EMBRACE OF THORNS
EMBRACE OF THORNS is one of those primordial and bestial bands that incorporate into their music the glory of the late 80’s and early 90’s bands. Sophisticated darkness that spread those Greeks is so overwhelming that I haven’t hesitated to get in touch with Archfiend DevilPig.
Before we focus on the EMBRACE OF THORNS 15-years story I would like to ask you about the band you were playing in, EXTREMELY INAPPROPRIATE around 1998. Was it your first experience playing in a band? Am I right that it was a Punk band? What were the main influences for EXTREMELY INAPPROPRIATE? Were you also much into Punk or you just simply grabbed a chance of playing an agressive music with somebody?
Hey Dominik. Yes, EXTREMELY INAPPROPRIATE was my/our first experience playing hard (sort of) music. It was extremely unfocused and not exactly skillful, but it was a start. I was a bass player (again sort of) for them, but I switched to drums when we started the Requiem thing. EXTREMELY INAPPROPRIATE was a punk rock band predominantly with a few hardcore elements. Yes, I was listening to the Greek punk stuff and maybe to some classic punk rock bands like the DEAD KENNEDIES, SEX PISTOLS, RAMONES, THE CLASH, GBH, THE DAMNED, BLACK FLAG back in the day, still do, but I was a metalhead for the most part, hence we created REQUIEM/EMBRACE OF THORNS. For the record we never recorded anything with EXTREMELY INAPPROPRIATE since we lacked the knowledge and the resources, we were still in senior high school after all.
What actually made you leaving this initial band? Was that the urge to compose an extreme Metal? Can you recall your main musical influences in the late ‘90’s?
There was no drama involved, just three out of the four players of EXTREMELY INAPPROPRIATE decided to move on and form something more based on original material, we’d gotten sick and tired of playing the same cover songs over and over and there were no plans of recording something like a demo anytime soon. The drummer & the vocalist weren’t progressing either, so there were sufficient reasons why that band just faded away. I was very much into metal even at that point. Musical influences, hmmm... At that time (1998) the majority of the great death & black metal albums were just a couple of years old. I remember seeing „De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas” ,”Transylvanian Hunger” , ”Non Serviam” and tons more in the new arrivals sections of the metal record stores here in Athens. Heck... even stuff like „Pleasure to kill” was just 6 years old when I started listening to metal. So what can I say? Everything that got released from 81 to 95 were/ are overwhelming, these were the golden years, blooming with passion and creativity. I used to listen to everything from IRON MAIDEN to POSSESSED, from ANATHEMA & MY DYING BRIDE to NAPALM DEATH & TERRORIZER, from AUTOPSY to CANNIBAL CORPSE, CARCASS, INCANTATION, DISMEMBER to ROTTING CHRIST & NECROMANTIA to MAYHEM & IMPALED NAZARENE. I believe that technically & at heart we are a second generation black/death metal band...
How hard was to complete line-up back then? As we know, the second half of the 90’s was scarce with good Underground Metal bands and fans understanding the essence of Real Metal. Was it also one of the reasons why you’ve decided to form REQUIEM which shortly was re-baptised for more original EMBRACE OF THORNS?
Definitely way harder than it is today, plus there was no internet and no networking among bands. We were thus limited within the confines of our suburban area. Back in 1999 after months of searching our original guitarist got in touch with a bass player and we had to coax him into playing bass for EMBRACE OF THORNS, provided that I would play the drums for his other band. We were too clueless to place an ad or search for musicians in other areas as well. I reckon, there was a general shortage in musicians, instruments were more expensive than they are today too. But fans there was a plenty. Each major or slightly underground show was packed back then.
Have you recorded anything under the name REQUIEM or at least you transferred some either finished or unfinished tracks towards EMBRACE OF THORNS?
REQUIEM had composed three tracks and we kept on playing two of them during the early EMBRACE OF THORNS era. I’m talking about early versions of „Hateful Sun” & „Mavros Thanatos”. A third instrumental track was dropped for being too heavy metal oriented/melodic. I don’t have the REQUIEM rehearsal tape. We just had a master tape, so to say and we lent it to the bass player to learn the tracks. I never bothered to take it back, which is really a pity.
You still have managed to come up with the first two-track demo in the band’s formative year, 1999. How would you describe the sound of “Hateful Sun” and “MavrosThanatos”? Was it already clear to you which direction EMBRACE OF THORNS should take? Did you spread relatively many copies of the tape?
I think that the whole thing just started in middle of 1998, during the fall of 1998 we left EXTREMELY INAPPROPRIATE, formed Requiem and by early 1999 we once again changed name to EMBRACE OF THORNS. Demo ’99 „Daemonia Profundi” was recorded in Spring-Summer of 1999. The tracks were already quite old and we decided to test the waters a bit. The demo was actually one of our rehearsals recorded live straight on a multitrack mixing desk, hence the sound keeps on changing during the tracks, the vocals were overdubbed at another reel-to-reel studio, since the original recording didn’t feature any vocals, I had to play the drums during the rehearsal and I never was so skilled like let’s say Chris Reifert to manage to do both things properly at the same time. The musical direction had little to do with „Atonement Ritual” or „...for I see Death in their Eyes”. The demo 1999 was mostly along the lines of THOU ART LORD, MAYHEM, DEICIDE and others. A very basic yet weird death/black metal crossover thing. It’s actually very hard to judge it or to find any similarities with the post 2003 recordings. For the record that demo was minimally spread. I think that I spread something like 20 copies before the first line-up fell apart.
Shortly after the first demo the band stopped activities. What was the reason for it? Lack of the Underground interest? Problems with the line-up or some other reason? Do you feel it was a bit too early in the Underground for this bestial music as it took a few years until the extreme and raw Metal got more attention once again. Did you think about this break back then as temporary or a definite split-up?
It just didn’t seem to gel musically. The majority of the bandmembers didn’t progress musically and I was also a very limited drummer. In fact, back then we pretty much had no idea about the mechanisms of the so-called underground. The line-up also faced a lot of internal problems, mostly of personal nature. It seems that some people just grow out of metal in the end. As already mentioned the bestial thing was not even coined back then. For the most part it was called black metal or brutal black metal(f.e Marduk during their „Panzer division Marduk” era). I always wanted to come-up with another line-up and after a few doomed from their start efforts, we finally made something solid when Amputator joined...
After four yours the demo number two has been unleashed. Considering the demo title “The Inevitable Twilight of the Judeochristian Lie” and track titles like “Triumph of Blasphemy” and “The Blinded Whores Addicted to Nazarene” you have returned more pissed off (towards the false religion) and extreme. How this 4-year hiatus changed the band?
A lot, first of all I was the only one left of the original line-up. Then some early influences became better digested, and considering the fact that during the first demo era we were 17 year olds, the difference strikes as obvious. Sure we still weren’t technically proficient but we were more conscious of what we wanted to do musically, hence our sound hasn’t changed that drastically since the second demo. At least this is how I see it. We may have become better in our instruments, we downtune etc but the creative drive and the concept of the band is unaltered...
During the course of 2004 you did record the third and fourth demo, “Chants of Atomic Genocide” and “Stench of the Deceased Martyrs” respectively. Was that the very year, you would say, you found your niche within the violent and blasphemous Black/Death Metal morbid cult? On the “Chants…” you’ve decided to include the mighty BLASPHEMY cover. Although EMBRACE OF THORNS is nothing like, say, PROCLAMATION, were these Vancouver grave desecrators among your main influences?
This was the style we wanted to do since the beginning but in the early days I couldn’t play the guitar and I had to compromise my vision. My taste always revolved around the darker register of the underground scene since I knew more about the underground scene musically than the other guys in the first line-up. I used to blast tapes by: UNLEASHED, DEATH, DISMEMBER, ROTTING CHRIST, DARKTHRONE, ABSU etc, while the rest of the guys had a limited range starting from IRON MAIDEN and ending on KING DIAMOND as well as throwing in some DEAD KENNEDIES for the good measure. BLASPHEMY were/are a huge influence for me/us. It was „Gods of War” that I first bought and it blew me away. Their aesthetics are quintessential for the black metal scene too. I think it’s very limiting to claim that BLASPHEMY was a goat metal band, since they were/are more articulate and had/have more killer riffing than the lowest common denominator goat metal bands will ever have. Their playing was a bit shaky but I think that that sped up SODOM, DISCHARGE, KREATOR, BATHORY, CARCASS mix of theirs with the hellish voice of Black Winds on top of it all, was/is the absolute pinnacle of satanic darkness. THEY ARE THE GODS OF WAR for fuck’s shake. I think that their modern clones interpret their style in a very one-dimensional way.
How did the collaboration with your country fellowmen Goatchrist came about? Your side of this CD released by Black Plague 666 Records has raw but good enough sound for this still early stage of the band. I think that the overall tracks are in quite similar vein as those on your debut album. The last song on this split called “Sempiternally Cursing the Weak” sounds different compared to the other tracks. Am I right assuming it is a rehearsal version of what would appear on “…For I See Death in Their Eyes…”?
Our contribution on this split is nothing but the „Stench of the Deceased Martyrs” session,which was by far the most solid recording of our demo period. The „Sempiternally Cursing the Weak” track was taken straight from the „Chants of Atomic Genocide” tape, so there’s nothing really new on this split. Blackplague 666 was a little label/zine that a cool guy from Thailand, Natthapong used to run. He interviewed us for his zine and liked „The inevitable twilight of the Judeo-Christian Lie” so much that he wanted to release it on cd, we thanked him and proposed him „Stench of the Deceased Martyrs” instead. Fortunately he accepted. You are correct, the formative sound of the band had started to take form from that recording, namely „Stench...”. The sound of that demo/split was quite cool for a demo, considering the conditions it was recorded. Goatchrist was actually another band of Daggeros from UNHOLY CRUCIFIX/BEFOUL so they were not Greeks, Daggeros was still living in Norway at that point.
I’m just holding a tape version and a nice-looking picture LP of your debut album. Daniel Desecrator has made a simple but suiting well drawing (a puking goat’s head) on this advance tape I’ve got. Who is the artist responsible for the artwork on both sides of the vinyl?
Marko Marov who also did the artwork for „Praying for Absolution” did the picture LP art for the vinyl re-issue of „...for I see Death in their Eyes...
The sound of “…For I See Death in Their Eyes…” that was released in 2006 is very raw but I would say it works well with your barbaric Black / Death Metal. This 13-track (including a few creepy intros and outro) you’ve decided to record in a place called Chapel of Unholy Blasphemies but the drums were recorded somewhere else by a session drummer. Why Nuclear Warhead of Apocalypse didn’t join EMBRACE OF THORNS on a full basis?
TNuclear Warhead aka Terry Eleftheriou wasn’t interested in joining the band full time. We used to hang out a lot back in the day, shared musical interests and he agreed to record the drums for the debut. He did a cool job but the production didn’t do justice to his performance. In retrospect he could also use another snare with more low end, maybe along the lines of Sarcofago, anyway he opted for the trebly sound. Terry could probably not predict that we would get signed and establish a name for ourselves. An interesting footnote is that Terry got the ANGELCORPSE/PERDITION TEMPLE gig because Gene Palubicki liked his performance on „...for I see Death in their Eyes”, which is good... I think that the overall sound of the debut was ok, judging from the recording conditions and the available equipment. During the drum tracking the available microphones were breaking down one after another and we were left with very few to have the drums properly miked. The rest of the recording went on quite smoothly...
At the time of your initial album was released there was not many really extreme Hellenic bands out like EMBRACE OF THORNS. Therefore I wonder what was the reception of “…For I See Death in Their Eyes…” in your homeland? Did you play a considerable number of gigs in Greece at this point?
It passed mostly unnoticed except for a few underground freaks that figured out there was some substance in what we were doing. AV from DEAD CONGREGATION loved it and distributed both the vinyl & the CD version. No gigs were done before 2009 because our line-up was incomplete, it was just me and Herald back then. We had played two small gigs back in 1999 with the old line-up and that was it. Fortunately we started playing shows after „Atonement Ritual” got released...
What also stands out on the debut are your vocals. Blasphemous or at times tormented screams are perfect interpretations of how such unholy lyrics as “Tyrant Goat (Crowned in Glory)” or “Cleansing the Whores of Man” execute. Did you have any particular extreme Metal vocalist as an influence?
I think that my vocals on the debut resemble what a certain Wagner Antichrist was doing. The also sound quite close to the approach of the Unsane on „The dark war...” album of Bestial Summoning. Others than them, well many I guess: Per „Dead” Yngwe Ohlin, Chris Reifert, Gerry „Black Winds” , Nuclear Holocausto Vengeance, Glenn Benton, Chuck Schuldiner, Paul Ledney, fukkin’ Mikka Luttinen, Nocturno Culto, Attila Csihar , Matti Kärkki , Craig Pillard, Ross Dolan among others. In retrospect, I think that the vocals on the debut are one of a kind. The final outcome was extremely brutal, they sound almost otherworldly.
What do you think of the term such as War Metal? Do you think that your first recordings could be cathegorised using this given term along the line like Australian BESTIAL WARLUST, CEMETERY URN or Canadian BLASPHEMY, REVENGE / CONQUEROR? Maybe you prefer to call it (Bestial) Black / Death Metal or such cathegorisation doesn’t matter and you just consider such „...For I See Death in Their Eyes...” simply an Extreme Metal?
I always thought we were a morbid metal band. We are the musical equivalent of an old Fallen Pages fanzine, with influences ranging from CARCASS, VITAL REMAINS & ORDER FROM CHAOS to MORTUARY DRAPE, MASTER’S HAMMER, ANCIENT RITES & BEHERIT.We have thrash/speed,death & black metal leanings but we follow more traditional & riff based progressions than let’s say REVENGE. I am very fond of CORPSE MOLESTATION/BESTIAL WARLUST & BLASPHEMY and I consider them as influences of EMBRACE OF THORNS. Our band is our temple of Black Death and maybe this is the right term to use when referring to our music.
I’ve read somewhere that this first very record opened for EMBRACE OF THORNS the gates to a larger spectrum within the world Underground. The album somehow reached Gene Palubicki which got Yosuke of Nuclear War Now! Productions and later Patrick of Iron Bonehead Productions interested in the band. What was the actual role of Gene in getting in saving contracts with those two labels?
Philipp from Sodomistic Rituals Productions sent the cassete LP version of „...for I see Death in their Eyes” to all those people and got them interested in the band. It is true that the debut showcased an immense evolution regarding our music. The style was similar to the „Stench...” demo, but as I’ve probably already stated, it was more focused and the instrumentation was more „professional”. It was Philipp that hooked us up and not Gene, who is by the way a great guitarist and a very consistent musician.
Now I would like to ask you about your own record label Kill Yourself Productions which was founded back in 2003. What was the aim of starting this label? I’m asking because it took 6 years until you unleashed the first vinyl of your own band with a catalogue number KILL 008 as a 7” split with other Greek maniacs NOCTURNAL VOMIT. Which releases of Kill Yourself Productions do you consider the most important within over a decade of the label’s activity?
Well, in the beginning it was just an outlet to release underground music on cassete format. After releasing two cassetes I just thought it was time to proceed to the next stage which was CD’s and vinyls. I repeat myself but the underground was all that mattered to me back then, it still does to a certain extent. The difference now is that the sales have gotten ridiculously low and each year that comes seems to be worse than the previous. Still I am immensely proud of what I have released with Kill Yourself Productions. Regarding EMBRACE OF THORNS, I also released the CD version of „...for I see...” in 2007 or 2008. I think that all KYP releases hold some relevance within the underground metal context, but if I have to pick an all time favourite, this would be MORTIFY’s „The way of all flesh” on LP. For the record I have released stuff by NOCTURNAL VOMIT, KAWIR, TATIR, AIMA, WARGOAT, INFERNAL CURSE, NERGAL, MARTYRVORE, HADEZ and other important acts. Have a look at: http://killyourselfprod.weebly.com/
Here we are coming to the point when your second full-length “Atonement Ritual” has seen the darkness of the night in 2009, which was my own introduction to EMBRACE OF THORNS and made such a huge impression on me. Would it be safe to say that we can separate the band’s activities into: before “Atonement Ritual” and ever since?
Yeah, it would be pretty safe to do that, even if I believe that the similarities are more than the actual differences between those periods. Still the way „Atonement Ritual” and the way the songs in this album are crafted seem to have created something like a blueprint. More flow was added and more attention to the details was paid. The material on „Atonement Ritual” seems more cohesive and memorable than in the debut. However we don’t like to repeat ourselves and each of our album is different than its predecessor. It’s been five years since „Atonement...” and it seems safe to say that it is one of the most important moments in our history, the second pillar in our temple of black death...
Archfiend Devilpig, Nuctemeron Bestial Ravisher of the Divine Harmony and Herald of Demonic Pestilence was the line-up on the debut. As you were the one responsible of recording both guitar and bass lines (Herald being the second guitarist), I would like to know if you were looking for some perverted individual to fill in the bassist vacancy? Were you the only one that came up with the music for the sophomore album?
At that point we weren’t looking for a permanent bass player, we only bothered to search for additional members after the offer for the first NWN! Festival arrived. During the „Atonement Ritual” era I had just hooked up with Nuctemeron after parting ways with Jim Amputator (the drummer on „Stench...” & „Chants...”) that was supposed to be the drummer on that album. ”Atonement Ritual” was actually recorded twice. The line-up for the first session was just me and amputator and featured eight tracks. I decided to discontinue the first recording for not being up to par. At that point I decided to re-record the album with Nuctemeron on drums. I also summoned back Herald, who prior to that point had left the band to deal with personal shit. Fortunately he dealt with his issues successfully and he has been an acolyte of our temple ever since. It is an understatement to mention how vastly superior is the second recording of the album compared to the first one, moreover we also added „Perdition Hammer” in the second version, a track that we’d done back in 2007 and that was almost entirely composed by Herald, the rest of the music & the lyrics for that album was written by me. „Atonement Ritual” seems to be our „Obsessed by Cruelty” sort of story, you know the twice recorded album etc.
The cover artwork drawn by Chris Moyen portrays this dark and cavernous sonic assault that was seized on “Atonement Ritual”. Whose idea was to appoint Mr Thorncross for this job? Did you send him some of your ideas concerning the artwork?
Yosuke Konishi ,the owner of Nuclear War Now! Prods., came up with the idea to assign Moyen with the task of drawing the cover for that album. We exchanged e-mails with Chris and I provided him with some ideas and guidelines, as I always do with the artists that design our covers. Needless to say that Moyen’s artwork met, if not exceeded our expectations. It is a masterpiece.
What I was always considering as an important part of your style was the drum snare’s sound which makes your abominations even more devastating. Are you planning to keep the snare up front on your next releases too?
Drum sound is indeed important for us and having the drums properly recorded and mixed has been very high in our agenda especially after having a sub-par drum sound that took some of the accuracy and quality of the performance away on our debut full-length. Nuctemeron is a killer drummer that absolutely detests modern production techniques when it comes to drum recording, so we like to keep things simple in that field. Having the drums well miked and recorded is a good starting point, then we like them to sound heavy and not triggered, we absolutely hate the thin snare and bass drum sound that dominates the modern extreme metal drumming. If a drummer has the chops, he can definitely record on an analogue kit. Fortunately Nuctemeron has the aforementioned chops. Yes, we plan on keeping drum sound as pounding and punishing as possible.
I think your second album is not that different to what “…For I See Death in Their Eyes…” represents style-wise but is better in every aspect. There seems to be also more influences involved making EMBRACE OF THORNS more original horde. Do you agree that there’s more primal Death Metal overtones in forms of INCANTATION, ASPHYX, ARCHGOAT present on this album?
Well, to speak in a clearly technical manner, the debut is a linear affair, you know... the songs seem to be sets of riffs that rarely repeat themselves, the majority of the riffs are tremolo picked inferno and there is more pre-occupation with extreme speed. There are also a few doomy passages. I love the debut for its sheer extremity though. As I already stated, the second album featured some stuff that felt more than actual songs, there is more variety. I don’t know if „Atonement Ritual” is more death metal oriented, maybe it’s a production thing. I love all those bands you mention. Yes they are among the countless bands we might call as influences but I think the way we incorporate those influences is quite subtle. Fortunately, we love so many differently styled bands and we never bothered copying the exact style of one or two specific acts.
The lyrics that were revealed together with “Atonement Ritual” are not just some dull blasphemies against all sanctities of this world. They go deeper this time and deal seemingly with a personal enlightenment, a good example can be the text to “Hymn to Triumph and Treachery”. What inspired you to go this way lyric-wise? It’s quite obvious that the lyrics are inspired by Satanism in general but I wonder what about other sources of inspiration? Maybe some ancient or more contemporary schools of thought or beliefs?
Some other sources of inspiration are my personal experiences, blended with some mild despondence (an oxymoron) regarding humankind, as well as existentialist philosophy. I have tagged my personal credo as „morbid existentialism”. It borrows some guidelines from cynicism, the bitterness that comes as something inevitable with ripeness of age, total contempt for the majority of the human race and of course modern satanism and the strife for survival of the fittest. I could probably write thousands of words regarding my lyrical concept, which is as well multi-dimensional, but let’s summarize it a bit: My lyrics express the views of a person that has suffered a great deal but is willing to commit more sacrifices and suffer even more in his quest for Gnosis. It is unsure if he can bear the weight of the aforementioned Gnosis or if he can overcome his frailties but nonetheless he is determined to continue his promethean quest for the blackest light. EMBRACE OF THORNS is the quest for the search of self-realization, personal enlightenment and a desperate yet determined effort to break the shell and the confines of our own existence. Satan is an archetype, a breaker of shackles, a keeper of gnosis, a Prometheus, a bearer of the flame... „Hymn to Triumph and Treachery” is deeply influenced by personal experiences and is one of my personal favourites, if not my absolute favourite, out of the EMBRACE OF THORNS texts ever. I would like to think of it as a petty attempt to re-produce the desperate style of the great Charles Baudelaire...
How substantial was the fact of being released and promoted by Nuclear War Now! Productions in gaining more attention within the Underground borders? Has the interest of the Extreme Metal lunatics increased a lot since 2009?
Very Substantial and we acknowledge the luck of belonging in the roster of one of the elite labels of the modern underground. We are also doing our best to raise the bar with each recording. The interest of the extreme metal lunatics is getting proggressively more increased with each of our releases. Let’s hope that the release of „Darkness Impenetrable” full length will bring more acolytes to our Temple.
EMBRACE OF THORNS participated in the second edition of the mighty Nuclear War Now! Fest in November 2012. Could you share with us your memories from this black mass ritual in the middle of Europe?
In fact we participated in all first three installations of the NWN! Festival. Each installation was nothing short of brilliant. We witnessed live performances of bands ranging from legendary to promising. We celebrated under the sounds of the metal of death and we had the chance to meet with maniacs whom we knew only via correspondence. We also met tons of new people and had the chance to stroll around the great city of Berlin. I wish that Yosuke & Patrick are able to continue with the fest for the years to come.
Still the same year you have decided to celebrate ten years of the unholy presence with a compilation on a CD format, entitled “Prevalence: A Decade of Atomic Genocide” on Supremacy Through Intolerance Records. It contains 20 tracks from different years of activity and of different sound quality. Do you think this compilation had fulfilled the demand for your unavailable releases?
That compilation happened in 2009 and it featured the most important demo releases of EMBRACE OF THORNS. We thought it was a good idea and Supremacy Through Intolerance Records made it happen. Yeah, some people who discovered the band via the full-lengths seemed to also dig the demo material. Unfortunately the label recently folded and this led to a good percentage of the stock remaining buried by time and dust in some warehouse. It sucks but there’s nothing we can do about it. There are plans for a vinyl release compiling the demos though.
May 2011 brings a tiny split release in the form of double 7” single limited to only 350 copies with four Greek bands included. You shared a disc with BETHOR. What’s your opinion on this band, as well as the remaining CHAOSBAPHOMET and WARGOAT? Your track “Ceremonial Rites of Fornication” was also included on “Atonement Ritual”. Is it a re-recording or demo version of this song?
That EP was on single vinyl and not on a double one but yes it was pretty limited. I think there are still copies of this one floating around. It seemed as a quite good idea to do that sort of Greek assault EP. I think that the quality of the bands in this split range from okayish to very good. BETHOR is a fairly old band. Their „Unholy Bride of Mayhem” demo was released back in 1995, but their releases have been really sporadic ever since. Some of their members are involved in Ezgaroth & Iasma too. I think Bethor is good for what it is. The version of „Ceremonial rites of fornication” we put in this EP was one of the finest moments out of the first recording of „Atonement Ritual”. See question above.
By the end of 2011 a rather impressive “Praying for Absolution” a double LP comes out. Can you recall how did you feel while holding this piece of vinyl for the first time?
It felt great to hold that extravagant piece of wax, I assure you.
I need to admit that it took me a little longer to properly get into your third album. Was your aim to make songs more twisted that would need more attention of the listener or is it just my sole impression?
No it wasn’t our aim to come up with more complex material,we just followed our muse so to say. In general we don’t have a specific musical agenda regarding songwriting. I know my don’ts but there aren’t any specific do’s when I grab my guitar and spew out riffs. Truth is that I wrote about 65% of the music for that record. Christ Molestor & Herald came up with the rest of the music, which means that they had more input and they infused a bit more of their style in that record. Another fact is that „Praying for Absolution” and its 49 minutes of duration left a lot of room for variety. I mean coming up with such a long record was not a preconceived thought but it certainly led to having a lot of music of various tempos and riffing approaches carved within the vinyl grooves. Regarding the twisted nature of „Praying for Absolution” I remember that incident when I first listened to the master tapes with my brother. His opinion was that „Praying for Absolution” would be a hard-to-get-into affair and that we were risking a bit because our song structures were getting a little bit challenging. I doubt our song structures are that challenging though...
The line-up for the Opus III was completed by Christ Molestor (bass) and Abomination Virginborn as an additional guitarist compared to “Atonement Ritual”. What was the reason for appointing the third axewielder? Still you and Herald remain the only composers with an exception of Christ Molestor participating in “Scarred by Moloch”.
It has always been with two guitarists in a live setting, as I never play guitar at gigs. Abomination Virginborn was playing with the band since 2009, when he sessioned for the first Berlin show. The working chemistry was so good that he stayed in the band for a good three years and we did together around 12-13 shows in Greece, Denmark, Spain & Germany, until he parted ways to focus on Dead Congregation. So back in 2011 it just felt natural for both him and us to join full-time and to record guitars for that record since we were having good fun and we were playing non-stop together for something like two years straight. For the record „Praying for Absolution” was the last EMBRACE OF THORNS album I recorded guitar parts for. Since then I just compose the music and I play guitar at the comfort of my home, I left the task of recording guitars to the personell that also plays live with the band, it makes more sense to have one working line-up than two.
“Praying for Absolution” received quite detailed front-cover artwork. Can you explain the meaning of some details like the third Jesus’ eye, saints surrounded by skeletons, etc. How much of your invention ended up on this cover and how much was of Marko Marov’s own imagination?
The third eye in general deals with the advanced perception abilities that the bearer of Gnosis carries. The cover of „Praying for Absolution” seems like a distorted image of the temple of black death. A church where profound unspeakable powers take the reins and harness/exterminate the pettier/worthless doctrines. More superficially put, the cover displays the weakness of the established religious doctrines and celebrates the birth of Gnosis inside the enlightened vessel. I described my vision to Marko and he went wild, adding countless small details. So I guess that it was a 50/50 approach.
In 2012 you appeared on yet another all-Greek split release. This time you shared a 10” disc together with KAWIR, NERGAL and SOULSKINNER. How important is for you to support your local scene and what kind of values a given band needs to represent in your eyes so you would consider to share a split?
I consider John Gothmog Hiotellis of THOU ART LORD / SOULSKINNER as a great guy and a real gem for the scene and I agreed to do this one mostly to honour him. Having Hammer of Hate to put it out and Mark Riddick to do the cover was also great. We are not willing to do any more splits in the near future, but if it happens we definitely need to respect the persons behind the band/bands we share the release with. I don’t think that it is that important to say my personal opinion on how important it is to support one’s local scene. My scene is part of my childhood and upbringing so I tend to romanticise the whole affair, but to hell with romanticism, even dark romanticism (har!). My Kill Yourself Productions roller-coaster course says a lot about my appreciation for the Greek scene. It didn’t pay off though and I’m not referring to the financial figures...
Thus we approach late 2014. Some time ago I’ve received your last release up to date which is EMBRACE OF THORNS’ CD split with the Finnish blasphemers MAVETH. Needless to say your 4 tracks are as strong as the ones on “Praying for Absolution”. How did you approach the Finns? What do you think of their debut full-length “Coils of the Black Earth”?
Thank you man!! Actually the Finns of MAVETH and the Greeks of EMBRACE OF THORNS had met in Berlin, I can’t recall when, and kept in contact. So when Maveth decided that they wanted to do a split and also figured out that Dark Descent was positive about it, they proposed us the split. We knew of MAVETH even before we got acquainted with the lads, all of their releases are great... Regarding our side of the split, it is mostly Herald’s stuff and he must get the credit as he did a brilliant job. ”Conqueror of mortality” track pretty much summarizes where Herald stands as a musician within the context of EMBRACE OF THORNS at this point. My contribution is „More Men, less Axioms” and it is quite interesting as I tried out some different stuff, but it worked out fine, Herald added some ideas there as well. Anyway it’s probably our finest split effort to date and my fave split effort along with our split 7” with NOCTURNAL VOMIT
What is next for EMBRACE OF THORNS? What is the status of your new album “Darkness Impenetrable” at the moment? Is it going to be much in the vein of the last releases? Are there any gigs, maybe mini tour, planned in Europe or elsewhere?
The new album is a dark nightmare. It is more ferocious than „Praying for Absolution” but it bears the same gravity lyricwise. I am very fond of the upcoming one. There are also some new ideas that will appear in „Darkness impenetrable” for the first time but, all in all, I think that it is still EMBRACE OF THORNS. We definitely are still slitting the vein and let our blood spill in the name of the blackest metal of death. A limited Picture LP version was already released in NWN! Festival vol. 4 in Berlin a month ago. Alex Brown of WITCHRIST (R.i.p) is adding the final deatails to the artwork as we speak, after he is done this one goes to press.
Thanks for your answers. Is there anything I didn’t ask for and you want to cover? Looking forward to “Darkness Impenetrable”. I hope it will crush some skulls.
Thanks for the interesting questions man, much appreciated...
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