Shine-a-(black)light Interview: Screaming Savior - Infinty
This week's shine-a-(black)-light interview & review is with Screaming Savior who hail from mainland China and from their interview seem to be awfully pleasant chaps, forsaking the time honoured tradition of being a 'black metal cunt', how soon children forget.....
Would you please be able to tell our readers about your bands history, how long have you been together, how many of you are in the band and who does what in the band?
Tilo: The band started in 2001, at that moment I was still a student in the university and played bass guitar in a rock band. Later on those guys have different idea to be more popular, but was not what I wanted, so another guitar player and myself left band, and we found Chen. That is how Screaming Savior started. At the beginning we are more like a cover song band, played a lot of heavy metal stuffs. The first two years we can hardly find a drummer and vocal to stay with us, so we even have to play with drum machine. The biggest challenge we ever met is that later on we graduated from school and had to find a job, live on our own via play metal is not possible here. So a lot of band members come and go, now Chen (guitar), Tian (keyboard) and me(Bass guitar) are the original old men in the band, we knew each other more than 10 years. Others participated the band in the last 6 years when we decided to rebuilt the band and go for black metal finally.
Chen: About in 2005, Tilo burned his hands in a fire accident. So we had to dismiss the band that time. That’s a sad accident. But fortunately, he recovered after about one year though the doctor had said that he could never play instrument. So we formed the band together again and found other three young members: Yang(Vocal), Feng(lead guitar) and Zhao(drummer). This time, the members become much more stable, so we can grow stronger and then released two albums and one EP smoothly. Until recently, Zhao leaved us because of his life. We found Shi as our new drummer. That’s what we are now.
How did you first become interested in black metal?
Chen: Many years ago, I hear “inno a satana” by chance. I was so stunned by the music at that time. Then I bought every CD of Emperor. And then I began to know more and more symphonic black metal bands. That’s how I felt love deeply with symphonic black metal music.
Tilo: I am the black wizards!!!
Is there much restriction on getting hold of black metal music and its merchandise in China?
Chen: No, because there are not many people in China like black metal. So it’s too weak to be restricted.
Tilo: No, not really, because there is no market to restrict here :-P
With the internet being censored in China how do you have access to extreme metal or even Facebook?
Chen: Goagent can help us cross the firewall. But without it, we can still buy CD, download mp3, and visit soundcloud, bandcamp and myspace(but myspace is also blotted this year).
Tilo: Honestly better the current service provider is not well-known, and then we can use this for a little bit long time. But I do believe the wall will be disappeared one day.
Who are your biggest musical influences for the band?
Chen: Emperor and Beethoven.
Probably the biggest black metal band of Chinese origin that people from the rest of the world are likely to know about is Cthonic, what do you think of the bands music, what do you think of their political views about Taiwan?
Tilo: I would assume they will be more than happy to be called as “Taiwanese Band”. The music is good. I do hear most of their albums (except the last one). Regarding the political portion, everyone has their own ideas, but I do not have to respect all of them. By the way, the most Chinese instrument they use is originally from mainland, I will not call that Taiwanese style. I was in Taipei once, clean city, friendly people. I think we have to know the fact the dynasty of China is changed in last 60 years, and if we looked back the history, now of the fade away dynasty can return. Why don’t we sit down, drink and play music together? Leave the political shits to the shitty politicians; this shall not be the part of metal. Unless you think your music is not good enough and you need something else to get more attention. We do not need that.
Do you take influence from your Chinese heritage when writing your music?
Chen: Yes, to be Chinese, I think the heritage is unavoidable. Besides the unseen temperament influence, you can hear Chinese melody in our songs.
What is your biggest influence when writing lyrics?
Yang: We are always trying to express our respect for the spirits of ancient saints in Chinese history, or legend maybe, the true, native, local Chinese style things, but the saddest thing we found was that most of the culture heritage was destroyed during the so called “Culture Revolution” and the rest was abused with commercial orientation. People start to lose their faiths, or maybe have some faiths only in RMB, and even do not know how to be respectful. On the other hand, we also find that such a blank of ancient tradition give us chance and space to discover the heritage and re-build people’s faith and belief with our music and lyrics.
Are there many concerts that happen in your area?
Chen: Yes, there’re rock concerts here almost every day, and now we can see more and more famous bands in Shanghai, such as Lamb of God, Iced earth, Dark tranquillity , Apocalytica and etc. this year.
Tilo: If we want, I mean we can play every weekend in the live house I think.
What is the local scene like? Is black metal becoming popular?
Chen: No, there’re not many black metal bands in China and most of us is not well known compared with metal bands in other styles. Metal core and melodic death metal is more popular here, but still underground.
Tilo: I tried once to send our songs to my family and the colleagues in the office, not work out…
OK quick questions:
Mayhem or Darkthrone?
Emperor or Satyricon?
Bathory or Celtic Frost?
Thrash or Death?
Cradle of Filth or Dimmu Borgir?
Razorblade or Rope?
Beer or Whisky?
Tilo: if it is not scotch, then German beer.
Thanks for your time, any final words that you wish to give to our readers?
Tilo: It is really cool and our pleasure that we are able to have this interview and let more people out of China to get to know us. Definitely we are from different places, different mind, culture & so on. But I believe music will be the one of the best stuff to let us know each other much better. Hope one day we can play the gigs with you guys soon.
So Screaming Savior are a Chinese symphonic black metal band, influence from bands such as Cthonic, CoF and Dimmu is rampant within their work, normally I have little time for black with symphonic leanings and whilst I would admit that I wouldn’t make an effort to listen to this, it was enjoyable and extremely well executed.
There is nothing particularly new about this bands work, they instantly evoke bands like Old Man’s Child and other symphonic acts but to their credit they transcend fanboy worship and actually manage to produce a piece of work that is their own, even if it is weighted of the trappings of the genre and the flag bearers of this genres bands that came before.
What became apparent to me very early on with Infinity was that the writing for this album feel as though it is primarily written from an orchestral standpoint and everything else added in afterwards, if this is true or not doesn't matter, the overall feel is that the album is composed as a classically influenced beast allowing it to feel more complete instead of orchestration pointlessly tacked onto riffs.
One of the most striking things about this record is the competent orchestration that rivals anything Dimmu have done in its complexity and competence, this is a band that evidently have vast knowledge of classical music and appreciation for its complexities and subtleties, knowing exactly when to introduce new elements to benefit the music the most. The instruments are all played very well and whilst I don’t really feel there are any stand out riffs the whole album is solid in that each song is equal to last in its writing strength. A particular nod has to go to the use of the Erhu on a couple of the tracks, something that I always take pleasure in hearing with its haunting long evolving notes, aside from that it’s great to see a band taking from their heritage and not just being a copy and paste affair from their influences, there is dedication taking in crafting their own product and sound which is nothing less than highly admirable, especially in a genre that is saturated with bands vying for the next fiscal bonanza. On occasion there are clean vocals that give a strong reminiscence to Vortex and his operatic bellowing which are pulled off nicely and are given a decent platform to shine.
Production on the album is exquisite, a sharp production does justice to bands that have lots of instrumentation so everything can be enjoyed and appreciated, production may be a little clinical for some however I don’t this will be an issue for those actually interested in symphonic black as there is generally very little ‘atmosphere’ in their productions anyway.
The album is a decent length with songs running around the 5-6minute mark, there’s not really a whole lot of progression through the album with songs revolving around a tried and tested formula, they don’t overstay their welcome either though.
Overall the album whilst holding some flaws which are mostly little more than genre related anyway there is little to fault with this album, it does what it set out to do, it does it well and easily is equal to any Dimmu album that I’ve heard in the past 10 years, yes, the music might be generic to some degree but symphonic black is a genre that wore out its welcome very quickly, Screaming Savior at the least are able to craft decent songs and ultimately I would pick listening to these guys over Cthonic with their bullshit political ideology and general cuntishness.
Score – 70%