Akrotheism - Behold the Son of Plagues - (8/10)
Published on February 28, 2014
A machine well oiled by the musical exploits of their more well-known Scandinavian forebears, Behold the Son of Plagues might not be the most unique album of its kind but the sonic hellfire contained in these ten tracks leaves little doubt as to the band’s mastery of all things black. Fierce and passionately executed, Behold the Son of Plagues is the manifesto of a band so dedicated to their chosen craft they practically seem to will it into existence.
Traces of Watain, Marduk and Setherial, as well as those of slightly less celebrated names like Pestilential Shadows and Enthroned abound, and though these Greeks’ sonic lineage is clear they are ultimately a beast unto themselves. The strident chord progressions and emotive melodies naturally won me over right from the get-go (see the belligerent “Antimatter as I”) but the album’s secret weapon lies elsewhere. The production job has the distinction of being simultaneously jagged and voluminous, leaving no doubt that you’re dealing with a black metal album here but one where the finer intricacies of the music aren’t buried in mud.
The other big plus is the subtle playfulness that permeates the songs, as the band often zigs when you expect them to zag. Their tendency to not let loose after periods of sustained build-up (see the title track) and for harsh vocal sections to suddenly collapse into eerie yet serene choral passages (see “To Swarm Deserted Away”) are prime examples of the off-kilter dynamics at play here. The two major highlights arrive at the tail end of the album, with the windswept melancholy of “Wine of Blasphemies” leading effortlessly into the very Deathspell Omega-like “Send Us to Swines,” with its jangly riff constructs and detached melodies bringing to mind an album like Paracletus.
All things considered, this is a stellar effort by a very promising band, something made even more impressive given that they only formed a scant two years ago. Behold the Son of Plagues is recommended for those who prefer their black metal steeped in tradition yet playful enough to rescue it from redundancy. The fine folks at Odium Records certainly know how to pick ‘em.