Friday, August 26, 2011

Athos - The Awakening of Athos EP (2005)

The Awakening of Athos is a Greek rarity which was released in two separate incarnations: first as an EP in 2005 with six tracks, and later a full-length in 2007 with two additional tracks that the band had already recorded for a previous demo ("Nykta") and video ("The 300 Spartans"). For the sake of completion, I'm covering the whole shebang here, though I've placed it under the EP's header. Athos are another of those anomalous, one man projects without many ambitions to break the mold of the black metal genre, but the chops and competence to at least 'get it right', assuming its audience is not one to mind the lesser production standards.

Buzzing, tremolo picked patterns cast over a matrix of machine-like, emotionless blasting is the modus operandi here, with a vulture-like rasp breathing lyrics of Hellenic pride and spite for the Christian invaders who stomped out the pagan faiths of Europe in their incessant assimilation. For most of the metallic tracks, at least, Athos seems to move at a single pace of bleeding speed, and so "The Awakening of Athos", "A Tale of Christian Love", "Kerveros (Guardian of Hades)" and "In a Temple's Ruins" do develop into a numbing monotony, though several of these have cleaner breakdown passages which I assume are meant to curb the listener's tedium. I actually enjoyed the dark ambient intro "The Last Christian Ritual on Mount Athos" and the full-length album additions more than the original EP content.

"The 300 Spartans" is appreciably grimy and I enjoy the cheesy, epic bridge, and "Nykta" is unique in that it uses this basic programmed drum beat as if from some old keyboard, glazed in Cure-like Gothic keys and clean guitars with a snaking, distorted line that pairs itself with the grisly vocals. The latter is almost like a Gothic-pop-black hybrid, and while it's not likely to sate the fans of the bloodcurdling norm for this genre, it at least provides something fascinating beyond the confines of the expected. As a whole, The Awakening of Athos does not bring much novelty to the table, but its razor kissing melodies and tinny mix should might very well appeal to fans of albums like Ulver's Nattens Madrigal, though the Greek is nowhere near as noisy, understated or evocative.

Verdict: Indifference [6.25/10] (as the Aeolian winds proclaim)

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