Akhlys - The Dreaming I
Debemur Morti Productions
Atmospheric Black Metal
5 songs (45:52)
Release year: 2015
Debemur Morti Productions
Reviewed by Goat

A side-project by Nightbringer mainman Naas Alcameth, Akhlys is a largely atmospheric band that relied on dark ambience as much as black metal in the past. The opening storm of Breath and Levitation here quickly shows that has changed, as after some brief, eerie rumbling, blasting drums and wall-of-noise guitars and keyboards make for a sound like Emperor meeting Blut Aus Nord, marrying the epic blast of the former with the dissonant whirr of the latter. Beneath the snarling vocals and powerfully loud blasting, you can hear distinct melodies taking shape, coming into focus as the track progresses. In fact, there's so much going on that the effect on initial listens can be overwhelming – far from a dream, this is a nightmare, the figure on the cover art dripping black bile seeming very much like an unwelcome night-time visitor.

Akhlys' biggest strength is the seemingly effortless combination of heaviness and ambience, evident nearly everywhere on the album. The roaring, relentless Tides of Oneiric Darkness is fast and furious, grand and glorious; but this is far from blunt brutality, the track seeming to seethe with rage as it progresses and the snarling and growling vocals ring out like the voice of some elder god. The sixteen-minute Consummation opens with howling winds and lost voices, shrieking in the distance, before the metal begins, the vocals again dominant atop a morass of keys and guitar lines. There's a breakdown of sorts at around nine minutes in that is stunning, an extended roar from Alcameth atop some powerful but skilful drumming from the mysterious Ain; the track remarkably listenable despite the length and heaviness.

After that, despite being almost as good, the ten-minute The Dreaming Eye can't help but feel like something of a retread, and the closing Into the Indigo Abyss is something of an anticlimax, being four minutes of relatively dull ambience. It's a poor ending to what was until then a terrific album, certainly for the first two-thirds – the last third letting it down does make for a significantly lesser experience. Still, the first half hour of this album contains some of the best black metal I've heard all year, and fans of atmospheric darkness would be well advised to hunt this down.

Killing Songs :
Breath and Levitation, Tides of Oneiric Darkness, Consummation
Goat quoted 80 / 100
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