House of Atreus - The Spear and the Ichor that Follows
Dark Descent Records
Death Metal
8 songs (43'51")
Release year: 2015
Official Label Bandcamp
Reviewed by Alex

Not having experienced House of Atreus music before The Spear and the Ichor that Follows, I have come across reviews ranging from calling the band to be death metal saviors to proclaiming them run-of-the-mill nothing to be excited about crew. A month away, this new release on Dark Descent apparently continues (at least in part) with the Greek theme started on the EP Into the Brazen Bull, and contains a pair of tracks from the first demo. All in all then, The Spear and the Ichor that Follows, is House of Atreus first full-length release, and I can say that death metal these Minnesotans play is at the minimum intriguing, non-standard and definitely not stale.

Some minds may remain split after this album, because House of Atreus tries to cover a lot of angles with The Spear and the Ichor that Follows, not conforming or contorting themselves into the rigid confines of modern death metal. Sure enough there are straight punches to the gut here (Beasts of Antiquity, Vore-like opening riff of Veiled in Dignities of Wrath with melody playing over the top). There are some Swedish blackened death metal intones circa the turn of the century, where some melodic tremolo attaches itself onto the solid riff foundation in Heir to the Crown of Sodom. Naglfar, Setherial or Necrophobic readily come to mind while listening to this track. Throne of Chariots, from the original demo, probably endeared many, including the House of Atreus members themselves, with its Amon Amarth Jr. opening riff, solo piped in at just the right time eliciting heroism and self-sacrifice in battle, so that the ending double-bass supported tragic melody is the most logical end to the song.

So, from Swedish to American death metal, one can hear some familiar overtones, but all these references I just supplied are just that, as House of Atreus tries to provide a lot of their personal take on how death metal based on some mythological stories should sound. Two openers, Trenches of Fortune and Messenger of a Shaken Host, drift more towards mocking thrash, with Messenger of a Shaken Host providing a folky motif. There is slight purposeful sloppiness to the rhythm structure of these tracks, invoking either the crazed up dance of the Greek heroes psyching themselves for the battle, or, if you live in a modern world, of a mosh pit, however filled with fat bellied bodies instead of lean and mean studs. Oresteia. The Unforgotten Scorns has a slower Candlemassy beginning and harmonized guitars, before galloping away, although it does not lose its sad pang, especially in the solo, thus showcasing the band’s more sensitive side. And while Veiled in Dignities of Wrath only begins to step up the melodic angle, the closer The River Black (also from the original demo) takes melody full on, overall being probably the most black metal sounding track on the album due to its constant vibrating tremolo.

One of the aspects I had to get used to throughout the album was Anxietous Nero’s (Dan Huddleston) vocals. Not your typical bottom of the barrel bellowing, his growling sometimes goes too high for my liking, and sometimes takes on the strange gurgling hardcore feel. Also, striving for the full dense sound, House of Atreus almost has it too busy, distracting somewhat from the distinct riffs they are trying to simultaneously lay down. A solid and attention-grabbing effort nonetheless, House of Atreus adds to the lineup of interesting American death metal bands like Vore, Thousand Year War and sadly disbanded Council of the Fallen.

Killing Songs :
Messenger of a Shaken Host, Throne of Chariots, Oresteia, The River Black
Alex quoted 80 / 100
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