MetalERA February 1998

Interview in DarkEra (Throne Productions) Newsletter # 20, February 1998

During my trip in Athens by the end of January í98 I had the chance to talk with my good friend Gunther at Grotta Cafť at Exarheia. We drunk a lot of beer and after the end of the interview we were wandering around the heart of Athens drinking beers in a variety of pubs. Here is what he told me about the latest news of the black metal cult band ANCIENT RITES and about his closed relation with Hellas.

Hail Gunther, whatís up, you are visiting Athens very often, what relation do you have with the Greek Metal scene?

Since my childhood I was fascinated by the Hellenic history which is the first reason why I am here so often. Another one is the fact that the Hellenic metal scene was one of the first to support us many years ago even before the debut album was out, we already did a headline show in Greece with support Rotting Christ & Deviser. Besides I know almost everyone who is creating music in the Hellenic scene from heavy metal to most extreme black. I have also collaborated with Magus and Sotiris(Septic flesh) on the musical project Danse Macabre.

Which are your favourite bands from the Greek metal scene?

Necromantia, Rotting Christ, Varathron, also Septic Flesh, Nightfall & Thou art lord and many more.

What is going on with Ancient Rites, are the new members satisfying your demands, how Blackheim help the band, and what relation do you have with him?

We are not anymore a three piece. New blood is Jan Yrlund(ex Lacrimosa, Two Witches) and Eric Sprooten(ex Inquisitor), they are from Finland and Holland. At the moment we work with a session keyboard player because we are not totally satisfied of the dedication of the current one. These new members truly live for the music and we are into the scene for many, many years. New people means new inspirations, we remain to our style but still more variety will be offered in our music. About Blackheim, when Bart decided to leave the band, guitarists of bands such as Luciferion, Katatonia, Absu, Pentacle, Inquisitor, Swordmaster volunteer to help us on tours. So Blackheim was one of them.

Which are your musical and lyrical influences and what your opinion about the return of old fashioned black thrash metal?

Lyrical inspiration is ancient medieval history, literature, art, my travels and occultism. Many people who appreciate traditional black thrash usually are into Ancient Rites music. We have a large following now, although we play this style, so I guess we also profit from this revival. I wish bands like Bewitched who are very good friends the best of luck.

Recently you played in a gig in Germany, tell me your views

It was organised by Ablaze magazine and there were many people. It was a big opportunity to meet many of my old German friends again and meet many new, because many people came even from the other side of Germany for the festival. You can imagine many beer have been drunk.

What are the musical fields behind your new material, did you add any new sounds and ideas?

In our case I believe also changes will occur but for other reasons since we have a new line-up. It is obvious new influences will be added to our music because every musician should have his own style.

Are you satisfied with Mascot Records and how do you see the future of Ancient Rites?

We are very satisfied with Mascot because we have total artistic freedom, offer tour support, make a lot of promotion and have a good distribution. With each release they invest more money and bigger budget for recordings is given because they believe we are a band who are out of trend. They believe that there is future for our music even when this Black metal revival will be over. We always play the music I feel and I think essence of our work will remain the same but at the same time we will grow personally and musically. I donít know when Ancient Rites will be in 5 years because the music scene is very unpredictable and it is better just to live in present.

How is the scene in Belgium and what response do you get from your home country?

It is strange because in the early years of Ancient Rites almost none was interesting in our music. Back then our style was not as popular as it is today, so our appearance and work didnít appeal to crowd who were into crossover and hardcore. Immediately we concentrated in playing outside Belgium where the response was very good, so after our first European tour, we suddenly found ourselves playing in front of large crowds, in front of people we have never seen before.

Why your debut album was re-released from Osmose, and why you didnít stay there?

Our first label owned money to Osmose, so they gave the cd offer, but we never were signed directly to Osmose.

How do you see the future of metal and who are the best newcomers?

The music style will always remain, my absolute favourite newcomers is an unknown band from Russia, Die Thyrependence because they combine melancholic melodies at the same time with raw aggression. Some songs are in Russian which gives a fresh breed to the current Black metal scene

What do you know about the Cyprus metal scene?

I received many letters from Cyprus but Godblood is the only band I know, I hope we can play together one day.

Are you going to tour Europe?

Yes several times after the new album will come out, it is part of our life.

What else do you do besides your music?

I used to earn living as a painter and creating designs for clothes. But now music dominates my life and still I am sort of time

Thanks a lot Gunther.

I greet all the Cypriots metal people and I hope we will meet in the flesh one day, thanks a lot for this conversation.