Another great interview. "Rock & Metal in my Blood" have had the pleasure of speaking to Mystic Prophecy's frontman Roberto Dimitri Liapakis who in an exclusive interview, has given some insight into the band's career, their new album ("War Brigade", 2016, Massacre Records) and his view on the current state of the music industry.

R&MIMB: Hi guys!! You've just released your latest album, "War Brigade". How did you come up with the idea for the album?
R.D. LIAPAKIS: Hello and thank you for giving me the chance to speak about our new album "War Brigade".
Before I begin, let me just inform you that so far the response from everywhere has been great,
we have tons of near-perfect (and perfect!!!) reviews from all over the world, and people who
have already bought the album are so enthusiastic about it, we already know this from our
concerts , we are happy to see that everybody is enjoying the new album as much as we are!!!
The final result of "War Brigade" was exactly what I wanted from the beginning, lots of melodies, combined with strong guitar riffing, giving each song what is needed, without the risk of repeating ourselves. I don't think it's easy to make 9 albums in 15 years and not repeat yourself, you have to find a fine line of songwriting that reflects your musical personality, and stay fresh and new at the same time and although it's not an easy thing to achieve, I 'm proud to say that we did it!!!

R&MIMB: The recurring themes in your lyrics concern war, religion and a substantially destiny for humanity. Is it right to say that you take inspiration for your lyrics from current events or are you inspired by historic events?
R.D. LIAPAKIS: Both actually, we are very concerned and aware of what is going on in the world these days, political games, war, turmoil, terrorism, manipulation of the masses ... But being the Greek I proudly am, I would not miss the opportunity to praise the ancient history of my country!!! So it's actually a combination of both.

R&MIMB: Why did you choose to work with Fredrik Nordström who mixed the album?
R.D. LIAPAKIS: Fredrik is one of the best producers in the European Metal scene.
We've been working with Fredrik for so many years now, he perfectly understands what we need for the band's sound, and everything is working out so fine, so why change a winning team?!!

R&MIMB: Your career has reached a very important point. In consideration of the experience you have acquired year by year, how was it working on your ninth album?
R.D. LIAPAKIS: Anyone who knows Mystic Prophecy are fully aware that the band always delivers pure In-Your-Face Metal, without compromises. Of course, as with our previous albums we had some nice surprises to present, the same goes for "War Brigade", we had a couple of aces up our sleeves, certain elements which, when you listen to it, you will understand the path we are walking into. We always try to avoid staying in one place musically, we want to be able to move and evolve, in all aspects of our music, themes, lyrics, etc. Inaction, dullness, is a band's death, exactly like real life, you must change and evolve, or you will perish.

R&MIMB: We really liked the song "Metal Brigade". As well as showing us your influences, is this song also a way of affirming and displaying the importance of fraternity, unity and sense of belonging which is at the heart of the entire Heavy Metal movement?
R.D. LIAPAKIS: Absolutely. It felt like the right thing to show, I mean with this song I think people
in the Heavy Metal family all over the world have the same need, to feel united, and with this song I'm positive we achieved this atmosphere. You just have to be at one of our concerts, just to hear the audience chant constantly "we are the flame and the fire..." it's amazing !!!

R&MIMB: Still talking about "Metal Brigade": the title of that track reminded us (as Italian Metal fans) of a song by Italian band Strana Officina, which has exactly the same title "Metal Brigade". Is this just a coincidence, or is it also a tribute to the historic Italian band (together with the others cited in the lyrics)?
R.D. LIAPAKIS: It's just a coincidence, but, as I said above, we are all one Heavy Metal family, so this song sends the greatest message to all bands and fans over the world ... STAY UNITED ... STAY STRONG ... cause we're all in this together!!!

R&MIMB: Your cover of "Sex Bomb" by Tom Jones is a surprising addition to the new album! How important are other musical genres to you as musicians?
R.D. LIAPAKIS: Everybody in the band is very open-minded and keen on listening to different styles of music, other than Metal may it be 70's Rock and Hard Rock, Blues, Classical, Pop, pretty much everything.
We always try to cover a song in each album, and if you listen to Sex Bomb, you'll realise that at the same time we try to make it have the Mystic Prophecy signature. It's not enough for us to simply duplicate a song we like, and then reproduce it as identical to its original version. Doing this song was by conscious choice, but it really could have been any other of the songs we had in mind, we just saw that we could easily transform it into one of these great Mystic Prophecy covers, which actually happened.

R&MIMB: Your sound is intensely classic, full of references to so called "old school" metal. Given your preference for this type of metal, what do you think of the new sound thriving over the last few years (e.g. metalcore, etc)?
R.D. LIAPAKIS: I think it's great to hear new sounds from new bands everywhere in the world, and get the sense that things are evolving somehow. You only have to do what comes out from inside you, i mean we musicians have a certain vision in music, and the best thing to do is follow your goals and dreams. That's exactly what we do in Mystic Prophecy, and it's the best advice I can give to all the young bands out there, keep doing what you do, follow your dreams and visions, like we do.

R&MIMB: How do you think the future of heavy music will evolve? Do you think it's starting to make a return to the more classic sound that you have honed to perfection on this latest release?
R.D. LIAPAKIS: Music is ever evolving, moving on and changing into wherever people take it. I think this is the answer to your question, the future of metal depends on how well its people are into the music. Of course it will survive, as long as artists are true to their dreams. The audience will always be there, as long as the bands deliver good stuff.
As for us, we do what we feel like doing when we compose; we play what comes out of our hearts. We created Mystic Prophecy out of love for music and we do everything with our heart and soul, we don't really care about the money, we will do everything to keep our fans satisfied, because they have supported us so much over the years, and without them we couldn't have achieved anything. I'm saying this because this is what matters the most, love and dedication from both bands and fans. I don't know if the music industry can survive any more like this with the illegal downloads and everything so it's up to the bands and the fans to take it anywhere they want and from a certain point of view, it looks like a great opportunity to create more freely.

R&MIMB: You have had numerous line-up changes over the years. How has this changed the dynamic of the band and how far has this influenced the direction the band has taken musically, if at all?
R.D. LIAPAKIS: The band's dynamic has changed only for the better through the years. Mystic Prophecy was founded in 2000 and since then we released 9 albums. I really don't know that many bands to have accomplished such a thing over the last 16 years. We have survived many difficulties like line up changes, which made us realise that it 's very important for us to stay united. A band never depends on only one person, you have to work as a team, or else it's gonna be difficult to keep it together and through the years the band has managed to get over all the hard times and member changes without losing our strength, integrity, and passion for making great music.

R&MIMB: You shared your early career with Gus G, what was it like working (and playing) with a musician of his calibre?
R.D. LIAPAKIS: Back in the early 2000's I was looking for a talented guitar player to start Mystic Prophecy and I stumbled upon Gus G.
Gus and I are still very close friends and I am so proud of him he has an amazing character, he is a great guitarist and songwriter, in a nutshell, a COMPLETE musician. I still find it hard to believe what he has accomplished so far, but he is definitely worth every bit of it to reach the top of the music business.

R&MIMB: The cover of your new album is amazing. What pushed you to work with the artist that created it? Where did you get the idea and inspiration for the cover?
R.D. LIAPAKIS: The album's cover was done by Uwe Jarling, who also did the "Killhammer" front cover, as well as
the Devil's Train "II". Uwe is one of the best fantasy cover artists in the world. We know each other well, and when I was still working on making Killhammer, I knew that I would need someone to work on the front cover, who would understand exactly what I want and this is exactly the result we had with the cover of "War Brigade", one amazing cover, with tons of detail. A piece of cake for Mr. Uwe Jarling, who knows how to bring the right message through his amazing work and genius.

R&MIMB: Tell us, up until now, what is the most exciting show you've ever played?
R.D. LIAPAKIS: Each show has its own charm, it's always exciting to play at big festivals, with thousands of people clapping their hands to your songs, but playing in small clubs has a certain beauty, you feel more connected with the audience and that's a fact! However, one of the greatest shows I remember so far, took place in Atlanta, U.S.A., at ProgPower Festival, September 15th, 2012. It was amazing to hear 1,000 people chanting "Mystic Prophecy" before AND after the show!! And from what we were told by the festival organisers, we were the only band at the festival to achieve that!!! Truly amazing times.

R&MIMB: Throughout your career you have met a lot of artists and bands. Which of these do you consider true friends of yours?
R.D. LIAPAKIS: Oh I know a lot of artists and bands , but see them only some hours at festivals or gigs , but one of them is of course a friend GUS G. it´s difficult to say they're friends if you see certain people only for a couple of hours but there are many nice guys out there in this music business.

R&MIMB: Which group or record instilled in you the passion for Metal, leading you to be what you are today?
R.D. LIAPAKIS: They are so many it would be unfair to mention just one!!! I 'm not a youngster anymore :) so bands like Black Sabbath, Manowar, Judas Priest, Motorhead, they are the ones that gave me the spark.

R&MIMB: Have you got any plans to tour to promote the new album? Are you playing any festivals this summer? Is there anywhere in the world that you haven't played live that you would love to tour?
R.D. LIAPAKIS: Right now we have confirmed a tour in September-October 2016 with Artillery, and a European tour with Metal legends Grave Digger, in early 2017. Just stay tuned to the band's official social media, (Webpage, Facebook, etc.) as more shows and events will be announced. We are always open to invitations for concerts around the world, we just need the spark and we'll make it happen!!! Thank you so much for giving me the chance to speak about Mystic Prophecy and our new album "War Brigade". I believe that everybody who knows Mystic Prophecy and has followed the band's career knows that we always do our best for every new album, it actually gets better every time. For us, quality in songwriting and sound is absolutely crucial, and there 's not a chance that we will let our fans down with any musical experiments. Keep it safe, Keep it Metal.. And let's hope we meet soon at one of our concerts!!!

Interview by Amy Louise Hamilton and Marek Vladescu. Edited by Yader Lamberti.