Greece has a very rich history in the Black Metal scene, with bands such as ROTTING CHRIST, VARATHRON and NECROMANTIA (the so-called “big three”), having put the Hellenic country on the map of darkest Metal back in the early Nineties. Surely things have changed throughout time, with more and more bands coming out into the limelight, but the Greek Black Metal has always been known for its pretty unique feel to it. In the years since, bands like KAWIR, THOU ART LORD, NAER MATARON or DEVISER have surfaced and added to the healthy mix the Greek scene has to offer.
Now what I have here is a fairly new addition to the mix in the form of LITROSIS, a quintet from Athens, which is just releasing its first sound document ever in form of “I Am Death”, a full long player coming via Cypriot Pitch Black Records. I admit that their approach does not make them out to be Greek, as compared to the three main inceptors of the scene, since they are very symphonic and at times progressive, which makes it a bit hard at first to find the way into this album (I know, it took me quite a while and several tries before it clicked).
The first thing that strikes with “I Am Death” is something that I haven’t seen in a long time - an Andreas Marschall cover. Yes, he is back with a new masterpiece, so a good start to draw me in. And LITROSIS do not stop there, for they take the symphonic Black Metal base and add onto it with some clean and semi-clean vocals, the way some keyboard and guitar leads are done, drawing from some Power Metal and Progressive Metal bands without ever sacrificing the intensity and ferocity of Melodic Black. These elements will only come to the fore once you listen a bit more closely, since they don’t float at the top, but require you to immerse yourself a little deeper.
So you can see that lack of ambition is not one of the Greeks’ problems, the realization sometimes is, since the arrangements do not always gel as well as they should and when they go into the more blastbeat dominated regions of the netherworld (i.e. the duo of “Burn The Sun” and “Countless Wounds”), things get too generic still, but when they differentiate a bit more, as on the title track (that even brings in a violin) or the following “Bloodred Desert Plain”, which shows even more of the Power Metal influence incorporated, showing what they are capable of.
That they managed to get former SAVATAGE and current CIRCLE II CIRCLE fronter Zak Stevens to do guest vocals (on “In The Grave You Go Alone”, which is completely sung by him and sounds a little like one of those (too) drawn out slow epics IRON MAIDEN have been falling back onto of late...) show that LITROSIS do not think within genre confines, but want to expand on them and create something different and exciting. While they are not quite there yet on all fronts, with some drags and sprouts of genericness, the Greeks are definitely onto something that could develop into something outstanding.
(Online August 15, 2012)