Nechochwen - Heart of Akamon
Nordvis Produktion
Atmospheric Metal
8 songs (43'43")
Release year: 2015
Reviewed by Alex

My first introduction to West Virginian Nechochwen was their sophomore release Azimuths to the Otherworld. I remember well how taken I was by the band’s Native American inspired acoustics and how much I enjoyed their entwined classical guitar playing. There were a lot of quiet moments on Azimuths to the Otherworld, dark ambiance and the gaps, where the listener was free to fill in with his/her own imagination. I still like to put it on from time to time, but that album does require a lot of thinking and concentration not to become background music. After that I missed OtO, where Nechochwen made a move to be a more complete band, to explore the aggressive and extreme more, something they did only in glimpses on Azimuths to the Otherworld. In this sense, the most recent release Heart of Akamon is a logical next step, presenting Nechochwen as a developed, more rounded collective, with its own sound and signature, still paying homage to their Eastern Woodlands Native American ancestry, and, most importantly, still playing everything from the heart.

The first trio of tracks on Heart of Akamon tell the story perfectly. Lost on the Trail of the Setting Sun and The Serpent Tradition are full-bodied expansive efforts, beginning with the acoustic intro (The Serpent Tradition) or the quiet moment of The Impending Winter leading to the battle which marks the start of Lost on the Trail of the Setting Sun. Faster to more mid-pace, the latter is mostly all heavy, yet unfolding polyphonically on several levels. The Serpent Tradition, at times set to rapid blasting, continuously weaves the expected Native American melody above riffs which project both strength and pride. With music like this, and dual vocals which are either shouts or dreamy stretchy clean crooning, Nechochwen has elevated themselves to a status of something like an Appalachian Opeth, haunting and atmospheric most of the time, with moments of steely resolve when necessary.

October 6, 1813 and Traversing the Shades of Death go back to the older Nechochwen. Profound and warm October 6, 1813 is set to progressive rhythms, akin to Alcest or Green Carnation, and the flute solo is that bird-in-the-woods personal touch. Traversing the Shades of Death is brooding and moody, mostly instrumental, with emphasis on bass playing and vocals coming in late. Yet Nechochwen is not settled to go the easy route, so while it is OK to be brooding, Skimota and Skyhook make a conscious effort not to be one-note and maintain variety throughout. The band closes Heart of Akamon with a spoken vocals funeral doom piece Kiselamakong, as the tragic story of Native Americans in the Eastern part of the US is exactly that, tragic, it can’t be expunged or rewritten and all of us who live here owe them a debt of gratitude we will never be able to repay. In as much as there is soul searching these days in the US as whom the country had wronged in the process of its formation, there is simply not enough mentioning of its native inhabitants who paid with their land and, most importantly, with their lives, so that current dwellers could move in. At least, thanks to the devoted sons Nechochwen, some of their heritage lives through the music, and with more far-reaching, carefully crafted, broad appeal efforts like Heart of Akamon, others who are into atmospheric metal will now have a chance to hear and appreciate this past.

Killing Songs :
The Serpent Tradition, October 6,1813
Alex quoted 84 / 100
Other albums by Nechochwen that we have reviewed:
Nechochwen - Azimuths to the Otherworld reviewed by Alex and quoted 90 / 100
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