Funeral Storm - Interview
Greek bands Funeral Storm and Synteleia, who already released very good old school black metal albums (in Greek style of course) on Hells Handbangers Records in 2019, decided to record a split called "The Ancient Calling", on which they present us with one new song each (read the review here). The result of two excellent songs is quite remarkable. I asked both bands a bit more about the genesis of it and many other things and the result is an interesting interview with Wampyrion (Funeral Storm) and Septis (Synteleia).
Hello everyone, thank you so much for taking the time to do this somewhat unusual interview. How are you doing?
Wampyrion: As best as we can be! Anxious, depressed even, but we will endure!
Septis: The pleasure is ours, thank you Michael and MetalBite for hosting us. We're good, trying to stay safe and sane throughout the pandemic and carry on with our lives as best as we can.
The idea to interview you together came to me because you released a split together in March. How did the idea come about?
Wampyrion: Well our sound is very similar, we are friends, so we have mentioned it many times before, even for fun. At some point we were in Volos city, eating and drinking, together with good friends and Jim Mutilator. Don't remember who it was but we were like "What about that split? Sure!". So I emailed Hells Headbangers and they thought it was a great idea too.
Septis: Yeah, we've had some talks about that before, but once we joined the same label, Hells Headbangers, it was pretty obvious to us, that the idea was more doable than ever. We were glad the label was also on board and gave us the green light.
Stylistically you both play typical Greek, very cool, black metal. What makes the difference between Funeral Storm and Synteleia? Maybe you can introduce yourselves to our readers a little bit more?
Septis: I'm gonna let the audience decide, it's mainly a matter of one's perception. I can say that it's mostly our lyrics where one might say we're similar, rather than music itself. But again, that's something one can say about the entirety of the genre concerning the general embrace of the occult, stylistically.
Wampyrion: Personally I don't think there is any difference. It's how one perceives his music. For Funeral Storm I can say we do not consider the band a copycat, neither does Synteleia.
It be a nonsense if I would say that you are influenced by the "old Greek black metal bands", because you play in those (at least some of Funeral Storm). What are your musical influences?
Septis: Every Greek black metal fan draws influence from the early 90s, where the first greek bands, such as Rotting Christ, Varathron, Necromantia made their appearance and shaped the Greek black metal scene, together with Thou Art Lord, Horrified, Septic Flesh and Nightfall, to name a few more great old ones. Beyond that, some of our even earlier influences can be found during the first wave of Black metal with bands like Venom, Bathory and Celtic Frost.
Wampyrion: At least the way I see it, we draw inspiration from bands such as Warlord, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Candlemass, Angel Witch, Mercyful Fate, Running Wild, King Diamond, Slayer, Saxon, Tokyo Blade and of course Venom, Bathory, Celtic Frost and Kreator.
Septis: But really, an influence can be anything that can give you the chills and make your skin hair stand up. It can be a low-tempo melody or a fast guitar riff, or something even outside the metal genre. Anything that can convey some kind of strong emotion to someone, who in turn willingly wants to relive it again and again, by listening on repeat. That natural process, even subconsciously, becomes an influence consequently.
Rotting Christ have been one of the pioneer bands in the 90s, but have changed stylistically quite a bit after the first three albums. Are you still in contact with them (I assume that you were at least in contact with them in the past) or are they in a "higher dimension" now?
Wampyrion: Yes of course! Sakis has supported each and every one of us apart from his friendship with Necroabyssious of course. For example in the past he gave me some advice here and there and also to Arcania LVI. He is a very down to earth great guy!
Septis: Rotting Christ have been restless spirits since their first EP. They feel this need to evolve their music with every album they publish. Who can argue with that? They are one of the best ambassadors for the Greek black metal scene and are still a great source of influence for a lot of people. Sakis and Themis are very cool guys, we can reach out to them (or they to us) whenever such a need arises and have a talk, or even meet in person. Unless they're on tour, where in this case they shut down everything... (laughs) But they're close to the fans and metal community, in general. I guess, they can't help embracing their "mortality", even in this "higher dimension" that they are now. (laughs)
Where do you get the lyrical inspirations for your songs?
Wampyrion: Every individual in the band is studying the Occult, so I can say at least for my lyrics, I am inspired by H.P. Lovecraft and the Cthulhu Mythos, Greek folklore and legends and last but not least from Necromancy, Satanism and don't forget the book of Revelation.
Septis: As of now, we're inspired by occult fantasy and dark fiction, currently entrapped into H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos, enriched with personal narratives and storytelling, either in first or third person. We plan on staying on that fantasy/fiction path, at least for the near future, as we have lots of ideas creeping their way out from there! (laughs)
Coming back to the bands you are partly playing in - isn't it difficult to be careful that the bands don't all sound similar in some way?
Wampyrion: Not really! Funeral Storm is, as stated before, more inspired by heavy metal bands, while Karkinos is a band inspired by Finish black metal and Disharmony is more doom. As for Necroabyssious's bands, Zaratus are much more dark and Katavasia are epic and melodic. Of course every band has different composers so the outcome is a lot different.
Septis: Everyone has its own influences that one's music derives from. And often, similar type bands have similar influences, therefore sound familiar to the common ear. Nowadays, it is difficult for any band, in any genre, to sound original and groundbreaking because of so many similar bands, songs and sounds that have been in the past, that the audience, naturally, compare you with. In the early days, that wasn't a thing… Another reason is the lack of experimentation nowadays, that can drive a band being authentic, or at least to the point of sounding fresh to the ear, even when it may not be the case, really. When composing, one owes to be true to oneself and should not "plan" or be "too careful" to not sound similar to something else, but instead, expressing what you currently feel, that also comes naturally is the best guide. In the end, the audience is the final judge of whether your sound is appealing or not.
If the Corona situation allows it, do you have plans to go on tour together? You both have an album coming out in 2019 via Hells Headbangers, so it kind of offers itself, doesn't it?
Wampyrion: That is very true but for Funeral Storm it will be difficult as Necroabyssious is miles away. I, personally, am a bit against live shows. I wouldn't say no, though, given the correct circumstances and terms!
Septis: And that pretty much sums it up. Slim chances for that to happen...
What would be the perfect concert for you guys? So, location, other bands (even no longer existing ones)?
Septis: Well, i've always thought of that! A concert with Rotting Christ/Varathron/Necromantia at the Herodes Atticus Theatre, under the Acropolis, would be dreamlike! One can only wish, right? (laughs)
Wampyrion: Varathron, Empire Of The Moon, Nergal, The Elysian Fields, Necromantia, Rotting Christ (old school set with the first line up), Mortuary Drape and definitely Katavasia!
I feel like there are quite a few releases coming out of Greece right now (I'm spontaneously thinking of Medieval Demon, Yoth Iria or Zaratus). Can you recommend anything in particular?
Septis: Since you've mentioned them, I've devoted enough time listening to both Yoth Iria and Zaratus new albums and I can surely recommend them! The first being a classic example of how an early 90s greek black metal feeling can sound modern and fresh while the latter being experimental in its own unique way, sounds very intriguing to the ear, enough to play on repeat more than once.
Wampyrion: People should definitely check Katavasia - Magnum Venator and the upcoming Gnosis album! Necroabyssious and I had the honor of participating as guest vocalists! Not sure what else is expected to be released but I will suggest bands like Hierophant's Descent, Tartarus Gate, Gnosis, Askalaphos, Malediction 666 and Morcrof.
Do you already have plans for new albums?
Wampyrion: As a matter of fact, yes! We have finished composing and we are about to start the preproduction of our next album!
Septis: We're currently recording our second album and keep on making plans for the coming future. Creativity is our strong suit as we never run out of ideas. Every member contributes to the band, so the pool is bottomless.
To come back to Corona - Greece was pretty much on the brink of economic collapse a few years ago due to the Euro crisis but managed to stabilize again. To what extent does Corona make the whole situation worse again? And to what extent are you affected as artists? In Germany the whole situation is quite dramatic, because many aids that should be paid by the state are not paid and many artists fear for their existence.
Wampyrion: It's not the Corona as a plague but the government of Greece. Their way of "protecting" is illogical. For example from 21:00 until 05:00 no one is allowed to be out from Monday to Friday and 18:00 to 05:00 on the weekends, while our "prime minister" is travelling here and there, eating with a lot of friends. Shops open and close every now and then. Most of them will never open again. As artists all of us are affected. No live shows, no studios to rehearse or record. For example I got my diploma as a sound engineer and can't complete my internship.
Septis: The main issue with this whole quarantine thing is the lack of live shows. The epidemic can't stop anyone from composing, recording, mixing/mastering and publishing their work, even if some of those stages can be harder than before. But the feeling of a live gig is irreplaceable. Coming close to the audience is the purpose of a band's existence and a band draws strength from it. It's the main source of promoting and selling your work, making new fans and getting people to know you first hand. Being fans ourselves, we miss live performances already.
What are your hopes and wishes for this year?
Septis: It won't come as a surprise to wish for this global pandemic to end soon, right? I guess that's what the vast majority of people wish for, right now, to break the shackles and be free again. But in the meantime, I can only wish for everyone to mind their health and soon be on our feet again!
Wampyrion: Nothing really, apart from this to end and shop owners to be ready and work again.
Last but not least, what final words do you have for our readers?
Wampyrion: I wish all of them to stay safe! I have to remind people to stop comparing Greek black metal bands to Rotting Christ too… In the 90's that was the Greek sound, not one band.
Septis: Keep on listening to good music and stay safe! The fans are the driving force for every band and the fuel that keeps the flame alive! Thank you so much for the support, stay true, stay black!
Thank you very much for the interview!
Septis: Thank you, Michael, for the opportunity and interviewing both of us, in one go, it has been really interesting!
Wampyrion: Thank you too! Ad Majorem Satanae Gloriam!
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