One of the first of the rising Greek black metal scene to emerge, Varathron took slow styled and architectural riffs and bounced them off a more rock beat than most black metal bands would use. Never far too complex the band evokes comparison to Rotting Christ or Samael.

His Majesty in the Swamp

Production: Good backroom production with some acoustical space but mostly a comfortable sound of studio control.

Review: This is drawn out and intricate black metal, with attention to the slower speeds and more emphasis on phrasing beyond the three-chords-falling approach of most current black metal acts. Most of its riffs are pieces of thematic monsters which unencumber themselves from their origins to extend to their full length and then resolve into slow, hypnotic, fading patterns of allusion to what once was. Into this mystical space of ambiguity arises the logic of patterns.


1. His majesty at the swamp
2. Son of the moon (Act II)
3. Unholy funeral
4. Lustful father
5. Nightly kingdoms
6. Flowers of my youth
7. The river of my souls
8. The tressrising of nyarlathothep (Act I)
Length: 39:30

Copyright © 1993 Cyber
Conventional rhythm is altered subtly to work through intricate riffs, with attention paid to the orchestral dynamics of voice and rhythm, allowing an easy walking beat to pervade an otherwise operatic complexity. The resulting sound is dark, low, and abstracted, with a more reserved approach than fast attack but laden with more perspective in the flowering of its variations. Easy pacing on the drums including techno styled simple counterpoint percussion keeps pace with this developing style, as do keyboards mixed into simple fragments of larger guitar odysseanism.

Dark hoarse shadows of vocals paint obscurity on the relative rigidity of structure. A Celtic Frost influence appears in many songs, especially the simpler ones, but where that band lend the most is in the dark pacing and physical motion grooves of this music, which creates an ethereal presence in its sweeping but grounded work which remains disparate enough in melody to retain its enigmatic, cryptic winding ascent to the resolution of its themes in abstract freedom.

Black Arts Lead to Everlasting Sins


Production: On both EPs obscure but toneful and well mixed so that the slightly abraded instrument signals do not corrupt each other. What sounds like weird guitar tone on the Necromantia is an 8-string bass used in a rhythm guitar mode.

Review: Slower than most black metal Varathron moves like holes in the cloud cover of a full sky which split and rejoin to form wider gaps, leaving spaces for imagination only. Evaporating structure leaves implications of greater ordering, through gaps which are the process of a larger entity forming. This cycle, its demonic lyricism and the the underwater guitar sound contribute to this EP an aura of mysticism worthy of the title of their first album.


1. Lora of the Abyss (7:50)
2. The Feat of Ghouls (5:34)
3. Evil Prayers (5:44)
4. Lycanthropia (1:44)
5. De Magia Veterum (10:04)
6. The Cult of the Aragon (2:27)
7. The Tressrising of Nyarlathotep (7:15)
8. La Reine Noir (6:09)
9. Outro (0:49)
10. Aescent of a Prophetic Vision (3:29)
11. Genesis of Apocryphal Desires (3:10)
Length: 54:17

varathron and necromantia split album genesis of apocryphal desires
Copyright © 1994 Unisound

Complexity does not occur in turbulent bursts of riffing but in the tasteful introduction of themes and intensity of harmonic variation used to direct their resolutions. These old style metal riffs move to a doomish beat that almost sleepwalks right over you, although it and the riffs are simple structural elements that help build an atmosphere but are inscrutable on their own. Heavy use of melodic lead playing for structure is reminiscent of the more explosive death metal bands like Suffocation, but riff hierarchy points toward NWOBHM and other epic metal adventures being played with a black metal technique so precise that its integration is natural and undisturbing to the musical sense of order from chaos that is found here.

Although this work has its great profundities, even greater things lie ahead than many of these Slayer-influenced "early works." Guitar solos are tonal and tuneful while sparsely placed within harmonic topography for augmentative spatial development. Voice of darkness whispers the hoarse violence of feral perception over the strumming chant of the guitars, sending a counter-rhythmic shivering of message through the obscurity. Dark clamping rhythms move in the background from potential to fulfilment to nihilism, a vacant world revealed to a motionless dark eye. The unending battle of this music is the beauty in its sense of the obscurity of potential variation, even as found in vaguely swampy doom metal wrapped in the upward transcendental aesthetic of mystical black metal.

Genesis of Apocryphal Desire
Cursed Productions
Production: These are demos nicely remastered with a decent CD pressing that transcends most limitations of previous ultra-low-end or incomplete recording practices.

Review: Tracing the vein of development through the evolution of this famed Greek black metal band who were at their peak a mystical, romantic and often esoteric collection of ideas so abundant they were not contained in reality but generated fundamentals of a now-recognized style.

What distinguished it from the sawing, dissonant black metal blasting of the time was its ability to integrate a range of melodies as part of a narrative song structure and not lose cohesion, mainly through an understanding of rhythm derived from the mighty Slayer and a tonal conceptualization process that, despite its heavy metal roots, seems classically influenced in its use of melody.

Many of the lessons learned between these two demo recordings defined methods of "standard" composition in black metal, now that the ink's drying on all the public recognition it will get (burnt churches. used chromatic melodies. goofy faces.). Here you hear a band mutate from a competent death metal band in a style inspired by early death metal including Death and Swedish-style death metal such as the Finnish band Sentenced, in order to reach a level of atmospheric black metal that took the incipient heavy metal elements of the previous death metal and converted them to pensive, restless, compassionate riffs which converted the music of outright violence into the subtle Satanism of the naturalists, in which evil is the dark nothingness which lurks in the forest. Think about death!, it howls, underneath its youthful desire to break out and rise, through beauty painting the abyss.


Procreation of Unaltered Evil demo (1989)
1. Necranastasis
2. Dawn of Sordid Decay
Previously Unreleased (1989)
3. The Great Seal of Graal
Genesis of Apocryphal Desire demo (1991)
4. La Reine Noir
5. Genesis of Apocryphal Desire
6. The Tressrising of Nyarlathotep
7. Seven Endless Horizones
8. Journey Beyond
Previously Unreleased (1993, 1995)
9. The Mystic Papyrus
10. Deep Beneath an Ancient Dominion
Length: 43:05

varathron genesis of apocryphal desire
Copyright © 1997 Cursed

For a more clinical description, one would have to associate the first demo with the range of bands who performed early attempts at making meaningful death metal music without losing the inspirational directness of classics like Possessed and Death. Gutteral blow vocals and characteristic muffled-strum riffs alongside ripping speed phrases distinguish the genre, as well as a few outright Death-isms in the bridging style that Slayer inherited from Judas Priest who might've got it from the Beatles for all we know. But the second demo breaks into a deft motion of themes in riffs that works with intense narrative effect, so that one feels immersion in the music: the structural component of atmospheric music, in concert with the fuzzed and spacious production many mistake for incompetent, achieved once succeeds many times in suspending disbelief so that the aspiration in the music and its desire can be communicated.

What in the first lurked, the second articulates, and in such a method as to be immediately recognizable as the style of black metal from the region. Much like Graveland and later Scandinavian attempts like Throne of Ahaz, Varathron works on the principle of an extended and theartical melody that sets its own stage with a sense of tonal and acoustic dynamic as structure to the regulation of mood. Consequently these are lush and immersive listening experiences which escape conditioned isolation to demonstrate through the entranced listener a possibility of mental awareness.

BLACK   |   DEATH   |   HEAVY   |   SPEED   |   THRASH   |   GRINDCORE

Copyright © 1988-2004 the Dark Legions Archive