•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…


•April 18, 2015 • Comments Off on DRAKONIAN BEAUTY – Live Ritual

Date: March 15th, 2015

Location: Kyttaro Club

The special assembly that took place amidst last March has left fresh memories to those who honored it. Baring the name of Drakonian Beauty (how amazing is the antithesis arising when using the word “beauty” for a blackmetal event) this gathering took form in Kyttaro with the participation of four outstanding (each in their own way) domestic bands along with the great OFERMOD.

Septuagint @ Drakonian BeautyThe first calling of the evening was preached by SEPTUAGINT, who came to our attention (at least under that name, since they also have a promo as DECLARATION:HOLOCAUST) only last year with “Negative-Void-Trinity” EP. Having a remarkable set up on stage, clean sound and solid performance, they impressed those who arrived early at the venue, by presenting a very interesting combination of Scandinavian blackmetal and NIGHTBRINGER-ish mentality where the lead guitar carves Dionysian pathways through eerie fields.

Akrotheism @ Drakonian BeautyFollowing them, was AKROTHEISM, whom we had the chance to observe again, 1½ year after their appearance as support at the NECROS CHRISTOS show. Having a very strong full-length (“Behold The Son Of Plagues”) in their account, they exhibited from the very beginning of their act a much more tight sound, delivering in an excellent way an original mix –at least that’s how I interpret it– of Swedish orthodox, Norwegian disharmony as well as traditional Hellenic blackmetal. Even though there was no VED BUENS ENDE cover this time, songs like the title-track from the album were more than enough to intensify the vibes around the place.

Empire Of The Moon @ Drakonian BeautyShortly after, the time was drawing nigh for the band whose (re)appearance was destined to be engraved in the most emphatic manner upon my own black year 2014. EMPIRE OF THE MOON are maybe the most unique, in my ears, example among the recent revival of classic Hellenic blackmetal (of course this could hardly be different since all members are old mystics of the sound). Nothing more, nothing less, they played with extreme accuracy and devotion the “Panselinos” full-length in its entirety, an album not only among the best of last year’s records but also a piece of Art that will be discussed in the future as a milestone of this decade’s domestic releases. The devilish spirit of NECROMANTIA flooded Kyttaro, the mirror set on stage reflected each one’s inner self and the female triptych of Tiamat/Luna/Kali became the guide for the next 45 minutes of the evening; the highlight being –apart from my enthusiasm for the intro of “Lunar Apocalypse”– the elegy of “The Nine Skulls Of Kali”.

Ofermod @ Drakonian BeautyThe coming of OFERMOD to Greece was accompanied with the “loud” absence of Michayah Belfagor. I have to confess that I myself was somewhat doubtful as to how a live ritual from the Swedes could be performed without their spiritual leader. And I was totally disproved. While Ushatar took place for the guitar parts and did exactly what was expected of him, in the spiritual part the duet of Tehôm and Florian Hucek weaved a drakonian web, a passage for those intending to cross the Rubicon and communicate with their shadow side. If “Black Gate” was a small apocalypse for those synchronized, then “Mysterion Tes Anomias”, a song that became the epitome of the sound-words combination described as orthodox, was a true transcendence that we rarely have the chance to experience in similar events.

Acherontas @ Drakonian BeautyFor ACHERONTAS who closed the evening in all its glory, I have written so many times that I may start to become tiring. However it is one thing that matters. As much as one likes or dislikes their music/image/lyrics, they represent a band standing as a gem for our country and for the whole blackmetal subgenre because they were never afraid to evolve their sound and to spread their messages performing rituals wherever in the world they found it to be meaningful. For this event they had yet another small surprise, playing with three guitars, a choice that would normally lead to noise but not here where one instrument would complement and not overgrow the other; thus the sound was magnificent. Not having the chance yet to listen to their new album (“Ma-Ion: Formulas Of Reptilian Unification”), I enjoyed as always songs like “Legacy Of Tiamat” (in one of its best readings I’ve ever attendend) and “Blood Current Illumination”.

The night ended with a feeling of totality and unity. Such events, organized with faith, devotion and vision are written with permanent letters in the blackmetal chronicles and the notable response from the fans (people from abroad were also there) became another pleasant element of than Sunday. Until the next assembly, the energy resources were fully charged and the spirit ascended once again…

GOAT SYNAGOGUE “Inheritors Of The Morbid Arts”

•April 4, 2015 • Comments Off on GOAT SYNAGOGUE “Inheritors Of The Morbid Arts”

Release Date: November, 2014

Label: Goatmarch Distro

InheritorsThe return of the classic Hellenic blackmetal sound (see first half of the 90s) is well on its way. I don’t know how long it’ll last nor what will be left from this revival, yet I cannot but confess the attraction I feel towards releases that bear such devotion so that they seem to truly belong to that era.

GOAT SYNAGOGUE, in our case, aren’t a totally new entry in this scene. Three years ago, they had given us a glimpse with their first demo tape, drenched in the mist and opaqueness of an Athenian winter night full of smog. Now (last November, to be more accurate) they return with “Inheritors Of The Morbid Arts”, a new demo tape, sharper and more aggressive, as the riffology of early NECROMANTIA and THOU ART LORD (but also other more underground acts such as CTHONIUM or OSUCULUM INFAME) prevails; and since this done in the right way –which is not a flat copy of that sound but a conscious unification with the spirit of that era– then as soon as “My Will” begins, we start spinning around space and time, going 20-25 years back in some dark rehearsal place. It is that wicked transformation of then classic metal (and thrash) sound –through CELTIC FROST and very early SODOM– to something dark and threatening, sometimes mid-tempo, other times more stepping on the gas (as in this demo, for the most part), yet always making the fear of the unknown and the unfathomable to emerge.

Standing by the unstoppable guitars with the marvelous changes in pace and rhythm (listen to the title track with the excellent guitar leads and rhythm switching in the 3:45 minutes it lasts), we have the crushing drums of Divine Desecrator, whose monolithic technique provides a war tone to the tracks. The background keys as well as the ghoulish vocals from the crypt intensify the horrific atmosphere making the 10-plus-something minutes of the demo so full of substance that one wonders whether such short yet emphatic releases are more preferable than 45-min LPs full of pointless parts.

Anyway, the above question probably has little (if any) importance. The true matter is that GOAT SYNAGOUE are here, aiming to bring in today’s Hellenic blackmetal scene the aura of older times; and they succeed in such a way that if someone presented this tape to me as a “lost diamond” of that era, I wouldn’t have any reason not to believe them. Besides, how different could it be, when the cover artwork comes from Panos Sounas, a.k.a. responsible –among others- for certain touchstones called “Crossing The Fiery Path” and “Scarlet Evil, Witching Black”?

DEUS IGNOTUS “Procession Of An Old Religion”

•March 14, 2015 • Comments Off on DEUS IGNOTUS “Procession Of An Old Religion”

Release Date: June, 2014

Label: Forever Plagued Records

Procession of an Old ReligionHowever quietly DEUS IGNOTUS act among the blasphemous catacombs of greek extreme sound, it comes to a total contrast with the multiplied noise produced from the speakers, when their releases find their way into our players. The duet of Reshep (also in tremendous AIMA) and Xolferoth, assisted by chameleon Spoonman in vocals, in this recent EP takes us for a small infernal walk that lasts about a quarter of an hour.

After an intro where the compelling recitation of Apocalypse’s chapters 19:11-19:20 prevails, “Dogmatheist” begins wickedly for a few seconds before the blasting outbreak sweeps everything and inclines us towards an always embraced yet somewhat cliché black/death din. Yet very soon one realizes that things aren’t exactly like that; and this is because “Procession Of An Old Religion”, in contrast to most releases of such kind has the RIFFS. Well-crafted, perilous, dressed with poisonous guitar leads of past eras like those of “Seven Tongue Encapturement”. And this is the simple secret that provides the four tracks of the EP with personality and dynamics, while the drums soon come to maximum speed which they almost never give up until the speakers quiet down. Although, to be totally honest, at some points this constant blastbeat maybe drowns parts of the horrific sounds unleashed by the guitar. As for Spoonman, words are pretty unnecessary (we already know him from his other projects); here he transforms to a death swamp equal to the most acknowledged ones and spits the abyss from his mouth.

Last but not least, I have left the excellent black’n’white cover, faithful to the band’s tradition. As DEUS IGNOTUS, from what I am learning, are preparing their next full-length, this EP comes to fill the void and provide a marvelous injection of blackness and antichristianity.


•October 26, 2014 • Comments Off on EMPIRE OF THE MOON “Πανσέληνος”

Release Date: May, 2014

Label: Acherontas Promotions (CD) / Floga Records & Ill Damnation Productions (LP/Tape)

Full MoonThere are times when simplicity and straightforwardness of some people and situations creates the strongest bonds. In our case, bonds between listener/receiver and an artistic creation. EMPIRE OF THE MOON (re-)appeared in the forefront and, without noise and big words, they offered us a foretaste with the magnificent “Psychomanteion” track; then they worked with patience for the completion of their full length album. They gave it the minimal yet sublime name “Panselinos” (= full moon) and released it through Acherontas Promotions label (CD version, the other two are coming in December).

And what about the content? It could not differ of course. The coven of Ravenlord Wampyri Draconium (CHAOSBAPHOMET, formerly TATIR), Ouroboros and S. V. Mantus (WAMPYRINACHT) -with the help of Nick Yngve on drums- brings forward once again the version of old Hellenic blackmetal sound, namely the one that filtered its 80s metal roots, only keeping its robust form, the dark side and the uncanny feeling. It does not necessarily take for one to chaotically scratch the guitar strings or pound the drums mercilessly in order to produce extreme and morbid music. Sometimes the shadowy lyricism, like the one that surfaces during the intro of “Lunar Apocalypse” and soaks the whole song flowing with exalting mid-tempo riffing, is the aspect that gifts EMPIRE OF THE MOON’s blackmetal with a multi-level transcendental meditation.

The magnificent fact of these (not common) releases is that to try to define them, one searches for a reference point (“they sound like…”) yet he or she hardly finds any. If I could provide something to begin with, I would say that it is a creation whose spirit (beware! the spirit…) is among the closest I’ve heard to that of old NECROMANTIA. And since NECROMANTIA are –for me at least– one of the most serious acts ever to emerge in the international music map, this is a medal of honor among the elite. “Panselinos” is the love for old metal sound, without showoffs, caricatures and easy fun (we have to understand at some point that not everything has to be about fun). It is the consolidation of a distinctive flow between songs within a record that transforms it to a unity, a vortex which intensifies the listening experience (how brilliant is the transition from the acoustic outro of “Psychomanteion” to the infernal intro of “Nine Skulls Of Kali” –a special mention here for the subtle yet perfectly embedded keys from Mantus). It is the quest and the success for grandiosity as the 15 minutes of the above mentioned “Nine Skulls…” opus pass like a moment in time.

Finally, it is the texts that accompany the music of this release (which, if there is any justice, should be considered as one of the most important among the domestic scene in recent years), where the worship towards the primordial female nature prevails with the invocations of the triptych Tiamat/Kali/Luna. In plain words, with subtlety and far away from trendy, wannabe-occult philippics. If the term “majestic” hadn’t known such a decline from bands that used it to describe their flamboyant garbage, I would say that “Panselinos” is the definition of majestic straightforwardness (contradictory but true). In any case, it is the current year’s record that should involve all those who argue that Hellenic blackmetal of the early 90s was (and indeed it was) one of the best things that happened to this music.


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