(In the following interview our Russian contributor Comrade Aleks caught up with songwriter/instrumentalist Nyogtha from the Greek black metal band Cult of Eibon for what turned into a candid discussion about the band’s inspirations. themes, and principles.)
Hellenic black metal is a thing in itself. The genre which was originally associated with the names of Rotting Christ, Varathron, and Necromantia grew and bloomed with the new bands that have kept Tartarus’ dark flames burning. And so Cult of Eibon has done that.
Being forged in Athens in 2015, this band has never stopped exploring the realms of black metal, moving step by step in their own way. The EPs Fullmoon Invocation (2016) and Lycan Twilight Sorcery (2017) led them to the split with another Greek band, Caedes Cruenta, in 2018. The unholy opus magnum Black Flame Dominion (2021) was a milestone of this way, and the last Cult of Eibon release since then was the Necronomical Mirror Divination split with Ceremonial Torture released in December 2022.
One of the Cult’s founders is Nyogtha (guitars, bass, keyboards, vocals) and he’s involved in four more blackened bands, so you can imagine how busy he is. However Nyogtha found time to answer our questions, and I encourage you to take a look at what Cult of Eibon hides.
Hi Nyogtha! How are you? What’s new happening on Cult of Eibon’s side?
Greetings Aleks. All good brother thanks for asking. To be honest nothing much. We just finished the recordings of a brand new song that will be included as a bonus track on the Recollections from the Chthonian Empire compilation. This comp came out some months ago on CD format and it includes all of our previous EPs plus some unreleased material. We’re arranging a vinyl version of this release as we speak.
After that we’ll take a break until we feel ready to create and release something worthy again. We had an album and a split EP out in the last 1,5 years and that was too much for us. We’re not used to being so active but it happened and it was nice and very creative.
You have a rich experience in the Greek underground. What made you start another band in 2015?
Cult of Eibon were formed back in 2000 under the monicker Y’XA’NULEI.We had a couple of songs ready but we never recorded them. The project went soon into hiatus since the other two members joined the army and I was very busy with my other bands at the time. Our intention was to pay homage to the Hellenic black metal scene of the early ’90s since we literally grew up with these bands.
Besides that we wanted to preserve this lost sound and attitude of the early ’90s that got lost and abandoned with the passage of time. In 2014 (and not 2015) I decided that the time and circumstances were ideal to reform this project, so Cult of Eibon were born.
You take part in five active bands nowadays, which one is most important for you? What differentiates Cult of Eibon from the others?
Each and every one of them is important for me. Most of them are solely a personal conception and they express something different. It’s more of a personal need. I’m not participating in all these projects just to be relevant. Fuck relevance and the pursuit of a career in the underground. That’s fake shit for me. But if you want to know which project is first in priority I can tell you that it’s Hate Manifesto. That’s my main band since ’96/’97.
Regarding the last part of your question, Cult of Eibon differs a lot from the rest of them. Focused strictly on the early ’90s Hellenic black metal. Music, sound, and image-wise of course.
Also with Cult of Eibon we feel a bit ”romantic” (and nostalgic) because it takes us back in time when we were teens. Back then when the underground meant something. Back then when things where pure in general.
What shaped your feeling of black metal? Which elements of its aesthetic did you search to transfer through Cult?
I believe that it was a calling from the other side for me. An invitation to join a world beyond the plain reality of this shithole that we’re living in. I had this tendency for the dark side as a kid and when I got into metal (and especially BM) I felt that this is it. This is where I belong. This is where I can express my ”diversity” without being judged and labeled as an outcast or a pariah. I grew up in a conservative society and being a rebel back then was often criticized and mocked.
Black metal is not just music. It’s an ideology and a way of life. With Cult of Eibon I’m trying to preserve all the elements that got lost nowadays. The sound, attitude, morals (and perception) that should go hand by hand in the underground. I’m not preaching what’s real or not. I just comply with the principals of our music.
What about the ideological side of the band? Is it about escapism or is it about manifestation of abstract evil powers?
As I told you above it’s a combination of things. It’s a personal need to express our dark side but also a need to preserve and manifest this way of life. It’s not about music only. It’s way beyond that. We must not forget this.
I read Rotting Christ’s biography Non Serviam and it was interesting to learn how Greek mentality and society in general influenced the band’s attitude towards their music and scene. Would you say the same about Cult of Eibon? Does your environment influence your Lovecraftian black metal?
Absolutely. We grew up in the same environment. A conservative and puritanical society along with a despotic religious state. So yes, it’s quite reasonable to have the same influences and perceptions.
Some of your songs are focused on Lovecraft’s literature. What was your first encounter with his stories? What made you to try and transfer his message through your music?
My first encounter with Lovecraft’s literature was the references in the lyrics of early Rotting Christ and Varathron. Mostly these two (but not only), I must say. Many bands of the scene back then had Lovecraftian references in their lyrics. From the most known to the more obscure.
And that was back in ’94 when I first heard (and bought shortly after) Rotting’s Christ‘s Passage to Arcturo. Right after that I tried to purchase (or borrow) some of his books and study his obscure world. First AZATHOTH came into my possession and shortly after the NECRONOMICON. I was mesmerized. The feeling of the unknown terror along with the difficulty to understand properly what it’s all about created a vivid and morbid excitement. The blend of fiction along with the occult and the unknown have people wondering until today what’s real or not.
So naturally (and according to the unwritten Hellenic BM tradition) we focused on Lovecraft’s literature as a band.
Meanwhile your first EPs Fullmoon Invocation (2016) and Lycan Twilight Sorcery (2017) deal with themes of lycanthropy. Why did you leave it behind after these two releases?
Besides the Lovecraftian concept that we spoke about above, therianthropy (or lycanthropy) was another topic that fascinated me as a teen.
We devoted two EPs to this concept and had some references here and there after that. I believe that’s enough. We covered this topic to the fullest. Maybe in the future again, you never know.
How did you work over Black Flame Dominion (2021), which was recorded during the quarantine? Did you live under restrictions back then or did you have a chance to rehearse and compose music together?
We worked under a lot of pressure and anxiety because of the Covid restrictions. We couldn’t record whenever we wanted. Only in specific hours and dates. A lot of shit happened in between also. Besides that we couldn’t move easily without being checked (or show proof) and all that shit that came along with this situation. What a joke for mankind to witness something like this.
Also what a burden it was for people like us that we had to obey these absurd rules. Can you imagine how it felt to ask permission from the Government to go out and do the basic everyday stuff?
Long story short, we managed to finish this album because we had a lot of passion (and strong will) to overcome all obstacles and deliver (regardless of the personal sacrifices). Now regarding the last part of your question, NO. We never rehearse or compose music together. I compose all the music (and do all the arrangements) alone, and after that Porphyrion takes the demos and writes his lyrics (and vocal patterns). A salutation to my brother Porphyrion for being solid and consistent during all these years by my side.
Can you tell that this album built the band’s reputation? What does a Greek extreme metal band need to do now to get some visible recognition?
The response from people of the underground overseas and the people we’re in contact with was great. And that’s enough for us. I can’t speak about building any reputation — we’re not concerned about such things. Our only goal is to do what we do with respect and according to the underground principles. Nothing more ,nothing less.
To be honest I’m not the right guy to give any advice on how to get recognition. Probably a band management or a person that pursues a musical career can speak on it. We’re not into this game. The only advice I can give is to have self-respect and respect towards our music and movement. We’re an underground band. How can we speak about things that are a red flag according to the morals we grew up with? It’s wrong. At least for us and the way we perceive things.
Your most up-to-date release is the split-album with Ceremonial Torture – Necronomical Mirror Divination – which saw the light in December 2022. How do you see the strong sides of this material?
First of all I must underline that as a split release it’s not just two bands that released a mutual EP. It’s way more than that (at least for us). It’s more of a union of the same ideas, attitude, and principles of course. A salutation to brother Goatprayer for sealing this unholy pact with us and delivering his magical art. I have a lot of respect for him and his work, so it was a special collaboration for me.
Both bands gave their best to deliver this material from a lost era. The visualization was magical also. Panos Sounas (who made many classic album/demo artworks in the early ’90s) did the front cover. Magical stuff. He really exceeded our expectations. Also Goatprayer contributed in the layout, and we must give him credit. He’s very talented also!
How do you see Cult’s prospects? Do you have a place to grow? Do you see an opportunity to spread your influences? What are your plans regarding Cult for the rest of 2023?
We never make big plans. We don’t care about that. Whatever and whenever comes. I don’t know about prospects or growth brother. As I already mentioned many times, we’re an underground band. Our goals are way different than others. We do this for us first of all, to purge all the poison we have inside. After we do this, to perpetuate something that got lost with the passage of time and the infiltration of normality to our movement. The mainstream killed a lot of things, let’s not forget that.
Now regarding our plans… Nothing for now! Two releases in the last 1,5 years was way too much for us. Time to stay in the shadows a bit until we conclude that it’s time to release something worthy again. Thanks for the interview..