7 October 2016


There is no exact date to know when the Greek scene became the powerful and talented scene we know today, but year after year the bands have been expressing their talent, let me say, in some cases almost poetically, releasing excellent albums (jewels). This time is the turn of AGATUS, with its magnificent new album “The Eternalist”, in my opinion one of the highlights of the year. Here is an interview with Eskarth The Dark One, talking about his music and ideas.  Fly into forever…with Agatus…

Greetings, now that the album is out, how happy are you with how “The Eternalist” has turned out, in terms of how it sounds but also in terms of how it looks 
Greetings, We are indeed quite pleased with the outcome of TH ETERNALIST both in terms of compositions and production as well as album art representation.  The idea was that through this album we will pick up where we left off with The Weaving Fates and introduce further compositional elements to best suit the music and reflect facets of our musical development in whatever that encompasses. 
How long did take the process of writing and recording.  Did you pass for difficult moment during the process?
I had started recording the initial ideas of this album in 2006, however songs such as ‘Perils of The Sea Pt. II – At Dusk I was Born’ where composed almost in their entirety from as far back as 1996-1997.  It wasn’t until 2013 that I felt I wanted to awaken the dream of Agatus and create THE ETRNALIST that proved to be a challenging piece of work for me, in terms composition, since I had decided to introduce new elements (stylistically speaking) which were direct results of my inspirations.  This decision however, would potentially ‘make’ or’ break’ the album.  I must admit that to date, trying to blend old with new whilst maintaining the signature sound of Agatus has surely been one of the biggest challenges faced. 
Recording at our own respective studios, Vorkaath and I were able to indulge in experimenting a little more with compositions and ideas that significantly contributed to the distinctive sounds of THE ETERNALIST. 
I spent many months going over and over the material until I was satisfied with all compositions.  Looking back at the endless hours of work put in this album I feel  they we were well worth it. 
What are the influences, or the main source of inspiration that have evolved on this trip to what is AGATUS music today?
I have tried to emphasise my own personal style as a guitarist and as composer whilst trying to maintain the identity of Agatus.  Part of my inspiration has come from bands such as Eloy, Marillion, Al Dimeola, Michael Schenker, Rainbow, Bathory and many others. 
I must say that the album surprised me gratefully, not only for being something "different" or uncommon among so many releases, but not for being different makes the album good, It´s not the style but by the quality of the music that makes the album outstanding. How do you think or expect that this album is received by fans and media in general?  What are your expectations as a musician, once the album has been released?
Thank you for your kind words. 
In making THE ETERNALIST I aimed at creating something that would be well blended in terms of old and new whilst maintaining the drive and identity that Agatus are known for. 
It was a conscious however difficult decision to further experiment with the direction and the sound of the album as it forms a detachment from the band’s past and extends into a new territory and opens new horizons. 
In my opinion, the quality of the music comes through maturity and understanding and how well one connects with their creation and surrounding elements. 
Reports and feedback on the album have been overwhelming and this could be seen as indication that it is well received and hope to see this response continue on.
As a musician I would like for my new work to be heard and to reach many new fans.
THE ETERNALIST is as an album that will appeal to fans from a wide array of music genres as it has strong hard rock/ heavy metal moments, progressive feel whilst maintaining some extreme metal feeling.  Heavy Metal and beyond!
It is easily remarkable that the production has been worn out carefully, I would dare to say that there´s a work of maturity, "clean" but without losing heaviness, something noticeable in all the instruments, both in the melodic as well in the aggressive parts, embracing the  dramatic or theatrical aura of the songs.  How would you define or describe the production and the sound achieved?
Indeed the idea behind the production is to ensure that all instruments are heard as planned during the composition.  We aim for a warm and balanced sound and production and I am confident that once again we achieved this on this Agatus album.  Heaviness comes through composition so it won’t be lost. During the composition and the production process there is a lot of emphasis given to making parts sound as intended, by using the necessary space, the right effect, the appropriate timbre and so on. 
We prefer using analogue equipment , natural drum sounds  and take a vintage approach to recording and mixing.
Without having any interest in putting labels on the musical style, I would like to know from your point of view, as a composer, how would you describe the music and style of Agatus?
This album is very much on the heavy side of things so I haven’t shifted entirely away from the metal genre, however I made an effort on THE ETERNALIST to musically distance myself from the confines of Black Metal and further develop the music into other styles that best represent my ideas for this album. 
There is a strong Heavy Metal flavour blended with Hard/Prog Rock and a slight Black Metal touch.
I have been influenced by so many artists and genres that I personally don’t want to put one particular label to this release and would prefer for the listener to interpret what they hear.
The vocals are one of the highlights of the album, which contribute to a great extent this dramatic touch, to which I was referring earlier, of the songs. Have you been inspired by some style in particular?   
Thank you.
No style in particular, instead I tried singing where I felt I could comfortably weave in and out from in terms of timbre and range.  With the vocals I took on something new that again I felt were best suited to the compositions.  For example I composed At Dusk I Was Born in 1996 and I sung it on the album exactly like I use to sing it at rehearsals back then.   You can hear something similar to that vocal style on Conqueror of Fear from the Weaving Fates, so this direction was a natural development. 
Why did you decide to include the song Gilgamesh, released four years ago in the 7· EP with same name?
Both songs from the Gilgamesh 7EP  were re-recorded during this album session, however  Gilgamesh was chosen since I wanted to record it again with all its new parts as well as making  reference to the two greatest epics the world has come to know  (Iliad and Gilgamesh). 
Tell us about the lyrical content. is there any concept running through the  title “The Eternalist” Are the songs linked between themselves somehow?
THE ETERNALIST  is not a concept album however there is a link between the songs in terms of the lyrical concept .  In this album I make references to the dreaming and the voyage of the soul, the state of consciousness and the essence of existence - completion.  
Themes are taken from Sumerian mythos and Hellenic philosophy whilst other parts are simply my way of interpreting and externalizing some of my own thoughts and concepts.
Please explain the meaning of the wonderful cover artwork, was it designed and drew from an idea or vision of yours?
I feel with this great piece of artwork the album is complete and well presented. Obscurity as expressed here by Robert Cook is perfectly balanced with enlightenment and the entire impression of this piece perfectly aligns itself with my own the interpretation and feel for this album.  
Although it has a harder edge,  I consider the artwork a great companion evoking dark feelings and breathing life through the music of THE ETERNALIST.    
Since “The Weaving Fate” the music of Agatus was evolving to a more traditional Heavy Metal sound, something that continued in the two EPs released later. Is the work on “The Eternalist” just a step ahead in search for more evolution in your style or is it the final result that you were looking for?
I would like to consider it as evolution – I couldn’t settle for stagnation in music and art in general.  I have already composed new material for the next album which is also quite different to THE ETERNALIST.  For some keeping to a recipe works well whilst for others exploration is key in development and expression. 
On the other hand, THE ETERNALIST has become what it was initially intended to become and personally I will use this release as a stepping stone to create something equally as expressive in its own right. 
Is there something left of the Black metal Spirit from the early days in the current essence of Agatus? 
As a musician I share passion and drive throughout all my compositions.  I am constantly thinking of key elements that make up the ‘Agatus’ sound and how I can incorporate them in any future work.  I guess there is always a chance I’ll tread back on familiar grounds if the moment is right, and as such I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of revisiting the past.    

In retrospective, how do you see now the first album and the early demos? How do you look at the early days nowadays?
From the perspective of a musician and specifically on the technical aspect and my ability to perform my instrument, to put it mildly, there was room for improvement.
From a compositional perspective I can hear how I conformed to certain standards in terms of music form; however I also feel that I offered something different given the era and the circumstances surrounding a want-to-be musician and feel that those that listened to our music embraced these attempts, as they themselves were open and ready to receive this music.  Nowadays I don’t really think works the same way as there is an abundance of everything and people possibly hardly find something that moves them or even worse, they settle for anything.  
I guess that after many releases and studio hours shared with your brother Vorskaath it should be easy for you to understand each other during the recording sessions, mostly when you both are so skilled and talented musicians with such good taste in music. Do you have any ritualistic or a strictly methodic way to work in the studio?
I highly enjoy working with my brother despite some of the epic arguments we have during some of our sessions.  
We have spent endless our in the studio together and made tones of recordings apart from Agatus and Zemial and this experience has enabled us to understand how each other works during recording sessions and how to identify the best way that we both produce our most positive and creative output.
We go through quite an extensive program to identify the instruments we are going to use depending  on the song or vibe, drum skins and tunings, what microphones and the placement of those mics, the preamps we are going to use and what instrument to run into each preamp and so on and so on.  It is a long and demanding process, however it is always exciting and serves a real build up towards the actual recording.  
Will you take part or contribute in the next Zemial album? What do you think about Nykta. In my opinion it was the best album of 2013 and since then no other album was as good and strong (Imho) well, maybe “The Eternalist” can dethrone Nykta this year :)
At this point in time I could probably and safely say that I think my ‘hands on’ collaboration with Zemial is over.  I helped my brother a little bit in the studio with the ‘The repairer of Reputations’ however not in the way of recording.  
Through NYKTA Zemial really expressed a change of direction and demonstrated ability of a band that has explored extreme metal from its raw stages to a band that smoothly moves into musical realms without losing expression and intensity. 
I had an involvement in NYKTA in terms of singing, guitar soloing as well as composing some ideas for the album. 
It was a great album and I know NYKTA is a strong competitor to THE ETERNALIST although its not fair to compare albums of different bands that were recorded under different circumstances.  Composition wise, NYKTA is brilliant and it opened the way for the next big step in the Zemial camp which is ‘Lurking’ around the corner…
What are your current or next activities with your other bands Raven Black Night and Alpha Centauri?
Discussions have recommenced for an Alpha Centauri  7EP so we may some news on that soon. 
With Raven Black Night, there is a possibility for live show next year, however that also remains to be confirmed.  
Are there plans to put the music of Agatus on stage to support the release of the album?
Quite possible, however not until next year.   There are already offers and we welcome any interested organisers to get in touch.
You came back to Greece a few years ago, after living in Australia nearly for two decades, how was your experience there? Why did you move to Australia back then? Would you consider the possibility of living abroad again?
Australia is a great country and I had a very positive experience living there. It is my birthplace so similarly to the past I still consider it a suitable destination for settling there.  I am currently living in the UK.  
Are you still in touch with members of other bands such as Varathron, Necromantia, Rotting Christ or Thou Art Lord?
Occasionally with Sakis and Themis from Rotting Christ. 
What´s the strangest place and the most shocking one that you´ve been?
A strange place I have visited is The FeldKapelle in Germany
Luckily I have not come across a shocking place in my journeys.  
Thank you for the dedicated time! End this interview as you want...
Thank you for the great interview and your support!
Look out for THE ETERNALIST  on October 9th and prepare for some serious headbanging! 

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