EMBRACE OF THORNS: there should always be something dark, twisted and sinister about Black Metal

2017.04.07 21:08, odium

This interview was conducted in the year 2015, specifically for “Forgotten Path Magazine”.

P7149265In our previous issue I was quite optimistic about the recent revival of the Greek Black Metal scene. Believe it or not, their Death Metal has been even more fascinating! With bands like Dead Congregation and especially (in my holy opinion) Embrace of Thorns, they have two best DM acts in the entire scene at the moment. Yes, one can still argue if this is Black or Death Metal, but, meh – who cares, when their music is so much more than the questionable balance between different genres. On the contrary – this is almost of no importance: music, depth and ideas are what matters most. I joined my forces with colleague Dainius and passed a bunch of questions for Archfiend DevilPig – the mastermind behind this killing machine.

You have stated that at the beginning the band members were coming from Punk scene mostly. It’s no secret that today a lot of sub-genres of Black Metal have plenty of bands that are also coming from Punk, and I’m really not sure, if they are able (nor do they try) to digest what BM actually is… However, in case of Embrace of Thorns, everything is the opposite. How did punks manage to become a serious Black/Death Metal act? I’ve read that events in the Norwegian BM scene in 90s inspired you a lot, didn’t they?

It’s a mixed bag really. But let’s get straight to the facts. Both Punk and Black Metal shared a few traits such as nihilism, anti-establishment, anti cock-Rock or corporate Metal approach. Shit like Grindcore, Thrash and eventually Death and Black Metal were also influenced by Punk and Crust. When you see Sarcofago covering Rattus and Grand Belial’s Key or Black Witchery doing their own takes on GG Allin, you know I’m right. Let alone War Metal acts like Necroholocaust, that did a whole array of Hardcore covers like Doom or Discharge ones. It’s nothing to write home about. Sure we were influenced by Punk/Hardcore, but we were definitely more influenced by what was happening in the underground Metal during the 90s. The Norwegian clusterfuck was only a part of the whole picture, it was extreme and our first guitarist was pretty fascinated by “Mayhemgate”, but it’s not like we saw what was happening there and we decided to start a band, it was more of a holistic underground thing rather than a couple flashy bits and pieces. To set the record straight we were listening to Metal and Punk back to back, so we were not strictly punks. In fact the ratio was something like 80% Metal vs 20% Punk.

I have found at least several cases where Embrace of Thorns has been considered as a one-man band, due to the fact that you are/were the main composer. Can we still presume this as being true? How significant is the support of other band/session members? How important has been the stability of the line-up recently and strong ideological core or the members for the success of your creativity?

It’s partly true, because if I don’t write, there won’t be new Embrace of Thorns material, but the nucleus of the band has always been Herald and me with Nuctemeron being a close third key member. The line-up being stable is pretty important but not fuckin’ paramount important. Having a stable line-up helps in the live environment, but it’s only quasi-important for the creation of new material. I’m not saying something that the rest of the members don’t actually know; hence they have their own creative outlets (Impure Worship, War Possession, Nigredo, etc.).

Regarding ideology, it’s always important to recruit people that won’t oppose your views and vision. As far as Embrace of Thorns is concerned the members seem to share some fundamental values regarding life and music, but I don’t actually need clones of mine to run a successful Black/Death act. That is pretty lame. There are always people who dictate the direction of a band as there are people who play other almost equally important roles.

A.V. from Dead Congregation was previously a member of your band. I have to admit that he looked completely possessed and focused during the performance in “NWN! Fest” several years ago. What was his role in Embrace of Thorns – was he a mere performer or did he contribute to the material? What was the reason behind the separation? Hopefully, there’s no bad blood left after this.

There’s absolutely no bad blood left mate. A.V. was a trooper and he stepped out of the band after the third “NWN! Fest”. We mutually decided that there was no time for him to keep on also playing with us since Dead Congregation had started getting bigger. It was very clear that Dead Congregation was/is his top priority in the first place. However, he was a full-time member of the band from 2009 up to 2012. He never wrote stuff for us though, other than a couple of leads, since his style would pretty much tamper with our signature style. Of course he was a beast on stage.

Every member of the band has a quite complex pseudonym. What is the concept behind it and how were they chosen? One member of Grave Miasma once told me that they are useful in order to trick border services at, for example, US border, so they won’t suspect that you’re there for performing. However, I believe that this is not the case here.

In the past the concept behind the pseudonyms was decimating organized religion, blaspheming and opposing doctrines. In this age of minimal shock value left they mostly serve as tribute to the early days. Interesting thing, some “journalists” tend to think they’re inane… Well opinions…

Was it Yoni or Dani who said that? Sounds pretty interesting, never actually thought about it.

Most of your recent full-length albums and other releases have been pressed through “NWN! Productions”. I believe, on one hand, it is an honour to collaborate with Yosuke, but the other side of this fact – don’t you think there’s some kind of a trend – bands try to play in the vein of similar genre just in order to be recognized as “NWN!” band or similar?

We are not in the same vein as Revenge or Morbosidad, so we pretty much have burned the “asset” of being a “bestial” band in an “uncompromising” label. It is an honour to collaborate with a label, which actually cares about the music and its aesthetics. Sure there was a Bestial Metal trend, but it has already started dying out, I reckon it was much more prevalent when we released “Atonement Ritual” or “Praying for Absolution”… And even when those were released, we always were more keen on keeping the things well played and tight.

Considering that trend, bands used to combine Black and Death Metal. At the rise of second wave of BM, these two genres were strongly on the opposite sides. Do you think that the limits between these genres have decreased to minimum these days? Is there a need to draw any strict line between them?

We need to remember that back in the days, when Black Metal skyrocketed, Death Metal was featured in the “MTV”, you had bands writing about oil spills and wearing sweatpants and baseball caps. There was no extremity left. I remember the days when I would watch “Staring through the Eyes of the Dead” on “Headbanger’s Ball” and it was fun, but every Death Metal band wanted to be “innovative” and break into the mainstream, etc. Shit like the aforementioned is simply non-existent anymore. Imagine that a potential Euronymous surfaced nowadays, who would he rebel against? We always need to recall the time and space where things develop. Black Metal was the last real revolution in Metal music. Moreover, there is absolutely no mystique left. Who would draw those strict lines you’re talking about and then what? Would we have “hashtag deaththreats against fake lifemetal bands or maybe photos of Dead’s lifeless body on Instagram?”. In my view, what we need nowadays is less hype, less sensationalism, less “so stoked about it” mentality and more bands that are true to themselves, bulk up and come up with some really good stuff.

How do you see other genres of music, e.g. Classical or Ambient/Drone? I can feel some Classical touches from the romantic epoch as, e.g., Liszt or Schubert in your music. Is this my own illusion or what? I could easily imagine a string quartet accompanying that last riff in “Debris Crowns his Earthly Worms”, while the main theme is being played by a brass section, hah!

I’m not a Classical buff, but stuff like Pergolesi’s “Stabat Mater” can bring tears to my eyes. I would love to discover more of the Classical material, but it seems that I’ll have to wait a bit.

With Ambient it’s pretty much the same. I respect the musicians behind the genre and enjoy the sounds of it, but I have superficial and pretty limited knowledge of the Ambient scene. I take your remark as a compliment of the highest order. It probably means that our music is articulate, well-rounded and has the needed scope in order to be performed by Classical instruments without sounding silly or hollow. At least this is the explanation that works favourably for us…

Once I’ve read a statement that BM is the “music” for working or lower class people… I always thought that, according to Maslow theory, physiological needs are the priority in life. However, it seems that you probably agree with the first idea – “hungry and piss poor bands tend to make much more fierce music than corporate super groups”. So you don’t think that “successful” BM bands are eager to compose true Black Metal, do you?

eot.logo.revisedIIIt seems that for certain people music making or listening is what you referred to as “physiological” need. I said what I said because life has proven that someone tends to strive more for his/her goals before he/she gets established, because he/she has set a goal which he/she is trying to achieve, what happens after the desired establishment is a matter of character strength and compromises or the rejection of them. Few remain true to their original vision, others rely on mannerisms and comfort zones and some others become afraid that they will lose their successful edge and rely on gimmicks, etc. It really is a vicious circle consisting of white collar executives, fancy photographers, fancy press, big stage shows and music of questionable value among others. Are “successful” BM bands able to create “true Black Metal”? Perhaps. But when you see the shirts of your band being sold at hot topic, then you know that “true Black Metal” is not your primary interest. Another thing that I cannot understand is the continuation of this corporate spirit. As if there is any money to be made with Metal, especially nowadays… We are talking about an oxymoron here…

Black Metal has always been considered as an ideological thing first and foremost; however, I always thought that good ideas without good music are equally bad as good music without any ideological core. It seems that your words – “we have got to a point that the “message” seems to be more important than the music itself. Pardon my ranting, but I’m sick and tired of being considered as untrue because I occasionally smile and have a few drinks and because I don’t boast about my occult books” – just proves it. Where do you see the balance between the music and ideas in Black Metal?

A good example of absolute balance would be “Covenant” or “De Mysteriis dom Sathanas”. I know I’m raising the ante here, but you can be esoteric, profound and everything else you want… But without good music even a good concept remains incomplete. I cannot imagine a proper Black Metal going through the motions though and being completely normal, I mean as far as their beliefs go. There should always be something dark, twisted and sinister about Black Metal…

I’ve seen people so full of shit and rigidity within the Black Metal scene that it bores me to tears. It works when you are seventeen and you believe that you need to belong in a subculture. It pathetically fails when you are past your adolescence. I’ve seen people literally staging the way they act in the scene. This is fuckin’ weak. Just be yourselves…

By the way, sometimes you call your style Black/Death, in other cases – Death/Black Metal. Is there any difference between them? Do you take it personally how to describe Embrace of Thorns stylistically? For example, I’m very detailed in defining anything, so for me there’s a difference between Deathened Black Metal and Blackened Death Metal, and I would put the Blackened Death Metal label on your band actually. But who cares, in the end?

It’s basically Black Metal down-tuned. It always worked for us that way. Of course there are Death Metal references, but we stem from a school of thought, which claims that those two subgenres are not worlds apart from each other. I mean, Mayhem were pretty much listening to Death Metal bands, weren’t they? It really depends on what you have in mind as Black Metal. If people think that the only way to go BM is by going Norse core, then tough luck… At least with us. We are pretty sure that we convey the Black Metal atmosphere without sounding like third rate “Transilvanian Hunger”.

While describing your music you have used a definition like “I believe we are a very guitar driven and riff based Death/Black combo with extremely obscure atmosphere and a very sinister twist”. If you asked me, I would put the priority to atmosphere, and then point-out riffs together with the entire aggressiveness of the sound. But in general, are guitar parts the core of your music? Is the entire creative process based on the riffs? While evaluating other bands’ music, are guitar riffs the first thing that you pay your attention to?

The dense atmosphere is created by the way the entire instrumentation is applied to the music. We tend to layer the whole package with several guitar and vocal parts.

I’m not into evaluating what other bands do, but yes I come from a very traditional Metal background and I pay a lot of attention to the guitar parts. This doesn’t mean that I cannot appreciate material that is more austere in the riff department like Von for example, but, oh well, I love the sound of guitar…

Talking about the spiritual aims of your music, you have said: “I think that with each of our works we have sunk deeper to the core of darkness and pure evil and this is something not related to music. In contrast to several bands that have grown milder we have become more fanatical and more conscious towards our desired direction: total darkness”. Is it possible to reach the point of total darkness? What is next, if it is reached? Will Embrace of Thorns stop immediately? What could be the next “level” after the discovery of it?

Yes, it is sort of possible to reach our goal; however, there are lots of distractions which one should try to overcome. Whenever I try to do something related to my spiritual/musical quest, I try to detach myself from the mundane routine we all have to cope with as much as I am able to, and of course I try to work with my flaws. Each and every one of us is flawed and one should be humble and a realist so as to acknowledge that. Of course one can always withdraw and solely devote himself/herself to the pursuit of ascension. But for some this is not an option. As I stated in the past this quest doesn’t strictly have to do with music rather with an advanced level of perception/awareness of the majority of things in life. I believe that there are a few years ahead of us .We can definitely be fed by and feed the pyre for a few more years. After that point some physical and mental issues will probably or probably not ensue, maybe we’ll have to re-invent our “Raison d’Etre”. When or if the apex of enlightenment is reached, then we will instantly dissolve the formation and pursue different interests. One thing is for sure: we are never going to go through the motions. Rest assured…

In the same fashion you said “I think it’s healthy to know when you need to stop”. Are you referring to musical stopping here? Or ideological improvements/moving forward are also in concern? Considering the satanic view, suicide could also be the point of stopping, couldn’t it? Or on the contrary – it could be just a fresh start?

I respect suicide. If this choice is part of a greater concept, then I have to respect the choice of the one who opts for it, but taking my own life is not in my agenda, I have to deal with life and this is a strife on its own. I was talking about actually stopping the band altogether and that statement was from 2009. That is evidence that we were aware even at that point that nothing is forever, be it music, creativity… You name it.

Regarding a potential fresh start, Embrace of Thorns is my life’s work, so I really doubt there will be any sort of musical future, at least in a composing manner, after Embrace of Thorns folds… But who knows?

Usually, while considering improvement and perfection, we are talking about a spiritual upgrade. In that regard, how important is the traditional knowledge progress? I mean, your entire knowledge about daily subjects, like physics, mathematics, astronomy, and similar – do they matter at all? Does knowing more in these fields help reaching total darkness faster?

Very much. Knowledge is a holistic process. Keeping your cognitive functions active and being a knowledgeable person is imperative. I am more in favour of a homo universalis concept rather than being one dimensional. I enjoy learning new things in a variety of subject matters such as: science, history, diplomacy, politics, religion, art, technology. I think that self-improvement is dependable on a vast range of qualities and being clever is definitely one of them.

You usually like to express an opinion that silence is as important as words could be. I get your point and definitely agree with it, but I’m also sure that there are cases, when silence can be victorious for idiots and charlatans, if you know what I mean… So in what cases is silence the most effective? In general, do you agree that in most situations tranquillity can be the strongest weapon as well? Though I assume that you like using silence as a synonym for personal development, wisdom and perfection, don’t you?

I assume there is a time and place for every sort of conversation, you see I am pretty revealing and talkative here; of course this also has to do with your questions being spot on. On another note, we live in an age in which pretty much all the info needed is accessible. There is practically no forbidden knowledge, at least theoretically. Each and every “charlatan” can memorize a few passages that work for him and do the trickery. I will have to reverse your paradigm as charlatans and idiots are oftentimes the loudest of all. I personally believe in the power of our texts and music and I strongly believe that they are indicative of our stance. Other than that, we believe and stand for the things that serve our cause for self-ascension and being judgemental of other acts is not of our interest.

In an interview for “Call to the Infernal Hordes” zine you have expressed an opinion that “humans should be balanced and that they should cultivate their qualities”. What kind of balance are you referring to? Physical against spiritual? Good against bad? Light against darkness? Weak against strong? What about reaching total darkness then? Doesn’t such an aim require some kind of maximum or extremity, and not balance?

I was talking about physical/spiritual balance, which doesn’t mean resorting to bland hedonism nor does it imply being a hermit. That’s what balance is about: equilibrium/gleichgewicht. Deprivation of either quality gradually leaves a person “crippled” or incomplete in certain fields. Other than that, we are multifaceted beings and such dualistic schemes like the ones you referred to are mostly imposed by forms of establishment, be it religion, state, etc.

In my view talking about bipolarities like light versus darkness or good against bad falls to the manichaist approach. We cannot judge the, let’s say, quality of a person in such a simplistic manner as there is no objective definition for, for example, evil. There are only subjective definitions who apply to the various moral codes existing in this planet.

As already said, we are in favour of a stance that serves our cause and our cause doesn’t involve being extreme all the time, this would also be a monosemantic approach, plus living in “abnormally extreme” conditions all the time would definitely tamper with our sanity and mind is a terrible thing to waste. Differently put, we wouldn’t desire to become the Nietzschean “Abyss” rather than exploring it/staring into it.

You have mentioned several times that you see sex themes and visualizations as satanic themes, as “sexuality represents the freedom of flesh and spirit, so it’s downright satanic reference”. I agree on the freedom of flesh, but I’m not so sure about the spiritual side of it… In general, I believe that the entire improvement/perfection process is 99% percent a spiritual action, and the nature should be “blocked” in this case. Where is the point that we are on different sides in this particular case?

See previous answers of mine. We have no desire to resort to “Ascese” in such ways. Not blocking the sexual energy is imperative for us. What you mentioned is one approach. Various magic related analysts have referred to the power of “Tantric Magic”, for example, as a way to unlock pathways. And of course there is also the LaVeyan “Hedonist Approach”, but this is pretty simplistic.

Improvement is reached by predominantly being sincere towards yourself and your destiny, by fortifying and empowering the forces of nature, so blocking them is not an option. I reckon that your interpretation is mostly based on the tradition of self-punishment and deprivation as mediums to reach enlightenment/higher state of mind. As said it’s a matter of approach.

On the other hand, I’m trying to persuade the “spiritual level” here mostly, the positivity (and need) of perfection, improvement; however, I like your attitude that “music comes first” and “all in all, I’m an ordinary metalhead”. Isn’t that kind of a balance that you were referring to earlier? Yes, knowledge and cognition are important, but that is only one side of the reach for total darkness – filth, pain, and, let’s be honest – rock’n’roll – are standing on the other side as well, aren’t they?

Although, everything is needed and there are lots of different colour tones in our palette. I don’t feel like a rock’n’roll musician at all. I believe there is a deeper point in what we do. However, I despise/defy the unwritten rules for Black Metal purity, which dictate the use of a very specified lingo regarding very specific subject matters. Fuck those who say that drinking beer at a gig is untrue and fuck their Black Metal police mentality. They’re mostly sad, old or young people, who haven’t lived their lives to the full extent. Fortunately, I don’t fall to that category.

You have mentioned several times that Nietzsche has been very influential for you because of his aim for improvement. However, I would say that he’s been more important because of the nihilistic attitude, negating of social, religious and daily norms, don’t you think? And maybe here lies the essence – negation is obligatory for improvement?

I couldn’t agree more. Nietzschean nihilism and nihilism in general is also very important. Negating the norms in order to create your own is also imperative. There is also another thing that Hesse wrote that is very fitting to your question and absolutely indicative of my attitude: “the bird is struggling out of the egg. The egg is the world. Whoever wants to be born must first destroy a world”.

You have stated that you “love B-movies unconditionally”. In a lot of fanzines there’s almost a guaranteed question for the band about their favourite horror movie. I actually can’t understand, why there’s almost an axiom that if you’re a metalhead, you should automatically be interested in horror movies. Personally I am totally not into movies/cinema at all. Why do you think so many people consider Metal and horror movies in the same spectre? Though I must agree that plenty of metalheads are really interested in them – have you an explanation for all this?

But I don’t exclusively watch B-movies. Regarding the Metal/B-movie connection, I reckon it’s a matter of common aesthetics and overabundance of extremity. I also tend to think that the connection between horror films and Metal music is slightly superficial. In the end of the day I’m more influenced by the work of directors like Dreyer or Bergman rather than, let’s say, Argento. B-movies are an entire world, not necessarily connected with horror. What I love in them is the superior craftsmanship and the artistic passion of some directors, editors, directors of photography and their over-the topness. I don’t think that cinema and Metal have that much in common. My love for cinema is another reflection of my “Pathos”. I also love literature and I don’t see how this for example could get connected with Metal.

Having a look at your discography I can see that you are ultra-focused, but allow yourselves to experiment within the defined boundaries. I think that such an approach of “going-deeper-not-wider” is welcome – we have seen enough bands failing after they decided to “step beyond the boundaries”, haven’t we? On the other hand, quite a large fraction of people would say that this is a mere narrow-mindedness, hints of lack of ideas and is simply outdated. If you had to reason, what would you say to such people? How would you argue for your own approach towards music? What are the merits of keeping the focus?

Our agenda includes being earnest and keeping our integrity intact. In my view, not tampering with genres alien to Metal is not mere narrow mindedness, but common sense. Going apeshit with experimentation will simply never work. After all, stealing, for example, Amon Düül progressions will not make our music richer, it will simply sound disjointed and over-indulgent, it will lose its impact. We have spent fifteen-plus years crafting our music/ambience/cosmos, I don’t think that inserting cheap Industrial sequences like Morbid Angel recently did will ever put us on a pedestal as Metal visionaries. At least Morbid Angel themselves blatantly failed. In the end of the day, we cannot really force experimentation unto us. The people who think that our stuff is generic, rehashed, etc., can always stick to their Ghost or Arch Enemy CDs, as if these bands were not redundant.

For my colleague Dainius, the landmark of your band is “Praying for Absolution” [2011]. He was so sceptical that you could top this record that for some time he refused to believe that “Darkness Impenetrable” [2015] could be an equal match for the former. However, the latter got to him – slowly, but surely – and now he ranks both albums on the same scale. How do you see the differences between those two albums? How would you articulate the changes in style, songwriting, atmosphere between the two? Have the changes in personnel influenced the differences between those albums?

For starters “Praying for Absolution” had a different approach regarding production. It was more on the cavernous side of things, on the new one we said “to hell with the cavernous sound”, after all everyone is doing it nowadays. The latter also relies very much in the ambience, the new one relies in both ambience and actual music. I believe that with each album the music gets better/more focused. Both albums sound massive in their own way. But I think that the new one is more of a grower than “Praying for Absolution”. I don’t think that our style has changed though, the new one is more riffy, that’s pretty much it. This is the way I view it.

Regarding atmosphere, the previous one had a thicker yet more relaxed/esoteric atmosphere, while the new one has a very intense/desperate one. The next one will also be a different beast…

I personally admire your last album “Darkness Impenetrable” the most, probably because it has much more BM sound influence than your previous releases. Is it a natural evolution of the sounding of the band? Comparing it with your early stuff, can we say that the entire change was “natural” improvement, or you expressly were seeking such particular sound?

It’s both evolution and inner drive/inspiration. We never compose with a specific sound in mind. We just follow our creative demons. Nothing is calculated or programmed. We are a very visceral band. Of course, there is always a connection to our previous stuff, but we don’t write new records in an effort to connect to our past deeds for its own sake. In other words – we never try to replicate past records that were successful in certain aspects. This would after all be a futile attempt…

You have released quite a few split albums. What is the motivation behind doing a split release? How do you choose the other side(s) of the split? Does it always strongly matter who will be the other bands, when agreeing on a split release? What would be the horde that you’d really like to do a split with?

Sharing some common ground/ideas with the other band is always important. We have somehow managed to maintain that principle. Other than that, I don’t really believe that the fans care for splits anymore. The fans’ mentality seems to be the one that characterizes splits as inferior releases. I came to this conclusion judging from the sales of split releases and full-length, it’s like night and day. I don’t think that we’ll do any other splits. The last one with Maveth was a really successful one that raised the bar in all aspects.

If I’m not mistaken, you do not play live too often. Why is this? Do you get a lot of proposals but then have to turn them down due to the personal reasons? Have you ever tried to organize, say, a two-week tour for yourselves? Or maybe your band is not considered to be known widely enough, so you don’t get many proposals? If this is the case, I feel sorry for the promoters because your show in “NWN! Fest” [2012] was one of the sickest, thick and ripping performances I’ve ever witnessed!

Thank you for your good words about our gig. In fact we have played fifteen shows since 2009, which is okayish compared to what other bands have achieved in this field. We have mixed feelings about the live situation. We get offers, but the majority of the promoters out there are not in the position of meeting what would really make sense in order to have a band from Greece to play abroad. Booking a Greek band for a single gig will never be an easy task, this is obvious, isn’t it? Judging if we are known or unknown is really up to the promoters to decide.

There have been talks about a ten-day tour recently, but nothing has fallen into place yet. Anyway as far as personal issues are concerned, we mostly try to sort them out, but we are candid about them. Having five people in the band will definitely involve some do’s and don’t’s…

Talking about live shows, what is the goal? To present your music and gather some attention to your art? To infest minds of the audience with a venomous audial assault? To achieve personal elevation? Or maybe it’s all about, simply, having a good time? Please elaborate.

It’s pretty much all of them with the entertainment factor and the intensity factor being the most important not by choice, but by common sense. Even if we wanted our gigs to be otherworldly experiences of spiritual gravity and importance, this would demand a huge effort by all sides involved, be it musicians and attendees. This is not always the case. I don’t have delusions that the majority of the crowd actually cares to participate in a ritual rather than having a blast or simply a good time, as far as we are concerned we act as senders and receivers of energy. Sometimes it is pure magical greatness, more usually it is just a metallic mayhem, depending on the crowd reaction.

Being a metalhead, in your case, also includes the responsibilities of running a fanzine (though you have stopped it already) and a label/mail-order. I bet these are compulsory activities for staying active in the underground scene, aren’t they?

Well, to each their own… My extracurricular underground activities were/are part of my creative force. The label is a purely personal thing and is not really tied to the band thing. However, loving this music genre has played a very significant role in shaping myself. Trying too hard to stay active with the label for its own sake would do more harm than good in my case, as I am really into the whole creative process of putting a record out and increasing the number of releases would pretty much deprive me of this opportunity.

Greece has always been known for its Black Metal scene, mainly bands from 90s like Rotting Christ, Varathron, Necromantia were guilty for that. However, I have already expressed my opinion several times that Greek Death Metal scene, with such bands like Dead Congregation, Embrace of Thorns, Septicflesh, Burial Hordes, is the best worldwide. What allowed you guys to step on the Olympus of DM scene? Maybe the constant shadow of the success of BM bands did pay its tribute too? Or the economic situation in your country could be influential as well?

I don’t think there is such a differentiation from the Black Metal scene, especially in our case. The early bands paved the way and we are the torchbearers right now. Everything moves in circles. The Greek scene passed through some really lame phase during the late 90s/early millennia, and it was only a matter of time before the bands that grew up in the late 80s and early 90s form their own acts and restore the order. Some of us also had a large history in previous bands. So it seems that the stars once again aligned, plus worldwide networking became a little bit easier. Financial crisis and recession might have added to the creative drive of some bands, but I cannot really speak in the name of an entire scene.

For the finish, tell us about the current point you’re in the process of your search for total darkness? Do you think you have reached halfway of this path? Thanks for the answers…

There is always doubt and strife involved, but we definitely know more than we knew back in 2009 for example. I still feel like a vessel floating upon the dark waters of existence. The possibilities seem to be unlimited, but we must proceed with caution and we must always revere and venerate our demons. Flamboyance was never my middle name after all…

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