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Scene Report: Greece

Greek metal band Universe217
Universe217

Invisible Oranges readers are probably familiar with the big names in extreme metal coming out of Greece. Rotting Christ, Septic Flesh and Nightfall have been emissaries of the scene since the early ’90s, and all of them are still going strong, while recently, more great acts have emerged, including Dead Congregation and Ravencult. That said, there are less well-known acts in the country that deserve your attention. Since I am originally from Athens, I have a decent idea about some of the not as well known acts of the local scene. I am going for a dive here, searching through some of the bands whose sound has excited me in the Greek extreme metal scene, trying to choose the ones that might be lying on the more obscure end of the spectrum.

Universe217

I am not going to lie, the first time I saw Universe217 playing live I thought they were not very exciting, but it felt like they had the potential to be special. What I have noticed since is that the band have been constantly improving. As a result, I started to follow their releases. Their self-titled debut album found them in a state where they were still figuring out what their vision would be, but after that they just blossomed. Staying within the boundaries of doom metal, at least most of the time, they remained very active, releasing three albums in the span of six years, reaching their absolute peak in 2013 with Never. It is rare to see a band that maintains the purity of the doom metal vision but is not afraid to try different things, with heavy implementation of effects, a wide range of vocals and a towering ambiance.

Dreamlongdead

Despite being one of the relatively new entries to the Greek extreme metal scene, Dreamlongdead possess an old-school mentality. The band started out as a three-piece and soon added an additional guitarist and a co-vocalist. Their sound touches on two genre pillars: On one end you have this towering doom-ish weight, while on the other there is this rotten quality that oozes from their old-school death metal influence. In 2012 the band released their debut album, MadnessDeadGrave, a Lovecraft-ian tribute, that revealed the depths of their sickening sound through three long-ass songs making the album a torturous offering of primal doom/death. However, the band’s sophomore album, AriseHowlingDarkness, sadistically furthers their vision, containing a further array of musical elements, ranging from proto-death to thrash leanings.

Greek metal band SoulSkinner
SoulSkinner

Soulskinner

Starting off their career as Terra Tenebrae, under which name they released a full-length album, Subconscious. This death metal act might not have been the most active, but waiting for their next album was worth it. Breeding the Grotesque was released back in 2003, with the band still carrying the chaotic sound of the days of Terra Tenebrae. The first revelation came with Non Stop Killing, on which Soulskinner took on a more furious form, injecting their death metal with aspects of grindcore and a heavier groove. It took 7 years until their next full-length, and these guys again brought it. With Crypts of Ancient Wisdom it feels like Soulskinner return to the fundamentals of death metal. The album featured aspects of the early ’90s death metal scene, such as the Bolt Thrower martial groove and the schizoid lead work present in early Morbid Angel works. Their lyrics are also augmented to include references in Greek mythology, history and philosophy, focusing on aspects such as suffering, death and humanity’s limited vision.

Omega Monolith

Now, Omega Monolith is a very recent addition to the extreme metal scene in Athens. Even though the band itself might be new, its two members are veterans in the scene, having participated in many other great acts such as Violet Vortex and Noiselust. What really separates them is that their song structures are based around endless, guitar loops coupled with monolithic drums. Omega Monolith venture forth into the drone domain, without forgetting about their rock side, and veer into jam sessions within their drone explorations. At this point the band has released two EPs, Black Campaign and Vile, with a debut album to follow in a few months’ time.

Agnes Vein

Agnes Vein’s discography is sparse, but each release has its own appeal. The Salonican band originated in 2001, and although it took them 7 years to release their debut album, their first EP, …of Chaos and Law, was released relatively quickly in 2003. Black and doom collide in the works of Agnes Vein, and that clash of identity characterizes their sound. Seven years after the debut EP, the band further built on their black/doom vision, extending the tracks to reach an imposing sound with Duality. The album was raw and abrupt, but still melodic in parts. The narrative of the band is also rich with tales of Middle Earth, granting the album with a more visual aspect. Their follow-up album however further raises the bar. With Soulship, Agnes Vein have allowed a more experimental outlook to creep into their structures, retaining their blackened doom core, but extending it further to post-metal territories, reminiscent of the early releases of the heavier side of Hydra Head’s roster.

Dodsferd

Dodsferd, one of the most prolific acts in the Greek extreme metal scene, started off as a one-man project in 2001 and eventually became a full band in 2009. Their early releases are dominated by a raw and relentless black metal form. That feeling does not originate so much from the pace of the tracks. The first point of origin is their completely misanthropic attitude in terms of their lyrical subjects, including anti-religious elements, in the Fucking Your Creation era, and a full-blown pessimistic negativity on The Parasitical Survival of the Human Race. In terms of the music their old-school black metal approach also shows in their song structures, filled with eerie leads and dissonant parts, constructing cold, unapproachable ambiances, which comprise the essence of Dodsferd. Suicide and The Rest of Your Kind Will Follow found Dodsferd becoming a proper band, with full-time members, and also signaled a slight change of style. The raw black metal aspect is still there, but is enhanced by a suicidal infusion, creating tracks with sickening groove and pessimistic quality. Since then they have remained as active as ever, having recently released what could very well be their finest work to date in Wastes of Life.

In Utero Cannibalism
At times a direct approach is the best way forward, and when it comes to death metal, the approach of In Utero Cannibalism is as direct as it can get. The guttural essence of IUC’s death metal is overwhelming since their debut, Psychotic Killing Lust, back in 2007. Since then the band has gone on to a perfect killing spree, releasing one album after the other, with their heavily influenced early ’90s Floridian, gore-enhanced death metal. Their records are perfect assaults, precise and unforgiving, filled with deep growls, unstoppable blastbeats and a technical prowess. Especially since Sick, their third album, they have improved further in terms of their sound and production, while their playing remains as top notch as ever.

—Spyros Stasis

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