Acherontas: Vamachara

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Acherontas: Vamachara
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Acheronta: Vamachara
Black Metal
Agonia Records
November 22nd, 2011
Release length: 46:33
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Acherontas formed out of the ashes of Stutthof, and has been around since 2007. It’s essentially a solo project of the man behind that band, but this is something that most underground Black Metal fans aware of either group know well at this point. Since forming and issuing the debut album Tat Tvam Asi (Universal Omniscience) back in 2007, the band has put out more smaller releases compared to full-lengths, the last of which came out in 2010. But now, a year later, and Acherontas returns with their third album, Vamachara. But with roughly a year between albums, does this Greek Black Metal act present a solid performance this time around?

While the music to Vamachara isn’t exactly raw, it’s not the most spectacular either. The quality is a little higher in pitch, giving it a bit of an airy vibe to the material. The distortion on the guitar is your typical Black Metal pedal, and given the audio quality and how lighter they sound because of it, it doesn’t really sound too great, leaving very little atmosphere to the music against a somewhat padded sound that keeps the sharper edge somewhat blunt and inefective. This isn’t the only spot that’s affected, as the vocals are rather loud but still feel a bit further back in the mix, and the same goes for the bass that ends up being pretty hard to pick up on in the long run. The bass kicks are pretty much nonexistent as well, leaving the snares to range from a pointless thud that kind of takes the place of all the bass-related instruments, to rather loud and clear against cymbols that feel too far back in the mix, but still come through enough to make some kind of impact on the music. Overall, the sound here is pretty poor, though still manages to put together a decent Black Metal album that just comes through heavily muffled.

Vacamchara is split up into several tracks, though still clocks in at forty six minutes. This is rather expected considering it’s underground Black Metal roots, as well as the fact that Greek bands of this nature do seem to traditionally write some longer material. With this release, that’s what we get, having the final track nearly hitting four minutes, and most being five or over outside the introduction track “Opening the Eye of the Storm.” That piece sets a nice tone to the release with it’s ritualistic, creepy spoken word section with additional voices layered for effect and some sound effects of creeking wood and a door opening or closing. Surprisingly, this track sounds pretty deep as far a bass sound would go, but yet the music that comes out of “Blood Current Illumination” ends up being pretty a lot lighter in comparison. While this does greatly take away from the impact that the music has, it’s not to say the music itself is bad. In fact, the riffs here are still solid and engaging. The music and vocals to this song are all well executed, and had there been a stronger bass presence in the mix, the album would really have a fantastic haunting atmosphere. That is still present on here, but just not as strong or gripping, feeling diluted due to the audio, which is simply a tragedy. The song ends on a slower note that really pushed that environment moreso, and with that pace in the guitar work, it does allow the bass kicks to come through a bit, which makes the music sound a little richer in the long run, and ends up closing this opening track off on an impressive note that is carried overly nicely into “Abraxas,” one of the very few genuinely atmospheric tracks, even moreso compared to “Blood Current Illumination.” This is largely due to the thicker music and performance, as well as the darker, colder closing.

Unfortunately it’s after “Abraxas” that the album starts to lose some of the atmosphere it does manage to build up, and the audio quality does start to take a toll on the music. The heavily guitar driven title track “Vamachara” seems like a faster paced track that is meant to sound razor sharp and dig into the listener deeply, but it just ends up missing the mark dramatically and barely leaving a stratch. The drumming proves to be some of the more important material here instead, focusing a lot on blast beats that work to keep the song going, but the Black Metal chords being played end up losing their edge somewhat and just don’t sound strong enough to keep the listener attentive through much of the song, though the solo at the end gives enough space that the riffs don’t really seem to cluttered due to the audio issues. “Beyond the Mazeways to Ophidian Gnosis” is another stellar track though, and it greatly puts the title track to shame. The music here is just very addicting with how catchy yet aggressive it ends up being. The guitars here are fantastic and they work well with what comes through of the drum kit. The additional distortion on the vocals, as well as the additional enthusiasm in the performance stands out nicely here too, making it one of the more important cuts off the album. “Drakonian Womb” closes the album off nicely with it’s eleven minute plus length, and even with the lighter audio sound, the song still manages to stay strong from start to finish and makes for a good listen either way. There’s nothing that really stands out about it, and the song doesn’t quite feel as rich as “Beyond the Mazeways to Ophidian Gnosis” or “Abraxas,” but the band does a good job at keeping the music rich enough that it doesn’t falter like “Vamachara” does.

In the end, Acherontas has put out another enjoyable album. Yes, the audio quality could have been much better instead of this lighter sounding release that finds very little bass in the final mix. It’s really sad to say that since it’s clear that this album has genuine potential to be a strong, atmospheric release from the band. But, given those faults, Vamachera still perseveres and manages to bring in a good number of tracks that are completely enjoyable from start to finish, though it does end up with some that are just not as dynamic or engaging, and even held back by the audio a little too much to be properly enjoyed. Either way, it’s far from a bad album, it just has a bad production, and like a true quality album the music does manage to still come through well enough to make it a release that fans of this region’s Black Metal, or just the underground offerings of it in general will still find plenty of positive things to say about it at the end of the day, and shouldn’t be sent astray from giving it a chance due to it’s biggest fault.

01. Opening the Eye of the Storm – 2:46
02. Blood Current Illumination – 7:54
03. Abraxas – 5:50
04. Vamachara – 6:20
05. Ohm Krim Kali – 6:15
06. Beyond the Mazeways to Ophidian Gnosis – 5:31
07. Drakonian Womb – 10:54
Overall Score: 6/10


Digital review copy of this release provided by Agonia Records.