‘Behold your visions, pride of Hellas. The sun of Vergina shines bright—strong as the heroes of Iliad, greatest of all live on.’ —‘Alexandros’
Vassilis and Takis are two Greek warriors who have decided to honour the history of their people and country in the only way such a thing can be properly done: by forming a black metal band. Although Meneapneontes was already formed by 2011, their first album, Promachos, which can be translated as ‘who leads into battle’ and which was the name of many great warriors, was only just released last year.
Unsurprisingly, Promachos is a call to battle. The drums and especially the riffs are crafted in an extremely dynamic and impulsive way. Vassilis and Takis often try to recreate the physical and mental tension that had to exist in every individual ancient Greek warrior before the battle scream was released. Promachos is first and foremost characterised by an atmosphere of excitement and agitation. There are, of course, many passages on the album wherein the battle is already roaring and blood is being shed, but those brutal elements are not the key to understanding Meneapneontes’ art.
As fans of heavy music know, viking metal bands—especially if they hail from Scandinavia—are famous for their bombastic approach to ‘war metal’. They try to evoke a vision of hordes of fierce northern warriors who simply crush everything into the ground. Just think of Amon Amarth’s famous ‘Victorious March’: ‘Ten heavy feet walk the bloodsoiled ground, with rhythm these five warriors march.’ Obviously, Greek warriors have their own fighting style and their own way of composing such battle scenes. Meneapneontes are no less brutal than the Vikings, but their approach is far more subtle and features more nuance.
One can, for example, hear this when listening to the epic ‘Eleley’. The song opens with raw vocals, militaristic drums, and staccato riffs, but changes rather quickly into a melodic black metal track with impellent drums and sharp riffs. However, the tempo as well as the style changes over the course of ‘Eleley’, and in the last third of this epic war song, Meneapneontes implement clean vocals, creating an atmosphere worthy of ancient Hellenic struggles. Another great example is the opening title track, which manages to perfectly represent the anticipation of warriors before a fight with the help of solid guitar riffs.
There are also two other aspects to Meneapneontes’ music which should be given attention. With ‘Alexandros’, Vassilis and Takis have written an atmospheric ballad that is perfectly suitable for fans of the folk spectrum. The combination of clear guitars, minimal percussion, and clear and black metal vocals make for an enthralling atmosphere and a worthy tribute to one of the most famous warriors in Greek history. And they don’t only sing about ancient fallen warriors and great battles—they also focus on modern struggles. Promachos‘s final song, ‘Roupel’, deals with Fort Roupel which became famous when the German Wehrmacht attacked Greece in the year 1941: “A thousand planes assault, twelve hundred panzers march, four infantry divisions against the land of gods.” It seems clear that Meneapneontes want to show that the Greek fighting spirit could never be broken—neither in ancient or modern times.
Promachos is a fantastic debut album. Thanks to the exciting and thoughtful songwriting, the fierce atmosphere, and its sheer diversity, Meneapneontes’ debut album is something for all fans of dynamic and powerful metal. Now if only the Greek people had as much fighting spirit as Meneapneontes when it came to fighting the austerity politics of the European Union last year!
02) Molon Lave
03) Sons of the Greeks
07) My Earth My Water
10) Raise the Aspis