Varathron Untrodden Corridors of Hades 01When you consider the type of metal associated with Greece, your mind probably jumps to some of the more well known outfits like symphonic death giants Septicflesh or extreme metallers Rotting Christ. You’re not too far off here, Varathron not only shared members with Rotting Christ, but their early albums are considered cornerstones of the Hellenic black metal stage, alongside the releases of Necromantia and the other aforementioned leaders. This week saw the long-running black metal veterans fifth full-length landing up in the promo pile, and being that I somehow unwittingly ended up on a black metal hiatus, I attacked Untrodden Corridors of Hades with some gusto! What I discovered is that, despite the determination of ghoulish frontman and longest running member Stefan Necroabyssious, Varathron has been plagued by member turnover, label changes and an output lacking consistent identity, leaving some questions I’d like answered. Will Untrodden Corridors of Hades follow in the footsteps of a fan favourite like Walpurgisnacht with its hint at Gehenna / Taake-like rawness? Will it try to recapture the early 80’s Manilla Road proto doom feel of His Majesty at the Swamp? Or will Untrodden Corridors of Hades piggyback off Rotting Christ‘s sound and become yet another act merely copying that well travelled sound?

“Kabalistic Invocation of Solomon” opens up with the epic determination of a scene taken straight from Guillermo de Toro’s Pacific Rim. Picture it, Jaegers being dropped with controlled precision from helicopters, the behemoths landing with thundering force to take on the emerging monsterous Kaijus. The track has all the musical grandeur of Rotting Christ and hints to Samael, offset by nasty unhinged whisperings that come across as huge and dramatic, strangled and just downright sick. By the time it ends, it feels like a celebratory victory.

“Realm of Obscure” picks up the pace, kicking off with a lively melodic vibe and some roaring vocal theatrics. “Arcane Conjuring” is a return to the mid-paced dedication of the “Kabalistic Invocation of Solomon.” This, along with “Leprocious Lord” and “Death Chant” sound like a convincing blend of the mammoth offering Rotting Christ and Behemoth could deliver were they to collaborate. Untrodden Corridors of Hades holds everything from dramatic black metal vocals, contemplative melodies, militaristic and precise blasting, ramblings that would be at home in a world of suicide and depression, with it all reaching the absolute pinnacle of greatness in “Death Chant.” A track worthy of accompanying Sir Walter Scott’s poem the Death Chant, and more specifically, lines like “Then strange sympathies shall wake, the flesh shall thrill, the nerves shall quake, the wounds renew their clotter’d flood, and every drop cry blood for blood!”

Varathron Untrodden Corridors of Hades 02

My biggest gripes with the album are the overly clean production style, lack of actual grit and the need for extended time it needs to soak, ruminate and grow on you. On first glance, Untrodden Corridors of Hades brings to the table a lot of what’s already out there by bigger names, but given time and repeat plays, you’re hit a little harder with the vocal malice and other nuances that cement Varathron solidly in your subconscious. In addition to the time needed to grow, the album is packed with lengthy tracks (two in excess of eight minutes), with the two longest bookending the album. Hats off though to Varathron for keeping the album tightened down to just seven deadly, hellish layers. Any more and this would have diluted the experience.

Untrodden Corridors of Hades is dark and heavy, but melodic at the same time, a melting pot of anguish, seething anger and ultimately just pure evil. Despite some shortfalls and having lost the sound of their earlier releases, this feels like Varathron‘s biggest, most mature and ultimately triumphant offering yet.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Agonia Records
Websites: VarathronOfficial |
Release Dates: EU: 2014.11.21 | NA: 12.09.2014

  • lacsativ

    A mix between Rotting Christ, Septic Flesh and Behemoth? Well that sounds great. I’ll definitely check this out.

    • Madam__X

      Check out Death Chant if you can.

  • Alexandre Barata

    This sounds interesting. A lot

    • Madam__X

      It is indeed.

  • These guys along with Rotting Christ, Necromantia,Zemial and Agatus are the creators and establishers of my country’s distinctive black metal sound back in the 90’s(especially the first 2). His Majesty in the Swamp is something like legendary here. Still, i think that the fact that they didn’t have a stable line up is, mainly, what took away from them the possibility of an international success like the first 2 mentioned bands, and especially Rotting Christ.UCoH has a bit too clean production i think, but the overall outcome is much better than their previous 2 albums, but not too close to the early 90′ greek sound(last year’s Thou Art Lord does it much better).Still it does their name justice, and i dig it.

    • Madam__X

      I didn’t come across any references to Agatus during my research of the band. I’ll have to check them out! Thanks for the heads up :)

      • 3 words: Dawn of Martyrdoom.It was re-released last year I think.Cult release from a cult group.

        • Madam__X

          I’ll check it out!

  • Doomdeathrosh

    This sounds pretty similar to rotting christ(greek lyrics and overall atmosphere)..but the sheer darkness in the album is compelling! You madam have a darn good review here!

    • Madam__X

      Thank you kindly!