Davis: We are a new black/grind band from Edmonton, Canda. We’re a studio project and we like to write fast and deranged songs. There’s only two of us involved - I program drums & synths, write lyrics, record vocals, and produce the tracks. Michael Sparks writes and plays guitar and bass. He makes some killer riffs let me tell you - I was hyped when I first heard them.
2.You have an ep coming out in August, can you tell us a little bit more about the musical style you went for on the recording?
Davis: We wanted to make a really deranged black metal/grindcore hybrid. It started with the drums, and I built some different sort of song structures and Michael overlayed his riffs and bass lines. The songs are very fast and blasty, very unholy and chaotic. After that, I would write the lyrics and record vocals by the next day.
We used programmed drums and amp sims. Purists beware. I love the 80s and 90s sound so I made sure to add a ton of analog saturation to the recordings and kept the drums sounding lofi.
We certainly pushed some limits on what’s playable using these programmed drums, although this will be even more accurate to say on our next record (which we are already working on!). I tapped out the beats on our next record and made sure everything is *technically* playable but it would be immensely challenging at this speed - as far as I can tell.
3.The lyrics on the ep were based upon an alchemical text, can you tell us a little bit more about your interest in alchemy and the occult?
Davis: I’m interested in those as a creative motif and have been ever since I was involved in neopaganism, which I am no longer deeply involved with. But I’ve been imbued with a love for mystical and occult themes ever since.
I find the text (‘Hermaphrodite Child of the Sun and Moon’) to be extremely fascinating and I plan to keep writing about it for a while. There are a couple of direct quotes from it as well, with changes to make sure it flows with the song and make sense in the larger context of the rest of the lyrics. When I write about a text like this, it helps me develop a deeper understanding of it. Once you understand something like this you can twist it to be more personal, to tell a story or explain an idea - which is what I did here.
On the subject of the lyrics, we will not be publishing them, much like several bands before us we have decided not to. We would like the audience to focus on the music, the overarching sound - and it would not be hard to work out the general meaning of the songs from figuring out a few lines.
4.What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name 'Sophist'?
Davis: It’s a locus of negativity that we can build our music around. A seething, calculated, unholy epicenter. The meaning today is essential ‘liar’, ‘deceiver’. It’s someone who craftily deceives with logical fallacies.
The less pretentious reason is that it reminded us of ‘Atheist’ and ‘Cynic’ and there are so few one-word names with that ‘special quality’.
5.Can you tell us a little bit more about the artwork that is presented on the ep cover?
Davis: We hired an artist known as Unexpected Specter to do the artwork for us. It is a visual representation which covers most of the ideas present in the title track ‘Betrothal to the Stone: Conception of Mephisto’, but it fits the EP as a whole’. The songs are full of esoteric animal metaphor which represents specific materials and processes. We are quite happy with the artwork, they did a fantastic job!
6.Currently there are only 2 members in the band, are you open to expanding your line up or do you prefer to remain a duo?
Davis: At the moment we prefer to remain a duo. As we are only looking at releasing records this is just fine for now. We are planning to have guest musicians on our tracks to spice things up - this EP was going to have a guest vocalist on ‘A Captive of Saturn’s Scythe’ but that fell through at the last second.
7.Has the band done any live shows or open to the idea?
Davis: Perhaps in the future, we will. It would be a challenge because of all the extra vocal tracks and the synth tracks. I would like to do it justice, instead of playing a stripped-down version in a live show which would be too easy. Unfortunately, there are lots which I would first need to learn about putting on a proper show for something like this. We are also not in any position to be hiring live musicians.
8.Currently you are unsigned, are you looking for a label or have received any interest?
Davis: We’ve not received any interest yet. Might be open to it, would all depend on the terms.
9.On a worldwide level how has the reaction been to your music by fans of black metal and grindcore?
Davis: We’re only just starting to extend our tentacles to the world. The reaction has been quite positive so far, though. A select few have heard the other songs, besides the single, and they gave us really positive feedback. Honestly can’t wait until everyone else can hear the rest too!
10.Where do you see the band heading into musically during the future?
Davis: The plan is to keep putting out records. That’s the thing I love the most about being in a band, recording and releasing music. We will keep pushing the boundaries of what we can do, trying to make things even more chaotic.
11.What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?
Davis: We were influenced by stuff like Napalm Death, Rotten Sound, Anaal Nathrakh, Mayhem, Dead Kennedys, Anal Cunt, Exhumed, Behemoth, Darkthrone, Shining and so many more.
I have a playlist on Spotify called Merciless Metal, it’s got everything I’ve been listening to lately on there, like Aura Noir, Pestilence, Idolatry, Dissection, Deathhammer, Satyricon, Destroyer 666, Carpathian Forest, Celtic Frost, Hellhammer, Gorgoroth as well as most of our influences from above.
12.Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?
Davis: Our EP is out on August 16, 2019. The best way to support it is buy purchasing digital download or ordering the CD or merch on our bandcamp page. (http://sophistmetal.bandcamp.com)
I wish the whole industry would make bandcamp a standard, but oh well.
If you’re not a collector and just a streamer, then another way to lend your support is by playlisting our tracks.
Aside from that, just want to encourage people to continue buying their metal. Streaming sites are great but nothing beats having your own collection at home. I’m up to 576 albums in mine!