Despite long periods of inactivity and only 5 releases since 1988- ABRAMELIN, formerly “ACHERON” were one of Australia's most legendary Death Metal bands. Chris Vomitfiend interviewed vocalist Simon Dower about Australia’s historic Death Metal scene, and how Abramelin made their mark.

It’s been almost 7 years since the release of your last album ‘Deadspeak’, although ABRAMELIN has never been known for regular releases. Is the band now a rotten corpse or should we expect to see another album in 3 or 4 years time? In 2002, the last time I saw you, you mentioned that ABRAMELIN were going to record another album and do a tour. What happened to that?
To my knowledge Abramelin is well n truly a maggot-riddled corpse, quietly decaying beneath the earth… sorry, got stuck in lyric-mode. Ah yeah, it’s all over as far as I know. I really don’t know what happened? We did the Cradle of Filth national tour and then we just sort of lost contact with each other, there was never a final decision made that the band was over, it just sort of fizzled away…

What are you thoughts on ‘Deadspeak’? Do you prefer its more professional sound over the rougher sound of the older ones? Why wasn’t the usual ABRAMELIN logo used on the cover?
I wasn’t very happy with it to tell you the truth. I liked it pre-mastering but I thought they mastered it way to loud and it distorts on most stereos. I also thought it was a little too clean and sterile, our music always sounded so much better live in my opinion. We decided to change the logo for no particular reason, the artist came up with that design and we were happy to do something a little different. At least it gave people half a chance of working out what we were actually called, I was quite shocked to find out that not everyone is well schooled in reading death metal.

Going back to the ACHERON days; the change from the ‘Eternal Suffering’ demo to the ‘Deprived of Afterlife’ 7”, released only 2 years later, was pretty noticeable. What influenced the band to change like this?
I think learning how to play our instruments and sing helped a lot. At that time we were all listening to early demos of Carnage, Entombed, Grave, Morbid Angel, etc., all of which had a definite influence on our song writing and overall sound, that and just the natural progression of the band’s direction.

Rather than just random, nonsense lines thrown together, which is something I hate about a lot of bands’ lyrics, yours are like short stories. Have you ever thought about writing a horror novel?
Why thank you, I’m glad somebody noticed. I used to spend ages writing and researching my lyrics, yet, ironically, being a death metal vocalist, most people had no idea what I was saying (unless they had a CD sleeve). I have always been an avid reader of horror fiction (Brian Lumley, James Herbert, Graham Masterton, early Clive Barker, Lovecraft, etc.) as well as a keen collector of horror films from all over the world, these two elements provided more than enough influence for the lyrics I wrote, so you are quite correct in saying that they were like stories… that’s exactly where they came from.

On the topic of horror, I know you’re a massive horror movie maniac. What are some of your favourites and why?
Here we go, I hate being asked this question. Not because it’s predictable but just because it’s such a hard one to answer. It’s like saying, “You’re really into music. What’s your favourite song?” Let’s just say that I have been consistently watching horror films for 30 years and am not about to stop. I have no idea how many I have seen and have many favourites for different reasons. I will say though that one of the best I’ve seen in recent years is the UK film, The Descent. Now there’s a real horror flick.

I heard that Peaceville showed some interest in the band at one stage? Is this true? Did any other larger overseas labels ever contact you too, other than Repulse Records?
Yeah the Peaceville thing rings a bell, not sure what happened there. Repulse ripped us off. The good folk at Relapse helped us move a few copies in The States and my friends at Nuclear Blast & Century Media helped us out in Europe but that was about it from memory.

Quite a few ABRAMELIN reviews I’ve read said that had you come from a country like America, rather than from Australia where you didn’t receive the same exposure, you would have been more popular. Were you happy being an underground band or would you have liked ABRAMELIN to become one of the better known Death Metal bands?
Yeah, I’ve heard that from a few folk, especially o/s. I’m sure that if we were located o/s that we would have developed into something bigger n better but we weren’t and we didn’t. Personally, Abramelin was always a hobby for me, I never really had any great aspirations to be a big rock star, I wouldn’t have been in a death metal band for starters if I did. I also love Melbourne to bits and had no interest in re-locating myself o/s just to see the band progress. In answer to your question, I would have liked to have seen the CDs do a little better o/s but I was never really up for getting over there and promoting them.

ABRAMELIN and ACHERON played with some of the biggest Death Metal bands to tour Australia. Who was your favourite to support and why? Do you have a favourite local gig or festival that you played?
Yeah, there were a few really good ones. I’d say the friendliest guys we played with would have to have been Cathedral & Napalm Death, both crews were very relaxed, did not have their heads up their butts and were happy just to chill out and have a beer. On the other side of things, the least favourite artists we toured with Cradle of Filth (well, just the singer) and Paradise Lost, who thought they were of U2’s status and way better than anybody else. Most other bands were somewhere in between.

How did you discover metal? Which bands got you into it and what drew you to them? Is it considerably different to what you are listening to these days?
My first delving into the dark side was when I got Kiss’ Destroyer, followed by Dynasty in the late 70’s. Not to long after that I purchased Iron Maiden’s Number of the Beast in ‘82 and it was on, everything after that had to be heavier, nastier, faster, etc. Not too long after that it was Halloween, Kreator, Bathory, Sodom, Destruction and what ever else was going on in Europe at the time. By the late 80’s I was heavily involved in the underground death metal demo audio tape trading scene. My god, cassettes! Remember those? And doing it all by snail mail, no e-mail back then kids and definitely no downloading! The rest sort of went from there. What am I listening to these days? I don’t listen to too much metal these days apart from a bit of Entombed, Acid Bath and a few other old favourites. I tend to listen to a lot more electronic and other unusual genres but never anything mainstream.

How did ACHERON originally come together? Were there any disagreements on what type of metal to play?
Acheron was originally formed in 1988 by myself and a bunch of other local guys from the metal scene, a group of like minded folk who just wanted to get a metal band going. I don’t think there was ever to many disagreements on the type of metal, we just wanted it to be as heavy, fast and nasty as we could possibly make it. That’s normal isn’t it?

Have you ever been a part of any other bands other than ABRAMELIN / ACHERON, either permanent or even just session?
Yeah, and sharing band members is a pain in the butt, ask anyone. We had the guitarist from Necrotomy and the drummers from Damaged & Blood Duster. None of them ever worked out although Matt from BD was with us for a while.

Some of your lyrics are based on Hell and being dead. What do you think happens when you die?
I think that we spend eternity floating around on cloud playing shit religious tunes on a harp at passers by. Well, that’s hell, as far as heaven goes… Seriously though, I’m a believer in karma and reckon that we’re here till we get it right, however many times it may take. After that…

You would have been into metal for a while before Black Metal really took off in the early 90s. What did you think of all that? Did the ignorance of Black Metal vs. Death Metal piss you off? I read in an interview with DECEASED from about ‘93 where Mike mentioned that a “Black Metal Mafia” had sent death threats to bands like DISMEMBER, ENTOMBED and UNLEASHED. I wonder if they were even aware that some of the Norwegian Black Metal bands they loved so much started off playing Death Metal and bands like DARKTHRONE love stuff like AUTOPSY, NIHILIST (Swe) and old DEATH.
I was a HUGE Bathory fan in the late 80’s so I wasn’t really taken by surprise at the whole black metal explosion. What I didn’t like about it though was that that crew bought a lot of violence, religion & politics into a scene that was all about horror fantasy. I never got the Black vs Death metal; I found the whole thing VERY immature and saw a lot of friendships destroyed by it, some with myself included. Many (not all) of the BM crew started taking themselves way too seriously and forgot about all the fun, the reason why they should have been there in the first place. I think that some really good BM evolved out of all the trash that flooded the market around that time though but I was never really a fan of the genre. Not brutal enough I say, I like always liked it deep, dark, guttural and gory. There’s no room for politics & religion in metal as far as I’m concerned, let alone tinny guitars, corpse paint and over sized codpieces.

What are some of the rarest and most prized possessions you own, metal related or otherwise? I’m pretty jealous of that old GRAVE shirt you’re wearing in the picture on the back of the ACHERON 7”, although I’m sure it gets even better than that.
Not much these days I’m afraid. When I was right into the whole tape trading thing I used to write to a lot of bands and get all sorts of shit sent my way. I had merch personally sent to me from Entombed, Amorphis, Grave. OLD and a host of other bands. It was always like a bit of a competition in the Melbourne metal scene as to who had the rarest shirt. Pretty funny stuff when you see most people doing the opposite in other scenes. My real prized collectable stuff was always my horror movie poster collection and horror film models that I made.

The cover art for the ‘Deprived of Afterlife’ 7” and ‘Eternal Suffering’ demo are fucking killer! I’m guessing you drew the ABRAMELIN and ACHERON logos too? Do you still draw often? Did you ever do artwork for other bands?
Thanks for that. Yeah, as well as watching horror, writing about horror, singing about horror and reading horror I used to like to draw a lot of horror too. Can you tell that I went to a private Catholic school? Does it really show? Ha ha ha. Apart from doing cover art, gig flyers and what ever else was required for us I also did a shirt for Melbourne band Disembowelment. I also drew up some pics for a 7” and a couple of demo covers for international bands, I can’t remember their names though.

I’ve been told that you once posted a shit to a member of the American ACHERON. Is that true?! You must have some other hilariously sick or macabre stories that you could tell.
Posted a turd to The States ya reckon? I know it was pretty hard for Chapelle Corby to get pot through customs in Bali, I could only imagine that you’d have to package a turd very carefully so as to not attract the attention of sniffer dogs or anyone else for that matter. I’ve never heard that one before Chris, where did you hear it? Hilariously sick macabre stories? Yeah there’s a few but nothing I’m proud of or would like to mention.

Alright mate, thanks a lot for answering these questions! Any last words?
I can only imagine that a few people would say something along these lines but that is undoubtedly the best bunch of questions I have ever been asked in an interview in my entire musical career. It’s a pleasure to talk to someone who has clearly done some research and knows what the hell they are talking about. Thanks very much and best of luck with the mag.

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