Despite the remarkable music that Norway was able to produce in the early 1990s in the field of black metal, the Greeks could perhaps boast equally about their own contributions to the genre during that same time period.
Unlike the Norwegian scene, the Greek scene by and large stayed more true to the genre’s 80s roots throughout the formative years of the scene, incorporating a good deal of traditional heavy metal elements into their music—particularly a band such as Varathron.
There were a number of bands that emerged from this scene, however, that made significant contributions, such as Necromantia, Rotting Christ, Thou Art Lord, Kawir, Agatus, and Zemial. All of these projects continue to this day, though, like many of the Norwegian bands, some of them do not quite resemble what they sounded like two decades ago.
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Varathron was one of the bigger bands that emerged from the Greek scene, along with Necromantia and Rotting Christ. All three, in fact, released their debut albums in 1993, although they all had a litany of demo and EP material released before then. “His Majesty at the Swamp” is a classic example of the Greek black metal sound.
The most interesting feature about Necromantia’s music is that the band did not use guitars; the band instead employed two bass guitars in order to achieve a deeper sound. The sound was quite unique at the time, with very few doing the same, such as Barathrum from Finland.
Rotting Christ predated all of the other bands from the scene; however, their early material was more akin to grindcore than to black metal. It was was a string of demos and single in 1991 and 1992 that the band formulated their sound, which culminated in “Thy Mighty Contract” in 1993. The band took a fairly different direction just a couple albums later, however.
Thou Art Lord
A side project of Necromantia and Rotting Christ members, Thou Art Lord sounded very much like one would expect that was assembled from the ranks of Greek black metal bands: namely, quite typical Greek black metal, as displayed on their “Eosforos” album from 1994.
Kawir is one of the more interesting bands from the Greek black metal scene, as they had a tendency to incorporate some Greek folk influences into their sound. Perhaps more than any, Kawir has stayed true to its roots throughout the decades.
One of two projects from a pair of brothers, Eskarth the Dark One’s Agatus project was also fairly typical of the Greek sound. Although the band formed a bit later, their “Dawn of Martyrdom” album from 1994 is quintessential of the style.
The other project from the pair of brothers, Vorskaath’s Zemial dates back even to the very late 80s, although, like many others, the band’s style took a while to emerge. The band was actually more productive in the 2000s than in the 90s, but the material is still much in the same spirit.