It’s been said by some that Moldova sucks, but when it comes to metal, Latvia does not! Hailing from Latvia’s capital city (Riga), Eschatos have been constructing their brand of avant-garde/progressive black metal since 2012. Their fledgling release (Hierophanies) caught my attention with its eye-catching album art, but that’s not where it ended. Much like the lone Piranha jumping out at you from the packaging, the album hit with fervor, all sharp teeth and powerful jaws. Consisting of only five tracks and totaling a little over 31 minutes, the bite-sized debut proved an engaging beast, comparable in style to mid-period Darkthrone or Vreid, with well thought out stylistic shifts, attention to catchiness and skillful vocal application by front-woman Kristiāna Kārkliņa. Some time has passed and I’d all but given up in hearing from Eschatos again. Seems I was wrong – they’re back with vengeance on The Grand Noir.

On first impression of the album, it’s clear that Eschatos have been consistent in offering us only their best – six tracks that play out in under 42 minutes and leave you wanting more. Once again written, arranged and produced by Eschatos, mixing undertaken by Guntis Podvigs and Eschatos at Eschatos Studio and mastering by Hodila Records, The Grand Noir has a crisp and clear delivery that plays to the bands strengths. Instrumental opener, “The Grand Noir Rising,” leverages minimalism, featuring an almost Tool-like atmosphere. The track seems typical on first listen, but with repeat plays, nuances shine through adding to the edginess.

Enraged and brimming with Darkthrone styled bluster, “In Whole Alone is Good and Elsewhere Nowhere” bears the burning cross of a terrible title, but striking tempo changes and the introduction of Kristiāna’s snarl laced with a Carach Angren narrative will lock in the listener. Just like that, the stage is set for “The First, The Last and The Living,” “On The Divine Names” and “Feast of a Thousand Beasts.” Each works to maintain the Darkthrone-y vibe of “In Whole Alone” while also showcasing that Eschatos are not yet out of tricks or treats. Following a militant opener reminiscent of Marduk, “The First, the Last and the Living” offers skillful bass riffing that snaps and pops re-iterating the strength of the production choices made by Eschatos. My only gripe, is that despite some interesting guitar lines, melodic one moment and idiosyncratic the next, there’s a slight lack of intensity that niggles away, probably because I’m thinking about what could have been were a gent like Mortuus (Marduk) leading this horde.

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“Feast of a Thousand Beasts” tumbles in with all the aplomb and eccentricity of a group of jesters on parade. Irregularly timed notes contribute to otherworldly melodies and recurring chants, giving the track a mischievous life of its own. The Grand Noir progresses towards an odd but beautiful ending hinting at a blend of progressive death merchants In Mourning and depressive black metal sad boys Eudaimony, Eschatos switch over to an almost Agalloch-like black metal vocal style to deliver “Sterile Nails and Thunderbowels.” Abrasion wears through the sludgy fuzzed out rhythm guitar-work, and this along with black ‘n roll frenzy and disconcerting sound effects, loads the back-end of the album with some highly enjoyable gloom.

When compared to its predecessor, The Grand Noir comes across as more mature and the slightly more seasoned. If I were to table a complaint, I could say that “The Grand Noir Rising” and “The First, The Last and The Living” could lose a few moments off the back end, but I’d be nitpicking. The Grand Noir is a respectable album with an inviting production style that’s best enjoyed as a whole. Just think of it as Iced Tea at a lemonade stand.


Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Starwolf Records
Websites: facebook.com/eschatos.band
Releases Worldwide: October 7th, 2016

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  • herrschobel

    great title…will give this a listen

  • Monsterth Goatom

    “… Thunderbowels”? Seriously? I fear the AMG staff are going to be giggling like a bunch of schoolgirls again, as was the case when “Frequent Wind” reared its ugly head.

    • Yep, that was just made more appropriate.

      • Hulksteraus

        Ass and Fart jokes are what mainly keeps me coming back here :)

    • Nag Dammit

      ‘Thunderbowels’ will almost certainly be followed in a playlist by Bungle’s ‘My ass is on fire’ of course.

  • Reese Burns

    “Sterile Nails and Thunderbowels” is actually a cover of the song by the DSBM band Silencer, off the album Death, Pierce Me, if I’m not mistaken.

    • Yep, it is.

    • I’ll have to check that out! Good catch.

      • Reese Burns

        The vocals turn a lot of people off, but I like how genuinely insane they sound.

        • Yet another reason I should check them out.

  • Reese Burns

    Lots of name dropping for bands that I love, and a cover of a song from one I adore. Gonna have to give this one a shot.

  • AndySynn

    It’s a weird one this one (and I don’t just mean sonically-speaking), as the PR stuff I’ve seen for it is trying really hard to push this as a new release for 2016… despite the fact that it was already released late last year. I guess they’re trying to get it onto some of the lists it must have missed out on in 2015.

    It’s solid stuff though. Feels a bit like it’s missing a certain “X” factor though, or something to tie the whole package together into a whole that’s greater than the sum of its parts… but I still found it enjoyable (and promising).

  • André Snyde Lopes

    Ah, Latvia… The land of Skyforger and not much else.

    • Hulksteraus

      I thought Finland was the land of Skyforger

      • The other Skyforger.

        • Hulksteraus

          That would be me putting my foot in my mouth… Or brain still coming down from the high of seeing Enslaved last night on their 25th anniversary tour with over 2 hours of AWESOMENESS…

          • Diego Molero

            Show-off…

          • Hulksteraus

            Down under, we rarely get to see that many European or US/South American bands, so when they do come I like to bask briefly in the knowledge that an awesome band has decided to make the long and costly trip to the Island in the south to play for a few hundred people in a small venue…. I fell off my chair when Enslaved said they’d start their Anniversary tour in Aus… They were only out here for the first time just 2 years ago.

          • Eldritch Elitist

            I saw Enslaved and Skeletonwitch supporting Amon Amarth a couple of years ago. I wasn’t expecting much from Enslaved’s performance (I’ve always thought of them as very album oriented) but I was totally blown away. Their live sound is phenomenal and they were easily the best part of the show.

          • Hulksteraus

            They definitely slay things live!

  • Norfair Legend

    Eschatos is a pretty cool Japanese shooter for the Xbox 360…That’s about all I have to contribute today.

  • The Unicorn

    Their release Hierophanies was skin-crawlingly good. Def will check this out.

  • brklyner

    I don’t get the Moldova sucks joke (a variation of the old Maine/ New Hampshire joke?!) and what it has to do with Latvia. Otherwise I enjoyed your review as well as the embedded song.