Band Biographies: Herc

Herc is a musical project led by composer Iraklis Choraitis, a musician inspired by the world of Tolkien.

In 1998, Iraklis and Nikos Spyridakis co-founded the power metal band "Arkenstone." Together, they aimed to create an album narrating the adventures of Bilbo Baggins, the affable hobbit. With Nikos’ penning lyrics for all 19 chapters, they recorded two demos encompassing eight songs that embodied this concept. However, the project was shelved as the band's musical style changed over the following years.

However, Iraklis' unyielding passion for Tolkien's world persisted, sparked by a friend's heartfelt request to lend musical life to Tolkien's poem, "A Elbereth Gilthoniel." Embracing a Nordic Acoustic direction akin to the styles of Empyrium and Ulver, Iraklis meticulously crafted this melodic rendition. The result set the stage for the birth of his side project, "Herc," and paved the way for his debut album, "Of Perilous Realms… and Other Tales (2004)." This album, an acoustic journey through some other poems by Tolkien and Edgar Allan Poe featured his interpretation of "A Elbereth Gilthoniel" and introduced an unreleased gem, titled, "Laketown" from his former band Arkenstone. His contributions to compilations, such as "The First Ring 1" and "The First Ring 2", further solidified his reputation as a musical storyteller. Still, the lingering dream of crafting a dedicated album centred around "THE HOBBIT" beckoned irresistibly.

In 2009, he dusted away his shelved project, giving life to his second album, "Towards the Mountains". Initially considering a full-length album in the style of his first one with 20 songs, he realized this might become monotonous. His first attempt to revert to the old power metal style of his former band was not successful. This led him to discover an alternative approach, ultimately shaping the final style of the “Herc” music orientation. Over the next two years, he independently recorded the initial songs in his home studio. By 2011, he had completed six out of the intended 20 songs. However, progress came to a halt due to personal challenges.

Resuming his efforts in 2013, recording sessions continued until the summer of 2016. The album "Towards the Mountains," released on October 17th, 2016, featured contributions from several friends who added their own input to the album. It was released for digital distribution through CdBaby and gathered highly positive reviews.

Iraklis took a hiatus from composing, but after nearly seven years, he embarked on another mythical journey into the realms of Middle-Earth. During the 2020 Corona pandemic, he revisited "The Silmarillion's first 13 chapters" and, for the first time, ventured into writing lyrics himself. The resulting 13 songs, each corresponding to a chapter, provided the foundation for his new album. Crafting a narrative about the creation and events of Middle-Earth's First Age proved challenging, requiring meticulous decisions about inclusion and omission. The resulting songs are both narrative-driven and long in duration, but with lyrics that are at least 90% faithful to the original story, making them highly appealing to the fanbase of the book.

By 2022, the 12 main album songs were recorded and prepared for release. This year marked a transformation for Herc, shifting from a solo project to a 2-member band, with Panayotis Mavrakis (Cosmic Plunge, Days of Fervor) joining the adventure as a lead guitarist. Together, they invested additional time into refining the album, enhancing it further. Panayotis contributed solos to several songs, further elevating artistically the overall result.

During this period, Iraklis befriended Arno Menses (Subsignal, ex-Sieges Even). Arno's introduction to a few songs led to an immediate collaboration. On April 15, 2023, Herc released their debut single, "Melian," one of the 12 main tracks from their upcoming album. The single stood as a harbinger of their upcoming album, featuring Arno's evocative vocals intertwined with Herc's ethereal melodies.

Following this, the album's finalization and release was imminent. "Of Light and Darkness", comprising 13 main tracks, including an intro and three additional bonus tracks, was released on August 9, 2023, once again through digital distribution via CdBaby.

Currently, Iraklis and Panayotis are embarking on new endeavors and collaborations, aiming to release a plethora of music under the name HERC.
And so, the journey continues! Until then…

Namárië! Nai hiruvalyë Valimar. Nai elyë hiruva. Namárië!

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