Interview: The Book

The Epic Metal Blog has been around since 2020 – and today we are celebrating a premiere: For the first time, we are presenting an interview with a band from the Czech Republic. We talked to Sarapis (drums) and Torham (guitars) about their “dark heavy metal“ band The Book, which attracted attention last year with its debut album Forgotten Art of Old.

André: Thank you very much for taking the time for us. How are you?

Sarapis: Hi André, thank you for the opportunity to introduce The Book here. We’re fine, we are busy rehearsing and making new songs, no space for idleness. 

André: Some readers might not know your band The Book that well yet. Please tell us something about your band history so far.

Sarapis: Well, we are quite a new band, The Book was founded around 4 years ago when Torham and I decided to continue to play together after splitting up our previous band (Žrec). It was a matter of few months to stabilize the line-up of the band where several changes occured. Members of The Book played in many bands in Brno in the past and tried various genres around metal music. Then we realized that one of the strongest connecting links among us is heavy metal and the story of The Book has begun. Rehearsals, composing, recording the album Forgotten Art of Old in 2020-2021, then first gig, expanding line-up with the new member Kubyk in 2022, great gigs with Lynx (great guys!)… and here we are!

André: How would you actually classify yourselves stylistically? The Metallum says epic heavy metal – do you think that fits?

Sarapis: It’s very difficult to find the right words to catch up what kind of music we play. I’m sure that the relevant description is very useful for fans who want to discover something new. I feel that epic heavy metal is just one part of The Book, some kind of phase of a song which we hold for a while to move on to something else later. Imagine each song as a story and maybe you will understand that crossing the established boundaries is needed sometimes. At that point epic metal could change to black metal or hard rock…in the end, why not? I think I could identify with a sticker “dark heavy metal” … whatever that means.

André: Which bands have influenced you the most? Since you have published a Bathory cover (“Man of Iron”), Quorthon should be included in this list…

Sarapis: Definitely, you are right! Quorthon’s world of Bathory has influenced and inspired us a lot. I’m a big fan of his later epic records, especially. I adore the strong atmosphere of his music which can carry you far away, hand in hand with the legacy of Robert E. Howard‘s works and all references to the mythical past of Quorthon’s homeland. “Man of Iron“ was taken from my most favourite Bathory album, we wanted to pay homage to Quorthon and of course, to enjoy playing one of his iconic songs in a quite different way.

André: What do you think of Manowar’s latest single, “Laut und Hart, Stark und Schnell”?

Sarapis: In my opinion, the end of good years of Manowar came after the Louder than Hell record. I respect the band especially because of the great albums they did in the eighties. Anything new that I tried to listen to, it didn’t impress me at all. That’s probably the reason why I haven’t listened to their new single yet. 

André: Is there a band that has particularly fascinated you live in recent years?

Sarapis: As I am not a regular visitor of live shows, I cannot choose from dozens of experiences from the very recent past. I have a very fresh experience with Wayfarer who were incredible in Kabinet múz about a few weeks ago. I have great memories of Heavy Metal Thunder in Písek (both 2022 & 2023), I remember extraordinary shows of Lynx, Blizzen, Spartan Warrior, High Spirits or Hitten, all of them are really great bands. And last but not least I have to mention Metal Church’s performance on Brutal Assault 2019, I saw my heroes and enjoyed all the classic songs. Mike Howe’s death is a huge loss.

André: In May 2022 you released your debut album Forgotten Art of Old. What was the general feedback like?

Sarapis: The feedback was more likely positive in general. We received feedback from our friends and people from our area, pretty good reviews from various online magazines, I noticed a few mentions about the album on the internet etc. I appreciated the opinion that the album requires more than one listen to understand what is hidden under the peel. The album probably doesn’t hit you at the first listen, well it depends on the patience of the listener if he is open to invest his time or not.

André: As you may know, we are good friends with the Serbian band Claymorean. Do you also have the impression that it is more difficult for bands from Eastern Europe to get attention for their records in the West?

Sarapis: I think it’s no longer true that good music finds its way to publicity spontaneously. There are tons of bands and people are too lazy to rummage through the masses, haha. This is the worldwide situation. Good music is not enough, you have to do a challenging marketing and promotional job, to take care of social media shit, to perform shows intensively and then to hope that it moves you to the next level, maybe with the help of a PR company. Bands who are masters of all these factors will be successful wherever they come from. It’s obvious – you have to be smarter and more hardworking than the others. But metal is no fucking competition!

André: How important are the lyrics to you? And how do they usually come about? Is there always the music first – and then the lyrics? Or can it also be the other way round?

Torham: Hello, that’s probably a question for me, because I’m the lyricmaker in the band. [laughs] I’m not reading lyrics of other bands much, which is strange because for our band lyrics are quite important. Even the name of the band – The Book – signifies that there should be some ideas you can read between the lines of more or less heavy metal sound. Music is mostly first because it’s more fun for everyone to compose it, but we always have some themes that the song could be about. And how do the lyrics appear? That’s interesting. I read often so when I come across a good word or topic, it starts to resonate in my mind and slowly forms into the right phrasing that fits into the song. But sometimes it just comes like intuition from absolutely nowhere! Which is more fascinating for me and I am always trying to find out the source or support the flow by some “meditation” techniques. Meditation is in quotes because I’m not some fuckin’ exoteric yoga guru. I’m just trying to focus on unconventional thinking.

André: Are you already working on new songs?

Sarapis: Yes, we are! It’s very exciting work, our line-up is expanded with the new guitarist Kubyk, we are working as a quintet now and it’s a quite different situation than before (of course, in positive meaning). The basic framework of the new album is nearly done, we have a few songs in the phase of completing structures and arrangements. Some of the material is really catchy, while other songs are pretty heavy and raw. We rehearse songs, record demo tapes, listen to it and change or add what we feel it’s needed. We are excited about what kind of monster grows under our hands.

André: Are you planning to perform live in 2023? Are there already fixed dates that we should note in our calendars?

Sarapis: We are not as concert-active as I wish to be. A couple of bandmates play in more bands, the rest of the guys is a bunch of slackers at work, well, you can imagine how it influences our capability to be flexible. At this time, I cannot tell you any date – just May 27th, one year anniversary of Forgotten Art of Old (how time flies!) – but for spring 2024 we have a modest plan to do a short tour, three gigs with one of our friends’ bands. I would kill to make it happen, haha!

André: On our blog, the focus is always on underground bands. What can you tell our readers about the underground metal scene in Czechia? Are there many exciting bands and enough opportunities to perform, to name two points?

Torham: I’m not following the scene that much but of course we have some good friends in other bands – Sator Marte, Inferno, Depths Above, etc, which are also very exciting bands. There are lots of opportunities to play but after the covid pandemia, which some clubs or metal pubs did not survive, every club seems to be booked for years ahead. But unfortunately not booked by The Book. [laughs]

Sarapis: Yeah, the Czech underground scene includes a lot of interesting bands, the only thing you have to do is to catch them among the others. As Torham said, we have a few good friends in great bands which we respect for what they are doing at the same time. In my opinion, the scene of extreme metal is a little more interesting than the classic heavy metal scene, many Czech heavy metal bands are very close to the Czech specialty called “bigbít” and honestly it isn’t my cup of tea. But extreme bands like Mallephyr, Heaving Earth or old stuff from Krabathor, Root – you can be sure that you will face extraordinary music. And from heavy metal? Try Czech legends Citron and Titanic.

André: Which four albums from 2022 did you like the most?

Torham: I don’t follow too much what news comes out, I rather try to discover different performers, even those who are no longer playing. But I know some good stuff from 2022. I’m totally stuck on Assumption Hadean Tides. Then I am pleasantly charmed by the last Archgoat EP – All Christianity Ends. Pretty raw shit! And from heavy metal there is a band from Slovenia called Vigilance. Definitely check their last EP. 

André: Last question: Which Czech beer is the best?

Sarapis: Not regularly but quite often we go out to our favourite pub after rehearsal and if you ask me for advice, I recommend everything that you can get from the tap there. My first choice is usually Mazák from Dolní Bojanovice, sometimes I choose lager from Kamenice nad Lipou. Since I prefer bitter beer, I often choose top fermented beer (try brands like Zichovec, Beskydský pivovárek … and many more). I’m sure my bandmate Dragul would recommend anything brewed by the Matuška brewery. However, in the summer heat I really don’t care! You know, sometimes thirst is the best brewer, haha!

André: Excellent – now I’m well prepared for the next holiday in the Czech Republic, haha! Thank you very much for this interesting interview – I’m already looking forward to new songs from The Book. And I keep my fingers crossed that the small tour you mentioned will actually happen.

Sarapis: Thank you for the interview, cheers!

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