Sakis Prekas: Guitar / Vocals
Hel Pyre: Bass / Vocals
Sextus A. Maximus: Lead Guitar
Nikitas Mandolas: Drums
Born of the "necessity to scream, blast, and create emotions and get on stage to exchange them with an audience", Greece's W.E.B. have steadily forged a path to becoming one of the premier European symphonic extreme metal bands. With four albums under their collective belt, they return in 2021 with fifth full-length Colosseum, their biggest and most direct work to date. "We wanted this album to be as straightforward as we could make it. We wanted it to be aggressive and to the point, and at the same time we have pushed literally everything, higher, faster, louder, harder. It is our most metal album," states guitarist/vocalist Sakis Prekas. Combining the brutal with the catchy, and drenching it in orchestrations that only serve to expand the epic scale it makes for a thrilling, gripping listen, each of the nine tracks playing an important part in the album as a whole, and making it clear that W.E.B. stand toe-to-toe with anyone in their genre.
Going into this record, the band welcomes two new members into the fold, drummer Nikitas Mandolas, who joined right after the recording of 2017's Tartarus and whose playing is perfectly suited to the music W.E.B. make, and bassist/vocalist Hel Pyre. "Apart from the great lyrics and the perfect bass performance, she offered her brutal and clean vocals on many parts of the album, leaving her own mark of fire. This is a completely new element for W.E.B. that really gave a unique character to the material." With the lineup solidified, they commenced writing at the beginning of 2019, sending ideas back and forth to one another, subsequently honing each song over many preproduction sessions. "With no references, when we make music, our only thoughts are that we want to make it sound as awesome as we can," states Sakis. The dramatic orchestrations are of course a large part of that, Christos Antoniou of Septicflesh handling this aspect of the sound as he has on previous W.E.B. releases. "Metal is with no doubt the most revolutionary music genre ever to exist, adding to it symphonic orchestra makes the experience even more epic and emotional in a massive way. We want our music to inspire the senses, thus we aspire to make it intense from our perspective." Often over the course of the album, a strong eastern feeling also permeates the music, a facet that has been featured on previous records but pushed more to the forefront than ever, most notably on "Ensanguined" - this the contribution of guitarist Sextus Argieous Maximus, adding another exciting dimension to proceedings.
In titling the record Colosseum, the band draw comparisons with the past and present, in typically brutal style. "The Colosseum was the famous gigantic arena in Rome to give the people 'food and spectacle', whereas what it truly did was to quench the mob's thirst for blood and violence and keep their minds away from thinking. Kind of an ancient TV-brainwash machine. People nowadays seem to be thirsty for blood more than ever. They seek violence in almost everything. You can see it in social media, in the streets - even a simple fight between kids in a schoolyard attracts the other kids, not to separate but to watch. Humans miss the Colosseum and what it gave to their violent nature, even though they will never admit it. The title 'Colosseum' is the irony of giving them what they secretly desire. Maybe then they will start to understand what they see in their mirror and hopefully it will bother them." Lyrically drawn to darkness and horror, as well as revolving around the occult and having a philosophical aspect, the band look to "whatever shakes the foundations of our souls, anything that we hate, everything that we praise," and on Colosseum, they give the listener a lot to think about. Opener "Dark Web" is both a play on the band's name and music style, and the concept of the so-called hidden layer of the world wide web, and all the rumors about it, "according to which in there you can purchase drugs, weapons, hitmen or even kill people yourself. This horrifying concept of such a reality combined with our understanding that the ones who rule this world look down on us as if we are slaves, or even ants, is what this song is about." The dramatic "Murder Of Crows" is more philosophical, looking at death and the inevitable end of us all, and the thoughts of a man dying alone composing his own requiem, in which he is carried away from life by a murder of crows while chants are sung around him. Then there is the title track, which is "the monologue of a gladiator slave and how the system has abused his existence in so many ways. Finally in the song, there is the slaves' uprising against the oppression and the execution of the arrogant aristocracy."
The album was recorded, mixed and mastered in Sound Abuse Production Studio in Athens by Psychon and produced by Sakis Prekas. While he admits this was the hardest record they ever made, it was also the smoothest of all recording sessions, largely due to being so prepared heading into the studio. "It also had to do a lot with the chemistry between us and the way Psychon works with us, keeping the recordings on strict schedule, and at the same time he made us feel always comfortable to express ourselves. We wish all our recordings from now on to be as enjoyable as this album." Still, there were obstacles to be overcome, with orchestrations and arrangements the biggest headache. "When you enter the rabbit-hole of symphonic orchestra and synths, you are in a chaos of sounds, and always new ideas are born through this. We had to spend hours on sound design and decisions like never before, yet the outcome speaks for itself." As powerful as the result is, as always, the record is only part of the W.E.B. experience, and the band cannot wait to return to stages and unleash the new material. "Playing live is what gives music its true meaning. Listening to the music live transfers the passion of the moment and sharing this with the audience, exchanging energy back and forth, is purely magic." The band are also staring down the barrel of their twentieth anniversary in 2022, having achieved a lot over that period, but a long way from done. "It is strange because you never really come to think of it, and when you do, it sounds like a long time, doesn't it? It has been quite an adventure so far. We still think of W.E.B. as a band that has more to offer, more to achieve, more to say. As long as the fire burns, time does not matter."