When one takes a look at the discography of Nightrage, they gaze upon a solid catolog of melodic death metal. Despite many lineup changes, founder and guitarist Marios Iliopoulos (second from right) has kept this band and its signature sound alive. No frills, aggressive, pissed off sounding metal that is unabashedly melodic, Nightrage is pumping out music that fuels us with late nineties Gothenburg energy. Their upcoming release is an official version of their 2000 demo session album. I took this as an excuse to bombard Marios with a whole bunch of questions that span the career of the band. This one's a good one. Hell yea.
With the release of the Demo 2000 album, it looks like people will realize Gus G played a very important role in the infancy of Nightrage? Can you please go into detail about Gus G's involvement in the early days? What was it like when it was you and him and a drum machine in some apartment in Greece? I'll be honest, when I first got into Nightrage, I thought it was more a "Gus G." band at the time like Mystic Prophecy and Firewind.
Yeah, I guess he was very excited to play music together and also I felt that we were on the same page at the time both musically and as buddies. He used to be a fan of my previous band Exhumation, and then we clicked right away when we met and started to jam together. It was definitely great times when we did these demo songs and we were always aiming high and had so much fun. But one thing that is for sure is that Nightrage was not his band and that it has always been my band from day one. Actually, he never liked these kind of brutal vocals and always had a problem with such vox, he was more into more melodic stuff.
Being that both of you are Greek, did you and Gus team up shortly after the dissolution of Exhumation?
Yeah that was the deal. I felt really bad at the time when I realized that Exhumation was going nowhere because of the negative mentality from the other guys in the band and also the fact that they wanted to pursue other things in life. So, Gus came in the right moment and in some way he woke me up from the oblivion I was in musically, and he brought a lot of passion and enthusiasm into the band. This was something that was infectious and also gave me the courage to keep it up with the music, plus the fact that he was a big fan of my playing style and my old band Exhumation pushed our chemistry on high levels.
How motivated were you by vengeance so to speak?
At that time, I remember myself as such an angry dude (laughs) both in my private life and in my music. Everything was going nuts so I had a lot of feelings of hate and anger within myself and thankfully I was able to channel all these feelings into the music of Nightrage. Sometimes things happen in your life that affect you both emotionally and personally, and I think art in general helps calms you down and make those feelings turn into something creative. I was writing really poisonous lyrics and that was my way of speaking about how I felt and by doing that, now that I'm thinking about it, that helped me overcome all the issues that I had and also at the same time made me stronger and very motivated to keep it up with my dreams. So I was really determined and motivated to give all I had to record that first Nightrage album!!!
You create a really angry sounding, yet melodic style of metal. Do you think that you can continue to make this style of music and have the need for revenge dissipate? Nightrage has an impressive discography. I would think the people you sought vengeance on are eating their negativity on sliced bread. However, does that anger need to be there in order to make music like this?
Yeah, I agree on what you said. For me, all the negativity and all those problems that I had to face were an inspiration for me to write this album. (Sweet Vengeance) There are so many negative people out there and I don't think we need to listen to them anyway. But it's very important how you react to such negativity, and for me music and writing was my ammo and my way to express myself and channel all this anger out of me without hurting anybody. I know for a fact that I'm not an angry person, but for sure I don't like insidious people and also I don't like when people are treated unfairly and without humanity and love. We are all different and everybody is entitled to his own opinion!!! I don't think that it's necessary to be angry to write music but sometimes hardship and negativity can be helpful tools for inspiration for sure, at least they worked for me! (laughs)
How were you as a new artist able to get Tomas Lindberg to sing on the first two Nightrage albums?
That was totally unexpected to be honest with you, I never thought about it and it was not on my list of things to happen. I think it just happened and was meant to be. I was in the right place at the right moment and all these people came into my way and of course you need to search for your luck and make it happen. You need to dream big and also make sacrifices for your art otherwise no one and nothing will help you in achieving your goals. For sure still to this day I feel honored to say at least that Tomas was a part of the band even though he was a session guy only, and never being a part of the band for real. It's a great thing that happened to Nightrage for sure!!!
When Sweet Vengeance came out, the band had alot of "Star Power" with the inclusion of Tomas Lindberg and Gus G. While this gave Nightrage immediate attention, do you feel that after these two left, the band lost a little ground? A New Disease Is Born and Wearing A Martyr's Crown seem to have slipped under the radar.
Yeah it was a blessing and a curse for us having all these cool people in the band, but in reality they were just session guys helping the band and I was alone [again]. That probably was the only way for us to start over. I think that I never searched for this star power thing it just happened, and also I knew that this will not last for a long time since all the other guys didn't believe so much in Nightrage or at all. For me this was something that I was expecting to happen over the long run, but of course for the fans it was a let down, but not for me personally. However, I knew that Nightrage deserved something better and I was working on that direction!!!!
The Insidious album though is a monster of a record. Was this intended to be one last swan song for Nightrage seeing as how you brought back Gus G and had Tom Englund do guest vocals like on Sweet Vengeance? Or was Insidious designed to be a "comeback" album? Or was it supposed to be a "final album" but it came out so great that you decided to keep Nightrage going?
Not a final album for sure, just inviting once again some old friends to come back, even though I think we overdid it a bit and we had too many guests on that album!!!
One of the reasons why it seemed Insidious was a "final album" is that it then took four years to release The Puritan. And when The Puritan was released, Nightrage was essentially a trio. Was this a tumultuous time for you? Did you "break up" and reform again with The Puritan?
Yeah, after the Insidious album, Lifeforce records let us go. Our deal was finished after 3 albums, the line up was again dissolved, I was facing personal problems, and it felt like I was in a crossroad once again. But the band never really did break up. I was determined to keep it up no matter what. Then at that time I met Ronnie Nyman and he came and gave a new energy and brought something fresh and new for Nightrage. Also, we found a new record label, Despotz Records, who really believed in the band and they gave us more opportunities and opened a lot of new doors for us.
Do you feel that Lifeforce Records fumbled the ball so to speak with Insidious? I feel like this should have been more known at the time of its release.
I think they did a great job with the promotion, but of course there is always room for more and they could have done more things on the marketing front as well as promoting the band in other avenues and with different ways for sure!! But I don't regret working with them. It was a great learning experience anyway, and they helped us keep it up with the band and did their best I think.
How did the Nightrage / Dragonland crossover involvement happen? Who helped who first? Did Jimmie do vocals on Dragonland's Astronomy album first, or did Olof join Nightrage?
I think it was Jimmie first that did some guest vocals for them and then they asked me also to play a guest solo for them!!!! I knew Olof and at that time he was a big fan of the band. He also came into the studio when we were recording the A New Disease Is Born album to help us record some vocals for Jimmie. I know that Anders, the bass player we had for 10 years, is also involved now with Dragonland and they are currently making a new album and we heard some new demo songs and it sounded pretty good.
How exactly did you get Olof Morck in Nightrage?
Like I said, he was a big fan and also an admirer of my guitar playing and when he met me for the first time he told me how much he loved Nightrage and the first two albums. So it was only a matter of time before we started to jam together and have him be in the band. We had some really nice chemistry and we wrote a lot of songs together!!!!
Do you think Olof's time in Nightrage inspired some of the heavier sides of his band Amaranthe?
I guess so and even though I don't listen to that type of music at all, I think it's not my cup of tea (laughs), I know for a fact that Olof's rhythm guitar style for an example is influenced from Nightrage for sure!!!
How many times have you had to rebuild Nightrage up from scratch? How do you find the strength to do this each time?
Too many I think, and that was always our Achilles' heel so to speak. I had to rebuild many times from scratch this band and to this day when I think about it, it's kind of impressive that we are still here and we are doing music. I would put it this way: Once, Ronnie told me that he thinks Nightrage is like a cockroach that can stay alive no matter what happens! (laughs)And that says it all!!! Extreme determination and crocodile tenacity!!!!!
You seem pretty active across social media and are constantly uploading guitar vids to Facebook and YouTube. Do you or Magnus stream on Twitch or use, dare I say it, TikTok?
We are very active on social media and we are trying to be there and have a direct connection with all our fans. We don't have any Twitch or tik tok accounts so far, and right now, especially with the pandemic going, on we try to focus on 2 -3 social media platforms and build our audience from there!!!
Wolf To Man was recorded over a couple of months in two studios at two different locations. Also, The Puritan and The Venomous were recorded over month long durations in one studio each. Why do you insist on keeping drums real and spending a month in a studio? Many people scramble for the cheapest, home studio, cpu recording route with artificial drums and digital amps.
Thanks for your nice words and I totally agree with you on recording real drums and that it makes a big difference on the final album. I know that is pretty easy nowadays to make an album from your home using the technology we have now, but for me nothing beats the use of a real studio with great mics and live drums, and on top of that, you need to have a great player behind the kit and all these factors are playing a very important role in making a great sounding album. For drums specifically, you need a great room and a great player. If you don't have that you already start to compromise your album's sound from the very beginning.
How did you meet Ronnie Nyman and how has he lasted four records now? (including the upcoming album of course) I hope he stays with the band for a while.
I'm so happy with Ronnie that he is the second longest member in the band now and he did like you said four albums with Nightrage so far. Thanks to Jesper Stromblad! He gave me the tip to try Ronnie when we needed a singer back in 2013 for our Japanese tour and he came and we clicked together both as friends and also as band mates. He brings a new energy and passion into the band with his great vocals and energetic over the top live performances!!!
What's up with you and wolves? There was the instrumental, "The Howls Of The Wolves" from Sweet Vengeance, followed by Among Wolves, then Cloaked in Wolf Skin, and then Wolf to Man. Is a wolf your spirit animal?
Yeah I guess. (laughs)Never thought about it but now that you mention that, maybe we should stop with the wolves for a while!!!!
Why do you include the cool acoustic songs on each album? Is this a tribute to a favorite artist or album of yours? Are these Nightrage versions of "ballads?"
I think it's just the fact that I love acoustic guitars, and also this is another angle of Nightrage that is super melodic and calm. We have that different side in the band that gives another dimension in our sound and also we can be creative without going into the extremes all the time.
How did you become involved with Lawrence Mackrory? He does guest clean vocals on Puritan and Venomous.
Lawrence did the mix and master for the Venomous album and at that time we needed some clean vocals and his voice really fit with the songs we had. I think that he did a really great job.
Other than on A New Disease is Born and sparse vocals on the other Lifeforce records, there are few clean vocals in Nightrage. Do you intentionally stay away from clean choruses?
We are not a metalcore band for sure and also we feel that there is no need to over use clean vocals since our main vocal is the brutal vocals and screams that we usually do. I think that when the song calls for it and there is a part that has the right vibe and structure then we can add some clean vocals, but we are definitely not a clean vocals type of band. I know a lot of bands are desperate to follow this way (of clean choruses) to make their music more accessible and melodic, but I think if you have a great song you don't have to compromise it in order to jump into the bandwagon of success and fake glory. (laughs) We have seen many bands trying this kind of way and at the end of the day the only thing that they are achieving is to be sell outs or tarnishing their legacy and letting their fans and themselves down!!
When you do use clean vocals, they have been from really great guest singers. Tom Englund, Mikael Stanne, Lawrence Mackrory. Do you have a specific singer in mind when you do decide to do a clean vocal passage? Do you feel that because of the scarcity of clean vocals that they "deserve" guest spots?

Not really to be honest with you, these guests just happened. We never made any specific plans. I remember that it was Fredrik Nordstrom (producer)that had the idea back in the day to bring Tom from Evergrey for some vocals to enhance the songs. I feel that we put clean vocals when only the song calls for it and make sense for us. Maybe we were lucky that we were in the right place so we put all these great guys making some nice guests on our albums.

Thanks a lot for the great interview and your love and interest in the band, wanna send all our metal greetings to all our fans out there and keep on metal and stay safe in these weird times that we are all facing right now!!!

Beware of the Abyss !!!!!!!

There are 0 comments on this interview. Last one on Thu Nov 19, 2020 4:36 pm
View and Post comments