Hey guys, welcome and my congratulations for such an awesome debut as “Axiom” is!!! How are you doing? I guess you must be quite proud when reading to all the cool reviews you’ve received. What are you listening to while answering my questions?
Panos: Hi! We are indeed very proud about “Axiom”, especially because it turned out great despite poor sound engineering. We are also pleasantly surprised that apparently everybody loves its raw, abrasive sound.
I have just listened to FUNERAL “Forgotten Abominations” MLP (out on www.nuclearwinterrecords.com) and am now spinning KONGH “Shadows Of The Shapeless” 2xLP (out on www.musicfearsatan.com) .
You’re a completely new and young band, so we can't avoid the usual bio question. Let us know a bit about your previous efforts, how Dephosphorus was born and which were the main ideas and influences you had in mind when creating this sonic beast it is. When I listen to “Axiom” I find influences from such different bands as Terrorizer, Discordance Axis, His Hero Is Gone, Nasum, Voivod, Unearthly Trance, King Crimson… even some Black Metal traces here and there…
Panos: Dephosphorus have been formed in the summer of 2008 by me (vokills/lyrics) and Thanos (guitars/songwriting and initially also drum programming). Previously we have played together for the better part of the 00’s with local hardcore/grind heroes STRAIGHTHATE. We have released a debut album entitled “Indigenous” back in 2007. It has been hailed as a milestone for the local exteme scene and it had a similar approach with bands like UPHILL BATTLE, early BURST, NASUM, etc. Before that, we have had back in 2004 the “Grim Memories” mini-CD which was raw and old-school grinding thrashcore. Anastasis (Dead Congregation, Nuclear Winter Records) was also playing on that one! Both efforts are still available on CD format from my label www.blastbeatmailmurder.com.
When Dephosphorus was born we wanted to move forward and start elaborating upon the new material that Thanos was writing. It was more challenging and ambitious, in the sense that it pushed further and in a more cohesive way the combination of extreme metal (crust/grind, black/death) and post-hardcore/noise rock that we have started playing with Straighthate, especially in the last songs we’ve written together before splitting up.
We like and appreciate all the bands you mention. A few of them are indeed direct influnces of our songwriter Thanos: Discordance Axis, Nasum, Unearthly Trance… Black metal is a big part of our sound and the genre has had a big impact on all of us. After all, we all have other black metal bands/projects: AMNIS NIHILI (me – www.amnisnihili.com ), INJEKTING KHAOS (Nikos – www.myspace.com/injektingkhaos ), FOGBOUND (Thanos). Black metal bands that have particularly influenced our music are Leviathan, Lurker Of Chalice, Craft…
As far as I know you haven’t released any demo or shorter recording before “Axiom”. Am I wrong? Why did you decide to directly release an album (or mini album maybe would be a better definition)? Was it maybe some kind of professional demo you recorded and then you received a release offer or was the release planned before recording it?
Panos: During the first year of Dephosphorus acitivity we have recorded with Thanos half dozen songs with programmed drums. The initial plan was to release a demo with them. Then the necessity of playing with a drummer occurred, we found Nikos and scrapped the old material when we have started composing new, more intense material. So we had demos prior to “Axiom” but those tracks did not fit our later standards so we kept them in our drawers…
We hit the studio in order to record “Axiom” with the intention of recording a promotional recording that could also be possibly used as our first official EP/MLP. Technically the first form of “Axiom” was a promo CD-R, complete with a professionally printed booklet and inlay card, as well as CD-R labels done D.I.Y.-style on my deskjet printer (I can provide you a photo of that CD-R in case you want to use it for the article).
The kind of demos that I would gladly accept “Axiom” to be compared with would be ANGELCORPSE “Hammer Of Gods”, NUCLEAR WINTER “Abomination Virginborn”, KAAMOS “Curse Of Aeons” or more recently, SATURNALIA TEMPLE “Ur” and CRUCIAMENTUM “Convocation Of Crawling Chaos”. Oh and let’s not forget the self-titled demo/EP by awesome canadian short-lived band MARE. All of them have been professionally pressed at a later point in vinyl and/or CD format.
Some people have wrote about “Axiom” that it sounded like a demo but with more depth and richness. I guess that this description is fairly accurate.
It’s always refreshing to still find some bands like yours who still manage to combine different styles with a personal touch and not falling into the melting pot that sounds like lots of different things just put together. Speaking of all the influences I mentioned before, they are very well mixed in your raw and psychedelic sound that you call “Astrogrind”. Was it your goal to create something original or different to the usual Grindcore or whatever style bands, or you simply put out your influences in the best way you managed?
Panos: I agree with you that it’s hard to combine influences from multiple genres and scenes with quality, cohesion and class. Therefore I accept your compliment about our own astrogrind with pleasure!
We never said to ourselves “let’s throw everything into the mix and see what happens”. Our combinatorial approach goes back to STRAIGHTHATE, when the band around 2004-2006 more or less subconsiously thought “let’s cut the bullshit and play some really intense music now”. Thanos and B.Abyss, the two guitarists and songwriters at that time were appreciating diverse stuff, including bands who were mixing metal and hardcore influences in an awesome way like Uphill Battle, Knut, Anodyne, Burst, Keelhaul, Swarm Of The Lotus, Breach, Catharsis, etc. These bands had momentum, passion, fine aesthetics and sort of showed us the way.
By the time we’ve started Dephosphorus in 2008, Thanos was already an expert songwriter with a style of his own. He is able to seamlessly transition from a Nirvana type of noise rock riff to sheer black metal mayhem and just leave you there, bleeding on the floor wondering what the fuck just happened! I think that you’ll agree with me that not a lot of songwriters are good enough in order to achieve that.
How far can Dephosphorus sound go in terms of evolution and development? Are you prepared to explore any musical idea that comes to your mind or do you have some limitations when it comes to hybridization?
Panos: Patience! The answer to your question will be answered when our debut album “Night Sky Transform” will be unleashed upon mankind (to paraphrase one of Bolt Thrower’s best songs).
We’ve created the album in the confortable environment of our friend’s Miltos Schimatariotis Northside Studio (www.northside.gr) and we had the opportunity to experiment. You’ll hear new elements and facets of our sound.
We don’t have any taboos in terms of creativity. Any element can be used if it fits into a song and can make it sound better or expand its dynamics. For example, at the moment when we were recording “Axiom” we could not possibly imagine that the final recording would feature electronics!
There is a special chemistry between us three. The moments when this is more obvious, is when someone of us has a sparkle of genius and gives to a song a turn than the other two could not possibly imagine. A drum beat, an unorthodox riff, a twisted vocal line… The pleasure in our faces and the extreme inner satisfaction when these moments occur is priceless. As Neurosis have once told me in an interview, “we are submitting to the spirit of music and are willing to go whenever it takes us”. I just don’t see me rapping anytime soon.
When it comes to the lyrical side of Dephosphorus, you’re pretty far from most of Grind bands. No signs of politics, gore or violence, and more of a cosmic/nature context, depicting places far from our planet. Could you introduce us a bit into Dephosphorus's world, the reason why you chose these subjects and where do they bring you on a lyrical side?
Panos: Have you ever looked to the night sky, feeling a sense of awe being alive and able to contemplate a small part of the infinite majesty of the universe? Have you ever wondered if somebody has created all this - as most stupid religions are teaching to their disciples? Have you then wondered if there is a creator indeed, who has created HIM?
Human existence on earth is a riddle and it is the ultimate goal for human existence to solve it. Dephosphorus concept is an allegory and a metaphor for this quest. Dephosphorus is an ancient cosmic entity scanning the cosmos for intelligent life, recruiting individuals and whole civilizations to help him pierce the mysteries of the cosmos.
The lyrics of “Axiom” are a bit on the science fiction side of things, describing facets of the dynamic environment where our story takes place. They are a bit vague and contribute to the general “space opera” kind of feel of the record. This gets more concrete in our debut album “Night Sky Transform”.
Anyways, are there any traces of “terrestrial” preoccupations in your astral visions? Maybe are you looking outside of our globe because you dislike too much what's happening on it?
Panos: Since the crisis has started here in Greece, I wonder less about the universe. This applies to anybody leaving on this planet. You cannot wonder about the meaning of life and of our place in the universe when you have problems on your everyday life or when your stomach is empty. This at the core of our concept.
We promote radical change in the way mankind organizes and uses the planet, based solely on science and reason. If the world must burn for that, or if half of the earth’s population must perish in the process, then be it. We must do what has to be done…
Our concept happens both in space and in distant places of the universe, but also in local places like the Earth or other planets. On our debut album “Night Sky Transform” we focus on what happens on a local planetary reality when Dephosphorus contacts “those who look to the sky with the right kind of eyes” (as the lyrics of “Uncharted” go), but we also have episodes occuring elsewhere in the universe, like “Starless” which describes how Dephosphorus has survived the extinction of a previous universe…
For the awesome artwork of the LP and shirt you’ve worked with Viral Graphics, from Athens, who already worked with such high class clients as Melvins, Monster Magnet, Grief, Trap Them or Unearthly Trance, among a lot of other artists. Can you introduce us to them? Are they people close to you or did you choose them because you knew their work with those bands? How did you work with them around this release? Will you continue working with them?
Panos: Viral Graphics are friends of me and Thanos for a long time. They have already helped out our previous band STRAIGHTHATE by designing the “Cannibalistik Society” t-shirt (self-advertisement: still available from www.blastbeatmailmurder.com) and making the video-clip of “Ethnocide” (search it on youtube).
They have followed the first steps of DEPHOSPHORUS and were excited both by our concept and our music. Furthermore they are as much interested as we in cosmology and astronomy. So, we kind of clicked together and I like to compare our symbiosis with how Metallica and Pushead were associated back at the time! As a matter of fact, Viral Graphics is like the fourth member of the band. They are helping us out not only with the artwork but also by providing advice and general assistance. We are blessed to have them by our side and we would like to publicly hail them for that.
Viral Graphics is all about analog artwork and design. The visions that they create are all hand drawn and computers are used just in order to produce the final record layout and put the pieces of together. That’s why they creatively rape most artists using Photoshop as their main tool, alleged “artists” (rather “technicians” I would say) who are unable to used their bare hands and fingers as tools of their work. I think that with the rise of technology humans often forget how to do things that they are good at by themselves, rather chosing the easy way and trusting machines for that. Contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org and www.facebook.com/viral.graphics .
The way we have worked together for “Axiom” is that we have provided the lyrics and a description of the overall purpose and design of our concept. We have also discussed about how we would be imagining Dephosphorus if he was to be represented on paper. Then they did the rest and everybody was blown away.
For “Night Sky Transform”, except the lyrics we have also provided the general concept of the cover artwork. It is based on a mental image that haunts me for nearly 18 years now. They elaborated upon this, then they have expanded it in the inlay to a majestic scale that we could not possibly imagine. We have been collectively mesmerized to such degree when we first saw it that we wanted to start crying.
On the cover of “Axiom” we find some “cosmologic” representation, where man is in the center of a nebula surrounded by planets, geometrical forms and darker astral bodies. But the inside of the gatefold (just like the shirt) shows a colossal building which can remind of a cathedral, with very geometrical forms, with a nightsky full of astral bodies again. What's you vision around those designs and how are they connected to the lyrics?
Panos: As I have explained in the answer to your previous question, those are Viral Graphics’ visions based on our concept. From your own explanations one can say that the artwork has had the appropriate impact on you, taking your imagination to places! This is exactly what we want to achieve. Good art and good music must excite the imagination.
I do not want to detail those two pictures but instead have people do some mental work – like you did! Let’s say that “Axiom”’s cover has some mystic, occult implications in a wider universal context. The inlay “Tower” design (available as a t-shirt!) is indeed something like a cathedral.
What’s happening in the Greek underground scene in the last times? I know many of your Black Metal bands from the past, and some cool new Death Metal, but I don’t know much about your Grindcore/Crust/Hardcore or even Sludge/Doom scene. Could you let us know a bit about the best bands in your opinion? Are you in contact or collaborate with any bands of your underground scene?
Panos: I relocated in Greece after my studies in Paris-France in 1997. The greek underground was stagnating back then. A lot of things have happened since. Greek death metal is not a joke anymore and we have one of the world’s most respected and inspiring bands (Dead Congregation). A lot of black metal bands stopped being Rotting Christ copycats and found their own way. Local bands play more and more live outside of our borders and that is great.
There are some cool new bands from Greece. Not a lot, but enough. We are in touch or are friends with most of them. I surely forget or skip some. I go rarely to show these last years and am following less the scene than what I used to….
Black Metal: End, Ravencult, Angstridden, Bohemian Grove, Embrace Of Thorns, The One, Macabre Omen…
Death Metal: Dead Congregation, Inveracity, Atavism, Necrovorous…
Grind/crust/hardcore/punk: Kvazar, Headcleaner, Sarabante, Ruined Families, Antimob, My Turn, I Want You Dead…
Sludge/doom: Agnes Vein and Infidel are two doom bands that I enjoy. I am not aware of any sludge at all in Greece right now. SUN OF NOTHING were playing great sludge 10 years ago, mixed with other genres in their debut “…And Voices Words Faces Complete The Dream” that I have released through my label (www.blastbeatmailmurder.com).
Still speaking about Greece, but on another context. How are you living and facing all the economical problems your country is facing these last times? What’s your opinion on the “help” from Europe and how banks had their piece of the cake? How's the country facing a reduction of the 30% of government employees?
Panos: The general vibe in Greece is dreadful these days. There is a feeling of extreme tension in the air, one that everything is possible. When you’ll publish this interview maybe Athens will be in flames or the government will have fallen…
Greek economy has had rotten foundations for the last 30-35 years. The public sector is in the heart of the problem. Overgrown, corrupted to the bone, populated by many parasites and by the emetic soldiers of the political parties’ armies, not serving the citizen as it should… It has provided to Greece a fake prosperity which was not built on true ecomomic development.
France, Germany, the USA, the IMF, the European Bank, everybody knew exactly what the situation was – better than the greek population in fact. Yet they kept on giving and lending to Greece money – why? Because they didn’t really care that we didn’t use this money for development but only in order to increase our quality of life. Indeed with this money we were buying their products: their cars, their foods, their weapons, their defective submarines… Therefore they are also definitely responsible for all this.
Then they accepted Greece into the eurozone based on the evaluation of fake statistical data. Whoever claims just for a second that these countries with their badass secret services and their industrial espionnage experts were fooled by the greeks is a fucking liar and I would like to kick him in the face. The euro was the end of modern Greece because our economy stopped being competitive and we did not have the option of devaluating our national currency any more. The euro was made for the stronger economies in Europe, not for Greece’s. We were screwed big time.
Modern greece is going not only through an economic crisis but also a social and moral one. We are responsible for this. Past generations knew that we were moving in the wrong direction but were not educated and politically cultivated enough in order to do something. They had their little prosperity finally after many hard years (post-WWII), they kept voting for the same corrupt politicans, they thought that everything was going to be all right.
Greece must change, that is for sure. We Greeks want our society and ecomony to change. But it is just impossible that the wrongs of 30-35 years are fixed in 2 or 3 years. It is fucking outrageous that Europe is trying to make Greece change by strangling and asphyxiating a whole nation, by annihilating their dreams of the youth (already destroyed by past generations), forcing most bright and productive minds to immigrate and leave the country. Fuck you Europe.
Whoever wants to comprehend what is going on here in Greece should search Youtube or over the webernet for an excellent greek documentary entitled “Debtocracy”. It is properly subtitled in english and explains the tools and methods that brought Greece to its knees, being the same methods that were used a few years ago in Argentina for example…
Last but not least I want to say to you and to your readers to not waste any energy pitying the Greeks. What is going here is a global crisis of Western Capitalism, because it stopped being profitable since the rise of Eastern Capitalism (India, China, etc). Your turn is next and no western nation will be spared. So be ready to protest on your local communities and get down on the streets to protect your lives and your dreams. I am particularly glad that there are some protests happening right now in New York for example.
Let's do a small opinion game, as I use to on my webzine. Let me know what you think about these greek bands:
- Hibernation: One of the most crucial Greek hardcore punk bands. They are very accurate in depicting the sad state of modern greek society both in words and sounds.
- Nuclear Winter: A band that has briefly shook the local D.I.Y. circuit in the 90’s with Bolt Thrower/Amebix influenced crust, then kickstarted with Inveracity the renaissance of modern greek death metal before dissolving and having Dead Congregation rise from its ashes. I have pressed their “Abomination Virginborn” demo on 7”EP through my label BLASTBEAT MAILMURDER/PRODUCTIONS. It is still available.
- Dead Congregation: One of our favorite bands in the Dephosphorus camp and comrades of ours. Part of the worldwide death metal elite and initiators of the current dark death metal revival.
- Acrimonious: Decent orthodox black metal.
- Embrace Of Thorns: Cult black/death metal with the last drummer we were playing with at STRAIGHTHATE. Not exactly my cup of tea but overall a great band.
- Nocturnal Vomit: The name rings a bell but I don’t remember if I have actually listened to them (I think you’ll appreciate that I don’t cheat by rushing to the webernet right now!).
- Hellstorm: Same as above.
- Necrovorous: The baby of the cool dude that is the EMBRACE OF THORNS drummer mentionned earlier (aka Shit Eater). I have first listened to them when back at the STRAIGHTHATE days he handed to me the “Day of a Hot Cannibalistic Orgium“ demo CD-R. They were playing some sort of Autopsy/death’n’roll sort of stuff back then. Then they came off my radar. I know they have released a debut album at Blood Harvest. Haven’t listened to it but I’m certain it must be great. They have also done an excellent cover of “Haunter Of The Dark” by local death metal legends DEATH COURRIER.
So, as we’re closing the interview, I’d like that you let us know a bit about your next releases. I know there’s an album on the way, entitled “Night Sky Transform”, which will feature a guest appearance of Ryan Lipynsky (Unearthly Trance, Thralldom, The Howling Wind...), an EP with an unreleased track and some split release too... Explain us a bit about all this please, as well as about future live plans, if there are any.
Panos: We have our debut album’s music and artwork ready. It is called “Night Sky Transform”and features 10 songs that will blow your mind! Two of them (“Uncharted” & “Cold Omen”) are streaming right now at http://dephosphorus.bandcamp.com . Our comrade Ryan Lipynsky has pariticipated in the song “Unconscious Excursion”, wrting the lyrics, doing the vocals and recording a fantastic guiar solo.
We are about to start searching for a record label that can provide the distribution and promotion that “Night Sky Transform” deserves, so I can’t provide a release date yet. 7 Degrees Records might carry the vinyl version once again though!
We are going to participate with the song “Stargazing & Violence” at the split-EP subscription series that irish label Hell Comes Home is currently preparing. Subscribe now at http://www.hellcomeshome.com! Volume 1 will feature except us: Akaname (AUS/NZ) • Black Sun (UK) • Burning Love (CAN) •Coffinworm (USA) • Dead Elephant (IT) • Dopefight (UK) •Dukatalon (ISR) • Fight Amp (USA) • Fistula (USA) • The Fucking Wrath (USA) • Great Falls (USA) • Kowloon Walled City (USA) • Lesbian (USA) • Pyramido (SWE) • Rabbits (USA) • Suma (SWE) • The Swan King (USA) • Tellusian (SWE) • Thou (USA) • Throat (FIN) • Ultraphallus (BE) • Union Of Sleep (DE) + one more band. We are supposed to share our EP with GREAT FALLS which is an awesome american band featuring ex/current members of Playing Enemy, Jesu, Kiss It Goodbye, Undertow, Black Noise Cannon. That vinyl should be out sometime during the winter.
We also have three songs from the album’s session to offer for a split-EP/MLP. This session is called “The Cosmologist” and is composed of shorter, mostly grind tracks. We are currently on the lookout for the right band to share this with.
As far as playing gigs, we will start performing live next year. We have already started contacting a few european festivals. If you want to have us play in your city, tell your local promoters to get in touch!
Thanks a lot for your time guys, and good luck for the future of Dephosphorus. I hope to hear more from you very soon. Add anything else you forgot previously.
Panos: Thanks a lot brother! We are totally grateful for the support. We are happy as fuck to get contacted by people who are inspired by our music/concept and having an insightful, constructive interaction with them like the one we just did… We hope that we will be able to meet sometime in the future and have a few drinks together. Until then…
“SMASH WITH A STONE
THE SKULL OF THE MAN
WHO STANDS IN THE PATH
BETWEEN YOU AND THE STARS”
(DEPHOSPHORUS “Stargazing & Violence”)
Gia Thanatos is a webzine dedicated to music for the apocalyptic times. No matter the scene or genre it comes from, and mainly chosen according to its author's taste.