x

Culture

Porphyra Rocks Greek History

NEW YORK – When greedy landlords drive young artists out of Manhattan, places like Astoria reap the benefits – like the CD release show of Porphyra, the local heavy metal rock group with a Hellenic edge.
Gus Pappas spotted Astoria’s need for music venue. He hired Ozzie Mortanis in 2012 to build the stage in the back of his Gussy’s Bar & Grille, where he is thrilled to present young Greek-Americans like Billy Chrissochos, Porphyra’s founder and guitarist.
Lead Singer Chandler Mogel, who sings for the Greek band Outloud, welcomed the guests, then politely asked his colleagues “Shall we do this?”
The drummer then struck a driving rhythm and soon guitars were flashing and performers were jumping about the slashes of music from bass, guitars and larynxes.
“The Legend of Alexander” was the first of nine songs that night, all of which Chrissochos wrote, some with collaborators.
Despite the fact that Iron Maiden – the group Billy’s brother introduced him to – had a hit called Alexander the Great, questions arose about the connection between heavy metal and Hellenism.
The answer is, why not? The Greeks didn’t spend all their time chasing art and philosophy. E.R. Dodd’s classic book “The Greeks and the Irrational” revealed the other side of the Greek soul, and there were always invaders on the rampage, so electric bass and guitar players and drummers have their muse too.
The CD, titled “Porphyra – Faith, Struggle, Victory,” touches Ancient and Byzantine history. “988 AD – In the Time of Basil II, Emperor of Byzantium,” also evokes the war in Ukraine, but Anna Dok sang the song – titled “Porphyra” – that could claim the label “Byzantine Rock.”
Mike Savvas played bass, Aaditya Pandit was the second guitarist, Frank Pace was on drums and Christos Alexandrou handled Greek lyrics and moments of Byzantine chant. On the CD and in bigger shows they use a bouzouki and more percussion, and the group’s recent video “Shine” features aerialist DJ Angela Pandelis.
Billy – Vassilios – was born in New York, but his parents took him and his older brother and sister to Greece at nine months old. They returned when he was ten and his family’s abundant musical genes took him first to alto sax, and then guitar.
In 1998 Phoenix Reigns was born, and when it broke up it was reborn as Porphyra in 2012 with an emphasis on Hellenic themes.
Chrissochos also created the spectacular images from Greek history and mythology on the CD notes.

(L-R) Aaditya Pandit, Mike Savvas, Anna Dok, Chandler Mogel, Frank Pace, Christos Alexandrou and Billy Chrissochos perform at the Porphyra CD release show at Gussy’s on July 16.

RELATED

LONDON - A second generation Greek-Cypriot in London, Georgina Hayden has used her heritage to write cookbooks showing off recipes from her homeland and her latest, Greekish, offers everything from Baklava cheesecake to Burnt Butter Eggs and Goat’s Cheese.

Top Stories

Columnists

A pregnant woman was driving in the HOV lane near Dallas.

General News

NEW YORK – Meropi Kyriacou, the new Principal of The Cathedral School in Manhattan, was honored as The National Herald’s Educator of the Year.

Video

Immigrant Families Rejoice over Biden’s Expansive Move Toward Citizenship, While Some are Left Out

HOUSTON (AP) — Hundreds of thousands of immigrants had reason to rejoice when President Joe Biden unveiled a highly expansive plan to extend legal status to spouses of U.

ATHENS - Greece's primary surplus stood at €1.

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Cyril Ramaphosa was sworn in for a second term as South Africa's president on Wednesday in a ceremony in the administrative capital, Pretoria, after his reelection with the help from a coalition of parties, a first in the country's 30-year rule.

MIAMI (AP) — Tropical Storm Alberto formed on Wednesday in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico, the first named storm of what is forecast to be a busy hurricane season.

HAMBURG, Germany (AP) — Croatia and Albania drew 2-2 in an intense battle at Euro 2024 on Wednesday, a result that could make it difficult for both teams to survive the group stage.

Enter your email address to subscribe

Provide your email address to subscribe. For e.g. [email protected]

You may unsubscribe at any time using the link in our newsletter.