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Embrace Of Thorns – “Each of us is striving against his or her personal Entropy”

embrace of thorns – “each of us is striving against his or her personal entropy”


One of the longest running Greek Black/Death Metal bands is definitely Embrace Of Thorns, not only have they been there for a quarter of a century now, they are also one of the best bands from Greece – and, quite underrated too. Their latest album, ‘Entropy Dynamics’ is again finger licking good, offering a wide range of dynamic, creative and above all, well-crafted dark art. All the more reason to have a chat with Embrace Of Thorns vocalist of the first hour Kostas “Archfiend DevilPig” Koudousnes and discuss the ups and downs of the band and that excellent new album.


Hi Kostas, thanks for taking the time to answer these questions and welcome back to VM-Underground. What is new on the front of Embrace Of Thorns?
Thanks for having me again Felix! There is a couple of shows abroad confirmed for the upcoming months plus more in the works. This line-up sounds great on stage and we plan to play out as much as we can. Other than that, a big chunk of the back catalogue was re-issued, which makes for a nice opportunity for those who don’t have the previous albums to go and buy them in physical format (https://embracethorns.bandcamp.com/).

Entropy Dynamics’ has been out for a couple of months now, to be honest I have not read any other reviews about the album, but I can’t imagine the album having disappointed anyone who has been following the band for some time. How do you look back at this process of writing, recording and releasing the album?
We really have fond memories of the resilient and uncompromising spirit surrounding the band during the time of creation of ‘Entropy…’. We worked in unison, rehearsed our asses off, had a clear vision and created an album worthy of our efforts and fuckin’ devotion. We thought we would tour with Revenge, Misþyrming and Ultra Silvam with ‘Entropy Dynamics’ as our calling card, but as you may know Covid-19 had other plans. Still we are immensely proud of what we did and what we are still doing,

Reviews have mostly been positive with some of them being of extremely high praise. But yeah it seems that after six full lengths we are sort of preaching to the converted.  There is a constant flood of new bands, new releases etc and it makes a lot of sense that people won’t drool over our new one. After all it’s rather boring to be so consistent and delivering good albums the whole damn time, isn’t it? Sarcasm aside, those who know the band and get to hear it, or some new people even go to great lengths by saying that the new one is our pinnacle and whatnot, but for some people we will never surpass ‘Atonement Ritual’ and ‘Praying for Absolution’, the good thing is that those old albums are available again, so people please buy our products… Oh pardon my sarcasm again…

Let’s go a little deeper into the album, like many of your most recent albums ‘Entropy Dynamics’ seem to have a deeper meaning. Can you take us with you on your thoughts about the conceptual ideas of the album?
The thematic nucleus of the latest album is the inherent tendency of the human species for all things destructive, the hopelessness as a calm and collected realization and not as an unfortunate development. That is what entropy is about, the repeated cycle of destruction and rebirth/regeneration. It is bound to happen and it is a liberating realization. Nothing has really changed when it comes to the evolution of the human species in the last couple hundred years. Humans are still pretty much a mob, a herd.

On a more personal note, I was talking to an acquaintance of mine in the gym the other day and he told me something that sparked that sort of reference, his quote was that “each of us is striving against his or her personal Entropy”. Realizing that one for better or for worse is bound to perish sooner or later and that our mortal coil, a once almost invincible device, turns to a prison, a mere shell of what we once were. Antonin Artaud also mentioned something similar and abhorred the bodily confines “And truly must it be reduced to this stinking gas, my body? To say that I have a body because I have a stinking gas that forms inside me? (“To have done with the judgement of God, 1947”).

In the last three reviews I have written on recent Embrace Of Thorns material I have deliberated aloud about the musical evolution of the band. In my eyes (ears) Embrace Of Thorns have underwent a distinct musical transition, although without losing much of the band’s roots. How do you look to such statements? And can you tell us about your musical development?
I am probably the last to notice something like this, since it’s a rather organic development. As you said our roots remain intact. I can surely attest to our personal evolution, to the fact that we have grown as persons and give literally zero fucks, when it comes to how our music is going to register with the crowd. There is nothing to be lost man! We are doing what we are doing predominantly for ourselves and we know what we DON’T WANT to do, which is to dilute the concept of the band. Our “scene” is what we hold sacred in our hearts and still cherish, but how much of that scene I’m talking about actually remains?

In addition to the question above, how have things developed for you, as a person, on a musical level. If we compare your vocals throughout the full Embrace Of Thorns discography, that too clearly have underwent a distinct transformation. Judging from your posts on social media you do have a wide musical taste. Can you explain your personal musical growth?
I just love music man! Yes I listen to whatever the fuck I want, provided that it is good music of some artistic value, simple or technical it doesn’t matter. The common denominator is that I mostly love dark stuff. I am adamant in my belief that music has for the most part made me what I am today, has sort of saved my life  and it’s almost a biological need for me to listen to music.

As far as an instrumentalist and vocalist, I also believe that one gets better with age, I think that I/we have a better understanding of music as a whole and we can achieve better results with less effort ,compared to when we were younger. This also has to do with muscle memory and overall experience. However one has to avoid repetition, mind patterns and comfort zones as much as possible. Other than that voice changes with age, there is no denying of that.

While the previous albums are not free from a certain ambiance as well, it seems that the new album is a bit more atmospheric. Personally I like the short breathing spaces that can be found throughout the album, those almost ritualistic ambient parts give the album a completely different atmosphere. How is this being a part of nowadays Embrace Of Thorns?
These non-metal, ritual/ambient parts have always been a part of what we do. Nowadays we are more fond of a musical collage  consisting of spoken parts, either by us or sampled from other sources, noises and actual composed music, mostly composed by Herald of Demonic Pestilence. Yes I believe that they sort of tie the material together and definitely have to do with the concept of each album.

As far as I know you have been with Embrace Of Thorns from the very start, which goes back to 1998. If you’d go for a helicopter view and look back at that quarter of a century of being in this band, how would you describe that almost life-spanning journey?
It’s the largest chunk of my life. I started the band when I was 16-17 years old. Well… we did what we knew, we sometimes should have known better, but our heart was always in a good place. There never were any preconceived notions. We loved and still love what we do, our Black Metal of Death means the world to us…

So at least there are no regrets when it comes to the music we recorded and put out. Other than that, the message was always heartfelt and sincere and we can still stand behind each and every lyric this band has ever put out. All in all, we are content and proud of what we have achieved so far…

You once told me that you were getting tired of Embrace Of Thorns being put in the ‘Bestial Black Metal’ category. Apart from the fact that the music is obviously of a different kind, what is it that bothers you about this mis-categorization?
I’ve got no issues with Bestial black metal as a label, other than it is misleading in our case. I do love tons of bestial bands, but we’ve been around long before the term was actually coined, which was 2008-09 if I am correct. Let’s be honest it’s a microgenre that is mostly characterized by stylistic tropes. Musically it’s a grindcore and brutal black metal crossover, but even back when Praying was released we had way more in our bag of tricks than what is implied by the term bestial. If we said we are still a bestial band it would be misleading, wouldn’t it?

‘Entropy Dynamics’ has been released through Nuclear Winter Records, the label is not only an  obvious quality label, it is also a long-term companion of the band. But, if we take a look at your back catalogue, your albums have been released by labels like Iron Bonehead, Dark Descent Records and Nuclear War Now! Productions. What made you go back to Anastasis’ label?
Well, we chose to work with AV (Anastasis Valtsanis), because he is a brother, whom we’ve known for 15 years and a true fan of  what we do. We still have good relations and ties with our former labels, when it comes to Patrick his schedule was really packed because of Covid  and we were willing to record Entropy in order to have it ready for the ill-fated tour with Revenge, unfortunately it didn’t pan out as we, Revenge and probably Iron Bonehead would have  wanted it to work out. We actually did release an EP through Iron Bonehead (read the review here) and that was the last thing we did with them. Even the fact that we were booked for Never Surrender fest that was rescheduled twice until it was actually canceled, speaks volumes about the scene situation during the pandemic.

Now that we are talking labels… Since you released an album through almost every “bigger” underground label (possibly only excluding Hells Headbangers) as well as a whole series of smaller labels, what is your overall feeling and experience with dealing with all those labels over the past two decades and a bit?
The differences aren’t really anything to write home about. We mostly choose labels because of the people who run them. We’ve never really felt screwed or whatnot. The labels mostly do what they are supposed to. Considering the fact that their promotional tactics do not really differ from one another. We appreciate good communication and transparency when we can actually have those. That’s the most important aspect for us these days.

About your own label, Kill Yourself Productions, you have decided to close that down a couple of years ago. What was the reason you wanted to leave that chapter behind? And can you share us some thoughts, views and anecdotes from that area?
I felt creatively drained, labelwise. It was painfully slow to move stock plus my work schedule that significantly reduced my available time ,all the aforementioned played their role in my decision to put an end to the label. I was in for the thrill of putting out new music by bands I believed in and for running a distro, which was preaching the gospel of underground metal. So I did it inspired by great indie labels of the past and I did it until I couldn’t do it any longer. I am proud of what  I released and have mostly fond memories of the bands I worked with, labels I traded records with, tons of them actually. At one point I carried releases by the majority of the great indie labels.

I miss getting records via mail and spreading the word, but as you know I am still a buyer of physical format and I am not planning to stop anytime soon.

What is it that we can expect from Embrace Of Thorns in the near future? And is there any news on your other bands Serpent Noir and Necrovorous?
Serpent Noir will tour with Gevurah in May 2023, that’s of course good news. Bad news is that I am not able to do the tour because of work, fuck that! Still I wish them to do great and I am sure they’ll do great. There are absolutely no news regarding Necrovorous, which sucks, but it is what it is.

Embrace of Thorns will play out live as much as possible and will probably start working on new material sooner or later, there will most probably be a seventh full length. After that point I don’t really know what future has in store for us.

I want to thank you again for answering my questions, if I have forgotten anything or if you have anything to add, take the opportunity, the last words are yours.
Those were some great questions Felix! I don’t I have anything else to add.