FORMED BY TARDIVE DYSKINESIA vocalist Manthos Stergiou after that acclaimed act chose to take a hiatus, progressive metal hopefuls Calyces have now blossomed into existence. Featuring a line-up culled from some of the Greek rock scene’s more forward-thinking acts, Calyces blend dense polyrhythms, atmospheric passages and a healthy dose of melody.
“Manthos had all the material ready, and we all knew each other from playing shows and touring, so it was very easy working together,” guitarist Giannis Golfis explains when asked about the genesis of the group. “My band, Revenge of the Giant Face, had played with Tardive a bunch of times. The scene in Greece is pretty big in relation to the number of people here. As we’re all in Athens, we see a lot of each other, so it was easy to come together.”
Debut platter Impulse to Soar is a thrilling romp through winding ‘70s prog avenues and edgy metallic riffs, all the while retaining a gritty accessibility similar to modern Baroness or Mastodon. A track like the moody “The Ego Dries Up the Ocean” flexes muscular distorted barbs instrumentally but is coupled with Manthos’ inherently melodic yet gruffly delivered vocals.
One of the more intrepid moments on this album, however, sees Shining (Nor) frontman/saxophone wizard Jørgen Munkeby lend a frantic alto saxophone line to the hypnotic grooves of “Unfair Labor”, a shifting tide of guitars made all the more unsettlingly by the searing intensity of the sax.
“Originally we were going to add a guitar solo to that song but it just didn’t fit,” Golfis recalls. “We were listening back to the track after a couple of beers and decided to write to Jørgen. We’re really glad he agreed to get involved, as the sax adds another layer to the song. I love that we added such a different element to the record. He’s an awesome guy, too.”
The mood of paranoia and uncertainty that the COVID-19 pandemic has imparted on the world is expressed perfectly in the promotional video for “The Great Void”, which sees a couple frantically cleaning their house while donning protective clothing and wrapping their house in plastic to protect themselves from the virus.
“It blends in well with the theme of the song,” Golfis notes. “Manthos wrote it before the coronavirus kicked in, but you can see the effect this pandemic has had on people. They are so afraid they will get the virus that they’ve become obsessed with germs, and it feeds peoples’ anxiety and depression. We will look back on 2020 as a very difficult time in history, for sure.”
While Golfis is understandably frustrated that the pandemic has deferred the band’s touring plans, the affable guitarist admits that there was an upside to being forced to stay at home despite half the band being unable to go to their day jobs right now.
“The cons are we can’t play live,” he says, “but the pros are we have more time to write new music and make videos. We are making a bunch of videos for YouTube that show how the new songs are played. You have to keep busy.
“I also work as a bartender,” Golfis reveals, “so I have to stay home right now [because of restrictions], but at least it has given me the time to work on riffs and spend time with family. It’s helped me stay sane.” —ROSS BAKER