Epic Metal ‘Horrors’ From Greece: Black Soul Horde 🇬🇷 Interview

By Justin Smulison

Black Soul Horde is a metal band from Greece that blends traditional, doom and power metal. With lyrics that explore history, folklore, the metaphysical and supernatural – their songs provide a much-needed lyrical escape from the current state of the world.

Their second album, Land Of Demise, was independently released in late 2020 and was followed up in 2021 by some acoustic reinterpretations and singles. In November, they released the fantastical–and fantastic–Horrors From The Void. Horrors doesn’t change the NWOBHM-infused formula much, but with a few more dashes of speed and dual soloing, it outperforms its predecessor at times. Check out the closer, “The Betrayal Of The King” for epic metal done right (and in under six minutes).

The band is comprised of full-time members John Tsiakopoulos (guitar, bass, additional vocals), Jim Kotsis (vocals and lyrics) and Costas Papaspyrou (solo guitars), and were joined by Vasilis Nanos on drums for the recording session.

I spoke with Tsiakopoulos, who also produced and mixed the album, to discuss the lyrical inspiration of Horrors From The Void and the admirably classic method of releasing it. He also enlightens us about the challenges of leading a metal band in a country that has had such a profound impact on modern thought, literature and world culture.

An Interview with John Tsiakopoulos

What makes Horrors From The Void a good starting point for anyone hearing the band for the first time?

It is definitely our more mature album, in a musical sense. It is also our more versatile one. You will find elements in here from all of our past releases. The songs are neither complex, nor too simple and there is quite a big variety in sound as well. Another major point is the impeccable job Jim did on vocals on this one. I mean you get everything in the registry. He now hates me a bit more though. Hehe!

Horrors was released by a music and vinyl shop in Greece. That in itself is very inspiring and a nice throwback to the days of having a local influence. Tell us who released the album and what the process was like to secure that partnership.

Horrors From The Void was released by Vinylstore.gr which is basically a record store, but also functions as a label at the same time. They are responsible for the release of all the physical formats of the album. We did the CD version in November 2021, and there is a cassette tape version coming by the end of January for all three of our albums, and finally, a gatefold vinyl version, which should be available toward April 2022.

What happened is that Dimitris Giannakopoulos from vinylstore.gr, listened to Land Of Demise and liked it very much. He knew Jim Kotsis, our singer, and reached out and told him that he would really be interested in releasing our next album. Little did he know that I am a busy bee and that by that time I had already finished the music for it. We talked about release plans, dates, percentages and all the relevant stuff and since we were all standing on common ground we went for it and I must say, we are really happy with these guys. They’ve treated us with respect and as if we were an established band. That meant – and means – a lot.

What are some of the unique challenges in being a metal band in Greece?

Being in Greece, for starters. Our country is not really supportive of rock and metal music. Yes, the metal audience in Greece is very passionate and united but in 2021 we are still treated as outsiders or devil-worshipping degenerates, which I personally am and have no problem with it. Ha! Just kidding. I don’t worship anything. Well, maybe pizza. I do worship pizza.

There is no support system for artists in this country. Heavy Metal is still a taboo here. Most people listen to Modern Greek or traditional Greek music (as in they are genres themselves) and there is a big gap in the mentality between them and people who listen to metal and rock. Apart from all that, the country is small and there are not a lot of live venues which makes spreading your music and playing live a tad more difficult. You can only play the same place so many times in a month or even a year.

How many years have you been performing in the Greek underground metal scene?

I started playing live music in or around 1995. I was 16 at the time, we played locally. After a few years it was downtown Athens and other cities at times. So I’d say 25 years give or take. I didn’t realize it’s been that long. Thanks for reminding me I am getting old.

What was the scene like when you first started playing in bands and how has it changed over time?

Back then everything was different. Obviously the underground scene was smaller and the bands fewer and the planning and promoting a whole different animal. Imagine promoting a show before FB or even MySpace. Can you? It was hard. You’d hit the streets handing out flyers which no one would take, because you know, metal degenerates, and go on putting posters up. It was fun and hard at the same time. All that is easier now with all the digital promo but because of the overflow and overdose of information you don’t always get the outcome you hoped for. The good thing is that now there are more bands and the bar is higher so you get more quality and dare I say, professionalism, from the bands that is. The scene is more organized nowadays. The most prevalent style of metal is stoner metal, if there is such a thing. I believe the right term is stoner rock. That is more widespread and the more established bands in the country are of this genre.

Is there a style of metal that is most prevalent in Greece?

There are a couple of very big exceptions of more extreme bands in the Greek rock/metal establishment. After that I believe the most prevalent style is Heavy Metal, with a big and dedicated community and happenings and festivals that bring people from around the world to our small, flawed but beautiful country. Most Heavy Metal shows are packed and the people are very supportive.

I’d like to add, I don’t find the title Greek metal underground scene appropriate here, since this is the only scene of metal there is in Greece. There are no major leagues as per se, so basically it’s just the Greek Metal Scene. Unless you want to count the 3-4 bigger names as that and shove the other 50 or 100 so bands under the label underground. Nope. Sorry. I won’t.

What are your other bands or projects?

I currently also play bass and sing in Night Resident, which is a doom ‘n’ gloom, as I like to call it, project. Costas, who is the lead guitar in Black Soul Horde, is the guitarist and fellow singer in this, too.

Inside It Grows is my studio project, which I’ve maintained since 2005. That kinda works as a label under which I release albums from the whole spectrum of rock and metal. I like to explore. So that is a good way to do so.

I am also a guitarist in heavy/doom metal act Speedblow, which is currently on ice. Apart from all these I also do various personal projects of various music genres.

How have sites like Bandcamp helped you reach broader audiences?

I love Bandcamp. They are a huge help. They allow you to spread your music and use the platform as a store and as a promo jump point. They take a little of the top which is completely understandable but they offer so much for a decent percentage. They put you in searches, they recommend artists at no extra costs or anything and they offer many options on how to go about using the platform. They respect the artists. They ARE doing this for them and if you are not blind or plain mean, you can see that.

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