Vid sidan av Rotting Christ, Acherontas och Necromantia tillhör Varathron greklands mest etablerade black metalband, och har nu varit med i hela trettio år.
Bandet grundades 1988 av sångaren Stefan Necroabyssious, som är kvar som enda orginalmedlem. Sedan 2004 års Crowsreign har lineupen Haris (trummor), Stratos (bas) och Achilleas C. och Sotiris (båda gitarr) varit som mest aktiva. Rocknytts Niklas Webjörn har fått sig ett snack med bandets gitarrist Achilleas C. som bland annat pratar om nya plattan, den Helleniska scenen, och om vännerna i Rotting Christ som nyligen arresterades för “terrorism” i Georgien, och mycket annat. Intervjun är på engelska.
To begin with, I want to congratulate Varathron on the 30-year jubilee. How does it feel to be part of the Greek metal legacy? It’s still vital, and very much alive, right!
Hello Niklas! Yes, the abyssic cult has been around since 1988! I feel very proud for being part of this legacy but I feel even more proud that I have contributed on making the “beast” stronger than ever. As Stefan Necroabyssious has mentioned a lot of times in his interviews, the band always had many problems with the line up and never managed to stabilise and rise above the underground. We finally have a very strong line up with talented and commited warriors and we are ready to conquer the world!
You joined the band after quite a while, but have been a member for 15 years (correct?) Can you tell us about your journey with Varathron and the Hellenic scene in general?
Correct! I joined Varathron back in 2003 and after a while Haris – our drummer – joined the band too to record “Crowsreign” which was a very obscure album since it combined many ideas of previous members and of course our own.
At that time, we signed with Black Lotus Records which was a great and very promising label owned by George Zacharopoulos (aka Magus Daoloth of Necromantia), a producer and artist that has a crucial impact on what we call “Greek” black metal sound today. I was 16 years old and being able to record in a professional studio and release an album with a legendary band like Varathron was an amazing experience for me at that time.
Throughout the years of course I have matured, learned by my mistakes, learned to avoid and ignore the “snakes” of our scene, met great people and bandmates, and now I feel satisfied that we can finally focus on spreading the Hellenic darkness across the globe.
You have mastered and mixed the new album by yourself, right? Please tell us about the work process for this album.
We always worked on the preproduction by ourselves and then collaborated with another producer or sound engineer on the production. This time I had a clear vision on how this album should sound since I also composed most of the matterial so I asked my bandmates to trust me.
My vision was to create a clean but not sterilized production based on good performances. In contrast with the northern black metal scene (especially Norwegian) I wanted to bring forth the “mediterranean” element which is pure heavy metal and bizarre melodies.
The recordings took place once again in Ioannina, our hometown. We really tried to focus on the simplicity and good performances. Haris is an amazing drummer and did his part in three or four days at Infinite Loop Music Studio, then we gave a lot of time to Stratos to compose and record a solid bass which is very important to the band’s sound and then, Sotiris and I recorded the guitars pretty much based on the preproduction demos.
Finally Stefan took a lot of creative space to himself to be possessed and put his black magic into the music. It was the best, most intense and well organised album production we ever had.
I have to ask this question, after reading lots of positive reviews… Is “Patriarchs of Evil” your best album to date?
Our 30 years of existence was a great inspiration for all of us while composing and recording the album. We wanted to bring forth all those elements from the past that have made Varathron sound so unique and have created a cult of maniacs around the world. I do believe this is the best album of Varathron so far because we have managed to compose great music based on our roots, on our primal identity but at the same time is truly fresh and passionate. If you ask me, It’s also Stefan’s best performance ever. By far!
I love the artwork by Juanjo Castellano Rosado. Can you tell me something about the collaboration?
It’s the third time we worked with Juan. Stefan always talked about his art with admiration and he passed this admiration to the rest of us too. After we did “Emissaries of the Darkened Call” and “Crowsreign” reissue with him we decided that he was the one and only to create “Patriarchs of Evil”.
Stefan had a vision for the cover: Five demon-priests – representing Varathron – distributing the unholy communion to the deformed and animal-looking people. Juan is not just a talented man but also a great professional so after a few weeks he delivered this masterpiece and made us so fucking happy!
What I love about his art in general is that it looks romantic and old-school but at the same time is fresh and unique.
Some people tend to get very anxious about the lyrical themes in black- and death metal. I’m sure you are aware of what recently happened to your fellow country men Rotting Christ (the arrest in Georgia for “terrorism”). Any comments on this?
Rotting Christ have traveled and played thousands (literally) of shows almost in every country in the world for almost 30 years now. They are great warriors and crap like these just make them even stronger. These kind of events are only good to remind us that freedom of speech and artistic expression is not for granted.
Tell us about your plans for the nearest future …
A new video is about to be released in the following days. We really worked very hard on it with the help of Sotiris Benekos (same man that directed AENAON’s Der Mude Tod) and we are very anxious to reveal it. After that we have a very special split release to annouce with a great band.
Conserning live shows we have a couple of shows in Greece coming up, next is Italy and then we have a lot of announcements to do for Summer and Autumn shows. 2018 will be a quite active year!
Varathron is not a band that makes a new album every year, is it because you are busy with other projects, or is it your private lifes that requires your time?
Most of the members including Stefan have a pretty busy life and very demanding jobs. It’s not possible for us to work that fast but to be honest, I think releasing an album per year is not the best thing for a band. Inspiration and greatness need a little more time sometimes and we there is a lot of proof around for that.
What about your other bands Katavasia and Aenaon, any news on that front?
Katavasia is a project, there will be a new release when we feel really passionate about it but now is not the time yet. We did release an EP last year but we have no other plans yet.
AENAON are a very special band for me and after the last album “Hypnosophy” I feel like I need a break. AENAON will always have to deliver unique and timeless creations from now on. Our music is not for everybody and is not easy to digest. No need to rush.
You work with Agonia Records, a “underground” label that seem to be growing a lot lately. Do you think the masses today are more open minded to the underground scenes in general (compared to back in the 90’s)?
Not sure If I can describe Agonia as an underground label anymore. They’re doing really amazing promotion and have a great roaster that grows stronger every year.
I am not sure about the masses but I believe that there are a lot of people that miss the old and pure days of extreme metal and try to find the same passion in the underground scene.
It would be interesting to get som recommentations on bands in the Hellenic scene that we should hear. Any bands that deserves more attention?
I personaly love Hail Spirit Noir and hope they’ll get the attention they deserve. Thy Darkened Shade also have really impressed me on their last releases. Macabre Omen last album was amazing for sure too. Then you have, Kawir, Ravencult, Dead Congregation and many many more bands that keep delivering top notch stuff.
Next time I’ll recommend more! Cheers Niklas and gratitude for you interest and support.