Septicflesh: The Greek Death Metal Band that Just Took Over Australia

SEPTICFLESH photo by Mary Boukouvalas
Septicflesh band members Christos Antoniou, Spiros “Seth” Antoniou, Sotiris Vayenas, Fotis Bernardo. Photo by Mary Boukouvalas

One of the most well-known symphonic death metal bands of Greece, Septicflesh, toured Australia with great success. Mary Boukouvalas caught up with band member Christos Antoniou to discuss the long, and often bumpy path of Septicflesh in the music scene.

Septicflesh roar through Australia for the first time since they formed in Athens in 1990. The band began as “outcasts” in the Greek music scene and they received “zero” government support because their music wasn’t mainstream or what Antoniou refers to as “skilathika,” an argo term to describe the popular “laika-pop” hybrid genre.  He continues that the best way to describe “skiliathika” is “… crap music, it is cheap music. Without quality. It is out only for one month and then you have to recycle it again and again. There is nothing behind this music”.

Septicflesh persevered though obstacles, seeing themselves as “revolutionists but not against the government,” says Antoniou.

“Metal is more about revolution, aggressive music in a good way. We said let’s express our feelings with this music. And gradually things got better, we signed to a label. We started to release albums and we have reached that moment where we can tour world-wide. In order to tour worldwide, it means that we have done something that has touched the fans; we have something to say to fans. And I will go back to the point about Greece: the majority of Greek performers, those who have the publicity and the sponsorship, they will for example go to Australia and only play to the Greek community. But Septicflesh and other bands like us play universally we can play to anyone, to Greeks, to Australians, to Japanese, to everyone. It is a shame that the Greek government does not support. On the contrary you compare with Scandinavians there the government pay for studio time; they give a lot of money to the bands in order to support them and export them. In Greece it is totally different”.

Having themselves struggled as a new band, Antoniou ensures that Septicflesh support younger bands, often taking them on tour as supports in Europe. The advice he gives to younger bands to help them survive more than twenty years as they have is simple.

“I would say to follow their dreams, and they also have to be innovative. And be original. You have to find an identity; a distinctive identity. Septicflesh has originality. Also Rotting Christ has originality. Find the path to originality. If they start to copy their influences then it will be a replica. You have to use your influences in a good way. You have to filter them and take out the things that will distinguish you from them”.

Keeping music new and exciting while not disappointing your fan base is difficult. Yet Septicflesh has managed and the new album “Titan” has had rave reviews, both by critics and fans. Antoniou explains the importance of originality as well as preserving your roots.

“Septicflesh has two periods the first one was til our split in 2002 and the next one is after 2008 with the release of Communion. We had some concerns with the Great Mass. The Great Mass was a successful album. The Great Mass was a difficult opponent. We said let’s find some other ideas to make the band sound fresh and not to repeat. If you repeat the Great Mass No. 2 it means that you are in the wrong way. We had some meetings at the beginning of Titan. We said, let’s make an aggressive album a dark album. For example, we have used some new elements in our music.  For example, we have used for the first time a student choir from Prague. With the student choir you can create so many atmospheres. You can be evil, innocent, dark, spooky. We blended these together in order to make our best album to now, most aggressive and most mature”.

“Titan” was about a year long process for Septicflesh. Antoniou explains how it all worked out.

“First of all, the band has four composers. We work, all of us, as a team. Some of us compose more than the others. But the main idea behind Septicflesh is the composition process; it is from four brains.  Have the meeting first of all in the studio, we, me and our drummer Fotis, have the luxury of owning a professional studio that we record in. We had two or three meetings to discuss Titans.  After that we send demos ideas for the pre-production. This lasted around 5 months, from April to September 2013. We entered the studio in Athens. All this process with emails, pre-productions, we write and work all of us as a team. Each of us contributes his own way, his own style. For example, I am responsible for the orchestral stuff. Seth is responsible for the visual aspect of Septicflesh and also composes music. Sotiris is responsible for the lyrics and he writes the most melodic, the most lyrical parts for Septicflesh. Fotis is the backbone of the band. He is a rhythmical machine. And as you can see this works really well because we have found the chemistry. Also it counts that we never changed the line-up; the dynamics. This element helps the band in order to compose the sound. I know in other bands only one or two are involved in the composition. This works for us”.

Greek symphonic death metal band SEPTICFLESH
Greek symphonic death metal band SEPTICFLESH

Of this first tour to Australia, audiences experienced pure sacrifice and perfection from Septicflesh.  There was a lot of energy at their shows, and Antoniou states:

“The Australian crowd is warm, accepting and fanatic so we had a lot of fun on stage. We did our best, as always. We were well organized. We gave of ourselves. We performed mainly The Great Mass. Australia is the last spot for our Great Mass campaign. We believe we opened the way for Septicflesh in Australia. We will come definitely again to play from our new Titan’s album”.

Septicflesh’s Australian tour was also supported by many Greek-Asutralian fans who attended their performances, the cheers of “Geia sas patrida”  during their concerts proved it.

Septicflesh Australian tour included stops in Brisbane, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Perth. Their new album, Titan, is out now through Season of Mist.