Rise Above – Theandric Examines the Challenges of Mortality on ‘Flight Among The Tombs’

Theandric’s Bill Bogue, Paul Tiseo and Aaron Wienczak provide an insightful route to self-awareness and personal enlightenment on “Flight Among the Tombs.” Photo – Robert Bruce Photograohy

Theandric majestically soars above the shadow of death.

The Detroit heavy metal trio of Paul Tiseo (vocals, bass, keys, guitars), Bill Bogue (guitars) and Aaron Wienczak (guitars) powerfully glides toward the beacon of life on their new supercharged EP, Flight Among the Tombs.

“Literature and poetry were a big inspiration for me. That was connected to the same time of when we all had to go home in March 2020. Life suddenly breaks, we’re all at home … it was a scary time. One silver lining for me was having that time and space to start reading again,” said Tiseo, who’s also inspired by Iron Maiden.

“I found this poet named Anthony Hecht, and I came across one of his poems that really struck me as powerful. He wrote this book of poems called ‘Flight Among the Tombs,’ and that’s where the title comes from. He wrote a series of poems that were different reflections on the person of death.”

Throughout Flight Among the Tombs, Theandric thoughtfully examines mortality amidst the challenging forces of choice, conflict, condemnation and pride. All four tracks provide an insightful route to self-awareness and personal enlightenment.

“To me, it also meant we’re flying among the tombs … we’re not dead yet, we’re alive. With the pandemic and what was happening, it was like every day we were confronted with death and sickness,” said Tiseo, who wrote the EP’s four tracks. “I wanted to think about how we’re gonna rise above this difficult time. We won’t deny that death is real, but it’s important to live.”

Following Theandric’s Flight Path

Theandric’s spiritual Tombs flight path surges toward pivotal points in history, including 18th century Scotland, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and ancient Egypt.

The band quickly lands in the middle of a Redcoat-Jacobite conflict on “The Battle of Sherramuir” as proud organ, fiery bass, thunderous drums, ricocheting cymbals and noble electric guitars engulf them.

Tiseo boldly sings, “Everyone must choose a side/Be ye slave or free man/Many fought and many died/For the victory, man/Life is but a battlefield/Never falter, never yield, the end is near/Men of fear won’t persevere/And so it goes, you see, man!”

“I loved going to the Renaissance Festival, and I remember there used to be a band that played there every year called the Gypsy Guerilla Band. I had a cassette of theirs … and they had a song with a traditional Scottish melody that forms the basis of ‘The Battle of Sherramuir,’” said Tiseo, who has Scottish-Irish heritage.

“Robert Burns wrote this poem about the battle. I was reading his poem and read a little bit about the history of the battle. People had to pick sides, and it had a really inconclusive outcome. I came up with the idea of a theme about not being lukewarm and doing things half-assed. I wanted to make this an encouraging song for people to stand up and take a stance on something.”

Theandric also battles lingering fear, injustice and abuse on the spiritually themed “Condemned to Death,” which fuses solemn bass, walloping drums, teary cymbals and mournful electric guitars. The fearless instrumentation channels the torture and betrayal Jesus Christ experienced during his crucifixion in Jerusalem.

Tiseo sadly sings, “My brow is bleeding/From the thorns stuck in my head/My body beaten/And broken down like bread.”

“I want to do a whole album based on the Stations of the Cross, and that song came up as being the first station, which is literally that Jesus is condemned to death. I took on the persona of Jesus who’s singing and expressing what he went through.

“Another key of that song for me is expressing the anger and horror of the abuse that’s happened to innocent people in the church. That’s the hardest thing as an active Catholic to recognize and acknowledge that that’s happened.

“There’s a connection between Jesus having been abused for his innocence and then other people of different ages and backgrounds who have also been mistreated and been victims of injustice,” Tiseo said.

After leaving Jerusalem, Theandric ventures back to ancient Egypt on the hypnotic “Ozymandias,” which is inspired by Percy Bysshe Shelley’s 1817 poem of the same name.

Rich acoustic guitar, worldly percussion, glossy triangle, frantic electric guitars, propulsive bass, booming drums and sparkling cymbals chronicle the downfall of Egyptian pharaoh Ramesses II, aka “Ozymandias.”

Tiseo strongly sings, “Paralyzed by pride/His heart was petrified/Empires rise, empires fall/I see the Queen is standing tall.”

“I was working out some chords on the piano at home for that song and starting from the Shelley poem, which had to be rewritten because you can’t really sing it. I liked the image of this powerful pharaoh who thinks he’s God. His statue is gathering dust and it’s in ruins and everything he thought that he was is nothing,” Tiseo said.

“On our piano at home, I have a statue of Mary. I was thinking, ‘What if we contrast this ruined statue of an ancient pharaoh with the statue of a woman who personifies humility?’ It’s not a song about ‘Ozymandias,’ it’s about the humility of a woman with feminine strength.”

Mapping Flight Among the Tombs

Flight Among the Tombs
“Flight Among the Tombs” examines mortality amidst the challenging forces of choice, conflict, condemnation and pride. Artwork – Sean Simmons of Vimes Art

Theandric started mapping their Flight Among the Tombs course in March 2020. At the time, Tiseo and his bandmates had developed several songs and landed on four to include on the EP.

“We were just trying to keep moving forward with the worries and the difficulties, and that’s been a guiding force for us. We were like, ‘Let’s just stay creative … we’re alive,’” Tiseo said.

By October 2020, the band embarked on a yearlong recording session for Flight Among the Tombs with producer Tim Patalan at The Loft in Saline. They also collaborated with drummer Matt Voss.

“Tim helped us steer the ship. We had demos that we had done of the four songs. It was good to be able to present to him like, ‘This is our demo, but it’s a good expression of what we want.’ We had ongoing discussions of ‘How should this sound?’” Tiseo said.

“Tim helped figure out the right balance of how we could express that sound. By the end, we did a couple of different mixes, and we talked through some different approaches. It was really faithful to what we were looking for. The bands that we like are melodic and dynamic, so it’s not all just a one-dimensional sound.”

Flight Among the Tombs also serves as Theandric’s first full-band release since forming in 2011. Initially a solo project, Tiseo shared Theandric’s debut EP, Up the Irons, a tongue-in-cheek tribute to Iron Maiden, a decade earlier.

“It was a lot of fun, and it was something after so many years of listening to their stuff. There are some things about their songs, they follow certain patterns,” Tiseo said.

“I was playing at home and thought, ‘This sounds like it would be an intro to one of their newer songs.’ Then, I came up with this other riff that sounded like Maiden and decided, ‘Why don’t I just sing about them?’”

After releasing Up the Irons, Tiseo eventually met Bogue and Voss while playing bass in That 80’s Band. In 2019, he shared new material with his tribute bandmates and found Wienczak on craigslist.

“I hadn’t been actively seeking to make Theandric happen, but then the right pieces appeared,” Tiseo said. “It’s also the reality of recognizing we’re family guys with day jobs and different responsibilities. Being able to put in that time and passion while balancing everything is a challenge, too.”

Theandric will share their passion with heavy metal fans during a series of upcoming live shows. Tonight, they’ll celebrate the release of Flight Among the Tombs with New Relatives, A Day at the Station and Edison Hollow at Parts & Labor in Melvindale.

“We’re playing all four songs from the EP. Plus, there’s another song that we’re thinking about maybe recording as a single this year. That song’s called ‘The Valley of Dry Bones,’ and it has this dual guitar-shredding thing that will melt your face,” Tiseo said.

“There are lots of new songs, too, in the pipeline. It’s just a matter of allowing the time for those to grow. Hopefully, the next step will be the full album … we’ll see what develops.”

Show details:

New Relatives, Theandric, A Day at the Station & Edison Hollow

8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 11

Parts & Labor, 17993 Allen Road in Melvindale

Admission: $10 cover

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