Embrace of Thorns Interview With Archfiend DevilPig

After hearing the new release by the band Embrace The Thorns I knew an interview was in order so I got in touch with band member  Archfiend DevilPig and here is what  he said to my questions:

So when did you start to have a love for heavy metal music? What were some of the early bands you heard and liked?

AD: I started listening to heavy music in the early 90ies when I was around twelve years old. Some older cousins were already into hard rock and heavy metal and they started taping stuff for me, as soon as I told them I was interested. I remember that I was floored when I first saw some Iron Maiden videos on TV and it was all downhill from then on (ha!) Early influential bands were: SCORPIONS, IRON MAIDEN, BLACK SABBATH, ACCEPT, RAINBOW, and of course METALLICA, SLAYER, and VENOM. Almost immediately after I was first exposed to those bands, I started buying tons of tapes by thrash and death metal bands. Back in those days all those early Metal Blade, Roadracer, Combat, Nuclear Blast America tapes were being sold as cut-outs so it felt like being in a candy store.

You sing and play drums, guitar, and bass as well. How did it get where did all 4?

AD: I started as a drummer, but gave up around 2001. I believe that the lack of my own drumkit and permanent rehearsal space contributed to my decision then, plus the fact that I was already quite competent in vocals. I started screaming along Venom, Death, and Obituary tracks when I was 14 years old, my parents had freaked out and didn’t know what to do with me. Guitar and bass came into the picture relatively late around 2002 out of necessity, since I wanted to write my music for Embrace of Thorns and not have to depend on other people’s ideas.

I believe that I am a rather average guitarist and bass player, but I have enough skills to write and carry a tune.

You also have been in several other bands besides Embrace of Thorns, who have quite a few releases out I might add. As of now is Embrace your main band or are you in other bands besides them as well?

AD: Yes Embrace has always been my main gig. It was my first band, which I had founded with my school buddies back in 98 and it has stayed active, other than a 2-year hiatus. I’ve been in other bands like Dark Ritual, Death Dissenters/Avaddon, Garden of Gods, and Putrefied Genitalia that performed live quite a bit but didn’t record much. Other bands I’ve been involved with that have had records out are SERPENT NOIR and NECROVOROUS.

Out of all the instruments you play, what do you think you’re the best at? Do you also think you’re a decent or good singer?

AD: Vocals are my main instrument and I believe that I am a quite competent vocalist. When it comes to Bass and guitar, there were periods of intense activity and rehearsals, in which I believe that I built my skillset as an instrumentalist, I am talking about 2009 to 2015, after that point and due to lack of time, I mostly write the music but I refrain from recording since our guitarists are way better than me when it comes to executing my material.

Now according to what I read, you have 20 releases out, which I could turn into a 100-question interview, which I won’t. Now I saw you released 5 demos. Did you even, out of those 5 try to send them to any labels, or were they recorded more or less to spread the band name?

AD: When our first demo was released in 1999, we had little to no clue about networking with bands, zines, and other scene people. To make things worse, the original line-up collapsed in 2000. After 2002 we had a better understanding of how black/death metal underground works and we used the rest of the tapes to build a mailing list and correspondence with the aforementioned underground agents. I believe we did a decent job at this. We didn’t believe we’d score a record deal, to be honest.

Archfiend DevilPig
Archfiend DevilPig

In 2006 you worked with Black Plague 666 Records doing a split with Goatchrist. How did this release come about and what are your thoughts on it these days?

AD: It was a label from Thailand and Natt who was running the label also had a fanzine with the same name. We had exchanged mail, were featured in the zine and he mentioned to us that he was interested in releasing some material by us. So we offered to him our then most recent release, which was the “Stench of the Deceased Martyrs”

Now how did you get your cool name and logo?

AD: Thank you!!! After dabbling with the rather unoriginal name Requiem for a while and after considering the possibility of choosing “Tragic Serenades” as our band name, we finally opted for the Embrace of Thorns moniker, which I believe is quite original. The original logo was hand-drawn by my brother, but Frater Teth, who is a very old friend of mine came up with our definitive logo back in 2004.

The next release was a full-length cassette with the label Sodomistic Rituals Productions. With the band being around now a few years, were songs becoming easier to write, and also was it at all tough making sure your music didn’t sound like any of the other bands you were in?

AD: I believe that the debut full-length was pretty much along the lines of the demo material, albeit better performed and recorded. It was quite straightforward black/death metal very much inspired by the works of BEHERIT, BLASPHEMY, PROFANATICA, BELIAL even some USBM bands like Summon or Demoncy that come to mind. To be honest we didn’t consider originality at that point. We were very into that music genre and wanted to do justice to the unholy sounds of the bands I already talked about. I also didn’t care about my previous projects at that point.

Did you get to play many live shows up until this point?

AD: By the time the first full length was released, we were only 2 people in the band and used the services of a session drummer for that recording, who was not interested in carrying on with the band. We had played live twice, but with the first line-up, I believe it was in 1999. Both gigs were rather short since we didn’t have enough material back in the day.

Does Greece have a good metal underground scene?

AD: It has got a vibrant metal scene. Other than the legendary old bands: ROTTING CHRIST, NECROMANTIA, VARATHRON, ZEMIAL/AGATUS, SEPTIC FLESH, and tons more, there are newer bands that are excellent: DEAD CONGREGATION are kings of underground death metal. THY DARKENED SHADE, RAPTURE, SACRAL RAGE, RAVENCULT, SERPENT NOIR, SHADOWMASS, NECROCHAKAL, HERETIC CULT REDEEMER, AGNES VEIN THE PSALM are few other excellent bands that are very worthy of praise. I am sure there are tons more.

Embrace of Thorns Live
Embrace of Thorns Live

Now do you think you’re a good singer and who are some of your favorite singers?

AD: That’s in the eye of the beholder! Most people say I’m good at what I do, I can get the job done, and have more than one way to spread the message. Favorite singers include Per Yngwe “Dead” Ohlin, David Vincent, Chris Reifert, Kam Lee, early Chuck Schuldiner, Ross Dolan, Paul Ledney, Nocturno Culto, Quorthon, Wagner Antichrist, Mika Luttinen, John Tardy, Tom Warrior, Tom Araya, Keith Deen, J.D Kimball Craig Pillard, Tom Angelripper, Holocausto Nuclear Vengeance, Jeff Walker/Bill Steer, Matti Karki, Lee Dorrian on Napalm Death and first Cathedral lp and of course Black Winds of Blasphemy. The list can go on forever

In 2009, after a split release in 2008, you hooked up with the great label Nuclear War Now Productions which released a full-length by you called “Atonement Ritual”. How did the coming of this particular release come about? How did you hook up with the label, did you find them or did they find them? How was it working with them?

AD: Yosuke distributed the first LP and got into the band. Back in those days I also ran a label/distro and got to trade with him. We were discussing random things and I mentioned to him that I was working on a then second album. The rest was pretty much history. Working with NWN! has been great.

What are your thoughts on that release these days?

AD: For lots of people Atonement Ritual is one of our best, if not our best album. We were totally into the scene, absolutely fanatical with our music genre, we were networking with tons of people and the Atonement ritual was part of the Zeitgeist of the extreme underground black/death metal renaissance that took place in the first decade of the 21st century. I have fond memories of the recording and I think that Atonement Ritual is one of the most significant recordings I got involved with. It also gave us the chance to play live for the first time since the late Nineties.

Now at what time do you think you started to get the Embrace the Thorns sound or you don’t think you have a particular sound?

AD: I believe that we have some sort of tropes we’ve been using for years. We are a black/death metal band that utilizes elements from both subgenres. Is our band instantly recognizable? That’s not up to me to tell. If you’re asking me, I don’t think we discovered the wheel or whatnot. Still, I believe that we bring more to the table than your cookie-cutter death or black metal band.

You had a compilation come out in 2009 and there were 2 covers on it, War Command (Blasphemy cover) and Satanic Blood (Von cover). What made you decide to pick those particular tracks at the time you recorded them?

AD: Both bands were highly influential in our formative years. I believe we didn’t do the songs justice since the recording for both cover versions was of rehearsal quality. I like our version of War Command though.

The sickness kept rolling along this time with 2 12″ records on Nuclear War called “Praying for Absolution”. Whose idea was it to do 2 12″ records, with one only being single-sided? I saw a few reviews so I am safe to assume the response to this was great.

AD: Since the album was 49 minutes long, Yosuke was the one who came up with the idea for a double LP set. Praying for Absolution refined a lot of the rough edges Atonement had, the sound was almost optimal for its approach and it felt great. We started playing even more live gigs abroad and it ruled. We had the chance to share the stage with legends like Mortuary Drape and Blasphemy among others and we met people, whom we only knew via mail up to that point. Praying is considered by a lot of people a classic of that sort of bestial underground metal. I had my issues with this record in the past, but I came to terms with most of them. I love that album.

Entropy Dynamics
Entropy Dynamics

With you churning out releases, did you get to go on any mini-tours or even play live much?

AD: Well we did quite a bit. For the most part, we did fests though. We played in countries like Germany, Spain, Denmark, Romania, Lithuania, and Turkey, we even did a US mini-tour in 2019 that was unfortunately marred by the unfortunate event that our guitarist was shipped back to Greece because of paperwork issues. Still, with the help of local musicians from the Denver and Los Angeles area and with the assistance of local promoters, we salvaged 2 out of the 4 shows that were initially scheduled

Now with the underground changing, in a sad way at times, to more internet-based, did you as a band embrace it as I was around during the tape trading days and ran my print zine?

AD: Well regarding the almost complete digitalization of the underground scene, it’s a necessary evil, as it seems and we have to keep up with the times. I cannot buy the perception that metal bands can be promoted in the same way as TikTok, Youtubers, Instagram people and mainstream music acts. So we try to partake in this circus as little as possible. Still, we sort of managed to witness as a band the final stage of the analog scene. The early zeros were way less digital and more analog than the current times, there were killer zines around, with HORRIBLE EYES, HELLPIKE, LEATHER N’ SPIKES, WHERESMYSKIN, CANADIAN ASSAULT coming to mind, sure there were more. I, as a person love the scene as a whole and I’ve been collecting demos, CDs, LPs, zines, and shirts since I can remember. So of course we appreciate the fact that you are an oldtimer. I am in my forties and I can relate to the way you see things. (I’m 58=chris)

After a split release in 2014, you were back with a new full-length called “Darkness Impenetrable”. What are your thoughts on this release? Now with more than a few releases under your bullet belt by now, was writing songs easier or harder? Who mostly writes the lyrics and the music in the band?

AD: It’s me who mostly comes up with riffs and I exclusively write lyrics, with 2 tracks in our entire discography being the exception. Other members contribute additional layers of instrumentation, the drummer mostly has free rein when it comes to drum arrangements. As for “Darkness Impenetrable” this album was the last we did for NWN! and it signaled the end of an era for both the scene and the band. It is I believe the most underappreciated album in our catalogue, which is sort of understandable as the previous two received their fair share of accolades. It was obvious that the band needed to recalibrate, hence 3 band members decided to part ways, it was obvious that playing with Anastasis wasn’t viable for the long run, given the status of Dead Congregation then, let alone now.

Is there an Embrace The Thorns sound? If there is one, when do you think you got near it? Do you feel at this point the band’s sound has changed much?

AD: I believe our core sound remains unaltered of course there is evolution, as a craftsman gets better in his craft so do we. Since I mostly write the music some basic parameters stay intact. For example, Bob Vigna writes Bob Vigna songs, I believe that I have tons of influences and I have mostly successfully integrated them into our sound. I believe that we started having traces of personality from Atonement Ritual and on.

Now also in 2014 was a compilation on Demon Seed Records that was on 2 12″ vinyl records. How did this come about? Any new stuff on this?

AD: Thomas Mandilas is an Underground Legend and he likes our band, so it was a no-brainer. Thomas did an exceptional job. No, it was all demo stuff, released from 99 up to 2005.

Now you guys took a well-deserved rest as far as releases go from 2014 to 2018. What did you do during those 4 years?

AD: We were recalibrating as previously stated. After parting ways with no less than 3 members around 2013 and releasing Darkness Impenetrable, we didn’t play out much for it until 2015 when Maelstrom joined. He is a beast of a drummer that infused the band with new life., we then played with DEAD CONGREGATION, and INQUISITION in Greece and did a couple of festivals abroad. We had a lot to prove and we worked during the summer of 2015 on what Scorn Aesthetics turned out to be.

Now in 2018, you were back and with a new label, the great Iron Bonehead Productions. How was it going back into the studio after a 4-year break? Did you get to do anything new or different as far as tours this time around?

AD: As mentioned there was a lot to prove for all of us, Maelstrom had parted with Ravencult at that point, we were also in a strange situation, and Scorn Aesthetics turned out to be a very charged album. Very organic sounding. Very brutal, but also melodic. It brought some new elements to our sound and revitalized our band. We played in Greece, Turkey, Romania, and Finland in support of Scorn and the Corona hit, I believe that we could have done more things for Scorn had Corona not hit.

Now in 2021, we saw the release of a live album that you put out yourselves called “Revelation of All Sins”. Why no label? Was this done at one show or several shows? What do you think of yourselves as a live band?

AD: That’s incorrect, that live album was released via Saturnal Rex. Gokhan is a great guy who has supported the band through and through. Too bad that he decided to cease operations. It’s a double disk set The live audio CD was recorded in Athens and the DVD was recorded in Vilnius Lithuania. (sorry just going by what I read-Chris)

They say we are good as a live band, undoubtedly the live presentation tends to be more brutal than atmospheric but this is what we do and we are fine with that.

In 2022, you released a 2 song EP and then followed that up with a 10-song demo release. How easy was it putting together tunes for the 10-song release?

AD: It was not a demo consisting of new material, but a live set of old songs recorded in our Guitarist’s studio and uploaded on Bandcamp as a special release for Walpurgisnacht 2022.

We did a 4-track demo in the Summer of 2021 as a preproduction thing for Entropy and we shopped around with it

Was releasing that demo, did it help you to get a deal with Nuclear Winter Records, who just released not too long ago “Entropy Dynamics”, which I love by the way? Did you find them or did they find you?

AD: Well, we chose to work with AV (Anastasis Valtsanis), because he is a brother, whom we’ve known for 15 years and a true fan of what we do..He really loved Entropy Dynamics since he first listened to the promo and he showed some great willingness to work with us.

How did the coming of the songs come together for this new release? How has the feedback been so far? Are you pretty happy with the way things have been going?

AD: We have fond memories of the resilient and uncompromising spirit surrounding the band during the time of the creation of ‘Entropy…’. We worked in unison, rehearsed our asses off, had a clear vision, and created an album worthy of our efforts and fuckin’ devotion. We thought we would tour with Revenge, Misþyrming, and Ultra Silvam with ‘Entropy Dynamics’ as our calling card, but as you may know, Covid-19 had other plans. Still, we are immensely proud of what we did and what we are still doing. Well, it seems that reviews have mostly been positive with some of them being of extremely high praise. But yeah it seems that after six full-lengths we are sort of preaching to the converted. There is a constant flood of new bands, new releases, etc and it makes a lot of sense that people won’t drool over our new one. After all, it’s rather boring to be so consistent and delivering good albums the whole damn time, isn’t it? Sarcasm aside, those who know the band and get to hear it, or some new people even go to great lengths by saying that the new one is our pinnacle and whatnot, but for some people, we will never surpass ‘Atonement Ritual’ and ‘Praying for Absolution.

Scorn Aesthetics
Scorn Aesthetics

Now with COVID over, have you played many live shows at all over the past year?

AD: Yeah, we have played out quite a bit locally and we just came back from a 2-date stint in Romania and Bulgaria. Another fest in Italy is confirmed for November. We want to keep busy and play out as much as possible. Maybe a tour will be planned for 2024.

What are some of the subject matters you have written about over the years?

AD: The thematic nucleus of the latest album is the inherent tendency of the human species for all things destructive, the hopelessness as a calm and collected realization and not as an unfortunate development. That is what entropy is about, the repeated cycle of destruction and rebirth/regeneration. It is bound to happen and it is a liberating realization. Nothing has changed when it comes to the evolution of the human species in the last couple of hundred years. Humans are still pretty much a mob, a herd. On a more personal note, I was talking to an acquaintance of mine in the gym the other day and he told me something that sparked that sort of reference, his quote was that “each of us is striving against his or her personal Entropy”. Realise that one for better or for worse is bound to perish sooner or later and that our mortal coil, a once almost invincible device, turns to a prison, a mere shell of what we once were. Antonin Artaud also mentioned something similar and abhorred the bodily confines “And truly must it be reduced to this stinking gas, my body? To say that I have a body because I have a stinking gas that forms inside me? (“To have done with the judgement of God, 1947”).

Other than that we play music out of spite for the things we hate and for personal satisfaction predominantly, we don’t have any humongous fan base to retain. We have people who have been into the band since the beginning and have grown with the band, plus some others coming in with each subsequent release. Yeah, doing what we do when it comes to an evolving musical style seems the only way to do it, at least for us.

Now out of all your releases, which ones are in print? Which are out of print, but do you hope to have them re-released? Which are out of print and will stay that way?

AD: Most of the back catalogue has recently been re-issued and we intend to keep it this way. Even the demos are out on CD.

Best live band you have seen to date and which band you haven’t seen live yet, but hope to one day?

AD: Slayer back in 1996 remains one of the most brutal things I’ve ever witnessed live. Seeing Destruction in 99 when they had just reunited was also very special. Immolation ruled when I saw them. Celtic Frost is on their Monotheist tour as well. Voivod had blown me away big time. Dismember too. Too many shows.

Please promote any social media sites you have as well as merchandise.

AD: Most of the back catalogue has been reissued by Nuclear Winter and some other labels so a huge chunk of it as well as shirts are available in our Bandcamp

There you go:

Embrace of Thorns


EMBRACE OF THORNS started it’s nihilistic, blasphemous way towards the grandeur of the final victory in 1998.The…


Horns up for doing this chat. Any last words to wrap this up?

AD: Thanks for having us! Check out our Bandcamp for merch. Our New Album “Entropy Dynamics “ is out and available on CD/LP/MC/DL, you can also check out our most recent Ep of ours called “The Pantheon I” available on cd/7” EP and Atonement Ritual, Praying for Absolution and Scorn Aesthetics which have been re-issued on cd.

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