SUNBURST – “We Strive For ‘Perfection’”

June 14, 2024, a month ago

By Nick Balazs

feature heavy metal sunburst

SUNBURST – “We Strive For ‘Perfection’”

The yearning for perfection never ends, but Gus Drax believes he has achieved that with Sunburst’s second album Manifesto, out now via Inner Wound Recordings.

Even though this is Sunburst’s first new material since their 2016 debut Fragments Of Creation, Drax has been busy with his ax wielding duties in Black Fate and Suicidal Angels. The wait was worth it as the talented and versatile guitarist along with vocalist Vasilis Georgiou have created a power/prog metal masterpiece intricately weaving symphonic elements without deteriorating the heavy metal sound. Manifesto is a potent injection of fresh ideas into the prog/power metal realm.

Drax sat with BraveWords to talk about Sunburst, the Greek metal scene, songwriting, and more.

BraveWords: Manifesto is Sunburst’s first album in 8 years. What took so long to get this second album rolling? I imagine COVID plus your duties with Suicidal Angels and Flat Black had something to do with it.

Gus Drax: “The pandemic played a role for sure yes. Our lives played a role and of course our attention to detail as well. We strive for ‘perfection’ and try to do everything in the highest possible quality, which of course costs time.

“Besides that, Vasilis and I are also members Black Fate as you correctly mentioned. Between the two Sunburst albums we released a record with Black Fate as well. I know it’s not Sunburst but me and Vasilis didn’t stop working on music since 2016 and even earlier actually. Plus, all procedures in the music business take more time. We didn’t want to be so late but, here we are and we are very happy and proud for the album we’re presenting.”

BraveWords: Talk about the “cinematic” elements added into the music; you guys did a great job not letting it override the core, metal sound.

Gus Drax: “Thank you so much. We wanted the orchestra to be a part of the band and not the band to be a part of the orchestra if you get what I mean. We first finished the compositions in their entirety. Vocal lines, lyrics everything. And after that we worked with John Koutselinis on the orchestral arrangements. We had a lot of back and forth on this. Let’s change this, let’s work on that etc. 

“And one main thing in our minds was to not let the orchestra override the band which is easy to happen cause the orchestra frequency wise is massive compares to a band plus when you get to hear the orchestra it’s so satisfying that you can easily be positively overwhelmed and fall into the trap of adding even more orchestral stuff. I think we managed to keep a nice balance.”

BraveWords: One of my favorite songs is “Samaritan” and I’m drawn to the lyric “sometimes good intentions are simply not enough.” That’s something many can relate to. Please describe putting together that song.

Gus Drax: “Τhank you very much! It’s one of my favourite songs in the album. As with every song of the album it just comes out naturally when I practice usually. The first thing that was composed was the opening riff and then the song naturally progressed until the second chorus where I decided that this one needed a bit of a more technical/proggy part and I came up with what you can hear in the album.

“Lyrics are Vasilis’ department but of course I know what our songs are talking about. We used the Samaritan Parable and kind of ‘modernized’ it and brought it in our dimension and style and created the story line and lyrics. And indeed ‘sometimes good intentions are simply not enough’ is a very strong line.”

BraveWords: “Hollow Lies” has the line, “everything I loved has vanished through sorrow and shame.” This is track is also one of the singles. The song seems like it talks of someone coping with a loss, maybe suffering for his actions in some respects. Talk about the background of this song.

Gus Drax: “Exactly! It has a lot to do with regret. You can see it as a middle aged person regretting about some life decisions and actions. Music wise ‘Hollow Lies’ was the first song I wrote for Manifesto. It was composed even before Fragments Of Creation was released so I think if there’s a ‘link’ song between the two albums, it’s ‘Hollow Lies’.”

BraveWords: Vasilis Georgiou is a fantastic vocalist; reminds of Roy Khan. What’s it like working with him and how he elevates the music to another level.

Gus Drax: “Indeed Vasilis is great and we have a great cooperation which is based in our almost 20 year old friendship. Our cooperation in bands is never-ending and of course it has its great moments and its ‘difficult’ moments. But even the ‘difficult’ moments have to do with striving for perfection in what we do.”

BraveWords: Speaking of Vasilis, he is also responsible for the artwork. What was the idea behind the art? Is the figure on front the same one from the first album?

Gus Drax: “Vasilis did an amazing job with the cover of the album. We couldn’t be happier. Everything just fits and it represents our music so well. That’s hard to do. When you listen to any of our songs and see the cover, somehow it just fits! With every song. I love it. We see the figure as an ‘evolved’ version of the first one.” 

BraveWords: As a guitarist, how do you approach your instrument when it relates to songwriting and creating a solo? “Nocturne” for instance has a classical approach to the solo and fits beautifully with how it leads to the climax of the song.

Gus Drax: “Thank you. I try to approach everything as a songwriter first. Even the fastest and most technical solos have to serve a purpose, the song, otherwise it just doesn’t make sense to me. I start working on a song when inspiration strikes and have the main idea or ideas then from there on I proceed the way it works best for the song. And the same goes for the solos as well. I play what I believe serves the song best and what feels more fitting.” 

BraveWords: Greece has a rabid and loyal metal fan base. How is the scene over there and what made you want to become a musician?

Gus Drax: “Greece is and always have been full of talent. We have great musicians and bands. Now with the social media etc., it’s easier for these musicians and bands to get noticed by a wider audience.

“Personally I watched a VHS of Dream Theater’s Live In Tokyo and I just wanted to become a guitarist. I immediately started taking lessons and I was very serious about it. I almost immediately knew this is what I wanted to do in my life.” 

BraveWords: What do you make of the current power/prog scene?

Gus Drax: “I think it’s full of quality, maybe better than ever. Lots of great bands and awesome new music coming out very often!” 

BraveWords: Anything else you’d like to say about the album or the band?

Gus Drax: “I just wanted to thank you for having us. I hope you and the crowd will enjoy Manifesto. See you all soon on the road!”

Order Manifesto on Bandcamp.

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