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Ζήτω ο θάνατος - 95%

Exetlaios666, January 11th, 2013

It had been four years since "Praetorians" and I have to admit that the first signs towards a most extreme direction had made their presence clear. Something which didn’t 't come as a surprise, since Naer Mataron have been transcending themselves in this manner throughout their whole discography, each album being one step beyond it 's predecessor, in terms of songwriting, speed, production and attitude. So I sort of expected «ΖΗΤΩ Ο ΘΑΝΑΤΟΣ» to be one step further, and the signs were already there, but they were nothing compared to what was spewed by the speakers when I first listened to this wicked piece of venomous black/death.

The album begins with an eerie intro, with haunting sounds in the background and a soft spoken, yet strict voice of a woman invoking the god of death himself, Thanatos. Just a few moments of introduction to the atrocious realm of deathlike silence, and then, the eruption begins! Suddenly, "Apocalypse of the Ancient One" charges in a full blast, announcing the chaos that is to come. Insane drumming leads the way for relentless six-string shredding and brutal vomiting of assaulting vocals, all together creating a vanquishing tornado, like nothing you have listened before from Naer Mataron.

Things do not get any calmer with the next couple of tracks, where the battering continues, while some slower, claustrophobic parts evolve amidst the abyss of twisting chords and leads and aggressive vocal lines.

The speed drops down a bit with the bitter, yet powerful and profound atmosphere of "Goat Worship", only to be followed by the frenzy of "Faceless Wrath of Oblivion", and then the hell-on-earth goes on, with the album retaining the high standards it set on itself throughout the 35 minutes of total running time. I would only like to point out that the last track "Ode to Death" is one of the most outstanding songs of this album, a soul-rapping combination of despair and intensity.

The drumming is insane, with excellent tempo changes that vary from extremely fast to slow but rhythmical parts, which give to the songs the necessary amount of variety instead of being only super-fast and nothing more. It is important to mention here that the sense of groove is retained in spite of the very high speeds. Guitars and bass sound like a living, vengeful gutter, and you’ll notice that there’s nothing plastic or polished here - you have a heavily distorted, shredding sound, yet every single stroke of the punishing riffs is audible through a perfectly balanced, professional mix. And the brutal vocals sound strict and demonic, a perfect match for this whirlwind of cacophony.

It is quite obvious to this point that this is a huge change for Naer Mataron sound wise. Most people would maybe call this album death metal but I will not totally agree, I 'd rather say it’s a form of blackened death metal, or better a hybrid perfectly balanced between the dark atmosphere, aggressiveness, feeling and skill of both genres. And it is a fact that those who are familiar with the band’s previous works will recognize memories of the past emerging from within the walls of frustrating chords and awkward melodies. Of course, those who remain loyal exclusively to the early '90s grim, frost-layered style of Norway-influenced unholy black metal will be dearly disappointed. But in the same time it is a great album for those who are willing to listen to what the band has to offer today, or those who didn’t follow the course of this old Hellenic cult in the past - who knows, maybe a triumphant new era?

Summing up, this is the most extreme release of Naer Mataron to date. A crushing combination of both black and death metal elements, the album is neither short nor long, structured in a way that allows you to keep listening to it again and again. In addition, this time the lyrics seem to be a bit more sophisticated, perhaps more personal, avoiding many of the expected clichés in the genre, and the artwork is an excellent reminder of the album’s central concept: the death’s head smiling, knowing that every man who is born into this world, has to die at some point.