Acherontas 01Book VI of Virgil’s Aenid tells of the river Acheron, where the unburied dead roam the shores and beg Charon to ferry them across the tumultuous muddy waters to reach the underworld. A staple in ancient Greek culture, it was dubbed the River of Woe in early mythology, named the River of Hades in Homeric poems, and described by the encyclopaedic Byzantine Suda as “a place of healing…cleansing and purging the sins of humans.” Acherontas, along with founding and sole original member Acherontas V. Priest draw their name from a small, now-defunct Greek municipality named after the legendary river, and deliver a record of near-mythical proportions on their fifth full-length Ma IoN (Formulas of Reptilian Unification).

Like Virgil and Homeric epics, Acherontas aren’t in the business of keeping things brief, and Ma IoN clocks in at a whopping 72 minutes. Opening with the surprisingly great intro track “Fires of Prometheus,” Acherontas transitions quickly from ambiance to aggression to ambiance again, replete with a short-lived but skin-flaying lead and some excellently unorthodox clean vocals that, true to the forethought signified by Prometheus’ name,  aesthetically sets the stage for the band’s entwining vicious second-wave influenced black metal and ritualistic atmospheric movements. Unlike 1349’s “Tunnel of Set,” Acherontas makes use of chimes, tribal-sounding drums, odd wind instruments, and what sounds like a traditional Greek lyre, creating a demented cult-like atmosphere that sucked me in more than Demonoir’s straightforwardly spooky interludes.

Ma IoN gets truly exciting when Acherontas go for the throat with sharp and focused black metal chaos. Incorporating the jangly and twisted riffing that characterized Mayhem’s Blasphemer era, the burly melodicism of Ofermod, and the stunning lead work of classic Dissection and fellow Greeks Deviser, Ma IoN is chock-full of black metal highlights. “The Awakening of Astral Orphic Mysteries – Behind the Eyes of Irida” sees Priest and Saevus H. weaving serpentine melodies that alternate between Hellish, depressed, and oddly hopeful progressions; intentional or not, this reflects the main interpretations of Acheron, and Gionata Potenti’s often blasting drums bring to mind the deep underlying whirlpool of Acheron that Virgil described. “Therionic Transformation” is a massive success, walking the razor’s edge of lethal and melodic with eight and a half minutes of captivating riffs, great leads, and a varied vocal performance that come together to make one of my favorite black metal songs of the last few years, and it would’ve been an astounding finale with its overall quality and powerful end note.

Acherontas 02Unfortunately, Acherontas decided to make “Therionic Transformation” the second-last song on Ma IoN, and while actual closer “Orgiastic Feast of Flesh, Beheld Thine Vicissitude” is unsettling, it’s the most ordinary atmospheric song here, sounding like Gnaw Their Tongues covering a “Tunnel of Set” interlude; sadly, this ends Ma IoN with a ghastly and unnerving whimper instead of a triumphant bang. Criticisms aside, it sounds great on a fidelity level, as the dynamic production allows for each chime, string pluck, chant, and drum hit to be heard in the atmospheric sections, and having such an open and dynamic sound is definitely responsible for their immersive nature. The black metal songs sound great too, and being able to make out what everyone was doing at any given moment added to my enjoyment of the record by showcasing the subtleties and depth of each composition.

Acherontas have crafted a long and involved album with very few missteps. The vast majority of Ma IoN’s atmospheric sections are captivating and unsettling and the black metal on display is consistently top-shelf material that’s written and performed with great attention to detail, rewarding close and repeated listens. Give this ritual a listen, you won’t regret it.

Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 9 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: World Terror Committee
Release Date: Out Worldwide: 02.27.2015

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  • Alex Pertsovitis

    Greece produce some really awesome metal the last couple of years.

    • Monsterth Goatom

      I personally really enjoyed Rotting Christ’s Κατά τον δαίμονα εαυτού.

      • Alex Pertsovitis

        Dead Congregation made an awesome album aswell.

        • Monsterth Goatom

          Yes, agree! I’m also partial to Zemial’s Nykta, and the list goes on.

          • Hróðvitnir

            Indeed! I feel compelled to mention Septicflesh in this list! Still love Communion.

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      Cerebrum’s “Cosmic Enigma” is a good one, quality tech-death.

    • Wilhelm

      Somehow I missed the last Varathron album released last year which is quite good.

  • Monsterth Goatom

    Your review got me stoked. I can feel the excitement coming through the prose. Can’t wait ’til the 27th!

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      Thanks! If you liked the embedded track up there or their other albums, you won’t be at all disappointed.

  • I want to listen to it so bad right now.I knew it was gonna be good, your review made me even more eager now..We have a very powerful extreme metal scene here in Greece and i am happy to see that we have emerged as a powerhouse in the underground especially in the last 7-8 years.These last years fans here finally get away from our ”golden age” of the 90’s and see what our extreme scene offers NOW.At least thats how i see it.

  • Hróðvitnir

    The embedded song is very interesting! Looking forward to the release. Great review! I did not know this band, to my shame, and I’ll listen to their previous albums, which sounds really good from the little I’ve heard :). Thanks!

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      Thank you! Did you check out Amenti? It’s not as good as this one, but it’s still quality stuff.

      • Hróðvitnir

        I checked it out first and liked it quite a bit, quality stuff it is. Well, all this got me very exited to hear the whole album!

  • Lasse Momme

    This is tickling my fancy quite a lot, surprisingly. I am usually not a big Black metal fan, as i find the crusty more punk-ish elements pretty off-putting but this, THIS right here just fuckin’ works. Black metal always appeals to me more when the band in question just says fuck it, and proceeds to epic the ever loving shit out of the music. choirs? sure! Horns? abso-fucking-lutely! how about ominous latin interludes? be my guest you grim son of a bitch!

    I am definitely checking this out later, when I’m done gushing over Crypt Sermon and Elder, I think it’ll serve as a nice change of pace.

  • Kryopsis

    The embedded track is fucking awesome. I’m genuinely impressed that a 9-minute long track can contain so much variety. I have the Bandcamp page bookmarked and will check it out on Friday.

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      It actually improves “in context” too, which is pretty awesome in itself.

  • Wilhelm

    Woah…It reminds me a bit of Blut Aus Nord but different as well; in other words this sounds fucking fantastic – Dr9? sign me up! I have a bit of a problem with the weak snare but otherwise the sound/mix/production is superb.

  • Oh my, I think I’ll have to put this on the background while I play Apotheon and see if I can get an even bigger effect. So far it sounds very nice and quite interesting.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    ahhh enough with the lyric videos!!
    Great song but reading the lyrics in the promo spoils the experience instead (as a first time listener) of being drawn into the song you sit there reading the lines. Which due to the chasm between words being sung and read become decontextualised. At best they’ll be distracting or annoying and potentially make a good song seem quite stupid.
    Gimme an orb any day.

  • So I love this. I like this. I will be blasting this song for a long time, and in greek/celtic/latin? Come on man what’s not to like!! The production is so clean for a Black metal. I am so getting this when america likes it enough to distribute it through amazon or whatever

  • basenjibrian

    OK. This rocks big time.
    There are elements of Negura Bunget here to me. Which is a kudo, not a complaint!
    The Awakening of Astral Orphic Mysteries is playing now…pretty damn CREEEEEEEPPPPPPY!