When I listened to Dexter Ward’s latest output III for the first time, it blew me away. Even after a lot of spins, nine months later, it’s still an engrossing album that never bores me. For me, it’s one of the best records released in 2020, no doubt about it – and it contains a lot of great energetic tracks, including the epic heavy metal masterpieces »In the Days of Epic Metal« and »The Dragon of the Mist« (check out our Top 10 songs of 2020 list). With that said, it’s no surprise, I guess, that I wanted to talk to this amazing Greek/Italian outfit. Fortunately, Manolis Karazeris (guitars, ex-Battleroar, founder Up The Hammers Festival) was available for an interview which we gladly present to you today. Enjoy reading.
Hi, Manolis, thanks a lot for your time. We’re really glad to have the opportunity to talk to you. How are you doing?
Manolis Karazeris: Hi there, my friend! Thanks for the interest in our band. It is always a pleasure to talk to the people who find our music interesting! At the moment, I am in quarantine, my day job is paused and most of the things I love in life are banned, so there were better days for sure. Aside from that, I spend my days with my family around the Christmas tree cooking, drinking amazing wines and listening to a lot of music. In addition to that, I started playing World of Warcraft again after I stopped back in 2010, when my kids came. I am a Tank Warrior for the alliance. We got to go with what we can have for now, I can’t complain.
That’s the spirit! What was the last record you listened to before answering our questions?
At the moment I am listening to Tales of Medusa Triumphant Serenade on vinyl after a lot of time. I am one of the lucky 100 who got this mysterious album by mail.
Wow, my colleague Aidan who generally loves obscure stuff will die of envy, I suppose… By the way, my colleagues and I consider III to be one of the best epic heavy metal records of the year. But what do you personally think about your third longplayer with Dexter Ward?
Wow, that’s a huge compliment, thanks a lot for that and this means we did something good!
Well, that’s an understatement, Manolis…
In my opinion it’s our best album by far.
For sure – even if I really like Rendezvous with Destiny.
I know a lot of bands say this but in our case it seems our fans agree, too. We had a lot of time to work on this album with the preproduction and this worked better this time. There was a long time the band was on hiatus and this worked on our benefit as there was thirst for new music and when we started composing, it went smoothly.
In my opinion, »In the Days of Epic Metal« and »The Dragon of the Mist« are the best songs you’ve released with Dexter Ward. Do you agree?
»The Dragon of the Mist« was the only song that came from the past in this album. We actually played an alternate version of it in our last show before the pandemic at a German festival. I really love all the songs we ever did but if I had to choose just one song, it would be »Stone Age Warrior« from our previous album. In my opinion, this song never got the appreciation it deserved.
What was the weirdest thing that you read in a review about III?
To be honest, this album got only good reviews so far and there was nothing weird about them. One thing that annoys me though in some reviews is some of them are obviously made just to be made. It’s obvious that the reviewer just listened to the album once to »get the job done«.
Yeah, that’s definitely right, unfortunately. I think there are too many mags which focus on quantity rather than quality… Can you tell our readers something about the amazing EPIC artwork of your lastest record? And, by the way, what are your favourite cover artworks of all time? For me, they are very important, especially regarding an epic metal album which usually wants to create a certain mystical atmosphere.
The artwork of the new album came from an idea that our singer Mark had, he gave a sketch of it to the painter who was Alexandros Vasilopoulos. We have a long history with Alexandros as we did the painting for the first Battleroar album and he is also creating the T-shirt artwork for my festival called Up The Hammers Festival. For me too, they are extremely important as they give the listener an idea of what to expect. In the days of yore, when we were shopping albums without listening to them, first the album cover was much more important. I bought many albums just because I liked the cover artwork. My favorite album cover of all time is Warlord Thy kingdom come, Blind Guardian Somewhere far beyond, Iron Maiden Powerslave and Fates Warning Awaken the Guardian.
Good pick! Are you already working on your next studio album with Dexter Ward?
Unfortunately, at the moment there is absolutely no interest in making new music. The pandemic completely kicked our ass and our will to play music. We had started a cover of Heavy Load but never ended up complete.
Hopefully, this damned situation comes to an end soon… How would you – as an expert – define the term »epic metal«? Do you think that this is a fitting label to describe the musical style of Dexter Ward?
I spend half of my life worshiping »epic metal«, so an expert title is always welcome (laughs).
Well deserved, in this case, no doubt about it!
When I get to be asked this question, I give a simple example. If you want to define epic metal, listen to Manowar Into Glory Ride. This is the ultimate genre album ever made and it clicks all the boxes. I don’t believe that epic metal describes the musical style of Dexter Ward. We use some elements from the genre but we are more close to traditional heavy metal.
Can you tell us a bit about the Greek epic metal scene? Are there any young talented bands that our readers should check out?
Unfortunately, lately there are not many new bands coming out like there were in the period from 2000 until 2010. Luckily enough, one of my favorite Greek epic metal bands ever, Sacred Outcry, just managed to release their amazing debut Damned for all time after so many years it was in the works. Like I said, though this is not an actual new band as the songs were composed almost 20 years ago.
What are your favourite epic metal albums? Can you make up an all-time top 5?
Of course, I love making a top 5 list – although this opinion will change every day apart from the monument on the first place.
- Manowar – Into Glory Ride
- Omen – Battle Cry
- Heavy Load – Stronger then evil
- Cirith Ungol – King of the Dead
- Manilla Road – The Deluge
Last question: Eternal Champion or Visigoth? Which band do you prefer (nasty question, I know)? And what do you generally think of the North American metal scene?
Well I really love both bands and I am so happy they get so much recognition because they bring so many young kids in the scene. If you point my head with a gun, I would say Eternal Champion because we are great friends and Jason is a huge guy with a sword (laughs). North American metal rules, all the bands I love come from there! Titan Force and Jag Panzer fucking rule for example!
Thank you very much, Manolis. Stay healthy – and see you on the road soon!
That’s what I dream, brother, to see you on the road. It’s like we are trapped in a cage, I hope this nightmare ends soon. Stay safe and get the fucking vaccine, so the world starts turning again. Cheers!