Welcome to another installment of the monthly black metal column Within The Abyss, examining black metal from all around the globe. This month’s reviews include Acherontas, Blazemth, Licho, Order of Nosferat, Sidious, and Slaegt.
ΑΧΕΡΟΝΤΑΣ (Acherontas) – The Seven Tongues of ΔΑΗΜΩΝ (Zazen)
ΑΧΕΡΟΝΤΑΣ have released several albums in the new millennium. They are considered one of the representatives of the new wave of Greek black metal. The group has stayed true to their traditions, which was been dubbed “Magickal Coven.” Each song on their latest album The Seven Tongues of ΔΑΗΜΩΝ is a diverse journey into alchemy and sorcery.
This album is not typical black metal, even in the sense of the Greek sound. While there are clear tenets such as blasting drums and tremolo picking, their sound is much more dynamic. The group uses melodies in a similar fashion to their countrymen Rotting Christ, but more often used as a jumping off point for faster, more barbaric sections. There is a myriad of voices on the album ranging from conventional black metal to dignified narrations to operatic voices and pitch-shifted insanity. All this is accomplished with clean production values courtesy of George Emmanuel who readers may recognize for his involvement with Necromantia and Rotting Christ.
Blazemth – The Return Of Lucifer (Xtreem)
Blazemth formed in the early ‘90s, released two EPs and then went dormant for 20 years. The group came back in 2017 and five years later present their first full-length album, The Return Of Lucifer. The Spanish entity’s first long form recording possesses Nordic qualities from such bands as Watain, Dissection, Marduk and Mayhem.
Much like bands that originated in the early ‘90s, Blazemth cleaned up their production. Dan Swano worked his magic on the master. Even without the rawness of their early recordings, The Return Of Lucifer is a fierce, sinister album with excellent drum blasts and booming sound. Atmospheric segments help instill this incendiary quality during intros and outros. Melodic, clean guitar tones accompany the beginning of “A Passage of Unlight.” The title track is their finest moment with an intense ride of ascending, emotional riffs. The Return Of Lucifer is a solid return of Iberian evil.
Licho – Ciuciubabka (Pagan)
Licho’s third album is not really a black metal album, but at the same time it is a black metal album. Listeners will find themselves listening to an experimental album, but all of a sudden it turns black, at least vocally. The group has not created a fast, blast beating album. Instead, they play menacing, mid-paced grooves with upfront bass. Often the guitar sound is dissonant, wobbly and just odd.
Odd is a fair adjective for Ciuciubabka. Odd can describe something out of the ordinary, possibly something beyond one’s own comprehension. The album has its heavy moments. However, the riffs seem to compete with the layers of noise. The album is very layered, one that requires several listens to hear all the nuances. The vocals are quite diverse including a very Eastern European main vocals that may remind listeners of Rammstein. Ciuciubabka probably won’t appeal to hardline black metal fans, but fans of unconventional, experimental music should enjoy the album.
Order Of Nosferat – Nachtmusik (Purity Through Fire)
Order of Nosferat didn’t stay under the earth for very long as they offer their third full-length since just last year. Releasing this many albums so close together allows the duo to create strikingly similar music to their first two releases. They still sink their teeth into a vampiric black metal style that answers to the nocturnal call of vampire-themed black metal groups such as Mütiilation, Vlad Tepes and Black Funeral.
Nachtmusik is an album that reflects its cover art depicting a Nosferatu below a grainy, black sky. The raw, lo-fi production is necro to the max and conveys a black-and-white feeling. Gothic keys are once again a prominent feature. Also, the band stuck with their format of dungeon synth tracks following black metal tracks. While I thoroughly enjoyed Order Of Nosferat’s first two albums, some of the charm is lost in album three. The group released so much in so short of a time without much experimentation.
Sidious – Blackest Insurrection (Clobber)
United Kingdom black incarnate band Sidious present their third album, Blackest Insurrection. Starting as a symphonic black/death band a decade ago, the group has developed into a more conventional black metal group with comparisons to 1349, Marduk, Dark Funeral and Enthroned.
The title track initiates the album with guitars full of abyssic atmosphere. Kudos to producer Russ Russell (Dimmu Borgir, Napalm Death, Amorphis etc) for making Baalrath’s bass noticeable in the mix. Valdr, known for Hecate Enthroned, has a terrific drum sound and his performance is top-notch. Just listen to “To Know My Kingdom” for some of his best work. Isfeth has palatable shrieks and commanding narrations. Blackest Insurrection is a balanced album with blasting aggression amplified by slower, more majestic passages as heard on “Thy Palace Yond the Threshold.” “Hailing Shards of Agony” presents an impressively catchy thrashy part around the three-minute mark. Dynamics and varied song structures make Blackest Insurrection a harmonious, pleasing album.
Slaegt – Goddess (Century Media)
Goddess is the fourth full-length album by the Danish black/heavy metal group Slaegt. In addition to four full-lengths, Slaegt have released several shorter recordings over the past ten years. Goddess marks the group’s entrance into Century Media Records. It is in devotion to traditional metal, but with a vocal rasp owing to black metal.
Slaegt utilize twin guitar harmonies, melody and wild soloing. The title track has a melodic, twin axe lead attack in the beginning of the song akin reminiscent of Thin Lizzy or Iron Maiden combined with black metal tremolo picking and blackened atmosphere. The melodies on this track also bring to mind Rotting Christ. My personal favorite is “Kiss From A Knife,” shows the band at it’s fastest and thrashiest. Then the album ends with the dungeon synth of “Stabat Bloody Stabat.” Goddess has its moments, Slaegt are a talented band, but the album could have benefited by more aggressive songs like “Kiss From A Knife.”