SÖTHIS: Brutally Honest

Söthis

Oakland, CA progressive / groove death metal five-piece Söthis emerged in 2015 with a clear vision of delivering death metal package with progressive tendencies, with influences ranging from Death, FallujahMeshuggah, Bloodbath, Gojira, Opeth, Nine Inch Nails, to name but a few. In 2016, Söthis released their debut EP ‘Trails of Blood,’ but they weren’t satisfied how it turned out to be production-wise, and therefore this year they re-released it with a new artwork and new mix.

Frontman Ivan Peric speaks for Prog Sphere about the band’s mission, the EP, future, and more.

Define the mission of Söthis.

Ivan (vocals): Lyrically, conceptually, it’s an exploration of the inner shadow, at least that’s how I see and feel it. There’s an expression of truth anchored by a deep rage and frustration that just feels like it needs to come out. It’s unfiltered, it’s subconscious made conscious, it’s brutally honest. It’s maybe not always an “objective” truth, but it feels real. And it’s important to let that process happen.

Musically – we want to make good death metal music that appeals to our personal taste. We want it to be heavy, intense, brutal, and with tasteful technicality. We just want to write good songs and progress from there. We like a good groove or a slam. That’s probably our strength right now.

You re-released your debut EP Trails of Blood recently. Tell me about the creative process that informed the EP and the themes it captures.

Ivan: We first got together in 2015. The other guys already had material written from previous bands, and I just jumped in as a vocalist. “Decrepit Ways” and “Lacerated” are both classic tracks that were reworked for Söthis. “Worship Rot” and “Obliteration” were brand spanking new. We were jamming out the older songs while simultaneously writing newer songs. We decided it was time to put something out, and picked our best songs to compile into an EP, just to give people a taste, so we could start playing shows and getting our name out there.

Paul (bass) is the primary songwriter. He comes up with a lot of the riffs and some of the drum ideas. Mitchell (drums) is pretty creative as a co-writer. I occasionally pitch in with ideas. I wrote a guitar lead and riff for an upcoming track that is still in the works. It’s a wacky one, but it’s very heavy and dissonant. I contribute all the vocal arrangements and lyrics myself. Joey (lead guitar) contributes the solos and some lead ideas.

Lyrically, thematically, I was very much into what was going on in the world. This was being written right around the last election cycle, with Donald Trump calling people rapists and murderers and Hilary Clinton having massive email leaks. My curiosity made me pay close attention to all of that. Things were rough. “Obliteration” might be considered a societal critique with a touch of brutality. It’s a reflection of the seemingly insane mobs of people on both sides. “Decrepit Ways” really sums up a lot of things. It’s the most honest song lyrically, although it bounces around a lot of themes. It’s a bit unfocused, but I like it. Some of it is out of left-field, some of it is the most honest lyrics I have. “Worship Rot” is more personal. It’s an analysis. Sometimes I can’t tell if it’s about myself or about someone else. It was definitely inspired by an external situation though. It’s my personal favorite track on the EP by the way, I love performing it live. Nasty groove! “Lacerated,” man. What can I say about this one. I’m a real asshole on this track, but it’s how I feel sometimes. People need to cut the bullshit and grow up. Expect the full-length album to paint a clearer picture and round things out thematically.

Trails of Blood Cover

What is the message you are trying to give with Trails of Blood?

Ivan: It’s an expression of frustration and pain. Pain of living in our society. Pain of loneliness. Pain of feeling deceived. The pain of being let down. If you feel the same way that I do, then we’re not alone. It’s a message that we need to stop this cycle of pain before it’s too late. Stop feeding from the hand feeding you literal cyanide, emotionally, mentally, and physically. Become aware and take control. Or don’t. That’s your choice, and your responsibility to live with. I’m not trying to say that I’m perfect – I obviously have my own demons to wrestle, but I do my best to be aware of what’s going on inside of me and around me.

How did you document the music while it was being formulated?

Ivan: We made a bunch of practice videos very early on. I actually have video footage of one of my first ever sessions with these guys. It’s unlisted on our YouTube page, maybe I’ll share it in the future if people are interested. We always record voice memos on our iPhones to keep track of our progress. We only recently set up a mini-studio where we mic’d up the drum kit and the guitar amp. I’m excited to see where that will go.

Is the dynamic flow of the pieces carefully architected?

Ivan: Yeah, i’d say so. We’re pretty nitpicky about what we want to do with our songs. I always catch Paul and Mitchell getting into dumb arguments about how a certain song should go, or even myself. We want there to be a good flow, and each person having their own perception, sometimes makes it hard to agree on something. Anyways, I think each of our songs has a solid flow. Maybe “Lacerated” has the smoothest flow. Personally I really like the guitar progression throughout that song. It transitions and flows really well.

Describe the approach to recording the EP.

Ivan: We just wanted it to sound good. This EP isn’t too high-concept. It’s old school. Two guitars, a bass guitar, a drum kit, and a man screaming and yelling. We rehearsed each song a bunch and knocked out the tracks fairly quickly. We wanted a heavy brutal guitar tone and nice chunky drums. We wanted the vocals to have low and high dynamics. I don’t like monotone vocals, I want there to be emotion present. I think I succeeded. I think we all succeeded.

Söthis

How long Trails of Blood was in the making?

Ivan: It was birthed as a concept around June/July 2016. We put it out on October 16th, 2016. A couple of months in that regard, but you could trace it back to the beginning of 2016 when Mitchell joined as our drummer. That’s when we got serious about practicing and writing.

Which bands or artists influenced your work on the release?

Ivan: Cannibal Corpse is a favorite of Paul. Undeniable influence there, just in overall mood and flavor. There’s a touch of Gojira, a band that we’re all fans of. Refer to that one squeal-y riff towards the end of “Decrepit Ways” to trace that influence. Bloodbath is a massive influence vocally and musically. Those guys are the perfect death metal band in my opinion. Biggest vocal influence for sure. Death Grips is a band that somehow penetrated my subconscious and influenced my performing in a significant way. I might never be the same. Lamb of God is another band we like. Meshuggah and Gorod are current obsessions that might influence newer material.

What is your view on technology in music?

Ivan: It’s convenient. We don’t mind it too much. We like a natural sound when it’s appropriate for a song, we don’t want it to be overly polished to where it sounds mechanical. We prefer organic. Not sure that we’d ever incorporate electronic elements, but I suppose we’re open to it.

Do you see your music as serving a purpose beyond music?

Ivan: I definitely do. I feel that I do use it as a tool beyond that, and I feel the effects of it. I‘m pretty grateful, actually. Music is a powerful tool. But there is more work to be done. Is the work ever done? I don’t know that my bandmates or listeners see or feel it in the same way, it’s hard to judge what people actually think about it. I love the idea of making something that has impact beyond just music or background music to jam to. If anything, I just hope it increases an awareness, or a sort of empathy in people. Although I could see it having the opposite effect as well. It’s all about what you do with what you’re given. I’ve never been into music that’s just “casual listening.” I think that’s lame. Sure, I can let go of my inherent pretentiousness and enjoy a nice groove, but it doesn’t do anything for me. I’m just not that interested. I want something that hits me. That speaks to me on a deep level, or sparks something.

Söthis live

What are your plans for the future?

Ivan: Live shows. Full-length album. It’s in the works. All the songs are written. It’s a matter of finding the right studio and the time to get it done. It’ll be finished next year, for sure. We’re ready to put this out and see what will happen. Expect a single early next year to lead you into the album. It’s our favorite song so far, and definitely our heaviest track. Old school and f*cking brutal.

Söthis’ EP Trails of Blood is available from Bandcamp. Like the band on Facebook and follow them on Twitter and SoundCloud.

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