Saracens (Gothic Symphonic Metal , Tunisia) Interview

Interview with Yassine Omri

Hello and Welcome to Acier Doux Metalzine Tunisia, Alright, you guys are more obscure than most Gothic Symphonic Metal bands out there and I couldn’t find much about you, so we’ll go with some stuff to introduce the band… You guys have been around Since 2008. How did Saracens get started ?

Hello and thank you for this opportunity and for supporting the Metal scene. So, Saracens started back in 2008. After the split-up of my ex-band Euthanasia (Gothic Symphonic Metal), and some short periods of playing with local Death Metal bands, I tried to start a new project mixing all these influences but also adding some flavors to stand out from the crowd. And in view of my origins, Oriental music has clearly become this flavor. A first self-produced Demo was released in 2009, the genre was mostly Gothic Symphonic Metal with some Oriental influences. After this Demo, I started to add more and more Death Metal stuffs to my compositions, while gradually letting go the Gothic Metal. 

Who came up with the band’s name ? It’s nice to see not only a name that hasn’t been used 20 times already, but is also an eye catcher… I mean…” Saracens “, one cannot be indifferent when they see a name like that !

Saracens was the name given by the Crusaders to the Oriental people in the Middle Ages. I chose this name according to the musical genre of the band. Actually, I’m playing a mixture of Occidental (Metal) and Oriental music, and the Era of the Saracens was one of the most important Era when these 2 cultures were melted together, so it was the perfect name to describe this musical fusion. Also, the name sounds epic so yes, the choice was easy.

Did you immediately begin with this kind of Gothic Symphonic Metal, or did you need a bit of time to find the style you really want to play ? Where the musicians a part of other outfits that might have released something ?

Yes, I started with Gothic Symphonic Metal for the 2009 Demo and then my Death Metal background started to show in my compositions. Being a fan of the Old School Death Metal and of the aggressiveness and the power of this genre, I couldn’t help adding some Death Metal riffs to my music. At the moment, it is the style I want to play but perhaps some other influences will start to show. 

This question is as old as the older first Webzines that came out from the underground Metal scene of the very first months… But it still works quite well? How would you define your music ? What are your strongest influences ? 

Actually, I can describe the genre of Saracens as a Symphonic/Oriental Death Metal to avoid all those fancy thousand-words-long names. My biggest influences for Symphonic Metal are the trio Epica, After Forever and Therion. As for Death Metal, I’m a big fan of Chuck Schuldiner and his legendary band Death. I was also influenced by Vader for their Thrashy Death Metal riffs and I’m trying to incorporate some Gojira”ian” tunes but it’s hard to compose riffs like this amazing unique band without plagiarism. For the Oriental side of my music, I’m mostly influenced by the OSTs and some composers for cinema industry and Video Games like for example Stuart Chatwood, the guy behind the OST of Prince of Persia.

Was it easy to find the suitable musicians and are everything Ok on a line-up point of view ?

No, not at all. For the instrumental part, I’m doing it all by myself and for the singing I’m collaborating with some old friends, it’s a kind of featuring. At the moment, I am planning to continue this project as a one-man band but when I restart gigs I will reform a complete line-up. Maybe after the release of the full-length album.

How do you generally proceed to build tracks ? Do you need to be in a special mood to compose, or does it happen to appear anywhere at any time ? 

Generally, I start with just an idea about the lyrical theme, then I begin to compose riffs that fit the ambiance of this theme. When all the arrangements are done even for the vocals, I start to write the final version of the lyrics according to the initial idea. Most of the 10 songs of the upcoming album were composed during the Tunisian Revolution and the start of this religious chaos all around the Oriental world. I had a feeling of hate towards all those wars, extremism and manipulations and I was experiencing strong feelings of hope for more liberties and freedom, so I tried my best to express these feelings in my compositions and my lyrics. The Demo of 2009 was before the revolution but being interested in politics and concerned by the wars in the Middle East, the 3 songs I released focused on these topics.

Almost nine Years playing the Gothic Symphonic Metal, you have only one demo”Hegemonic Plots ”, which is few production, can you explain to us why ?

Yes, I totally agree. Just after the release of the Demo in 2009 I started working on the first songs of the album. Then the “Arab Spring” and the revolutions broke off and it was a huge inspiration for me so I finished all the songs in 2012. But for personal reasons (starting a new life in a new country and the debut of my parallel professional career) the project was put on stand-by for several years. I recently restarted it with the release of the first single “Steered Fool” in December 2016. And the full-length album will follow as soon as I finish recording all the voices, the instrumental part being almost done.

Your debut album ” The eyes of Truth ”  is not done yet, but I see the first single of it ” Steered Fool ”  it has both interesting and quite original ideas, as well as a good obscure atmosphere… But few things could be perfected in my hears: For example, I occur to think some high pitched leading guitars do not always sound totally in the Gothic Symphonic tune It’s going sometimes to the Groove riffs … Was it volunteer, or was there a problem during the recording or something ? Are there some things you’d like to improve in this first demo, or are you globally satisfied ?

No, I’m not totally satisfied with the quality of this production. Actually, I was planning to release the single before the end of 2016. I was convinced that if I had focused on getting the perfect sound quality, it wouldn’t have been finished on time, so I released this “Beta” version. You can think of it as a preview. Soon I will release an EP containing a new “better-produced” version of this song and one or two other songs. It will happen before the official release of the full-length album.  For the question about riffs, yes it was done on purpose because I’m trying to get away from the typical sound of most of the Female Fronted Bands or Gothic Symphonic Metal bands. As explained before, I’m trying to get closer to Death Metal than to Gothic Metal, it’s a matter of dosage until I will find the perfect recipe. 

Concerning gigs, do you often play some and how does it occur ? How are the reactions of the crowd and do you let them invade the scene? Which bands did you play with? In which countries did you perform ?

I’ve never played gigs with the Saracens project, it is still a one-man band but maybe after the release of the album I will start thinking about it. But to be honest, being more and more interested in and fascinated by the Studio world, and after years of learning the recording and mixing techniques, I will probably focus more on recording and producing bands than on touring and playing gigs with Saracens. Especially now that I’ve created my own business YO Prod, I’m really thinking about this possibility. Saracens will still exist for sure but more likely as a Studio band (like Estatic Fear for example).

If you had more funds, would you like to offer something special on a visual point of view (Such as someone painting live in the back of your gigs or would you invest this money in other matters such as guitars, recording or promotion ?

As I have mentioned above, I will probably invest this money in buying gears for Saracens and for YO Prod. Like any business the aim will be to make YO Prod bigger so one of the keys is to continually upgrade the gears.

 Being a musician from Tunisia , what are the problems you faced through you career ?

When I was living in Tunisia (until 2011), the biggest problems I was facing was finding places for rehearsals and buying good gears. Most of the gears are very expensive because of the taxes and the fact that the sellers are making a huge marge of benefits. I remember that 10 years ago most of Metal bands were obliged to share venues and gears and that’s why sometimes it was very difficult to plan a schedule for rehearsals. It was hard to be the lone ranger, we had to work together hand in hand but at the same time rivalry and some other stupid factors weren’t at our advantage. I think that is one of the biggest reason why many Metal bands stopped making music. Also, it was impossible to find studios to record Metal, that’s why most of the bands were doing bad quality and amateur auto-production. It was my case with “Hegemonic Plots” in 2009, and it was one of the reasons I started learning audio production after the release of this Demo. And finally, Metal music is still stigmatized in this country and even organising events and gigs wasn’t easy, a lot of administrative documents and a lot of authorisations were required and it was really discouraging.

How do you see the Tunisia Metal Scene now ?

I think that the number of bands has decreased over the years but at least a few bands who survived after the revolution, are making good music which is spreading faster to the international scene thanks to social media. I don’t know if it’s easier for local bands to play and rehearse now than it was before, but what is sure is that producing and promoting Metal music is much more easier and more rewarding than before.

What are the future plans of Saracens I imagine you already have new songs, so how does it sound ? Will you release it as a demo or did you have an opportunity to press a MCD or something like that ? Will there be some T-shirt or something else ?

So, the next step will be to record the vocals for the 10 songs of the delayed upcoming album “The Eyes of The Truth”, then to start the production. The songs will be more or less in the same genre as Steered Fool. Depending on the lyrics they will be more aggressive with more Death Metal riffs or sadder and more melodic with epic orchestrations. As I have mentioned above, an EP will be released before the full-length album before the end of this year. For the question about merchandising, yes may be but it’s not a priority in the near future. I think that bands must have a strong fan base before embarking on this kind of approach, I don’t agree with those who start doing this even before the release of their first song.

What is the feedbacks to this single ? How many reviews and interviews did you receive ? Maybe there were some radio shows to play it ?

The single will be remixed and remastered so that’s the reason I haven’t yet sent it for reviews. The only promotional effort was to send it to some radio stations and it was played a few times during Metal shows on the radio.

This last question is yours, so feel free to say what’s needed to conclude this interview Thanks for the answers 

Thank you again for giving me the opportunity to talk about Saracens, I’ll try my best to release the thousand-times-delayed album “The Eyes of The Truth” before the end of this year. It’s not always easy to play music when we have another career at the same time, but everything is possible with passion and patience.  And long live the Metal Music !

Interviewer : Med Manef Slama

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