Interview with Acherontas Coven
@ Gibus Live, Paris – Dimensional Nomads tour
By Oliver M.
Two years after the highly-acclaimed masterpiece “Ma-IoN (Formulas of Reptilian Unification)”, Occult Black metal masters Acherontas are back with their 8th album “Amarta” that will come out very soon. Released by the excellent German label W.T.C. Productions, this new opus marks a return to their old roots. I met the Coven on Tuesday 6th of September 2016 at the Gibus in Paris during their Dimensional Nomads European tour. We discussed about their tour and forthcoming album at that time and I also had a quick talk with their Tour Manager Steffan. We decided to publish this interview only now in order to promote their forthcoming release. I would like to thank deeply Acherontas V.Priest, Indra, Hierophant and Steffan for their time and kindness.
Hails Acherontas V.Priest! First of all, how has been going this Dimensional Nomads European tour so far?
V.Priest: Today is the 5th show of the tour and we can say that everything has been under control and professional. We had some killer shows in the previous countries where we performed but we also had some technical issues about the bass at some moments. So, we’re playing without bass during this tour but it’s something that happened for the best. The result of all ceremonies until now is far from the best we got.
Indra: My perspective is that when you’re on tour, you’re always tested about not only your professionalism but also your will, about how much you’re able to perform under any circumstances. Until now, I think we’ve responded to the challenge perfectly.
Hierophant: As it has been said previously, everything has been very good so far. We’ve felt a lot of energy during those shows.
This European tour is the longest you’ve ever done so far. I’m very surprised there is no date in Greece. Why aren’t there any shows planned in your home country?
V.Priest: At the end of this year, we’ll complete our 20th anniversary and we’ve received many proposals for a “20 years” tour. But touring all the time is not our major priority. So, we’ve decided to do it now once with a guy we know for many years. He’s our tour manager. We wanted to accept the challenge, perform something unique and promote our latest works. But the most important is that we felt to do so. In the past, we didn’t feel the necessity or better the need to do something more than mini tours because we think that creation doesn’t go hand in hand with live shows. The most important is the creation, even if that’s an album release or any live shows in general. Our tour doesn’t go through Greece because we didn’t receive any serious proposals from local organizers. Maybe something will take place in Greece with some new releases and plans we’ve got for next year. For now, performing in Greece is not our priority.
After the release of your last album “Ma-IoN (Formulas of Reptilian Unification)” in 2015, you did one collaboration album “Chthonic Libations” with Nåstrond and two Split CDs with Horna and Slidhr. Since your early years, you’ve always done many Splits with other bands. Are you planning to release more Splits in the future?
V.Priest: You know, we are a Coven. These aren’t words to make our existence beautiful. This is something deeper than that. The reason we decided to do some Split releases was to be united with some individuals we think are close to our philosophy and music. It’s more than just doing a release for our biography. Regarding Split releases in the future, no I think this one with Slidhr was the last one, except if something absolutely unique come in my mind and I want to manifest it. Concerning our collaboration with Nåstrond, it was something that came during the passage of time. Karl from Nåstrond contributed to Shibalba last year. There was mutual respect towards each other. That was not exactly a Split release but a union collaboration because we worked like Shibalba. We added our touch to the ambient recordings of Nåstrond and Karl did the same on our stuff. So, we decided to do a special release dedicated to the Orphic Mysteries of Ancient Greece. We wanted to express something unique, out of the metal standards and create a real flame about the magic, traditionalism and Gnosis that took place in forbidden mysteries.
I’ve recently heard that you’re going to release a new album very soon called “Amarta”. Do you know when your label W.T.C. Productions will release it approximately?
V.Priest: Yes but we can’t reveal more about it because our label is responsible for that. What I can say for now is this will be the second part of the trilogy of Ma-IoN. Everything has already been recorded. The layout/artwork is ready and in the hands of our label. The album has already been sent for pressing and made for the 20 years of the Coven. It will be celebrated in a unique way. With this release, we’ve decided to turn back to our roots. It’s totally different from our last albums and the most important thing is there is no ambient part at all and no ritualistic element like the ones we used for Shibalba. This new album is 90s black metal from the first until the last minute, without any other element. We felt the necessity to do so and look back to where we started.
So, is it going to be similar to “Towards Thy Astral Path…” for example? Is it going to sound more like what you did within Stutthof?
V.Priest: I wouldn’t say that. I would say a union between the last releases of Stutthof and Acherontas, about black metal parts as I’ve said before. The production is more primitive and the whole atmosphere is between Stutthof’s “And Cosmos from Ashes to Dust…” and “Vamachara”.
Interesting! Regarding the new album’s lyrics, what will be the themes? You’ve just said it’s the second part of Ma-IoN’s trilogy…
V.Priest: It’s an Atavistic expression of the ancient beliefs and deals with elements that took place in Ancient Sumeria until the modern Western expressions of a new phase, the old cult, culture of the last three centuries. It’s dedicated to Luciferian magic, dreamworkings, Kabbalah and some forbidden Gnosis from the Ancient Sumeria until the first dynasties of Egypt. This is an album based on traditionalism and also an opus dedicated to necromancy, taking influence from solar tradition and lunar magic.
Throughout the years, you’ve written lyrics dealing with ancient beliefs from different civilizations like Ancient Greece, Sumer and Ancient Egypt. Why didn’t you focus on one civilization only?
V.Priest: Because it’s the basic core that someone can trust to explore, investigate and reign supreme through empiricism. Our perspective is to look back to the roots because there are some great grimoires that took place in the last two centuries of course, but the ancient Gnosis is based on those ancient sacred texts. In the Acherontas Coven and Shibalba as well, each of us has its own path but everyone is connected because the secret science has many crossroads. There is a great contradiction in the last centuries that people discriminate their path to left-hand path, right-hand path and such things. For me, there isn’t such distinction in secret science. There is only one goal in secret science: the enlightenment, the metamorphosis through empiricism. That was the main purpose of the ancient science and that must remain now. No contradiction, no destruction of the ancient texts. Just to take the ancient results, put them in form to the present and overcome our ancestors. To become one with them and overcome their commands.
Indra: You know, when we’re seeking wisdom or Gnosis, this has to do with unity. There is one wisdom and one Gnosis. It doesn’t matter if we go back to the Sumerian, Egyptian or Greek texts. Western magic is one tradition. As V.Priest said, there are many paths whose destination is one.
Now, let’s talk about your projects. You have recently done some ceremonies with your Folk/Dark Ambient side-project Shibalba. You also did many releases within this band. Is Acherontas still your priority or do both bands have equal importance to you?
V.Priest: Both are in the same level of priority. Those are two totally different expressions. The one about Acherontas is connected to the material and spiritual worlds. The expression is coming through a more complex way with Shibalba. What I mean is it’s a completely spiritual world with Shibalba. Of course, there is a spiritual world in Acherontas but regarding the level of lyrical expression, the way to use your mind is totally different. Shibalba is a meditative world on stage and out of stage. With Acherontas, from the moment we perform in front of the people, you have more connection to the human morality but it’s completely different with Shibalba. I also would like to mention the great help I’ve received from serious individuals on stage for Shibalba: Indra from Naer Mataron who takes part in Shibalba ceremonies (in addition to Acherontas). Same case for Hierophant. Aldra-Al-Melekh and Karl from Nåstrond are the two other members of Shibalba but in this esoteric manifestation of our works, we felt the need to embrace more individuals like the ones I’ve mentioned before.
You’ve recently created your own label Zazen Sounds dedicated to music similar to Shibalba and also to Dark Ambient, Drone, Martial/Industrial music. All your releases are already sold out. Are you planning to make your label bigger if possible or do you prefer to keep offering your releases (in very limited quantities) to a specific elite?
V.Priest: First of all, the reason why I created Zazen Sounds was my love and passion for those genres of art. It has been over 16 years I dwell in this secret current of music and I see it as dark expression and spiritual ways of manifestation in such terms. Concerning the label itself, I wanted to express to masses that the art of music is not only music but it’s a philosophy united to music. It’s a higher expression of art and this is why I keep it in low profile even if all releases are sold out as you’ve said. I have some great people who support me as distributors worldwide but I will continue to release very underground artists and with common perspectives about how they approach the art of music and to keep it in low quantity. All our releases are limited from 300 to 350 copies. We also created some special handmade tapes with some ritual stuff that is very useful for the individual, in order to unlock his subconscious and dwell more into the art of the artist. Now, we have five new releases that will come until the end of the year but I can’t reveal more as the artists want to reveal those releases on the day they’ll be available.
Do you think the current economical, social and financial crisis in Greece is going to have a negative impact on the Hellenic metal scene in general?
V.Priest: First of all, let’s clarify that everything that happens in Greece will have a reflection of what shall take place in Europe… To answer your question, I don’t think so but it depends of the corner in which the individual seeks his art.
What’s your opinion about the current Hellenic black metal scene?
V.Priest: Concerning the Greek scene, there are many great bands. Of course, there is a huge quantity of bands but the quality remains in low level. I’m saying that because most people tend to make clones of other bands and not create something new. This is why the trend of Occult Black metal has been growing during the last 8 years. However, there are some serious individuals behind some bands like Naer Mataron and Blood Moon for instance who deserve the attention of people. I believe that time will bring new elements into black metal and the whole decadence and clones will pass. The last album of Devathorn was also great and released by World Terror Committee. As far as I know, they’re preparing a new release that will come out soon: a Split with Inferno. From what I’ve heard so far, it’s going to be a great manifestation.
Indra: From my side, I’ve never felt part of a scene. We have some great bands in Greece, some great individuals behind bands but there’s no scene in the sense of working all together. So, I think it’s a huge arena and if you have quality, you will stand out from the rest. But speaking for both myself and the Acherontas Coven as well, I would say that you go on a long way and you go walking on your own. Whatever you do, whatever you control. It’s something you owe to yourself and not to the support of a so-called scene.
I’ve noticed you changed the logo of Acherontas a few times in the last years. Why did you make those changes? Are you going to use your original logo for your new album?
V.Priest: Not any specific reason.
In July 2017, you will offer two ceremonies for Acherontas and Shibalba at Ragnard Rock Fest in France. Are you going to perform during the night? Otherwise, do you think that performing under daylight would ruin your shows?
V.Priest: That has never happened till now except once in Netherlands due of logistics problems in flights. But if it’s going to happen, then we shall do it… Even if performing in such way is not the best for us for obvious reasons.
Hi Steffan! You’re the Tour Manager of the Dimensional Nomads European tour. What have you enjoyed throughout this tour so far?
Steffan: I’ve been doing tours for 15 years. Regarding this tour, it’s very impressive to see those four bands touring for the first time ever and working like a well-oiled machine. Everyone is really respectful to each other. No egos, no dramas, nothing bad. We’re now on half way of the tour. I’m actually very proud to be the Tour Manager of the Dimensional Nomads 2016 Tour because every band delivers a hell of a show every night and now, I would say the numbers speak for us in every respect.
To conclude this interview, do you have anything special to add?
V.Priest: Thanks a lot for the interview and your support through the years!