Review Summary: Stirring the ancient waters.
Aside from their devotion in lighting (sic) tracts of black metal previously unexplored or presently forgotten, the other attribute that characterizes Hellenes Acrimonious is their openly declared, next-to-zero level of interaction with metal media outlets, digital or hardcopy. They posit that interview discourse of matters such as the implemented gear, the occurrence of unusual/funny facts during the recording sessions etc., is to null avail in terms of how their art should be communicated. People can only go so far as agree or disagree with the band’s mode of introversion.
Truth is though, that metal fans into black metal, can mostly benefit from the output of this band. Purulence
, their debut album, aptly reenacted the early ‘90s black metal surge, further adorning it with melancholic/nostalgic melodies, and discrete death metal infusions. With follow-up affair Sunyata
, band "opened" its sound to various influences, but “a sense of unfinished business” lurked in several turns of the album. It is currently unclear what kept Acrimonious so long from issuing a new album, however it is certain that Eleven Dragons
has come to expand and/or remedy the artistic disposition of both its predecessors.
The album’s lyrical content is an aptly sung, pious incantation to the left hand path. In need of a direct link to legacy work, Cain Letifer’s vocals are somewhat reminiscent of Aldrahn’s work in Kronet Til Konge
, a real treat for the author of this review. With its turn, music is prone to deviations with respect to any alleged black metal doctrine. This is evident throughout in the album’s texture, which at first comes off as a bit quaint, only for accumulated listens to reveal that the exact opposite applies. The readily perceived, recursive nature of the bass lines in the tumultuous beginnings of “The Northern Portal”, or the guitar leads in “Satariel’s Grail” (one of the album highlights), are solid contentions among many homologous perks.
“Satariel’s Grail” revisited, it is black metal in its core, yet it offers a rejoicing passover to classic heavy metal midway, with pockets of progressive rock looming on and off instantly. But the prevailing “impurity” in Eleven Dragons
is death metal (a factor somewhat idle in Sanyata
), which here is more blatantly pronounced than in Purulence
, and along with the gravitational pull of nostalgic/bitter melodies (“Elder of the Nashiym”), they lend themselves to some really enchanting arrangements. The album’s unintended progressive descent can be also encountered within the swirling setting of the rhythm guitars. Their master appears to be super busy at the fret board, though it’s not only standard tremolo picking to blame, it’s also the treaded strides in making his digits resonate with the maniacal riff signatures (for example in “Incineration Initiator”).
Acrimonious have returned with an important album, one that builds on the experimentation of its direct predecessor, while commemorating what the debut album had on offer. On a wider scale, Eleven Dragons
is yet another strong instance in a string of black metal releases from outfits (Hellenic or from abroad) that have sprung during the last decade.