back in my tape-trading days that I first got introduced to the powerful
sound of Greece's finest, FLAMES. The album "Last Prophecy"
broke me in and it's still my favourite album of theirs, definitely on
par with the best offerings of the Teutonic Trinity - SODOM/KREATOR/DESTRUCTION.
I'd be lying if I claimed all of their albums to be works of genius, but
"Live In The Slaughterhouse", "Summon The Dead" and
"Last Prophecy" are essential albums in any Thrasher's collection.
For a quick run-down on their albums and some comments, see the bottom
of this page.
This interview was done by Mexico's #1 Metalmaniac Jose
Luis Cano in 2003 published for the first time here at The Corroseum.
Bassist Chris Kirk answered...
can you tell us about the current situation of the band? Update us about
the latest bands activities please.
Since last year Flames are touring and play live shows around Greece and
also visiting their base in Germany (Kaufbeuren) for the needs of their
new CD. The band used to be on the French record company Black Dragon
but after that they have contacts with Black Mark (Berlin). Some gigs
will also come up this time period in Germany, where the band will move
to in August for this reason. Flames have made many gigs with German bands
on the "touring" agency Drakkar, so they plan to continue this way after
their contact with Drakkar. Also FLAMES just finished their new work and
are getting ready to go in the studio to record.
Did you disband or just have a very long vacation? Why the long
period of absence and how you get back on track and ready for a new album??
It was long vacation I guess. Since '98 till 2000 Flames had no gigs.
Some of the members preferred to stay in Germany and some in Greece. But
when you have the metal "virus" in your blood you never stop. It was a
necessary pause just to get our strength back. Also new ideas come up.
We also spent much time with future planning. In no case was the band
disbanded, just the opposite. The German member Flo Gebhardt still remains
in the band as guitar and vocals but it is difficult for him to follow
the complete Greece tour. As singer for the last 2 years comes an old
friend, Angelo, so the band get new blood and boost.
You are now preparing a new album. What direction
will it follow? Can we expect another Thrash Metal attack or some major
variations in your style?
The new CD is ready. We'll record this August in Berlin. Before the end
of the year it will be out. We are a thrash metal band. We don't like
experiments in our style. But also we don't like to stay trapped in forms.
We play freely and open-minded. The only fields we like to make changes
are the sound possibilities and follow the new technology in the recording
methods. We like the old '80 thrash style but also we can compose with
a sense of the new. The technique and brutality remains...
The style of the band has changed a few throughout
the years, but Flames has improved much in composing and performing. Do
you think you will stay Thrash Metal til the end of the band or will there
be new horizons for you to explore?
The main composer of Flames from the beginning is the guitarist Chris
Kirk. As he changes and evolve through the years, the band changes too.
Evolution comes naturally. Flames wish to stay a thrash metal band. We
will stay in this which many magazines call "their own original style".
You can never can call the whole work pure thrash only, when you can find
many paths from black metal, US style, or the German school of thrash
etc. Flames are "thrash" but there are no real boundaries. Every new composition
is a new case, normal or paranormal.
that Thrash Metal is getting a "rebirth", do you think that FLAMES will
be more popular than in the old days? I think you were known in Greece
and some near countries, but no much abroad. Why this lack of promotion?
Flames is the most popular thrash band in Greece since we have survived
the last 17 years! There is no other band here with the volume of work
and experiance that we have earned trough all these years. About this
lack of promotion you mentioned, we were always low profile band. I can't
say that we are working full time on this and you can say we're lazy band.
Still, our hardest work remains. 8 albums is hard work. The big problem
was that Flames began with a contract with a Greek record company. This
company was a "trap" for the band. We were unable to push our work outside
Greece and also we also lacked relations within the scene or contacts
with other companies of the "field". Until "Black Dragon" released our
4th LP "Summon the Dead" internationally with SPV (Germany), the only
way for somebody to hear FLAMES was though the export orders from our
GR company, when someone happened to hear our music from gigs in Germany
or on radio around Europe. As you understand we were working with and
organizing our gigs in and outside of Greece and when some big music store(for
example WOM in Germany) ordered our albums from GR our narrowminded record
company here earned money and the band never got any payment. After the
big success of the widely released album "Summon the Dead", we were free
of this company and we decided never again to get a record contract with
any other greek label. That was 1990. Then band made independed records
and releases. The 90's sucked for thrash metal, so Flames only stayed
around playing live head liners or guests with bigger bands. Not to mention
that the local press was very hostile against the band. The local financial
music interests (mags, labels) wanted to "push" other styles of music.
It was bizarre to see these music styles pronounced universally dead in
Greece, while many "dead" Heavy Metal bands made reunion just
to play here. Black Metal was also overestimated.
Greece there was a major dominance of Heavy and Black metal bands, but
very few Thrash Metal acts. How did you survive so long since you never
played the trend style and were badly promoted?
We survived for one reason: The big love and support of our fans. The
people who see this "something" in out music is what makes the difference.
And when we're talking for funs we mean a really big "army" .This army
that we call the "flaming forces". They keep the Flames burning . We believe
in the "power" of our music and the love of our fans. Thrashers were always
hungry here in the 90's for their favorite music even when the mainstream
or mags was against them. We believe we keep them warm with us around.
...But I have say that was really a bad decade for thrash.
Which albums would be your most famous opuses?
Are you aware of the popularity of the band outside Greece and that your
albums are now cult classics?
The big bang for FLAMES was when "Black Dragon" internationally
released our LP "Summon the Dead" via
SPV! That was our 4th LP
then and was exactly the music we wanted to do at the right time.There
was a new singer then and the whole work was "hot", after the "experiments"
we made before with the first 2 LP's (The 3th was a live record).The first
2 LP's are also loved by the people but Ithink more because of their strange
style of the songs and the cult sound. The covers were also cool... We
like our last CD "In Agony Rise" more. It is a work from great experiance,
recorded in 1996. Now it is old, bud we have good memories from back then
since we played gigs with SODOM and KREATOR at the time, showing this
album to the people. Generally every album we have is like a new case
to us, like a new kid. We love them all the same for different reasons.
I know that your LPs are re-released on cd
format. Do you plan to spread your name to a wider audience and continue
with the band at a more regular basis?
We work on it. Since last year when we came back we work well and plenty.
Right now our first goal is to find a big label with options of good promotion.
This label will ofcourse get all our albums as a gift from us (since we
have the legal rights). It would be OK if all our past work can re-relased
again properly, but the main target is the new work as well and the plans
of the future.
know you play more or less often. Do you have any good experiences on
the stage you'd like to share with us? What are the reactions of the public
towards the band in concerts?
We have played many liveshows. It's hard to remember now... I remember
when we played for the first time with MOTORHEAD. We shared the same stage
and their logo with this big head, you remember, covered all the place
behind our drumer.So every time when i turned my head and see this I felt
very small, but also proud to be there. I remember the gig with D.R.I.They
were so full of energy. Either they played music or fought each other
and after the show they were sleepless... I remember a show with RUNNING
WILD in Athens. Their drumer used petrol to spit flames out of his mouth.
One night he burned a stage technician and some lights over his head,
he he... I sadly remember after a promo tour in Germany how we met LIVING
DEATH and some other german bands not so known. I heard that was a small
band wich after the big success of our first LP's back in '85 decided
to change their name to ...In Flames... When we play concerts we get the
love of the people. They wait to hear and see us. They know our music
and can't wait until they start to slam, stage dive and generally throw
out their stress or just forget their problems for a while. We try to
give them a great show and also the people who don't know us well will
have a blast and recieve a power feeling from the stage...
As you are veterans in the Metal scene, what´s
your opinion about today's metal scene which is infiltrated by other kind
of music, for instance gothic and dark?? Do you consider that this mix
of styles are necessary?
First of all i don't believe in labels on metal music. For sure I don't
like mixing things. You can either make a black song or a gothic. Mixing
them is not offering much. It is confusing and of bad taste. If you are
composer you just compose. If you can't do that or if you have no ideas
then you do music styles and call them song. It's like I steal a little
of this or a little of that, then put them in a "box" and shake it, and
a monster is born. Influenses are good. Mixing is uncreative. Thrash is
pure and straight, like our lives.
What do you think of the "return" of Thrash
Metal and bands like Destruction, Minotaur, Iron Angel, Exumer etc.. Do
you think the return of old bands will be enough to resurrect the raw
and violent Euro Thrash/Speed Metal of the 80's? What kind of role do
you consider you play in this all??
The comeback of the old bands is a good thing. I salute the event. Yes,
I believe they can push things forward. They have the willpower and they
know how to do it. The timing is good. After a decade (the 90's) full
of shit, the people are ready to start thrashing. I hope this won't stop.
We will follow and we'll support every effort of any band new or old to
push the thrash wagon a step forward. We will be there...
I know that Greece has a big Heavy Metal audience.
What do you expect of them regarding support to FLAMES? Do you think your
new cd will be valued by the fans around the world as well?
Yes. Greece has a large number of heavy metal fans. These fans can also
enjoy, see and hear a thrash metal band at the same time. In our gigs
heavy and thrash people are together. Yes, I believe that our new CD will
be loved. It's up to us to do something great to show the people and also
to take the correct steps with the labels for the proper promotion of
our work. With good promotion some people sell bad music, but with no
good promotion you won't sell even if you have the best album...
Ok this is the end. Please let us know anything
you want to add.
We would like to thank you for your interview and your support of metal
music. We wish you the best to what you do and great strength! Here we
have to say that Mexican people here in Greece are very beloved. We both
come from countries with a very old history. Here we believe that thousands
years before Jesus (even before Atlantis's war and disaster), old Greeks
had contact with your area and the great civilization there! You can't
imagine how many words in our language are the same with the old local
dialect. (Majias or Incas). We hope to play live in Mexico sometime soon
so we can talk more when we see you.
Thrash greetings - FLAMES and Chris Kirk.
Made In Hell 1985
A couple of good Speed/Power cuts, especially the title track and opener
"I'm Dressed In Black Suede", but ruined by totally abysmal
Plenty of great, diverse Thrash-cuts here, more in a SLAYER-vein this
time. Could have been a classic had it not been for the use of the same
kind of crappy digital/triggered drums that destroyed the 1st album.
You've gotta luv the artwork though...
Live In The
Slaughterhouse (MLP) 1987
we're talking! "...Black Suede" + 3 hits from M.S with a better sound. Neat intro too. They should've made a full-length!
The last recording featuring original vocalist Nigel Foxxe, who later
went solo as NIGEL FOXXE'S INC.
The Dead 1988
Their "breakthrough" album and the easiest one to spot. Collector
scum will want the rare Greek version w/ insert though. Chock-full of
brutal Thrash in the Sodom-vein, a must-buy! There's even some blastbeats
in the track "Slaughterhouse"!
a contractual obligation/cash-in release from their old Greek label.
Various songs from the 4 first releases - no exclusive material. For
More late SODOM-style evil Thrash in a somewhat more developed vein.
A quite original, eerie sound with plenty of wailing guitars. Tracks
like "Revenge", "Deathra", "Red Terror" and "Silo" totally
more US-influenced (DARK ANGEL/DEATH ANGEL) but still with lots of cool
songs. Unfortunately the production is back in the abyss again. That
screetchy "bad pressing" sound ya know..
Agony Rise (CD only) 1996
Still waiting to hear this one...