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Great hellenic black metal - 95%

MortalScum, December 2nd, 2009

I’m not going to lie, for me this wasn’t love at first listen. I found it to be incredibly boring and couldn’t figure out why the reviews were so good. This made me decide to give it another try, and I’ll be damned if I didn’t realize how good this is.

This is not your usual black metal album, the focus here isn’t fast blast beats or the grim atmosphere, and instead the focus is on just damn good riffs. The other thing that is different about this album is that the atmosphere is very warm, something we generally don’t associate black metal with. One of the reasons I may not have liked this at first is because I didn’t recognize a warm atmosphere which, now that I think about it, is blatantly obvious. This band comes from Greece, possibly the southernmost part of Europe; you won’t be finding many grim and frostbitten forests there. The album is entitled “His Majesty at the Swamp” swamps are usually pretty warm places. I think it’s nice to see black metal having more faces than the cold, frozen, and grim stuff.

Now onto the instruments, the guitars are the main focal point on this album. The riffs really stick in your head and they really make the album a pleasure to listen to over and over again. The tone here is pretty good, not overly distorted compared to some bands but there is definitely a crunch there, it’s really more like Black Sabbath and Trouble rather than Darkthrone and Marduk. The drums aren’t really standard in black metal because there is a lot of variation as opposed to blast beats and bass drum-snare alternations. They are very well played, but don’t detract from the riffs the whole time. In general the album is actually more slow, and mid-paced, but rest assured, there are fast parts. The bass isn’t really a standout instrument here, but it does a good job of backing up the guitars and giving the riffs a nice thick sound. The vocals aren’t really anything special, but they really fit the music. Shrieking the lyrics or using guttural growls would not work here. The vocals are harsh and generally in the mid-low range, but they aren’t exactly growls per say.

In short this is a really good, memorable black metal album which I would recommend to just about any metal fan. If you want to find more Greek black metal to listen to then this is a good place to start.