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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)