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Interview with Dead Congregation – Promulgating the Fall of Athens

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Last Updated on 08:02 PM by Lilliana Tseka

On the occasion of the announcement of their concert on December 27th in Athens with Embrace of Thorns and Nigredo, the mastermind of infamous Dead Congregation A.V. had a talk with us about their upcoming performance and many other interesting topics. 

Let’s start with some questions about your live performances, since the release of “Promulgation of the Fall” last year was succeeded by several concerts at major festivals and venues abroad. What was the response of the crowd to the new material (and generally as a feeling) and which of these performances have you picked out for some reason?

The truth is that the immediate recognition of the new material by our fans has made a great impression upon us. Since ‘Graves Of The Archangels’ was already six years on the market and is considered by many as a milestone album for the genre, we expected that the crowd at the concerts would be more fervent toward our old material. However, we noticed that even greater mayhem is caused with the tracks of “Promulgation…”. From the live performances that followed the release of the album, probably Killtown Deathfest in Copenhagen stands out, because it has an incredible atmosphere as a whole as a festival. The gig with Grave Miasma / Cruciamentum in Athens would definitely stand out as well, as it was the first time I felt so much recognition in Greece (sorry Thessaloniki, Athens devoured you this time!). Finally, we will never forget Brutal Assault Festival in Czech Republic, because while we were playing at the smallest stage and at the same time Cradle Of Filth were playing at the large one, eventually we not only saw our stage get flooded by thousands of people, but we were totally glorified as well. To witness a sea of ​​raised hands up to where our eye see between each song, it’s something we never expected.  We had our ‘rock star moment’, haha.

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After a year and a half has passed since your last appearance on Greek soil, you’re going to play live for the Greek crowd again on December 27th at a concert organized by yourselves. The low price of the ticket, the venue and the choice of support groups, I imagine, were not at all accidental.

Usually, we want to share the stage with bands with which we fit stylistically, sonically, ideologically… We share a special relationship with Embrace Of Thorns, since I have been a member of the group for some time and they haven’t played in Athens for two years. In conjunction with the release of their new album, their selection was an easy one. Nigredo have released a very good EP in my opinion and we preferred to give an opportunity to a new band to bring its material to the crowd, rather than calling someone who is already known. The venue (Kyttaro) was chosen because we haven’t ever played there so far and because it is a good venue with good sound. As for the price of the tickets, from our very first steps until now, those who wanted to see us live had to pay expensive tickets, as we played together with non-Greek groups, a fact that raised the cost for the organizers. When we played as guests at the concert of Sadistic Intent and saw that many people left the venue after watching us perform (they shouldn’t have left, they lost a great band!) we realized that we owed our fans a concert where they wouldn’t have to pay more for bands they wouldn’t be interested to see.

I noticed you started your answer with the word ‘usually’; are there other factors that influence the choice of who you’d play with sometimes?

 

Good question. In the case of the gig in Athens, we initially thought of asking Sacral Rage to join us, with whom we have no similarities in our sounds, yet this year they released a dynamite album and seem to be nice people, thus we thought it would be a good idea to ​​ask them to play together with us. We would definitely like that and hopefully our fans would be open-minded about real quality Metal, even if we’re not sharing the same style. Unfortunately, at the time between the idea and the proposal, the band booked other gigs in Athens… Then we have cases like Hellfest, where along with ZZ TOP and Kiss, it seemed to be an incongruous move. However, to play in an event of this magnitude is a real experience and ultimately we played in the ‘small’ scene with Morbid Angel, Monstrosity, Belphegor, Rotting Christ, etc. so we didn’t feel like fish out of water.

 

With your rare performances in Greece a certain sense of arrogance on your part toward the Greek scene or the crowd has been created. For others it’s considered perhaps a feast for the extreme sound and the event of the year. What’s your intention?

Those who have followed us since our first steps should be able to recall that even before we were asked to play abroad, we didn’t perform in Greece more than once a year. We are a band that rightly or wrongly didn’t release an album every 1-2 years and to play the same material at the same audience too often would become boring. We want each of our concerts to be special and to contain the element of anticipation – because after all seeing even the best band in the world too often, you’ll lose the magic of a moment. By not performing oftenly I think we show more respect for everyone, aiming at a very good event (and not ‘one of the same’), rather than arrogance.

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Will there be something that will differentiate your appearance in December at Kyttaro from the previous ones (in Greece and abroad), i.e. the setlist or duration?

Certainly the duration of the gig will be slightly larger than our previous performances and by extension the setlist will be more complete. In every other aspect, we never relied on props and theatrics on stage, so from this point of view nothing can change much. We are not criticizing the stageprops, under no circumstances; in some bands they’re a catalyst for the better (see Watain, Mayhem, Ghost). For us it comes more natural to go out on stage and perform with absolute rage and aggression.

What is the key ingredient of a successful concert for Dead Congregation?

The key ingredient of any successful concert is energy. The more good energy you get from your playing, from your sound, from the good day the band has on stage and DEFINITELY the energy the crowd gives you, the more successful you feel your performance is, no matter how many mistakes you make. So we believe that the success of a concert can never be captured properly on video or recording… That’s why they’re called live gigs after all, because you’re experiencing them with all your senses, not only with the ear and the eye.

 

‘Promulgation of the Fall’ was released in the spring of 2014. What was the response of the crowd and how did the Press receive it? Are you happy with the sales so far?

We have no complaints, everything is going very well. We’ve kept the rights to our music and have small but dedicated companies engaged with its distribution and keep the record in circulation as long as there is demand. In absolute numbers, i really don’t think that we would have sold many more copies if we had joined Century Media and it’s not in our interests as well. The thing is that the album came out the way we wanted, we have complete freedom of movement and from what we’ve seen, our fanbase grows stronger and bigger each day. In fact this year we’ve received more offers for live gigs than ever. I don’t read all the reviews that come out, though the general picture I have is that the album gets very positive feedback, which is of incredible value for us.

Our compatriots Ravencult recently signed with legendary Metal Blade and caused many smiles on the faces of the friends of the extreme sound. How do you see this development? I know you’ve had many offers from the time ‘Graves of the Archangels’ was released. Why did you reject them?

For some years now, we see all the big labels, just because they are losing sales due to downloading, they’re spreading their tentacles to the underground to get a portion of the pie, however small it may be. The truth is that a few years ago we would jump frantically if we had the opportunity to sign with a large label. Unfortunately things have changed too much lately and I’m not sure of how much a large company can contribute essentially to a band of our range. For some bands that changed their sound to a more commercial one, definitely the company’s change would assist them (see Tribulation). For those bands who signed with a great company and continued to play their rough style, I don’t think they’ve won something special (see Sonne Adam , Necrowretch, Razor Of Occam). Definitely there’s much more promotion and the moral satisfaction that you’ve managed to join a label you used to admire is huge, however you no longer have the financial support the bands of the 90s had and you are in danger of losing your underground fans since you CD / LP would be available to more financially elusive people. At least that’s how we see it. To win many more fans who will listen to us from youtube, or Spotify / iTunes etc compared to those who would choose the physical form of the release to deeply dive into our material, studying the lyrics and the artwork and making a more ‘ceremonial’ if you like hearing, is something that doesn’t represent us. After all, the style we play is not at all easy to digest or commercial enough to be served to fans who think Death Metal is Job For A Cowboy and Killswitch Engage, or those who believe that the ultimate DEATH album is “Sound Of Perseverance” and not “Leprosy”. I don’t know if you understand me… We might as well be romantic, quaint, old – fashioned, or simply thinking the wrong way and losing ground for so long. Maybe we’ll change our view and take the next step. For now, we enjoy our choices!

We know Ravencult on a very good personal level and we know that they have taken no decision lightly, at any time of their music career. By deciding to move over to Metal Blade, I’m 100% sure they weighed things up and chose what they think is best for them. We will support them in everything they do.

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It’s been almost 26 years since the first Greek Black Metal release (“Satanas Tedeum”, 1989 Demo, Rotting Christ). How do you see the Greek black metal scene with regards to its course, its revival (releases, new bands, labels, etc.) and its future? How close do you feel connected with this scene and generally with black metal?

 

We feel very close to Black Metal. I think it’s reflected on our sound, albeit discreetly. To be more specific, we have great respect toward the Greek scene, for the old bands that started the sound but when at some point shortly after the release of ‘Thy Mighty Contract’ bands began trying to replicate this sound, I personally lost my interest. Just as I don’t need 100 bands from Sweden that sound like the ‘Left Hand Path’, or 100 retro-thrash bands that sound like Kreator, just so I don’t need to listen to multiple versions of ‘Passage to Arcturo’ and ‘Thy Mighty Contract’ … From the new bands out there, I would single out Acrimonious, End, Embrace Of Thorns, Ravencult and Awe and the older ones, Nocternity and Macabre Omen. But I’m sure I’m being unjust to many bands, however I don’t keep up with everything that has been released.

Since we all pretty much make lists of the best albums of the year this period, which releases do you think that stood out this year?

Now that’s a difficult question, I will include the 2014 releases to gather a few more since I will be strict and will only mention the releases I really listen to often (alphabetically).

Atomic Aggressor – Sights of Suffering

Behemoth – The Satanist

Capilla Ardiente – Bravery, truth…

Lvcifyre – Svn Eater

Macabre Omen – Gods Of War, At War

Nightfell – Darkness evermore

Nocternity – Harps of the ancient temples

Pallbearer – Foundations of burden

Pissgrave – Suicide euphoria

Pyre – Human hecatomb

Sacral Rage – Illusions in infinite void

Let me add that while I’m not a big fan of brutal Death, we had very good albums released from our own Vulnus and Mortal Torment. Surely, I may have forgotten something good, but I should also remind you that I don’t listen to everything that comes out, so I don’t doubt the fact that something may have slipped through my fingers!

Is there anything new in your immediate plans concert – wise or recording – wise?

We have already booked several live gigs in 2016 in several European countries and discuss for a second performance in Greece, in the north! Proposals have been made for tours in Brazil-Chile and North America again, unfortunately though with our daily jobs it’s very hard to find time for this. We hope to manage to somehow make some time for this, as Latin America will surely be a lifetime experience.

As far as the discography goes, we’ve just released a 7 ” of a rehearsal from 2005 which is essentially considered an ‘official bootleg’. We have recorded it to tape and then handed it over to less than 20 people. Eventually since this effort was leaked, we decided to release the 7 ” for those keen to get a taste of the beginning of the band, without paying craploads of money to obtain the cassette (we found it on discogs). Some of the tracks we played back then were a little bit differently. Obviously there are some mistakes here and there, but the sound is very good and we believe that the recording reflects well the brutality of the tracks. For the cassette lovers, ‘Promulgation of the Fall’ will be soon released by Iron Bonehead Productions. Something new might come out in 2016, but please, allow us to not give any other information!

 

 

Photo Credits: Marisol Huertas Bailen

Nikos Tsiolis
Nikos Tsiolis
Blood Fire Death

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