There are few countries that can rival the impact Greece made on the evolution of black metal following its birth. Beginning with Rotting Christ back in the late 80s, the sound emerging from the eastern Mediterranean nation has imprinted a distinctive character upon the genre’s frosty roots, with the ancient land acting as a bridge between musical, cultural, and supernatural traditions of East and West. Fast forward almost 30 years and the seed planted by Sakis Tolis and co. has flourished into one of the most vibrant black metal institutions in the world, defined by its fiercely esoteric spirit and its emphatic sound, intoxicatingly infused with primal ritualism and exotic aura.
Counted among this movement are Devathorn, whose second full-length album ‘Vritra’ offers a glimpse into the depths of veiled occult traditions, delivered through utterly ferocious and often genuinely intimidating black metal. A fusion of dynamic yet raw riffery, merciless percussive assaults, and manic outbursts of devilish rasping, ‘Vritra’ demonstrates both the malicious power of Devathorn’s sound, and the band’s devotion to the mystical obscurities that inspire their work; a force they solemnly refer to as ‘The Sulphur Dragon’. Unholy Noise got in touch with the band via email to discuss ancient mythology, the state of modern black metal, and the band’s constant drive for musical and personal evolution.
Hello, and thanks for the interview! Can you give us an introduction into Devathorn? Who is in the band, and what brought you together to produce music under this banner?
The circle of Devathorn emerged in 2002. The synthesis of elements led to the triumvirate of Saevus H., Althagor and Mechblastess that materialized the vision behind Devathorn. Nowadays, the circle welcomes two new members that have entered our ranks through the years, after numerous line-up changes. The first one was Hierophant and the name of the second, will soon be announced. Since the very beginning, the leading factor was to channel our Inner Flame and vibrations unto our Art. Every creation, musical or lyrical is the result of this process.
It’s been seven years since Devathorn’s debut ‘Diadema’; how have the years leading up to the release of ‘Vritra’ been for the band, and how do you see your new work in relation to the debut?
It is of utmost importance for the Circle to evolve and progress. Those years granted us experience in many levels, musically and spiritually, a process that has been carved on “VRITRA”. The second full length opus of Devathorn contains the evolved and evolving aspects of the band. The recent split release with Blaze of Perdition “418-ATh IAV” was only a precursor to the coming emanation. Comparing the two full lengths, there is a monstrous difference, but this has always been the task, to evolve. Though, the flame behind of every creation of the Circle is always present.
How did you select the particular strain of esoteric tradition that provides the conceptual focus of ‘Vritra’?
There is a strong connection to the Draconian Current that the archetype of Vritra derives from. The name itself holds tremendous significance as well as the values it bears. The process of selecting the thematology for this album was very severe for us, since we strived to encompass the vibrations unto this certain strain. It was a natural outcome to work and study on the aspects of the Asura Serpent that unites some of the most powerful axioms of the Left Hand Path and charge the album with the enormous symbolism of the Dragon.
Following on from the last question, could you give us an insight into how the symbology and esoteric content of the music relates to yourselves as individuals and outside of your musical output?
As stated before, there is a strong influence of course, that emerges from the Current to our every emanation. All of our practices and experience in personal level reflect on our musical result, transforming the process of creation unto a channeling of our Inner Flame. The motives and forces that lead us to this are esoteric and personal, being an extension of the path we have chosen to follow.
Musically the record is a highly diverse and textured listen, merging elements of the traditional black metal sound with striking vocal range and a strong focus on powerful and dynamic guitar playing. What were your goals and approaches when writing ‘Vritra’? How do you balance
your clear focus on subject matter and inspirations with the actual process of writing music?
There are several raging elements evolved into Vritra, many of them diverse and some of them springing from numerous influences outside the black metal fields. We restrain nothing, as the whole process is a combination of structured compositions and unchained improvisation. This, one could say, is the moving factor of synthesis for Devathorn, this very process of combining contradictory elements into a demented harmony that still breaths our influences, experience and background. Also, we are very proud to have a circle of very talented and unique individuals participating on this Opus, granting their fiery essence: Acherontas V.Priest of Acherontas on serpental chants and summerian astral mantras, Amduscias of Temple of Baal on lead guitar evocations, Chiva of Serpent Noir and Monk Adramelekh on Draconian invocating chants, Temple of Algolagnia on vibrating ambient tracks, Denwar of Chthonian Alchemy on Promethean choir and K.K. of Mother of Millions on lucid acoustic pulses. Each one of them has great respect from the Circle of Devathorn and it was only natural to form a cooperation on the album. Their participation boosted the aura of VRITRA to a new level, and the work of Incorporated M. Studios along with the perfect mastering job of Tore Stjerna in Necromorbus studios enchanted the tracks with several poisonous elements that fully enriched the result.
With yourselves and other artists such as Dysangelium, Ascension, Vassafor, Nightbringer etc, there has been a recent surge in the number of extreme metal bands producing this form of highly esoteric, mythically-influenced music. Why do you think there are such a volume of bands exploring these themes and receiving greater exposure at the moment?
Black Metal has always been one unique host for the esoteric element to emerge, as it provides the sinister vibrations to channel the occult perspectives of the individual, with the abovementioned bands to be powerful examples, among many more. Of course, B.M. is not the sole expression of Esotericism, since there many musical genres that have magnificent occult masterpieces to show, from classical compositions of the 18th century, to ritual dark ambient tracks of today. Occult Black Metal has always been present since the very beginning of the genre, it is the latest years that suddenly it became a trend. And as always, this is a synonym to low-standards, tons of ignorant bands and individuals that used a fraud occult mask to get some attention. The vast majority uses symbols and symbolizations, totally ignoring the true meaning other than a surface view, without having really studied or experienced any οf them. There are though, several selected bands and individuals that have our total respect for their work, releasing powerful material in every aspect.
What lies in the future for Devathorn? Will we have to wait another seven years for your next album, or will the band become more of a fulltime project with the signing with W.T.C?
Devathorn has always been a full time band, with full dedication from the members. The signing with World Terror Committee grants us a powerful cooperation with a major label that can fully materialize our vision for the future of Devathorn. Every step is decided carefully, as we will never release something below our standards just to compile a release, we will always strive to progress and surpass ourselves. Vritra album sets a high standard of expectations for the coming storms, I can only reveal that the next fiery emanation of the Circle is already being channeled.
Thanks for your time! Do you have any concluding statements?
It was our honor to have this interview and the soil to sow the word of the Dragon. On the 27th day of February, World Terror Committee shall reveal the essence of “VRITRA” upon the material plane. The jewelcase CD edition will be followed soon by a royal DLP and tape format, all designed by the sinister vision of Daniel Rosten (Mortuus/Arioch of Marduk/Funeral Mist) and Holy Poison Design.
Open your Hearts for the Sulphur Dragon!