Akhys - The Dreaming I 01I’ve been known to have some very vivid, fucked up dreams. One involved my closest friends and I at a pirate-themed amusement park. A gunshot rang out, and my best friend hit the ground, bullet between the eyes, and people scattered to avoid getting pinged off by a crazed gunman with a sniper rifle. One by one, my friends were felled by this mysterious masked man, and as I was cornered by the rum barrels of the pirate ship, both scared shitless and seasick, the masked man inched towards me, stuffed parrot squawking on his shoulder, and he slowly began to remove his ski-mask, revealing himself as American talk-show host/eternal paternity test-giver Maury Povich, letting me know, once and for all, that I was not the father before he pulled the trigger and I woke up. And with that, Akhlys! Conceived by Nightbringer and Bestia Arcana mainman Naas Alcameth, his newest excursion into esoteric blackened realms focuses on the power of dreams and their connection to spirituality, with only one 37-minute song, “Supplication,” released beforehand. Does their full-length debut, The Dreaming I, carry you to the darker spirit realms, or are you better off just taking some melatonin and valerian root and hoping for the best?

Keeping with the ethereal vibe of dreams and spiritual awakenings, “Breath and Levitation” crawls in with creepy whooshes, what sounds like wood knocking, and some simple chugs of guitar and bass with a snare hit every now and then. And when I say “crawls in,” I mean “for the first two and a half minutes.” After that, it’s full-on blasting, blaring, blackened fury. Alcameth’s screams are witch-like and furious, yet somewhat discernible, which for black metal is no mean feat. Also witch-like and furious are his multi-layered guitars, with incredible tremolo melodies draped over each other, melding together like a symbiotic skin over drummer Ain’s vice-grip drums. And just before the 8:00 mark, a moment of silence comes out of nowhere before a breakdown hits that would make Blut Aus Nord give a serious glance or two. Quite incredible.

And it’s this amalgamation of Hierophany of the Open Grave-era Nightbringer and heady ambience that helps The Dreaming I punctuate your cranium long after the 45-minute runtime ends. Despite the 16-minute length (with four of those minutes being ambient sound effects), “Consummation” is the best Memoria Vetusta song Blut Aus Nord neglected to write, with yet another silence-and-then-BOOM! moment at 9:22, leaving one hell of a demonic grin on my face. However, if there’s a case for Alcameth’s standing among the American black metal pantheon, it’s the second track, “Tides of Oneiric Darkness.” This is just sheer ferocity, with some of the best tremolo melodies I’ve heard this year, elevating things to cold, atmospheric heights. And at only five minutes and thirty-three seconds, it does the job quite well without overstaying its welcome.

Akhys - The Dreaming I 02

There are nits to pick, however. For as punishing as this album is, the production is even more so. Everything is cranked to 11, and although you can hear the drums just fine, the guitars can become a muddled mess.  And bass?  PFFFFFFFT!!! Also, even though it’s five songs at 45 minutes, it can be a bit of a difficult listen at times (with final song “Into the Indigo Abyss” being just ambient noise), and patience, as well as your attention, is demanded here.

Still, this is just behind Imperial Triumphant as my favorite black metal album this year. This is some pretty impressive stuff, and if you enjoy Alcameth’s work with Nightbringer, than The Dreaming I is a no-brainer. So consume, slip away, and remember that you are NOT the father.

Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Debemur Morti Productions
Website: facebook.com/Akhlys
Release Dates: Out Worldwide: 04.20.2015

  • Monsterth Goatom

    Great review, Grymm. Imperial Triumphant is also high on my list of stellar 2015 albums. When done right, Atmospheric BM really takes you on a journey to some dark, subconscious recesses, imho.

    You do indeed have some interesting dreams. Mine are usually just the standard stuff, like a gang of stuffies trying to kill me, or running down the street and suddenly being able to fly, naked. I’m still waiting for a dream involving Mrs. Kettleman and a lot of Jello.

    • Jello, is it me you’re looking for?

      • Carlos Marrickvillian

        haha, the pun that just keeps giving

  • Excentric_1307

    I wish I could love it, but it’s just too loud for me, especially with the way the guitars are being played. It just sounds like high pitched noise to me with a steady rumble underneath. Oh well, I guess I’ll go listen to Misþyrming again.

    • Wilhelm

      You would think a band like this would listen to their 90’s influences and realize that their own sound sounds lifeless and dynamically, not even close. I’m still baffled by the current loud industry standard in metal.

  • I’m convinced this is a phenomenal year for Black Metal after hearing the preview tracks of False and Pale Chalice, I hope Gilead gives you guys the scoop because those are two that a TYMHM would not do enough justice.

    Edit: And I hope this gives me the Blut aus Nord fix that wasn’t completely sated by the latest Memoria Vetusta.

  • Iliast

    This has been my most painful preorder. Glad to hear the full album is good.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    Great review Grymm, If I find myself in a theme park pirate ship after falling to sleep this evening … I’ll be contacting AMG HR!

    That DR score is really off putting. Voices is great and one of the few albums that seems to get away with its brutal mastering but it’s still hard on the ear and I can’t help but feel frustrated at times when listening to it. No doubt I would end up having the same frustration with this.

    Ill check out “Tides of Oneiric Darkness” but I think this will be a pass for me. Which is a pity, with a richer sound I probably would have enjoyed this.
    I really don’t get why bands are happy to flatten and limit the sound of their recordings.

  • Aguy

    Ugh. I really, REALLY want to like this, but it sounds so goddamn flat. No texture, no dynamic variation.

    Someone kidnap the guy who produced this and violate his weak and unworthy flesh on the rack until he remixes it properly.

  • AlphaBetaFoxface

    This sounds pretty fantastic. Top notch review, I pray for your sanity (unless of course delving into the realm of nightmares causes you some sort of satisfaction) xD Although, seeing how creepy this album sounds, maybe a visit to terror-laced dreams tickles the fancy of many who visit this website haha

  • Sharp-Blunt Boy

    Another off of my TIHDM list from last year, and another belter! It’s exciting to anachronistically discover fantastic music, especially when amazing music is buried, in mere moments, by the never ending deluge. February 2016 is turning into a better month than expected.

    I note peoples production criticisms but still find this is a grandiose, no-nonsense barrage that’s impossible to pause.