The Eikons of the Underworld Gig Review + Necros Christos Interview
Before the massive Sepulchral Doom Over Europe tour, Necros Christos have decided to do a few warm-up shows with their new line-up. This will be the third show of the band for 2013, after Hell’s Pleasure Metalfest in Germany and the Beyond The Gates festival in Norway. With them, also set to appear were brand new Greek black metal act Akrotheism, veteran black/death band Embrace of Thorns and historic Italian black metallers Necromass.
At about 8.40, dark figures appear at the stage of Kyttaro. The guitarist and bassist wearing corpsepaint and hoodies are getting ready and after their intriguing intro the band starts unleashing their black metal fury. With their tracks, generally fucking fast and brutal, Akrotheism are found closer to the black metal sound of the early 90s, but with a few interesting twists, such as the use of a theromin in one of their tracks, which offers some additional variety. The general impression that the band left me was that they are really serious about what they are doing. Their appearance on stage was sending quite a mystical vibe, something that was further enhanced by their intros and interludes, while the singer was screaming at the top of his lungs. Combined with the release of a split with famous Greek black metal outfit, Order of the Ebon Hand, and their upcoming debut full-length, it seems like things are looking very good for them.
Embrace of Thorns is one of the most important black/death bands to come out of Greece. The band was founded back in 1999 and has released four demos, four splits (with Nocturnal Vomit, Goatchrist, Bethor, Chaosbaphomet, Wargoat, Kawir, Nergal and Soulskinner) and three full lengths. They come up on stage and give us about forty five minutes of brutal old school black/death. The influences from bands such as Blasphemy and Black Witchery are there and the sound can be consider to be quite close to acts such as Teitanblood, while the band does not only rely on their fast, aggressive parts to impress you. Instead they also unleash moments of devastating groove that can cause that extra impact. Their performance was great, with the band giving it their all and making sure that true carnage would accompany their songs. The band’s last full-length was Praying for Absolution and I do recommend that you have a listen to it if you are fans of the genre.
Necromass is what you can call a historic band. They were formed back in 1992 (been active since 1989 using different names) but have released just three EPs and three full-length albums up to date. They seemed to have an almost sinister joyous (yes, it looks like that is possible) mood. Their energy on stage was great and their clean guitar bits would feel the space of the venue causing deranged thoughts to pass through the minds of the audience. Playing tracks from their debut album, Mysteria Mystica Zofiriana, such as “Sodomatic Orgy of Hate” and the title track, while the highlight of their performance for me would have to be “Unpure” out of their sophomore record Abyss Calls Life. Giving us a healthy dose of material from their newest album, Calix.Utero.Babalon, with tracks such as “Chapel of Abominations”, “Scarlet Void of Lust” and “Dawn of Silver Star”, it seems like they still got what it takes. Just a bit less than an hour and the Italians make way for tonight’s headliners.
Necros Christos really need no introduction. The band from Germany has been terrorizing the extreme metal scene since their conception back in 2001. Five demos, four splits, one EP and a couple of full lengths and Necros Christos lands in Athens for the second time in their career (first one was back in 2008, with Dead Congregation). The intro is playing through the speakers while Mors Dalos Ra, Evil Reverend N. and co. are appearing on stage ready to exterminate us with their dark and damned death/black metal. And it all begins with “Tormented Flesh on the Mount of Crucifixion”, kicking things off with a fucking loud bang as the band reveals its cruel intentions. The setlist is based mainly on their two full-length, “Baal of Ekron” sees the band unleashing all of their fury and the trilogy “Doom of Kail Ma- Pyramid of Shakti Love – Flame of Master Shiva” offering unique moments of soul crushing material. The sound is absolutely massive with Necros Christos distinct guitar sound, which in this instance is felt as if you were being hit by a crowbar on the stomach. The two new members, Peter Habura and Ivan Hernandez (bass and drums respectively) are adjusting perfectly with the band’s vibe and vitally help in the ongoing onslaught.
The trip back to the days of Triune Impurity Rites is absolutely perfect with “Va Koram Do Rex Satan” and “Black Mass Desecration” evoking thoughts of blasphemy and doom, while it looks like the walls of the venue will soon start cracking from the unbelievable weight of the guitars and bass. Necros Christos decide to take us even further back, giving us a demented execution of “Baptized By The Black Urine of The Deceased”. The set is concluded after an hour with a mind-blowing performance of “Necromantique Nun”. The fourteen of September 2013 stands as proof that Necros Christos is a band that can transcend the live experience. Their energy on stage and their overall performance were just unreal. So if you are lucky enough and you live in one of the countries they are soon to visit with Grave Miasma (I mean…how more can you ask for) in the Sepulchral Doom Over Europe Tour you should definitely think of it a must-see experience.
Now I just want to listen to their records again…
NECROS CHRISTOS INTERVIEW
After the devastating show concluded, and after I had finished picking up the pieces of my destroyed existence, I had the chance to interview Mors Dalos Ra and Evil Reverend N. about what they have been up to.
Introduction and Athenian Rite Show
It has been about two and a half years since Doom of The Occult, which marks the last time we heard new material from German death/black metal powerhouse Necros Christos. According to Mors Dalos Ra, the band had to take some time in order to integrate their new members, Ivan Hernandez (drums) from Basque Country and Peter Habura from Poland, both of which now live in Germany. From what I saw during their live performance it seems like the two new members have fit in perfectly in the band’s line-up, giving a fantastic performance on stage.
“The sound was amazing” comments Necros Christos vocalist, and the venue was really well packed but as Evil Reverend N. compares the show with their previous gig in Athens back in 2008: “It was definitely different from the last time”. Everyone was coming to the band telling them what a great show it was and Mors Dalos Ra asks: “Well great but why did you not move much then?” Both of them say that they had a really good time on stage and they enjoyed playing the gig very much. They played fucking phenomenal, if you ask me, giving a really tight performance, with almost no mistakes whatsoever.
When I mentioned Dead Congregation (who supported Necros Christos back in 2008 in Athens) both Mors Dalos Ra and Evil Reverend N. seem very enthusiastic and say that they still keep up with what they are doing: “We are really close friends, they are a great band, Anastasis (singer and guitarist of Dead Congregation) was here this evening”.
But the truly big question is still here, what about some new material and a follow up album to Doom of The Occult? And indeed, Mors Dalos Ra and Evil Reverend N. confirm that they are working on the follow-up full-length. Quality demands time and Necros Christos say they simply need their time to come up with the material, “The next album is going to be the last album from us”, but fear not the band still have some plans ahead, they are not just going to vanish. Mors Dalos Ras further elaborates: “We have some plans, although it may be to early to reveal”, according to them there is the possibility of an EP prior to the final album, which will contain about four songs, one of which will be brand new, a couple will be re-recorded material such as “Va Koram Do Rex Satan” and “Baptized by the Black Urine of the Deceased”, as well as a cover song, which they will not reveal as of yet. Although if it is anything like their cover of Beherit’s “Witchcraft” then we are in for a treat.
The band is still in the songwriting process, and according to Mors Dalos Ra they have two songs that they can play live, one of which Necros Christos will include in their setlist in the upcoming European tour with Grave Miasma.
Going more into the details of the album Evil Reverend N. clarifies about the nature of the Temple and Gate songs: “The Temples and Gates will be extended, and now each song will have a Temple and a Gate to itself. Now the Temples and Gates will be longer than the thirty or forty seconds versions found in the previous albums”. Of course the fixation of Necros Christos with the number nine will still be present. Mors Dalos Ra states that there are going to have 9 Temples, 9 Songs and 9 Gates, brining the total number of tracks to 27, which brings further excitement to the members, as Mors Dalos Ra clarifies: “Because 2+7=9”. The duration of the album is going to be much longer than it was in Triune Impurity Rites or Doom of The Occult, with the members acknowledging the possibility that it could even be a double album.
Necros Christos have got a few complaints about the inclusion of the Temple and Gates tracks but to Mors Dalos Ra that is not an issue: “I do not care, I could not care less”. The acoustic interludes are a very important aspect of the band’s sound and they do take a lot of time and effort in order for them to be recorded properly. With the new album both members believe that they will still get the same complaints from a portion of the audience: “Some people will always complain about the acoustic material or they complain about the metal songs.” But according to the band, they can choose what to listen to and skip the tracks they do not like with the new album: “They will get a huge amount of music”, while Evil Reverend N. defends his band mate: “With the next and final album, if there are still people who complain about the acoustic parts, I mean by that point they should know how it works”. Obviously both Mors Dalos Ra and Evil Reverend N. do acknowledge the fact that there are fans that always appreciate the whole album.
Even in the face of negative reviews, the guys in Necros Christos keep their cool: “People would think that we would be angry with the criticism, but I just laugh and have a smile on my face when I read those, it is priceless and it is advertising in itself”. Some of the biggest bands in extreme metal history (Celtic Frost being the one that instantly comes to mind) have been the subject of controversy and even negativity, so in a sense it might even be a good thing that people’s opinions are divided about Necros Christos.
Of course as was the case with the last two albums, the band will include a trilogy in the new one as well. Anyone who has listened to “Doom of Kali Ma- Pyramid of Shakti Love –Flame of Master Shiva” from Doom of The Occult and the “Darkness-Damnation-Death” trilogy from the band’s debut record knows the importance of these tracks. And that is when things get even more exciting with Mors Dalos Ra revealing that the upcoming trilogy will be the last song of the new album and that they are looking to create “a very huge trilogy this time”. What both members come are absolute about is that since this is going to be the last album it has to be perfect, “The new record is going to be the last one, so it really has to be the ultimate one”
Recording The New Album
Evil Reverend N. has been in charge of the production stages of both full-lengths that the band released but when it comes to the new album it looks like the guys are uncertain about him sitting behind the desk this time. Mors Dalos Ra clarifies by saying that: “I love the productions Evil Reverend N. is doing, but I would like to record on a place where he can concentrate on his part of the music, so we are not sure about it”. Still there is the possibility that Necros Christos will be renting a studio in Berlin, with Evil Reverend N. taking charge of the production of the album and just paying for the studio, as Evil Reverend N. predicts “We will definitely have a bigger budget than we did for Doom of The Occult” while Mors Dalos Ra seems a bit more skeptic: “Well, we hope so”.
For those of you that do not know, Evil Reverend N. has his own recording studio, called Sound From Below, where both the Necros Christos full-lengths were recorded. It is not really commercial even though Mors Dalos Ra says that it could be. The studio had to be moved into another building where other bands are rehearsing. “When we were finishing Doom of the Occult in the new studio we had to watch for times when other bands were playing”. The recording industry is definitely not doing so well at this time, as Evil Reverend N. further explains: “I have another day job, from which I am making more than I if I went full-time in the recording business. And the recording business is really tough”. There is simply not much free time and it is too big a risk to go into recording as a full time profession.
Of course gearlust is always a problem: “All my equipment is paid for” but it is necessary to keep getting new equipment when you are running a professional studio. But still Evil Reverend N. does some recording for other bands: “From time to time I still do recording for others, I did drum recording for a Russell Allen (of Symphony X) project with Mat Sinner (of Primal Fear).” Evil Reverend N. got the recording because of the drummer of his other band Duskmachine, Randy Black, who is also the drummer for Primal Fear. He also recorded drums for Katharsis (German black metal band) for some yet unreleased material, and he also recorded the drums for the other band of the new drummer of Necros Christos, Ivan Hernandez, called Cloackwork (thrash metal band) from Basque Country.
The studio does not have a mixing desk; and the preamps for recording in the studio include TL Audio, SPL, Audient and more, “All the equipment I have, I bought over the years when I first started doing recording back in 1996”. Other equipment includes RME and his main DAW is Samplitude, which he has been always using since he first started out. “It has great features and it is one of the most stable DAWs you will come across”. Compared to other DAWs he mentions: “I hate Logic, especially how it used to be back then, I do not know how it is right now” and Pro Tools have quite a few issues with compatibility through its different versions. Now the only thing missing from the studio is a vintage channel strip, and Evil Reverend N. has his eye set on a Neve.
The most important aspect of recording according to Evil Reverend N. is to know how to use your own equipment: “I am pretty good with what I have, they are decent stuff, and of course it also depends on how you use it”. Mors Dalos Ra comments on his Evil Reverend N. abilities as a producer in a complimentary way: “He is a fucking perfectionist, I am a musician and I want to play and he (Evil Reverend N.) is like: “Wait, listen to this take”, and I do not want to listen, I want to play”. Evil Reverend N. further discuses how some people will try and convince you what the best equipment for the recording process might be: “Everyone has to find what he can work best with, I stopped a long time ago trying to convince people what they should use”, while his next comment is epic: “I hate MIDI, I like audio”. Well, that alone deserves to be applauded.
With the band getting bigger and bigger, it was uncertain if they would continue working with Sepulchral Voice but Mors Dalos Ra is extremely positive about their collaboration: “Of course we could have signed to a bigger label, but why? We have such a good relationship with Tomas and Sepulchral Voice, he is one of the most honest guys in the business, and that is really rare”. For Necros Christos it comes down to friendship and dedication, “We begun with Sepulchral Voice with the first record and we will end with Sepulchral Voice”. They are still open to the possibility of releasing the new album in a similar manner as they did with Doom of The Occult, if Sven from Van Records is still interested: “He runs an awesome label and he has helped us a lot”.
Both labels (Van and Sepulchral) have earned the respect of the band to the point where the band members do not see any sense in signing a deal with anyone else: “It is such a good relationship, one you will never find with a big label”.
Sepulchral Doom Over Europe
The band will be touring with Grave Miasma across Europe, starting off in the end of September. The countries that the band is going to visit, at least so far are: Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Italy, Switzerland, Hungary, Poland and Germany, with the band finishing their tour in their hometown, Berlin.
Until now some support acts have been announced for the upcoming tour: Irkallian Oracle (Stockholm), Reverie (Denmark), Bunkur (Amsterdam), Surtr (Saarbrücken, Germany), Aluk Todolo (Paris), Emptiness (Belgium), they will play with Grave, Antropomorphia and Zombie Inc. (Rotterdam), Deathcult (Switzerland), Morbid Carnage and Purulent Rites (Hungary), Bestial Raids (Poland), Drowned and Essenz (Germany). The band are excited to be playing with all the bands mentioned above but especially with the idea of watching Bunkur, Manuel Tinnemans’s (who also designed the latest logo of Necros Christos) band, with Mors Dalos Ra humorously says: “One of the bands that I am really looking forward to…I cannot stand their records, it is so fucked up (obviously meant in a good way), it is so depressive shit, but that is the purpose they want to reach”.
Also, this is not the first time that Necros Christos are collaborating with Grave Miasma, Their history goes back to 2005, with the split release “Black Mass Desecration/ Ancient Barbaric Assault” with Goat Molestor, who would soon change their name to Grave Miasma. “We knew each other for such a long time now and I totally respect the guys and for me (Grave Miasma) is one of the best current death metal bands in the scene right now.” For the guys in Necros Christos it was a no brainer about which band they wanted to do such a massive tour with.
And since this tour is so special, the band will release a boxset with their demo material. It is going to include all three demo tapes on vinyl, unreleased stuff they recorded with their old drummer from the Triune Impurity Rites era. It is going to contain an early version of “Necromantique Nun”, a cover of “Electric Funeral” (of Black Sabbath), as well as “Doom of Necros, Death of Christos”. It will also comprise of some rehearsal takes from back in 2005, along with a live recording from Barcelona (also from 2005). The Beherit cover will also appear in the boxset, as well as “Baptized By the Black Urine of the Deceased”, in other words as Mors Dalos Ra points out: “The whole back catalogue on three vinyls”.
Necros Christos have been getting more than a few offers to re-release some of their demos but as they say, they do not want to turn their catalogue into a bidding feast on eBay: “Better release it one time, completely”. As for the layout, it seems like Mors Dalos Ra is more excited by the artwork than the music itself: “The layout man, the layout is amazing, Manuel Tinnemans did the box cover, it is a sign (it will also be the design for the tour shirts) and Timo Ketola did all three LP covers. Amazing! For me the layout is even greater than the demos! But I did the music so… I am the last one to judge”. It will also include liner notes and the booklet is going to be impressive with a lot of comments from other people that were involved with Necros Christos.
Taking over the US
And the plans for tours do not stop with the Sepulchral Doom Over Europe tour. Necros Christos is looking into making the jump to the States, trying to set up a US tour for 2014. According to the band, they already have some good offers to play in the States but as Evil Reverend N. mentions: “It has to make sense logistically”
Of course it is not easy for a European band to play over the States as Mors Dalos Ra points out: “We always had so many offers, but the main problem for playing the US is the laws for musicians to enter, working visas and all that. It costs a lot of money to get a band there and I do not want to fly there without any instruments because I want to play on my instruments”. Some bands might decide to use cheaper instruments in order to lower the costs but that is not the way Necros Christos wants to handle things: “We want to do it properly and we will demand that they pay the working visas for us and that they set up a really professional tour”. Nothing is set in stone yet but the band seems to be positive about arranging something in 2014.
The situation over the US is not the best for traveling band, and Canada has raised the taxes that international bands need to pay in order to perform live but Necros Christos does not blame the US in any way: “It is not because of the US in any way or because of the fans over there, it is just because of the ridiculous laws to enter”, and they also add that even though they understand the situation and they sympathize, they just want to play their music for the fans abroad, but they simply cannot escape their own situation: “We all have our day jobs, we have families and we do not live in paradise either, Berlin is really fucked up as well”.
Music, Thematology and Philosophy
Even though the band has not released new material since 2011, Mors Dalos Ra and Evil Reverend N. found some time to answer some questions about the lyrical themes of their tracks and the nature of their interludes along with a few other ideas surrounding the philosophy of Necros Christos.
Mors Dalos Ra mentions that since he started the band he was sure about integrating interludes to the music. The Gates were first introduced on the full-lengths, they were not used in the previous releases and the are entirely different entities to the Temples: “We had some really cool acoustic interludes for the records which would not fit as being used as a Temple (which would work as the intro to the songs)”, so the basic idea was: “We divide the chapters of the record and we have a gate between, the gateway to dive into the next chapter”.
Some further explanations were given about the nature of Doom of the Occult. The first two songs form a contrast, “Baal of Ekron” and “Hathor of Dandera”. The first songs were both dedicated to a god/goddess, while the next two “Necromantique Nun” and “Invoked from Carrion Slumber” both mention the Witch of Endor from the Bible. The band then moves into the Indian trilogy: “Doom of Kali Ma – Pyramid of Shakti Love – Flame of Master Shiva”, then the next two songs belong to each other (“Succumbed to Sarkum Phagum” and “Visceras of the Ebalmed Deceased”) which both have to do with ancient Egypt. Finally “The Pharaonic Dead” and “Descending Into the Kingly Tombs” are again influenced by Egyptian lore.
As to the band’s philosophy and the use of duality in their lyrics, Necros Christos have used in some of their lyrics gods/goddesses that would have two sides, example being Hathor (and her alter ego Sekhmet) and Shakti (whose alter ego was Kali), Mors Dalos Ra shares his viewpoint “It is my belief. All is one, we always have both sides within us.” Further explaining this concept of balance, “We have this equilibrium of feelings, of powers since we got strung to this world and that is my belief, that we have to balance our powers to whatever side”. The notion of an equilibrium seems to be very important for the band, with Mors Dalos Ra believing that people are balancing between their two sides, even people who are doing great good have an evil side, “It is based on Kabbalah, because the old Kabbalists they show that if God has this holy, the love side, the light side he also includes the evil side”
Drowned recently reemerged but Mors Dalos Ra is not a part of his old band anymore, “I am really glad about the guys, because they are a really fantastic band, the new guys in the band do really well (both coming from the German band Essenz) and they have incredible songs”. The Vale of Siddim (project that Mors Dalos Ra and Evil Reverend N. had) is done, “The songs are a bit similar to Necros Christos but with some insane harmonics and insane melodies and even dirtier, but for me it is done, there is no inspiration there”. The main focus is on Necros Christos 100% at this point, “You cannot do 3-4 projects and have the same energy and we want to concentrate on Necros Christos because we have such a stable, good line-up now, we have to go with this one on the road, show the people what kind of energy we can release”. And with the Ra Al Dee Experience project put on hold for now, since the band’s percussionist became a father recently, it simply seems that Necros Christos is absorbing all of their time at this point.
Underground Scene in Berlin
I thought that Berlin would have a kick ass underground scene but according to Mors Dalos Ra and Evil Reverend N. things are a bit different: “The curious thing is that a lot of people (in Berlin) do not even know about us (Necros Christos)”. It seems like the band is more recognized outside their hometown and outside of Germany in general for that matter. Still there are a few bands in Berlin that do make the difference: “We have Essenz, Drowned, Duskmachine, Necros Christos and Android Empire”. But when it comes to the ideals of unity and brotherhood in the underground scene of the capital both Mors Dalos Ra and Evil Reverend N. believe that there is a strange mentality in place: “There is a weird mentality in the Berlin scene, more in the sense of “We will support you, if you support us”, but I only support bands which I like” and when you consider the history of this city this outlook is certainly not the best.
It looks like Necros Christos is back in business with full force. The massive European tour with Grave Miasma is just the start. The release of their demo material in the form of a boxset, the upcoming plans for touring the US and with the songwriting process of the album under way, it seems like Necros Christos will be all that we will be talking about for the next two or three years.
Sepulchral Doom Over Europe Tour 2013
28th September: Stockholm, Sweden @ The Liffey
29th September: Copenhagen, Denmark @ KB18
30th September: Gothenburg, Sweden @ Truckstop Alaska
2nd October: Arnhem, Netherlands @ Willemeen
3rd October: Saarbrücken, Germany @ KL Klub
4th October: Paris, France @ Glazart
5th October: Brussels, Belgium @ Magasin 4
6th October: Rotterdam, Netherlands @ Barog
7th October: Zurich, Switzerland @ Werk21 Dynamo
8th October: Novara, Italy @ Rock & Roll Arena
9th October: Nuremberg, Germany @ Zentralcafe
10th October: Budapest, Hungary @ Trafik Klub
11th October: Poznan, Poland @ Klub u Bazyla
12th October: Berlin, Germany @ K-17
Live photos and video from The Eikons of the Underworld: Athenian Rite by John “Gothmog” Hiotellis
Sepulchral Doom Over Europe Tour poster by Alex Brown