Conversation with Vorskaath on behalf of the Greek Black Metal band, Zemial
How would you like to influence your audience through your music, what kind of impact you'd like to give?
Such that the listener feels deeply satisfied. Whatever the soul requires, whether that is letting out steam and energy, or through the solemnity of stillness and listening.
What is the main motivation that drives you to create music?
It mostly comes naturally from life around me. I respond to what is happening by playing and creating music. Other times, I purposely set out to compose based on a specific theme.
You have been already there at the golden age of Greek Black Metal, thus we can say you have a long career with a rather short but very quality discography. How do you see your past records with recent eyes?
Some I like, some I don’t. I think of how I could have handled things differently, but I also accept that they way that things turned out has had an impact on people across the world, so I make my peace with old thorns.
Face Of The Conqueror is one of the best Black Metal MLPs out there, such a compact, flawless and magically organic sounding record. What do you think about it circa 20 years later?
Thank you for your kind words.
That record was the first proper Zemial recording that we did at my brother’s newly built studio and we had no idea how to properly use all the equipment. So for the most part, I relied on my ear and used no processing. The final result is practically the sound we got from the microphones without EQ, compression etc. Just good luck.
I really like it as a release. Face of the Conqueror, the song, is one of my favourite Zemial songs.
Let’s talk a bit about For The Glory Of UR, another classic of Ancient Greek Black Metal that just rereleased recently in a stunningly presented vinyl format. Are you satisfied with the anniversary LP?
I think that Essential Purification Records have managed to present the most outstanding item in my discography. In addition, I listened to the LP test pressing to give the Ok and I compared it closely to the various CD editions. It was far superior.
Yes, I am 101% satisfied with the result. It is a must-have for vinyl collectors and for fans who only have the CD editions.
In 2016 you released the digital EP "The Repairer of Reputations". Would you comment this EP? Do you any have plans to release it in physical format?
“The Repairer of Reputations” is a 16-minute piece that I wrote based on a short story of the late 19th Century.
The composition strictly follows the protagonist’s journey and as such is very fluid and is outside the realm of heavy metal forms and sounds. It is closer to 70’s prog rock and soundtrack music.
The piece is taken from a forthcoming album titled “Lurking”, which has been composed and is waiting its turn to be recorded and released.
It's rarely discussed but you played on Varathron's now classic debut album "His Majesty At The Swamp". What memories do you keep from your period in the band?
For the record and to be precise, I composed most of the album and recorded the guitars and drums. Ι also played bass in some of the songs. Of course there was no “Wolfen” playing drums. That was Stefan’s silly attempt to make it seem as if there was actually a full band.
I was invited to join Varathron in 1992 and I started writing music for the album on my own.
We never met to rehearse as a band. I met with Mutilator twice to listen to his ideas and the first time that the three of us met, was at the studio during the recording.
27 years later, I find that “His Majesty At the Swamp”, is rightly considered a pivotal album for the development of the so called: “Greek sound”, as it was the first extreme album of the “second wave” to be released in Greece at the time.
I am very pleased with that.
You told me you are working on two different materials recently, what would you tell us about this sessions? Is Prosciptor your long time comrade now a session or a full time member in the band?
I am currently recording a new Zemial album which, in celebrating 30 years of the band, is a retrospection at the roots of Zemial. So this is primarily a Thrash album in the vein of old Slayer, Kreator, Sodom, Destruction, Celtic Frost/Hellhammer and Bathory. It will be released within 2020.
Proscriptor will be featured as lead vocalist in some songs – yes.
He has joined Zemial as vocalist for live shows and some studio collaboration, as we felt this was a great way to consolidate our almost 30-year connection as friends.
Beyond that, I have also composed a second album, which is a return to the Avant Garde approach and perhaps the darkest album I have written so far. That is scheduled for release within 2021.
So If I understand well we can be prepared for one album more in the style of for example "For The Glory Of UR" and one in the direction of "Nykta"?
Not quite. The Thrash album is closer to the material from Face of the Conqueror and songs like under Scythian Command, Breath of the pestilence and Eclipse from NYKTA.
Old style 80’s Thrash.
The album following that, is entirely different in every respect.
It features more grandiose classical music themes, as well as space/psychedelic moments, soundtrack moments, prog rock, and lots of intricacy. It is the exact opposite of the straight-ahead Thrash album. Like a soundtrack to tales of dark corners of the soul.
Are you composing both albums alone?
Yes. I compose and perform all instruments and voices alone, except on some occasions, where I have a guest soloist or guest vocalist like Proscriptor.
Will Proscriptor participate in both?
Which label(s) will carry this records?
Agonia Records will release both albums under license from me.
What is your personal credo? Do you follow a religious, moral or theoretical code?
I do. And it is something that can not possibly be summed meaningfully within the confines of this medium, which dictates short answers. Perhaps some simple terms may better assist in illuminating the path: Logic, Hedonism, Responsibility, Temperance, Dark.
Words that easily can be associated with the ancient Hellenic culture. Is your cultural heritage important to you as a person and as a musician?
I do not delude myself in thinking that modern Greeks are similar to those ancient people. Today’s Greece is for the most part, populated by people who are very far removed from those ancient people and their values. What Ancient Greece achieved is the cultural heritage of the Western world and belongs to the whole world.
Yes, this heritage is important to me and I do what I can to live a life that embraces many of those old values. This of course opens a path that is difficult to tread in this new world of insanity and death.
What are the answers that only black metal can provide to the recent life we live in?
Black Metal today is just another musical style that has joined the great big cogs of the worldwide music industry. It has no answers, other than for fools.
Are you sure about it? I mean cannot be Black Metal an answer or a helping hand for the future generations? The genre is changed and in some aspects developed a lot since it’s birth. Are there any newer Black Metal bands you follow or listen to?
I am very sure about what I think – yes, and I can only speak of my views.
How another person interprets black metal is a different matter.
Each person’s experiences within a social and psychological context, produce a unique effect. What might be rubbish to me, may be a treasure to another. So, let the seeker search and put to the test what he or she chooses to follow in life.
What is the recent status of your local black metal community?
I have no idea.
What do you know about Hungary? Have you ever been here, what kind of experiences you gain here during your visit. What do you know about the Hungarian Black Metal underground?
Hungary… I regret to say that I have never visited your country, but I would love to. There is so much history and historical places that I would like to see. And I would like to try some authentic goulash!
I was in touch with the band Tormentor back in the early 90’s and that is all I know from the scene there, as I do not follow what happens in the scene generally.
I hope that in 2020, we may find the opportunity to visit your beautiful country with Zemial.