Hellenic black metal has fascinated me of late, with excellent releases from bands such as Thy Darkened Shade. Acrimonious is hardly a name that is new to me, having already been exposed to their occult brand of black metal previously (and their 2013 full length Amenti being one of the more memorable records of the year). The band returns this year with their fifth full length release, Ma IoN (Formulas of Reptilian Unification).
Atmospherics is is key in the musical style of Acherontas, as already exemplified on their prior releases, and things aren’t all that different on Ma IoN. Right from album opener Fires of Prometheus, one is thrown into an epic soundscape. As the first riffs hit the listener, things only get more exciting as the listener is taken through an exciting journey of mysticism and the occult. Comparisons with compatriots Acrimonious and Thy Darkened Shade, along with bands like Nightbringer would quickly be drawn with the melodic yet sufficiently aggressive style of Acherontas. The atmosphere and excellent production even brings to mind the recent works of Swedish bands such as Watain and Ondskapt.
Yet this does not mean the abandonment of their roots, with the songwriting including hints of the genre originators such as Mayhem, such as on the riffing and the demented vocal approach of Acherontas V. Priest on Nereid Tide of Neptune’s Rudra. Hints of Bathory also appear especially on the more epic, and almost viking-like moments on the record.
One main thing that makes Acherontas such a class act is the production on Ma IoN, resulting in a sound that is even more distinct than their counterparts. Amenti may have been an atmospheric listen, but Ma IoN is an entire experience altogether, and every element that is contained on the record is included and mixed purposefully. For instance, the guitars on the album are often placed far in the backdrop, and instead of being the main driving force it helps to reinforce the entire ambience on the record. Ambient passages are also aplenty, and tracks like the interludes Convolut-ion, Manifestat-ion, Secret-ion, Karma-lravatl the Thunders Emerged and Permutation in the Aetheric Void (Ma-Ion Sacred Seal) easily leave one in a trance-like state. The 8-minute track Shaman and the Waning Moon is even a completely ambient track.
Since my first encounter with Acherontas, they have always been a mystery to me, and even with multiple listens to the various releases throughout their career, one will often manage to find something new and intriguing with each new listen. Ma IoN is no different, and in fact is one of the best outputs of this Hellenic outfit, further strengthening the Greek presence in the international black metal circle.
1. Fires of Prometheus
2. Nereid Tide of Neptune’s Rudra
3. Convolut-ion, Manifestat-ion, Secret-ion, Karma-lravatl the Thunders Emerged
4. Ma-Ion (Formulas of Reptilian Unification)
5. Permutation in the Aetheric Void (Ma-Ion Sacred Seal)
6. Shaman and the Waning Moon
7. Lunar Transcendence & the Secret Kiss of Nut
8. The Awakening of Astral Orphic Mysteries – Behind the Eyes of Irida
9. Copper Arcana
10. Therionic Transformation
11. Orgiastic Feast of Flesh, Beheld Thine Vicissitude
Favourite picks: Ma IoN (Formulas of Reptilian Unification), Shaman and the Waning Moon, The Awakening of Astral Orphic Mysteries – Behind the Eyes of Irida