Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Heptameron - Grand Master of the Final Harvest (2006)

Another Hellenic cult wrought of the 21st century, Heptameron takes a distinctly grimy and thrash-influenced approach to the black metal genre. In fact, were it not for the spacious, reverb laden rasp of the guitarist/vocalist 'Kleanthis Necrofiend', it might not assimilate into that genre entirely, but parallels are neatly drawn to the brute 80s sounds of Possessed, Celtic Frost, Bathory, Kreator, Sodom and Slayer, with a sliver of a younger Samael. While I admit that I actually quite like the crude, stripped to basics sound of this recording, and the resonance inherent to the vocals, Grand Master of the Final Harvest does not quite deliver on all fronts. There is a predictability to the riffs and rhythms that never seems to capitalize on the thrill-seeking of its influences.

There is enough dynamic variation that it's never all that dull, but the quality of tracks is highly inconsistent. For example, the instrumental opener "Lord of Silence and Strength" is a shoddy collection of dirty thrash riffs that fail to provide decent transitions into one another, where the following "Vonpho Vovina" is a razing solid that gets the ears retro'd up for some sheer proto black metal blasphemy. "Necrofiend 9th (Vessel of Iniquity)" and "Legions of the 9th Angle" both focus in on slower or mid-paced crunch rhythms, but the riffs are hellishly bland to behold; yet, when the band thrusts ahead on pure adrenaline, like the raging title track, "Barbaric Assault of the Rebel Angels", or in the more noodly broth of "Altar of the Living Flame", they're at least moderately entertaining. They also keep most of the tracks appreciably brief, hovering around the 2-3 minute mark, with the few exceptions being 4-4 1/2 (in which you can tell they are already starting to strain their welcome).

A certain niche of the metal market exists out there to gobble this up, and I'm referring to the diehards of labels like Nuclear War Now! or Hell's Headbangers who devour anything redolent of those dawning abomination years, when the genres of extreme metal were first emerging in a cross-stream of puke, pus and vitriol. Heptameron certainly vie for that crude and cryptic authenticity: old t-shirts, bullet belts, spiked armbands, chains and Satan. If you're heavily into that scene and take no exception to material with inconsistent riffing and subpar songwriting, then Grand Master of the Final Harvest might be worth a try. For myself, I guess I'd rather just listen to Beyond the Gates, Welcome to Hell, The Return, or Worship Him, because the songs here just don't possess that same, unforgettable charisma.

Verdict: Indifference [5.75/10]

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