“It’s a reflection of what happened and how it made you feel inside.”

Two years after the release of their debut, HELESTIOS are back with their upcoming album Road To Ecstasy. It’s a reflection of what happened in the last couple of years and they merge metal genres together. Ahead of this release, Rock Out Stand Out’s Lotty Whittingham spoke to vocalist/guitarist Henrijs Leja about the album, their sound and mental health.

Is there a meaning behind the name Helestios or is it a made up?

It’s the second one, it’s made up. It’s more like the main letters of name and surname.

For those who haven’t heard Helestios before, how would you describe your sound?

I think somebody recently wrote that we were heavy death, I quite like that one but there’s been power thrash as well and probably something in between as well. How would I describe it? Good metal with mixes from different things, as long as the song makes the point we want it to make.

There seems to be lots of viking themes in your music, do you take influences from Norse Tales and History?

I can’t say to be fair. I’m Latvian myself and we’ve some powerful mythology. At the same time, throughout the centuries in Nordic countries there wasn’t a united religion. There were all similar to each other, their names would be different but they would all believe the same thing and practice the same things. It’s connected definitely. I find the more people I talk to, the more they want to research the past on who we are and what we did. 

I think those are some of the best bands, the ones that encourage you to want to learn new things.

Yes, it’s sort of a point of view if you like.

Who are you influenced by as a musician?

There’s so many bands out there. The ones that really started it for me when I was a kid, that would probably be Metallica and Sepultura. Dream Theatre for sure as well, that’s one of the top bands. Not everyone knew Dream Theatre back in the nineties, it was really strange to meet someone who also knew the band back then.

Your upcoming album Road To Ecstasy, it says it was about what the whole world went through over the past two years. 

Yes, that’s the gap between our previous album and this upcoming one. It’s pretty much a reflection on what was going on and it got me thinking of certain things as well. You try to distance yourself from it. It’s a reflection of what happened and how it made you feel inside.

For those who haven’t heard Helestios previously, is there any major differences between Road To Ecstasy and your previous album?

Development I think. In the first album, there were some mythologies involved. Now, there isn’t as much mythology; it was more about current events. So the narrative is different this time round too, it’s all linked together as the past is still there. Think of it as a puzzle from one place and one from another place. By the end, there should be a proper picture.

Maybe the next album can be a mesh of the two, modern day vikings.

Who knows.

I made a note of some of the track names, the first one that came to mind was Fight. It reminded me of Fight For Your Right To Party from The Beastie Boys, was there influences from that song?

None whatsoever. That’s the first jump where you go to, if you manage to catch the whole phrase, it says something completely different. I totally understand what you mean though.

Giving The Beastie Boys the viking treatment always sound fun.

Actually, I have listened The Beastie Boys and they have had an influence on me. They are a group that certainly know what they are doing and they have great talent.

The other track I made a note of was Evil Bastards; particularly the audio clips at the beginning. Where are those clips from?

It’s from the final speech of John F Kennedy, it’s his actual speech. If you go through all of it, it’s interesting what America’s president directly tells you. It’s a reminder from the sixties on what can be classed as a conspiracy. That’s not somewhere from far behind either, it’s not something someone made up in the forest somewhere. This is coming from an official public American. It’s purely a reminder because there was something dodgy going on, is it over though? That’s the question.

When recording Road To Ecstasy, what were the most challenging parts of recording the album?

Song wise, there were a lot more songs to pick from so this is what we selected from thirty something songs. The whole process as such is challenging, you need to go through it all and do it. 

One of the things we like to do at Rock Out Stand Out is to spread the message of mental health awareness. What’s awareness like in your local area?

I think it’s OK. Psychologically I think everybody has something, that’s how we are. I don’t see a problem with that. There’s a lot of resources. The UK in general, we are focused on equality. In the past couple of years, it caused a lot of problems to a lot of things, including the health care system. 

Is there anything we can do more of so people feel more comfortable talking about it?

It depends on the person. In general, many people find something in music. Music can encourage, inspire and do positive things. As you’ve said, make people do some research out of curiosity. Music really is one of the best things.

Do you have a go-to band or song if you need a morale boost?

It’s hard to pick one song and one band. I think it’s about what you’re listening to currently. What are your likes at this point because maybe five years ago it was something different.

Is there any activities you like to do to unwind?

I like going to the gym and doing some boxing. I like that constant challenge and you feel great afterwards.

Talking about Vikings earlier, which five people would you take on a Viking raid with you?

I would take Jack Schuldinner, Lemmy and probably Ozzy as well to make the noise. The rest of them, tough one. Just a couple of crew members, we’ll pick them up.

Do you have a message for Helestios fans and our readers?

Thank you for supporting us and we’ll definitely meet up at shows. From my point of view, within these last couple of years, the difference in good and bad news was really noticeable. There was never anything in between, there was no middle ground at all. It was the same narrative. This is a reminder there are dirty things out there like corruption and manipulation with crowds. Movies tend to use these as a base and heighten it. The idea is to keep talking about it in metal music I think. 

Thank you so much Henrjis for talking to Rock Out Stand Out and best of luck with the album release.

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