Pity poor NAER MATARON. Despite having toiled away for many years, and with more than a few stellar albums under their collective belt, the task of stepping out from under the massive shadow of fellow compatriots ROTTING CHRIST, VARATHRON and SEPTICFLESH has so far proven near insurmountable. Then in 2012, when they finally did manage to get some much deserved exposure it was for all the wrong reasons, as media attention focused more on vocalist/bassist Kaiadas (Georgios Germenis) winning a seat in the Greek Parliament, where he represents the far-right Golden Dawn Party.
Quite where they got the time to write and record an album like “And the World Became Flesh” is anybody’s guess. Admittedly, the prospect of a Greek parliamentarian playing raging Black Metal in his spare time is quite amusing, but the album in question is no laughing matter. Clearly the result of a rejuvenated band hell-bent on distinguishing themselves from the ever expanding quagmire of Black Metal acts, “And the World Became Flesh” is arguably their most well written, focused and mature album to date. The occasionally overbearing MARDUK-isms of the past are all but gone, replaced by a set of songs that are as confident as they are lethal. The slow-burning grooves of “The Magus” make it clear from the off that this is not the NAER MATARON of yore. Think of Gaahl era GORGOROTH at their most restrained and haunting (say, “Sign of an Open Eye”), and you’ll have an indication of the aesthetic at play here. A keen sense of melody and well-accentuated guitar work is evident throughout. Whether it’s the multi-tempo ground ‘n’ pound of “Demon’s Lord” or the sustained blasting of “A Secular Pursuit of Coffins,” the songs remain arresting throughout. They even manage to put a positively doomy spin on SARCOFAGO’s “Nightmare,” and even the various interludes are all top-notch (“The Hunt” being especially creepy).
It doesn’t exactly reinvent the wheel, this is still a Black Metal album at its core, but it sounds and feels fresher and more interesting than any of their previous releases. Precise in its execution, playful in its scope and atmospheric to the hilt, “And the World Became Flesh” may very well herald a bold new era in the band’s long career.
(Online October 3, 2013)