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Inspiring melodic droning black metal - 83%

waNkeR, May 23rd, 2005

Varathron is one of the main bands from the Greek black metal scene, which rose in the early nineties with a great amount of creativity and originality, and left behind a bunch of outstanding albums. Together with Necromantia, Rotting Christ, Zemial/Agatus and other minor acts, those musicians, strongly influenced by the brand-new norwegian bands, turned over traditional heavy metal sound, although the final result owes much more to primaeval death metal than to the regular norsecore sound.

Production is a bit poor, but it is a good thing that slow distorted guitars are not spoiled by an excessively clean sounding. Voice and drums are also quite obscure, which is possitive in the first case but not so in the last. Bass is practically inexistent, as songs are based on plain guitar swinging, but its absence is balanced by a strong use of keyboards that enhance the whole structure, being fortunately always kept aside and never the main element, as in most of modern so-called “melodic black metal” stuff.

Varathron’s music is simple but steadily built, usually with mid-paced phrasing and slow riffing. Added keyboard ambience and growling vocals provide a lushful background of colourful resonances, that is probably not so neat in earlier material. The main songs are still strongly heavy metal-based, although Varathron allows some variation in others, that sound almost “gothic” in the sense of early Moonspell or ambient-like, with an effective envelopping keyboard wall, over which singer Necroabyssious does an odd clean vocal performance never tried before.

The best feature here is Varathron delivering regular death metal-like blasting discharges that structure the songs in alternance with the mentioned gradual riffing soundscapes, a usual method also employed in earlier recordings. The vocals deploy there in full aggressiveness. In those cases, but also in the whole album, the drum patterns are utterly simple and should be played more randomly and imaginatively in order not to seem boring as they sometimes do. But the overall contrast between the fast charging and the usual rhythmic patience of the guitars, as well as the majestic luxury of the ambience makes you forget about the drums and appreciate Varathron are extremely varied and definitely very attractive.

This album offers an awesome listening experience, where good and conscientiously done black metal melts with inspiration, poetry and romanticist exotism, as well in the music as in the concept. Those men pay homage to their land as a meeting point for neoclassical tradition and eastern full-colour sumptuousness with this beautifully raised monument. Darkened by the significance of earlier works, this superb masterwork is worth to be rediscovered, just like the words of an ancient scroll that tells about mysterious places and legendary facts.

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