Italy’s Syk have been dealing in avant extreme metal for nearly ten years. This month saw the release of the band’s third album, Pyramiden via Housecore Records and Nuclear Blast. The band is Dalila Kayros (vocals/synths), Stefano Ferrian (guitar), Marcello Cravini (guitar), Mauro Maraldo (drums) and Marco Mastrobuono on guest bass. I caught up with steF to learn more about the band and their latest release.
Thanks for agreeing to this interview for Blessed Altar Zine. First of all, who is SYK and what does each member contribute to the band?
steF: Thank you for the support.
Syk is a portal and we’re the mediums. We try to serve music, maintaining our integrity and honesty. Each member enriches the band with his own personal experience and attitude. On a more material level I’m taking care of the songwriting, music and lyrics. While the final compositions are always arranged together trying to satisfy everyone in the band.
The band’s latest album, Pyramiden, came out on March 11th and it sounds great. What was the process like making the album and how happy are you with the result?
steF: It has been a long ride. I almost finished the album more than 3 years ago. I got 7 new tracks and then, from one day to another, I decided to delete everything and start again. So I cancelled the session and started composing this new album for the second time and it tooks around 5 months, 6 up to 8 hours everyday, to write music and lyrics.
In the while our drummer, and former member, Federico left for personal reasons. So we started looking around for a new drummer to join the band and after almost a year we finally found Mauro to join as a stable drummer.
When he joined, the pre-production of Pyramiden was done already. So he spent some months putting down ideas and he finally recorded drums during the opening of the pandemic.
We’re really satisfied with the final result, everyone in the band did an amazing job and we were so fortunate to work with Fabrizio Gesuato (Inverno Studios) for the mixing process and Stephen Berrigan for mastering.
These songs are not just extremely heavy, they’re complex and slippery too. How hard is it to perform these songs? Was there anything that was hard to get down in the recording studio?
steF: We had the chance to play this new album a lot fortunately so it wasn’t a real problem to track our instruments. Everything was fluid since this music sounds pretty natural to us.
Except for the vocals that were basically composed in the studio by Dalila during ten days. It was a huge amount of work but went really smooth. That means that the vocals you hear in the album were done starting from “not having an idea of what should be” to “have the final multiple layered takes” in one day per song. We were waking up in the morning and had the final line done in the evening. Pretty insane.
What ideas or themes is the band exploring on the new album?
steF: The core of the album is based on being far away in a broad sense. When you take a proper distance from something you have the chance to discover and perceive things on a wider range. The majority of the lyrics are made out of true experiences, even the weirdest ones. Pyramiden is the farthest place on earth, lost at the borders of the Arctic region.
For some years it has been pretty crowded and alive but when the mines closed people just escaped the Arctic life since they discovered that Arctic life without comforts was kinda tough. And that’s the moment when this new album starts. You feel there was someone there but in a second somehow they disappeared. And you with them as well.
Pyramiden is all about that second when everything disappears. So you have to deal with all the traces of what was facing at the same time what it is.
It’s been six years since the last SYK album, I-Optikon, what has the band been up to in the meantime?
steF: Well we spent the first part touring supporting I-Optikon and the second part that took the last 3 years completing Pyramiden and producing video/press material to support the release of the album. It has been a huge amount of work but we’re over finally!!! So now we’re really looking forward to delivering it onstage.
You’re teaming up with Housecore Records for this release? How did that come about and what Phil Anselmo record would you take onto a desert island if you could only have one?
steF: Correct, Pyramiden has been released via Housecore Records that teamed up with Nuclear Blast. We got in contact with Phil almost 10 years ago, in fact he wrote us after hearing our first album Atoma.
I mean, try to figure it out. You wake up and read in your mailbox Phil Anselmo.
At first we thought it was a joke but finally realized it was really happening and freaked totally out.
Then we met some months later at a Down concert in Italy and spent the whole day together before their concert. It was amazing and we listened to music the whole day from Phil’s laptop. He’s an underground maniac and the nicest guy ever!!!
So at that point the deal was done and we’re still collaborating since then.
About the second part of your question I’d like to say that I hope to find myself on a desert island with Phil himself, a laptop, speakers and a decent quantity of weed and I’ll automatically feel like I’m at a festival. I don’t really need Phil’s music since I grew up with PANTERA when I was a little kid. So I can recall a lot of his catalogue with my mind, I listened to his records hundreds of times and loved Cowboys From Hell and Vulgar Display Of Power to the bone from an early age. So that’s why I don’t need a CD, I can listen to those records anytime!
Is there a story behind the name of the band?
steF: Not really, almost accidental. But we think it perfectly fits the music and the urgency of the band to create something that sonically reproduces what we feel we are.
On the other hand is a word that leads to several meanings. Life itself is a constant healing process. When something dies is exhausted or perfect, or maybe just both of them.
How did the band first come together and how has the band evolved since those first days together?
steF: The idea of Syk as a new project took shape when psychofagist disbanded on the last tour. Dalila was the opening act of that tour so we saw her live every night for a couple weeks along Europe. So we, me and the psychofagist and then former syk drummer Federico, came up with the idea of doing something new together with Dalila since psychofagist after 16 years of activity was over. Since then we got several line up changes until this last stable one with my fellow Marcello on guitars and Mauro on drums.
After a long day rehearsing or recording what music will you choose to put on?
steF: Well I would probably rest in silence after several hours of rehearsals or a daily recording/composing session in my home studio. But if I have to pick something it would probably be some Armenian music like Levon Minassian or maybe Lisa Gerrard if I need something wider in terms of sonic contaminations.
Are there any bands people might not know you’d like to give a shout out to?
steF: I recently fell in love with the last Warforged record!!! It is so dense and layered. When I listen to it I’m immediately into the forest.
Finally, is there anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
steF: Compassion, self-conscience, and determination. People should be encouraged to go deeper into what makes us human.
Thank you very much for your time!
Interview: Tom Osman
Thanks to steF for his time. Pyramiden is out now via Housecore Records and Nuclear Blast. You can buy a copy from the links below and listen to the album in full on the usual streaming services. Follow the band to stay up to date with forthcoming shows and releases.
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