Saturday, May 22, 2010

Interview: Unholy Archangel

I don't normally ask this question in interviews, but because there is not a wide range of information available on your band on the internet (not any that I could find anyway), could you please give us, right at the start, something of a history of Unholy Archangel? How did the band form, where did the original members come from, how long you have been together, etc. I know, boring question, so let's get it out of the way first...

Unholy Archangel was formed by me and Agisilaos in May of 1996 a.b. (after bastard). Although we had been friends for quite a while we never thought of making a band until that time. In 1997 we released our first demo and a year later the second demo 'Archgoat Incantation' was put out with Parmenion on drums. But because of his job (in the greek special forces) he couldn't help us for our next work, the 7" EP. So in 1999 Hyperion agreed to join the group and with Ksenofon playing bass we recorded the EP. The 7" EP then never came out that year because the label ripped off our money. In 2000 we recorded new songs for the split with Kult and Lust and for another...a new split with Thornspawn. I have to mention that all the members (of this band) have been friends for at least 10 years, sharing the same ideas about life, religion and of course music.

Now that we have that finished and laid aside the thorny issue of band history, tell us: what is the black metal scene in Greece like right now? Are there any other good bands that people should listen to there, or is it in a state of regeneration? Do all the bands in Greece still look up to Rotting Christ, or does that even matter anymore? Is there a part of Greece that is particularly well known for producing black metal bands - or is it spread all over the country?

I think...it is not the best time to talk about the black metal scene in Greece now. Although...there are some good groups that I would suggest like: Sickness, Legion of Doom, Kaiadas, Cranial Torment, Dersturmer, Goatvomit, Atavism...
No, I don't think that it is a...state of regeneration now in Greece....
The bands that want to play like Rotting Christ are the bands that just want to sell their music and be famous. And about Rotting Christ...I think that they play only commercial music and you can see that from their last LPs and from the Current 93, Lucifer Over London, that they have also put on their last LP....
No there is...no scene spread all over the country from Macedonia to Crete and this is very hopeful....
(I'm not sure what he means by this last sentence- Ed.)

Something I've often wondered about: how difficult is it to find a rehearsal space where you live? How often does Unholy Archangel rehearse, and where? Is it difficult or expensive to buy good music equipment? What about the entire cd manufacturing process - is it expensive or a manageable process to manufacture one's own cds? I am asking this because it still seems like there aren't that many Greek labels...

If you have money you can find a studio to rehearse in. But one time we got kicked out from a studio because Agisilaos had lined up the two amps...so we could hear what he played...when the owner of the studio saw this he said not to come again. Because of our jobs we rehearse only when we are going to record or play live. And that would be Saturdays and Sundays for 3 hours in a small studio. Unfortunately good equipment is very expensive here. For example: a good guitar costs about $750 and a good amp costs about $400. The same with the cd manufacturing process....it's a very expensive thing to do. Greek labels...haha! They only want to make money. They don't care about metal or if a group signs with them that plays metal. All for the money.

Greek bands have usually been recognized as being originators, mainly (it seems to me) because of the strange/bizarre/original sound that your music scene cultivates, where each band somehow sounds similar to each other and yet completely different from bands in other parts of the world - have you noticed this? Do you have any theories for the originality behind greek music? Is it a result of your relative isolation from the rest of Europe, or is it caused by something else?

Yes, the Greek metal bands have a strange sound....
Believe it or not my theory for this is that when Greek groups first started to record no one knew how to record metal. All the studios were into the local music. So...now there have been many people that have played metal with bands and know how to record metal. I don't think that...now...it is any different from the rest of the world...and about the isolation from the rest of the Europe: if you want to find something you can find it in the underground...

Again, another question about Greece: I've always noticed that there seemed to be a complete lack of death metal bands coming out of your country...have you noticed this as well? Were there ever any good death metal bands in Greece, or did the entire country somehow escape this plague? For as long as I can remember, Greece has always been known for her black metal bands, and not really anthing else...

No...to the contrary I have to say that there are plenty of good death metal bands in Greece. But the two big metal magazines in Greece promote only fucking gay power metal and black metal. That is what sells. Also a problem with those magazines is that if a band wants to promote their work and have a good review they have to have a big tongue so they can lick the editor or else...be a friend of the editor. And something else: the editor of the one of these magazines has the biggest record company in Greece. So he promotes what is good for him...and his pocket.

Another thing that I wanted to ask you about life in Greece: do you still have a system of mandatory military training? If so, how long does it last? Does this cause problems for musicians there?

Yes...we have mandatory military training in Greece.
The periods of this depend on where they have put you. The Navy is 21 months, the Army 18 months and the Air Force 20 months. This isn't only a problem for the musicians (they have to cut their hair, etc.) but also for all the other people involved with them because they have to quit their jobs, leave their wives, etc. and the payment in the army is only $3 a month. Of course you can play it gay (as many have done from major bands in Greece) and leave and forgot the army. Of course all of us have done this duty for our country...

What is the religious climate like where you live...I mean: is Greek predominantly Protestant or Catholic Christians now, or is it still a wide mixture of different religions - the Eastern Orthodox, etc.? I confess that I don't know much about religion in Greece, perhaps you could enlighten me...did any of the band's members grow up in a religious household, or did any of you attend a religious school? Why, exactly, do you have such a strong hatred for Christianity?

Good question. Yes, there is a quite a religious climate in Greece...we are 90% Orthodox and 10% Muslims. The truth is that in Vizadin's time two priests from Greece (Methodios and Kyrilos) left to go to Eastern Europe so they could spread the epidemic sickness that was named Christianity. We were responsible for this (sorry to the people living there). From the start of our lives when we were baptized at the age of one to the first year of school there is a brainwashing going on, saying what Christ is, what is 'beautful', how bad the devil is, etc. About our history? Our ancient gods? Nothing.
Hate. Of course hate...they say that Greece is Christian, they put the fucking cross in our flag, in Vizadin's time they made the Parthenon a church for that whore named Mary, they are responsible for making us forget our history. The church has a lot of money and the only thing that want is...to have an orgy between all of them; they eat and have fun with the money of other people when there are so many people without jobs...people with no place to live...people do nothing about this. Some people wanted our old and true religion of our '12 gods of Olympus' recognised by the Government again...the church said 'no' because that would 'bring Greece back to chaos' and the Greek people would lose their identity...ha!

Does Unholy Archangel pride themselves on basing their songs on Greek mythology? Do you feel that you have a responsibility to do so, to spread these ancient 'pagan' messages through your music, or is it just a readily-available theme for you to take advantage of? Do you find Greek mythology to be compatible with Satanism or Anti-Christian thought - at least in your song lyrics if nothing else?

Yes, we are very proud to be doing this. We also understand the responsibility doing this...but this is what we believe, and of course it isn't something that we want to take advantage of or use for promtoion. In the matter of thinking there are some similarities (between Satanism and Pagan Hellenism? - Ed.) but that is nothing more, nothing less.
(I apologize, but I'm not exactly sure what this last sentence really means - Ed.)

Can you explain to us how, exactly, you became interested in writing Unholy Archangel's music? What bands first influenced you or convinced you that a 'raw' black metal style was the best form for your music to take? Was it just a natural process? By playing this type of music are you trying to say that 'raw, primitive' black metal is the 'pure' or 'true' form of music for releasing negative emotions or hatred? Is the music an emotional release for you - is it cathartic?

We write music in the way of the music we listen to. We love doing this even if the lyrics are what...counts for us. The bands that have influenced us are the bands that play true metal and never sell their music...bands like: Blasphemy, Blasphemous Evil, Sarcofago, Archgoat, Beherit, Goatpenis, Protector...raw black metal is what we listen to and love so it is what we play. I don't think I or any of the other members of the band listen to anything else. It is the music that we have grown up with and the music we are going to die with. This is a form of music that at the start was just for releasing our emotions (not always negative) but at the end all the final thoughts are really and simply cathartic...

I'm curious...does Unholy Archangel ever play live? If so, what have your live shows been like? Is it difficult to find places to play? Are there any plans to tour? What bands would you like to tour with, and what countries would you like to see? Would you ever come here, to the States?

Yes, we have played live once...
About the places...if you have money you will always find a small place to play and rent equipment. No, there are no plans to tour. If we ever have this advantage (opportunity) any band would be nice to play with, except of course Dimmu and Cradle, and we would tour in any country except of course Israel, Turkey and Albania (go to live, murder, steal, rape, and sell drugs in your own country Albanian motherfuckers). The States, that is a dream for us. We would have to...quit our jobs to go out and make such a tour.

Your band seems to have a lot of friends throughout the underground - I say this because of the little picture/thanks list that you sent me with your material, where you extend your gratitude to so many other groups...is this your preferred method of spreading your music, just by making underground contacts? Has Unholy Archangel ever received any kind of label attention, or do you stay away from such things deliberately?

It is just a way to meet people with the same way of thinking and as I said before to know and meet other people and hear their music. As a matter of fact we are in discussions with a label right now. We want to spread Greek mythology...so do all of this to make more people interested in what we are doing...

Alright, tell us about the releases that you sent me, the split EPs with Thornspawn, Lust, etc. - are these favorite bands of yours or did they contact you in order to prepare these records? Who exactly is going to release these - are they products of your band or the other groups or some outside label? Are they going to prepare the way for a full-length Unholy Archangel album - are you planning such a thing?

These are favorite bands of ours. We can't do a split with a band...just to do it. The 7" EP is also in discussion with a label to release. The split with Kult and Lust was already released by fucked up Max from Impaler of Trendies and the split with Thornspawn is going to be released by the the Italian label Hellflame Productions. If we have good suggestions and a label that will be sharing our ideas we are going to have a full-length album.

Well, that's all the questions I have for you right now...as usual, write anything extra here that you would like our readers to see...

Fuck christ, fuck christianity, believe (in) your powers of mind and soul, stay out of drugs and do whatever you like. And remember that other people's freedom ends where your freedom starts...