Date: December 22 & 23, 2018

Location: Temple Club, Athens

The established meeting between the Athenian crowd and the death metal juggernaut of DEAD CONGREGATION was set this time just as the year was about to expire, one day after the winter solstice. Still remembering the mythical gig that took place three years ago (together with EMBRACE OF THORNS), around the same time, we wouldn’t miss it for the world. With ticket sales moving fast a second date was announced, again in Temple club; its theme being the 10-year anniversary from the release of “Graves of the Archangels”, which would be presented in its entirety. The dilemma on which of the two nights to attend was wiped out within a second; the answer was clear: “Both!”. This weekend was destined to obtain the mark of a historical event…


Upon entering the Temple, DREAMLONGDEAD had just begun their descent, amidst a fitting suffocating atmosphere, towards the catacombs of doom/death. With “Umbra”, their latest release, having just emerged, it was reasonable and fair-enough for it to occupy most part of their setlist. I’m under the impression that, as of now, they lean a bit more towards the warlike feeling of BOLT THROWER and a bit less to the mysticism of early CELTIC FROST; however this element adds more awe to their live performances. And those double vocals may well be some of the most substantial ever heard in terms of extreme metal.

RESURGENCY, who followed with their thunderous death metal, stripped from any fancy bits and pieces, were a respectable bridge towards the DC appearance. Their necro-metallic forms are reminiscent of a fine blend of technicality and immediacy not unlike that of SUFFOCATION or the “Covenant” era of MORBID ANGEL. Although that certain style is something that doesn’t personally move me as much as other versions of this genre, I must acknowledge that their performance was a storming one, without any prejudice.

The DEAD CONGREGATION version which stepped on the Temple stage that Saturday was the world renowned one; the one everyone in the underground (and not only that) pays respect to, despite any musical preferences; the band that has paved its way to the throne of death metal during the last 15 years and be now has become, fair and square, the main act of numerous important live events of the extreme sound. Under that prism, their setlist on the first of these two nights couldn’t but be a nonstop back-and-forth along their releases, beginning with the demented “Quintessence Maligned” with Haasiophis’ marvelous lyrics. The mighty Promulgation of the Fall” record, one that has been constantly growing within its followers over time, was honored almost to completeness with its starting trilogy constituting a 15-minute highlight of continuous transcendence.

Thereafter, of course you’d get several references to “Graves…” as well as the EPs (although I’d like a bit more of “Purifying…”), however the most important of it all weren’t the tracks themselves but the totality of a performance that would not lose a single bit of intensity whether the track being played was the raw “Vomitchrist” or the labyrinthine “Redemptive Immolation”. Everyone could witness a band where straight-forwardness (yet without anything being casual) and obscurity (yet without the need of ritual robes or a hundred black candles) co-existed. Those were DEAD CONGREGATION on Saturday and their appearance can only be described by the word “Grandeur”.


As far as SOULSKINNER, who opened the evening, are concerned, what I wrote about RESURGENCY -regarding my attitude towards them- is applicable here too. Not exactly my cup of tea but total respect for what they stand for as a band all these years. Although this time Gothmog was not part of the line-up, SOULSKINNER relentlessly performed their dry, more European rooted and in-your-face death metal; I’m pretty sure they satisfied their audience and for me they were a fitting entrance to the events of the night.

My personal surprise for the weekend answered to the name of RAPTURE. Not having any significant contact with nowadays thrash scene, I had no idea about these guys that stepped on stage and unleashed a ton of adrenaline with their old school death/thrash that payed homage to early, rabid KREATOR and DESTRUCTION and, of course, on a second level to eternal mentors CELTIC FROST. Kudos to them and I’ll keep them in mind from now on for good and meaningful thrash is rare to find these days.

The band that followed were, at least to my eyes and ears, the DEAD CONGREGATION having travelled back in time for 7-8, even 10 years ago. By performing an (almost) complete Graves of the Archangels”, AV and his fellow companions were transformed again to those maniacs that blew us off as the support act of PRIMORDIAL on the now distant 2008 and practically stole the scene from SADISTIC INTENT a few years later. They were the band that, carrying in their luggage only an EP and that monumental full-length album, would appear somewhere in the middle of a Nuclear War Now festival billing and would cause more panic and awe than all preceding and following acts combined.

Memories aside though and returning to the actual gig, it’s pretty much useless to say that “Graves…” was performed in a glorious way, from the agony created through the opening, crawling notes of “Martyrdoom” to the morbid psalms that crown the uproar of “Teeth into Red”. To remind us though were they are now, the trilogy of “Promulgation…” was performed once again amidst frenzy (how much more haunting can the “…Fallen Angel is rising…” phrase sound?) before the end came as the fundamental satanic statement of “Vomitchrist” was cast upon us. The weekend was now complete and in everyone’s conscience (mostly those that attended both evenings) another transcendental experience was recorded. Yes, DEAD CONGREGATION had just sold out the Temple for two nights in a row. They weren’t “anniversary shows” (even if one of them was typically dedicated to “Graves…”), we had no kind of party nor fireworks were lit… It was in the simplest, most plain manner, the two faces of a group that performs the heaviest satanic death metal one can find out there…

EMBRACE OF THORNS “Scorn Aesthetics”

•June 25, 2018 • Comments Off on EMBRACE OF THORNS “Scorn Aesthetics”

Release Date: June, 2018

Label: Iron Bonehead Productions

Scorn Aesthetics

“… Behold the failure of the creator, erroneous axiom …”

They are times of transcendence, those during which art truly undertakes the role of conductor/guide of the spirit (of the creators as well as the receivers). Reasonably, there are few artists who can achieve in creating such artifacts on a steady basis. Thus, it a great honor for the hellenic death/black metal scene to hold within its ranks -among others- a band that is the definition of what is described above, by the name of EMBRACE OF THORNS.

Consisting of the restless spiritual duo of Archfiend Devilpig and Herald Of Demonic Pestilence and with the contribution of several supreme companions along all these years, EoT never rest assured to any (and there were and still are many) great words and reactions caused by their releases and live shows. In addition, they never tried to catch the eyes of people with big mouthed statements or public relations or generally anything but their Art and maybe this is why they still haven’t received the recognition they deserve. So be it though, the path of integrity is a lonely yet marvelous one…

One would expect that after almost 20 years of existence, having crossed countless passages that led them to artistic peaks during the period of “Atonement Ritual” and “Praying Of Absolution”, the times of saturation and repetition would have come for them. Especially as far as “Praying…” was concerned, being one of the most unique manifestations of the occult within the abyssic death metal space, it could be the cornerstone of any subsequent release. Yet, stagnation is the fate of many but not EMBRACE OF THORNS. “Darkness Impenetrable” came soaring with aggressiveness, constituting a call to arms for those inspired from the forces of the nightside, leaving the listener almost breathless until the closing of “Aiwass Arisen”, the final track.

And now what? Three years after the assault of “Darkness…” what seems to prevail within the souls of EoT is a deep awareness of the gloomy reality the demiurge conjured around us, which comes together with the affirmation that masses remain blind towards it. The fury and hate that spews out when one becomes aware of the above is the kick-off for “Scorn Aesthetics” with “The Wanderer And His Shadow” moving in frenzied rhythms produced from strings, drums and vocals. A first surprise comes from production perspective, which is more detailed than ever. Like the mist that was present until now, has subsided to give ground to the clarity necessary to perceive the false patterns of mundane every-day routine and, subsequently, to overcome it. In an equivalent tune, comes “Mutter Aller Leiden” (Mother of all Sorrows), which rhetorically wonders: “Are we bound to be led or not? No!”. Moreover, the devious intro of “Reducto Ad Absurdum” passes the torch on to the most anthemic riffs ever produced from the band’s core, with the shifting guitar leads becoming the gate to transcendental ecstasy. I really hope it will not be left out from their next live sets…

“Stoking The Fires Of Resentment” is the closing track of the record’s A side and it intensifies the Nietzsche-an fusion of melancholic solitude and conscious will to power which is omnipresent along the full 40-somehting minutes of the album. Tempo has fallen now to mid-paced states and the high-pitched ominous endings of the riffs become more and more frequent. The time of the counter-attack has come and the title-track, which begins in soundtrack-ish fashion, soon gears up to unleash hell, with its thrashing style and some perfect drum blasts. Slower parts are present here too, as dynamics and bitter melodies are an integral part of this release, which certainly is the most “metallic” moment among the EMBRACE discography; coming in connection to the production perception described earlier in order to achieve the concept behind “Scorn…”.

Having reached the penultimate track, which is -in my opinion- the magnum opus of this creation, bearing an almost (if not fully) progressive structure regarding the interchange of rhythms, moods and vocal approached of this -blessed by Lucifer- throat, the feeling of a flame burning inside is impossible to ignore. The moment of Prometheus breaking his chains and bringing again the fire to a new humanity is upon us. Only this time, few will embrace and conquer it; the majority will be consumed by its flames. Within the insurmountable “Wolf Unchained/Prometheus Unbound” that concludes this masterpiece of an album, the “old” (rage, fury, war) and the “new” (solitude, awareness, counterattack) EMBRACE OF THORNS coexist in full harmony.

If there’s one conclusion to be left after listening to “Scorn Aesthetics” (and admiring its splendid cover artwork), it would be the awakening of who we are and where we stand within this modern reality. And if we desire to overcome it, we must know that probably our journey on this rugged path will be an (almost) solitary one. But when there is will to power, then there is also no return…




Date: March 10th, 2018

Location: The Temple, Athens – Hellas

The scapegoat (see Leviticus) has returned (and will eternally return) from the desert and he is a lunatic one! The gathering that was assembled at Temple club –an excellent new addition to Athenian gig venues– to honor him in the appropriate manner, included three seemingly incompatible, yet in depth overly suitable acts. Besides, for all we know, the Devil works in countless forms.

The ode to Azazel was initiated by NECROVOROUS, one of the few contemporary bands which fully understand the term “death” before metal, as well as the term “metal” itself. Solid as always, without fanfare and putting the sepulchral feeling in the foreground instead of cheap tricks (be it pointless technique exhibitions or some unfit pompous stage image), they turned time with prowess about 25-30 years back, taking a peek at “ancient” Swedish sound as well as towards the other side of the Atlantic ocean. With brute force, without fearing to incorporate fine metal guitar solos and leads and as always having as highlight the monumental vocals from Devilpig (we may become repetitive but we’ll keep on stating what this throat offers to the recordings and live performances that he is part of), NECROVOROUS covered a time range that began from the recent (and much persuasive) “Plains Of  Decay” full-length and ended at the outstanding “Crypt Of The Unembalmed Cadavers” 2009 EP, going back and forth, before closing with a cover on “Τhe Usurper”, thus paying their homage to recently departed M.E. Ain.

Next arrival on stage, was the recently reactivated ORDER OF THE EBON HAND, a group that also left their remarkable imprint during the 90s outbreak of hellenic blackmetal sound. Their stigma bore the name of “The Mystic Path To The Netherworld” whose majestic cloak remarkably dressed the then traditional structures of the domestic sonic movement, as those were defined by NECROMANTIA and co. After they re-emerged some years later with a second full-length, “XV: The Devil” (and taking part in Athens Rockwave Festival’s historic 2005 line-up with CANDLEMASS, ACCEPT and SLAYER), they went again into hiatus before resurfacing in recent years, initially through their split with AKROTHEISM and afterwards making some fine live appearances, the climax of which (up to now at least) would be that Saturday’s act. Using an image equivalent to their majestic nature and with a clear intention for a fully fitting theatricality, they delivered an hour-long (and then some) show, satisfying their own special audience as well as the overall appreciators of the hellenic black scene; with my personal favorite still being the epic “Behold The Sign Of A new Era” track.

By now, the attention of everyone remaining within Temple was directed towards the main pillar of this event. THY DARKENED SHADE, one of the most distinctive manifestations in today’s blackmetal, were preparing to ignite yet another violent attack, an invocation to the demons of the left hand path. Their multi-layered approach to the devil’s music encloses complex structures, classic metal injections owing much of their inspiration to IRON MAIDEN and MERCYFUL FATE, as well as that otherworldly and repulsive (for the outsiders) character one can find only in epitome recordings such as “De Mysteriis…” or “Storm Of The Light’s Bane”.

The question on whether this mixture could appropriately be reproduced on stage was already answered for the most part (at least for those of us who consciously witnessed their performance as DODHEIMSGARD’s support act around 2 ½ years ago), thus the stakes here revolved around the spiritual adherence, essential in order to tune with what Semjaza’s sect would fable about. “Hail Satan’s Children!” was heard throughout the Temple and immediately everything was blackened as TDS began to unleash one by one their demonic spells. Whether it was about tracks from their first offering in the likes of “The Great Serpent Self” or opuses from their second magnificent creation (“Elixir Of Azazel”, “Revival Through Arcane Skin”), the fact was that an atmosphere reeking of sulphur was emitted throughout the place. I must confess that rarely have I been part of live shows where I can smell a scent of undefined danger floating around me and this 100% the case here, intensified to a superlative level from the entranced look of vocalist, The A, properly brandishing his chains and spikes.

The closure, in the form of the anthem “Daemon Phosphorus”, an ode to the Titan who brought the Light to humans, reminded us all that blackmetal is not and will never be just another metal genre and even more it is and will be nothing if doesn’t spawn within us the fear of the unknown, calling us to transcend it by opposing given norms and eternally seeking the experiences through which we will move one more step towards the gnosis of the microcosm and the macrocosm. As above so below… Hail Satan’s Children!

CHAOSBAPHOMET “Promethean Black Flame”

•February 3, 2017 • Comments Off on CHAOSBAPHOMET “Promethean Black Flame”

Release Date: March, 2016

Label: Deathrune Records


After more than a decade of crawling in the shadows of the underground, through demo tapes, splits and 7’’ vinyls, the time finally came for CHAOSBAPHOMET, the solid duo of Ravenlord Wampyri Draconium (EMPIRE OF THE MOON, TATIR) and Iapetos (UNHOLY ARCHANGEL), to step through the gates of full-length releases, an step that sometimes transforms the artists from a promising band to a special and influential entity within the sonic genre they advocate.

In that context, it could come as an initial surprise that “Promethean Black Flame” has a rather short duration. 5 + 2 tracks (one intro and one cover of titans NECROMANTIA) and 35 minutes “only”, one can wonder. And then they will press “play” and they will understand. Indeed, one will understand that Ravenlord, using experience and wisdom derived from 20 years of presence in domestic blackmetal catacombs, does not care for the number of tracks or running time but only for the SUBSTANCE behind all this. And the substance of “Promethean Black Flame” reeks of primordial Hellenic blackmetal, with the spirit of aforementioned NECROMANTIA ever-present.

Obscure heavy metal, filtered through the aggressive temper of satanic mid-tempo thrash/death (listen to “Dysnasty Of Typhon”) of the second half of the 80s as well as through the imposing doom riffs like those dominating the opening part of “To Eos”, is the one honored throughout the record and brings to mind memories of milestone names from eras past (SAMAEL, MASTER’S HAMMER). What can one say about the mood transition of the horrific “Blood Of Hydra” (with exquisite participations from Gothmog and Acherontas VP9) which starts in a crawling, abysmal tone before bursting into a majestic chorus, to the point that we actually look around the room to identify the serpent with the nine heads? For closure, we should make special reference to “Nightside Realm”, which with its synths and its ultra-heavy riffs, its melodies and outbursts, throws us back to ’91-’92 –an era when a certain subgenre called doom/death tore apart metallic souls– until in the end it returns us back to the blackmetal cauldron boiling only for ourselves.

The warm sound of the guitar, free from digital makeovers, the drums without any sort of artificial help and the perilous vocals intensify the atmosphere to levels similar to the aura that arose from releases of 25 years ago; to the point that the more we listen to this record the more out-of-place seem any modern object around us. Yet, the most amazing of all things gained while listening to “Promethean Black Flame”, is not any of the elements presented in the previous paragraph. It’s the awesome flow that defines the whole creation making the listening a process experienced with a single breath and “Spiritforms Of The Necromancer” (the record’s closing track) easily transforming into a song “of their own”. Does anyone disagree that such a medal of honor only few bands could claim?


•May 12, 2016 • Comments Off on LORDS OF THE VOID II – Live Ritual

Date: April 23, 2016

Location: Gagarin Club, Athens

The UncofessedIt was Lazarus Saturday and the foot walk from my home towards the club seemed like a short travel in time as the neighborhoods reeked of 80s and 90s scents; thus the destination, a Gagarin Club where we would see and hear MORTUARY DRAPE, VARATHRON, KAWIR, CHAOSBAPHOMET and also resurfacing DISHARMONY, wasn’t at all out of place. The second edition of Lords Of The Void festival, only three months after the first one was a tribute to the Mediterranean blackmetal that rose at the end of the 80s ad became huge during the next decade.

DisharmonyNewcomers THE UNCONFESSED made the kick-off of the evening and although they weren’t exactly fitting sound or image-wise with the rest of the bands, nonetheless held a strong connection with the 90s as their thrash/black/death amalgam leaned towards Scandinavian fields (AT THE GATES, very early IN FLAMES, a bit of DISSECTION and NAGLFAR etc). I admit that while they weren’t bad at all, I wasn’t really “persuaded” by their music since I was anyway in a different mood. And if one spells “mood” backwards, the word “doom” is formed and this is a perfect description of the feeling emerging from DISHARMONY, whose traces had been long lost (more than 20 years) until recently Iron Bonehead did a re-release of their material. Slow paced and mourning, using minimal keys as well as monolithic blackmetal riffing from the depths of Hellenic underground, they were the appropriate band to pour water to the mill of memories.

ChaosbaphometThe baton was picked by CHAOSBAPHOMET and although this time the element of surprise of well they could perform their work on stage was missing (for those of us who had witnessed them in Kyttaro club somewhat two years ago), what we didn’t know was the evolution of their style which was instantly revealed in the tracks of their just arrived “Promethean Black Flame” full length. With devastating, uncompromising and in no way softened guitars (where R.W. Draconium was complemented by Nick Christogiannis from DEVISER), some death metal injections, Iapetos handling vocal duties with sinister greatness (Ravenlord delivering also some venomous words) as well as a thick yet identifiable bass guitar which blocked every crack of light, CHAOSBAPHOMET loudly stated that they proudly stand among the Hellenic underground, closing their set with “March Of Satan” and “Goat Messiah”, tracks from their outstanding “Black Communion” EP (although the former was initially released as part of the 4-way split of 2011).

KawirThe evening continued with KAWIR, whose great “Isotheos” album back in 2012 seems to have brought them back for good into the game, which is a bit odd since they never stopped releasing fine records before that such as “Ophiolatreia”. Anyway, these things are of little matter, as Cavirs may have had a shortened time that prevented them from presenting a full set, yet they had the best possible sound quality and excellent posture on stage with Porphyrion probably proving to be a more appropriate frontman than –otherwise very congenial– Phaesphoros. Withstanding time limitations, they managed to put into their set tracks from their new album, “Father Sun, Mother Moon” along older stuff from their recent (“Ophiolatreia”) as well as distant (“To Cavirs”, “Ekatis And Ianos”) past, before closing exactly the way it should be, namely with Necroabyssious allying in vocal duties of “Sinn (The Blazing Queen)”.

VarathronIt was at this point where we had reached the main menu of that glorious night, because with all the respect towards the previous bands (and I have a great amount of it), a VARATHRON appearance in Athens after so many years could not but be highly anticipated. The recent “Untrodden Corridors Of Hades” may not have had on me the impact described by other people with whom I discussed about it, but the case here is a band without which, the history of Hellenic blackmetal would be extremely poorer. For these reasons, pieces like “Cassiopeia’s Ode”, “Tressrising…”, “Le Reine Noir”, “Descent Of A Prophetic Vision” (with Themis Tolis on drums) could not but bring some shivers to the spines. Having said that, I must admit that something was missing; maybe it was the rather mediocre sound quality in some cases which amplified the noise at atmosphere’s expense or maybe the many “let’s go Athens” promptings from Necroabyssious which, in my opinion, were incompatible with the stern music style. Even so, it seems that “Athens went” along which means that the audience, midway through their set and especially towards the end when the setlist focused on the honored past (with “Son Of The Moon” being the highlight I believe), made the appropriate frenzy and the 90+ minutes of VARATHRON were concluded in grandeur.

Mortuary DrapeOnly thing left now, was for MORTUARY DRAPE to remind to those who already knew and inform those that ignored it, that blackmetal would be in no way the same without them, their demos and their corpsepaint back in the late 80s. Moments of worship unraveled, mostly coming from the older aged audience and they were no surprise as a sequence of exquisite songs was given to us in the likes of “Mother/Crepuscolar Whisper”, “Obsessed By Necromancy”, “Mortuary Drape”, “Primordial” and of course the eternal “Tregenda (Dance In Shroud)”, one of the most spellbinding metal track of all times. MORTUARY DRAPE are the band who, alongside the Hellenic underground of that era and some central European comrades such as ROOT and MASTER’S HAMMER, defined a different “kind” of blackmetal, drier and more staccato, maybe not as revolutionary in sonic terms as Scandinavians, yet certainly deep, esoteric and definitely more honestly occult that the rather skin-deep satanic references of most Northeners.

A little bit after two o’ clock, the last notes were still floating threateningly in the air of Gagarin, as under the auspices of 3 Shades Of Black and Lords of The Void festival, an unholy alliance had just taken place among the holiest –for the orthodox majority of Greece– of days. The return home, now an upward slope, was painful enough after an engaging 7 hour ceremony, yet the feeling that such a special decade, even more for blackmetallers, as the 90s relived with this intensity could only bring sinister smiles…

PLUTONIUM “Born Again Misanthrope”

•April 29, 2016 • Comments Off on PLUTONIUM “Born Again Misanthrope”

Release Date: January, 2016

Label: Self-release

Born Again MIsanthropeWhen PLUTONIUM made their loud entrance with their “One Size Fits All” debut, unfortunately the industrial blackmetal subgenre was fast declining. Thus, a record that gathered the best elements of “Rebel Extravaganza” and used in the best possible way the teachings of THORNS, passed rather unnoticed. This was the unfortunate part of the story. To fortunate part was that mastermind J. Carlsson deciced that this turned of events could give him the opportunity to operate in the shadows of the underground and appear only when necessary.

And so, out of nowhere came “Devilmentertainment Non-Stop” back in 2011, the digital EP of 2013 and now the new statement “Born Again Misanthrope” and the question is whether it has something significant to say. The first two tracks lead Scandinavian blackmetal to known industrial streets and although, especially in the self-titled one with its moments that beckon to “Thorns” (mainly the tracks with vocals from Satyr), they create some intense emotions, doubts concerning stagnation arise; which are instantly dissolved by the hypnotic rhythm of “Inverted Panopticon Experience”. Slow-paced, ambient-oid and ready to suck the listener into its paranoia and futility, only to be abruptly cut (thus creating a sudden shock from this unexpected turn) by the anthemic riff of “Casque Strength” (a reference to Carlsson’s ambient project) for which one could easily support that it rocks mercilessly.

In general, after the initial connection with past PLUTONIUM works, nothing is taken for granted throughout the record and after all this is its strong point, since Carlsson manages to gather diverse elements (we even hear wonderful neofolk in “Renuntiationem”) without losing cohesion. Maybe because almost everything in here, however different they may appear at first, have a common ground in ironic theatricality (see also the reference to Hamlet in the cover art), as resort from sad, devastating reality. And if in the end, things seem to get back on industrial tracks with “Electric Barbwire Crown Of Thorns” and “Confessions Of A Suicidal Cryptologist”, this could possibly mean the return to that reality after the mind trips. Or maybe not? The closing moments of the record may leave a crack of hope.

 “Born Again Misanthrope” is here for those that feel intruders in this world, but have absolutely no intention of doing something about it; apart from retreat and wait. It is a panic room for the moments that everyday routine seems suffocating. The faith in halcyon days will never be gone, as the poet states…


•January 23, 2016 • Comments Off on DEAD CONGREGATION / EMBRACE OF THORNS / NIGREDO – Live Report

Date: December 27, 2015

Location: Kyttaro Club, Athens

Rumors of a new Athenian appearance of DEAD CONGREGATION some time during the winter had already began to spread from summer. In October we learned the show was scheduled for December and later, when the 27th of December (a very convenient date for most people) was announced, celebrations were certain. Of course, the gig of last year (May 2014, with GRAVE MIASMA etc) was glorious but given on one hand the better sound quality and acoustic of Kyttaro club and on the other the fact that last year’s opus “Promulgation Of The Fall” has secured its place for good in the minds and the playlists of the fans, a special feeling was floating around that this time we were about to face something unique. The inclusion of new act NIGREDO and the always crushing EMBRACE OF THORNS in the billing, was just the appropriate finishing touch for the night to come.

NigredoAlmost exactly on scheduled time, the first rabid waves of new power-trio from frontman/bassist Alexis (ex-EXARSIS, RAVENCULT), assisted by Maelstrom on drums and Apostle Of Thy Blackest Light on guitar, burst on the shores of Kyttaro’s arena, pulsating between raging blackthrashing moments (with references to AURA NOIR as well as –to some extent– to the earliest KREATOR era) and some mid-tempo more Norwegian-like anthemic passages. Despite some minor technical issues that caused a momentary discomfort, NIGREDO presented us their debut “Facets Of Death” EP and completed their set with overflowing energy and might. With time, they will strengthen their chemistry on stage and then moments of some serious headbanging are in store for us. After all the band’s members aren’t some random kids who decided to play metal.

Embrace Of ThornsTwo of them indeed (except Alexis, that is) didn’t have much time for rest, since only a few minutes later they returned on stage, along with Fallen Angel Of Fornication (from IMPURE WORSHIP) to accompany the core duet of Archfiend Devilpig and Herald Of Demonic Pestilence of EMBRACE OF THORNS, one the most underrated bands of death/black scene if you want my opinion. And I say underrated, because EoT both musically (where they never hesitated to move towards new paths during their 15 years of history) and in terms of live appearances (where each of their shows simply shocks those who choose to tune in to their vibrations) not only rise to the occasion of what is expected of them but most of the times they overcome it by far. Their last creation, “Darkness Impenetrable”, a solid attack consisting of ten (short in duration yet huge in impact) dynamite tracks, was represented that night by four of them, with “My Hermetic Quest…” and “Aiwass Arisen” gaining a special spot in my heart. This also happened both with elegies such as “Perished In Mortal Agony” (from “Atonement Ritual”) and some much older stuff that came in the form of “Sempiternally Cursing The Weak”, a track coming from the earliest days of the band. I must admit I somewhat missed “Ancient Waters Speak” (although “Praying For Absolution” was not at all ignored) or something significantly older (in the likes of “Stench Of The Deceased Martyrs”), but hey, setlists are of little significance in such cases where a suffocating atmosphere, full of black clouds carrying acid rain, constitutes the optimum means of passing to another plane. Last but not least, I cannot but pay my dues once again to the chameleon vocals of Devilpig, who either here (with EMBRACE) either with SERPENT NOIR of NECROVOROUS always leaves us wondering how the hell he manages to vomit such varied and such compelling shrieks.

DC_01Since we were warmed up for good and the club was almost full of people, it was time for the great death metallers. VV on drums, GS on bass and of course the ultimate guitar duo of contemporary extreme metal worldwide, TK and AV started to sign our descent to the bowels of the earth. Introducing themselves with “Martyrdoom”, they spread insanity to the crowd, however, as we discussed in the prologue, the darkness of “Promulgation Of The Fall” had promptly found its place in our hearts and thus, the new record was significantly honored. At “Schisma” chills run through our spines, the veins of AV’s forehead were pulsating as he was denouncing the “worthless father” and we were celebrating his TRUE DEATH. A little bit after, we would return to favorite passages from the past; be it the “Auguring Of An Eternal War” from debut EP or the psalms that introduced the title track from “Graves…” along with forthcoming demolition. The whole Kyttaro club watched in awe, as DEAD CONGREGATION were giving an imperial performance with amazing sound and fierce passion, because they simply are death metal’s leading band of today.

DC_03Anastasis addressed the fans for the first time only little before the end of the main set and said what I, personally, (and many others I hope) was waiting to hear: “We are DEAD CONGREGATION, we have a new album and it begins like this”. Thus, let a 15-minute infernal blast sweep our heads and bodies away, as the trilogy of “Only Ashes Remain”/“Promulgation Of The Fall”/”Serpentskin” was envenoming the air! The Fallen Angel had risen and was watching us with a sinister smile from the club’s ceiling. A few moments after, the encore with all-time classics “Vomitchrist” and “Teeth Into Red” would strip us from any remaining strength (only temporarily though) as were realizing that we now had a new milestone to compare future events with. I predict that in a few years we will be coming out of gigs and discuss that “it was OK/great/magnificent, but man, nothing like DEAD CONGREGATION in December, 2015”


•November 22, 2015 • Comments Off on DØDHEIMSGARD, THY DARKENED SHADE, SHIBALBA – Live Report

Date: November 13th, 2015

Location: Fuzz Club, Athens, Greece

The third Athenian appearance of the Norwegian avant-garde pioneers didn’t prove to be their deadliest. I’ll leave aside the prolonged delay in the schedule as the concert ended after 2 am, partly because you’ve probably read about it elsewhere and partly because I value the organizer (3 Shades of Black) as a serious entry in the area of underground gigs, so for the time being I wouldn’t like to put all the blame upon them for this problematic situation.

Shibalba @ Fuzz Club So, we’ll press fast-forward and go straight to the start of SHIBALBA’s (aka the Mayan underworld) set; for those who are unaware they are the very interesting ritual dark ambient project of Acherontas V. Priest (ACHERONTAS) with the participation of certain other special musicians of the scene. Having carefully set an eminent occult scenery upon the stage and stepping upon a drone/feedback underlay, embellished with various hallucinogenic samples, we listened to a mixture of percussion, brass and whispers from the spirits but most of all we became part (those of us who paid attention) of a fully featured audiovisual ceremony. Regardless of how someone is inspired from or interested in such things, we have to understand that in these situations the attendant has to participate by locking external and mundane thought outside his mind. Of course this not an easy task nor is everyone keen on doing it, with the result being that in a huge space and with a varied audience, the vibes were not flowing around as they should, much as accurate and devoted was the group.

Thy Darkened Shade @ Fuzz ClubThe occult appearance of the stage remained, though differently arranged, as THY DARKENED SHADE were preparing to unleash their sonic assault. Those aware of last year’s “Liber Lvcifer: Khem Sedjet” knew the complex nature of Semjaza 218’s compositions, yet none could imagine that something like this could be rendered in such a raw and at the same time deep way on stage. The core of Semjaza and The A. (vocals) was accompanied by exquisite members of Hellenic blackmetal like Cain Latifer (ACRIMONIOUS, SERPENT NOIR) in guitars and thus we experienced a feast of extreme, technical metal (even progressive one could say) yet so close to the blackmetal essence that very few of the bands with the random darkthrone riffs and black/white covers can achieve. As time passed by, fingers were impetuously going up and down on the frets, The A enchanted us with both distorted vocals and clean chants and among a paroxysmal atmosphere, DEATHSPELL OMEGA would meet the archetypal essence of IRON MAIDEN elegies and together their would go for a ride to the hideouts of MITOCHONDRION; all filtered by the ego of the TDS entity. If you would personally ask me, this was the peak of the whole event.

Dodheismgard @ Fuzz ClubIn any case though, the main dish, the one that drew the vast majority of the audience to Fuzz Club, was the historical DØDHEIMSGARD, this time including their original singer/frontman/actor/lunatic also known as one of the most lyrical voices of the last two decades in blackmetal (and not only there), the magnificent Aldrahn. So, before I start nagging for certain things, let me pay homage to the man who lifted on his shoulders the whole appearance of a band, which within five years (1995-1999) reigned supreme, constantly changing directions (from traditional “Kronet…” to blackthrashing “Monumental…” and from there to the outermost planets) and engulfing some of the most prominent members of the Norwegian scene.

Dodheismgard @ Fuzz ClubAnd so, Aldrahn (dressed in a perfectly suitable comic-hero costume) did his very best, using about 20 different vocal styles, roaming the stage back and forth with various improvised choreographies and above all he performed with the sweetest paranoia tracks that have long ago left their mark in blackmetal and us personally, including the whole “Satanic Art” EP which for me was the highlight of their show (apart from the sound problem that plague the second half of “Traces Of Reality”). Yet, most good things end here and problems and shortages begin. For a start, sound was an overall failure almost throughout their gig, fluctuating from mediocre (at best case) to horrible (at worst) with glitches and noises killing any possible exaltation could be caused to us by the phrase “am I not your superhero?”, spoken by its original throat. In other words, again we smelled an “Ion Storm” in the air and again we did not properly hear it as it was meant to be. There was also a lack of a human keyboardist, a lack of fitting visuals and lighting, a lack of nerve from session members and in the end probably a lack of acalmness from Vicotnik resulting in the three last songs of the setlist (“Sonar Bliss” was one of them) being abandoned.

Dodheismgard @ Fuzz ClubA bittersweet taste was left when a little after 2 am we had to take the road home. On one hand to watch Aldrahn conquering the stage and the microphone is something rarely found around the metal gig world. On the other hand, my (subjective of course) ascertainment that their appearance four years ago was significantly better combined with a new album rather OK for their standards leaves a small disappointment behind and this mainly because it could indicate that one of the most important groups which occupied us in the end of 90s and the dawn of 00s might have started its descent to earth.

NADIWRATH “Circle Of Pest”

•November 21, 2015 • Comments Off on NADIWRATH “Circle Of Pest”


Release Date: June, 2015

Label: Drakkar Productions

Circle Of PestPlague has come again and the stench of human decay has permeated once more in the already suffocating atmosphere of a big city like Athens. It was not only the almost unbearable heat of past summer that amplified the rotten air but also the return of NADIWRATH to full-length releases. Despite some “candy” (split releases with HEXENMEISTER and DODSFERD and last year’s “Chaotic Blasphemy” 7’’ EP) they’ve offered us between the magnificent, septicemic “Nihilistic Stench” and the brand new “Circle Of Pest”, our sick appetite demanded another full-length album.

However, should we have learned something from Nadir and his companions until now, this must have been that we simply cannot expect a sterile replay of past releases. While, until now, they stood firmly between hateful punk and suicidal blackmetal madness, they now add an aura of determined and straightforward aggressiveness by incorporating into their style some more traditional metal guitars (A New Humanity) as well as some thrash logic (No Pity For Your Kind) here and there, all painted as always with the blackest of colors. It feels like they have elevated from the rotten world described in “Nihilistic Stench” (and their subsequent releases) and they praise its death while they herald the coming of a new one.

Of course, the above does not mean that we are listening to an entirely different band or that the tracks sound unfitting. Almost all of the elements that once drew us to the crypts of NADIWRATH are here; the bitter guitar passages in the veins of CARPATHIAN FOREST, the disgusted shrieks of Wrath and the raging drums from Maelstrom (quite a performance once again). The opening track Inner Commitment (lengthiest one in the record running over 8 minutes) functions perfectly as a pathway starting where “Memories Are Dead” ended, towards the new face of the band; a new face which clearly commands us: “attack, attack, ATTACK!” until we are for good and forever over with the pathetic human kind. So, attack it is, until we reach the ending of Heading Towards Absolute Darkness where disharmonic leads and deep bass guitar imply rather obviously that all hope is gone.

The special entity of NADIWRATH does not deserve to remain underestimated among the Hellenic scene. In their eight years of existence they were never afraid to rearrange the elements of their music or to make steps towards new directions. On the other hand, they always avoided big words and maybe that’s why they lack yet the status that suits them. But if someone lets themselves to be carried away from the negative energy released by that band, then they would probably understand why NADIWRATH is a terrifyingly precise depiction of the world around us. There is no salvation…

SERPENT NOIR “Erotomysticism”

•May 5, 2015 • Comments Off on SERPENT NOIR “Erotomysticism”

Release Date: May, 2015

Label: Daemon Worship Productions

ErotomysticismHow many times, during the past few years, did we stand “frozen” upon listening to a new release and even more when we already knew the band? How many times did we feel that “everything here is as it should be”? How many times, especially those of us in our 30s and above, did we find that magical aura that many of the 90s albums carried due to the tremendous impression of “flowing” they left?

SERPENT NOIR come from Piraeus, from Athens, from Sweden and from the whole world (of course a world different than what most of us understand) to emphatically cover all of the above; and even more! Following them from their very beginning, the “Sanguis XI” EP back in 2010, I believed that by now I would know what to expect from “Erotomysticism” (what a revolutionary title for such a release!) and the disproof came loud and clear. After the dreamy flute of the opening track, the “Veritable Red Dragon” with its sharp guitar and the deep vocals from Kostas creates an illusion that things will move around the fields of the predecessor (“Seeing Through The Shadow Consciouness”), before “Ayin” comes, bringing early TIAMAT (of “Astral Sleep” era) in mind, and provides the first shivers of surprise, weaving strange lead melodies under is thick blackmetal riffs. “There are other worlds, alternative realities as well as parallel universes to enter and explore…” as the booklet reads. Every track of SERPENT NOIR is exactly this; pay attention to a group of frequencies and a path will be revealed to you. Concentrate to another wave length and you will be lead –at the same time!– elsewhere…

“Al Runa”, a story on its own, enchants us as its ritual drums create a stifling, stressful atmosphere that fits with following excerpt: “Man has become a creator, the promise of the Serpent. But will Man handle the creation?”. Thomas Karlsson (Dragon Rouge founder and a leading occultist and writer) honours this creation with his lyrics throughout the record as well as his voice on the aggressive “Desert Of Azazel” which, in an abstract way, reminds us of Ihsahn’s verses on “A Song Of Liberty” from “Theme’s From William Blake’s…” for those who remember. The sex magick ceremony (admired by those who haven’t surrendered to the sexual cheapness of modern times) of “The Initiatrice Of A’arab Zaraq” and the spiritual liberation flowing out of the second flute (and not only that) track, “Ayahuasca”, transform the second half of the album into something less direct yet more transcendental with an intermediate, temporary restoration of blackmetal reality coming from the SERPENT NOIR trademark sounds of “The Dioscuri Of Darkness”.

I do not use (in fact I don’t think I’ve ever done it before) to write about music records on a track-by-track basis yet “Erotomysticism” left me with no other choice with its experiential, trippy personality. If you expected from me occult analyses and unspoken demon names you lost. Others have written about that better and I refer you to them (in fact some of them collaborate in this release). I only came here to express my admiration and my connection to a gathering of people that came together, around the core vision of Yannis K. and under the wings of the Drakon, to channel the primordial energies. Those energies we feel crawling up our spine and into the ditches of our brains when we stand barefoot on the damp soil of the earth.

PS. As some may have noticed, there is no reference to the last track of the record, “Mephistophelian Pacts”. The omission was on purpose. For the journey never ends…