Interview: On Thorns I Lay Discuss New Album, “Aegean Sorrow”

Greek death/doom outfit On Thorns I Lay have been spreading their mournful strain of death/doom since 1992, pausing only for a hiatus after the release of their more rock-oriented album Egocentric. Now active once again, On Thorns I Lay are poised to release their ninth album (and second since the hiatus ended), Aegean Sorrow. 

An album that reaches far in its scope and influences, Aegean Sorrow sees the group refine their formula as they look toward a new chapter of their career. Guitarist and chief songwriter Christos Dragamestianos spoke with Decibel about Aegean Sorrow, the Peaceville Three and what this “new era” means for the band.

On Thorns I Lay has been a band for the better part of three decades at this point. How do you maintain your focus and inspiration for so long?
On Thorns I Lay is a part of our lives. We have been playing since our youth and I hope that this will continue for many more years. We are inspired from all the hard situations we have been through all those years; our music is a cure for our souls. Of course, we had a long time that we were not playing together but always I was dreaming of our return with a great album such [as] Aegean Sorrow.

You said that when writing the album you were listening to many of your favorite albums. Was this for inspiration, and what were those albums?
Inspiration as I mentioned comes from everything that happens in our lives and, of course, around us. We are living in such strange and rough times… First of all, we are fans of our style of music. Since we were teenagers we [have listened] to atmospheric death metal and death metal stuff mostly, so naturally we are influenced from bands that we love. Let me tell you what my favorite albums from the early 90’s [are]. I think that influenced our sound.

Paradise Lost with their Gothic album. I think that they put the trademark on the doom-death metal sound. The Gathering’s Always is a cornerstone of the atmospheric style, Theatre Of Tragedy’s Aegis also brought the gothic element, and [do] not forget My Dying Bride’s Turn Loose The Swans and Anathema’s Crestfallen EP.

On Thorns I Lay took a 12-year hiatus until your 2015 album Eternal Silence. What spurred you to take this break and what inspired you to return?
Somewhere in the early 2000’s, we felt that we were starting to loose our musical identity so we just stopped playing. We were also separated because I moved [to the] UK and then to Sweden for professional reasons, so after I came back in Athens in 2014, we started again with the band. All those years, I was missing so much this feeling of jamming in the rehearsals, playing pure doom atmospheric death metal. This new era of On Thorns I Lay I want to be the most important for our band with unique music back to our musical roots.

What lyrical themes did you explore on Aegean Sorrow? Are they based on real-life experiences of the band members?
Aegean Sorrow is a concept album. It describes with poetry all this catastrophe and misery that exists around us and the grief that brings in our souls. We hear and see day to day people dying with no hope on the horizon for a termination of all this. In the past, inspired people have spoken about all [of this] and we are afraid that more doom is to come around our region soon.

What comes after the release of Aeagean Sorrow? Live performances? New writing? Another hiatus?
A new era has started for us, as I mentioned previously. We have already played with Satyricon here in Athens and we have two more shows in Greece with Septicflesh. We are now booking some dates for festivals around Europe for the rest of 2018 and the first half of 2019.

One year from now, we are planning to enter Devasoundz Studio here in Athens again to record the next album. We have started the pre-production part, as we have plenty of new ideas and I can tell you now that it’s gonna be doomier and heavier. Of course mixing and mastering process is again going to be by Mr. [Dan] Swano, as the sound he managed to get for Aegean Sorrow is just immense!

On Thorns I Lay will release Aegean Sorrow via Alone Records and The Vinyl Division on March 12.