Interview with founder Acherontas V.Priest
By Oliver M.
Only 2 weeks after the release of their new masterpiece “Ma-IoN (Formulas of Reptilian Unification)”, Occult black metal masters Acherontas offered a special ceremony in London on the 7th of March to launch their fifth album. We took the opportunity to interview this cult Hellenic horde (previously known under the name of Stutthof) before their ritualistic show. Due to sickness, Gionata Potenti (drums) couldn’t be with us. I asked some questions to their leader and founding member Acherontas V. Priest with the presence of Indra (guitarist of cult Greek act Naer Mataron) and Hierophant (bass). Due to lack of time (the band had to soundcheck), most part of this interview was done by e-mail. I deeply thank Acherontas V.Priest for his kindness and for the time he granted us.
Hails Acherontas V. Priest!
First of all, let’s talk about your band in general and your new album “Ma-IoN (Formulas of Reptilian Unification)”. It has received outstanding reviews so far and both your albums and live performances have been critically acclaimed by the whole international press. Do you think Acherontas is at the top of its career or you think the best is still to come?
First of all, as you’re asking about the history, the band was created at the end of 1996 under the name of Worship. In 1997, we renamed the band as Stutthof and it lasted for ten years. In 2007, we decided to reform the band to have a more specific spiritual background under the name of Acherontas. This doesn’t mean that with Stutthof we wrote in typical Black Metal lyrics standards. It is easy to check titles, lyrics, texts, interviews to understand that. Until now, we continue to create something different but with the same core of the past under the name of Stutthof. Concerning the term “career”… No, we don’t use such term because the art is not career, is not business. It’s against the mainstream and commercialism so, I don’t care if the Coven is at the top of something but I can say for sure that the evolution is endless. So, we continue to create as many experiences and inspiration as we can to express our inner void through the art of music.
Tonight, you’re going to offer a dark ceremony in London for the first time ever in the UK. How do you feel about playing in the UK? According to you, which country has appreciated the most your ceremonies so far?
It’s the first time we’re here and we’re very glad for this but we’ve still decided to organise something unique. I can say that from all the experiences we’ve had at the ceremonies, we are totally satisfied but we have the opportunity to create a unique show because we are not the band that like to play and tour everywhere and at any time. We choose some specific shows so, England is the first time and we’re happy to have something unique for the first time here.
“Ma-IoN (Formulas of Reptilian Unification)” is your second album released by the German black metal label WTC Productions. Are you satisfied with the work done by them so far?
Yeah, Sven is one of the few guys who are still loyal to the underground spirit of the 90s. He totally supports us and has the perfect view of how black metal must be, of how it must sound and how it must be represented.
Do you think they’re the right record label for Acherontas? Have you ever received offers from bigger labels?
Yeah but I will not reveal which labels. I can say that we had plenty of opportunities throughout our discography in the last ten years to turn the band into a more commercial and mainstream emporium but we turned our backs. We don’t give a fuck to go to such satirical modern things of the black metal. We stand against this. Only the evolution of spirituality is what we’re interested in.
After listening to it a few times, I can say your new album has really impressed me. It makes Acherontas a unique band within the black metal scene. Since your first masterpiece “Tat Tvam Asi (Universal Omniscience)” released in 2007, you have forged your own style. How and where did you draw the inspiration to carve such brilliant compositions?
I will not say big words about the musical ability and such stuff. I would say that the motivation we have to create art is the spiritual background of the band. The experiences that we had in the past and the passion we have for the art of music from the early 90s, this is what we stand for.
I like to stick labels to bands but I have to say it’s very difficult to stick one for Acherontas. How would you define your art? Ambient/Atmospheric Black Metal?
We stand against the labels behind the music and behind such stuff because it’s a trend now in the modern black metal. Everyone has its own company, label and band. So, we stand unique. We are only interested in performing our art for the ones who see what we create. We are not interested to have public relationship or to be the band at the top of their label and such stuff. We just want to create some vibrations for those who can search behind the specificities of our art.
Regarding your line-up, you’re currently surrounded by some very talented musicians such as Scorpios Androctonus, leader of Crimson Moon (cult US melodic black metal horde) and Gionata Potenti, drummer of great Italian black metallers Frostmoon Eclipse. How did you meet them?
Scorpios is a basic member of our band. We are in contact since 2002 if I remember well. I’m a fan of Crimson Moon since the 90s. So, we started to communicate by e-mail and after ten years of contact, I suggested him for the first time to create a track for the “Vamachara” album. He said yes, he’s a fan of the early days of Stutthof. So, for the next album after “Vamachara”, I told him: “OK. Come on, join us!” He said: “With pleasure!” And that’s all. Concerning Gionata, we met him during a mini tour in Belgium and Germany. We talked for the first time there and after two years, we didn’t have a drummer. So, he contacted me for a festival. When I told him that we didn’t have a drummer, he suggested joining us. Of course, having seen him many times playing shows, he’s a very talented musician. So, it was a pleasure for me to welcome him to our Coven.
You have invited TT from cult Austrian horde Abigor for this new album. How did you get in contact with him and what was his contribution to the songs?
We met Tomas for the first time at a show in Austria. We talked about many things but before this, we had a great respect for the art he did with Abigor. So, we have supported each other and I thought he would be the right person to do the production of the album. So, except this, because he wrote a new album with Abigor, I asked him to create the opening rhyme. I gave him a concept and told him that he was free to do this opening rhyme. He said immediately yes and then, he did the production of the album. And we are grateful for that!
After the release of the masterpiece “Tat Tvam Asi (Universal Omniscience)” in 2007, Demogorgon (guitarist and founding member of cult Greek black metal horde Legion of Doom) left the band. What was the reason for his departure? Do you still have some contacts with him?
Demogorgon started to play within Stutthof in 2004 in the “And Cosmos from Ashes to Dust…” album because he‘s a friend of mine since 1999. So, I told him to sing in the song “Dragon the Great One” from the “And Cosmos from Ashes to Dust…” album and I loved his voice since I was a fan of his own project Demogorgon. Then, he joined us and stayed in the band for four years. But after that, he didn’t have so much time to follow us in our activities. So, we were in cooperation with Demogorgon and his band Legion of Doom in general but we continue to be friends with Demogorgon because the cooperation has nothing to do with that.
You also have a side-project called Shibalba in which you play Dark Ambient music. Could you please tell us more about it? Did Shibalba have an influence on your last works?
Shibalba was created for my love for the Ritual Dark Ambient and because I wanted to do something out of metal, to serve people for higher purposes. Now, we have already recorded two split releases: one with Emme Ya and the other with Black Seas Of Infinity. The first one will take place at the Walpurgis Night and the other one at the Summer Solstice. These albums will be released at some specific dates for some personal issues and they will be available in CD, LP and Tape versions.
What are the main concepts behind Acherontas and what are your new lyrics about?
Magick and Spirituality. Our experiences in the sacred Science. Nothing more, nothing less.
In some recent interviews, you have criticised what you call the Occult black metal trend? Could you please give me some band names so I can identify this trend better?
Suddenly, all became illuminated and occultists, pathetic. Look at the trend around you. I will not say more. We just turn our backs to this circus and continue alone as always. We let the trend and hypes to those as sheep to join the decadence.
Regarding trends, what is your opinion about the Viking metal trend that is spreading for more than 15 years now (with so many bands using and praising a culture, folklore and heritage that don’t belong to them)? Don’t you think those bands should use and praise their own local culture, folklore and heritage rather than the Viking one?
Anyone can express himself by the way he wants. I don’t care.
I’m a big fan of your first original logo. Who has designed it and why haven’t you used it for your new and previous albums since your compilation “15 Years Anniversary of Left Hand Path Esoterica”?
We just wanted to use a logo out of black metal standards as our art serves and other genres out of Metal and other activities and interests. We shall continue to use our old logo of course but not everywhere. The logo was created by a guy behind the band Sarvari.
For many years now, Greece and Portugal are suffering a lot due to the economical and financial crisis. Regarding Portugal, I’ve noticed that more and more bands are splitting up since the years 2000s due to the lack of resources and other financial reasons and the number of gigs has dropped strongly in the country. Do you think that the crisis has the same big impact on the Greek metal scene?
The history always makes circles. It was time after 50 years for the economical crisis to return and the greed of Mortals returns in the surface of things. All the things in life are like the Ourovoros. Humans have turned their backs to spirituality and embraced the results of Kali Yuga to serve their lower instincts and worship the matter.
I’m an avid fan of the Hellenic Black metal scene, especially the old-school hordes that have created their own black metal style since the beginning of the 90s. How do you explain that your national scene has been so prolific and so popular in the black metal universe?
This happened at the end of the 80s with the first era of our scene. Great bands that served and continue to serve greatly our scene and many losers that poison the art of Black Metal. I support quality against quantity.
If I’m not wrong, Rotting Christ is currently the only Greek extreme metal band who is living of its own music. Do you consider them as an example? How do you see the future of the Hellenic metal scene in general?
I am not living from my band and have no interest or ambition to do that. Our Coven is not business or career. It is a magical expression. An art.
Now, let’s talk about the beginning of your career as a musician and composer.
You formed the band Worship in 1996 and you released one year later the demo “Through the Dark Age We Are Dreaming” along with Iris who will be later keyboardist of Folkearth (one of the best Pagan/Viking metal bands in my opinion). I love that demo. What’s your opinion about it today?
I am proud of all my partners from 1996 till now that crossed our path. Regarding that scene, it is not my cup of tea.
Then, you renamed your band to Stutthof in 1997. Why did you choose this name suddenly?
No reason behind. I liked it and served better what we wanted to do back in past.
You released your first Stutthof songs through the Split CD album “Into the White Waters of Hellas” with another good Greek black metal act Gauntlet’s Sword. Do you think this release helped you to forge your reputation at that time?
I don’t know. I never used to think what was the best thing to grow and make my band stronger. I just wanted each time what I wanted to do.
The Stutthof logo is one of my favourite band logos ever. Who has designed it?
Our ex-drummer we had from the “And Cosmos from Ashes to Dust…” album.
Then, you released your two first albums “Towards Thy Astral Path…” and “And Cosmos from Ashes to Dust…” in 2002 and 2004 respectively. Those offerings are considered as pure masterpieces of black metal and are cult in the underground scene nowadays. What’s your opinion about them today?
I am proud of all my Children. Stutthof will always be something personal and favourite for me. And I am happy that after so many years, people are waiting to hear tracks from Stutthof in our shows.
How would you define Stutthof’s art? Raw/Atmospheric black metal?
No label behind our music.
You also did some great split releases with Legion of Doom and Finnish black metallers Satanic Warmaster and I discovered your band in 2006 when I was reviewing some albums from the great Dutch label Blazing Productions at that time. I was in contact with Gianluigi. I think they did a very good job for the compilation “Devotion to Black Arts (1997-2005)” they released for you. Do you still have some contacts with them?
I lost contact but I thank them for their great support. Indeed, great split releases.
In 2007, you decided to put an end to Stutthof to my great sadness and to rename your band to Acherontas which has always been your stage name. Why did you put an end to Stutthof? Don’t you think it was a mistake as you achieved cult status under your previous name?
I have no regrets about my decisions. The circle was closed. I wanted a new form. That’s all. The idiots around thought that we wanted to enter the mainstream. Ha,ha,ha! Masses always think like that. How stupid they sound now when they see our band performing tracks from that era…?! I will do the same with Acherontas. When I will feel that the circle is ready to close, I will do so. I will not continue to create without reason behind. I had proposals to rebirth Stutthof offering me a lot of money. But who cares? We are against such things… We are here to serve the art. Not their fucking business.
Nowadays, you’re still playing some classic Stutthof songs such as “Wampyric Metamorphosis” and “The Horned Moon” at the end of your ceremonies. Why do you still play them?
Also we played a great fest in Speyer, Germany for the first time, 6 months ago, performing only Stutthof tracks. One hour of playlist. Almost 1 000 people enjoyed that and waited for it many, many years. It happened once and not again in the future.
After about 19 years of career as a musician and composer and looking at your complete discography, which release are you the most proud of?
A parent as I said above is proud of all his Children… The same happens here.
What are your future projects? I’ve noticed that you have many gigs planned in the next months in Europe…
Specific and single shows. Not tours and party. Shibalba shall be the only project that I will move on and create out of metal tunes and standards. Await some killer new releases by Shibalba. Already some things had been announced.
This interview is now finished. Thank you so much for your time and your great art throughout Stutthof and Acherontas. I wish you, your band and family all the best. Do you have anything special to add?
I thank you Mr. It was a pleasure.
Spirit above matter.
Special thanks to Alexandros Antoniou from Macabre Omen for his great support.