by Fdez Ferdinand
Sorrow’s Grave is a melodic dark black metal band from the US/Serbia. The band is active since January 2015, featuring two members from the US and Serbia. I had the opportunity to talk with Devriz and Vlad, the two talented and skilled musicians behind this interesting and unique band. Personally I consider myself a big fan and follower of the band since I discovered their excellent material. I can assure the journey behind this project will amaze you.
First of all, thank you for your collaboration with Metalheads Forever Magazine. Personally It is a pleasure and a great experience to talk with you guys and get to know more about you and SORROW’S GRAVE.
(Vlad) Thank you for inviting us to participate in this interview, the pleasure is mutual.
(Devriz) Yes, thank you.
The band initiated in 2015, How did it come to start this musical project?
(Vlad) Well, as far as I can remember (my memory isn’t what it used to be, hahaha), I “met” Devriz on Facebook. We share the common interest in metal music and we’re both huge fans of the band Manilla Road and also the famous toy/cartoon/comic book line Masters of the Universe. So, we began our virtual friendship chatting about that stuff and since both of us were already involved with other bands at some point of time, we figured we should do an online collaboration and record some stuff, just for shits and giggles.
(Devriz) That’s basically how it started. I received a Facebook friend request from Vlad. The rest is history.
Let’s talk about the members of the band. What is the role of each one in the band?
(Vlad) I represent the Serbian part of Sorrow’s Grave and I’m behind the music and instruments. I’m the one responsible if anyone thinks our music sucks, cause Devriz writes phenomenal lyrics and has spooky vocals, so his role in the black metal band is totally justified and legit.
(Devriz) I of course am the Kansas side of SG. I take care of the lyrics and vocals. I do a bit of composing on a couple songs but nothing more than singing a tune I have in my head, sending it to Vlad, then he turns it into a killer song. That’s how it all goes for the most part. If it weren’t for his composing skills, there would be no SG. Period!
When did you discover your interest in music?
(Vlad) For me it started very early. I was always surrounded with parents or elderly cousins who were into rock music, so there was no way I could escape from the inevitable. But I started playing guitar seriously when I was 11 or 12 years old.
(Devriz) I would say I was around the same age, though I came from an over Christianized family. So the idea of me playing music didn’t go over very well with my father. My CDs were all smashed and confiscated on one occasion.
Are both of you multi-instrumentalist? And if so, can you tell us about the learning process? Have you had studied formally?
(Vlad) I basically play all the instruments that have strings on them, except those that are played with bow. I know how to play drums – in my head, but physically I can’t play the simplest rhythms. Can’t read notes or anything serious musicians can. I was a self-taught musician, so that’s about it.
(Devriz) Besides playing the banjo a bit, I mainly stick to vocals and writing. The banjo is there for my love of old folk music.
As a duo have you feel that you ever need another member in the band?
(Vlad) Well, for start we should move close to one another and then we can start looking for other band members, haha. But seriously, I’m fine with this duet concept. The wonders of the modern technology.
(Devriz) Having just the two of us makes for smooth sailing on what we do. It’s very easy this way. To be honest, there are others in the SG camp that help make this all possible. We are just the two original visionaries.
Speaking of the name of the band, I personally find it very interesting, Would you like to tell me some information about the name Sorrow’s Grave? And What is the overall concept behind it?
(Vlad) That was all Devriz! I’m not that smart, haha.
(Devriz) LOL! Yes, he is! Don’t let him fool ya! The name Sorrow’s Grave was an old handle/screen name I’ve had for many years. Since 2003 I’d say. When I came up with it I was in the midst of a crap time in life. I remember coming up with Sorrow’s Grave as a name that stood for me conquering the negative things in life. Basically it’s the grave to bury sorrow in. Not to bury as in to hide it, but to conquer it!
I know that you have a very interesting story and journey about the production of your music, the recordings and some other aspects, would you like to tell us more about it?
(Vlad) We are blessed, not in a religious sense, but truly blessed to have a person like Boris Surlan as a producer. He might be a young fellow, but at this point he’s already achieved so much as a mixing and mastering engineer. I like to think his unique approach to our sound makes him a part of the band as well. If you want a great professional mixing and mastering, go call Boris! Check out his other work on borisshurlan.com!
(Devriz) No doubt there! Amazing work! Many don’t realize that for lack of time and funds, ALL vocals were recorded on my iPhone. I used the message recorder to record vocals, then emailed them to Vlad who did a rough mix. Soon, it was off to Boris who turned it into what you hear now. I still am astonished by both Vlad and Boris for the incredible mixing process.
What have been your biggest obstacles?
(Vlad) Being several thousand miles away, haha. No, I think our biggest obstacle was finding a proper label. Luckily we found it in Miner Records and they did an amazing job with the print and overall packaging.
(Devriz) True. That and the fact that we don’t play out/tour tends to keep us way underground. That isn’t such a bad thing though.
Your music is one of the most complex I have listened, your style is unique compared with other bands, the dark atmosphere, the complexion of the sound, the vocals style immerses the listener in a whole new experience, I want to know from your own perspective, how do you describe your sound?
(Vlad) I’m not into extreme metal genres that much, but I do live in a country where lots of shit have been happening for the past 100 years, and most recent was the bombing of Serbia by NATO in 1999, so I take all the darkness in my music for being constantly pissed off and living in a hell hole.
(Devriz) I on the other hand am a big fan of Inquisition and other black metal bands. Though there are definite nods to some black metal bands in the music, we are very different. So much I feel, that it throws traditionalists off a bit. In a world where almost everything has been done already, it’s hard to sound at all different. I believe we have done that to a point. We by no means re invented the wheel, but we sure as hell added our own unique modifications. I’m good with that.
Speaking of ‘’An Eternity Of Evil’’ your first and only album so far, every song in this album has its unique essence, would you like to tell me the overall concept behind this album?
(Vlad) Devriz’s haunting vocals and creepy lyrics are what make this album so special.
(Devriz) My brother is too kind! It basically is a collection of dark story telling. Some from actual happenings, some made up, some even a mix. Just a dark musical journey.
So your music is characterized by its history-based lyrics, in some tracks I could point the history behind them, as for ‘‘Spiritualist of Death’’ inspired by the Bloody Benders, I think this song represents very well the name of the band, because of the killing method of the Benders, Would you like to tell me more about the inspirations and why do you pick each historical fact?
(Devriz) We both decided we would steer clear from writing about religion and politics. God the Crutch, Devil the Scapegoat is as close as we get to either. I’m also very interested in past lives, reincarnation, and Spiritism….. and serial killers. I grew up in Wisconsin, home of Jeffrey Dahmer and Ed Gein. Put that all together, I didn’t have a tough time coming up with material. Plus when Vlad sent me music to write around…. I was immediately energized! I personally feel Satanism is predominating in most black metal music and a bit beaten to death. Honestly, to each their own, but for me, I’m not a practicing Satanist. So I don’t pretend to be in my writing. Though I do admire many bands that have that style and belief system. There are many bands who think you cannot be black metal without Satan as a building block. That’s fine. Some feel we are more death/thrash. Some say we are black/death/thrash. I’m sure some think we are none of the above and just pass on us. In the end, for us, it really doesn’t matter. We are Sorrow’s Grave. We are what we are. What that is will be purely up to the listener. We’re just having a fun creating it.
The artwork of the album is one of my favourites since I discover your music, It’s very interesting, what is the concept behind it? And Who was the genius artist who made it?
(Vlad) The genius of Tanya Del Angel DeVries!!! That woman can do some serious art! I consider her as a part of our band too, because she really nailed our concept and atmosphere with her designs. The guys from the printing factory called me just to say that they were amazed with the artwork. I asked them: “Have you heard the music?” And they said: “If it’s half as good as your artwork is, then it’s great!”
(Devriz) She is amazing! Not just because she is my wife. We just gave her the music to listen to, told her the theme, gave her some direction and a whole lot of creative freedom, and you get what you see now. I wouldn’t be surprised if more bands sought her out for art work in the future. As Vlad said, Tanya and Boris are part of the SG camp as well.
There is a song that I really want to know to whom it refers to? The song is ‘’An Eternity Of Evil’’, the first name that came to my mind was Gilles de Rais the 15th century’s serial killer.
(Devriz) It can be anyone you insert in it. The story was one I made up, not about any figure in particular, but a story of an evil soul. The figure (like many in history) was very evil and sadistic. Once captured and killed, the spirit refused to go into the light and wanted to avoid any judgment or reincarnation just to stay an evil spirit on earth. This way the figure could try to torment the living in death as they did in life. In a sense, the character in the story really never loses or answers for any wrong doings besides going through a quick physical death.
Have you begun writing material for a new release?
(Vlad) At the moment I’m pretty much preoccupied with my other two bands, so it’s gonna take some time to let the creative juices flow for the next Sorrow’s Grave material. Don’t wanna rush it. Heck, many people need to hear the debut first. It’s totally fresh!
(Devriz) Agreed. I have stories in my head but this one hasn’t gotten much attention as of yet. So best to let it be out there a bit. Rest assure, there will be at least one more.
Before we end with the interview, Do you have any plans to perform live in the future?
(Vlad) If the constellations and the planets are in the right astrological… haha, but seriously, if we get the chance to do it, we’ll do it. I don’t mind if Devriz finds some great group of musicians to play it live in the States, but if they come to Europe I get to play at least in Serbia, that’s the deal, hahaha.
(Devriz) What Vlad said sounds great. It may happen if enough people hear the music and we gain a good following to make putting a group together for shows worth the time and effort. If it never happens, we are happy with being another Darkthrone and being a studio band. Though playing a show with my brother would be a hell of a good time! In the end, we have fun and do what we want.
Well this is the end of the interview, thank you so much for the time you have spent with me and Metalheads Forever Magazine, we appreciate your time and in the future we really want to know more about your upcoming projects! That been said, any last words for readers?
(V) Avoid the media and politics in any possible way. I haven’t watched TV or read the news for a while, and I’m feeling so refreshed and happy. Try to listen to as many music as you can on daily basis. Read Metalheads Forever mag and not those trendy shits on Metal Sucks, Loudwire, Metal Hammer etc, cause those assholes wouldn’t know what real metal is if it bites them in their big fat asses! Stay healthy and don’t be pricks! \m/
(D) WHAT HE SAID!!! …….And try not to step on Legos with bare feet…..that just sucks!
Fdez Ferdinand / Metalheads Forever Magazine