s quite an achievement now that I’m looking back a bit. I think it’s because of the strong passion we have about playing music and loving it to the death. All these years we have been through good and bad times, but we kept it together and we were always focusing and getting inspired to get to the next album, because we are living for that.
All this journey so far I can look at as a musical adventure, and the best is yet to come for sure, as we feel very inspired to carry on. We now have a great line-up with amazing musicians that are ready and giving their best for the band, and that gives us a lot of hope and anticipation for the future.

How did the band approach the new album from a songwriting perspective? Has your songwriting approach evolved much throughout the years?
Everything starts with me and Magnus (Söderman, guitars) jamming our ideas and making songs together. All the music comes from these sessions. We are writing really good demos with all instruments, digital drums, etc, so we have a good idea what kind of songs we have in our arsenal. This is actually the fourth album now we are writing together and the chemistry is always there, and the whole thing goes very natural and smooth without any stress or pressure. I want to give credit to Fotis Benardo on this album since he worked a lot with the mixing, recording and helping us with the arrangements. He gave us a really unique and cool mix and sound in the end.

Tell us about new singer Konstantinos Togas. How did you find him, and what attributes or unique qualities does he bring to Nightrage?
That was pure luck as we were very desperate to find a singer at the last minute before some German shows. Thanks to Fotis Benardo, our producer, he gave us the tip about Konstantinos. He was dead willing and grabbed the bull by the horn and got into the tour, learned the songs in no time, and that’s how (he) ended being our new singer. We all liked his voice and great, fun personality, and we feel that he is giving a huge boost now to the band.

Nightrage has had a series of line-up changes during its career. Has that proven challenging throughout the years, or is it just part of life in a long-running band?
Yeah, it always happens, nothing you can do about it. People change and make their own decisions, or (are) looking for something else, but that does not mean that the band needs to suffer (because of) it. It can be challenging at times, but you know what, it does not bother me anymore. It used to bother me in the past, but I can’t control people and their actions, the door is open (and) whoever can come in or go. I don’t care too much about stuff like that anymore; the band will never stop, no matter what.

The problem is that sometimes, people, they don’t know what they really want, and they start to blame the band and the situation they are (in), and most of the time when they realize that they took what they wanted, then they leave to go where the grass is greener. I’m very clear from the beginning of what this band is representing; we are not playing to grab the next dollar, or to see ourselves jumping on the next trending bandwagon. We are playing music to heal our souls and find a meaning in life; we are not playing for the wrong reasons. It’s because we damn love creativity and love to find great connections with a cool audience. If these people came into this band, to cash a dollar, then they are on the wrong business for sure, because that’s not what we do.

It’s people and they get weird sometimes. I feel the guys we have now in the band are great people, and they all know why we are here and why we are doing this. Saying that, we have also a new drummer, a surprise, that also came in the last minute. It’s Fotis Benardo, our old drummer and now producer; after 20 years he jumps back in and we are super stoked and excited about this. He is an absolutely great musician and drummer, a great friend and the kindest person, and he would boost the band to the maximum and our live performances. We can’t wait for the next albums.

What criteria do you utilize when recruiting a new member for the group?
Be a nice guy, it’s a must, and the rest will come. Like I said before, I don’t like people with agendas and dark corners. If you are honest, kind and you respect where you are, and know what you want, that is a great recipe to be in this band. I love nice guys.

The press kit accompanying the new album describes Nightrage as “one of the last remaining true masters of the melodic death metal genre.” Why do you feel this is the case? Do you feel this style of music is in a healthy state throughout the world?
Well, that’s something a lot of fans keep telling us, and that’s probably why our label pick(ed up) on that and described it like that. I don’t really know to be honest; we are doing this kind of music out of necessity to hear what we would love to hear from other bands. That can also explain that we are big fans of the music that we are playing. Maybe because this kind of music got a bit watered down the past years and it lost its smoothness and creativity, we are very happy to call ourselves a metal band and we are trying to write music that comes from the heart, and not from our pockets, I guess.

We don’t want this to feel like a job to us. We like to keep things very pure and as honest as possible. There are many great bands out there for sure, and we feel that we are also putting our nice touch on the genre. We will carry on with that as long we are inspired and we
have something to say.

Are there any up-and-coming melodic death metal bands that our readers should check out? Or some under-rated classics they need to hear?
I still love my old classics like Dissection and Edge of Sanity, and Hypocrisy is also legendary. But I haven’t heard anything that came into my radar that was very impressive to be honest.
But I’m sure that something will come sooner or later to give me some great chills. You should check out Nightfall, On Thorns I Lay and Rotting Christ from my home country of Greece. We have a growing scene as we speak that has a lot of cool bands that need to get some attention.

What are the band’s touring plans for this record?
We have some Greek shows later this year, two Japan/Tokyo shows, and one festival in South Korea this late October 2024. Some European shows are in April 2025, and we are waiting for more news about a tour in the Americas, and also festivals in Europe and North America. We really want to get out there and promote the new album, play the new songs and share our music with all our great friends out there.

What new metal releases have you been listening to recently?
The new Rotting Christ, new Suicidal Angels, new On Thorns I Lay, mainly Greek bands. This scene is on fire I feel and much cooler stuff is coming along the way, like a new band Herta, Domination INC, and many more. So, stay tuned to the Greek scene.

Any famous last words?
Thanks so much for the interview, it’s always a pleasure to talk about Nightrage, and most importantly our upcoming new album, Remains Of A Dead World. The biggest greeting to all our great friends; hope to see you all soon. Listen to the new album – go buy it, steal it, or whatever, as long you pay attention. Stay metal and stay cool.

(interview published May 29, 2024)

Watch Nightrage – “Persevere Through Adversity” Video


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.