The Last of the Mohicans Pt. 2: EAT METAL [English]

Posted by universechild On Feb 12, 2012 0 comments

Sunday, October the 9th, 2011

Yes, the post reads “February 2012”, but right now I’m transported on a Sunday from last October.

Wonderful day, one of those that stay with you forever. Up in the morning, a few sips of warm coffee, a dozen cigarettes, singing along Lethal’s “Poison Seed”… Why? Because this is what you want. You spent the best part of the week at work, fed up with customers that need psychiatric help. Things like these can lead to prescription drugs, and the music you love is the only antidote. A healthier cure, sans doctor.

It’s a sunny morning. I look forward to the evening live event at Kyttaro Club. Today is the day EAT METAL RECORDS celebrates its birthday. It’s been ten year since it first made its mark in the Greek Heavy Metal scene, and what better way to celebrate than a Live? Co-founder Craig knows that times are rough, so the tickets cost just 1 euro. After all, it’s a primarily symbolic event; this admission barely (if at all) covers part of the cost for arranging the place. This cheap price is also a way to see who actually honors the metal underground.

It’s a cloudy afternoon… I put on my sneakers, catch up with the others, and we all head towards Papadiamantis Square to catch the trolley. It has already started raining and the streets are full of water, as well as chunks of garbage and shit carried by the small streams (Athens). A black cat tries to swim, its efforts obstructed by a turd.

I’ve been soaking wet, but the greatest the crumbling of the others for taking them along on such a shitty day, the greatest my enthusiasm. I’ll go, even by boat.

Somewhere in the distance a young man on a bike yells: “You won’t make it to the square with this weather, drink a Red Bull, it will give you wings”.

“Hilarious”, I thought, but “why don’t you fuck off?”

We were at Kytarro when it stopped raining. But then another rain starter, that of positive emotions.

Warm and friendly atmosphere, we’re like one, familiar faces, communication in the purest sense of the word. Totally unlike the obscene reality of everyday life. You are with your own kind.

Holding an obligatory bottle of Amstel, we are awaiting for the joy to start. Joy? Highly subjective. Wrathblade came up first, and then along came Valor. The bands were amazing. What was not so amazing, however, was the meager attendance and of course the Kafrila (a word that cannot translate, believe me, but think “asshole” squared, or cubed) that characterizes our race sometimes.

Many were talking to each other, and it’s doubtful whether the subject they so passionately talked about was the music they came to enjoy. Long story short, they could give a shit about the bands that were giving it all on stage. They just talked loudly, in the characteristically Greek way, and brayed. You say to yourself, “okay, maybe it is I that came for this, and they came for a different reason”.

That night’s surprise was Raging Storm who literally set the stage on fire, and of course the touch of Doom for that evening, Litany. Then a little bit of Thrash with the great (and what-it-says-on-the-tin) Released Anger, but the one I wanted to see the most was Confixion. “Won’t they come up already?”

This is what we were asking from the start, but we were told by Craig’s brother that they will be the last.

Hey Nick, you have to admit that this was done intentionally. You know nobody would leave this event if
Convixion hadn’t made their appearance.

You could say that through the eyes of Craig’s mother each and every one of us saw their own. Warm, sweet, she treated everyone the same, like her own children. I think this was one of the most beautiful moments of this live; her eyes were bright with pride.

This was especially the case when Craig came up on stage to talk. At one moment I asked her when will Convixion come up, and she said “You know Nick, we call him little Craig”. I needn’t hear more, I had already known how much Nick loves and respects Craig, and not just him, but everyone of us, gathered in that club on that rainy Sunday.

I enjoyed Convixion, and then I also bought a lottery ticket, to support in my own way EAT METAL.

I didn’t attend the draw; I didn’t really care if I won something or not. As clichιd as it may sound, I already felt like a winner. I was happy when I left after this joyful night, one of hopefully more to follow. Craig Varsamis, one of the “last of the Mohicans” of metal, deserves it. His presence in the scene all these years proves what it is to live this music and struggle for it.  The product of his love and his work, which he shares with Dimitris Vagianis, was Eat Metal, one of the pillars of the Hellenic scene.

Eat Metal Releases

Eat Metal started in 2001 when the two friends decided to set up a metal shop, as well as small label to release singles by new unsigned bands that they liked. Craig has said that the idea had been lingering in his mind for quite some time before they founded the company. After all, the 90’s, when Greek metal is concerned, are known as the decade of black/death, since the most well-known Greek metal bands were of these genres, while Craig and Dimitris were supporters of the traditional and classic metal sounds. It’s well known that Craig is a connoisseur of Epic. Their presence filled a gap that seemed to exist in Greece regarding the support of traditional metal, at least in Southern Greece, since Steel Gallery in the North had been around for a few years.

Things got started with the release of Dream Weaver’s single on 7 inch vinyl, followed by a few more, as well as a couple of full-length LPs, both by bands from Greece (Litany, Marauder, Raging Storm, Valor) as well as foreign (Wotan, Lonewolf). It’s characteristic that they insisted on releasing the albums not only on the industry standard, the CD, but on vinyl too (we already said that the singles were 7 inch, not MCD!) Supporting LPs demands not only love, but true passion, since it is very well known that most factories equipped to print vinyl had already been closed since the CD became dominant, and the cost of the medium is incomparably heavier than that of the CD.
Eat Metal - Live Posters

Apart from the label and the record store, Eat Metal’s most important activity was organizing concerts with bands who had never been heard, or hadn’t appeared in what seems virtually as centuries, in Greece, starting with that legendary (for the few that experienced it) live with Brocas Helm. Eat Metal naturally recorded it and released it as “Black Death in Athens Live” (2005), alongside the expanded re-release of the classic Brocas Helm album, “Black Death” (1988)

Part of their philosophy has always been not only bringing classic names (Manilla Road, Jag Panzer, Ostrogoth) who above all themselves loved and “those is power” seemed to snub, but also promoting new Greek bands (playing traditional sounds, always) who deserved a chance to be heard as support groups.

Their activities were a major breath of fresh air for the Greek underground, and there were quite a few Greek bands of the classic heavy and doom or speed and thrash that were promoted by them – just look at the lists of the releases, or past lives, by Eat Metal records.

As Craig himself has stated in the classic interview to Chronicles of Chaos web-zine (conducted in 2004, but always topical): “we have worked with all the other labels and generally everybody who supports heavy metal. It doesn't have to be a release from Eat Metal Records for us to like it. For example, there is the new Airged Lamh album [_The Silver Arm_] on the Black Lotus label, which we promote like it was ours, or even more! We are friends with all the guys, unlike the [fragmented] Greek scene in the old days which resulted in a lot of problems.



Of course Steel Gallery and Eat Metal aren’t the only “Mohicans” in the Hellenic scene. Saying that would belittle a few other, smaller, shops in cities outside Athens / Thessaloniki, small local scenes in the provinces, everyone who keeps the spirit of this music alive. Their presence, however, was the most catalytic to maintain the stability of the Greek Metal underground in place and played an important role in terms of the Renaissance of the classic sound in ‘00s, after the temporary, as it has been proven, “Dark Ages” of 90s extreme.