Akolyth - Akolyth
Amor Fati Productions
Black Metal
4 songs (36:47)
Release year: 2020
Official Bandcamp, Amor Fati Productions
Reviewed by Goat

An anonymous one-man band on its debut release, Akolyth (German for acolyte) play a raw but not impenetrable form of traditional black metal that contains three surprises. Although built around buzzing guitars, clattering drums, and distant screeched vocals, as you would expect, the first surprise is the audible bass and the space it fills in the band's sound, enhancing the natural groove to Darkthrone-esque ends. It never has that Celtic Frost-ian barbarian swing however, preferring the more obscure forest-at-night emanations of others. The second surprise is the technicality of the drumming, rarely simply blasting when a more structured backbone to the music could and does work far better, enhancing opener A Work of Ages especially towards its joyously thrash-imbued ending. Finally, the third surprise is that the songwriting on each of these nine-minute-plus songs is superb, standing out from each other and imbuing each with a personality that makes them memorable.

The Night, The Fog is the most obvious example of this, embracing rawness and hypnotic riffing to create an atmosphere equal to its title, losing the listener in a sinister maze of shrieks and guitars that, given listens and familiarity, is revealed as several compelling riffs smartly applied. Even with the rawness, the bass comes into its own again towards the end and the guitars finally manage a sort of broken melody acting as a coda, a relief after escaping the fog. After that, the following What Dwells Between Fractured Worlds disarms with a flurry of almost monotonous churning before opening up into a more groovy and galloping violence, complete with deranged laughter from the vocalist. Towards the end the groove becomes almost infectious, hypnotic in its own right as it drips into your ears, poisonous when it speeds, soothing when it slows.

And although the closing To Become His Doorway feels like something of a lesser repetition, it still bears its own early Blut Aus Nord-esque energy thanks to the whirring blur of the riffing. Not to mention a remarkably fun moment where the vocalist intones "there is something smiling at us... from beyond the worlds!" Otherwise it's the only track present that remotely feels like the nine-minute running length is too long and stretches the material thin. Overall, not a revelatory album if you listen to much black metal, but as a whole an entertaining and often compelling listen that could very easily have come out ten if not twenty-five years ago. Picked to review because of its title and artwork, Akolyth is highly recommended to necronauts who enjoy delving deep into a record.

Killing Songs :
All; A Work of Ages & The Night, The Fog especially
Goat quoted 80 / 100
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