Recently unearthed from The Grim Tower’s grimy vaults, we have this exclusive interview with Agatus mastermind, Archon Vorskaath. The interview with the Greek blackened metallers was originally completed in October of 2016 and I feel that it is best if we begin our weekly interviews right where we left off. Here, Vorskaath discusses the band’s history, his long hiatus between albums and occult mysticism coupled with a love of a mythology.
Let’s start with the history of the band. For those who aren’t aware of the act, tell us a little bit about Agatus and how you got from the beginning demo stages to this newly released album. What sorts of trials and tribulations have you faced getting to this point?
I started the band in 1991 in Athens, Greece. I had the urge to learn how to play the guitar and in parallel to try and create atmospheric and melodic Black Metal. My effort was recorded in the A Night of The Dark Ages demo in 1993. At the time I was listening to Master’s Hammer, Samael, Rotting Christ, Celtic Frost, Ozzy Osbourne, Black Sabbath, King Diamond, Judas Priest, Bathory, Venom and many other bands that inspired me to compose music for our debut Dawn of Martyrdom as well as other music I composed and recorded guitars for at the time i.e. the first Kawir song Sinn (The Blazing Queen).
Heavy metal and rock music has been my listening preference for over two decades so it was natural for various influences to start finding their way into my music over time. This became apparent on The Weaving Fates in 2002, continued on with Gilgamesh and finally through THE ETERNALIST.
Obviously, one of the biggest questions revolves around the huge span of time between this record and your last (released well over a decade ago). Why wait so long to release a new disc?
I had been working with Zemial and other projects for many years and I had put Agatus to rest during that time. Although I had composed a lot of music for this new album from as early as 1996, I decided to continue composition, revisited some of these ideas in their entirety in 2013 and started thinking how to shape the new album. The result is what you hear on THE ETERNALIST. Its dark, its heavy and its moody!
Compared to your two previous albums, The Eternalist is something of a completely different beast. The black metal influences that you’ve had in the beginning seem to be coupled with more of a classic heavy metal sound, even progressive elements that I don’t recall. What was the idea behind that, and what would you consider influences around this time?
Indeed this album has many strong Heavy metal and progressive rock influences. I got to the point where I felt that this is the music I want to make and I was going to be honest to myself, so I decided to start applying my inspirations and influences in this collection of music I called THE ETERNALIST.
I am not going to go through every track and discuss my influences, however I would say that some of the bands and musicians that inspired throughout my composition process were: Eloy, Marillion, Socartes Drank The Conium, Warlord, Michael Schenker, Al DiMeola, King Crimson, Bathory. In the drum department my brother was inspired by Vinnie Appice, Simon Philips, Steve Gadd, Nigel Glockler, amongst other legendary drummers.
What kind of records are you listening to these days? Are thre any modern acts that you are a fan of? Do your prefer vinyl, cassette, CD or MP3 in your listening experience?
I still listen to Hard and progressive Rock and Heavy Metal more than anything else. I do have a preference for vinyl, however I do not have access to my LPs or my record player at present, so I mainly listen to Cds and MP3s.
Tell me a little bit about the lyrical matter behind The Eternalist. What is the focus here? What are some of the ideas that you wanted to convey within these songs? What inspires your lyrics these days?
Through the lyrics of THE ETERNALIST I focus on the essence and the journey of the soul and its existence, astral flights, dreaming and stepping into the worlds of consciousness and completeness. This album was a conduit through which some of my personal perspectives and thoughts were incarnated and expressed, giving a special meaning to this release.
Instead of asking you another election related question as I’m sure other interviewers already have, I’m going to ask you if there is any single deceased musician that you would want brought back for a performance or a guest spot on one of your songs.
Yes there is. Criss Oliva (Savatage).
I noticed around “Gods of Fire” there seems to be almost a religious or spiritual/occult nature flowing through the material here. Mostly relating to Sumerian deities. Do you consider yourself an adherent of these beliefs? Do you take credence in things like magic or the occult personally?
“Gods of Fire” is indeed referencing those who came to earth from the skies to procreate. I share a deep passion for Hellenic and Sumerian mythology and enjoy discovering the ways of the past by exploring, observing interpreting and where possible, comparing experience with the present.
Thanks for answering my questions and for a tremendous album. It’s a record that definitely needs to be heard by classic metal fans as well as fans of more extreme metal, as it bridges the two in a fantastic way. I’m listening to it again as I write this review, and it’s still just as great now as when I reviewed it. Fantastic work! Go pick this record up if you haven’t done so already!
Many thanks for this interview opportunity and for supporting our music. THE ETERNALIST is here to stay!
Check out all Agatus releases HERE