Abyssus, with their incessant output of music since their inception in 2011, have put themselves on the map of the Greek if not the international scene with their high quality old school death metal worship. This is how it is meant to be played the old school way; no blast beats, no 100mph riffs and no slams. Just homage to the godfathers of the scene, namely Obituary, Autopsy and Bolt Thrower. Abyssus may not be doing anything original but you are probably only talking a handful of bands that are nowadays doing something original with a scene that is now thirty years old. I caught up with vocalist Kostas who was kind enough to answer my questions.
Can you tell us Moshville Times readers how you got the band together?
Abyssus was born to serve the old-school death metal tradition and revive the organic sound of morbidity and darkness. I formed the band back in 2011 as one-man project and released Monarch to the Kingdom of the Dead EP. In the coming years, Panos Gkourmpaliotis joined the band and with several line-up changes we unleashed a series of splits and the Summon the Dead EP in 2013. Just before recording our debut album Into the Abyss, Kostas Ragiadakos joined the band on the bass guitars. In May, 2016, Abyssus’s ranks were reinforced by Christos Liakos on the guitars and a few months later, in December, by Jan Westermann on the drums, thus establishing a solid line-up.
Being an even smaller country than Scotland, I imagine that Greece may have a similar issue about spreading the word for a band like Abyssus? How difficult is it to get the word spread around and promote yourselves?
Greece has one of the most powerful underground metal scenes worldwide in all genres of our music. The disadvantage is that we are far from central Europe which means a big cost for touring and spreading our music to the masses. Ok, internet makes miracles but we are a live band and this is want we want to do. We are looking forward to playing abroad although it is not so easy.
For being a comparatively young band of six or so years, you have a large back catalogue already – including a number of EPs and splits. How often is the band able to get together and rehearse?
We are a young band, however we are not teenagers. We are, all of us, over thirty years old and we know what we are wanting to do. Heavy metal is part of our lives and we are living for it. You say we have many releases but in the next months much more will come! We are very active not only with Abyssus but also with all our other bands and projects.
As for your question about rehearsals, we have our own place for rehearsing, our second home, and when a live show is near we increase the number of weekly rehearsals.
What are the facilities in Greece like for studios and recording? What are the venues like for playing in and has this ignited the metal scene within Greece to be as strong as its ever been or have venues been forced to close due to the economic climate?
It is worthless to sit down and moan. Of course financial crisis has put the Greeks in bad position about their lives but what would people in Africa or the Middle East say? There are difficulties, of course there are, but always there is an exit. There are good studios to record or rehearse in and live stages to play, but also there are terrible too, everywhere this happens. You have to pay if you need to play in a good live stage or record in a good studio but on the other hand if you respect your music you should go a step further, spend more time, spend more money etc.
What opportunities have you had to support the major bands that come to Greece and play? What’s has been your most memorable gig?
Actually, we have a good reputation built in our land that give us the opportunity to have some cool offers and invitations for special gigs. The most memorable gig was when we were the opening act for Possessed as we are big fans of the band. We loved that show. We have also played with Suicidal Angels, Defeated Sanity… in May we will be play alongside Aura Noir and there are more to come.
You are to release your second album later this year. How would you say your sound has changed from the early days to that of today?
There is always evolution. We are getting older, we are becoming wiser (I suppose) and mature through difficulties and life itself. Such things influence the way each one acts in his daily life and that occurs even in the way you compose. If you sit down and listen to our releases you will find changes through the years but everything happens with true respect to the old-school death metal legacy.
Greece, like a lot of other countries, is going through a tough time socially and politically. Does this inspire you when it comes to writing lyrics for your songs?
Of course that happens as I have already mentioned. The world we are living in is a bomb about to explode. Especially in Greece, the financial crisis, high unemployment, political corruption, the Cold War situation with the neighbouring countries, the treatment of Syrian immigrants and much more. These problems can’t be ignored as we are part of them, living with them, growing with them. Whether you like it or not you become one with those problems, influenced and inspired at the same time. Hard times.
Abyssus was originally a one man band with Kostas playing all instruments. Was it always the intention to make Abyssus a traditional recording and live band or did it happen by accident?
When I started the band I just wanted to release some good songs I had already composed. Nothing more. The great praise our first EP received made me think of a solid line up which would make live shows too. Step by step, we are making the band’s name bigger and we will keep on.
How are the songs created within the band? Is it one or two guys that do the song writing or do all the band members contribute to the songs?
At the very beginning I used to write all music and lyrics but things changed when Panos (Gkourmpaliotis – guitars) entered the band. He composes the most music but this happens because he has been on fire the last year or so! Lyrics will always written by me. I give severe and special treatment to lyrics as for the band are very important.
You released the EP Unleash the Storm through Death in Pieces records based in Mexico. How did that come about and how has the relationship been so for with the label?
Victor is a friend of mine, I love this guy, totally cool heavy metal maniac. We play together in Cryptic Realms. He was the first person who came to mind when Unleash the Storm was ready and we began to search for a label. Everyone is excited with this cooperation as he treats our band with respect. His label is small (now) but totally professional.
With it becoming increasingly hard for bands to make money from music, I presume all of you will have day jobs. Does this prevent the band’s touring ambitions for the band of if the opportunity of a European tour came up, you are ready to play?
We have our jobs but much bigger bands than us can’t live from their music. It would be difficult to tour in a permanent way but we are looking forward for some weekend shows or a week-long tour. We are working on that.
Greece and especially Athens have always had a vibrant metal scene and arguably Greece’s biggest metal export, Rotting Christ, hail from Athens like you. Are there more underground bands that we should be paying attention to?
I could say a hundred names, believe me, the metal scene in Greece is full of diamonds. Check bands like Awe, Convixion, Released Anger, Soulskinner, Rapture, Foul Entity, Kawir, Order of the Ebon Hand, Death Courier and many, many more. There is plenty of good metal down here.
So what does the rest of 2018 hold for the band in terms of touring and recording?
After the live show with Aura Noir in May we will enter the studio for the recording of our second album Death Revival. Before its release two more releases will be out, so stay tuned!
A fun question to end this interview. If you were a DJ and were allowed to bring 5 CDs to the party, what would they be?
I love such questions! In such occasion, as we are talking about a party, I would bring:
- Twisted Sister – Stay Hungry
- W.A.S.P. – W.A.S.P.
- Iron Maiden – Somewhere in Time
- Running Wild – Port Royal
- Sepultura – Beneath the Remains
Any last message for our readers here at Moshville Times?
Thanks for your time and support! We will not disappoint you!