Columnists,Shavinya Illankoon,Main Slider,Top Story l by Shavinya Illankoon l 10 Aug 2020     - 163

Lankan Plug: With Stigmata


This month’s “Lankan Plug” is a very special piece as we celebrate a brand- new music announcement by the only Pure Sri Lankan Metal band in existence; STIGMATA! We were able to get in touch with this authentically, yet musically-gifted band just recently who shared with us their rather exciting story on releasing their new single “Sacred Spaces: Solve et Coagula”.

For those of y’all who are not so aware of the Heavy Metal & Rock scene happening in Lanka, “Stigmata” is the first homegrown based band to produce exotic and adventurous styles in Progressively Heavy & Extreme Metal Music. "We also fuse a strong Lankan aesthetic and element to our musical soundscape," Suresh told us. The band consists of four members namely Suresh de Silva, Tennyson Napoleon, Thisara Dhananjaya, and Hafzel Preena; while being the front-man of the group, Suresh also poses as Stigmata’s official lyricist and vocalist. He is one of the founding members and curates & handles the management, marketing, and promotion side of things for the crew. Tenny is also a founding member of this rock ensemble and also, a guitarist for the band. Thisara plays Bass for Stigmata and he was previously a member of the band “Crematoria” before joining in. Finally, we have Hafzel who joined the band in February 2018 and he plays drums for another insanely talented Heavy Metal band called “Sacrament” while jamming for his group as well.

Recalling their early history, the founders tell us how the troop was not called "Stigmata" previously; "We had a band named "Bleeding Cross" before starting Stigmata and we met at St.Thomas College, Mt. Lavinia" mentioned Tennyson. Back then, it had only been Suresh, Tennyson, and ex-guitarist Andrew who together realized that they shared the same love for Rock music and "possessed a penchant" to create original work. The trio meshed quite naturally and they have been composing amazing songs ever since their college days!

As discussed previously, Stigmata explores Metal music through traditional/folk rhythm and beats played in our beautiful motherland and incorporates those elements into their musical blueprint. "That is the 'Stigmata' sound. It doesn't sound like anything else" Thisara explained how they make their beats rather interesting and unique each time they create something new. They've been vastly inspired by many artistic perspectives such as music, poetry, films, theatre, and even literature! From authors to theatrical composers to bands to other artists, Stigmata has been stimulated deeply by legendary personalities such as Stephen King, Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, Tim Rice, Morbid Angel, Death, Animals as Leaders, Metallica, Bon Jovi, Black Sabbath, Sisters of Mercy, Devin Townsend, Leonard Cohen, Johnny Cash and so much more. Their list goes on to writers, screenwriters & filmmakers like Edgar Allen Poe, Howard Philips Lovecraft, Steven Knight, Quentin Tarantino, etc. -and it doesn't stop there either. Ancient Greek Philosophers, entrepreneurs, motivational speakers, political commenters, clinical psychologists, and even Marvel and DC graphic illustrations/comics have spurred them profoundly! As you can see, their influences are rather extravagant and there are very clear explanations as to how they make pretty powerful and uncommon melodies whenever.

“Sacred Spaces: Solve et Coagula” was released on the 25th of July 2020 and this is the second song of their new and 5th album (The first being “Alyssa” which was released in March 2020). "'Sacred Spaces: Solve et Coagula’is a song about how we all have different spaces that we create in our lives" Suresh revealed the concept following this new tune. He educated us about the types of spaces (i.e. your perimeter of understanding of life and how it interacts with everyone) in presence; personal space, professional space, social space, etc. It could also be emotional, physical, or even psychological space. “Yet in the process of creating these spaces, we tend to sometimes forget the things that have more meaning and value to us”.

Solve et Coagula is an alchemical term in Latin and it means to separate and join together or to dissolve and coagulate. This being said, the song brings out the philosophy that for us to build something new and purposeful we need to first breakdown and deconstruct the old!

This sanctified single was recorded at EvilCat Lab & Pearlbay Music while it was Mixed and Mastered by Grammy-nominated UK Production Legend Romesh Dodangoda who has worked for Motorhead, Bring Me the Horizon, Funeral For a Friend, and many more. Stigmata’s upcoming and fifth album is to be sponsored by Suriya Brothers.

‘Sacred Spaces’ is one of my favorite songs to play live!” Hafzel mentioned to the HI!! Online Team. “It was first composed before I joined the band and it evolved a lot throughout the practices and shows”. The band was confident about the structure of this musical piece from the start but they did tell us that it was the recording stage which was very crucial to focus on other additional elements such as harmonies, the Orchestras, and Tabla parts. Tennyson expressed his gratitude towards his fellow band member, Thisara for doing a splendid job with the orchestral arrangements with extra effects and instruments. Stigmata had recorded some parts of the song during the lockdown and they did say that it was a challenge to compose music while being apart from each other- “but we had a vision and sense of direction as to what it should sound like which made things easier for us. Also thanks to modern technology, we were able to communicate and share our ideas” said Thisara.

“Sacred Spaces: Solve et Coagula”, along with “Alyssa”, is now up on the main & local streaming platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music, Bandcamp, Deezer, Sh3hara Music and you can also find their full playlists on their official Reverbnation profile which also showcases their latest news and updates!

The members described the response for their new jaw-dropping single to be “mind-blowing”. They’ve received feedback from all around the world and, needless to say, it had been very overwhelming! Suresh also mentioned that an Official Music Video is up and coming in August and we cannot wait to see what’s in store for us by these Lankan Metal-Gods! Bass player, Thisara, is conducting the videography and designing as he is also the one who had given birth to their previous single as well.

With Stigmata celebrating their 20th anniversary this year, things took a major spin when the oh-so-famous pandemic hit the globe. “We had major plans including a series of overseas tours which we had to cancel or postpone on account of the global crisis,” Suresh told us what the group went through during these drastic turn-of-events but at the same time, they’ve managed to see the brighter side of things; “We adapted pretty quickly and aligned ourselves to keep creating kickass music” they mentioned. “We have amazing merchandise planned and we utilized online forums, webinars, and conferences to communicate with fans and people in our industry” and so, it looks as if quarantine had blessed Stigmata very well!

This has been quite a journey for Stigmata and this particular single has impacted these four musicians very largely. “This is a new chapter for our band and it has been very promising for us musically and experience-wise” Tennyson lets us know. ‘Sacred Spaces’ has widened our paths for more experimentation and working with these two songs has enabled the four-piece band to think more into any areas of development. They love what they do and it’s quite enticing to see what they’ve become throughout their musical tenure!

The band would cordially like to thank, first and foremost, their “Saints and Fans” (as per Suresh’s words) and for always having their back, no matter what! More thankful wishes are sent out to Romesh Dodangoda from ‘Control Room’, Suriya Brothers, Empire Clothing, Mike, Sanjeev, Niles, and Doos along with immense gratitude towards family, friends & loved ones. Tennyson would like to thank his band-mates for always sticking by through good and hard times and having faith in the music they make. Finally, they’ve thanked us at HI!! Online and may I just say that it was our pleasure interviewing an incredible band like Stigmata who has so much to give in so many ways and we would like to wish you all the very best for your future endeavours!

They have rather active social platforms going on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube so make you give them a follow, like, or subscribe to witness more of their widely ranged Metal music! Here are the social media handles:

Instagram: @stigmataofficial

YouTube: Stigmata

Facebook Page: Stigmata

We’ve got a gallon of wisdom coming your way by these four amazingly talented Metal artistes;

Suresh

“Nothing worth achieving ever is easy- be focused. Remember that we always keep learning and growing. Learn to take criticism, face rejection, and endure hardships; Be grateful for your talent and gifts, never take it for granted; Be respectful of your predecessors and peers; Hone your skills, if you are passionate, keep bleeding for your art but do so with a purpose and a strategy in place to go forward! Value the people you work with, perform with, and create music with, and don’t be afraid to carve out a place for yourself with individuality. You need not always follow the herd or worship trends. Decide if you want to make music that matters or music that sells. If you are lucky, you can achieve both of these things.

“Finally believe in yourself- in what you create- and be prepared to make sacrifices for it. Be smart, vigilant, and honest. Independent talent has plenty of room to thrive now with the advent of technology and the digital world evolving”.

Tennyson

“If you want to become an original artist, you have to first believe in yourself! Don't do something because it’s an easy way out towards Stardom. Stick to what makes you feel right and honest- do not fake it; Stand by what you do and always be open-minded to learn new things and be down to earth to work with other musicians. Always remember, you can teach and learn music but not creativity. Use this to your advantage. Be original and an innovator, not an imitator! You can be one and you have the power to heal your soul!”

Thisara

“Be passionate about what you do and work harder. Today we have unlimited ways to take our music to a new audience; research them and embrace them. Also, uniqueness and having your signature sound is crucial”.

Hafzel

“Adapt to the latest trends, especially during these difficult times, and overcome whatever challenge you may be facing. Use tools such as live-streaming to gain a fair reach and keep people up-to-date”.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Shavinya Illankoon

I am an independent solo artist that debuted last October. I write lyrics, make my own music and collaborate with fresh and talented producers. I focus on themes such as Mental Health and psychological aspects of people in order to provide a voice to them and to let them know that we're all in this together and they are not alone.

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