The Greek black/occult metal scene has always had unique and original bands since the late 80’s when Rotting Christ and Varathron, and later Necromantia, rose from the world beyond. These three hellenic occult black metal bands carved their own marks into the metal underground in the 90’s when they put out legendary releases. For example: ONE STEP BEYOND by Varathron, the legendary Rotting Christ/Monumentum spilt Ep, and the split album of Varathron and Necromantia. However, Varathron has battled through these years by facing the ups and downs, but the band’s leader Stefan NecroAbyssious is still committed to Varathron. Here is the interview with Stefan telling about the new album and other interesting issues in the world of Varathron.
Good day to Greece, what’s up in the Varathron camp ?!
Hail my friend Arto! Everything was so great here, but now the “bad-luck” struck us again! Our label black Lotus records is split-up and we’re looking for a new label in order to record our new opus, called: STYGIAN FORCES OF SCORN !!!!!!!!
CROWSREIGN – A NEW CHAPTER OF VARATHRON
Varathron got a brand new album out called “CROWSREIGN” including 11 songs. But I read an old interview dated back to 98 or something in which you told you were in the process of working on CROWSREIGN at that time. Some problems brought up with MegaTherion rec caused an unbelievable delay as the album didn’t come up until 2004. What is the exact story behind it?!
Well, back to 1998, Varathron had 10 new tracks ready for a new album called: “CROWSREIGN”. But the problems with labels, so usual for our history, delayed it for years! In 1998, we signed with Pagan Records and we released our THE LAMENT OF GODS. Then we had some troubles with our members, like obligatory army service, family, e.t.c. In 2000-01, Megatherion Records wanted us for an album, but the label disappeared for a few months. They changed a distribution company!!! At last, in 2003, we signed with Black Lotus Records and with new members and we released the apocryphal opus CROWSREIGN in 2005. Of course the album has the “old” basic riffs with some new elements which we put into the tracks. So, the result was very good!!!
The album was put out by the Greek Black Lotus black who has Necromantia, obviously it was a relief and easy choice to let Black Lotus rec to handle the whole publishing policy after several fiasco deals with several record labels in the past ?!
The Black Lotus Records makes a good work for us! Really, I’m so confused about this “surprise” for the “Game Over” annoucement! I don’t know what happened exactly. About our “past” labels, I think the only “fiasco” was the Unisound rec. The rest of labels were poor, but honest and good!
CROWSREIGN presents nothing but Varathron at its best with its unique sounds and your, Stefan, nasty sounding voice crowning the whole unholy journey in the world of the occultism and magic, I am pretty sure you have to be more than pleased with the achieved results on CROWSREIGN?!
Our album “CROWREIGN” recorded at Praxis Studios and the final sound was so great. The negative points for me were the sound-level of the bass guitar and too much synths. In general, the tracks were great and all the occult atmosphere was so perfect! The new members are good and technical musicians and that you can notice it when you listen to the album!
The front cover of CROWSREIGN is in my opinion eccentric, as it is basically a hand with tree fingers with sharp nails and then an eye lurking in the hand. That hand has to be and have some kind of a symbolic meaning in the background anyway, or what?!
The cover on the normal cd, not on a digi pack-cd, is a paint of spyros-seth of septic flesh, a painter of Black Lotus records. Well, I don’t like it and I prefer the octagon-symbol on our dig-pack, an ancient symbol of the Catacthonious gods!!!
The album was processed in Greece for sure, was it basically an easy creation process to record, mix the material for CROWSREIGN after all for example compared to the other recording sessions of yours on previous albums like “HIS MAJESTY AT THE SWAMP” and “WALPURGISNACHT” ?! How long did you record CROWSREIGN?
As I told you the album was recorded on Praxis Studios during September-October 2004. We have more “comfort” in the studio, after so many years. I think that album was the more “easy” album at the moment. I mean, we hadn’t any problems with the studio, with the rest of members, with a label ! I hope it will continue with this situation!
As stated above a couple of magical words “unique and occultism” belonging to Varathron’s music and of course lyrics, but as to the lyrics in general, they tend to be the strongest as well as the most important factor playing a big part and role in the way how you wanna express yourself and your ideology as well, right ?! Where do you ladle all the inspiration for penning the lyrics?! From your own experience with the occultism or using the imagination and fantasies and dreams?
Yes, the lyrics have an important role to Varathron. They are so much important like our music! The Inspiration for our lyrics are my own experience with the occultism and my thoughts. Also, I read a lot of Books and use my apocryphal nightmares! The lyrics and the music are so good mixed and they create the perfect blasphemic emotions.
Even though there is about a six year break between THE LAMENT OF GODS ep and CROWNSREIGN, apparently you must have created a plenty of new tunes during that period as you admitted being ready to start working on the follow-up to CROWNSREIGN ?!
So, Varathron was frozen for some years after the mini-album THE LAMENT OF GODS. We had troubles with our line-up and the label. My first “move” was to find new members and then a new label. After these, we started to work on new ideas and riffs for songs. Well, as I told you we have a new album ready and we are waiting to record it. It will be called STYGIAN FORCES OF SCORN. By now we have a 10 “evil” tunes and will be a more of 60 minutes.
MEMBERS – COME AND GONE
Varathron’s line-up has undergone more than a few changes since the band was formed. Has it ever crossed your mind to quit the whole band thing and let Varathron live its cult life amongst the ancient ones?! What makes you keep pushing more and again to breathe a new life and fire to Varathron?!
Varathron had so many troubles with line-up and the label, from our birth until now ! I received a message from Black Lotus rec, the label doesn’t exist anymore. So, we’re looking for a new label now !!!! So, another problem again! was alone in a band many times by restarting from the zero, but I never never want to quit my band. It’s a part of my life. I have given a lot to my band; I have sacrificed personal things and situations. I want to see Varathron stronger and immortal until my end!
However Varathron has struggled thru years surviving well as the band is still around. But the keyboard player Bill aka Black Wizard is the only left from the line-up of “THE LAMENT OF GODS” ep returned back to Varathron and both the guitarist and the bassist are entire faces in the Varathron rank?!
As I told you, all of these years Varathron’s line-up has changed as a lot of members have come and gone. The basic reason was a personal problem and the obligatory army service. All of these changes are our big negative point and our bad luck. But, we’ll survive and we’ll continue strong and heavy!
Does it bug you severely that people still keep asking about the old days when the Rotting Christ guys were in the band in the early stage of the career of Varathron ?! But I can’t help asking if you still keep any kind of contact to the former members of Varathron or is the friendship over when they have pulled out in the first place ?!
Well, Mutilator being the bass player in Rotting Christ and Varathron, was a basic member of Varathron, not just a “helper”. Also, Themis, being drummer of Rotting Christ, played on our second demo and our split-lp with Necromantia. So, we still have our contact, but not so often like in the old days, but we talk. I never forget the good friends, beyond bands, music and anything else!
Hmm Varathron has almost had every important member involved from other Greek metal bands like Zemial, Kawir, Danger Cross?!?
Well, we had Jim Necroslaughter like a basic member as a guitarist on our first full album. Also, he was in Zemial, too. Our first guitarist, a former member of Varathron, was John, also a guitarist of Danger Cross. About Kawir, I was a former member and I sang on the demo and the two 7’ Ep’s. When I left that band, our guitarist Pyrphoros, he followed me to Varathron.
I have understand the Greek army has always friendly reminded you of its existence by picking up a man after a man from Varathron to do the mandatory military service, how many men must have sacrificied from Varathron for the Greek army?!
Hmm! A lot of men, my friend. Captain Death our first drummer and john, our first guitarist. Then, Stavros, our guitarist on the second demo. As for the other members we have a mix of “Greek army Problem” and personal-family troubles! What can I say??
VARATHRON’S RETURN TO THE LIMELIGHT OF THE STAGE
Varathron ain’t the most active live band during the last few years due to obvious reasons. But you have opened for Primordial and Kaamos in Athens last autumn what made you get on the stage after all these years, was it a nervous situation for you to play in front of the live crowd ?!
As I told you the fucking bad-luck struck us after all of these years. At last I found a good “team”, young and crazy and we want to play live shows after so many years. Besides I never said “no” to live shows, just –the last yaers- i never had members who they want it! We played some shows with Primordial, Mourning Beloveth, Rotting Christ, Desolation and Ravencult. The show with Kaamos, which happened in October 2005, he never happened and i wish to play with this band in the near future, cause i like their sound very much!
Do you carefully select places and bands with whomyou could get on the stage?! Or are you kind of open-minded to play with whomever?!
I like to play live after so many years. I don’t select some special bands. I want to see a lot of people, pure fans who want to “receive” our blasphemic psalms!
Varathron shared the stage your long time friends from Rotting Christ and a few other bands in Athens as well, Rotting Christ is one of the biggest metal names coming out of Greece nowadays and they have a huge support there, and as far as I know that show was an exceptional as Sakis and company concentrated on playing the older material. I can’t help asking how was that show ?
The show was fantastic. The tickets were sold-out and the people were so enthusiastic!!! Great, total great! Rotting Christ played all the old materials and we played our old materials, too. It was a perfect night!
You still rely on using the good old corpsepaint even though painting faces got more or less sarcasm references due to black metal got hyped and well marketed music format. You have adopted the whole corpsepaint idea from Peter Gabriel?!
Well, Peter Gabriel was one of the first great singers who used the corpsepaints on stage on live-shows of Genesis. Before him, another great singer, Al Stewart used to wear it. Then, Fish of Marillion, Kiss, Alice Cooper and more. I use it cause I like it and I think it is a face of my alter-ego, a secret warrior who is ready to come out! Today, a lot of people look this situation like a “retro” thing, but I never follow the status, the society and the “must” of the idiot-populace.
Besides using the corpsepaint, you haven’t given up another trademark of the ancient underground metal spirit by using your stage name “Necroabyssious”. Does this describe your tie to the old school metal spirit and as well your interested in the mysticium ?
I think I’m an old-romantic person who has stayed in the past, in the pure glorious days of late 80’s and early 90’s. I still use the corpsepaint and use my occult name Necroabyssious. Well, I’m almost 39 years old and I don’t know if I can change myself! Besides I tell you a truth, I don’t want to change! The old metal spirit lives inside me and I continue to give my “ego”, all myself to my band!
ANCIENT BLACK ARTS
Let’s speak a little bit about the older releases of Varathron, first off as to the now legendary split album with Necromantia. Black Power Rec released the legendary split album “THE BLACK ARTS” of Varathron and Necromantia and then Unisound Rec released the same album under another title “BLACK ARTS LEAD TO EVERLASTING SINS” with some extra stuff and different front cover… What was the purpose on putting out another version of that cult release?! Or Did Unisound just release on their own without asking any permission beforehand?!
Well, Black Power records released our split-lp with Necromantia in Spring of 1992. The same year Costas of Black Power rec, went to Scotland for studies. The split-lp was one of the cult releases of the second generation of the international black metal scene! So, we received a lot of letters who they asked us for more copies. In 1994 we signed with Unisound Rec with Rotting Christ and Thou Art Lord. Morbid of Necromantia and Thou Art Lord asked me if we want to re-release our split-album on the cd-format under the flag of Unisound rec. Of course we agreed with that idea and we gave the rights to Panos of Unisound. Then he re-released it on a cd and on a vinyl by Hellion Records being a Brazilian label. That’s all!
Anyway was it essential to add the ep “ONE STEP BEYOND DREAMS” as the bonus stuff to the version of the split album which was released by Unisound?! Or did you have any control over that?
Panos of Unisound wanted some bonus stuff for the release. We gave our Ep ONE STEP BEYOND DREAMS, Because it is already sold out and a lot of people keep looking for it. Besides, these times, we worked on our new album WALPURGISNACHT and we had no money to record some other new songs, like a bonus materials.
As for the “ONE STEP BEYOND DREAMS” is a rare underground release nowadays, how many copies were made in the first place and do you have an estimated figure of the current price asked about the ep ?
Our first Ep is a very rare stuff now. It was sold out during the first weeks, when Black Vomit Rec released It! 1000 hand-numbered copies! Now, I saw it on some lists with the price of 100-180 euros! Fucking crazy sellers. I don’t agree with these prices.
Was the EP release financed from your own pocket, or did some ug label pick up the rights to release it?
The Ep was released by Black vomit records, a great friend of mine. Fotis was a great fan of Varathron and he asked me to release that masterpiece. The label had only one release, our Ep. Fotis paid for the covers and the Vinyl-press. We paid for the studio and of course I have the rights of it!
As I already mentioned this Unisound rec which turned out to be nothing, but a pure catastrophic label by keeping the money and giving empty promises and bad deals. Apparently all kinds of deals and promises with several labels have been quite awful for the whole existence of Varathron as seen from your point of view?!
Well, we had and still have a bad luck with labels from our existence until now. Well, Cyber Music Rec, Cursed Rec, Pagan Rec and Black Lotus Rec were good labels who supported us and they did the best what they can. But Unisound rec was a total liar, not promotion, not support, not a serious businessman who could have supported the band and have the contract! A lot of bands like Mortuary Drape, Order From Chaos, Equinox Ov The Gods, Uncanny, Necromass, Thou Art Lord and more, they all are looking for him. Also, he released so many cult-heavy and thrash albums without a permission of these bands. He’s a total money-shit! Crush him!
When did this Cursed Pro step in?! As far as I know they released the “Best of/Comp. Cd” output called GENESIS OF APOCRYPHAL DESIRE?
Ray Miller, he’s a great metal brother of mine! He wanted to release our two demos and some un-released stuff on a cd and we did it! He did a perfect job and supported us eternally. It was released in 1997 before our new mini-album called THE LAMENT OF GODS.
That same titled demo was released back in 1991 and has become one of the traded demo tapes of that time worldwide and besides the songs on the demo are still great and have been able to stand the pass of time, are you kinda surprised as the demo keeps spinning around in several mp3 file sharing softwares nowadays ?!
No, cause the second demo titled GENESIS OF APOCRYPHAL DESIRE, which was released on the last days of 1990 and the beginning of 1991. The demo still contains a “fresh” stuff. It was a mark creating our musical identity through all these Years! I like who see it and i’m trader, too. Not so often than the past days-cause my free time is so Short-! Also, a big thanx to all those people who support us with that way!
HIS MAJESTY AT SWAMP was re-issued in 2001 by Pagan rec as it was originally released by an unknown label, at least to me, Cyber, right ?!
Our first album, HIS MAJESTY AT THE SWAMP released in 1993 by a Dutch label called Cyber Music rec. Ted, the owner of the label, released bands like Japan’s Transgressor, Mexican Cenotaph, Dutch Phlebotomized and more. So, Tomasz of Pagan Records re-released in 2001 with a different cover on a cd and a picture-lp limited to 333 copies.
Even though you have got bad lucks with labels etc, but do you however have full rights to the whole album catalogue of Varathron ?
Yes, I have the full rights for Varathron’s stuff, except the split-Lp with Necromantia. A great friend of mine, he talks with Unisound rec for it and I hope to receive good news soon!
THE GREEK METAL AND METAL IN GREECE
When speaking of the Greek occult black metal scene, it is quite common phenomenon that names of the unholy triangle of three bands usually pop up namely Varathron, Necromantia and Rotting Christ, as those bands created the unique Greek black metal cult all three bands were linked to each other in a way or another, frankly do you long for the old Greek occult metal spirit and true underground feeling?
Well, the old glorious days of pure underground are gone! About our side, we still have our own style and our cult-underground profile. Yes, the early days of 1988-89 the unholy triangle taught the children to worship Satan! The unholy spirit was so reach on any of our releases. Now the things are changed, but we are trying for the best, my occult beliefs are still stronger than ever!
How do you view the current Greek metal scene, do you have particular fave bands which would deserve more attention than we have reached now?!
The Greek metal scene has good bands of any kind of metal. About heavy metal sound, bands like Battleroar, Litany and Sorrowful Winds. About Death/black metal sound, bands like Desolation, Nocturnal Vomit, Heptameron, Swamp, Behelal, Dodsferd, Acrimonious. Great bands with passion for metal!!!
As far as I know you are supposed to run a radio metal show called “Twilight Zone”, could you unveil about your show for example how many listeners you usually have and when it is aired?!
Well, I have a metal radio show, called “Twilight Zone” 98.7 fm, every Saturday and Sunday, at 16:00-17:00. I play on air any stuff from heavy, thrash, death, black and extreme metal band that I received and have it. I support the bands and if anyone would like to send a
Promo stuff, is welcome! My address: Twilight Zone, Stefan, P.O. Box 1265, 45110, Ioannina, Greece.
As it became clear Greece is the land of heavy metal of its wide range, several bands play there, big metal magazines, metal TV shows, I guess it feels good to have such a good heavy metal background in Greece?
I thing the people here are so hungry for metal music. We have a lot of bands, but the support is so poor! Metal tv shows? I think is one in a small tv-channel, only for the people in Athens. Big metal magazines ? We have only the Greek Metal Hammer and before a few months the Rock Hard mag on Greek language. Yes, the metal is alive in our hearts, but nothing else. You visit germany? Then you can see the Tv shows and the great magazines, not here my friend! Here the most people who “sells” metal are fucking idiots who they organize a gig with a “big” name and they wants to receive millions! The tickets here, are fucking expensive. The Rockwave festival in Athens contains 4 bands and the ticket is 80 euro. The Wacken festival contains 64 bands for 3 days and the ticket is 55 euro! We’re just a “victims” of any stupid-asshole who have the connections and he organizes a gig! That’s our fate, our kismet!
As mentioned earlier when speaking of the Greek black metal scene, those bands rise up. But have you been somehow bitter and envious for example to Rotting Christ as the band, cos they have managed to gather a success elsewhere?!
Varathron is a big name, a cult name in the black metal scene. Of course we are much better, if the things are rolling good for us. I mean, no problems with members and the line-up, no problems with labels. You know the “secret” of Rotting Christ is the basic line-up. I mean Sakis on guitars and songs maker, and Themis on drums are brothers. About Varathron, there is a lot of times who stand alone and trying to re-create my band! It’s so different situations, believe me! Anyway, I feel so proud; cause after so many “hurricanes” Varathron is still alive!
Although the heavy metal is flourishing in Greece, but however, for some weird reason, Greek metal bands haven’t managed to make an international breakthrough, is there any reasonable explanation for that?
You ask me for our Greek metal bands and I ask you for the bands from Central America, from Chile, Peru, Argentina, Malaysia, Thailand and more other countries. If the Greek bands live in the Scandinavia Area, their music future will be so perfect! The big labels “heat” bands from Scandinavia, U.K., U.S.A. and Germany. That’s my opinion.
THE MAN BEHIND VARATHRON
The occultism and mysticisms have always belonged more than closely to the world of Varathron and especially to your ideology, how do these occultism and its philosophy reflect the way you think and do they belong to your everyday life and routine?!
My beliefs and my ideas are following the evil path. I live in a small city with a lot of mountains, forests, rivers, great ancient monuments and a historical lake with an island. So, my everyday life is not as a routine that I feel when I live in a big city like Athens!! I have my time to read my books, to self-concentrate as I am trying to take more high-level of my ego. My work is only for the money to survive and buy the things which I want. When I finish it, the rest of the day belongs to me. I read, I write, I am training on kick-boxing, I listen to the music, I watch movies and more things which I love. I have so many things to do everyday who I like 50 hours every day not a 24 hours!
As far as I have understand you have faced some major conflicts with the local Greek authorities because your view of life and presumably you have been arrested by them a few times, could you tell a little bit more about that ?
Yes, I had some troubles with the local Greek authorities because of my beliefs and my martial acts. You know here the society of the “puppets”, the society of the “victims” who are following fat priests, is confused when you meet a different person, someone who never worships their idols, political, religion. So, the result is a haunting for this person. We have a war my friend! An eternal War, if we never surrender our weapons, our beliefs, our values, our ideas, our dreams.
Stefane, what kind of relationship do you have with the Greek orthodox church institution, I mean you are a married man and live a peaceful harmony life in a small isolated village, do the local religious ties and traditions come across your way of life in a way or another ?
As I told you before, I had some problems with the local authorities. I don’t see any priest blaming me, but when the police told you some words, you have to be a smart-mind to think this: All we are in a circle, who they keep their society safety and clean from the “virus”!!! Now all the things are peaceful and I continue my life without a challenge against them. Crush them!!
Metal and Varathron have belonged to your life all of your life, by seeing a hearing all kinds of gossips and rumours, what is the weirdest rumour spread and told about you!?
Really, I haven’t heard something serious until now. I have heard some stupid things all of these years about my band, but without reason to say it. The last thing that I heard is in our last gig with Rotting Christ. A guy who watched our show told to he’s friend this: Varathron is a big band? I see only some young musicians and one old-painted-face who screams! Of course that child only listens to Cradle Of Filth and Dimmu Borgir, he never knows about the true black metal scene. All of these are only for laughing! Ha!
Which bands and album have had the strongest impact and effect on you and how you got interested in the extreme metal and why?!
Well, I started listening to heavy metal music in 1978! In 1984 I came to Athens for my studies and started hearing more thrash music and grind core. My fave inspirations for my band Varathron were the sound of Hellhammer, Venom, Bathory, the first album of Sarcofago and Morbid Angel! I had started the trading and the letters from the 1987 and I received so many extreme demo-tapes. In 1988, Captain Death being drummer of Sound Pollution, Jim Mutilator being the bassist of Rotting Christ, John being the guitarist of Danger Cross and me. We wanted to create something more dark, more blasphemic and more different than the rest thrash/grind sound!!! It was the sign of times, the coming of … Varathron!
All right Stefane, Thank you for your time and interest toward the interview, I for one wish all the best for Varathron. Of course you can add words to conclude the interview?!
Thanx so much for your killer support. Watch our for our next attack, our newest album under the title: STYGIAN FORCES OF SCORN. I salute all the metal maniacs there!!! Hail Finland!! Blood for life…
A few Varathron songs available in mp3 files