Yoth Iria - As the Flame Withers
Pagan Records
Melodic Black Metal
8 songs (47:01)
Release year: 2021
Reviewed by Goat

Bringing together two of the original characters in the launch of Greek black metal, Yoth Iria is an enticing addition to the black metal pantheon. Dimitris "Mutilator" Patsouris was the first bassist of Rotting Christ and Varathron, and George "The Magus" Zacharopoulos was Rotting Christ's keyboardist and later a big part of Thou Art Lord and Necromantia. Together with a small cadre of Greek talent, the duo present their debut full-length as Yoth Iria, and to the surprise of no-one this is a great, varied, well-crafted album. The expected mixture of typically Greek influences comes through clearly; melodic and mystical at once with something of an occult air, particularly on slower moments on the likes of the title track with its Burzum-ic keyboard plinks. Rotting Christ fans will be pleased throughout, especially with opener The Great Hunter which moves from a speedy initial rumble to doomy grandeur, chugging riffs and Eastern melodies beneath The Magus' yowl keeping your ears both gripped and caressed.

There's a welcome touch of NWOBHM influence to the guitars (courtesy of George Emmanuel, a past live player for... you guessed it, Rotting Christ!) throughout the album which makes it seem quite different from your usual tremolo widdling and gives the likes of Unborn Undead Eternal an extra melodic glaze even without mentioning the excellent soloing. And the band keep the album interesting, throwing in leftfield pieces like Hermetic Code, a touch of Paradise Lost-esque gothic doom with a lengthy spoken word section atop an almost ambient backing, very much in keeping with the album's mystic religious themes. You can see where going further with each little experiment could take the band's sound further; The Red Crown Turns Black is a raucous step into black/thrash realms, The Mantis throws in some symphonic elements to great effect, and all the while the central similarities between tracks are enough to make them feel connected. And by the time you reach the slower, sparser, almost Root-sy The Luciferian the nearly-fifty minute running time feels much shorter, and multiple album listens in one session seem natural. A little more experimentation and variety in the vocals, and Yoth Iria will be into album of the year territory, but As the Flame Withers is an excellent start.

Killing Songs :
The Great Hunter, Hermetic Code, The Red Crown Turns Black
Goat quoted 82 / 100
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