Review Summary: Varathron mark their 30th anniversary with their greatest achievement yet.
It almost feels like yesterday when as a young teen I was reading about the five extreme metal bands which were on the verge of putting Greece on the map of international rock/metal. Something that is very natural today, felt almost surreal due to the fact that it had rarely been done before with the exception of Socrates and Aphrodite’s Child. Those five bands were Rotting Christ, Necromantia, Varathron, Septic Flesh and Nightfall. The first three essentially defined Greek black metal as we come to know it today while the other two are arguably the greatest melodic death metal bands of the country. Each outfit brought its own elements to the scene and some of them even shared members. Nevertheless, only two of them finally enjoyed international recognition by larger audiences while the remaining three followed their own paths.
Varathron are not only one of the oldest Greek black metal acts but also one of the greatest underground bands of the country with classic albums such as His Majesty at the Swamp
– two cornerstones of the scene. Their latest offering, however, is not only their most complete but also their greatest achievement, to the point where if it was released 25 years ago, it would have blown the aforementioned LPs out of the water. The traditional elements of the band are once again present: the warm Mediterranean sound, the epic tendencies, the majestic atmosphere, the occult lyrics and the dark lyricism. All these have been worked to perfection and enhanced by memorable riffs and catchy keyboard melodies. In addition, the average track duration is lower than that on the last three albums which makes the LP more consistent. Actually, this is a perfect starting point for anyone who wants to get into Varathron.
For those who are familiar with the band, Patriarchs of Evil
is a nod to the beginnings of Varathron and Greek black metal with a fair amount of variety. For example, the main riff of “Tenebrous” is mid-tempo and has a nice Mediterranean flavor which brings Walpurgisnacht
to mind but there are also some black metal outbreaks. “Into the Absurd”, the shortest song of the LP, is a thrashy affair which is reminiscent of the band’s demos while “Luciferian Mystical Awakening” sports a Maiden-esque guitar lead in the 4:10 mark before an atmospheric keyboard melody. Actually, the mid-tempo parts of the album is where this band really nails it as they create a very convincing dark, epic atmosphere such as on album highlight "Ouroboros Dweller (The Dweller of Barathrum)" – a nod to Bathory, one of the main influences of Greek black metal. Another important element of this band is Necroabyssious’ vocals which are different and more varied than your typical black metal shrieks and augment the epic feeling of the album.
At the end of the day, it is not shocking that Patriarchs of Evil
turned out so solid but it is certainly surprising that these veterans released their best full-length so deep in their career. Lineup changes, label issues and extended periods of inactiveness certainly influenced their productiveness but it seems that the band’s mastermind (Necroabyssious) still has a lot of gas left in the tank and his vocal performance is as great as ever. Those who want their black metal frosty, wild and with a lo-fi production rather than mid-tempo and melodic might not be big fans of the LP but all of you who appreciate atmospheric metal with a strong ‘90s flavor should not miss out on this one.