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Four lucid paths to the Other. - 97%

ConorFynes, August 22nd, 2015

Not omitting the fact that Amestigon have remained largely silent throughout their twenty year existence, having only released two full-lengths in that time (and both within the past five years), I have no issue calling them one of the most criminally overlooked black metal bands going today. Formed in '95 with members shared with Austria's elite-- namely Abigor and Summoning-- Amestigon would no doubt have earned a reputation similar in weight to those two, had they seen fit to break past the demos stage in their early days.

In the end, that's all just speculation; it ultimately took Amestigon fifteen years to release their impressive debut Sun of All Suns. Even that however, they seemed to be ignored even by the people who would enjoy them most; there has always been a market for black metal on the forward-thinking end of atmosphere. Now, with the release of Thier, Amestigon have burst through the navel of mastery. Thier is the sort of new album that provokes description with mutually favourable descriptions: it's both challenging and immediately compelling, dissociative yet intimate; progressive, yet true to the original standard. It will be shameful if this one doesn't get Amestigon the recognition they now fully deserve.

I came to Amestigon primarily as a fan of Abigor; three of the four musicians involved played in Abigor in the early days, and one of those-- vocalist Silenius-- went on to do some amazing things in a little band called Summoning. Needless to say, I felt like I was already a fan of this band's work before even having heard their music before. Expectations were understandably high, but I don't think I was expecting to hear an album like this. Thier is an hour of mourning and misanthropy, doused in psychedelic horror and split into four quarters, as if that were meant to make the album seem less daunting.

All things considered, it is pretty easy to make music that is simply challenging or weird. It's much trickier to make that weird approach sound rich and explosive the first time you hear it. Though it wouldn't be so accurate to call Amestigon a melodic black metal band, they have a tendency to weave melodic writing flawlessly into their compositions. While their oppressive tone and scope vaguely recall Deathspell Omega, Amestigon notably go without resorting to traditional dissonance in their sound. There is ugliness here, but that comes mostly through the band's tormented performance. Despite a well-polished presentation, their tone is still frightening. Silenius' vocals sound far more oppressive here than they do in Summoning. While Thier runs the spectrum between traditional 90s speed to slower post-rock moments, there's a disquieting undertone throughout the entire thing.

Amestigon have built their fundaments on the old school scene they were once part of, but there's far more at work in the music. From a composition's standpoint, the twenty minute compositions quickly bring to mind vintage progressive rock. They fill that space up with purposeful direction rather than spontaneous experimenting. Each of Thier's four movements barrel through a sequence of ideas, some soft, many intense, and almost all of them instantly memorable. While a single longer song on an album is usually a sign of a highlight, an album filled with them is prone to suffering some filler. I don't get that impression at any point on this album. Even the loosest-fitting parts of the album-- like a minutes-long drone stretch halfway into the title track-- have layers to keep the listen engaging. In the case of that drone example, an organ's hum rings amid the chattering of a thousand whispering voices. Even as the album's least involved section compositionally, it carries an atmospheric weight that's impossible to resist.

The moment I realized Thier is a real masterpiece was when I tried to decide what my favourite track was. Right now it's "Thier", but a couple listens before this it was "358". In short, there cannot be a standout track when each track brings so many memorable sections to bear. It really does feel more appropriate to refer to the tracks here as 'movements'; though the sequence of passages is seamless, there doesn't seem to be much association between where a track begins, and where it ends. When I'm thinking of this album (and I've been thinking about it a lot lately) I usually remember it in terms of standout passages. The sludge-fuelled end to "Demiurg" sounds like a cross between Blut aus Nord and Cult of Luna. The break into a charged industrial plod four minutes into "358" really stands out, as does the dive into ritual psychedelic rock towards the track's end. "Thier" continues to grow on me with each listen, moreso than the others. While Amestigon usually cleanse themselves of used ideas once they move onto something else, I cannot imagine the ideas here being arranged any other way. "Hochpolung" looks like it would have a hard time offering a climax following a twenty minute mammoth, but it boasts some of the most high-energy, vitriolic ideas of the entire album. The urgent closing riff is simple, yet addictive and punishing, and I actually found myself closely reminded of the way Deathspell Omega capped off their own Paracletus with the ending moments of "Apokatastasis Pantôn".

Amestigon's aesthetic is uncompromisingly rooted in black metal, but I noticed a greater weight to their guitar tone that almost warrants a comparison to sludge or post-metal. Pair that with the atmospheric angle, and many of the music's more sprawling passages actually deserve comparison to Altar of Plagues' best work. Unlike Altar of Plagues however, I don't think Amestigon is necessarily fusing black metal with another style. I might think of their sense of composition as tied to progressive rock, but they never wear the influences overtly. Given the impression of Thier as movements, it does feel as though Amestigon have graced the black metal art form with the sort of artistic weight one might usually expect from classical music. I would expect that from this genre's greatest bands (Summoning not being least among them, now that I consider it) but hearing such ambition from a band I didn't know until recently has been one of my most exciting musical discoveries in a long, long time.

While it's certainly a loaded comparison to make, to the uninitiated I might describe Thier as the result of combining Abigor's experimental blasphemies with Summoning's consonant bombast and patient compositions. Of course, that doesn't get to the heart of what Amestigon or experience of their music is really about. Though it may be too early to say, I can see myself returning to Thier years from now. Like the best works by DSO or The Ruins of Beverast, Thier sounds like a full-bodied realization of black metal as an art form; what it should be, intermingled with what it can be. Amestigon have utterly destroyed their claim to obscurity with this album; fans of any band I've mentioned here would do well to make listening to it a priority.

Originally written for Heathen Harvest Periodical.

Amestigon - Thier - 95%

powerblack, May 29th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2015, CD, World Terror Committee

Scandinavian black metal was in the center of attention in the 90’s due to the strong implementation of its satanic ideologies whereas the scenes in Central Europe gave themselves a strong hold on more darkened and epic approach of black metal. Bands like Summoning and Pazuzu explored fantasies and occult literature whereas bands like Abigor and Amestigon had kept their efforts based on Satanism and pagan heritage. The significant term Austrian Black Metal Syndicate to characterize these acts was also prominent for the time being. However, most of the black metal bands started to change their motivation around the first half of 2000s. Amestigon, that consists of members from Abigor, Summoning and Heidenreich released its earlier demos around that time and went into hibernation until 2010s 'Sun of All Suns'. Their majestic and ritualistic approach on black metal has proved the diversity of Austrian black metal outside of what Summoning/Abigor was doing. After five years of break, Amestigon is again prepared with their second assault 'Thier'.

Amestigon can be distinguished as the most avant-garde band to emerge from Austria, with dark, haunting melodic passages bridging on the mid paced black metal. The band slowed their pace even more on their latest effort Thier. The band relied more on slow, heavy riffing with a second guitar playing the rhythmic sections. The use of heavy synths to procreate the devilish atmosphere resulted tremendously. The background could be compared with Deathspell Omega’s masterpiece Paracletus or Hirilorns Legends of Evil and Eternal Death.

If you are familiar with Amestigon's debut effort, then you might get goosebumps as things got completely different here. The long 10 minutes+ composition (with the title track ticking to 20 minutes) might uncover the story. It’s obviously hard to keep the ideas alive throughout such daunting length, which Amestigon did pretty fairly.

Amestigon divided its musical manifesto into four different chapters: Demiurg, 358, Thier and Hochpolung. Although the lyrics have not been published yet, Amestigon brought forward the metaphysical contexts with the lyrics. All four chapters focus primarily on the dismal atmosphere, with the tempo coinciding with that of doom metal with sudden outbreak of horrid blackened parts. The sound on this record has got a strong production. Major emphasis are put on the guitar melodies and synths. Although synth is buried under, whilst the bass guitar kept high. The high pitched screeches from Silenius help the music sound almost surreal. 'Thier' can be designated as the perfect harmony of phantasmagoria and music. The brilliance of this record can’t be apparent if you don’t explore it.

To end with, Amestigon reflected all their contemplation and efforts with 'Thier'. This release justifies the diversity of black metal and has the perfection with concepts that Amestigon wanted to put forward. If you are reading this, you must check the release whether you are a fan of black metal or not.

Originally written for Venustas Diabolicus.