(Comrade Aleks has brought us another great interview as the old year draws its last breaths, and this one is his discussion with one of the founding progenitors of Hellenic Black Metal, Magus Wampyr Daoloth of Necromantia and now The Magus.)
The name of The Magus may sound new for us, but it’s the band of Magus Wampyr Daoloth that started after disbanding of the Hellenic black metal legend Necromantia in 2021. The Magus himself (bass, vocals) and two of his bandmates from another well-known act Thou Art Lord – Maelstrom (drums) and El (guitars) – continue to explore the territories inside and outside black metal borders and follow the path of Darkness or Light (depending on the perspective).
The band’s first full-length album Βυσσοδομώντας is just released. Its title translates as “building in the depths” or “conspiring in the darkness”, a proper name for this collection of occult practices and epiphanies.
We had a pretty good interview with The Magus done for the Spanish magazine This Is Metal, and I’m glad to share its full version here.
Hi Magus! Thanks for your time, it’s much appreciated! Βυσσοδομώντας was just released on October 31st. Did you play a release show or did you prepare a special tour in order to promote the album?
It is known that I do not believe that black metal is a music genre suitable for live shows. Black Metal for me is a kind of music that you have to experience in the solitude of yourself. It should possess you from within. I do not even go to live shows that much. I surely can enjoy a thrash metal show, but BM, nope. There are band that I still love, support and buy their music but I think they are truly boring live. If I ever did a live show with The Magus it would be like a performance, like a theatrical play, to grab all your senses! But I doubt I will…
Magus, you buried Necromantia in 2021, and the next year you returned with The Magus. Was it all just in order to complete Necromantia’s story and start another one? Honestly, from the start, it seemed that you aimed to finish your musical career.
My first thought was to stop when I lost Baron Blood. But months later the fire of creation started burning strong inside me. So many ideas, so many visions, so much music. I had to get it out. I consider my music as an artistic expression. An expansion of my subconscious self. So it has to materialize somehow otherwise I will be devoured by it.
Does it mean that you see the band like an expanding of your artistic will and it’s not some spiritual urge or just raw emotional impulse? How conscious are you when you create lyrics and music?
Creating IS a spiritual urge. How can you turn your subconscious self into words, notes and images otherwise? On the other hand raw emotional impulse, no. I do not write on instinct. Instincts are simple and compulsory. My writing process is a lot more complicated and elaborate because it needs to connect different dots within myself until the full diagram emerges.
How much does The Magus’ essence differ from Necromantia’s? There is you behind both bands, and it’s not a secret that you were Necormantia’s ideologist, so can we see The Magus as Necromantia’s direct heir?
Well since I was (am) involved in both bands there is some common ground because I keep the same purpose: to create dark unique music. So in a way yes we continue the NECROMANTIA legacy but in our own unique way as they did when they started 34 years ago…
What’s this uniqueness about? Can you say that The Magus already has its own integral features?
First of all I use guitars, not 8-string bass. In itself that is a big difference. Secondly, after of almost 35 years of making music I feel more matured in my songwriting and it is way easier to synthesize a lot of different factors due to experience. And third, my music evolution was never one-dimensional. I started listening to music from rock and blues before I passed to metal and extreme metal. It was a gradual process. For example our song “Give the Devil his due: the Story” is a perfect example of this evolution: musically it starts as jazz, blues, rock, metal, and climaxes in black metal. It goes from 1 to 10 like a time travel but maintaining its Satanic identity nevertheless
One of Necromantia’s features were the eight-string bass of Baron Blood and the use of instruments that are atypical for black metal. The Magus has quite an individual sound as well, even though it manifests itself in other ways. What was your primary vision of The Magus? Did you have a kind of musical vision in your mind to fulfill it?
I had EVERYTHING in my head before I started working on it. Everything. Music style, musical cross-references, musicians, cover, photo, artwork. Almost everything in it’s core was there. Since I wrote the lyrics (I always write lyrics first because they define the music) I knew exactly where I wanted to go. Which dark waters to stir. My vision was pretty clear. I only had to find my co-conspirators on guitars and drums to manifest it. I chose to work with people I know and trust for years.
And so you just invited your bandmates from Thou Art Lord – Maelstrom (drums) and El (guitars). Didn’t you think to call some of your colleagues from Necromantia?
Most of them have totally different lives now. Some of them have given up music altogether. It was pretty difficult getting them to do a few parts for the last Necro album, it would be a nightmare to try getting them here. I preferred to work with people I know and trust and have already worked with them the last decade
There are six guest musicians who participated in the creation of Βυσσοδομώντας. And some of these guests, you know, were unexpected… It’s easy to understand how you got Iraklis Gialatzides or Christos Antoniou, but King Dude, for example, or Ifigeneia Derizioti – they’re from another league. How did you get in touch with them? And how did you build your collaboration?
As you have heard this is not an EASY listening album. It is not POP-ular black metal. It has its own form. It twists and slips like a serpent. I never make easy music. I never make music for everyone. Only for the ones who are able to feel and understand my message. These ones.
So about the musicians: I choose to work with people who are unique in their own art and who I think can serve the songs properly:
King Dude was an obvious choice for the black metal blues. He has the perfect sound color, attitude, and expression for the part. Plus we share similar metaphysical thinking.
Ifigeneia on the other hand has a voice which reminds me of Ancient Greek Tragedy. Powerful and sorrowful. Magical. Hel Pyre was the obvious choice when I was looking for a strong female black metal voice. The song “Ama Lilith” where both these ladies appear is about the universal dark female force which can create and destroy at the same time. This is why, except the invocation on the ritual part, all vocals are performed by women.
Manos Six was also a Poe-tical addition to the mix. As for Christos Antoniou and Iraklis Gialantizides they are friends from the old days and were delighted to offer their ingenious musical skill to the mix!
You mentioned Ancient Greek Tragedy, how much of it do you see in Βυσσοδομώντας?
All our songs are like extensions or parts of rituals and hexes in a way. Some of them are actual rituals. We the band are sometimes actors, sometimes narrators. All our songs tell a story and musically there is always a conclusion, an ending. Pretty grim most of the times. So yes you can find several similarities with the Greek Tragedies in our album.
George Emmanuel did the mastering and mixing of Βυσσοδομώντας. How was it working with George, as you produced and mixed a lot of albums yourself? How often did you take an active part in all the operations he did with the songs?
We the band are the architects and George is the engineer. We design the house but he is the one building it and giving our vision substance. For me he is the producer I will always work with. He is a brilliant musician too, check his band LUCIFER’S CHILD, and is the guy who completely understands where are we going with the album. He took all the ingredients and gave them common ground.
I always discuss intensively on where we want to go with the album and we always do adjustments and re-shaping during mixing, but he has a lot of freedom too and we take his opinions very seriously because he is the one steering the wheel of our ship. He is a very important factor on the final form of the album.
Magus, this year you and Aris Shock released Necoromantia’s biography The Serpent & The Pentagram: The Official Chronicles of Necromantia. Was it yours or Aris’ idea? What motivated you to start this work?
Aris had contacted me about the book on Greek black metal Rites of the Abyss and from there we discussed various things, one being the biography of the band. It seemed quite logical to me at that time since there will be no more chapters to write after Baron Blood’s death and the release of our farewell album. It felt the right time for something like this. Pagan Records did a magnificent work on the release. Truly remarkable. You know it will be released in the Russian language next year by Metal Star.
However, did you involve someone else to tell the band’s story? Did you interview ex-members, colleagues from other bands, and so on?
Aris did all that. He has talked (or tried to) with a few of the members or people involved in the past, but most of them were difficult to find. Still I do not know their whereabouts. Aris also talked with A LOT of musicians from other bands we were in contact or interacted with, or who our music influenced a bit.
How in-depth is the story presented in the book? Did you aim to make it as detailed as possible or was it to commemorate some key moments of Necromantia’s career?
It is fully fucking detailed starting when I was a child. It goes deep, inside out.
Aris is the author of Rites of The Abyss, an overview of Hellenic black metal history. There was Rotting Christ’s biography released three years ago by Cult Never Dies, Here’s Necromantia’s biography as well (I didn’t see Varathron’s book, but I hope it’s just a question of time). It’s a narrow question for a big theme, but how do you see the main features of Hellenic black metal? How do you see the roots of this phenomenon?
Atmosphere, diversity, Mediterranean magic, occultism and melody. Yes the Greek bands were always more melodic and atmospheric than the more northern ones. It is in our blood…
For profane Hellenic, let’s say, spiritual culture, is rather connected with Ancient Greek cults, with the pantheon of Olympus, with bacchanalias maybe. Where are the roots of Mediterranean magic and occultism? I hear about witches of Aradia for example, but I never read anything similar about Greece.
Mediterranean is not only Greece. It’s the Egyptians, the Romans, the Near East. In Greece there is a long tradition of sorcery since the antiquity. It just survived through the folk, at some parts of Greece even today. Imagine Greeks were in contact with Egyptians and the occult traditions of the Near East, Messopotamia and so on. So our “magical inheritance” is way richer than the average Central or Northern European for example. Then the Romans brought with them traditions from all their conquered lands and these were blended with the already multi-faced mix here in Greece. We were like a crossroad of East and West.
Necromantia’s split with Varathron (1992), then the spit with Rotting Christ (2017) – it was cool to see such bonds between the three main Hellenic black metal bands. But what about the other bands? Do you see the local black metal scene as a real circle, or is it rather a number of bands occasionally playing together?
In my days there was a community. Zines, demos, tapes, gigs. Now not anymore. But I think everywhere is the same. People live a lot more in the digital world than the real one, so naturally music and art follow the same paths. Wait to see how the AI will fuck up everything, Lol!
Magus, you owned Hypervorea Records / Black Lotus Records; you wrote for Metal Invader and Sub Tera magazines; you worked in the Go… Underground record store and co-owned Soundforge distribution company. Was this experience rewarding in the end? The rules of the game, the rules of musical business changed through the years. and a lot of things that worked back in the ’90s don’t work at all now. So was it about disenchantment in the end, or do you see it as a normal process?
Normal? Nope. People have lost the quality of appreciation. A good song, a good album, a nice meal, a nice wine. Now they get everything through the web, they like what is served, they are easily manipulated. Now there is so much shit floating around in all areas that you have to dig deep in order catch the diamonds in the deep. The music industry has become more a factory of one-hit-one video wonders than ever before. People eat too much, too fast. There is no appreciation of quality.
Black metal, among all genres, was always about ideology. How do you see your ultimate mission in The Magus? Is it your manifest to venerate Ruinous Powers or something more specific?
I am glad that someone says that man. Really. People make a band sing abound 1000 different things from social things to love stories and they call it Black Metal. Well, no. Black Metal was very responsive to expanding boundaries musically – compared to other metal genres – but concerning the ideology, identity and concept, it was ALWAYS Satanic. I do not understand why bands with other agendas want to jump on the BM metal wagon. You can still make great extreme metal music without labeling it black metal, because simply you are definitely not.
I do not have a mission in THE MAGUS. Humanity does a great work by destroying itself. We are living in Apocalyptic Times. I only provide the soundtrack to it.
Are you meaning that the situation with the bands before were… “healthier”, “purer”, so to say? And don’t you see your mission to keep the black metal flame burning in a situation like this?
There was a scene. A community. The relationships and the interaction between the bands were more pure, more honest. Mission?? NO. I am no preacher, prophet or messiah of any type of scene or cult or anything. What I do is follow my own, lonely path. This is why it is THE MAGUS. The Sorcerer, the Warlock is always a loner…….
Also, you said that black metal was always Satanic. How do you define this? Do you mean that black metal’s essence fits the Satanic spirit just naturally? How do you see pagan black metal from this point of view?
Pagan black metal is indeed kind of contradictory sometimes. When I say Satanic I refer to all the dark force-dark side-left hand path since the beginning of time. If you sing about Zeus, then there is no darkness in that, you are Pagan metal. But if you sing about Hecate or Hades then you are Pagan Black Metal or Black Metal straight. You see what I mean? Black metal is all about the dark forces of the cosmos no matter how they called. The dark side is what defines black metal. Otherwise it is something different. To include a Star Wars analogy: You have to be (or at least artistically express yourself as) Sith in order to be BM, not a Jedi. Lol!
There are bands that seem to popularize ancient cults and dark beliefs – your countrymen Septicflesh or Therion for example. And you touch on different sorts of occult and cultural questions in The Magus’ lyrics as well, just like you did in Necromantia. How does the writing of such lyrics work for you on a spiritual level?
In my everyday life, in the physical level, I am atheist and agnostic. In the metaphysical level I am Luciferian and Draconian. When these two levels collide, magic happens. I see Lucifer as the real benefactor of mankind. A benefactor who is pissed about how humanity fucked things up and he is now preparing to unleash his revenge. And rightly so. This is more or less the concept of THE MAGUS album. Lucifer’s disdain and wrath on mankind.
Well, if we need to separate the powers in a monotheistic way (and satanism is the product of monotheism), then we live in quite “satanic” times – wars, hypocrisy, greed, lust rule the world and so on. But you propose, correct me if I’m wrong, Lucifer as a source of enlightenment and in this situation we have him on one side, then God on another, and… who’s to blame for the craziness of this world? Only humans left to blame.
You see this is where things get complicated, Why? Because you portray me a Satan from the Christian perspective. And yes the name Satan (although not accurate) was popularized by the Christians, but the essence of it was far older and was integrated into it in order to make the religion a control tool and make it feel familiar. It was before Christianity in various religions and cults around the world. Different name probably but the same archetype….. Prometheus was Lucifer. And was punished by Zeus like Lucifer was punished by Jehova. Lucifer in essence represents free will and enlightenment. I give you the knowledge. If you fuck it up yes it is you to blame. Humans, mankind. So it is payment time. And Lucifer the light-bearer transforms into an avenging and punishing Satan. In order to destroy and recreate in this ouroborian cycle. I believe we are in this part of the cycle.
The album is presented also as a limited box-set with a lot of special bonuses including a printed canvas of the Lucifer. It looks like the orthodox act of faith to have such iconography, so is it? Is it necessary to pray to him too to make things work?
I pray to no gods or demons, but having a portrait of Lucifer on your wall, made in this unique orthodox hagiography way, is something beautiful isn’t it? The bringer of Light, the brightest of Angels, King of the Underworld, Lord of the Abyss. Besides its artistic value and its symbolic meaning it can be used as a focus point during meditation or a central part of your ritual chamber.
What are your further plans for The Magus in the near future? Do you feel enough motivation to return to the studio, or would you prefer to focus on live gigs?
We are preparing a cover of Arthur Brown’s “Fire” and believe me we have torn it apart inside out!
And it’s a great choice! I remember how twisted Cathedral’s version was! Will you release it as a single or will it be a part of something bigger?
First a single and a video. At least this is the plan. We shall see!
Thanks for the interview, Magus! Did we miss something important?
Thank you for the interview. Be your own Daemon.