One more day spent making way and putting some order in that room of mine.
Long forgotten stuff falling on my head that sometimes appear to be useful for this blog.
One of them was the cassette “Martyrium”.
“Martyrium” was the first “official” release of the band Into The Abyss.
They first released a demo in 1992 that was followed by “Martyrium” in 1993 on cassette.
By that time, the band was a trio with guitarist/singer Yiannis Kalifatidis , bassist Costas Tzeras and the German drummer Jens Gellner.
Kalifatidis and Tzeras were two Greek students, based in Darmstadt, coming from Athens and Thessaloniki respectively.
They formed the band in the late 80’s and Gellner, who stayed along with Kalifatidis till the band split in the early ’00’s, joined them on the drums.
They started as a post-punk / gothic rock band and pretty soon were isolated by the Greek minority in Germany as they were not into Greek bouzouki stuff.
Soon the band started touring Germany and recording songs on their own expenses.
“Martyrium” was first released on a self produced tape that through the channels of the “tape movement” of the era was well distributed.
Banner Of The Fray (4:37)
Just Another Voice… (9:20)
(War) Against Their Will (5:54)
Research Without Conscience (6:28)
Dumb Crutches (7:31)
Swingin’ Scythe (5:05)
Today, some might think that a cassette release was a useless thing to do back then.
But the German label Spectre Records, re-released this album on CD in 1995, plus many tracks made it into several compilations around the world.
“Banner Of The Fray” must be the most well-known track of the band, since it appeared in Mick Mercer’s 3xLP and CD compilation “Gothic Rock 2” that was released through Jungle Records in 1995.
Nephilimesque guitars are scattered in this great song that would be the highlight of their gigs.
On this cassette, Kalifatidis wasn’t using his epic style of singing yet, but we also find the first attempts of the band to feature a violin player in the wonderful “Just Another Voice…”
For the record, Helmut Eckstein is playing the violin here.
Folk elements mix perfectly with a kind of doom metal style in this song that also made it in the cassette compilation “Simple Addictions Vol. 1” of Beton Tapes run by the German journalist Alexander Pohle.
“Martyrs”, the opening track of the album, appeared on the CD compilation Neue Gen-erra-tion “All Styles Sampler” in 1994 and on the Never Ending Alternatives compilation of the English label Nightbreed.
Side B opens with the anthemic “Research Without Conscience” with the violin doubling the basic guitar riff.
I think the title makes it clear what the song is about…
Most of all, B Side makes obvious that Into The Abyss were having an on-going interest in more complicated song structures by taking away the usual pop form of the songs and slowly pushing the band into deep prog-rock waters.
That was something that Kalifatidis would never deny later.
“Research Without Conscience” was also featured on the double cassette compilation “Real Underground Vol.1&2” of the German tape label Progressive Entertainment.
The label was run by musician and journalist Markus Detmer,who later founded Staubgold.
(Released later acts such as: To Rococo Rot, Harald Sack Ziegler, Ekkehard Ehlers, Kammerflimmer Kollektief and many others).
The last song of this album that was featured in a compilation was “Madman”, a version of which was featured t the cassette compilation “A Tribute To IRRE-Tapes” in 1994.
(IRRE-Tapes was a German label run by Matthias Lang and was mainly active in the late 80s/early 90s covering the whole range of the Independent Underground from Experimental Electronica to Guitar Pop.
In true DIY spirit, he supported the international network of small labels and fanzines through editing the free IRRE Newsletter to spread info and contacts, occasionally writing reviews for various publications. Most of his Compilations should be seen as an attempt to promote lesser known artists and labels. Without doubt he was one of the driving forces of the German Tape Scene).
Between 1993 and 1995 when the cassette release of “Martyrium” turned into a CD format, Into The Abyss had one more release.
It was the cassette “Live Martyrium” that was released through Gorkon Recordings (the same label released the Sweet William album “First Time Live” on cassette before calling it a day in 1996. Sweet William was a German band that released 5 CD albums during the 90’s and had a tenor singer which was making their gothic sound unique).
The “Live Martyrium” was recorded live at “Sägewerk” (Belihei, Pfalz, Germany) on May 11th, 1994.
War (Against Their Will)
Research Without Conscience
Crimes In Advance
Just Another Voice…
Waiting For The Sun (Doors cover)
Banner Of The Fray
The Eternal Heat
Soon after the release of “Martyrium” on CD, Costas Tzeras left the band to return to Greece.
Kalifatidis was the only Greek left in the band and soon moved to to release a split 10” album as well as the next Into The Abyss CD which was titled “The Feathered Snake”.
I guess this post makes it obvious how useful the cassettes were back then.
The “tape movement” spread the name of Into The Abyss all around the underground world through radio shows and fanzines that were covering the tape scene.
Eventually, of course, the band passed onto the next level, which was releasing LPs and CDs, but keep in mind that thanks to the fame they gained because of the tape movement, they played 5 times at the London Marquee Club, toured Germany about 10 times and appeared in festivals in Spain, Italy and France before their last show in Greece.