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SPECIAL FEATURE: Greek Death Metal Roundup

Continuing with our features on death metal scenes from around the world, we’ve delved into the underrated but powerful Greek death metal scene. Though not as active as the scene in some other European countries namely United Kingdom, Germany or Poland, the bands here reek of potential, are relatively diverse, and as you already know, some like Rotting Christ, SepticFlesh and Dead Congregation have already left an indelible mark with their music. However, unlike certain countries, the Greek bands don’t have a typical sound to boast of (akin to their contribution to the black metal genre) but I’m not sure whether that’s even needed in these times when it’s more about having an individualistic expression rather than forming a clique to further the objective. Admittedly, one of the bands on the list, Abyssus, have released an album under the label division of Transcending Obscurity, but that’s a compilation and they’ve released a full length on another label which has been documented over here for reasons of fairness. Thanks for reading and please post suggestions in the comments if you have any for this article or others that we should work upon. ~ Kunal Choksi (Editor-in-Chief)

Rotting Christ (Season of Mist)

I know some of you will look at this one and scratch your heads, but to say that Rotting Christ is purely a black metal group strikes me as inaccurate. One of the band’s draws, at least for me, over the years has been their interest in trying new sounds. As a result, many of their albums sound quite different in terms of genre despite still carrying the unmistakable foundation of Sakis’ signature, simplistic hooks and deep vocals. Even journeying back to classic releases like ‘A Dead Poem,’ there is the unmistakable influence of Swedish melodic death metal on their style. Then you have the help of Septicflesh’s Spiros on ‘Sanctus Diavolos’ (perhaps my personal favorite) expanding on these ideas while adding symphonic influences. And finally, albums like ‘Theogonia’, ‘Aeolo’, and to an extent ‘Rituals’ jumped into more folk-influenced territory while still towing the line between black and death metal. Regardless what you end up calling them, the Greek metal scene simply cannot be discussed without including Rotting Christ. I can’t count how many new bands cross my ears on a regular basis that either inherently carry aspects of their sound or overtly call them out as a major influence. ~ FlightOfIcarus

Septicflesh (Prosthetic Records)

Veritable giants to metal, definitely. But to what subgenre would one tag them to? Symphonic or atmospheric death metal? And yet one wouldn’t deny the salience of the band’s contribution to the genre. When ‘Mystic Places of Dawn’ came out in ’94 it simply never had any antecedents. Synth elements that espoused a sense of melancholic grandeur were married to a certain death / doom brand of riffery. Impressive enough to conjure images of ruin and beauty engaged in an agonistic sway. Yet orthodoxy was never their forte. Their sound has evolved over the two decades since and maybe in no small way, similar to the trajectory of their contemporaries in Rotting Christ. A dip in quality midway (‘Revolution DNA’ and reworked EPs put into a completely lackluster album) only leading to a reinvention and reassertion of their craft later. While RC had it in ‘Theogonia’ SepticFlesh rode forth, negating any slip into collective oblivion through ‘Communion’. Enlisting the skills of actual ensembles such as the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra the band evidently went full blown majestic. The riffs may have been pared down compared to their earlier classics and yet what was evident and unchanging was their class. And so has it remained over the years to this very day. ~ Deckard Cain

Dead Congregation (Martyrdoom Productions)

If I had to pick one death metal band that really left their mark in the last decade, it would be Dead Congregation. The Greek quartet took the complete death metal community by a storm with the release of their debut ‘Graves of the Archangels’, back in 2008. The insane mix of raw riffs and extreme technicality, got hordes of fans hooked on to what probably should now be regarded as an all-time classic of the genre. With the heavy touring and the Greek economic crisis, the fans were made to wait in languish for over 6 years for the sophomore release – ‘Promulgation of the Fall’. The wait truly paid off, as it showcased the band in its most confident and powerful form.
Surprisingly, the old school “Swedish” death metal sound of Dead Congregation is actually not that unique, heavily inspired by likes of Immolation and Incantation. It still holds up due to the sheer quality of the songs and conviction of the musicians. The band’s latest release, comes in the form of a two-track ”Sombre Doom’ EP. The record showcases the dual sound the band have mastered over the years, by bringing both their slower doomier part and the much more direct attack of death metal to the table.
Dead Congregation is one band that is carrying the death metal flag forward with utmost conviction, dishing out tunes that are enchanting as well as intimidating. ~ Vidur Paliwal

Abyssus (Memento Mori)

Abyssus

Abyssus are one of the many bands that I have been introduced to by our editor, Kunal Choksi. This death metal trio are one of the newer bands on this list. They have been quite prolific in just 5 years, releasing splits with Slaktgrav, Morbider and Nocturnal Vomit, an EP ‘Monarch to the Kingdom of the Dead’ and and a full length album ‘Into the Abyss’. Unlike current death metal bands, Abyssus prefer to remain old school, rooted in the Florida death metal sound prior to the technical death metal era. I really enjoyed their full length album ‘Into the Abyss’ as it showcased the growth of the band in a short period. The album should be the starting point for anyone listening to the band for the first time. Abyssus are definitely a band to keep an eye out in the next few years. ~ Peter Kotikalapudi

Mass Infection (Comatose Music)

Mass Infection have come a long way since their debut. They’ve forged a sound that’s very interesting – it’s a mix of old school death metal rooted in the US style a la Malevolent Creation with brutal death metal comparable to early Suffocation. It’s not completely contemporary as the riffing is old-fashioned, even leaning towards thrash metal like Vader, but that’s what makes this so invigorating. It’s the rifftastic kind of death metal with the heaviness of brutal death metal. I think the band could take this to another level with this sound but even with what they’ve achieved on their last two albums, they’re very remarkable ~ Kunal Choksi (Editor-in-Chief)

Inveracity (Unique Leader Records)


Even though Inveracity haven’t released an album in almost a decade, their contribution to the brutal death metal world has been remarkable. They took everyone by surprise with their back-to-back killer albums in the vein of Gorgasm, Deeds of Flesh and Suffocation. The most outstanding quality of their music is their vicious execution almost having the same force as Disavowed. The memorable riffing made sure that their contribution wasn’t easily forgotten. ~ Kunal Choksi (Editor-in-Chief)

Necrovorous (Blood Harvest)

Necrovorous

Formed as a gore obsessed trio over 11 years ago, Necrovorous spent the better part of their career releasing demos and honing their craft. This exercise seems to have had an effect on the band’s sound itself. While the earlier demos show strands of goregrind meets death metal, their most recent efforts like their debut full length ‘Funeral for the Sane’ (2011) sees the band hold off on the gore obsession to create a more focused sound. The band now places emphasis on a dark, miserable atmosphere and this coupled with the old school death metal riffs reminiscent of acts like Autopsy and Entombed, makes this band both fun and engaging. Since 2011, this band has been putting out singles and demos, while also teaming up Japanese doomsters Anatomia for a split release. With a single being released in 2017, it is likely that we will be getting a proper release from Necrovorous soon. I, for one, am looking forward to this release. ~ Shrivatsan R

Death Courier (Psychosis)

At the time of their first go-round, Greek thrash / death metallers Death Courier were among the few acts in the country that weren’t paying homage to the exploding Scandinavian black metal scene, and originally split up in 1993 almost immediately after the debut’s release. Having reformed in 2009 with a new line-up and a second album already released, their take on the style is quite likely more in league with vicious US acts like Demolition Hammer or Vio-Lence with a slightly more pronounced death metal bent. This is a rather impressive attack as the tight, deep-churning riffing is aided by a slower, churning sprawl that offers quite a variance of generally up-tempo, chaos-riddled madness that merges the early thrash and death metal scenes together. Considering the band had already been together for seven years by the time of their debut, their maturity and dynamic attack gives this one a great starting point that strangely wasn’t capitalized on until 2013 when the bands’ sophomore release finally arrived. Though it’s been quiet since, they’re one of the more clear-cut and enjoyable examples of the thrash / death style in the genre and are wholly recommended to all fans of that particular style or just ravenous, vicious thrash in general. ~ Don Anelli

Murder Made God (Comatose Music)

It wouldn’t be a proper death metal list without at least one band that skews towards the technical / brutal side of the spectrum. When it came to groups from Greece that fit this description, Murder Made God was one of the first that came to mind and for good reason. Their newest full length ‘Enslaved’ came out in April of last year via Comatose Music and offers a bit more of a dynamic attack than is typical for brutal death metal. Sure, they’ve got the required insanely fast, unrelenting blasting and slower breaks where groove heavy leads take over, but the tempos switch a bit more frequently and the band keeps you on your toes without resorting to mere technical wankery. Sure, there’s a very technical, precise element to their playing, but there are hooks you can latch on to here and when you combine that with the brutality of the pounding drums and low-tuned guitars/bass it works extremely well. Brutal/technical death metal sometimes blurs together from one song to the next, but Murder Made God manages to keep you on your toes while giving enough substance to get you hooked on particular tracks, and that makes them a band you should be paying attention to. ~ Chris Dahlberg

Blessed by Perversion (Razed Soul Productions)

Blessed by Perversion

Greek bands often tend to focus their lyrical themes to voice opposition to Greek Orthodox Christianity which happens to be the major state religion. Blessed by Perversion formed in 2010 with the objective of continuing the tradition of talking about the problems of organized religion. With a mid-paced sound inspired by the likes of Deicide, the music here sticks to old school death metal roots, while subtly infusing a bit of melody (specifically with respect to guitar leads and solos) into the mix. The band initially released their ‘Destroying the Image of God’ back in 2012. Following a four year silence post that release, the band returned in 2016 with a split featuring fellow Greek death metallers Abyssus and a full length album titled ‘Between the Roots and Darkness’. The improved production on the new record brought to fore the nuances in Blessed by Perversion’s old school riffs and gave a better visibility into some of the subtle melodic inclinations. The pacing on the album is predominantly mid paced, with the riffs enthralling the listener with infectious grooves as opposed to all out brutality. The guttural vocals bring enough viciousness to the table and that coupled with heavy metal tinged death metal riffage, makes this album a solid death metal affair. Blessed by Perversion is the latest addition to an already impressive death metal scene in Greece and their releases give you more than enough reasons as to why one should take note of them. ~ Shrivatsan R

Carnal Garden (Independent)

The vocalist of Abyssus finds place in this new old school death metal band that’s reminiscent of, yes, Obituary, Master, Malevolent Creation and Gorefest. It’s not as evolved as Abyssus and the song structures are quite simple but the whole affair is ridiculously catchy and addictive. With better songwriting and perhaps faster compositions, I don’t see why Carnal Garden can’t make a big splash with their next album. The vocals are great, as can be expected with the singular John Tardy-esque delivery. ~ Kunal Choksi (Editor-in-Chief)

The Psalm (Unholy Domain Records)

The Psalm may be a fairly new name in the Greek death metal scene, but all three of its members played in Nocturnal Vomit before its break-up, so they’re certainly not strangers to the genre. On their two-track EP ‘I’, released in the fall of 2015, the group showcases a knack for an old-school sound that immediately caught my attention. Vocalist Thomas Eremite utilizes a raspier scream/shriek that at times seems to be channeling Martin van Drunen (Asphyx) and does so in a very convincing fashion. Musically there’s a noticeable old-school European death metal slant, but the integration of some melodic elements give The Psalm a sound that reinforces their identity as a Greek band. They’re able to deliver brute force at faster tempos when necessary, but the dips into slower passages lets some eerier melodic elements seep in and give the songs a thick atmosphere that distinguishes them from the usual old-school death metal throwback. As of last May the band mentioned on social media they were working on a full length album, so hopefully later in the year we’ll have a chance to hear even more from this promising group. ~ Chris Dahlberg

Soulskinner (Xtreem Music)

Soulskinner have recently come to prominence following their release on Xtreem Music. Their brand of music is hard to dislike – it’s in the classic old school style with all the right aesthetics. It sounds humongous, comparable to the early material of bands like Grave, Hypocrisy, Unleashed and Entombed. There’s also a distinct Dutch death metal flavour a la Sinister. It’s as solid as it comes and the band’s poised to do even better in the future if they continue in this path.  ~ Kunal Choksi (Editor-in-Chief)

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