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Hopefully not a forgotten tale... - 80%

Mark Ashby, February 29th, 2012

Rarely do a band grab your attention as directly and immediately as this Scottish quartet do on their debut album. Right from the opening smack of the snare drum to the last dying chord, this lot have impact – impact with a capital ‘I’… and certainly a lot more of it than a certain crappy American wrestling franchise!

Achren play brutal, blackened death metal. Plain and simple. There’s no need for any further elaboration on their sound. It blasts from the speakers, pummels you to the floor, picks you up, dusts you down and asks if you want some more… and, before you’ve had a chance to answer, does it all over again, for each and every one of the ten glorious tracks on here.

The first thing you notice is the drum sound: it’s ferocious, with Gordon Johnston pounding his kit to within an inch of its life and at the same time holding the songs together with a precision reinforced by his partner in rhythmic crime, bassist John Clark Paterson. Together, they provide a more than sturdy platform for maniacal riffing and soloing of lead shredder Callum Kirk, who plays with a no-nonsense style that perfectly fits the songs and their subject matter.

The highlight, however, is the vocal performance of the sensational Scott Anderson: majestic, soaring, switching effortless from death metal style screaming to black growls, such as on ‘Bastards On The Gallows Or Bastards On The Rack’, ‘Fury Of The Northmen’ or the totally vicious title track, which plums the depths of such darkness that even the likes of Quorthon or Fenriz would need a flashlight to find their way back.

Achren tread a path that runs from the Wyrd-tales of Sabbat and faux-Satanism of Venom through the black nights of the Scandinavian hordes to the Varangian heroes, but also, most importantly, succeed in ploughing their own dark furrow. Yes, there’s still work to be done – the production is a bit muddy in places, especially on the bass parts – but this is a debut of tremendous power and promise and speaks volume for the strength of the British and (we’ve said it before) Celtic metal scenes.

(This review originally appeared on www.uberrock.co.uk)

Achren - The Forgotten King - 75%

padshiyangel01, November 8th, 2011

After 8 years of promoting their own brand of “blood metal”, and prominent appearances at Wacken and Bloodstock, Glaswegian blackened thrash quartet Achren have set loose their début album The Forgotten King. A rip-roaring half-hour of intense drums and riffs, technical solos and harsh vocals rather unlike the fictional villainess with whom they share a name, Achren have instead forged their own style guaranteed to get a few necks twisted.

Oldschool fans will see some familiar titles; most of the songs have been taken from previous material, but given a new lease of life with improved production. The opening track “Impaled” is a strong introduction to the band, a mixture of older Sodom with a touch of death metal and Anderson's range of Angelripper-worthy mid-range snarls and low brutish grunts. Paterson's bass is a strong rhythm section, with its own moment to shine on “Darkest Day”. Kiwi drummer Johnston is a crazed blaze, kicking off many of the songs and mixing up various styles to keep things interesting. And finally, Kirk provides some scorching solos to top off each song, and both he and Anderson provide a variety of black riffs and thrash riffs to please both sides.

The band certainly knows how to have fun, as titles “Bastards On The Gallows Or Bastards On The Rack” or “Fuck It Hard” should indicate, but their music is a no-nonsense form of metal. The solos in particular are impressive, such as in new track “Manuel's Mile”, which also sports a great melodic riff and a strong rhythm section. “Pestilence”, the other new track, is the blackest they get, almost bordering on Darkthrone territory, marking a memorable closer.

That said, there are some weak points on the album. The title track in particular leaves a bad taste, with the spoken word and laughter seeming quite forced, even if the musical build-up is impressive. There are also some rawer vocals on “Bastards...” which sound a bit subpar, but overall don't detract that much from the listening experience.

For newcomers to Achren, The Forgotten King is a fresh-sounding release from a band who have struck a well-balanced mixture of black and thrash that pleases these ears. There are headbanging moments aplenty, and here's to hoping for an even stronger sophomore from the Scots.

Originally posted at www.metalrecusants.com