Espionage have been incredibly active in making their mark on the Melbourne Metal scene in the past few years, and things are only going to get bigger now that the band are releasing their debut full-length album, ‘Digital Dystopia.’ Guitarist, backing vocalist and Espionage Bookings manager Denis “Den Den” Sudzuka took the time to answer some questions about the how the band has gotten to where they are, and how their debut release represents them.

“I like to think we have our own signature sound by this point,” Sudzuka writes, “and we definitely have an idea of what Espionage is supposed to sound like. I think we captured the essence of Espionage perfectly on this album by adding all the ingredients that make us what we are, not only as musicians but as people too. There’s a bit of seriousness, with some personal themes on the album. There’s some humour, which you’ll understand if you’ve ever seen us live. There’s some flat out homage to our favourite films, music and pop culture.  Combining our own characteristics with the music, I think (or at least hope) that we’ve managed to capture who and what we are as a band. If someone hears it for the first time and says, ‘Hey that sounds like Espionage!’ then we’ll know we did a good job.”

The title track is, appropriately, one of the biggest and most powerful on the album, so Sudzuka reflects on that one in particular. “We’re all big science fiction fans, namely myself and Frosty . The title goes back to before I started Espionage, when I was writing songs for a new project which would eventually become Espionage. We live in the digital / information age, in a society obsessed with technology and social media. Digital Dystopia addresses those themes in the lyrics, like how the world is now more connected than ever before, yet we somehow fail to connect on a human level since we’re all so distracted by our phones and whatnot. It’s definitely an ironic title since we’re all guilty of it and recorded our album digitally and are releasing it digitally!” he adds with wry humour.

One of the stand-out traits of Espionage is that they throw a lot of humour into the mix, even though Metal does to a point demand a bit of darkness. On avoiding becoming overly grim, Sudzuka explains, “Spreading out and treating the track order the appropriate way seems to do the trick. I was actually discussing this with Frosty the other week, saying that the only two serious songs are the title track and Wartorn Atrocities, which deals with a personal experience of mine. Everything else is your run of the mill Metal lyrics, without trying to be too cliché. We’ve got a song about gladiators battling it out with guitars, a song that heavily references Star Wars, an homage to old horror movies and a song about the end of the world in a humourous way. I think we’ve mixed it up and spread it out evenly enough that creates the balance between the darker and lighter themes.”

The 80s have been a strong influence on Espionage in terms of both sound and content, and Sudzuka elaborates on the way the band have embraced that classic decade. “I’d say we’re mainly trying to capture the atmosphere, energy and all around ‘freeness’ of that era. The 80s were a crazy time and the four of us were born in the wrong decade. Metal was on top of the world and without trying to sound too stereotypical, we want to bring back the glory days of Heavy Metal music with our own music that is obviously reminiscent of it. We like it cheesy and we like to have fun. I know I’d definitely love to have a saxophone solo on an Espionage song one day!”

It’s undeniable that Espionage have skyrocketed to success, particularly through their prolific live shows. However, Sudzuka points out the band’s success wouldn’t have been possible without a strong Metal community behind them. “The Melbourne Metal community is so close and everyone knows everyone. I think that has played a huge part in us rising very fast among our peers and gaining a very loyal fan-base. Having learned from past mistakes in my previous band, I had a better understanding of what to do and what not to do when it comes to promotion and releasing music. We’ve tried to release something each year and we tend to play around the country a fair bit, so keeping the momentum alive and maintaining public interest in the band is a constant must. And while that all plays a part, I’d also have to credit our fans too, because without them we’d be nowhere!”

With regard to the Metal community, Sudzuka points out that its strength is vested in, “The dedication of the Metalheads themselves. I know people who will go to two or three shows in one night just to catch their favourite bands. It’s a very close scene where everyone knows each other and most people are good friends. The bands are fans themselves, and vice versa. We’ve got some of the best bands in the world and we’re lucky to have some of the best Metal producers in the world too. When they join forces, you get top notch world-class releases guaranteed. I often compare it to the Melbourne Hard Rock scene, where everyone seems to be fighting for a throne that no longer exists, yet with Metal – you don’t get that. Everyone is happy to help each other out and work together. There’s a certain devotion and respect that you won’t find in any other scene.”

Speaking of which, Sudzuka’s Espionage Bookings will soon be hosting the fifth iteration of their Legions of Steel festival. His aspirations for the event are straightforward: “Another sold out show, hopefully! I’d like to see Legions of Steel Festival grow bigger each year, as any promoter would. We’ve got some of the best Metal bands in the world and I’m just happy to give them a growing platform where they can perform their art for as many people as possible.”