666 (subtitled The Apocalypse of John, 13/18) is the third and final studio album and only double album by Greek progressive rock band Aphrodite’s Child, released in June 1972 by Vertigo Records. Ostensibly an adaptation of Biblical passages from the Book of Revelation, it is the group’s most critically acclaimed project. Due to internal tensions during the recording process and conflict with the record company, by the time it was released the band had already disbanded and its members had begun work on solo projects.

Conception and production[edit]

The concept for 666 was created by Vangelis and film director Costas Ferris, who served as the project’s lyricist. Ferris cited as influences the nonlinear narrative style of the films IntoleranceRashomonCitizen Kane and The Killing, as well as the Beatles‘ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and the Who‘s Tommy.[4]

The central concept is a countercultural interpretation of the Book of Revelation, in which a circus show based on the apocalypse performs for an audience at the same time that the real apocalypse takes place outside the circus tent, and at the end the two merge into one.[4] Ferris described the result as a “concept book”, and stated that he intended for the narration to be looser than Tommy, but more rigid than Sgt. Pepper.[4]

The band commenced work on the album at the Europa Sonor studio in Paris in late 1970.[5] They took just over three months to record it and finished in early 1971.[6][7] The overall cost of album’s recording was estimated as US$80,000[7] (equivalent to $578,000 in 2022) or US$90,000[8] (equivalent to $650,000 in 2022). The recording was marked by tension, as the ambitious nature of Vangelis and Ferris’ concept clashed with Demis RoussosLoukas Sideras and Silver Koulouris‘ wish to continue with the psychedelic pop direction that had brought them success.[9][10] Vangelis, Roussos and Sideras were also accompanied by their partners, further adding to the strain. Engineer Roger Roche reported that they enjoyed playing together but would not speak to each other after they finished a take.[10] Vangelis blamed commercial pressures for the tensions,[11] stating, “It was too sophisticated for the group. I realised that I couldn’t follow the commercial way anymore, it was very boring.”[12]

Giorgio Gomelsky, in France at the time due to his work with Magma and Gong, made several contributions to the album and by his own description served as “a sort of ‘acting producer'”.[13] He believed that his contributions were not enough to warrant a producer’s credit. Accordingly, on the album sleeve, he is credited as “passing by”.[13][14] Gerard Fallec, credited on the sleeve with “production coordination”,[14] did not play a part in the production process, but became involved during the year-long battle to have the record released. Ferris credited him with suggesting the album’s final title and working on its sleeve.[15] Additional contributors to the album included Harris Halkitis, who had filled in for Vangelis when the band toured in support of It’s Five O’Clock, horn player Michel Ripoche, Greek painter Yannis Tsarouchis, actress Irene Papas, John Forst and Daniel Koplowitz.[14][16]

Upon the album’s completion, Mercury Records refused to release it, objecting to its uncommercial material and in particular the song “∞”.[17] In 1971, the band organised a “one-year anniversary party” at Europa Sonor, to protest the album not being released.[15] According to Ferris, Salvador Dalí was in attendance at the party, and listened to the album. Dalí was highly impressed with the work, stating that it reminded him of the Sagrada Família,[18] and planned an ambitious happening in Barcelona to mark the album’s release.[19] The plan was canceled when Dalí angrily broke off further contact after a friend of Ferris’ referred to Gala Dalí as “Madame Éluard” during a visit in Rome.[18]

Despite Vangelis editing “∞” from its original 39 minutes to merely five,[9][10] the band continued to struggle with Mercury’s obstruction. During this period, the band drifted apart. Vangelis released his first solo album Fais que ton rêve soit plus long que la nuit. Sideras began work on his own solo album, One Day, which featured arrangements by Koulouris.[20] Roussos released his debut solo album Fire and Ice (also known as On the Greek Side of My Mind), obtaining a hit single in Europe with the song “We Shall Dance“.[21][22]

Eventually, Mercury agreed to release 666 on its progressive rock subsidiary Vertigo Records in June 1972. The album was promoted with one single, “Babylon”/”Break”, released in November.[23] Mercury also produced a four-song EP to encourage radio play,[24] and ran a contest where they would give $666 to the first three promoters who could get their market’s share of 40,000 sales.[25] Although Melody Maker stated that “Break” “could easily have made the chart if it had been released as a single”,[8] neither the album nor single were commercially successful on release, the album failing to chart and the single only entering the Dutch charts at #24.[26] Two years later, Vangelis said that the album sold well in the United States.[17]

Vertigo also released a single vinyl edition of the album in Brazil, titled Break and leaving out most of the album’s instrumental songs.[27] An extended vinyl edition of 666 was released in Greece in 1974, containing alternative mixes of songs with music cut from other versions of the album, in a gatefold sleeve displaying the painting originally on the inner sleeve;[28] some of these versions had appeared on the Brazilian release.


The music of 666 is more ambitious and experimental than previous Aphrodite’s Child releases, containing greater use of electronic keyboards, studio experimentation, expanded instrumentation,[29] and influences from genres such as jazzmusique concrète and world music.[30][31] Reflecting this character, only six of the album’s 24 songs have vocals and lyrics, four by lead singer Demis Roussos and two by Loukas Sideras. The rest are either instrumental, instrumentals with narration, or use vocals as an instrument.[32] Although the album’s material is often acknowledged as challenging and uncommercial, it has also been described as tuneful, “fun”, and retaining elements of pop music.[9][32][33] Authors Paul Hegarty and Martin Halliwell interpreted the album as reflecting “the turmoil in Greece at the time“,[29] while Vangelis argued that its theme was highly relevant in general, stating in Sounds in 1974, “The answer to the question 666 is today.”[12] The Mojo Collection argues that “the album’s lush arrangements were as startling as any of the progressive era and have aged better than most”, in part due to Vangelis not relying excessively on contemporary synthesizers and the prominent role of guitarist Silver Koulouris.[31]

Side one[edit]

The first song on the album, “The System”, fades in with a choir chanting “We got the system, to fuck the system!”[9][33] and a drum roll by Loukas Sideras. The lyric is inspired by Abbie Hoffman‘s pamphlet Fuck the System.[10]

“Babylon” is an acoustic rock song with an energetic guitar riff that Head Heritage compared to Pete Townshend‘s work on “Pinball Wizard“,[32] melodic bass playing by Roussos, and crowd noise similar to that of Sgt. Pepper. The lyrics introduce the apocalyptic theme by referring to the fall of Babylon the Great from Revelation 18.

“Loud, Loud, Loud” combines a two-chord piano vamp by Vangelis with narration by Daniel Koplowitz, described by a fansite as “the son of [a] diplomat”.[10] The title is sung by a choir, who are not credited on the album sleeve. The narration reflects a spirit of countercultural optimism, speaking of “The day young boys will stop becoming soldiers/And soldiers will stop playing war games”.

The Four Horsemen” deals with the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, its lyrics mostly paraphrasing the text of Revelation 6. The song’s structure is marked by a dynamic contrast, with Roussos singing over an echoed keyboard drone and wind chimes in the verses,[30][32] and the chorus containing traditional rock instrumentation highlighted by Sideras’ drumming.[30] The song culminates in a two-minute wah guitar solo by Koulouris over heavy drumming by Sideras and a repeated “fa fa fa” background chant by Roussos. One of the best known songs of 666, “The Four Horsemen” influenced Beck‘s “Chemtrails“, which has a similar structure,[34] and The Verve‘s “The Rolling People”, which quoted the “fa fa fa” chant.[35] The chorus was also sampled, in a slowed-down fashion, on Daniel Lopatin‘s “A7”, from Chuck Person’s Eccojams Vol. 1.[36]

“The Lamb” is a world music-influenced instrumental, featuring vocal chants following the main melody,[33] and sounds reminiscent of traditional Greek instruments.[32]

“The Seventh Seal” is an instrumental with a repeated keyboard and string instrument melody, and British-accented narration[31] by John Forst describing the lamb opening the last of the Seven seals, again based on Revelation 6. The narration does not mention the earthquake that the Book of Revelation attributes to the breaking of the sixth seal, but is otherwise faithful to the biblical description. Forst’s line, “And when the lamb opened the seventh seal, silence covered the sky” was sampled in the Enigma song, “The Rivers of Belief“.[37]

Side two[edit]

Side two begins with “Aegian Sea”, an instrumental featuring another lengthy guitar solo by Koulouris, elaborate keyboard work by Vangelis, and wordless vocalising.[32] Narration by John Forst is included under Koulouris’ guitar solo, restating the breaking of the two seals in “The Seventh Seal” in first person, and featuring three repetitions of the phrase “They’ll no more suffer from hunger, they’ll no more suffer from thirst”. Forst’s narration is slowed down in pitch and panned to the right stereo channel, with echo being heard on the left channel.

“Aegian Sea” is followed by “Seven Bowls”, a sound effect-laden piece in which a chorus narrates the effects of the seven bowls (changing the Euphrates drying up and earthquake of the last two bowls to the stars going out and the air turning to poison), which in turn crossfades into the eerie instrumental “The Wakening Beast”, which uses reverbed wind chimes. The narration of “Seven Bowls” was sampled on the Enigma song “The Voice and the Snake”.[38]

“Lament” begins with a repeated vibraphone note played by Vangelis, followed by Roussos singing a lament for “the human race” over a minimal backing. Vangelis provides additional backing vocals, which reflect his interest in Byzantine music.[7][10]

“The Marching Beast” is an instrumental piece with a repeated melody played on guitar, bass and saxophone, with a gradually developing arrangement that includes a piano solo and a Jethro Tull-influenced flute trill.[32]

“The Battle of the Locusts” and “Do It” are aggressive rock instrumentals,[39] variously perceived by reviewers as being influenced by jazz[30][33] and heavy metal.[9] Both begin with Forst reciting their titles, and are played in a power trio format, with intricate drumming and rapid guitar solos. The title of “Do It” comes from Jerry Rubin‘s book DO IT!: Scenarios of the Revolution.[10] Both songs were compared by Head Heritage to “Ash Ra Tempel meets Santana“.[32]

“Tribulation” is a jazz-influenced instrumental[33] with overdubbed saxophone by Harris Halkitis.

“The Beast” has been described as a “bizarre funky singalong”.[33] It is the first song with lead vocals by Loukas Sideras, who sings “Who can fight the beast?” in his normal voice and “She’s big/She’s bad/She’s wicked/She’s sad” in a deeper, lower voice. The song features a funk-influenced rhythm and studio experimentation, with the first snare hit of the verses having plate reverb applied to it. During recording, Vangelis had a microphone in order to direct the band, and the final mix of the song includes some of his rhythmic scat singing and studio commentary. He says Pame! (“Let’s go!”) near the song’s climax, and Teliounome edho pera, etsi? (“We’re closing here, remember?”) on the song’s final measure.[10] Reviewer Jon Bryan considered the song “a little kooky” but “fun and memorable”.[9]

The last song on the second side, “Ofis”, is a brief interlude in which Yiannis Tsarouchis recites a line from the shadow puppet play Alexander the Great and the Accursed Serpent with slapback echo applied to his voice. The line, Exelthe ofi katiramene, dhioti an dhen exelthe essy, tha se exelthe ego! Ou! Ou! Ou!, translates to “Come out, cursed serpent, because if you don’t come out yourself, I will make you come out!”.[10]

Side three[edit]

“Seven Trumpets” is a dramatic narration that serves to introduce “Altamont”. Head Heritage interpreted it to represent the moment where the “curtain of reality” is torn down,[32] and thus the real apocalypse and the circus show apocalypse begin to intertwine as per Ferris’ concept.[4]

“Altamont”, chosen as one of the highlights of the album by AllMusic,[40] contains a repetitive funk-influenced groove, Roussos scatting along with the bassline, vibraphone by Vangelis, and overdubbed horns by Halkitis. The second half of the song introduces additional narration, referring to the imagery of previous songs and describing the sight of the apocalypse as “the pictures of what was, of what is, of what is to come”. One of the lines of the narration, “We are the people/The rolling people”, later inspired the title of The Verve‘s “The Rolling People”.

“Altamont” ends by crossfading into “The Wedding of the Lamb”, a world music-influenced instrumental that contains an electronic keyboard melody backed by wordless vocalising and syncopated, rhythmic drumming. The instrumental in turn crossfades into “The Capture of the Beast”, a drum solo by Sideras that makes heavy use of toms and percussion instruments, performed over Vangelis’ keyboard drones and effects. The songs are linked together by brief spoken lines recited in a halting manner which announce their titles, “That was ‘The Wedding of the Lamb'” at the end of the former, and “Now comes ‘The Capture of the Beast'” at the beginning of the latter.[32]

“∞” (“Infinity”), the most controversial song on the album, consists of the Greek actress Irene Papas chanting “I was, I am, I am to come” over a sparse percussion track, gradually building into an orgasmic frenzy. Vangelis described the track as conveying “the pain of birth and the joy of intercourse.”[8][17] Ferris originally sought a narrator with a heavy British accent to recite the lyric, in order to create a contrast with the climactic frenzy, but Papas’ improvisation was chosen instead because it made a stronger impression.[10] Hegarty and Halliwell describe the song as part of the “increased cacophony” that marks the progression towards the apocalypse.[39] Melody Maker remarked in 1972 that in light of the publicity received by Serge Gainsbourg‘s “Je t’aime… moi non plus“, it was “odd” that the media overlooked 666, but that it would have been a “pity” if it achieved notoriety solely due to Papas’ contribution.[8] A sample of Papas taking sharp breaths was used in Enigma‘s “Principles of Lust“.[41]

“Hic et Nunc” (Latin for “here and now”) is an upbeat pop song with phased piano, tenor saxophone by Michel Ripoche, a crowd chanting “Here and now!” in the chorus, a reuse of the audience sound effect from “Babylon” and the “We got the system to fuck the system” chant from “The System” during Vangelis’ piano solo, foreshadowing the concluding “montage”.

Side four[edit]

The longest song on the album, “All the Seats Were Occupied” begins as a slow raga-influenced instrumental[30] before incorporating other genres such as funk[39] and culminating in a musique concrète “montage”[31][39] that incorporates samples from “Seven Trumpets”, “The System”, “Babylon”, “The Four Horsemen”, “Loud, Loud, Loud”, “The Capture of the Beast”, “Ofis”, “∞”, “Seven Bowls”, “The Lamb”, “The Wakening Beast”, “The Marching Beast”, “Altamont” and “The Wedding Of The Lamb”. The sentence “all the seats were occupied” was taken from a BBC Teaching English record.[10] The song concludes with a chaotic ending and a sample of Papas’ pained groaning from “∞”. This track was later included on the compilation album A Monstrous Psychedelic Bubble Exploding in Your Mind: Volume 3.

“Break”, the closing song, is a ballad sung by Sideras, backed by piano and organ. Vangelis scat sings backing vocals, meant to make fun of the song’s dramatic mood.[10] Ferris’ lyrics originally had an additional verse that began the song, starting “Now/Got no place to go”, which was left out of the final version.[10] Hegarty and Halliwell describe the last lines, “Fly/High/And then/You make it”, as lacking in narrative link to the rest of the album, but ending on a “melancholic high”.[39] The song ends with a piano and organ chord, which is followed after 6 seconds of silence by a sample of Forst saying “Do it!”, the final sound of the album.” – Wikipedia

666 (Aphrodite’s Child album) – Wikipedia


  1. I was merely a Sergeant-at-Arms, Jack. Chief cook and bottle-washer of the Officers Mess…
    Things must by definition, move though. I went deep, I wish we had the gear, because I would have gone to the profound level. I think the kid is okay though, a formative experience. Sunstroke, losing a knife, and being medicated. That’s why he lost it. I connected with him. He was just emotional and worn out, I hope…
    Those fuckers that got gassed though, eh?
    The quickening? As we all know, faint heart ne’er won fair lady.
    We all stand together.

    • No, the kid had to be committed after attacking Joes wife with a knife. We should have never brought him with us but that was Joes call not ours. What we did in those caves has upset the entire apple cart, E is beside himself accusing you and I of utter recklessness. I say the Dutch faggot hasn’t seen nothing yet. I don’t play by the rules. I told them from the start I’m a street fighter in the tradition of Bill the Butcher who beat the heavyweight champion of the world practically to death on a pier in NYC. You are my Sargent at Arms and Phil my Field Marshal. You guys along with Romain and Heretic are SS all the way: Meine Ehre heißt Treue!

      • I slept badly the night I made that post, tormented by my dissimulation and denial. The cave is, after all, one of endura. A cave so full of telluric energies, that a youngling, with already identified problems should be precluded from entering.
        I wish him well, but no more playing with sharp things, I hope.

        • It’s not your fault or even mine. You treated that kid like any good father treats his son. The circumstances were beyond our control. You saw and participated in what happened to those rude assholes who ran the inn at the base of the caves, it was you who evacuated the children and opened the windows. Have no regrets sergeant you did everything you could in the name of humanity.

  2. It seems like the lyrics you provided are repetitive, and it’s a bit challenging to count the exact number of words without the exact repetition count. However, based on a rough estimate, it looks like there are around 170-200 words


    There is an obvious pattern here…Aphrodite’s Child – The Four Horsemen

    I could dismantle this but I think this topic is in very good hands here…and I need a short break from crazines…so to speak.
    Happy hunting
    Cheers to All!

  3. ‘Horsemen’ of course are ‘Knights’ and we all know of the Red, Black, White and Green Knights of Arthurian legend.
    I’ll shut up…

  4. A really terrific review of a masterpiece album, in my humble opinion.
    The concept is so incredibly ambitious, and yet succeeds, so beautifully.
    ‘The Four Horsemen’ is a real standout track for me, with Demis Roussos’ vocal acrobatics, coruscating through copious tears of Retsina and d-Lysergic acid…
    The guitar solo is simply divine, and the atmosphere is very other-worldly and trippy.
    ‘Aegean Sea’ is another of my favourites, recalling trips to the lands of Odesseus in my youth. The blue of the sea, the history, mysticism and myth. Her brown, lithe body, Ouzo, dancing in wild abandon late into the night…
    The guitar solo is, once more a sensation. The vibrational frequencies of the synth, and the high-pitched tones complementing John Forst’s almost sinister imprecations.
    His voice has a quality of Richard Stanley, to my ear!
    A highly recommended album, from a truly experimental team.
    Enjoy, my friends, and thanks to Romain.
    Bravo sir!

    • And another thing…
      I just noticed in the ‘Four Horsemen’, “The leading horse is white, the second horse is red, the third one is a black, the last one is a green”. Representing Albedo, Rubedo and Nigredo perhaps? But what is the green? Basil Valentine?
      Just thoughts really…

      • It’s funny that you should mention the 4 horsemen track, because it was exactly this audio track that drew me to the album because of a synchronicity and then to Jack.

        I’m going to try and detail what came to me, even if it’s tricky…
        But I feel it’s necessary.

        First of all, I came across a report in the Bild newspaper about Nato’s plan to attack Russia – “Alliance Defence 2025”. Of course, the fact that this is being reported in all the media is only intended to instil once again that the culprit is not coming from within, but above all to gradually implant the idea of a global confrontation. The image of the red horse War came to mind.

        I then remembered a video using the eschatological reading grid of the horsemen of the apocalypse with this bewitching piece in the background. When I finally found the track, the album followed.

        When it came time to share it with Jack, I passed him this note I found :

        “Costas Ferris wrote a concept book for the “666” album: Saint John’s “Revelation” (The Apocalypse as they call it in Greek), and this subject had to be seen through the culture of the sixties.
        A big circus Troupe, giving a big circus Show, based on the Apocalypse. Acrobats, dancers, tumbelines, elephants, tigers and horses. Of course, the reference to the “Beatles” “Sgt Peppers” is obvious.
        While the show goes on, light and sound effects in all their glory, something is happening outside the circus tent. It is the real revelation disaster going on, staged by God himself.
        The audience believes that what is happening outside, is part of the show. But the narrator, who understands that something strange is happening, gets hysterical.
        At the end the big tent disappears. and the two “shows” unite, in a great battle between Good and Evil, between the real Revelation-End-of the-World, and its staged representation.”


        That’s where things get interesting.
        And that’s exactly the convergence we’re experiencing.

        So I’m thinking back to this image of the red horse and here I’m going to respond to your question about the chromatic progression of horses.

        The green horse should actually be pale according to the Apocalypse of John, but this is due to an interesting ‘error’ on the part of the composer.

        The fourth horse is described using a word “khloros”, which probably should be translated from the original Greek as “pale”. But the Greek-speaking songwriters make a pun here, another meaning of khloros being “green”, the origin of the word chlorophyll. The fourth horseman is explicitly named Thanatos, meaning “death” in Greek.

        I think there are two simultaneous and converging movements :
        In the outside world, everything leads to the white horse. From plague, famine and war to death.

        In the inner world, everything starts from that same white horse, the call of Kalki or the Grail, the red vajra body of the berserker, the black of the Secret Sun, and finally the leap into the Green world…

        The two “shows” unite.

        Now I think what I really want to talk about is Crowley.
        Anyone who’s bothered to listen to the album will see the parallel interpretational framework.
        I don’t pretend to know exactly what he did, and perhaps this will be an opportunity for Jack to say more.

        But if there’s one thing I do know, it’s that he’s misunderstood, both by those who worship him, follow him and distort him, and by his enemies who drag him through the mud with loathing.
        I think he stands in the middle and gives everyone the finger.

        Perhaps he has directed 2 shows.

        “A big circus Troupe, giving a big circus Show
        While the show goes on, light and sound effects in all their glory, something is happening outside the circus tent.
        The audience believes that what is happening outside, is part of the show
        At the end the big tent disappears. and the two “shows” unite, in a great battle
        between the real
        and its staged representation”

        • Wow!
          A wonderfully insightful perspective there, Romain.
          Once again, thank you for sharing this with us.
          I have been listening to 666 again today, and lots of other interesting progressive rock of that era whilst banging about doing truck and motorcycle maintenance.
          The inner world of musical beauty helping me in the sturm und drang of uncooperative machines.
          An old pal introduced me to 666 as a young lad. How unbelievable it would have seemed to me then, that I would be talking now upon it’s significance to friends across the world whom I have yet to meet?
          Cheers brother!

        • What better place to clarify my position on Crowley than the comment section of Aphrodite’s Child 666, Aphrodite being the woman with child in the Book of Revelation who is pursued by the other Gods, in the form of a seven headed beast. She is hunted because that child is their end, and they know it. I believe the much more contemporary monks parable from the New Testament about Herod trying to kill Jesus in his infancy reflects this. Are you starting to get it yet?

          Now I’ve learned much more about Crowley in the last ten years than I did in the eighties as a piece on his chessboard. I know people like Serrano whom I respect and people like AE Waite whom I don’t did not like Crowley but having lived it I can tell you Serrano got quite a few things wrong with Rosarium philosophorum. Waite along with Mathers and Yeats were Christian and as we are seeing now if there is a singularly malevolent belief system it is Christianity. So, they can be dismissed off hand as can all Christians, period. If you don’t believe me, ask a Jesuit…

          Now the internet, which is the greatest weapon Old MacDonald has, is geared toward this vile religion because every farm needs a fence. On it you are told that Crowley is revered by the Luciferians who run this place and he is responsible for all the evils of this world. For instance, that dastardly Tavistock Institue which put an end to the Vietnam War in the sixties. Unspeakable evil!

          Such breathtaking ignorance arises from the erroneous premise that Old MacDonald is human. Nothing could be further from the truth. Why do you think entities like our dear friend E recoil in horror at the mere mention of Crowley’s name? First of all, much like the mythical van Helsing, he killed them on sight, without empathy or any interest in their tales of the days of yore. Second of all he opened the portals necessary to perform the Babylon Working, Rosarium philosophorum, the sacrifice of the king and queen of souls to bring about the Apocalypse and free the souls, the fulfillment of Revelations from time out of mind. Without their livestock they will cease to exist and their afterlives which they hold so dear will be no more.

          Thats as brief a synopsis of Crowley as I can write for a comment, the whole subject requires a book which we were writing with Century of the Magicians. But apparently after our trip to the Cave of Inititation in the pyrene’s things are moving so fast I fear I will not have time to finish that book. The significance of Otto Rahn and the SS demands that I write their book first.

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