There is a lot of grindcore out there vying for your attention, so it’s always exciting to find a band that wants to shake things up a bit. Greece’s Stheno is one of those groups, as they take the classic grind formula and inject a healthy dose of d-beat crust and black metal into it, with hints of other metal and punk styles seeping in at key moments. Formed in 2013, Stheno has released an EP and two splits to date and on September 20th EveryDayHate will release their debut full length ‘Liberty Crawls in Waste’. Today we’re excited to bring you an exclusive stream of the song Between Man and God alongside an extensive interview with the band where they talk about their influences and what went into the creation of the album.
Between Man and God is one of the more straight-up grind/crust songs on ‘Liberty Crawls in Waste’, but even in this quick burst of aggression the tonality is a bit closer to death/grind. Stheno knows how to hit you with as much intensity as they can without dragging their ideas out to the point of repetition. You can tell that these guys have been playing music for a while even if the band is fairly new, as there’s a sense of precision to their attack that isn’t always common on a debut full length. The scorching riffs and relentless drumming is bolstered by a rock solid production that emphasizes the low end and allows each kick of the bass drum to hit you right in the chest. On the vocal front, there’s a perfect balance between low growls and high shrieks, with the two complementing each other in a way that creates a whirlwind effect. This just a small taste of everything Stheno has to offer on their debut, but it’s a perfect demonstration of their power and precision.
Crank this one up as loud as you can and check out more about what the band has to say below.
Transcending Obscurity (Chris Dahlberg): For those hearing Stheno for the first time, give us a brief introduction to the band and how you all met.
Stheno: In December 2013 we decided to do a jamming rehearsal and play some d-beat crust for fun; not exactly to form a band though. We didn’t have any plan or something like that. But since the first rehearsal things went really well, so we decided to continue very fast what we were doing. The song Ignorance from our first EP is the first song we played, but we didn’t want to continue on this crust path. We respect a lot the crust scene and we kept some elements but it’s a little boring playing the same thing all the time over and over again, so we decided to add more grind-black metal style. This is how Stheno was born!
TO: ‘Liberty Crawls in Waste’ sounds absolutely massive. You recorded it in Dry Field Studios last year with Stelios “Stelth” Koslidis handling mixing/mastering. Tell us more about that experience and what type of input Koslidis had on the recording.
Stheno: Dry Field Studios and Stelios Koslidis are two different things. We recorded drums-vocals and bass with Kostas Anagnostou at DFS and guitars with Stelios. Afterwards, Stelios took all the recordings and made the final production for the album. The drums are in a typical natural way, vocals as well. For the guitars we used EVH5150 and a Mesa boogie duel rectifier and for the bass a sansamp effect. Koslidis is one of the best Greek producers of extreme sound, not only because he has great expertise, but he becomes a member of every band he is working with. He believes a lot in what he is doing, so if you have a band just attack him!!
TO: I can hear a lot of the classic grind bands in your sound, and it’s clear you’re pulling some of the best elements from each one. But what are some of your musical influences that might not be so obvious?
Stheno: It’s a bit complicated. All these influences are the reasons why we are into so many different music styles. Of course we keep the grindcore atmosphere, but we are adding a lot of black metal stuff, hardcore, death metal, even thrash and punk. We are not taking the grindcore as something standard; grindcore music is different from band to band. We love Terrorizer, Napalm Death, Nasum, Assuck and so on; also bands like Phobia, Flesh Parade, My Minds Mine, The Kill, Facada, Insect Warfare. Apart from all those bands, we also dig Marduk, Darkthrone, Mayhem, Gorgoroth, Bathory. Bits and pieces of all those bands have become Stheno’s flesh. Old punk bands like Crass, Amebix, Disorder, Discharge, GBH, The Dead Kennedys are also a big influences for us. It’s a crazy mix, right? Hahahaha!
TO: Stratos from Atavism recorded guest vocals and his performance fits your fast grind extremely well. How did this collaboration come together, have you guys known Stratos for a while?
Stheno: We are from the same hometown with the guys from Atavism. Leonidas was playing with Atavism in 2004, so yes, we’ve known each other for a long time. We asked Stratos to add some low throat shit and he was really happy for this, so the result is extremely massive!
TO: The recording sessions for the split with World Downfall and the full length weren’t that far apart. It seems like you guys maintain a very fast pace for writing and recording, can you explain how your writing process works?
Stheno: About the World Downfall split, we already had these songs so it wasn’t a problem to record them fast. So, we recorded the material for the split and after that we started preparing the album. We like the studio, we like creating our stuff. We believe in what we are doing so things are coming fast and we’re enjoying it. Playing live shows is cool too! We meet people, we’re having fun blablabla, but in the studio it’s just us and our music; nothing more nothing less and this is the most beautiful feeling of creation. The writing process is very simple; most of our ideas are on guitars. We put it all together, we compose the songs. Every song has its own character and this is what we want to maintain intact: our ID. If this stops and we start following the grind rules or black metal or whatever rules, then it means that the band is dead.
TO: The cover artwork for ‘Liberty Crawls in Waste’ was created by Krystian Leńczuk and draws your attention immediately. How does this artwork relate to the album as a whole and what was the original concept you had in mind when you approached Leńczuk?
Stheno: Krystian is a young and great artist. We like a lot his work, so we came in touch and he was totally positive to make an artwork for us. We didn’t talk a lot about it, we just wanted him to make what he is doing best, all these crazy spooky faces and so on. So when he gave us the final artwork we said “that’s it!” There was nothing to change. ‘Liberty Crawls In Waste’ and the face of the cover art is the same thing, this is the mirror when you become insane; when you understand that you are totally enslaved and want to react, but you feel paralyzed; when you want to scream and your voice is so low that nobody can hear you. On the other hand you never stop this fight. We have included a small article inside the album about freedom. We’ve always added articles to every release, because we are not here just for the music, but we have some things to say.
TO: You contributed “Corporation Pull In” for the official Terrorizer tribute. Was this done during the same recording sessions for the album, and why did you choose this particular Terrorizer song for your contribution?
Stheno: No, this happened after the album recordings. We love the ‘World Downfall’ album. For us is a big, strong root of grindcore music. Corporation Pull In is a great punky song, so yes we had to do this! By the way, we cancelled our song from this tribute for personal reasons.
TO: Agathocles is known for saying, “Grind is protest”. As a band that tackles a large variety of social topics, what are your thoughts on this and what are some of the most important issues to you as a band?
Stheno: Any kind of music can be a protest. It’s about the people behind every band. It’s not about the genre of the music. Death metal can be a protest; hardcore can be a protest; who cares about the brand? It’s all about the people! Grind is a protest when we talk about bands like Agathocles and grind is shit if we are talking about pornogrind for example. Racism, fascism, neo-Nazi bullshit and every disease of these likes is not welcome to any kind of music. If we stop doing what we do as a band and we start creating techno music, we will still have the same stance against all this shit. Sound doesn’t matter, only mind.
Every song has its own character and this is what we want to maintain intact: our ID. If this stops and we start following the grind rules or black metal or whatever rules, then it means that the band is dead
TO: You’ve released material with Everydayhate since the split with Grassroll in 2014. What made the label the right fit for putting out ‘Liberty Crawls in Waste’?
Stheno: We had a talk with Andy from Everydayhate since the first EP we had released. He never stopped keeping an eye on us and when we asked him to join the Grassroll split he accepted our invitation from the first message. It’s nice to put at the same sentence Grassroll and Everydayhate. For us, both of them have a common thing: they believed in us from the start even though we didn’t know each other. We are not going to forget this and they have a huge respect from us, this will never change. So, after this, Andy agreed to join the World Downfall split and here we are now. He is working on our first full length album. For us it’s the best underground label to cooperate with, it’s not something new to the scene, Andy knows how to do things in the right way, we are helping him as much we can to have the best results for this release. There are thousands of labels out there, though the question is, how many of them promote their bands and how much do they really care. EDH is our home now and we don’t want this to change. Also it’s a risk for this kind of label to release an album like ours, we are not a typical grindcore band, we don’t have grind sound, we have a lot of metal stuff inside, but this album is powerful, aggressive and fast. Cheers to Andy and cheers to the guys from Grassroll!
TO: With the album due out in September, what do you have planned as far as live performances for the rest of 2016?
Stheno: We are going to play at some squats with great Greek bands and we have a concert with Extreme Noise Terror in Athens. For now that’s it and that’s enough for us.
TO: You already have two more splits planned for next year, which you will be recording soon. Are there any early details you can give on these?
Stheno: We are not a big band with marketing tricks keeping our silence and so on hahahaha. Yes, we are ready for the studio to record 8 songs, seven new and one cover song. We are planning one split with Facada from Brazil, it’s a big honour for us to share a vinyl with one of the most brutal grindcore bands, we love their music and the people behind, Carlos James and the rest of the boys are super nice low profile people. Hope this will be one of the EDH releases for 2017, Andy knock knock… hahahhaa!
The other split will be with Abyssus from Greece, loyal death metal band from Athens really old- school Celtic Frost style. Kostas who is behind this band was responsible for the cd version of our first EP, check Chaos and Hell Productions. He is also one of the people who believed in us since the start, huge respect to him and Abyssus, we can’t wait for this release!
TO: What has been your most memorable live performance to date?
Stheno: Every concert is memorable, because every concert is different with good and bad moments. It was really great when we shared the stage with Lohm from World Downfall and we played a Nasum cover together and of course when we played Killing For Pleasure with Anna from Grassroll.
TO: Is there anything else you’d like to say about ‘Liberty Crawls in Waste’ or Stheno?
Stheno: Stheno is not a copy-paste band. We love so many bands but we don’t care to sound or play like any of them, we have our personality in music and this is how we will continue. Thanks a lot for the interview! Blackened sonic hooliganism for free minds!