by RS Frost
Colorado-based occultists SUNS OF SORATH have been honing their collective craft for over a decade. Taking conceptual cues from Greek mythology, cosmology, esoteric rumination and adversarial ideologies, founding members Cody and Evan provide insight into the nature of the beast and speak of the black light that enshrouds the great Sun Demon.
Cody – It’s been a long road, there were definitely times I thought it wasn't worth it. One of the main things is that I think Evan and I write good music when we work together. We lost a drummer a few years ago and decided that we could still produce an album with programmed drums. Not ideal, but better than giving up. We have so much material and we don't want it going to waste. Trying to get new live members is a pain in the ass; we've not had any luck with rhythm guitarists since our old guitarist Tanner (WAYFARER) left.
Forming in 2009, the band released their first EP the following year, not in 2016 as Encyclopaedia Metallum would have you believe.
Cody – Yes, we released ‘Sisyphus’ in 2010 and we corrected this with our Spotify release but are still trying to fix our Metal Archives profile. It was never officially released on CD so it was difficult to get it on some sites.
The title would suggest to me that this EP seems to be thematically reflective of the philosophy and mythology of ancient Greece. Would this assumption be correct?
Cody – A lot of the lyrics on that album came from a medieval occult text that we were fascinated with. I found there to be a great deal of metaphor in it and we branched out from there. Sisyphus was a metaphor for Saturn in astrology, being the planet of time and suffering, and Sisyphus represents our own stones that we carry.
The following year the band released their debut full-length effort, ‘Flowers of the Lilly’ independently. With track titles like ‘Tides of Macrocosm’ and ‘Until the Stars be Numbered’ carrying notions of cosmic calamity, could you give any insight into what the subject matter of this album is dealing with?
Cody – At times we use astrological metaphors to write, it’s quite common in symbolism for there to be a lot of reference to astrology and constellations. So these references can be applied to many things. We’ve even gone as far as deliberately composing under specific planetary alignments in hopes of harnessing the energy into our music. In ‘Until the Stars Be Numbered’ we are essentially just talking shit to the Abrahamic god and the faiths that fall within that category, for example:
“Their iniquities shall be known. For why? I regret Their creation. O you sons and daughters of Satan, Arise! Those in the kingdom of heaven, Let them serve you. Govern those that govern; Cast down such as fall; bring forth justice And destroy the rotten. No place let it remain in One number; Add and diminish, until the stars Be numbered.”
Some might recognise this from John Dee’s Enochian keys/calls, but it's certainly altered from the original. We have always blended multiple cultural occult references that shared common spiritual traits and on this album you can find ancient Egyptian, Far/Middle Eastern, Scandinavian, as well as Western ideas.
The title ‘Bull of Dharma’ particularly caught my attention.
Cody – The Bull is referencing certain Vedic texts that reference the Bull of Dharma or just Dharma. The number of legs the bull stands on represents astrological seasons or ages for man. The bull standing on one leg represents Kali Yuga - the current age. A bull is also a Venusian animal due to its connection to Taurus so we have a lot of occult Venus messages embedded throughout.
From the advanced tracks I was provided with before conducting this interview, the musical output itself is quite an amalgamation of styles. It’s clear that many musical influences are being played out within these compositions and that classical structures, along with the more underground renditions of both black and death metal, all have a part to play here. What I wasn’t expecting was the prevalence of, for lack of a better term, progressive music that seems to be woven into every part of the sound. Do you feel that the new album is a sort of “rebirth” of the band?
Cody – It is a sort of rebirth, as well as a natural evolution, but we definitely want to keep our roots – even the more deathy stuff from our first release shouldn’t be thrown to the wind. We have a lot of material we're sitting on and we were just waiting to get new members, at the very least a new drummer, so that we wouldn’t have to program stuff again and so that we can get back to live shows. Actually, a lot of this material we’ll be releasing is as old as seven years, we just now have the right resources and line up to bring it to light. Right now we have just been organising our material to fit into our next two albums and from there we will continue into a fresh start of writing.
How are your songs written, who does what, and where/who do the lyrics come from?
Cody – Evan and I write everything. Sometimes we will write together and sometimes one of us will write alone. He also contributes to lyrics but many times we will have verses that aren’t original to us, coming from something esoteric.
What is the thematic approach to the new album and what are you hoping to achieve with it?
Cody – We are slightly changing our sound, as I'm sure you could hear. Actually, that song I sent you relates a lot to the current chaos in the world. An astrological prediction that's been known for years states that this week, when a large number of planets align in the sign of Capricorn, shit will hit the fan as seen with previous “outer planet conjunctions”, hence the name ‘Capricorn Chronocrator'. Overall we are going for a darker theme but still maintaining our sort of progressive songwriting.
How did you two start working together in the first place?
Cody – Evan and I were inspired to create a music project with occult themes that was progressive in the sense that we really wanted to create our own sound and not try to fit into any particular subgenre of metal.
So many musicians and bands have impacted us both. I love all kinds of music, especially classical music and its expressiveness. When it comes to writing we always strive to be unique.
Evan – For me it started back in middle school, age 12-13, when I first discovered death metal bands like NILE, DYING FETUS and CANNIBAL CORPSE. I wanted to play guitar after that and make extreme music. Haven’t stopped since. Over the years I have been in a lot of projects on both guitar and drums. Currently, I play guitar in Suns of Sorath, and in a studio project called ASTRAEUS. There is a new atmospheric black metal project about to be underway, but I'll save that for later. On drums, I have been most active playing live with AKHLYS, AORATOS, PILE OF PRIESTS, and AMDUSIAS.
The music we write in Suns of Sorath has a particular freedom to how we approach it. We do not consciously think of any bands when we are writing, it just comes out in the moment. But as far as riffs I write, they are definitely affected by my top three bands of all time; VOIVOD, MESHUGGAH and ENSLAVED.
I first met Evan and Cody at Iceland’s ASCENSION MMXIX, where they were both part of the live debut of AKHLYS/AORATOS, with Evan on drums and Cody on bass. Since then they have both been included in the permanent live line-up of the bands.
How did you find yourselves becoming included in these bands?
Cody – I started really talking to Kyle (aka Naas Alcameth) after some unfortunate circumstances involving the two of us. It could have really made us enemies instead of friends but we built a friendship through it all and he invited me to join Aoratos, which I’m very grateful for. At the time he was looking for a drummer and the first and only suggestion I had was to try out my close friend and bandmate, Evan. And here we are!
I met Nox Corvus (guitars) after joining Aoratos and I knew who Kyle was but we hadn’t really gotten to know each other until right before I joined the band. Since joining two of Naas Alchameth’s projects I've been very intrigued by his creativity and writing process.
How was your Ascension experience?
Cody – I really enjoyed it. We had a great time in a new place. Ascension is an excellent fest, it was just hard to balance out the partying and debauchery with watching all the bands.
Evan – I loved it. It was my first time out of the country and Iceland was definitely the last place I would have thought to travel to first. The Icelandic black metal scene has also gained my respect, big time.
Getting back to Suns of Sorath; as far as I can fathom from my research into the band’s name, Sorath is a mythical figure that first appeared by name in a lecture given by Rudolph Steiner, titled The Apocalypse of St. John. In it he says:
“But there is also an opposing principle to the Lamb, there is also a Sun-Demon, the so-called Demon of the Sun, that which works in the evil forces of man, thrusting back the force of the Lamb, and it works in such a way that a certain amount of the human race is thrust out of the evolution which leads to the sun.”
The mythology behind the figure states that Sorath, also known as the Sun-Demon of Revelation, is a force of evil mightier than both Lucifer and Ahriman who will, after the turn of the millennia, possess men with a strong nature and destructive emotions in order to provide opposition to the “Sun-Genius”, an etheric vision of Christ.
Can you tell me about the band name, the philosophy behind it and why you chose it?
Cody – One reason we went with Sorath is that he is one of the most mysterious of the demons, not much is known or written about him. Basically, my thought behind the band name was the Sun, being a Star, and Sorath being a Solar Demon. Stars just didn’t have the same ring to it. At the time of naming the band I had read a few stories about the evocation of Sorath in particular and it really caught my interest. There was a good mix of UFO-ology, demonology and it was just sinister in many ways.
Do you follow any particular schools of spiritual thought or practice? I get the feeling that there is a keen occult interest for you both.
Cody – Yes, Evan and I are very involved with the occult. Personally, as cliché as it is, in many ways my spiritual practices have been a saving grace, for lack of a better word.
Cody – It’s taken my mind off of hard times by having something I’m deeply interested in. Things like meditation have really calmed my mind in situations where I could have lost hope otherwise.
Given that the band name deals with the opposition/adversary archetype, I’m curious as to your views on Satanism as a whole and its rampant use, be it legitimate or not, within black metal in particular.
Cody – I think there is a lot of posturing within black metal and extreme metal in general. I’ve known people who want there to be an intense ritualistic atmosphere even though it doesn’t reflect any of the bands’ personal views or practices. A part of the drive in Suns of Sorath is to go outside of any particular genre and just write what we want. You can’t have dark without light, and vice versa. Black and white thinking in any regard is a hindrance to creativity. The second wave of black metal in Norway was in no way Satanic and I feel that, with a few exceptions, a lot of black metal still isn’t. It’s just about creating a dark atmosphere for the most part. At least that’s what I think.
I dare say you’re going to upset quite a few people with that statement. If the second wave was “in no way Satanic”, what would you say was driving the then-teenagers behind the movement, which has gone on to be epitomisedby so-called Satanism?
Cody – I just feel that there was an aesthetic need to be dark and spooky but there wasn't any investigation at that time as to the real occult aspects of the adversary, Devil, Satan. It’s just perceived by most to be an archetype of evil and an invisible enemy.
Have you been privy to any major shifts within the underground community in Colorado over the past decade, or any reaffirming factors that have come from being a part of that community?
Evan – Big time. There is a lot of sludgy, doomy stuff around here nowadays that ten years ago really wasn't the case.
I really enjoy the passion that the black metal, or extreme metal underground in general, has. The biggest motivation for me is simply just sharing any of my work, whether it be composition or performance, with these people and experiencing their reactions. The release of our first full length was definitely a highlight. It was delayed for a long time so to hear those songs finally come to life through production really meant a lot to me.
Cody – Locally things always change; new people at shows, new bands, old bands dying out. But on a national, or even worldwide level, in the early days there weren’t any problems with Antifa protesting black metal or any of that bullshit, although that's more of a change in the political climate which affects everyone. But when people and bands work together and make shit happen, there’s a sense of brotherhood that can sometimes be found. With Suns, we haven’t been able to tour yet, but this band has had some great nights playing locally and getting into trouble.
What’s on the cards for Suns of Sorath in the immediate future?
Cody – We have begun recording again. In my opinion, it’s some of the best material we've written and we’ll be playing locally and trying to find the best route to play outside the local scene and getting our name out there.
Evan – We have a lot of material pent up and we are going to systematically release it over the next couple of years. Besides that, we are gearing up to go live for the first time since 2013. We have been rehearsing for the last year and are really looking forward to it.
Thank you for your time and insight into your work. I now invite you to offer any closing sentiments you may have.
- Thank you for your time. We really appreciate you doing this interview with us and look forward to hopefully having some drinks with you again!