Thy Antichrist

Originally established in Colombia, South America, in 1998, Thy Antichrist have released three albums with the most recent titled “Wrath of the Beast”, released in 2018. They have signed a worldwide deal with Napalm Records in 2017 and are now set on a journey to dominate the world with their existentialist black metal. With an extensive 6 week tour supporting Carach Angren recently behind them, as well as a slot at the legendary 70,000 Tons of Metal in 2015 playing alongside some reputable bands on the lineup, Thy Antichrist are back on their hooves and will in no time get right to the top. Kat had a chat with vocalist Andres Vargas (Antichrist 666), guitarist Robert Coronado (Abyssus) and bassist Benjamin Shanks (Frost Giant), where they discussed the reasons behind such a long hiatus between the album releases, the metal music scene in Colombia and how philosophy has influenced Thy Antichrist material.
Thy Antichrist band pic
How is tour going so far, and what is it like living in the tour bus for such a long time?
Robert: It’s like most tours, you adjust to living with each other and then after that you’re pretty much golden. Well, I say golden but you’re still on a tour bus, your back hurts and everyone’s using the same bathroom. But yeah, we’re all in good spirits, we’re all cool with each other, we all respect each other’s space and boundaries and stuff. Luckily, we’re all just cool, nice people otherwise it would have been a nightmare.
Ben: Yeah it would be a nightmare if everyone was like, assholes, but everyone is super nice. Sometimes it happens though, they’re out there.
Andres: We’re all excited because for us, and for me, this is the first time in Europe and first time touring together as a band, so it’s an exciting but also challenging task. This is a really long tour and we are going to about 90% of the European territory, but so far so good. We are really excited, happy and just doing the art that we do every night, doing the best as an artist and giving the best to the fans and friends for the first time in so many countries, and so many times for the first time. The response we have been receiving in regard to the performance and the live show has been incredible.
What is your favourite place that you have been to so far on this tour?
Robert: Other than the UK? Honestly my favourite has been Manchester, I don’t know, there was something about it, because, where was it that we played? The Rebellion! I mean, the crowd was insane, and merch sales were going well and the feedback that everyone was giving, it was wild. That was my favourite place so far.
Andres: Well, I’ve visited so many places for the first time on this tour and its really exciting because I’m really interested in the history and the culture of every town, city and country that I go to. I’m like the tourist guy on this tour because the other guys pretty much stay in the tour bus all day. In my case, going over there knowing about the culture, the food and the traditions is what I enjoy. I try to take advantage of the time there, unfortunately we don’t get much time because we get there in the day and in the night we have to be departing for the next destination, so it has been really difficult. The time I’ve spent in every city and every town I try to go to so many touristic places. There has been a lot of culture and history in Portugal, Spain and Germany, pretty much all the places I’ve been trying to go to, so I try to enjoy every place.
How have the fan reactions been so far?
Andres: I mean, we were expecting a little bit more to be honest with you, but we are in the summer time and the middle of festival season, so touring during this kind of season is always gonna be really hard because you are competing with the festivals where they have big bands all day long. We are enjoying it though, it is what it is, we are here to enjoy our time in Europe and sharing our performance with the fans and friends that attend the shows. That’s a really important thing to us, you know, we are already here and we are trying to do our best for our fans and friends.
Ben: There’s a handful of people that come to see us and there’s like a big handful who came to see Carach Angren and Wolfheart that have never heard of us but loved it so that’s really exciting for us.
Robert: My favourite thing is just being on stage and seeing the people’s faces, you can tell they were not expecting what was about to happen. Its almost like, this excitement, you know what I mean. Like, I don’t really see that in bigger shows that we play that are more like headlining shows where those people are already our fans and have come to see us specifically, because they know what they’re getting into. So, one of my favourite things is when they then come up to the merch table to talk, buy things and give us compliments for days, you know. Its such a good feeling to know we’re on the right track.
Being from Colombia, there must have been a lack of the heavier music/metal crowds back when the band started in 1998. Did this have an impact on Thy Antichrist’s journey at the beginning?
Robert: Just talking to Andres in the past and hearing from other interviews, I guess we could call it like a political thing. You know, at that time when the black metal bands and the Norwegian thing was big with the church burnings, the satanic mafia, so down there in Columbia the police and oppression was pretty strict, they are super religious there. So, you get a guy in a band called Thy Antichrist, there’s always gonna be police and stuff. It wasn’t necessarily the people, there’s a strong presence of a metal scene there, its something else for sure.
So, you get some good crowds in Colombia?
Robert: Oh yeah, all over, and when we play in the states, we get people coming to the shows from all over the area who have relocated to the US, especially places like New England like Boston and stuff, there’s a lot of Colombians and Guatemalans
Andres: Working with this kind of music is always going to be a struggle, this isn’t commercial music, so its always going to be underground. That struggle is what makes Thy Antichrist special, especially during the time I created Thy Antichrist in Colombia, South America. Working in South America and Colombia is a lot more difficult when working with this kind of music and performing this kind of art. But this is what makes it special and has been making it special for more than 20 years that I’ve been working with the band.
Why is the corpse paint such an important part of the show?
Andres: This is like the trademark of Thy Antichrist because it is one of the most recognisable things you first see about us. As you know, black metal is more traditional with the corpse paint, but I took it to another level beyond that. I take it to the body paint, arms and hair, so that’s like the unique image for Thy Antichrist. It gets recognised around the world, the unique performance that we do, we are trying to create like a trademark for Thy Antichrist. It is a demanding process because every night before every show it takes me around 2 and a half hours just to do my paint by myself with no help. I try to focus every night to give the best of that kind of performance, the best image that the fans and the friends deserve.
You are heavily influenced by religion and philosophy when it comes to writing your music. What kind of message are you trying to convey though the music?
Andres: This is another difference you can see in Thy Antichrist; we play black metal but besides the image and visual aspect, the difference is that so many other black metal bands are more like a reflection of the modern chaos that we are living nowadays. It doesn’t matter what part of the world you are living in, we are all in the same situation, the economic situation, the social conditions, all the wars, the contamination of the war, there are so many things around the world so the lyrics and songs of Thy Antichrist you can find that kind of reflection. The reflection against the collapsing systems, the religious and economical systems, environmental systems, we are seeing that collapse right in front of us. This is the kind of thing you see in Thy Antichrist, that’s the philosophical content. Since the time I created Thy Antichrist, it has been very influenced by Friedrich Nietzsche and mainly his book The Antichrist, so this is the essence Thy Antichrist get, really full of philosophy, so I try to take this as a unique thing for the band
Are there any other black metal or heavy metal bands from Colombia that you know of that we should be keeping an eye on?
Andres: There are so many good bands in Colombia and South America, but I have to be honest with you, having a South American or Latin American band touring Europe is an unusual thing. You get many American or European bands touring all the time but seeing a South American guy touring here is a bit of an exotic thing. But yes, of course there are so many good bands from Colombia such as Witchtrap and Massacre, which are some of the more recognisable bands nowadays but there are so many other good bands that deserve this chance. Hopefully you can check them out, nowadays it’s easy to do that, with the social media you can stream the music.
Thy Antichrist have been around since 1998 but only released 3 albums since that time, is there a reason for taking such a long break between the albums, especially the 10-year break that you had between 2008 and 2018?
Andres: That is an interesting question, I understand that we are running a bit behind with the discography of the band, but we have had single releases, we had compilations, we had so many re-releases of the previous albums. I’ve been having difficult situations in my personal life and my professional life too, such as 9 or 10 years ago I was ready to record a new album but my drummer at the time in Colombia unfortunately suddenly passed away, he committed suicide and unfortunately all the plans that we had we couldn’t go ahead with. But it was really hard for me emotionally at that time, so we had to stop everything which was one of the things. The other thing is because I moved to the United Stated 8 years ago, so changing from Colombia in South America to United States has been a really challenging experience in my life because I had to adapt to the culture and other things. I also had to rebuild the whole band in the US, looking for musicians. So, the band has pretty much been in two eras, the Colombian history and the US history. When I moved to the United States, I couldn’t bring my whole line-up, the previous musicians, with me. I had to rebuild the band in Dallas, Texas. Since then, we have started working on shows for the American audience for the first time and then we started writing songs for the new album, which was the latest album we released last year with Napalm Records. That album is called “Wrath of the Beast” and this is the album we are promoting on this tour right now. But yeah, unfortunately I’ve been having these situations in my life which means I have taken some time, but we have time to catch up with new records. In fact, when we finish this tour, we will start getting all the writing done for a new album, hopefully for the next year.
Do you think that black metal has changed since 1998 comparing to what it is like now?
Andres: Of course, everything changes, everything in life is about changes, everything you do, everything you see, with time everything changes. Obviously that time was a different time, Nordic black metal was created that makes the history of it, it was a unique time with unique bands. Of course, today is completely different, the past is like a memory in the metal history of the records and the kind of things that happened in Scandinavia. We are retaking that kind of history and in the present, we are re-making it, especially talking about Thy Antichrist, because we are inspired by that kind of essence of the time. Despite the fact we are playing black metal we try to play it like a Latin American version of the black metal, in our own way. I’m really influenced by the black metal of that time, the Scandinavian black metal from the traditional bands like Darkthrone, Mayhem, Immortal and Satyricon. The bands that I grew up listening to at that time had a big influence on Thy Antichrist. Of course, everything changes though, the music business changed too since then, the music industry now is completely different to what the music industry was like at that time. Nowadays it is more like a digital thing, everything is digital, so it is a completely different thing, but we are trying to adapt to those changes. Take those changes and try to do the best with it.
Do you think black metal used to be more popular then, or is it more popular now?
Andres: I can’t say much because we are in completely different times, nowadays everything is popular since we have YouTube and Facebook, everything can be popular so easily with the media, so it’s a completely different thing. At that time, it was more underground, it was just a handful of bands that played that were big and strong at that time. Nowadays those bands are still strong because of that time in the past, the big ones like Metallica and Slayer. We also have a completely different, new generation of fans and friends than the generation in the past. My generation is more like the “Old School” guys, but we have a new generation coming.
You are signed with Napalm Records, how did this occur and how many albums are you signed for?
Andres: We were working really hard to get a record because we were trying to get the band to the next level. I was working with a management company called Extreme Management Group Inc., they are based in New York and we have a really fantastic team. Most of the opportunities we have been trying to get, we have been working together for with our manager. Our manager is called Mark Kloeppel and he is the guitar player and singer from Misery Index. Thanks to our fantastic team that we have been working together with, we got the opportunity to work with Napalm Records, which gave us the chance to get to the European audience. This was a big focus for us and we are now breaking the ice for the first time, coming to Europe, showing people the live performance of the band. We released the album we were just discussing, “Wrath of the Beast”, with Napalm Records and we got a contract with them for 3 albums. Let’s see what works out though, as we have said the music business has been changing a lot, there are so many rules and conditions and everything. Thy Antichrist continues working hard, although we have got a label now, I have been working independently as an artist for 20 years. As we have said, the media makes it easy for the bands that work on their own.
What makes you want to create black metal?
Andres: Black metal has been a part of my passion, my art. I try to express so many things like my thinking, my points of view on life, my reflections of black metal and the art in Thy Antichrist and just linking that with the live performance, the transformation on my body every night when I go up on a stage. Black metal for me is like a lifestyle and has been since I found the influence that we were discussing before about the Nordic black metal.
Scott Eames (vocalist & guitarist in Nevalra) is your live guitarist; does he contribute to writing too?
Andres: Scott is a guest live musician for shows and festivals; I have the control of the writing process and am taking the lead in the process. I am also in control behind most of the team in the band. I am currently working with my main guitar player Robert and then my bass player, and we get some contribution from the drummer, but we have been working on the music between the 3 of us. Scott is a really good addition but just for now he is only for the live performances.
Do you think he will join the band fully in the future?
Andres: He is already fully in the band, but the thing is, when you involve more people in the writing it becomes a complex process and I don’t want that kind of complexity in the music writing because I know the direction I want to take with the band. Having more people involved in these kinds of things isn’t always an easy situation. But we have a really fantastic team and we are his band too so let’s see what happens in the future. For now, we are doing good the way we are working together.
Is there anything you’d like to add to this interview?
Andres: I just want to say thank you very much to everyone, all our friends and fans in Europe, it has been a really amazing run so far, it has been a fantastic journey through Europe. It has been difficult because every day we’re in a different town and a different country, but I really appreciate the fans following our art. Thy Antichrist is basically about that, the art. We are not focusing about money or gaining fame, it isn’t my ideal. My ideal is art and I hope that everyone who has come to any of our shows has enjoyed our performance of the art.