NIGHTRAGE, a band founded by its headman Marios Iliopoulos in his home country of Greece, soon moved to Sweden, where it has produced its best work for the band, living in Gothenburg, may explain the Swedish metal influence that can be seen in its music by that aggressive melodic death metal with excellent vocalization and guitar work.
NIGHTRAGE has counted with a wide range of members in their work that has allowed for this band to shine individually on each of its records. Big names such as Tomas Lindberg, Gus G., Brice Leclercq, Antony Hämäläinen, and Olof Mörck, have all left their mark.
But let’s take a look what this band has created up to this date: “Sweet Vengeance” ( 2003, via Century Media Records), continues to be in my opinion, their best work done. The remarkable talent of Gus G. as well as the creativity of Marios Iliopoulos on the guitars, produced what could be considered the perfect synchronization of a metal band, backed up by the Frenchman Brice Leclercq at the bass guitar and Tomas Lindberg (AT THE GATES) on the voice can be seen well throughout the record.
Afterwards, with new blood on the band came “Descent into Chaos” (2005, via Century Media Records). With Fotis Benardo (SEPTICFLESH) at the drums and Henric Carlsson (CIPHER SYSTEM), at the bass guitar, they turned to that Swedish sound of those past times, fast and aggressive at the guitars, with a continuous explosive drum line, appearing to be a different body but with a soul that’s all too familiar.
“A New Disease Is Born” (2007, Lifeforce Records) with the introduction of Jimmie Strimell at vocals and Alexander Svenningson at the drums, NIGHTRAGE showed maturity, strength and that same ferocity characteristic of Swiss Death Metal. The combination of clean vocals with throaty ones similar to those found in ‘metalcore’, a statement which is always denied by Marios, in songs such as ‘Reconcile’, ‘Scars’ y ‘Surge of Pity’ are etched into my memory.
“Wearing a Martyr’s Crown” (2009, Lifeforce Records), which debuted with a whole new lineup with Antony Hämäläinen (SALVES FOR SCORES), at the vocals Olof Mörck and Anders Hammer (both from DRAGONLAND) at guitar and bass guitar, and Johan Nunez (MYSTICA) at the drums, did cause NIGHTRAGE to lose its personality, but instead helped define it, without leaving behind its melody or ferocity.
We now reach “Insidious” (2011, Lifeforce Records), with all its members running at full steam, created a masterpiece that came close to “Sweet Vengeance”, though some critics seem to agree that it actually surpassed it. With a total of 15 brutal songs, each member showcased their abilities to the max, in one brutal record.
Now in 2015, with one new member on board, doing the vocals, by the name of Ronnie Nyman, who comes from the hardcore Swedish band ALWAYS WAR, NIGTHRAGE brings forth “The Puritan” (April 24, 2015 via Despotz Records). With 11 tracks of furious Melodic Death Metal-core, the same guitars full of that Gothenburg influence. Marios Iliopoulos continues delivering those same beautiful lines, but with more fury. Bassist Anders Hammer complements with perfection while Ronnie Nyman delivers its bleak and ferocious voice in perfect harmony.
Analyzing this album I have to mention a some tracks that I took as my favorites from “The Puritan” . ‘Desperate Vows’ is a beauty, with Ronnie voice in synchronous with that of Lawrence Mackrory (DARKANE), make this one of the best tracks in the record, without leaving ‘Kiss Of A Sycophant’ behind, ‘Stare Into Infinity’, ‘Son Of Sorrow’ (my personal favorite), ‘Fathonless’ and that which carries the album’s name, ‘The Puritan’.
Now we wanted to follow up by learning about the life of NIGHTRAGE and its creator, so we dared attempt to contact Marios Iliopoulos (guitar, Music composition, Lyrics) who surprised us with its phenomenal personality, lacking that vanity that’s is found on many artists, showing himself as an excellent everyday person. This was our conversation:
01 – German G. Calle – First of all, I want to thank you for giving us the opportunity to talk with you. Marios, it’s been 12 years since “Sweet Vengeance”, how has been the road leading up to “The Puritan”?
Hello! and thanx for the chance having an interview with you, always a pleasure to talk about the band and the our new album “The Puritan” It was long journey from Sweet Vengeance to the new album “The Puritan” and all those years I have worked really hard to release good albums and also keep the band alive and I feel that the best is yet to come for NIGHTRAGE. I love all the albums that we have done so far and also I’m happy that we always deliver good music and we haven’t let down our fans and ourselves as musicians and performers.
02 – German G. Calle – What was recorded for “Sweet Vengeance” was something that the band hasn’t been able to?. Personally, I think that with “Insidious” you were close, It had the same body but with a different soul. What’s your opinion about this?
I think the first album “Sweet Vengeance” reflecting all the passion and love playing our beloved music, it was really great times for me and personally felt that album was a personal success for me achieving my goals and been able to put it out was a big relief. That album set the mood for the upcoming ones and so far we have recorded and released music that its coming from the bottom of our hearts. I don’t want to compare any albums that we have done because for me all the albums have something on their own and they represent how we felt at that time, they are telling a story, every time I´m listening to the songs i´m coming back and remember all the stuff that I have been through. I think “Insidious” its also a great album and maybe you can see some similarities because we had a lot of guests on that album that they were also on Sweet Vengeance. I feel that every time we are doing a new album its a new start for us and we do everything from scratch trying to do our best, we have to prove ourselves every time and on every album, that we can still do that and we still feel inspired, without forgetting our roots and the reason why we started to play the music.
03 – German G. Calle – Getting in deep about your first album, since this masterpiece was conceived, it was know that this was something that it was going to be talked about in the future. To be created, all the right elements came into place. Like the support at the most extreme level from Gus G, whose riffs played in harmony with the ones coming from your guitar, the beating from the fantastic drummer Per Möller Jansen (THE HAUTED), the precise performance from Brice Leclercq, the furious voice from Tomas Lindberg (ex-AT THE GATES, THE CROWN), the participation of Tom S. Englund (EVERGREY). All of these elements created the perfect equilibrium between the fiery brutality and the melody, which is the unique identity that represents NIGHTRAGE. So tell me, is this mystic harmony still kept in place?
Yeah that same harmony its still represented on every other album and this is something that I´m really proud that NIGHTRAGE no matter what happens, always kept its signature sound and we have maintain our style on all the albums so far and we have evolved through all the 6 albums without loosing our identity. We always like to keep playing honest music and not making any sort of plans. I think with NIGHTRAGE we have that nice combination with thrash riffs and melodies, and also great vocal hooks and that its a style on our own, we have a personal sound that many people have been connected to and also we have stood the test of time as band and our style its always metal and straight forward.
04 – My name is Mario Aguilar Salar, journalist for Ciudad Zero in Chile, and big fan of of your work. My question is: Marios, as the creator of NIGHTRAGE, are you personally proud of forming part of these fantastic group of artists of Greek origin that appeared in the 90’s such as SEPTIC FLESH, VARATHRON, and NIGHTFALL, all of them having a different vision at the moment of creating extreme music?… What do you think about those four bands ?.
I think that we all have our signature sound and we are all trying our best delivering good music out there. Its kind of impressive that all those bands are still around after so many years playing the music and that’s the most important thing here.
05 – Mario Aguilar Salas – Another thing that has always been on my mind is, with there being a recording studio like the PRAXIS in Greece, why do you prefer the Fredman Studios in Sweden? What made you take this decision?
I had to record outside of Greece (especially back in the day) because there was not a single studio in Greece at that time that could do handle any good metal production, maybe they had the equipment but they were lacking the metal sound experience and also the great metal engineers that loves and know how to fix a good solid sound. Plus also lacking passion for metal and they were only interested in pop folk music that sells only in Greece, so I decides that I had to move to Sweden and record all the albums for that reason.
06 – Mario Aguilar Salas – In 2001. The Mexican band DIES IRAE released the album “Naive” where you collaborated with a guitar solo in “Blurred”, did you know about this band? Or about the music they created?.
I met the guys at Studio Fredman and we became good friends I like the style of music that they were playing and they ask me to play a guitar solo for them, it was really good times and a great recollection for me. I will always cherish those times and the great friendship and collaboration with those guys they were great.
07 – German G.Calle – Marios, 14 years of struggle, 11 artists that were part of the band, 7 with which you collaborated, and with 2 current members, can you keep the same creative spirit in the band and keep the same genre or sound in the music that NIGHTRAGE created on the 90’s?
Its 15 years now that I´m running this band and not one day in my life I thought for real to quit doing it, because simply I love NIGHTRAGE and I love to play metal, and I feel that I have a lot to offer still and have many great ideas for the upcoming albums. But I also feel that NIGHTRAGE is stronger than that, our motto is to never give up and always follow our instinct, so far I feel that we have managed releasing good albums and maintain having a good solid piece of music, so in that aspect I don’t think that we have ever let down our beloved fans. I mean if it was up to me I would love to have the same line up forever, but u see people change and have other ideas and also sometimes they see NIGHTRAGE as a stepping stone to walk all over us and try to build their own careers. I understand that the path that we have chosen its sort of demanding, and maybe discouraging for some guys, but that’s where the power of NIGHTRAGE is coming from, be yourself, be honest to your self, and to your music and never give up, always follow your dreams and play music from the heart. I feel as a band right now that we are on the best place that we have ever been, I don’t think that so far we have failed loosing the connection with our fans, in the end of the day everybody knows me and that I´m here from the very start and they love to see that I’m still doing it, and encourage me to keep it up, NIGHTRAGE will carry on no matter what, as far as we have something to say, for me NIGHTRAGE it´s an idea, and also now with this line up, with Ronnie Nyman and Anders Hammer, I feel that we are on the best position that we have ever wanted to be, and the best is yet to come.
08 – German G Calle – Of the 6 albums released, do you have a favorite?
Its difficult to choose one because all the albums its like my babies ha!ha!ha!ha! But I think “Sweet Vengeance” and our new album “The Puritan” are my favorites so far because the first album its a special album and the beginning for NIGHTRAGE and the last album we have come back stronger than ever before and I feel the best albums will be the next ones.
09 – German G Calle – This is a personal question, I don’t know if you’ll answer it but I want to make it anyway. What do Gus G., Tomas Lindberg, Olof Mörck, and Antony Hamalaiman mean to you?
Gus G. and Tomas helped me started with NIGHTRAGE and they were a great addition to the band, plus they contribute enough and gave their best, Olof and Antony I feel they let me and the band down unfortunately, they were a bit dishonest, they were looking for opportunities, plus they didn’t want to say the truth, and thing is that they created a lot of problems in the band with their behavior, so I’m happy that they are out and also have to blame myself a bit here because I trusted them to be in this band, but now we are in a much better situation within the band and I´m happy for that. The best is yet to come.
10 – German G. Calle – We move up to “The Puritan” and we are able to see a new and evolved phase of the band. Even though the lyrics keep the personal trait of NIGHTRAGE and the guitar keeps being amazing, with this new album your music introduces new sounds much like the style of “core”(Metalcore/Hardcore). The singer’s voice differs from the style we were used to, which was a voice true to the “melodic death metal”, in the ‘Gothenburg’ style. Ronnie Nyman sounds more metalcore. Were all of these changes intentional? Do you think my opinion is somewhat right?
Ronnie its a great metal vocalist and I don’t think that he has any connection with metal core since we don’t like this style of music at all, I think his connection with hardcore gives NIGHTRAGE another dimension and also he has different colors on his voice and he makes the songs and the music sounding very metal and with a great metal feeling. No metalcore shit here ha!ha!ha!
11 – German G. Calle – how were you able to get Lawrence Mackrory (DARKANE), to participate in “Desperate Vows’” and also Gus G. in that guitar solo for the song “When Gold Turns Into Rush’?
Actually Lawrence its a good friend of Ronnie’s and it wasn’t that difficult to convince him to make the guest vocal appearance, since he also loved the new album and the particular song ‘Desperate Vows’ that he sang. I love his metal high tones and I think that he is an awesome vocalist and he did a great job on ‘Desperate Vows’ song, its cool that we blended together Ronnies and Lawrence vocals, creating a cool brutal and melodic amalgam of 2 great vocalists working together. Gus G. it´s still a great friend of mine and we started this band together back in 2000, so it was really natural to work again together since he always end up on the NIGHTRAGE albums, playing some guest leads. This time we co-operate and write a song together like we used to do back in the day. He had some ideas for a song that didn’t really fit FIREWIND, so he send me this song idea riffs and we worked through emails back and forth and thats how ‘When Gold Turns To Rust’ created. It felt cool to have to write together for NIGHTRAGE ,and I think that song ended up being one of the best on the album, with some really great vocal chorus, brutal hooks from Ronnie. But the solo there is mine anyway.
12 – German G. Calle – in January 13 Despottz records released the first video of a song in the album the “The Puritan”, ‘Kiss Of A Sycophant’, where we can observe the energy that Ronnie Nyman has when playing live, which helps to determine the reaction that a live audience will have in your shows. Can you give us some details about the location where it was recorded and who produced it?
We shot that video at Uppsala (Sweden) with Magnus Ewald it was an awesome experience to work with him he is a friend of our producer Daniel Bergstrand (Dugout productions) from whom I got introduced to, he is a new guy in the business but he has great ideas and a great team of people that he is working with. We shot 2 music videos in 2 days and we started with ‘Kiss Of A Sycophant’ that was filmed on a industrial building location and we wanted to achieve a live feeling with the band playing live,and the next day we shot ‘Stare Into Infinity’, it was many hours of hard work but it was worth it in the end, and we are very happy with the outcome, I mean we didn’t have unlimited budget for the 2 videos, but still Magnus had done a really great work under the time and money circumstances.
We had the most fun on the shootings and the Stare video we had to shoot outside running in the cold. Also that is the first time that we have a story in any of our videos, and I want to thank Daniel Mohlen for acting and making a great job on it. On the story there is this guy Daniel that wandering roaming the streets like he is absolutely mumbles to the world, we wanted to show that desperation and fear of what this guy is going through,we wanted to portray of how he feels wandering alone on the streets, feeling much pain and loneliness. He is haunted by his past and he cant forget all the pain that his friends caused to him, he is under great stress and he is staring into infinity trying to find a meaning for his life.
13 – German G. Calle – Marios, personally I think that “The Puritan” will sound so powerful when played live. Do you have any plans for a North American Tour?
Yeah! we are working right with many ideas for playing like and we are coming for sure at North America, its always a favorite place for us to play and we cant wait to come back there.
(We are very happy to announce our new
collaboration with ‘Infinity Concerts’ booking
for the North and South Americas,
this will be awesome guys expect us soon to
play a lot of shows there, cant wait.)
14- German G Calle – Marios, lastly we would like to know what NIGHTRAGE offers us with “The Puritan” ? What will your followers find when they hit “play” in the album?
Personally I don’t think that technicality and complexity its the key to create a great song, I believe in simplicity and give raw sounding material, that is honest and to the point, and also I love adding to it a lot of melody and hooks. And that’s where I think NIGHTRAGE is coming from, and with “The Puritan” we still want to be a 100% metal band to the bone, that means business and also we like to combine brutality and melody in a great metal package, at the same time we don’t want to follow any trends and do cool commercial tricks, just to be able to sound trendy or modern so to speak.
I mean we don’t want to be a shitty pop metal band like many today, we want to be honest and fight for the music we love to play. I don’t have any respect for people and bands that they are trying to manipulate their audiences with any kind of tricks, or trying to get commercialized for the sake of it. Of course I like evolving and to be successful, I think every band and every musician wants that, but we want to do this on our own terms. Of course you also need to be flexible and be able to listen to different ideas, and let the thing roll, but you don’t need to forget where you are coming from.
Our motto is never let down yourself and your fans. That’s why we are still here because we believe firmly on musical integrity, we are not fucking sell outs and we will never be, I prefer to stop playing the music rather being a musical whore. So for us there´s no grand scheme, we just playing music from our hearts and there´s no plan, there’s only pure honesty and integrity in what we are doing.
15 – German G Calle – Marios, do you have a message for the Latin audience in New York and South America that have followed you for all these years?
Thanx so much! for the great support guys we love u to death and we cant wait to come to North and South America and play the new songs for ya, will be a dream come true to have to meet our South American friends as we have never the chance so far. Thanx for the great Interview bro keep it up and stay metal all the way.
From all of us at Ciudad Zero, we would like to thank you for this opportunity and for taking the time to answer these questions. We hope that we can keep in contact with you and your new developments to keep the Latin followers of NIGHTRAGE up to date.
“The Puritan” – Limited Gatefold Vinyl LP
01. The Puritan
02. With A Blade Of A Knife
03. Desperate Vows
04. Endless Night
05. Foul Vile Life
06. Stare Into Infinity
07. Lone Lake (Instrumental)
08. Son of Sorrow
09. When Gold Turns To Rust
11. Kiss Of A Sycophant
Marios Iliopoulos – Guitar
Ronnie Nyman – Vocals
Anders Hammer – Bass