Praetorians are the feared elite of the ancient Roman military. Handpicked to serve the emperor as well as the people and city of Rome the Praetorian Guard stood for devotion and loyalty. This is exactly what Naer Mataron have envisioned for their latest album "Praetorians". Their music remains true to the original cause and meaning of black metal. No niceties here: No polishing, no appeals to popularity, no softening, no selling out. With Vicotnic from Dødheimsgard (DHG) taking over the helm, the vocals sound more radical, rotten and inhumane than ever. Adding to this are fiercely screaming guitars, relentlessly attacking and ranging from frostbiting viciousness to fierce blazes of soaring heat. Those evil legions a driven forward by the merciless pounding of an insane drumming, which will tear apart everything standing in its way. Oil is poured into those flames by an acidic production, which was conducted by Vicotnic himself and clearly lacks rivals in its brutal, uncompromising rawness. Naer Mataron have decided to become praetorians of true underground black metal and this is what "Praetorians" stands for.
It is quite remarkable for a Greek band to refer back to a name taken from the Roman legions, as those were the only force capable of winning against the famed phalanx of their ancestors at a time, when Ancient Greece stood proud at the head of European culture at the dawn of history. Its armies held out against one of the first empires of the world, when mighty Persia descended on its rival at the Aegean sea and the Macedon king Alexander even turned the tide, when he conquered lands in all of the by then known world from Egypt as far as to India. His mental power and determined will are legendary and symbolised in the anecdote, when Alexander solves the ancient riddle of the Gordian knot by simply hacking it pieces with his sword. It is with the same unbridled force and resolution that Naer Mataron engaged into playing pure and harsh black metal as early as 1994. Their declared aim was not to copy the Norwegian way, but to play Hellenic black metal right from the beginning.
What does Hellenic black metal mean? Just close your eyes for a minute and let your mind wander back a long way in time. Picture those ancient warriors seemingly gold-clad in their bronze armours under a radiant Mediterranean sun. Recall those brave Spartans holding out against overwhelming odds at the pass of Thermopylae. See Alexander's mighty host fighting armies several times their size by the ingenious tactics of their famous general. Even further back into mythic times the united Greek city-states tore down their rival Troy in a clash of heroes and gods. It is this ancient pride, heroism and honour that Naer Mataron refer back to. Yet there is another side of cults, mysteries and secrets: The chanting of the priests, the oracle at Delphi with her messages from the Gods of the Olympic at an era, when the pantheon had to be appeased and pleased by bloody ritual and sacrifice of wealth. Yet Naer Mataron have never been content with nationalistic navel-gazing and often included deities and stories drawn from related sources in Indo-European myth. Therefore, it should come as no surprise, when you meet for example the Germanic goddess of spring "Ostara" on the new album of the Greeks.
Naer Mataron are no new to topics of ancient civilisation as already their debut "Up from the Ashes" (1998) turned out to be a masterpiece of fast, violent black metal with a melodic pagan atmosphere and feeling. Take mind not to confuse positive values derived from pre-Christian periods with modern day political agenda of any kind. Naer Mataron are archaeologists of the ancient mind, bringing it back to live and not propagandists for other peoples' causes. In November 2000 the Greeks returned with "Scotos Aenaon" gaining them widespread recognition and participation in shows alongside Mayhem, Rotting Christ and Order of the Ebon Hand. With "River at Dash Scalding" (2003) Naer Mataron take another huge step, this time laying waste to the land opening for Gorgoroth and Dissection as well as gaining a prestigious slot at the Norwegian Inferno Festival in 2005. This strengthens the bands Norwegian connections and on their next release "Discipline Manifesto" there are guest-appearances by Vicotnic, Aggressor (Ved Buens Ende, Aura Noir) and Apollyon (Aura Noir, Immortal). The international press is heavily applauding and setting a standard that the Greeks are now answering with an even more vicious and unrelenting album: "Praetorians". Nothing will stand in their way...
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