I think only few people know about this band, but all the old tapetraders surely remember the two great demos this outfit released: “Forged In Blood” and “Still In The Grey Dying”. From my point of view these demos are true classics in the Death Metal history and SINOATH can be counted as one of the most original Death Metal bands out of Italy. Even today I hardly ever heard better keyboards in Death Metal before besides NOCTURNUS (and I’m definitely no huge fan of keyboards in combination with Death Metal). Salvatore, the founding member of SINOATH, drummer on “Forged In Blood” and now again active in SINOATH answered my questions. Check out their myspace page mentioned below and get in touch with Salvatore to buy the re-release of “Forged In Blood” and the MCD “Still In The Grey Dying”…
Hello Salvatore, how are you? Anything important to say to start this interview?
"First of all thank you for contacting me, I will only say a few words to start… we are back!!!"
Have you ever heard of Voices From The Darkside? What do you think about this online magazine?
"To be honest: no, but I have given a recent glance at it and I think it is an optimal online magazine. However, I think that the online magazines are an optimal chance to give many bands the possibility to spread their names otherwise they would not have the chance to be mentioned."
How does it feel to get interviewed about your band SINOATH, mainly because of nostalgically reasons? I mean, I know SINOATH now for 16 years
"It’s very pleasant; it’s great to know that the job that you have made beyond 16 years ago has hit the target."
How many interviews did you answer since you re-founded your band?
"This is the second one, before only one Swedish fanzine."
As far as I know you were one of the founding members of SINOATH. What was your intention when you formed this band back in the early 90s and from which bands were you mainly influenced?
"Yes I’m one of the co-founders, together with to Rob Messina (guitar), Fabio li Pera (bass) and Nicola De Carne (guitar). We started the band to follow the path of our idols like SLAYER, CELTIC FROST, DEATH SS, BLACK SABBATH, OBITUARY, MERCYFUL FATE, CANDLEMASS, VENOM, DEICIDE and more. These are our influences."
The one and only release you were involved in was the great “Forged In Blood” demo. One of the best demos ever if you ask me!! Please tell something about it!
"Thank you. It was an optimal job and above all a lot originality and professionalism for that age. We have worked well with the other boys… On this demo we’ve had brilliant intuitions for this age!"
How many copies of “Forged In Blood” did you sell? Did you have a proper distribution back then or did you only sell it on your own?
"If we speak about the tape, I know that I have distributed approximately 300 copies, but I’m not sure of these numbers. Talking about the CD that I have reprinted, I have something like 700 copies of 1000 sold (but obviously all sold cannot be considered). We never ever had a great distribution."
Could you please comment each song of this demo? All masterpieces from my point of view
"All the three songs have had a great participation from all, we wanted to write songs and thinking to play music not only go fast as it often was done these times. ‘Witch Bleed On Fire’ speaks about the inquisition and about a witch condemned into the flames. ‘Forged In Blood’ speaks about the war, and that the world at the end is forged in the blood… All the nations, even the more democratic ones are born from extermination, ‘Black River Acheron’ speaks about the final travel to which we all will subordinate and about the fear of death."
With this demo you got quite a lot of attention from the underground and I think you were one of the most original bands from Italy (or even from Europe) back then. How does this feel today?
"It’s true we have been some kind of originators, but we were not having a great distribution and always suffered of line-up problems."
Were there never talks about releasing a 7”EP or something like that?
"Unfortunately not, but it’s possible in the future."
About 3 years ago you re-released this demo again on CD including a couple of livetracks. How’s the response so far? Did you get many mails from old fans back from the early nineties?
"I know that the 700 copies distributed have been more or less sold, because some mailorder had finished the copies in stock. I’ve received some letters from old fans, and these days through www.myspace.com/sinoath some old fans have contacted us and I will give my personal regards to all people writing me!!!"
By the way, did you play live a lot? With which bands did you share the stage?
"No, unfortunately we didn’t have a great live activity, mainly because of the permanent problems with the line–up."
How was your connection to the underground back then? Were you active in the underground as a tapetrader, writing letters and reading fanzines or was it only a way to get SINOATH known to the public?
"I truly was inspired from the undergound movement, like tapetrading, I have participated to a fanzine called Visual Agression. The other guys in the band, after the release of the demo, when I left the band, had a good correspondence with other underground bands (at this time) as: MARDUK, SATYRICON, EXHUMED, IMPALED NAZARENE. All bands said that they appreciated SINOATH."
I think you were one of the first Death Metal bands in Europe to use keyboards as a leading instrument. Who came up with this idea?
"Our guitar player Nicola de Carne left the band because of personal problems and we couldn’t finding a substitute. One day after I got the first demo of NOCTURNUS I thought that a keyboard in Death Metal could be used and I proposed it on condition that was not only an instrument that it made only intros or fxs like in NOCTURNUS, but that it plays like a second guitar player. And it was a good idea… So we asked Adrian C. to join the band."
How did it happen that you were no member on your 2nd demo “Still In The Grey Dying” anymore. Why did you leave the band?
"First up the second demo was never released but it was published directly as a MCD called “Still In The Grey Dying”. I was not part of the band anymore because they wanted to continue to make music different from me, and I was accused of wanting to be the leader, but I only think that I was older and full of experience so as usual there were many different ideas to put into one project."
What’s your opinion about this 2nd demo?
"It’s a great product, well played and well recorded!"
Were you involved in the song writing process for this demo?
"Only in one or two riffs of one song, nothing more."
As far as I know you were the contact person during the days of “Forged In Blood”. So how did it feel to leave everything behind? Did you totally leave the underground during this time?
"It was very hard to leave the band, but that’s life… During this period I left the underground Metal of that period in order to return to the classics and dedicated to me to study drums. I played in a Prog Rock band called OLD CHILD with which we have only made a pair of songs."
What did you do after the split with SINOATH? Did you have other projects and bands worth to talk about?
"In 1997 a friend asked me to join his band called URBAN RAGE, with this band I’ve done one demo tape in 1997 and a full length CD called “Trapped” in 1998. Some live gigs took place, too. The music style was like SOUNDGARDEN, NIRVANA, BLACK SABBATH, etc."
Later on SINOATH even released the CD “Research” which is a rather strange release. I mean, no songs from two of the greatest demos ever released were included on it and the line-up consisted of almost new persons. What happened to SINOATH and what’s your opinion about this CD? Why didn’t say use these old classics?
"Once again the line-up changed, and this influenced the direction of the band a lot. I think “Research” was an optimal album, but I prefer the old stuff from “Forged In Blood” and “Still In The Grey Dying”. You must know that Catania is a small city and it’s hard to find stable musicians, so some time you need to play with different musicians with different musical background and at the end all these miscellaneous influences are in the songs. Besides I think that Rob Messina and Adrian Cucinotta had changed their musical preferences during all these years (from 1990/91) so the music on “Research” is a little bit different."
What’s the reason for the line-up problems SINOATH had to deal with all the time?
"This is a problem not only for SINOATH, but it’s a plague for all the bands of the city!!! All the bands of Catania had and have problems with the line up!!"
What about the scene back then in Italy? I wasn’t aware of so many bands from Italy, just MORTUARY DRAPE, DEATH SS, SCHIZO, SADIST or ICONOCLAST (of whom you took singer Andrea for your 2nd demo)… (never heard of NECRODEATH, Thomas?? – Ed.)
"The Italian scene in the past was much better and above all we have had many original bands in the past. Unfortunately in Italy money and structures for Metal music was very poor. It was very difficult play Metal in Italy or to distribute the products."
Now you reformed SINOATH again. Isn’t it strange to reform a band were you didn’t take part in the whole evolution? Do you consider SINOATH to be YOUR band?
"I could have used any other name but the CD that I would have recorded would have been always the same one, therefore why not to use the name SINOATH? I consider SINOATH the band of Salvatore Fichera, Nicola De Carne, Rob Messina and Fabio Li Pera and subsequently of Adrian Cucinotta. I consider all the other members that have played in SINOATH optimal collaborating. They have participated to the plan of the second period of the band and are all worth of respect and for the life of SINOATH."
A couple of months ago you started to run the official myspace-site for SINOATH. How’s the response so far?
"It works very well, people recognize it with surprise that we are still active."
Do you still have contact to the old guys from SINOATH? What are they up to?
"I have contacts with the old members. All of them have various plans and they continue to play."
On www.myspace.com/sinoath you placed 4 songs of your forthcoming album “Under The Ashes” (to be released in November 2007). Could you please say some words about these 4 songs and the album at all? Where will it be released? How are the reactions so far to these 4 songs?
"It will be out on Elegy Music which is my label. We hope to distribute it as good as possible. The reactions are good so far, but still nobody has listened to the entire album. For the 4 songs on myspace we got good reactions, so we think that when the people listen to the entire album they will be satisfied."
What are your goals now? What do you want to achieve with SINOATH?
"We want to be amused to play and nothing else."
Is there some merchandise available from SINOATH, like shirts, the two demos, the “Forged In Blood” demo CD or the “Research” CD?
"Yes, there are still some copies of the “Forged In Blood“ CD (the demo + 4 live tracks ) available. Also we have 25 copies of “Still In the Grey Dying” MCD (original Nosferatu Records 1995) available. In November the new t-shirt “Under The Ashes “ (limited to 100 copies) and the new album “Under The Ashes “ CD will be available."
I think many fans of the Death Metal underground of the early 90s would consider SINOATH as a cult act. How does this feel to read? What do you think about that?
"I’m much content of this but sometime I’m very sad about this, because if we were a more stable band until today the history would be different. Besides that we have made a good job."
Have you ever heard of the radio show “Darkness Descends” on www.solarfall.com? This is show dedicated mainly to the Death Metal underground of the late 80s and early 90s and the DJ Ola Sjoberg already played some old SINOATH tunes. What is your opinion about the glorification of the Death Metal scene of the early nineties with shows like this? Even with interviews like this?
"I think that it is good that programs like this exist and that they propose the old scene. This way all can know how the past was like and the origin from which it came."
Well Salvatore, that’s it for this time. I’m running out of questions, so I’m not able to bore you any longer. Thanks for the time you spent on answering my questions. Any last words?
"Thank you for your support and this interview. I wish you all the best for the mag and your readers. I want to recommend to you to listen to the new album of SINOATH again after 17 years. You will hear something different. Contact us on: firstname.lastname@example.org or www.myspace.com/sinoath or www.elegymusic.com."