It’s unfortunate, but a lot of the Hungarian and Central European music scene largely remains unknown to many fans in North America, let alone the rest of the world. Even in the age of the internet and social media, you often have to search harder for quality hard rock and heavy metal bands in this part of the world than say, Italy or Germany, where even fans on the other side of the globe are aware of at least a few of the country’s prominent acts. Well, we’re going to help give you a primer today on the Hungarian underground metal scene, courtesy of the Hungary’s own Perihelion.
Perihelion taps into psych-rock and post-black metal specifically to create their haunting, original, and powerful sound. Pulling from the avant-garde metal scene, the band conjures up a unique and inspiring sound that may remind you of Solstafir, MØL, and Thy Catalfalque but also of nothing you’ve heard before. With experience playing together since 2001, the members didn’t officially form Perihelion until 2012 in Debrecen, the second largest Hungarian city after Budapest, which sits in the Northern Great Plains region. They released a self-titled debut the same year and then followed that up with a few EP and album releases along the way. These releases, including 2017’s Örvény, did not go unnoticed, securing them supporting roles for groups such as Zeal & Ardor.
They wasted little time getting back into the studio and what you have now is their brand new album Agg (listen now via Bandcamp and Spotify), just released on December 6th. Meaning “very old” in Hungarian, Agg is a concept record about escapism. Each song takes a different look at the process of aging and heading towards death, the ultimate “escape.” This escape is really posing as a metaphor for the decline of humanity and its continuous descent. Agg is a captivating record with an atmospheric, melodic and haunting sound shrouded in darkness. It’s abrasive, yet oddly comforting at the same time. A listening experience like no other.
Watch the visually stunning new music video for “Erdő,” off of Agg:
In light of the recent release of Agg, it was as good of a time as ever to connect with Perihelion for a special guest blog about the very music scene from which they emerged, The country of Hungary has a booming underground heavy metal scene that is as lively as it’s ever been. And it’s not as if this is a recent boom; it’s been going strong now since the 1980s when punk was the most prominent movement at the time. Growing up in Hungary, first observing the scene and then becoming a major part of it, Perihelion know a thing or two about the underground scene. Read on and learn a thing or two about some bands you may never have heard of, but really wish you had.
Perihelion’s Brief History of Hungary’s Underground Music Scene:
Although Hungary does not have many bands who achieved international success, the underground music scene is quite densely packed with interesting bands, clubs, and festivals starting from the ’70s and probably even before.
Besides the more popular blues/hard rock bands of the time (Omega, Hobo Blues Band), a very strong punk scene existed which reached its climax during the ’80s, including bands like Cpg, Galloping Coroners (VHK) and ETA. The main center for their activity was the notorious club Fekete Lyuk. The punk scene of the ’80s gave birth to a notable hardcore scene as well. Bands such as AMD and Leukémia, or more modern acts like Bridge To Solace and Newborn led to a full blown hardcore scene in the new millennium with all its subgenres. The main venue of this generation was Kultiplex which similarl to Fekete Lyuk, is also a thing of the past now.
Check out the artwork for Perihelion’s latest record Agg:
On the other end of the underground music spectrum, extreme metal bands such as the legendary Tormentor also started playing in the late ’80s and later a black metal scene (with some inner clash of views) begun with bands like Sear Bliss, Marblebog, Dusk, Ater Tenebrae and Witchcraft. Of course, other subgenres such as death, doom, and thrash metal were and remain very present. If one can get a hand on a copy of the now non-existing Stygian Shadows or the still active Tales of the Morbid Butchers fanzines, they offer plenty of reviews and interviews about these genres.
The dark-rock, post-punk, and goth scenes were also quite active and they often shared the stage with extreme metal acts in the first decade of the 2000s. One notable festival is called Nightbreed and one of our favourite and fortunately still active ones Fekete Zaj Fesztivál is the most friendly and diverse event in Hungary featuring Hungarian and international bands of very high quality from every corner of the underground music scene.
Watch the music video for “Égrengető” off of 2015’s Zeng: