ACE & Creativity: Taking on world mythology one death metal album at a time

Posted on: 8 June 2022 by by Marios Koutsoukos in 2022 posts

Downcast Twilight is one of the various heavy metal projects I have contributed lyrics to over the years, but perhaps the one closest to my classicizing heart.

After all, the band’s artistic ‘mission’ is to create a musical world encyclopaedia of mythistory: melodic death metal, whose lyrics explore an amalgam of myths, history, legends, and folklore from every conceivable culture around the globe.

The band was formed back in 2015 by composer, musician, sound engineer, and vocalist (though he’ll officially deny that last one) extraordinaire Athanasios ‘OGrego Mixmaster’ Karapanos and myself, as lyricist and concept designer.

My collaboration with OGrego goes back all the way to 2007, when we worked on the album “Around Europe in Ten Songs” for my personal underground folk / epic / black metal band, Dol Amroth. Throughout the years, in our collective work with bands such as Athlos, Sacred Blood, Folkearth and Folkodia, I came to respect, admire, and – above all – enjoy his talent and high-quality work.

After some minor brainstorming and lightly byzantine deliberations, we joined forces with musicians from around the world, effectively forming an international, studio-only, band. Except for our core duo, our line-up is somewhat fluid, being modified in every album. So far, we’ve had the pleasure of collaborating with very talented musicians from across the global metal scene: Vitold Buznaev (Грай, Amederia, Black October, Thrashhold, etc.) on vocals; Gianluca ‘2thousandarrows’ Tamburini (Folkearth, Folkodia) on lead guitars; Marinos Tokas (KKT) on orchestrations; Chris Zindros (Absinthiana, Στιχόβολη) on bass; Nikos Kikidakis on vocals and lead guitars; Jan Banaś on bass and Shannon Lee Stott-Rigsbee on violin.

Downcast Twilight’s characteristic quirk is that each of our albums is dedicated exclusively to a particular ancient culture.
Our first album, ‘Under the wings of the Aquilla’ (2016), deals with Roman history and mythology; our second one, ‘Wrath of the Annunaki’ (2018), with Sumerian, Babylonian, and Assyrian mythology / theogony; our third-to-date, ‘Alba gu Bràth’ (2020), with Scottish history and folklore. Amongst ourselves, however, we just call them ‘the Rome album’ or ‘the Scotland album’, and so on. You’d be shocked at the scandalous lack of pompousness in a metal artist’s daily life.

Since 2018, Kris Verwimp has been our resident cover artist. His artwork has graced the covers of bands like Marduk, Absu, Adorned Brood, Folkearth, Folkodia, Arch Enemy, Bewitched, Cirith Gorgor, Thyrfing, Horna, Manegarm, Suidakra, Аркона, Old Man’s Child, and many, many more. His talent and creativity, coupled with his attention to historical detail and meticulous research on primary sources to discover gems of inspiration and create subtle visual winks towards those in the know, are simply brilliant.

At present, Downcast Twilight have two full albums worth of music ready for release. Both are thematically focused on Egyptian civilisation. Because, let’s face it; when it comes to Egypt, one album is never enough. One of them covers the three dynastic periods of Egypt, while the other deals with its Hellenistic phase, under the Ptolemies.

Release of these albums has been somewhat delayed due to a number of rather boring and intrigue-free technical reasons, but we are confident that art, much like life, will always find a way to spring through the cracks of adversity.

In the future, we hope to dedicate an album to every single world civilisation: from Mesoamerican and Pre-Columbian cultures, to aboriginal ones, Eastern European, that of the Balkans and Easter Europe, Slavic, Scandinavian, Chinese, Indian, Cambodian, etc.

Call us biased or homesick if you will, but we’ll also definitely be doing at least three albums on Greek civilisation: one for the archaic period, one for the classical, and another for the time of Alexander.

As a researcher in ACE, my interests currently lie in the history of ancient religions and especially Neoplatonic theurgy in Late Antiquity. Therefore, don’t be surprised if you see an album entirely devoted to Porphyry, Plotinus, Iamblichus, Proclus and their peculiar brand of highly cerebral ceremonial magic. My boys don’t get enough attention as it is.

The study of antiquity is a never-ending wellspring of fascination for us. As an ongoing project, Downcast Twilight aspires to create an all-you-can-listen-to intercultural buffet. By no means do we claim to cover everything in accurate detail or full depth. Yet, we how that this anthology which we present will inspire the odd listener here and there to take with us a captivating journey through all the marvels and monsters set up by the psyche of man throughout the ages.

Check out the bands YouTube channel below.