Monday, August 30, 2010

GREEK SCENE REPORT 2007 --- Burnt By The Sun: The new extreme Greek scene


This report was commissioned by Terrorized magazine back in 2007. They did not publish it and I was not communicated the reasons why - except that somebody in their headquarters fucked up and assigned a part of this project (black metal to be exact) to somebody else. I think it's about time that it gets out of my drawer.

Some of its content is outdated, since it was written 3 years ago... All the bands mentionned are worth checking out even if some of them do no longer exist. I've put a lot of time, effort and all my heart into it. I love the Greek scene and I've tried hard to support and promote it ever since I started Chaotik Webzine - back in November 1995. If you take the time to read it please comment. If the response is positive then a 2010/2011 version might see the light of day. 

Last but not least, you'll notice that I write about the bands/projects that I was involved with back at the time Straighthate, Paraside, Kommpound, Blast Beat Mailmurder/Prod). This self-promotion was supposed to be handled deontologically by a short bio of myself which would mention them as part of my activities. So, it's not that I would write about my bands in a sneaky way.


The age of innocence is long gone for Greek  hard/extreme music. After the glorious era of the late 80’s/early 90’s, when bands from Hellas such as Rotting Christ, Necromantia, Varathron, Nightfall, Septic Flesh have had quite an impact on the underground scene proposing a fresh and mystic sound, creative sterility and low standards have been pretty much all that most of the new bands who came after them had to offer. A new breed of Greek bands is here though - and they kill everything! Hopefully this article will make you want to dig under the sunny façade of ouzo and tzatziki – Hell-as is here!


Greece has had until now a timid contribution to the worldwide extreme and hard music scenes. The country being located in the crossroads of Europe and the Middle East, separated from central Europe (where things are happening for metal) by the Balkans. Evolution in music -and in general- has always arrived around here delayed and distorted. In the 80’s the metal shows from foreign bands were extremely rare. Quite naturally, most local bands didn’t have a clue and the newborn local metal scene was dominated by ultra-kitsch. When the country finally has entered the metal map with its share of influential second wave of black metal bands and later on with a bundle of noteworthy atmospheric doom/death acts, few bands have taken advantage of the momentum to pursue a durable career. Actually there has been only one: Rotting Christ.

The christian conservatism of Greek society, the mandatory military service, the ridiculously low salaries versus the cost of life, the obligatory Greek lyrics that any musician aspiring to a serious career must have, are some of the factors explaining why being a professional metal musician in Greece is a utopia. Under these terms, it’s not surprising that guys such as Nightrage, Firewind, Biomechanical’s John K. sought a better chance abroad...



What is like to play death metal in Greece? A.V., the guitarist/vocalist of Dead Congregation, one of the finest Greek metal bands of today, declares: “Death Metal is something that springs from within and manifests esoterical powers; it’s the channel that links the worldly with uncanny dimensions. So it doesn’t matter if you play in Greece, in any other country or in your basement. That’s how we perceive it.”  Their debut album will be soon released by Nuclear War Now!, what should we expect? “Graves Of The Archangels” should be finally available by the end of this year. It is consisted of 9 odes to Blasphemy, Darkness and Death , artwork is done yet again by Timo Ketola, who has also contributed lyrics for  two of the songs. MkM of Antaeus fame has also written one for us. Expect pure Death Metal Massacre. There are also plans for a split 7”EP with Hatespawn from Germany.” 


Sonichaos Aeon is possibly the most cult underground Greek band. Ninja-singer 9:Death Of The East:9 tells us that is all about: “Cool music. Mostly heavy. David Mack’s comic books.Sho Kosugi movies. Documentaries about Buddy Rich and the fine art of drum-kit desecration. We steal from the best!!!” The band has a certain exotic character, but the term being subjective, what does this mean to them? Is there a way to sort out the exotic from the kitsch bands? “We’re the kind of people who acknowledge that a surf-rocking riff can have parallel dynamics, or even common spiritual roots, with a loooong, uncut, railroady-track blackmetal riff. I don’t know if that’s exotic for you. To us, it’s crystal-clear. Separating the exotic from the kitsch is pretty much a matter of consumer subjectivity. My idea of kitsch is putting two inverted crosses on your band’s logo so it looks symmetrical -and claim to praise chaos!!! Mayhem excluded.”

What about local bands who don’t want to be known by locals and refuse contact with most of the scenesters here... Can he understand this? “Frankly, no. It kinda reminds me of the general up-tightness of German people about all things Nazi. Relax people! Every country had its share of trend-jumping, character-void bands in the past. Concealing identity and origin, changing your name from, say, Piotr Warzawzychklikz to Terry Suspenders is so ‘80s. A Guilt trip does not a scene improve.”

What comes next is “an album-length demo called “Trabuki:The Living Hell Of Sonichaos Aeon”. Thrash metal with cool chorus lines and a pinch of Commodore 64-SID sound. Thrash Metal with synths !”


Ravencult’s debut album “Temples Of Torment” (Karisma Records/Dark Essence Records) is one of the finest examples of modern Greek black metal. Ravencult, like Greek black metal in general, had to redefine themselves by taking a step back from the established Rotting Christ formula. Bass player S. confirms: “Things are possibly are like that, if you consider that the original incarnation of what has what been known as “Greek black metal” stopped to exist around 1995, twelve years ago. It took Ravencult five years and a few demos to establish their current style. This path has included in the beginning the passage from the Greek sound and as time was passing by, it faded away. It wasnt done on purpose, but rather as a result of natural evolution and redefinition of our collective expression.” 

Playing classic northern black metal, one can safely bet that killer riffs are more important to Ravencult that originality… We don’t try to reinvent the wheel throughout our music but to play pure black metal, fanatically attached to the true roots and authentic feeling, adapted to contemporary reality.” The band is currently composing its second album, which most likely will be recorded next summer at Mølla studio with Knut Valle (Arcturus).  



Greece has been widely known for a strong DIY punk/crust scene. Hibernation is the most notorious band continuing this tradition. Their music is soaked in melancholy, often accompanied by synths. How much is this related with the country? “It is indeed linked with the Greek reality but also with the worldwide situation”, guitarist/vocalist Alekos responds. “As a worker and a parent I live the humiliation and disgust of this country and the majority  of its inhabitants. How can the youth survive with meaningless salaries, huge expensiveness, without social benefits, health system, education, justice? Modern Greeks stay apathetic towards the non-existing human relations, the loneliness, the alienation, the assault of televisual studpidity, the burned forests, the poisoned rivers… How not feel a sadness considering all this? And of course, it’s not happening only here but all over the world. We also express anger and a voice of resistance, as well as a message of unity and cooperation with those that fight…” Hibernation, like all bands of this scene sing in Greek, which obviously “allows a more direct connection with the local audience. On the other hand all of our records have been released by foreign labels, and to both of our European tours we realized that people like the fact that we sing in Greek.” The band is currently playing shows in Greece and has plans for tours in the US and in Europe, as well as for a 7”EP. []



Sun Of Nothing popped out of nowhere and changed the way everybody (including the locals) perceived Greek metal. With mentors stated by guitarist Yannis such as Electric Wizard,Neurosis,Carl Michael Eide,Varg Vikernes,Shora,Cult Of Luna,Joy Division,The Melvins,Aldrahn's vocals,Breach,Stephen O'Malley,Cliff Burton,Peter Murphy,Roger Syd Barrettand a singer “who makes Dani Filth sound like Pavarotti” (like a webzine so sharply remarked), they indulge into majestic yet crude sonic excess. What can somebody immediately point out is the cyclothymia of their compositions. Its origin can be traced “back when we were composing the songs of our debut "And Voices, Words, Faces Complete The Dream" we were actually starting to realise how the world around us works, and how the image of the world we had as kids or teenagers collapsed giving away the real thing, plus the realisation that a lot of our dreams were probably futile. We tried to describe this through music; since then we had various experiences as individuals and as a band, that enhanced the past realisations and feelings.” And how is it to be a young person in Greece anyway? “It sucks major ass”. 



Greece might sound as an improbable destination for noise music in the first place, but the reality is rather different. UK-based act Family Battle Snake, are amongst the most active Greek noise acts. Bill Kouligas initiates us to the whereabouts of this scene: “Oldest and favorite label is by far Absurd. Nicolas Malevitsis is one of the first people who got into the scene. He started as a huge gore/grindcore fan and slowly turned towards experimental/noise .  I should also mention Ilios/Antifrost (ed-also located abroad) , P.S.Stamps Back/Cities in Desolation/Croatan Ensemble/, Nokalypse/Triple Bath, Mecha-Orga/Echo Music, Tasos Stamou, Red Needled Sea/Heavensore, nixilx.nijilx, Dead Traveler, Wand & The Princess and many more I must be forgetting.”  

To what extent did the country itself influenced F.B.S.? Material such as the limited release "Larvae" has a majestic/dramatic overtone that can beam somehow the listener back to ancient Greece and beyond… “Nowadays urban surroundings don’t necessarily provide such a heavy influence: with the web, the location itself doesn’t matter so much. However there are inevitable influences from my environment over the years. "Larvae" is a mixture of different influences. The use of reed instruments  is inspired by some traditional roots, not only Greek but also some other far out weird sounds from places like Cambodia, Java/Bali, Laos, etc) and the whole free form of jazz. One thing for sure is that the UK is fertile ground for creativity. There are more opportunities to be active and it is a lot easier to travel and play shows.” Furthermore, what are the duo’s ambitions and intents? “To keep being creative and to run naked in the wind.” 



Greek black metal is back! A new generation of black hearts found its own way, getting past the obligatory Rotting Christ syndrome. Some seriously dark vibes are in play here. This new breed sounds less exotic than the forefathers, but a lot more extreme and crude.  Naer Mataron is a name that should be familiar to a lot of you. They are the best known band of this generation, very Norwegian sounding indeed - plus  they got harsher over the years. Same thing applies to Ravencult, one of the finest exports for the genre. End have been on hiatus for the last couple of years, but they are responsible for some of the most chilling and grim black metal sounds that have ever been recorded in Hellas. Check out their self-titled mini-CD and the awesome debut album “II” (both out at Iso666)! Two of their members play now with Sun Of Nothing, and the latest news are they’re getting back together. Burial Hordes are amongst the most brutal in the bunch… Their debut “War Revenge and Total Annihilation” (Asphyxiate Recordings) is a punishing and unrelenting experience for fans of Carpathian Forest, Cadaver, Aura Noir, and (old) Mayhem. They will release their next album on Pulverised Records.   Injekting Khaos are another great brutal outfit, but they are more influenced by the French scene - especially Antaeus and Arkhon Infaustus. Their first official release is the sweet self-released mini-CD “Salvation Through Violence ”.  Acrimonious are a lot influenced by all things orthodox. They have a bunch of solid and consistent releases with fine majestic riffing and bombastic drums. Their debut full-length is scheduled on Ajna Offensive.  This Is Past is a new one-man band, pretty much in the psychedelic veins of Ved Buens Ende, Virus. Their debut album is expected to display appropriately their intents. Wormspit is another new black metal act influenced by Dodheimsgard, Ved Buens Ende, Thorns, on top of the usual Norwegian classics. Goat Vomit  excel in the art of chaotic chainsaw black metal in the likes of Blasphemy, Beherit, etc. A handful of ominous releases helped them get a reputation in the relevant underground circles. Dodsferd’s new album “Cursing Your Will To Live” out at Moribund Records, is a lot better than their previous efforts, with nice riffs and everything. Check them out if you can’t get enough of claustrophobic black metal…


It’s almost embarrassing to say but Greeks have never been good at playing pure death metal... There have been a few exceptions of corpse and old tape-traders still remember Death Courrier, Stigma, Septicemia, Sadictic Noise. With the new millennium a new era has dawned. Inveracity ‘s debut demo "Defeated Humans Raped" settled the score in the age 2000. This kind of brutal death metal  onslaught was something unheard in the country. One cult split 10”EP/MCD with Swedes Insision and a fantastic debut CD ("Circle Of Perversion") helped them secure a deal with US’ Unique Leader Records. Their brand new offering, “Extermination Of Millions” confirms a band that stands out with a focus on killer riffs and frenetic beats. Many remarkable acts have followed the way that Inveracity paved. Vulnus convince with their American style and mentors such as Dying Fetus, Vile, Disgorge. Their debut release is a luxurious digi-book split-CD with Brazilian porno-grind combo I Shit On Your Face.  Extreme Violence from Lamia, destroyed everything with the amazing debut album “Ecstasy In Pain” out at New York’s Sevared Records. Mass Infection are from Livadia and have developed a quite personal sound. Their debut CD “Atonement For Iniquity” has an unpolished and thrashy edge a la Malevolent Creation and Deicide. The fans of ultra-brutality will appreciate Atavism from Volos. They are big fans of Mortician and also have a touch of Brodequin. You can find at the appropriate distros several splits of them with other obscure gore bands. Blustery Caveat from Larissa play US-style brutal death  metal  a la Hateplow, Deeds Of Flesh, and these dudes blast just fine. A 7”EP is due out soon as well as their debut CD at Revenge Productions. Human Rejection will appeal to the fans of guttural death  metal. Their debut CD “Torture Of Decimation” is out now.Cerebrum are another new band but more technical and Soulskinner are Thou Art Lord vocalist Gothmog’s death metal band. Necrovorous hate modernity, and worship instead everything related to Hellhammer and Autopsy. Sickening Horror was until recently the technical and jazzy local band for which Nile drummer’s John Kollias was drumming for... 

 NEW HELLENIC EXTREME SOUND: hardcore,grind,sludge,drone,noise

 Partly because of the obsession of the local audience and distributors with classic metal, the modern heavy sounds of the 90’s, as well as metallic hardcore, remained largely underground in Greece. Around the end of the century, fans for whom hardcore and grind were points of reference, started out a new scene. Nowadays they blend a diverse spectrum of influences and these combinators do not hesitate to associate elements that initially appear hard to put together tastefully (like say, black metal with hardcore). Eerie soundscapes versus sheer brutality anyone? Please also notice, that recurrently  the surrounding musical tradition (Mediterranean, black sea) often shines through…

 Innermost are one of the bands that started the local metallic hardcore scene. Forged with healthy amounts of Kickback, Converge, Earth Crisis, Carharsis influences, they released a couple of inspiring demos, the second one of those, "Menschenkenntnis" is so good that it is a shame it never made it as a professional release. The band currently rehearses material which is more progressive and extreme. Straighthate is a unit in the heart of the modern Greek sound. Past and current members of numerous bands mentioned in these pages have served their dues amidst their ranks. After dramatic line-up changes, the band crafted a supersonic, relentless concoction of death/grind/hardcore with a touch of psychedelia. Definitely very Swedish sounding indeed, they’ve been described as the golden section between Nasum, Breach, and Napalm Death. 2007’s “Indigenous” debut CD is already praised as a local classic.  Stagnate are also part of this generation. In their early days they were playing killer metalcore in the veins of Stampin’Ground or Unearth. They have gradually turned into a death metal act and the news are that they’re getting even more brutal.  Konkave are another local hardcore band that has evolved a lot. Their mini-CD “Idiocy Mode” was all about tasteful aggression with black metal vokills a la Zao, Converge, Burnt By The Sun. A debut album will be out soon, displaying a wide array of soundscapes - from Anodyne to Enslaved and everything in between. Vodka Juniors have had a lot to do with the current shape of the Greek punk/hardcore scene. They are by all standards an excellent skatecore band and have many cool releases out. Slavebreed are one of the oldest grind bands in Greece, and they are only getting better! They have dual vokills and a thick sound. For those who like southern beatdowns assorted with a technical touch, there’s Tardive Dyskinesia, somewhere between Crowbar, Pantera, Meshuggah,  and A Life Once Lost. 

 If we take the ride up north to Thessaloniki, Homo Iratus released two great albums and an EP that had a big impact on the local scene. Kvazar stand for Napalm Death-like grindcore brutality with a jazzy technical edge and one of the best vocalists in the country. In a different register, Erectus are purveyors of dense brutal death  metal  not unlike Origin,  and Greet The Dead deliver solid crust/hardcore a la Tragedy/Wolfbrigade. 

 Now as far as the new kids go, Formikation is a killer grindcore combo and one of the biggest hopes of the local extreme scene. They combine the Swedish sound with some Discordance Axis tech madness. Devastation Of Life are a political grindcore outfit from Larissa which sounds totally raw and brutal. Lotus Circle in this year’s debut CD “Bottomless Vales And Boundless Floods” take the listener to an occult trip, with drone sounds and black metal vokills. Mahakala in their self-titled mini-CD (Parade Records) play very enjoyable sludge that sounds very british, like Iron Monkey and early Raging Speedhorn. Voidhead are an experimental instrumental drone duo influenced by Neurosis and Earth. They produce songs influenced by the local environments, immersing the listener to beautiful soundscapes. Their beautiful “Land” CD-R EP  (Head to Avoid Recordings) is sold-out by now and is an evidence of one of the greatest new local bands. … Paraside propose pre-cataclysmic heathen rituals with sludge, black metal and rock’n’roll overtones. They’ve never played live but are one of the projects to keep an eye on.For more down-tempo and experimental atmospheres, there’s -amongst others- Universe 217, National Pornografik and Noiselust. Finally, the noise edge of this scene is expressed by projects such as Appes, Hellboy 106 (both of them based on guitars/effects) ,  noise/ambient field recordist Kommpound, hacker freak extraordinaire Pascal Cretain who turns security code and binaries into noise, etc.



The main purpose of this feature is to draw your attention towards an interesting but unknown European music scene. The list of the bands proposed here is by no means exclusive. There are also plenty of the old classic Greek bands who are still active and you might consider checking out, even though some of them are not as brutal or groundbreaking as they used to be. Except those already stated, there’s Thou Art Lord, Zemial/Agatus (both relocated in Australia), Horrified, Nordor, Elysian Fields, etc.







Friday, August 27, 2010

Memories from the 90's & old comrades still shredding


I am very happy getting in touch again with an old comrade, Edwin Heijmen. Known back at the time as Mr.HXC#1, he lent me a serious helping hand in Chaotik Webzine, and he also was a vocalist for the cool dutch hardcore band DISDAIN (R.I.P.). 

Edwin still keeps the 90's hardcore spirit alive, which is where a big part of my musical roots are as well, through two projects that I invite you to check out:

Getting back in touch with Edwin, reminded me of an old friend and tape trader from the USA. His name was Aaron Mountain, I met him in the mid-90's at IRC EFNET#metal, a place where I made many friends of mine, some of whom I met also in real life (like Arto Lehtinen, David "Ophth" Markey). This was more than a chat channel, it was a community. Some of these people helped me out with Chaotik Webzine, some others' bands I reviewed and featured in the "Wintergrief" compilation tape...

The most persistent and talented comrade of the lot was John "Beergut" Gossard. He had this eerie sense of humor and most of the times that I was getting hold of him online he was drunk. John had send me a track of his band WEAKLING (R.I.P.) for Wintergrief. Little did I know that they would become one my favorite black metal bands ever (buy "Dead As Dreams" now!!!). John has played since in some pretty fucking outstanding bands since, including ASUNDER (R.I.P.). His latest band is DISPIRIT. I was damn lucky to watch the beast grow, listening to early rehearsals and encouraging the dude to stick with this awesome band name and not change it. They have a rehearsal tape out (yes, a tape, not a CD-R!) and a couple of elite record labels have shown vivid interest in them, so expect an official release soon.

But I have digressed. I started talking about Aaron. His nick name in #metal was "Mandalore". He played guitar in two bands back at the time. The first one was the hardcore band THENCEFORWARD. Their style was what we used to call "new-school", which basically meant in the veins of Earth Crisis, Snapcase, Strife, etc.

They had two EP's out in 1995 and 1996 and have participated in a handful of compilations. They were pretty good, especially in the "Winner" EP where Aaron was playing. 

You can download both EP's here. The archive also includes scans of the covers and inserts. Congrats go to Mostly Blue Skies Above Us for this excellent initiative.

I was feeling so much connected to Aaron because we both liked hardcore and extreme metal at the same time. 15 years later this is normal, but back at the time we were very rare! This is one of the reasons I am so proud of the Chaotik Webzine legacy, getting both worlds closer together...

Aaron was playing in another band, PROCOSTIMUS. They were playing black/death and have had a demo tape out, titled "Synthesis Of Rebirth". I reviewed it back at the time and was very cool. I must have it somewhere and I have not found it anywhere online. Aaron, if you're reading these lines, drop me a word (bodybag666 [at], I hope you're doing fine!

I would like to take advantage of this post, to say hi to all my old friends from EFNET#metal... Maybe I will write more in the future about those days...