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For those who don't know, Narsilion are a Richmond Virginia melodic death band, and are quite the excellent group of musicians. I had the privelege to conduct an interview with guitarrist Tommy Lythgoe through email, and then when i was finally able to make it out to their show at the club 929 in Richmond Virginia, i got to meet the musicians first hand, they are an excellent group of people, and are great musicians as well.

Spirit Crusher:How has "The Hate Lay Hidden" been received, and what are your thoughts on the disc?

Tommy Lythgoe:We are overwhelmed! I mean everybody who likes anything heavy at all is buying the hell out of this record... Metal kids, Hardcore kids, even some of the punk crowd. I think the album was a great first outing for us. It's definately established who we are musically. Now, we just have to turn up the heat a little more.

SC:How would you describe your band's sound to someone that has never heard of you.

TL:I'd tell them that we are like a mix of Iron Maiden, At the Gates and Dismember. If they don't grasp that, then I say we are a metal band, and that's all they need to know.

SC:So what was the recording session for "The Hate Lay Hidden" like?

TL:Grueling. 20 hours a day for 3 weeks. And since I co-produced the album along with Ken Olden(Damnation A.D./Battery), I had to be there for the whole thing. Very brutal. But I'd do it again. I loved it.

SC:I'm a fan of your previous work with Disinterment, and one thing i can kinda see in both bands, but especially Narsilion is a Dark Tranquillity influence, but i honestly have to say your music is highly original. I myself write some songs, and every now and again i look back at a riff and see a little of this band, or a little of that band in it. Do you do that as well?

TL:Absolutely. Everyone does, I think. It's perfectly okay to notice your own influences in your music, as long as you don't sound exactly like someone else.

SC:What are your thoughts on Narsilion vs Disinterment, do you like one band over the other, or do you see Narsilion as more of a progression of your music?

TL:I enjoyed Disinterment. I really did. But, I wasn't a big writer in that band. With NARSILION, I write a great deal of the music. There is a lot more of me in this band. Disinterment was a good experience, but NARSILION is my whole life.

SC:Do you have a typical routine or method for song writing?

TL:It changes. With "The Hate Lay Hidden" most of the songs were written with the whole band, at practice. Mike Bottoms and myself would have riffs in our heads or just come up with them right there. The whole band would put the song together, riff by riff. Since then, I've started writing songs at home and bringing a whole rough draft to practice. Everyone adds there part, we polish the arrangement, and it's done. I believe in changing your approach now and then, to keep a fresh perspective. It keeps things fresh and aggressive.

SC:What are your favorite songs that you have written, either with Narsilion or another band

TL:My favorite songs from "The Hate Lay Hidden" are "This Illusion", "Never", and "The Shape of Turmoil".

SC:How would you describe your live performances?

TL:Pure, Loud, Metal, ENERGY!

SC:Do you consider yourself to be more of a live performer, or a recording artist?

TL:I know I personally enjoy the stage more than the studio. Even though, I am a bit of an engineer. But, I leave it to the fans to decide what I'm best at.

SC: How long have you been playing, and do you play any other styles apart from metal?

TL:I first picked up a guitar about 13 years ago, though I would say I got really serious about it until 1996, when I joined Disinterment. I have played lots of styles of music... hardcore, punk, goth, blues, even jazz and classical. But, my heart will always be with metal.

SC: What are your favorite nonmetal things to listen to?

TL:Sting, Lynyrd Skynyrd, ZZ Top, Kiss, AC/DC, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Police, Rush, Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, The Doors, and Tori Amos.

SC:Who is your favorite guitarrist, one that has influenced your playing more than any other.

TL:Randy Rhoads.

SC:You guys in Narsilion are a great group of musicians, how is your relationship in and out of the band.

TL:I look at us like a family. We have our ups and downs, but we all respect each other as musicians and people. I love these guys and I wouldn't trade them for anything.

SC:How hard has it been to get to where you are today?

TL:Very hard! We work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week... and I'm sure we always will. We may not always have to, but we'll do it anyway. We don't like the idea of anything being handed to us. We enjoy the fruits of our hard work and talent. Otherwise, we would feel as though we didn't earn it.

SC: If you could change anything about the band what would it be?

TL:Nothing musically. A bigger practice space and better guitar amps would be nice though, haha.

SC: I have not heard the new vocalist yet, and i have not been privileged enough to see one of your shows, how does your new vocalist sound, and what effect does he have on the band?

TL:Mikael Parks completes the puzzle of NARSILION. Try to imagine a mix of Speed Strid(Soilwork), Mike Akerfeldt(Opeth), and Warrel Dane(Nevermore). He is the best vocalist I've ever had the privelige to work with. And our sound has become more frontman oriented than before. His voice has opened up new doors in our writing. I've also never seen him lose the attention of the fans once.

SC:What gear do you use on the road and in the studio as far as effects and guitars? Is your setup simple or complicated, and do you try to keep the same sound live as in the studio?

TL:Well... I play a Gibson Flying V and a Cry Baby Wah pedal through a Peavy tube amp. My counterpart, Mike, Plays a Jackson Stealth through a Rocktron Intellifex and a Marshall Valvestate. We usually rent better gear for the road however, since our amps are only reliable enough for practice. In the studio, we both played througha Marshall JCM800 Hi-Gain Head and a JCM 4x12 cab. We do try to keep the general sound the same... just louder and a bit faster live.

SC:So i hear that there are new songs in the works for a possible new album, any word on how the new stuff sounds so far, and is it heavier, more melodic, or more experimental?

TL:It's all 3!! The new material is more aggresive and powerful, as well. We are playing one new song in the set, right now. It's called "Thorn Torn Bliss". A couple of other newer song titles are "Down to My Hell" and "Angels of Destiny".

SC:What was it like doing your first real tour?

TL:If you mean this last tour we did in Jan/Feb 2002... it was awesome! We played with some great bands and got some killer exposure. Don't get me wrong. Touring is also a lot of hard work. But, it's a lot of fucking fun too!

SC:Where do you see Narsilion in the future?

TL:I see NARSILION becoming a household name. Real metal has been underground for 10 years now. It's time for a new genre of extreme metal to bring it all back to the surface and watch all the sellouts drown in the wake. That genre is Melodic Metal, and NARSILION will be at the forefront. I know everyone who comes to our shows is fed up with this "Mall metal" crap that they are playing the fuck out of, now. Don't worry though. It's almost over.

SC: If you could play a show with anyone who would it be?

TL:Personally... I would choose Iron Maiden! But for now, we would love to hit the road with Arch Enemy, In Flames, Soilwork, Shadows Fall, or Nevermore. Any of those guys would make for a great tour.

SC:Any closing remarks?

TL:Yeah... Thank you for the interview. And... Keep your eyes on all the bands from the Mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. like NARSILION, Darkest Hour, Lamb of God, Garden of Shadows, Daylight Dies, Lilitu, Locus Factor and many more. We are coming out with guns blazing. Every new metal scene relates to it's regional origins. The Mid-Atlantic is the new metal scene. American metal will once again rise above. Sweden... we love you. But you are wearing our crown and we want it back! So, we shall have it.

July 1, 2002
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