We did it again. The RMR deck crew pulled a record out of the review pipe by the sheer force of the album cover. The dead body hanging from a cross positively screams blasphemy and brutality at the audience. And the photo that comes with an original size of 666 x 666 pixels coaxed yet another evil laughter out of our raw throats.
And truly so, Elderblood‘s Achrony does its first impression credit. After yet another useless intro, The Great Fire of Sacrifice leaves no doubt where this
is could be leading. Down-in-the-pit, harsh, reasonably blasphemous Black Metal. Preferably, of the modern kind, with a certain flavor of melody to it. Not completely stripped down madness but some spice to go with those beastly growls and deathly drumming from the kit from hell.
And is it just me, or is Central Europe taking over from Scandinavia? Elderblood hail from Ukraine and play a straight-in-your-face brand of Black Metal that surely takes its clues from the European North. But it truly contains that rage and somewhat messy vitriol many of the Eastern outfits display. Those that have no qualms to brutally question whatever irks them. And they do that loudly, with any metallic means possible.
And that raises expectations. A prospect of red-hot chili metal that comes with 30 mils of Scoville1) at 350 mph. In other words, total immersion in abject brutality, with no frills or other gaudy ornaments.
Well, this holds true for some 10 minutes or so.2) And then the voice of God speaks to us or something on Fallen Seraphs, which definitely is the metal realms of fantasy and power. And that just wrecks an otherwise pretty sturdy Extreme Metal track.
The weird hollering kinda continues throughout the record, though. In addition, Achrony serves you with bizarre monologues, strange keys, and questionable symphonic interludes where there should be none. Boy, Life Eternal and Holy Plague even get you some prog vibes mixed into all that symphonic goodness. A true fruit salad of flavors and tastes that often should not be here in the first place.
In other words, Elderblood created a mixture of Caran Angren, Dark Mirror Ov Tragedy,3) and other more extreme outfits of the Black Metal realm. Yet, the production is all over the place and by far not as precise and focused as the fare the aforementioned two bands deliver. As of Holy Plague, many tracks noodle about the soundscape as if they lost course somehow. And that takes away from the delicious crispness that was pretty prevalent for the first few songs.
Now, is this good or bad? Well, we can live with it. Good Symphonic Black Metal can be a force unto itself. And Achrony surely is no piece that seeks to pervert the Bible, but the band uses their blackened metallic fury to protest against the sins of society and humanity. And that’s not quite what the cover nor the videos suggest. Yet again, tracks like Soot are good examples of how melodic parts, howling about the soundscape, and trve Black Metal can forge some pretty hot alloy.
Finally, it looks like we didn’t find this barebone Black Metal fierce aggression that we sought at first. Instead, Achrony delivers an intense jambalaya of Symphonic and Melodic Black Metal that just stops short of the infamous cheese trap. In other words, Elderblood pretty successfully sent us pieces of metallic extremes all their own. With enough melody and symphonic and – yes – progressive spice to please the modern fan crowd. Those fans that don’t necessarily want to join the oldish beastly metalheads in their sweaty underground pits, but instead fancy their harsh and still meaty metal more sophisticated in quality.
So, whilst some better precision and shorter airtime would have been truly beneficial, Archony still gets you high-quality Extreme Metal. Of a brand that made this crew return to this poisoned well a few times too many until we could no more.
Get dat tune: