Myth Of A Life have a heavy metal axe to grind and an interesting landscape to do it in. The city of Sheffield is home to some of the biggest names in music – Def Leppard, Pulp, Rolo Tomassi, Arctic Monkeys – and now with an opportunity to one day add a melodic death metal name to the list – Myth Of A Life. The cross-cultural hybrid that constitutes Myth Of A Life makes them an interesting group to chat with.
Meet frontman Phil Dellas, a man born and raised in Greece. Phil talks with a slight American accent and has such a frontman presence, you wouldn’t struggle to figure out his role. He is opinionated, clued up on current affairs, and easy to talk to. Alex Bond, the drummer, is a childhood friend of Phil’s. His accent is ever so slight, whenever he answers a question. Yet the more he talks, the more Greek he gets. Alex’s swagger complements Phil’s; he acts as a regular devil’s advocate to Phil in our meeting. Will Price is the guitarist of the band and the quieter soul of the bunch. He seems to be the cogs and springs of ‘normal’ and ‘Yorkshire’, more likely to smirk and murmur his opinions. Liam Banks, the bassist who may seem like he falls into your typical bracket of tall, stoic, silent bassist. He is not as camera confident as Phil or Alex, but is the first to get a laugh out of everyone with his awkwardness, and random black metal screeches.
This lineup of Myth Of A Life is almost completely different to the one I’ve seen before; Phil is the only original member. Japanese Takanori Shono started out the band as a one-man project. His incomplete demos became the foundation of three-piece Myth Of A Life’s self-funded debut EP Erinyes. Takanori is currently in Japan due to professional commitments, and the line-up continued to evolve, stepping up a gear with with the current lineup of Will, Alex, Liam and Phil.
I sat down with Phil and Liam to discuss the newly-packaged band, and the direction they’re heading in with new album She Who Invites, after the brilliant Erinyes.
BA: Tell me a bit about your new single and album.
Phil: The album was created with the old lineup and it will be supported with the new one. The new guys have spent a lot of time preparing the material, making sure we sound spot on when we decide to have our first gig. I feel that we might even be sounding better. I have a lot of faith in this lineup.
BA: What kind of direction have you taken this time?
Phil: The direction of the record is a continuation on the themes which we set with our ‘Erinyes’ EP – melodic death metal with a lot of thrash metal, metalcore and straight up death metal parts.
BA: What is the title of your single? And why did you pick this one for release?
Phil: The title of the single is ‘Waiting to Die’. We picked it because it was the perfect bridge between the Erinyes EP and our album She Who Invites. It combined the old school melodic death metal with thrash approach of the EP, but it also has a few of the newer elements we are bringing. Some newer and more modern melodic death like The Black Dahlia Murder and Heaven Shall Burn. The album focuses on a Japanese myth very similar to the descent to the Underworld of Orpheus with Eurydice. Ultimately the myth for Japanese people explains how life and death came about.
BA: Where did the idea for the Japanese mythological direction come from?
Phil: From my interest of reading and learning about mythology. Apart from the Greek mythology influences, there are stories in the record from Norse and Japanese mythology. At the same time though, I like presenting these stories in a way where the person reading the lyrics can interpret the story in any way they want. Most of these stories are in some ways relevant in today’s society as well. For example, the song ‘Erinyes’ [the title track of the début EP]is about how you are tormented by guilt when you have committed an atrocious crime. In the story, you would literally be hunted and killed by the goddesses… However I feel that guilt and regret are powerful enough emotions to theoretically ‘kill you.’ ‘Waiting to Die’ is about a small town called Eyam where the people living there decide to barricade themselves when they realise that the town is infected with the Black Plague.  Therefore nobody can enter or leave in order to stop the spread of the plague. Nearly the entire town was wiped out.
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Melodic death metal is great for the fact that it tells stories from a range of literary themes and can be heavily fantasy, spiritually or historically based: It’s a genre that requires a lot of energy in both it’s lyricism – and musicians. Liam Banks was recruited by Phil when they were in need of a bassist because “he is more than just a rhythm bassist, he is great with melodies.” Liam was an obvious choice for Phil, but a bigger decision to make for Liam.
Liam: For me, it was a case where I’d recently been made bandless due to Lacrota calling it a day. In brutal honesty, I was actually planning on calling it a day for a few months while I got back on my feet, due to some recent events in my personal life making me somewhat unreliable. Phil approached me and asked proposed I join Myth. We had some pretty fun and interesting conversations about that. I think Phil liked what I had to say and the rest is history. I think the fact we both had a rather similar perspective of what we wanted helped out.
Phil: Also for me it was pretty clear that I wanted a player like Liam in the band, knowing what he was capable of from the Lacrota stuff.
Liam: Not quite sure why if I’m being completely honest…
Phil: And that’s another reason…modesty. My thoughts were that Liam could really help the band reach a better musical level, so I decided to contact him.
BA: Liam, in terms of learning everything, did you put your own spin on it, or stick to the book?
Liam: I’m mainly sticking to the books, but as soon as the fans are comfortable with the new lineup, I’ll start doing my own thing with the material. Even with Lacrota, I was constantly evolving the ideas I had with the bass.
BA: Were you excited? Did you feel ready for another band? I imagine Lacrota could have been real time consuming and stressful towards the end.
Liam: I was a bit ambivalent at first if I’m being fair. It was only when me and Phil got down and started chatting about our ideas… Lacrota wasn’t that stressful, we all went our own ways without any issues or hardship. It was a group decision based on all our circumstances, I do miss the guys occasionally. There is nobody for me to offer highlighters and Terry’s Chocolate Oranges to! [an in-joke left unexplained]
Listening to ‘Waiting to Die,’ a defining tone is set for the album, sure to be a masterpiece. Featuring Kurokoma’s George Ionita’s chilling wails, his voice sits hand in hand with Phil’s characteristically deep and angry growls throughout the track, providing exciting contrast.
Much like In typical Myth Of A Life fashion, the song is relentless, and the tumultuous, symbiotic relationship between the two voices is fantastic. It is absolutely terrifying, and does a great job of placing you in the town of Eyam. Barricaded; trapped; probably afflicted with the Black Plague. Meanwhile, the technical abilities of the old line-up cannot be denied. The rhythm is fast-paced, thick, thrashy and ever melodious, it leaves us keen to hear the track performed live by the three new members. They are particularly strong musicians, unified by the bond they have by all entering at this stage and being led by someone as emphatic as Phil, the sole thread that has remained throughout Myth Of A Life’s development.
BA: Sheffield’s extreme metal scene has taken a bit of a blow recently, suffering the loss of bands like Lacrota and black metal legends Northern Oak. What do you both think is the cause and what does this mean for you and other bands like you?
Phil: It’s definitely a sad thing seeing bands like Lacrota and Northern Oak calling it a day. I feel that this due to the limited opportunities a city like Sheffield can provide for the extreme metal bands. I can understand how that may cause frustration within bands. However I do feel that slowly and steadily we can rebuild the scene and reclaim the fire that it once had. If anything in the end, it motivates me even more to go out there and prove our worth by playing harder every night.
Liam: I would agree. But then again, I wouldn’t be surprised with a more niche set of sub-genres. My opinion on rebuilding the scene is that there wasn’t much of a scene to start with. But I think we all need – for all bands of all genres and even promoters to an extent – to improve ideas on promotion and driving potential/new/experienced fans into the venues and to see bands, new and old. I also think the growing segregation of sub-genres in Sheffield isn’t helping either. I love seeing a gig where you have punk, tech-death and rock bands all playing, but maybe that’s me.
Phil: I agree, a lot of promo guys are too focused in creating subgenre-themed nights….like doom metal nights etc.
Liam: My favourite gig I’ve ever played at was my second, third or something gig where the band I was in were drafted to an acoustic/light rock day event. Considering we were death metal, we were quite different but we went down a treat, and the shift was also welcomed by some. It’s nice to have variety at gigs.
After a photoshoot in which I was able to bring out a bit of all of their personalities, we went for a coffee or two and talked politics, work and, best of all, music. I asked them all to pick their five favourite bands which was catalyst for a descent into chaos. Phil couldn’t give me any less than 10. Will had an internal crisis and tried to convince me me to “put Devin Townsend five times.” Alex had an easier time of it while Liam didn’t hesitate at all.
Their final lists were as follows:
Phil – Metallica, Slipknot, In Flames and Misfits, among 10 names given.
Will – Katatonia, “all of Devin Townsend’s stuff,” Alice in Chains, Tool and Testament
Alex – Dream Theater, Paradise Lost, Porcupine Tree, Mayhem and Rotting Christ (or Muse).
Liam – Feared, Dream Theater, Apocalyptica, Obscura and Symphony X.
Their eclectic palette makes for a smorgasbord of strong influences you can expect to see come through in their music. The five of them are what a lot of Sheffield’s music scene are right now: working, figuring themselves out and exploring their craft as much as possible. Myth Of A Life is a band name you’re going to see come up repeatedly in the near future. If Liam gets his way, their explosive melodeath sound could even surprise you on an acoustic gig night.
Thanks to Myth Of A Life for their time, and their manager Julia Pavlova for the opportunity. You can check out the band on Facebook here and Bandcamp here. Their album She Who Invites is due for release on June 10th via Sleaszy Rider Records.