Interview: German metallers SKY OF CALVARIA open up about the vision and process behind alien-themed album ATHMA.
SKY OF CALVARIA. ATHMA.
Alien invasion underway.
SICK AND SOUND presents an interview our editor-in-chief Alessandra had with German breakout band SKY OF CALVARIA to discuss the lyrical themes and alien-themed frame behind new concept album ATHMA, out on November 29th, 2019.
The modern metal quartet is hailing from Lebach, Saarland, Germany and currently consisting of Maximilian Bär at vocals and guitar, Christopher Kohr at guitar, Antonio Reuter at bass and backing vocals and Michael Luxenburger at drums. SKY OF CALVARIA make their comeback to the scene in 2019 with their second full-length album following up debut record Bestiarium (2015) and Alien Oceans EP (2017).
We took the occasion to have a chat with CHRISTOPHER KOHR to get to know more about the band’s journey, writing process and sound. We discussed in depth the vision and lyrical themes behind their new concept album ATHMA and the aliens. We also talked about the progression taking place since the band’s earliest materials as well as the most challenging and most natural aspects involved in the recording process and a few songs.
- Hello guys and very welcome at SICK AND SOUND. Let’s warm up a little bit by talking about your background and get to know more about you. How did you get into music in the first place and how was the band brought together?
Thanks for having us!
Let’s say we were brought all differently into music, but the specific genre and bands that brought us together as a band was the love for Trivium, Machine Head etc.
Max, Michael and I attended the same school, but they were a school year behind me. So sometimes we used to meet each other on the school corridor. I noticed the band merch we were wearing and thought like: “Well, seems like those guys listen to the same stuff as I do“ which was rare at that time I think.
Sometime later there was this Halloween Party in a near town and my friends and weren’t let in because we were too young. Then we stood there and called a friend who was at a birthday party and he was like: “Yeah come over, we have booze and stuff, it’s gonna be awesome!“ So we called a taxi and got to the party. The dude who was celebrating his birthday was a classmate of Max, so this was the first time I had the chance to talk to Max about music and stuff and we decided to meet for a jam session.
We needed a drummer, so sometime after this event, Max said that Michael from his class had started playing the drums a while before. So we jammed with Michael and since day one, the chemistry has been just amazing.
Through a mutual friend (which I didn’t even known of at that time) Max met Antonio at another party. Antonio was – and he still is – a guitarist but decided to play bass in the band. The rest is history…
So parties are connecting people, aren’t they?
- What about the mindset behind choosing ”Sky Of Calvaria” as your own name?
Unspectacular. We sat in front of an online Latin dictionary and typed in English words and stuff, because Latin sounds cool in some way. So we mixed it up and there it was: Sky of Calvaria!
- You are not exactly pigeonholed into a specific metal genre as your music output seems to span across different modern metal soundscapes. So let’s talk about the staples and strongest features of your sound.
I think everybody listens to very different styles: I listen to a lot of progressive stuff, Max listens to a lot of rock and punk stuff, Michael and Antonio sometimes also listen to rap and electronic music and that’s really refreshing for songwriting. We put all those different influences together to create our style and that’s where this mix is coming from I guess.
- What’s the general writing and creative process you guys approach when you sit down and create new materials together? What steps do you usually follow?
Basically I might have some new riff or so and when we have a concept for the song, everyone comes together and we try different things and work until we are satisfied with the final product.
- ATHMA is your third release following up your debut record Bestiarium (2015) and Alien Oceans EP (2017). This is also a concept album and an Alien-themed journey across music. So let’s discuss in depth the vision and mission that Sky of Calvaria are bringing forward with this concept and the specific lyrical themes discussed in the record.
The Concept of “ATHMA” is basically a fiction story about the theory that the human soul comes from the Pleiades.
The main character is the victim of some kind of invasion on his home planet and escapes through an old portal made of stone.
He is teleported into space, but not in his physical form.
His soul splits into 3 pieces which are landing on different locations all over the multiverse.
Now he has to find 3 time-capsules, which are scattered somewhere by the multiverse itself to find a way to the Pleiades for the restless souls.
After he discovers all the capsules and finds out what’s inside, his soul comes back together into one and brings him directly in front of the Pleiades where he has to make a decision: denying his absolution or resting in peace and dying.
It is basically a story about how to put yourself back together when you were torn apart by some situation in your life and the struggle that comes with it, which I’m sure the majority of people can relate to.
- Is your new record representing a real continuum for previous album Alien Oceans?
If so, in what measure does it pick up from where its predecessor has left?
If not, what kind of progression or main changes in the sound/writing process/inspiration have been taking place since Alien Oceans or your very first record Bestiarium?
No, Alien Oceans was a different story and Bestiarium was just a “normal“ album in that sense. We definitely let more room in the songs, they are not that packed with riffs as they used to be in our earlier materials. Everything has its place and that’s the fun part of making music, letting the songs breathe and sometimes stepping back to get the most out of the song itself. But I had to learn this especially over the years.
- What three songs do you consider to be the heaviest, the most melodic and the most experimental on this record?
Quasar / Agneya (The Inhale) / Agneya (The Exhale).
- Let’s briefly explain the artwork and the meaning of the title chosen for the album, “ATHMA”.
“ATHMA“ means something like “Breath of Life“ in Sanskrit. If you read the concept story of ATHMA the cover might explain itself 😉
- What were some of your influences, in terms bands, albums and music genres, while writing and recording ATHMA?
Really difficult to say. Most of the materials came from my side and I’m a HUGE Mastodon and Between The Buried And Me fan, so I guess the greatest influence came from my side while writing. For the sound of the record we wanted to go more natural and to sound not too overproduced.
- What were the most challenging aspects involved in the recording process and the easiest or most natural aspects?
The most challenging aspect was definitely the guitar recording because we used two amps on every side. So I played basically most of the stuff 4 times, which it’s something I’ve never done before. I thought it would be a problem for the time schedule, but gladly everything was finished on time and the final result is fantastic.
The drum and bass recording felt the most natural. Michael and Antonio nailed their tracks down in zero time but with such a natural groove and cool ideas we’ve never had before.
Max had to step up for the vocals too. We’ve never had so much singing on a record and what he did over this guitar fiddling is just amazing.
- What’s in store for SKY OF CALVARIA for 2020 and how are you getting set to release and promote your album, any shows and news you can reveal?
We hope that we can finally get to tour a little and writing a couple of new songs when the inspiration will kick in.
The album drops on 29.11.19 and can be listened on any music platform and streaming services!
Thank you for your time and all of the best with the promotion of ATHMA. We are longing for more music to be dropped by SKY OF CALVARIA and fully support you into Europe and US!
Sky Of Calvaria – Athma tracklisting:
1. Agneya (The Inhale)
2. The Filament
3. Bridge to Multiverse
8. The Great Attractor
9. Heliacal Rising
10. Agneya (The Exhale)
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