It took the band seven goddamn years to come back with a new album, and now its out I can’t conclude anything else than that it is an album to be proud of. An album, that is rather different than its predecessors yet very recognizable – which is to me a good thing for a comeback record. Of course I’m talking about the Greek masters of mysterious music, Varathron. It was definitely time to get updated on all that has happend to the band over the past years, I mean, what took the band so long? And what about the new members? And not very unimportant, what about the future? It definitely is time to get Varathron on the European stages again, and we don’t like waiting another decade for a new album… Are we? The answers on these questions and a lot more can be read in this interview, frontman Stefan Necroabyssious took the chance to clear things up. Enjoy…
Hey Stefan, what’s up! Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions.
Hail my brother! Well, all the things are rolling good for Varathron now! So, let’s talk about that for a while?
Man, seven years between the new album and the last new recordings. There must be a lot to tell. What happened in between?
What happened? A lot of things! So, after a “The Lament Of Gods” album, our synth-man needed to full-fill his army service. In the same time our guitarist left the band for personal reasons. Our drummer decided to go to another band that played a different style of music. So, I practically was left alone. But as I had this strong passion I didn’t like giving up, and I never did. I decided to continue my band here in my city, Ioannina, I found a new young guitarist who was a great fan of Varathron and a drummer who really is “hungry'” for the music! Then, Bill, our synth-man he returnedm, and rejoined the band after two years in the army. So, we signed a deal with our friends of Black Lotus Records. The result… a good album, “Crowsreign” is out now?
A few releases were done in the mean time, re-releases on Pagan Records, an LP on Ordealis Records and a live tape. Are all of these official and what’s on there for the real fans? These releases were – again – somewhat snowed under or did not get any promotion at all.
All the releases in the mean time worked as a great promotion for us. I’d like to say: BIG thanx to the labels who supported us over the years! An oversight: Pagan Records, who re-released our first cult album “His Majesty At The Swamp” with a different cover and lay-out. Ordealis Records, who released our two demos and some live tracks for first time on vinyl. Time Before Time Records released a live tape Varathron with our first live show in 1990. Mutilation Records released our two albums and our mini album on a great double-CD with a perfect lay-out. Cursed records released our “Genesis Of Apocryphal Desire” CD, with our two demos and three unreleased songs from the past. All the releases are limited and so totally great work! I salute ’em all! Thanx brothers?
I think it is highly exceptional that a band who never released anything new for about seven years would still be that popular and would still be able to fall back on their loyal fan base. There is no need to discuss whether Varathron has got a cult status or not, that’s obvious. How do you look on this cult status and how do you explain the loyalty of the fans?
First of all, we deeply respect our fans. We want to create albums who I like first and then I give it to our friends. Our music is original and has a strange personality that will live through the years. Varathron is a true band. Without fake ideas, or only for an “image” and money for whatever label. We never looked at the sales-figures. We focus on making great records instead. We like it when people all over the globe are listening to our music. So, I think the respect comes from both us and our brothers around the world. Hail!
Weren’t you afraid that people had moved on and forgot Varathron and this whole Hellenic scene?
Well, if we’ll continue to release good albums, I think we never have to be afraid of anything. Besides, we have a loyal fanbase who aren’t just puppets of the mainstream and fashion-labels.
And now the album has been recorded and released, how do you look back on the whole thing? And how were the reactions on the album?
Now our new album is released I forget all the bad moments of a past. The reactions are totally fantastic, I receive everyday so great words, about “Crowsreign”. It’s our time?
What I thought was pretty remarkable on the new album was that the sound was pretty much the same as on the older records, but you have two new members involved, what do you think is the reason for this?
The sound is better because the production of the Praxis Studios, which is brilliant! Of course the new members have put their “mark” on it, but not too much. You will hear the fresh inspiration of our new members on our next album, for sure!
Though the main sound has stayed pretty much the same there are some difference to notice as well. The songs are less heavy than its predecessors, melody/keyboards and acoustic breaks are appearing more often than before.
The new album contains songs from 1998-2000. Most of the songs are written by our old guitarist and Bill (synthesizers). So, we have some instrumental songs, we have some melodic part and more keys than our past releases. When we signed with Black Lotus Records, we start “refreshing” our old songs and we put all the old material on one album. Of course, we put some new riffs in and we threw some away, but the basic ideas were from the past. We already have some new songs and I think they are more like our older stuff.
These two new guys are both very young, how did you meet up with them and how did you get to the point of working together with them on this new Varathron album?
As I told you, they were great fans of Varathron and it was so easy for me to take them in the band. It was an incredible dream for them to come true. Besides, they are good musicians and have good ideas, they certainly provides us with some fresh “blood”.
Can you explain the concept of this album a little?
First the title? The reign of the crow, the reign of darkness, the reign of Satan! On most of the ancient religions, the “face” of the crow, the symbol of the crow is an identity of Satan. The time of his dominion is coming. About the songs, they handle about a lot of things: the first song called “There Is No God” is a story about a human-soul who looking for salvation on a world without god. Maybe a story about the old anarchy-philosophers whose first rule was the non-existence of the god! The song “The Grim Palace” handles about a mysterious palace in which dungeons there were unspeakable sacrifices. The song “A Vision Of A Nameless Soul” is a trip for the soul beyond the grave, beyond the dominion of sleep. The song “The Sign Of Eternal Curse” is a myth from the east that’s about a secret dragon who supplies immortality. The song “Darkness Falling” is all about the emotions one feels when the night comes. The song “The Creation Of Satan” tells about a demon who comes to earth and rape any innocent soul. The song “The King Of Asine” is a really great epic song, actually a poem of a great Greek poet George Seferis who wrote it back in 1938. That’s about a king returns from a war to troy. The song “Angel Of Revenge” is about the dark master, the fallen angel who is coming. The other songs are instrumentals.
The artwork that came with the album looks really awesome and is also very typical. What made you choose for Seth and how did you came in contact with him?
Well, the artwork of album made by Seth. He’s a great professional and in fact he create all the covers of Black Lotus Records. I saw the cover after the release because the pressure of time from the label to catch the release date. So, I wasn’t able to change anything of it, it was the final result.
This typical Greek/Hellenic sound seems to be very important to you, since Varathron are one of the very few bands left playing that style. What do you think that caused this typical sound, and why specifically in Greece?
I can’t explain the original “source” from this typical Hellenic sound. I just can imagine some possibilities, like our ancient Greek culture, our Mediterranean spirit and feelings, our nature, everything that surround us. Of course, we have a great musical history and education through the years.
If I understood it well there is a new album coming up too, when will this one be released (we don’t need to wait another seven years, right?) and again through Black Lotus Records? And in what aspect will this album differ from “Crowsreign”?
No, you don’t need to wait many years for our next album again. As I told you we had some troubles the last few years. Now all the things are settles and solved and I think we will be reborn for a new great period of Varathron. But, indeed, the new songs are ready and will, of course, be coming out on Black Lotus Records. The differences?. The new songs are more aggressive and doomy, none of them will be instrumental. The keys will be less melodic and the overall sound will be in total Varathron-style. Watch out for it!
There is also a 7″ coming on a small label called Bang Or Be Banged. Can you tell us some details on this EP?
Sorry, but I don’t know about it! I talked with a lot of small labels in the past like Nightsky Art Productions, Warlord Records and others who told me about a 7″ release, but I never saw anything new.
And can we finally expect Varathron to come around in the other European countries to play their thing too?
Yes, now for first time – after so many years – Varathron will be ready for the road. We’ll playing some shows around Europe and beyond. I hope to meet you there!
Just to kill my curiosity, what have you been listening to lately?
Hmm, I listen a lot of things, both new and old! This time, I’m “haunting” some private releases of obscure heavy metal bands of the early days of 80’s. Bands like Medieval Steel, Dark Knight, Crystal Knight, Tantrum, Blacklist, Iron Cross, Armed Forces, Commandment and lots more. Besides, I have a metal radio show, called “Twilight Zone”-on the biggest radio station in western-Greece and I broadcast a lot of new stuff from big labels and small-underground labels as well.
Ok, this was all for now, thanks for answering the questions. If you have anything to add or to tell, traditionally the last words are yours!
From my side, thanx for the great support! I salute all the black metalers there, embrace our occult psalms and keep the black flame alive!