Greece. A country most renowned for its mythology, breath-taking beaches and revolutionary political upheaval. The Hellenic Republic already boasts two of the most respected and influential metal bands of the last twenty years in Rotting Christ and Septic Flesh. As the first act to break out of the Greek scene in the 1990s, Nightfall are now also in the limelight once more after releasing their magnificent comeback record, At Night We Prey, via Season of Mist in March this year. And how can we forget about the masterful progressive metal of Athens quartet, Scar of the Sun, who delivered one of the most imaginative albums of 2021?
Still, deep beneath the wonders of this country lie many talented and extraordinary metal bands just waiting to be discovered by the rest of the world. We asked our very own, Moshpit Meg, to delve deeper into the underground to unearth the artists you need to hear.
So, without further ado, let’s dive in.
1. Ocean of Grief
Ocean of Grief are a melodic doom and death metal hybrid from Athens with gothic foundations. Formed in 2014 and still active today, their most recent album, Nightfalls Lament, came out in 2018, the highlight of which is the magnificent ‘Mourning Over Memories’. Imagine the love child of My Dying Bride and Amon Amarth with Saturnus as the role model. Now slow it down even further. It’s hard to ignore such a brilliant combination. Ocean of Grief have a deal with Rain Without End Records, who also count Enshine and Black Autumn on their roster. Their music is available to stream on a variety of platforms including Bandcamp, YouTube and Spotify, so there’s no excuse to delay blasting their records.
For fans of: Saturnus, My Dying Bride, Amon Amarth
Taster track: Mourning Over Memories
Soulskinner are a death metal band that formed in Athens in 2000 and have twenty years of noise terror behind them. It is not uncommon for them to release a split album or two like goregrind legends, Exhumed. They can even boast a collaboration with Behemoth’s Nergal. These Athenians mix kickass drum and heavy-paced guitars and add nasty death metal vocals to produce a violent concoction of audio hate. Being compared to Bolt Thrower is a common compliment associated with this band, and that alone should be enough to grab the attention of any metal folk. Check out their 2020 album, Seven Bowls of Wrath, if you want an atmospheric blast of morbid death metal to burden your day. Their music is available to stream on YouTube and through Xtreem Music’s Bandcamp page.
For fans of: Bolt Thrower, Obituary, Asphyx
Taster track: Seven Bowls of Wrath
3. Blade of Spirit
Our search for the obscurest of bands takes us to Blade of Spirit, a power-doom metal band with progressive elements from Kozani in West Macedonia. Formed in 1996 and possibly still active today, they’ve released a handful of albums over the years. Their last effort was 2007’s Serpents of the Night, which they co-created with the artist Dark Nightmares. With soothing yet powerful vocals, they’re a perfect band to enjoy when you’re out on a drive or simply relaxing at home. One way to describe them is a pagan Judas Priest. You can stream their music on YouTube if you want to give them some love.
For fans of: Judas Priest, Halestorm, Battle Beast
Taster track: Enter Machine
4. Art of Simplicity
Art of Simplicity are a progressive metal band with experimental tendencies and hail from the Greek capital. They formed in 2003 and have four releases under their belt, their most recent record being the Invocation EP. We were expecting their forthcoming album, The Chains that Bind Us, in 2020 until Covid-19 disrupted the entire music industry. Combining violin, keyboards and crunchy metal riffs, this band produce a sound close to Type O Negative yet also retain traces of 1980s gothic with atmospheric keyboards and climatic song structures. You’ll even hear shades of Dream Theater and Queensrӱche in the mix. Art of Simplicity sell music and merch on their own website as well as Bandcamp. You can also listen to them on their YouTube music channel.
For fans of: Type O Negative, Queensrӱche, Anathema
Taster track: When Fables Have a Bitter Taste
5. Dead Elephant
Now, Dead Elephant are quite a mysterious band. The date they formed is unclear and they keep their identities anonymous. Nevertheless, we know they are a sludge/doom metal act that formed in Athens. They guys are guaranteed to mesmerise with their heavy pulsating riffs and will propel you to spin your head like a carefree fool. Doom being one of our favourite genres, they have everything you could ask for in this style of music – the slow grinding tempos, the expressive snare shuffles, the bubbling bass hooks. Their latest release is Year of the Elephant, which consists of five tracks and unleashes a surprise black metal tinge on the unsuspecting listener. The secretive Athenians also released a split album with Zebu in 2017. Let’s just call it ART and leave it at that. You can purchase their music on Bandcamp and stream their back catalogue via their exclusive YouTube channel.
For fans of: Skull Tank, Celtic Frost (Monotheist era), Electric Wizard
Taster track: Year of the Elephant
*** You can read our exclusive interview with Greek metal gods, Nightfall, here.