Interview with SÖTHIS


In October 2016, Groove Death Metallers from Oakland, Söthis released their debut EP titled "Trails of Blood." Now a year later the band, dissatisfied how the initial release turned out to sound, re-released the EP with newly remixed/remastered tracks and a brand new artwork.

Metal Horizons talked with Söthis about the EP, but they also tell us about the influential albums, current death metal scene, and more.

You re-released your debut EP “Trails of Blood” recently. What were your goals with the re-release and are you satisfied how it all turned out? 

Ivan (Vocals) - We weren’t entirely satisfied with the sound of the original EP. We wanted to remaster it to give it a fuller sound. We're proud of the songs themselves so we wanted to bring it to life as much as possible. I also had the idea for the cover art months before we hit the studio originally, but we all we had was the logo for the original release. We hired an artist that goes by Gragoth to bring the cover art to life and we remastered the tracks and put it out on iTunes & every other streaming service. It was originally only on BandCamp. We’re all satisfied with it. We hope to keep improving the sound and songwriting with future releases.

How much of a challenge was to work on this EP? And how much of a challenge was it to improve it with this new version?

Ivan - It was pretty simple. We already had the songs written by the time we hit the studio, and we had been rehearsing for a couple of months. We were ready to execute. Vocals were completed pretty much in one take, re-doing a couple lines here and there. Guitars and bass were straightforward, we tried to get a solid tone. Drums took a couple of takes, but I think they turned out great. Mitchell (Drummer) did a great job. Improving the EP was also simple, we had our guy (Brandon Beville) look at it again and told him we wanted it louder and fuller. Originally, it was one of his first metal projects that he mastered, so months later when we revisited the material, he had more experience under his belt. As for the cover art, it was just a matter of shooting the idea over to Gragoth and giving him the space & freedom to do his thing. He's a very cool artist.



What other artists similar to your genre that are coming from Oakland are you friends with? 

Ivan - Here’s a couple bands that we’ve played with and hung out with: Short Fuse, Hemotoxin, Bile Disciple, Mass of Shadows, Stormbat, House of Wolves. They're all metal bands, and they're all great guys. I'd recommend checking them out and supporting them.

What is your opinion about the current death metal scene? 

Paul (Bass, guitar): There’s a lot of bands out there doing a lot of cool things in all their respective genres. I only wish that there was more of a platform for metal to be appreciated and discovered. In terms of the music, it seems like people are more focused on how much they’re playing as opposed to what they’re playing.

Ivan: There’s stuff I like, there’s stuff I don’t like. I’ve grown out of the technical-death-metal type bands and my taste gravitates more towards the brutal or experimental or progressive stuff, like Gojira or Bloodbath. The tech stuff seems to be a pretty hot trend around the Bay Area, and it has been for a while. I used to love the frantic, technically insane bands like Rings of Saturn & The Faceless, I still love some of their albums, (Planetary Duality is fantastic) but I feel like they’re too focused on showing off what they can do instead of just writing a good, powerful song. It’s all about the music. There's only so much you can express when your songs are all about how you can squeeze in sweeps and doodly doos as much as you can. I suppose it has it's place, but I much prefer the trend of brutal grooves, creative songwriting, steady progression, intensity. That's what i'm about. Be tasteful with the technical. That said, Dying Fetus is a band that is absolutely killing it in their genre. I saw them live at summer slaughter this year and they seriously brought it. Those dudes stick to their guns and f***in' kill it. Overall, the scene seems ok in my opinion, but I want to see more bands with our kind of sound. That's why we're here to bring it.

Mitch (Drums): Being a new death metal band in the scene, it’s hard to bring people out to the shows because we don’t have much of a following. That itself is a challenge, starting out, building it up, putting yourself out there. The people that do show up always seem to like our music and get into it. We've been getting a lot of positive feedback. We're stoked about it. In that way, the metal scene is really cool. When someone finds a band that they like, they actually support their band and feel passionate about it. It motivates us to want to do more and make progress.

Can you tell me something about your influences? 

We all have similar tastes but we started at different places.

Mitch: I stated off listened to a lot of classic rock, then I progressed into Metallica and other metal. I got into hardcore, faster heavier metal until it progressed into death metal.

Paul: I always heard and enjoyed bands like Metallica on the radio, and on video games like Rock Band. In addition to that, bands like Rush have always been really influential just because of their songwriting, their progressive ideas, and their technical ability. Later in high school I discovered bands like Death, Entombed, and Obituary. The typical early death metal discoveries. From there I got into more extreme metal like Bloodbath, Cannibal Corpse, Gorod while at the same time checking out progressive bands like Tool and Opeth.

Ivan: My influences are a bit weird. When I was 12, I somehow discovered Tool on the internet. I'd always been somewhat into music, pop music on the radio was ok, but nothing really spoke to me. I just wasn't feeling it. But, I heard Tool and I was like "Oh sh**. What are these guys doing?" It blew me away. The vibe, the songwriting, the performances. It was out of this world and really inspired me. Later on, when I turned 16, I discovered Metallica. I got really into ...And Justice For All (1989) and got into video games like Guitar Hero & Rock Band which exposed me to more awesome stuff. Then I got into heavier and more extreme stuff like Slayer, Cannibal Corpse, Death, Gojira, etc. The metal was flowing through my veins, and it still does. Recently though, I've been exploring other genres. I'm checking out other scenes, what's going on with other creative musicians. I find that extremely inspiring. I love going to music festivals and just exploring the vibe. The contrast is invigorating. While I like other genres and flavors, metal is absolutely my jam.



What are you listening to these days? 

Paul: A lot of Meshuggah and Gorod.

Ivan: I can attest to that. We listened to the entirety of Catch 33 (Meshuggah) on the way to one of our shows.

Mitchell: The Black Dahlia Murder, Bloodbath, Meshuggah, Animals As Leaders, Dying Fetus

Ivan: My taste is all over the place. Hundred Waters is a great mellow band, they're really technically impressive musicians. They just came out with a new album called Communicating that I've been jamming. I've been catching up on Metallica, revisiting ...And Justice For All. Genius album, the lyrics are still relevant today if not moreso. Death Grips is f***ing bananas. I love them. Killadelphia by Lamb of God. Meshuggah. Nine Inch Nails. Opeth. Forever by Code Orange is a vicious jam. Can you believe those guys toured with System of a Down??

Your 5 favourite records of all the time? 

In no particular order:

Ivan:

Blackwater Park - Opeth
...And Justice For All - Metallica
Pretty Hate Machine - Nine Inch Nails
Lateralus - Tool
Individual Thought Patterns - Death

Paul:

Aenima - Tool
...And Justice For All - Metallica 
Destroy Erase Improve - Meshuggah
Hemispheres - Rush
 Individual Thought Patterns - Death

Mitchell:

Nocturnal - Black Dahlia Murder
The Fathomless Mastery - Bloodbath
New American Gospel - Lamb of God
The Joy of Motion - Animals as Leaders
Ride the Lightning - Metallica



Can you tell me a little bit more about the gear you use to record “Trails of Blood”? 

Paul: I used a Karvin LB-75 5-string bass guitar. For my amp I used my Ampeg and my Boss overdrive pedal for my distortion. I also always play with a pick for this band so that I can have an aggressive but tight and concise tone. For the guitar track, I used a Mitchell 6 string guitar tuned to d-standard.

Mitchell: 5 piece Pearl pdp drum kit. Remo heads. 14” a custom zildjian hi hats. 16” a custom crash. 18” a custom crash. 21” zildjian mega bell ride a custom. 18” zildjian oriental China. Tama Speed Cobra bass pedals. Vic Firth 5b Sticks.

Joey (Lead Guitar): Mesa Boogie dual rectifier head. Mesa Boogie 4x12 cab.

Ivan: I brought my pipes. Well-lubricated.

You are working on your debut album. Besides the release of the album, are there any other plans for the future?

Ivan: We want to play more shows. As many as we can. We want to build a following, we wanna find the fans that dig our music. We feel passionate about our stuff and we like to play live. I’d love to see people come out and lose their minds with us. It’s already happened a few times and it’s been amazing every time. We want to keep progressing musically and write interesting, cool songs that we’re proud of. There's plenty of new material that we're prepping for future albums or EPs... We’re gonna keep it going and we're ready to kick some ass. Expect a single or two in 2018 from our first full-length album. We also have ideas for a music video.

Any words for the potential new fans? 

Ivan - You like metal? You like death metal? Wait. Do you like it brutal? Oh, you do?? "Trails of Blood" is out now. Go listen to it! Come out to see us live & f****n’ headbang. Get down. Bring the pit, show me what you got. Check out our next single “Butchery” when it drops early next year. This is our favorite track we’ve written so far. It's very, very heavy. And there's blast beats. As Chuck Schuldiner once said, let the metal flow!

"Trails of Blood" is out now; get it from Bandcamp. Follow Söthis on Facebook.
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