Judging by the vibrancy and vitality of their exceptional eighth full-length, ‘Psychic Death – The Shattering Of Perceptions’, it’s fair to suggest that iconic Greek occultists Acherontas have never sounded more essential. What better time then to discuss religious dogma, the presence (or otherwise) of Gods, spiritual ignition, the essence of live rituals and the death of the ego with V.P. Sorcerer and Saevus H.?
The unstoppable contagion continues to spread, with no end in sight. I’m talking about religion in all its fantastical forms, not the comparatively-mild Covid-19 threat, which has only been with us for six or seven months. By contrast, religion has plagued the planet for centuries, with no search for a vaccine. Isn’t it astounding to think that – despite the existence of so much science- and fact-based evidence to the contrary – over 50% of the world’s population continues to subscribe to either Christianity or Islam?
“Religions have always been growing aside the human race and intelligence, being a vital part of the growth of society. Whether it is appropriate or needed, it is an undeniable fact that has acted as an uncountable factor for the route of history, as the masses have always been driven by their fear of the unknown, the need to become part of a massive mentality structure and belong to a team. Science, both esoteric and exoteric, will be a tool for those who have the potential to look beyond the mundane, regardless if it is a spiritual or a sociological matter. Religions nowadays have a vital difference as the essence now is dogma-based compared to past traditions / religions.”
Why do you think it is that people are prepared to surrender themselves to religion with such complicity? To give up their freedom of thought and expression, to apologise all their lives for being born, to feel guilt for merely breathing, to willingly enslave themselves and spend a lifetime in moral chains? To resist their most basic animal instincts and urges? It’s like some insane method of self-destruction… Are people so desperate for salvation or security – or some form of meaning / purpose – that they are prepared to invest their hopes in an absurd fantasy?
“It is not necessarily a drive to self-destruct with a conscious will; if we ask a middle-aged person about his or her bond with religion, they will most probably answer that their main cause of being religious, in a higher or a lower level, would be the element of social acceptance. People join the circles of religion due to the motives that have been structured to form modern and past societies. On that basis, they are ready to accept every doctrine, fanaticism and paternalistic ideology. Especially in the modern world, where the true meaning of religion has faded to almost zero levels, it is very interesting to see how the current atheistic mentalities still remain bound to massive religions. The individual must strive at first to empty the cup from all programming, including religions, and search for his own course through empiricism.”
Of course, it’s not just this naïve adherence to religious doctrines that enslaves and limits our species. Work, relationships, political systems and social structures can also prove suffocatingly restrictive. So much dogma and rules to follow. On one hand, I feel that we shouldn’t ‘play their game’ and conform; but the counter argument is that if you step outside the norms it can be difficult to survive, to earn money and feed your family. Is it possible for a man to be truly free? How can we shake off the shackles?
“Religious men in fact shouldn’t be shackled with distorted morality or limited boundaries. On the other hand, the need to survive in a man-eating society forces even the stronger ideologist to compromise, bending his will to the analogies and needs of the modern world. At the same time, though, we should regard the need to survive physically as important as the need to survive mentally and spiritually, because a man can be metaphorically dead when his will dies or stagnates in general. The shackles can be broken by strengthening the Will, by realizing the true melanin and purpose in life, mentally and spiritually.”
We’re essentially prisoners of time and space, drifting around the sun. Within the infinity of the endless cosmos, each one of us is tiny and utterly insignificant. Yet every living thing is a part of nature. Ironically, if you gaze at the sky on a clear night, whilst feeling small, you can also somehow sense that you are part of something. Is this where the truth lies, maybe? In accepting that you are nothing, you can become something? Maybe our ancient ancestors – who believed the stars were Gods – were closer to the truth than we give them credit for? They’re not Gods, obviously, but they are the essential lifeforce of the universe (the material we’re composed of was born in dying stars) and they have gazed over all of humanity, reminding us of who we are and where we come from…
“Man is not a God a priori, but he / she is a God within the countless potentials of the soul. It is a given task, a purpose and a true challenge to become aware of the inner divinity that lies dormant within every being. They wouldn’t realize or understand this hidden core that has been transferred from generation to generation, passed down to the lines of modern humanity as a promise and tool. Gods are present and watching, but man has many steps and challenges to overcome before he gazes upon their true face and connects to their true essence.”
Another enemy is the ego. How can we strip away the ego? It almost feels like an intrinsic part of the human condition? I can’t imagine any human being with no trace of ego whatsoever. So should we perhaps strive to limit its influence rather than eliminating it completely?
“Ego is a cluster and a core. It is not an easy task to achieve detachment from the poisonous aspects and focus on the elements that accent the spiritual self. But, at the same time, this is the ultimate purpose. Man is addicted to feeding the surface aspects of the ego, be it mundane or slightly spiritual, to satisfy the mortal needs of self-projection, ephemeral achievement or disillusioned feelings of grandeur. Although, even certain spiritual endeavors could feed the ego with lustful delusions; there are countless parameters and no easy recipe to handle this challenge. Devoid of all the poisoning restraints, Ego should be metaphorically shattered and shuttered to become a step for the Self. Destruction is only an easy – and comforting, in a way – solution, but it is also a kind of subtle anatomy suicide to destroy the ego in its totality. Also, it is worth mentioning that Ego has different a meaning in the East than in the West. Ego, as Jung said, carries the memory … the true essence of your being … if you destroy the Ego, by that means, you kill your being. Memory – as part of consciousness – is life itself. That’s why you strive for lucidity in all aspects of your life. It is easy to fall in contradictions. So not good to enter into fast conclusions and big words. All in all, it is an answer that cannot be given in one or two paragraphs, but a life’s work, a spiritual journey of choices and decisions.”Music is definitely something that can bring meaning to our lives. Listening to Acherontas, it is clear that you are instilled with a strong sense of spirituality. Is your spirituality embedded in some of the wonders I mentioned earlier – science, history, culture, nature, astronomy, physics and the natural order – or is there something much deeper? Something darker?
“Spirituality is a vital part of our Art, being present in every release of Acherontas since the dawn of the band back in the ‘90s. The progression of the spiritual depths and the topics that we delve into from release to release differ and change, as the band and the individuals involved progress and evolve on every level. All of our spiritual and astral work is imprinted, our practices, perspectives and belief systems, the ways we work and progress on our Paths, everything becomes embedded and filtered through time, leaving a trace for the listener to experience the core of our inspiration and expression. Within the new album, the listener can witness the experience we have gathered throughout all these years and connect the dots, given that he is really interested and awakened, that he can see beyond the impressionistic walls of music and artwork, to realize the messages passed through Art and image. Before we begin working on new material and start recording ideas, we also have a clear vision and direction regarding the result, the sphere that will enclose the spiritual ignition that gives flesh and bones to the whole creation. The vision shapes the music and the music re-shapes the vision, a dynamic process that is not a standard album composition process, but rather an esoteric outcome. What we really had in mind was far from driving the album towards a certain direction. There are many other factors, esoteric and internal, that guide our inspiration and the creation of the albums, as has now happened with the recordings of ‘Psychic Death’. The musical outcome is just the materialization of the influence from the spiritual factors that drive the process and we are most of all loyal and faithful to our intuition, magical and musical, the full of our will imprinted on our Art.”
While absorbing an Acherontas record represents an immersive experience in its own right, I believe that participating in one of your live rituals is essential in order to fully feel the power of your music. With the aroma of incense lingering in the air, smoke rising, faces concealed, it’s a powerful experience, primal and primordial and otherworldly. Invariably, the atmosphere in the room is charged with energy. What is this tangible energy you are channeling when performing live? It feels like a funeral and an awakening at the same time. Chaos? Magick? Death reverence?
“All of our live performances hold a great significance to us and serve as a medium to our work in total, a means to an end that is set on every album we release. It has mostly been experience and sheer dedication, spiritual and practical, that led us to where we are now, as well as a very potent and powerful live line-up that evolved and hardened through the years and countless shows. The nature of the energies and the vibrations present in our live emanations cannot be named or characterized, they could only be experienced. It is not just a matter of paths or magical currents that we are involved in, but a context of empirical representation of our Work and dedication to our Art.”
How frustrating has it been for you to have these live ceremonies halted indefinitely due to the novel coronavirus outbreak? I’m guessing that you are itching to get back on stage, especially with the new album just released? Realistically, it looks like concerts are not going to be viable for so long as social distancing guidelines are being enforced. How big a worry is this for you concerning the long-term future of Acherontas?
“The year already began powerfully, regardless of the difficulties and turbulences and we are working towards more and more in the coming months with the official release of the album. The effects of the pandemic have of course been sensed as we have had several cancellations of shows in the last months already, but we are confident we will survive any practical or logistic impact of this crisis and will make sure that we return to those countries that had their shows cancelled, delivering even stronger in the near future. We won’t stop for any external factor, regardless of the difficulties.”
Finally, speaking of the new record – ‘Psychic Death – The Shattering Of Perceptions’ is the eighth full-length already since you initiated the coven in 2007. It would be understandable at this stage if the music was starting to sound dull, derivative and uninspired. However, the opposite is the case… this record is fresh, full of vitality and it boldly encapsulates everything that is so essential about Acherontas’ unique strain of ancient and diverse Black Metal mysticism. Where has the energy and inspiration come from to produce such a landmark album 13 years into this transcendental journey? How have you managed to keep things relevant, authentic and intriguing?
“It is a matter of honesty and dedication to our Art. Each and every one of us, every member, we are producing and making music straight from the heart and core of our inspiration, without any compromising to trends or signs of the times, just pure expression. Especially the new album has given us a strong feeling of returning to the roots of our musical basis, to denote and emphasize multiple parts and perspectives that revitalized us to the full. ‘Psychic Death’ denotes the ultimate, relentless shattering of Perceptions, the complete unfolding of the Psyche. Across all the cardinal directions, the core elements of the Psychic structure detonate and flourish, risen and aflame as a newborn supernova, embedding axioms and attributes on the vital points of existence, on the ether as in the depths. The uncharted map of man’s subtle anatomy becomes flooded with the governing universal force of Vitae, the arrows of Life, the nectars of Death and the flames of Rebirth. Conceived as a frame and a spiritual concept, the listener should dive himself into this visualized perception and further explore the contents. Both us and the receptor of our Art have and had a journey to experience, as it was our task and goal with every release.”