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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.

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