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( Biography by Bertrand Garnier for ThornCross "Black Ink & Metal" art book 2013 )

“I have always been drawing, as far as I can remember. At home, at school, and so on. According to my parents,
when I was two, I even tried my hand at freshly installed wallpaper…” Fortunately, for an entire generation of
metalheads, Christophe Moyen did not stop at desecrating the family house. Born in Marseille, in Southern
France, the young man later to be known as the infamous ThornCross soon moved westward to the wine
country of Bordeaux, where the virus of Heavy Metal claimed him at the age of 15. “Iron Maiden, Saxon, Accept,
Judas Priest, Motörhead, Manowar, Manilla Road, Cirith Ungol, Mercyful Fate, you name it! I quickly turned
to more aggressive bands though: Venom, Metallica, Exodus, Anthrax, Slayer... then Hellhammer/Celtic Frost,
Possessed, Death, Destruction, Kreator, Sodom, Bathory, Voïvod, Razor, Napalm Death, Necrophagia, Terrorizer, Sabbat, Morbid Angel, Autopsy and that whole raw Black/Death Metal wave.”


Fast forward to the year 1989 and the event that kick-started everything: the encounter with Ludo “Evil” Lejeune,
who ran the European fan club for Sarcófago and Blasphemy. Friendship ensued and, first and foremost, a
fruitful graphic collaboration that got Chris the attention of many resounding names in the early 90’s underground.
Incantation, Blood, Amorphis, Beherit, Necromantia, Derkéta, Mortician, Vital Remains... Hard to expect
a better customer base to build up your “business” from. “That was more of a hobby, and I was kind of proud to see
my artwork on T-shirts or demos of bands I liked. I was not charging anything”, Chris explains. “I remember earning
$50 for the cover of Beherit’s The Oath of Black Blood! I was so thrilled, haha!” That very cover pretty much
epitomizes what would become the ThornCross style. Four emaciated corpses standing side by side, dressed up
in ragged ecclesiastic garb, rewarding the watcher with ominous, skeleton grins. There’s no denying the compelling,
almost cinematic vileness of this painting, which lost none of its provocation and fascinating appeal
20 years down the line. “The Oath Of Black Blood is indeed dear to me. Not because it is the best, but because it
triggered some kind of recognition of my work.”


And so ThornCross became a force to be reckoned with. Chris’ illustrations became an ever-present visual companion
for anyone fortunate enough to witness the evolution of the Black and Death Metal scenes in those sombre
years, especially the rise of so-called War Metal. Seriously, who has ever been to a Death Metal gig and not
seen at least one shirt with a ThornCross design on it? Blasphemy’s cross-breaking demon, Archgoat’s seraphic
whore, Incantation’s skeletal nuns... No need to read the bands’ names, you can almost hear their music pouring
in abhorrent waves from those artworks. Beyond the natural skill and creative liberty, there are influences at
work in Chris’ pen-and-ink profanity. What are those, you might ask yourself? “My work could be defined as an
eclectic patchwork of stuff with a personal touch”, he says. “Comics of course, especially US ones. Apart from
that, I like works by P. Druillet and E. Bilal, the amazing Gustave Doré and other 19th and early 20th century illustrators,
medieval engravings, record covers and movie posters from the 80’s…”
Come the end of 1997, ThornCross was put on ice for a while. A long while. Almost six years... “I put the pencil
down for a number of reasons: work, moving from house to house, my son born in 1994 who required a lot of my
attention… and also because I had been receiving for some time requests from bands with political ideologies
that were to my dislike. I put a stop to that and focused on other things.” In 2002 though, Chris gained access to
the Internet for the first time, and was in for a little surprise that prompted him to get back in charge... “I discovered
that some German guy had created a ThornCross online gallery, containing some of my artworks from
the 90’s.” Without a moment’s thought, Chris set out on the task of creating his own website. “It was a small site
featuring almost every artwork I had done between 1989 and 1997. My aim was not to revive ThornCross, but
simply to share these pictures...”


However, what’s bred in the bone comes out in the flesh, and as Chris was unemployed at the time, it did not take
much more than a few bands tracking him down again. Incantation, Sathanas, Goatlord, Black Witchery were
among the first to enjoy the full benefit of ThornCross’ revival. “Soon enough, I started receiving more and more
orders. Eventually, I decided to dedicate 66,6% of my working time to Metal artworks”, Chris recounts. By the
end of 2003, ThornCross was officially back in full swing, the eternal slaying of angels could resume.
Ten years have passed and Chris Moyen, married with now two children (a daughter joined the demonic tribe in
2010), remains as active as ever, always reinventing and enriching a trademark style that never seems to grow
old. The artbook you are now holding in your trembling hands documents over two decades of independent vision
and dedication to a slice of musical history that, without his great input, just wouldn’t be exactly what it is...

- INTERVIEW Chris Moyen / ThornCross  for Convivial Hermit issue #5 (June 2010)

Working on Embrace Of Thorns album cover, january 2009.

 

 

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