ΑΧΕΡΟΝΤΑΣ – Malocchio-The Seven Tongues of ΔΑΗΜΩΝ (2022)REVIEW

This ninth full-length from Athens, Greece-based occult black metal artist formerly known as Acherontas intends to be a transformation and transition into a third and final cycle, now taking the name ΑΧΕΡΟΝΤΑΣ alongside the suggestion that the entity is largely the same in most respects yet making it clear that this and future works seek to reveal the unknown and unexplored shards within, a key to life beyond death. Through seven black metal hymnal pacts with seven named archons ‘Malocchio ​-​ The Seven Tongues of ΔΑΗΜΩΝ’ achieves entrance into the seven Hells, granting the self placement within each one-by-one, opening the mind’s gates to unimaginable spiritual planes most would fear or feign to know.

If we are to consider a third cycle, this suggests the 1996-2007 set portion of their career as Worship/Stutthof is now canonical development alongside the first Acherontas release as the formative first cycle. From there the second cycle would logically manifest between 2008 and 2021, with seven albums released during that time period. I’ll be frank in suggesting that none of this necessarily means much to me as a listener beyond grasping the artist’s intent. It’d appear that cyclic “change” isn’t the key point to be emphasized here so much as the ability to refocus upon the origin of the self, to seek and accept new angles upon one’s perception and adapt against “weaknesses” acquired by looking solely forward to the future for knowledge and fulfillment. Though I know very little about Draconic spirituality, or, more than the rudiments of Western esotericism in general (barring a few exciting fringe ideas), most all practicum seeking transcendental realization agree that true spiritual awakening feeds in all directions, temporal or otherwise, while insisting upon a liberated state. Accumulation of all for the sake of a most genuine ‘self’ may be the journey to existence beyond death for ΑΧΕΡΟΝΤΑΣ, whom continue to represent a fanning river to the underworld(s).

Having put well enough time and prose into feebly detailing both the history and spiritual significance behind Acherontas‘ work between reviews of ‘Faustian Ethos (Formulas of Reptilian Unification Part III)‘ (2018) and ‘Psychic Death – The Shattering of Perceptions‘ (2020) the short version is that the line-up and style of the project has steadied with the addition of members of Devathorn and Naer Mataron beyond the early 2000’s, finding a personalized yet fluid style of black metal borne from equal influence of Scandinavian and Hellenic black metal ideals before bristling with even more worldly, collective sensibilities on their last several releases. Though I’ve still a few personal favorites within their second cycle discography the previous record was inarguably a new high point for the band in general and this latest album more-or-less builds upon the heightened ‘epic’ expressions and lofty yet irrational melodicism of its base. Fans of that album will quickly accept and enjoy ‘Malocchio ​-​ The Seven Tongues of ΔΑΗΜΩΝ‘ as a familiar yet increasingly zealous brewing beyond.

“Lucifer – Breath of Fire” gives us first wind of the sensationalism available to the full listen with its pensive, blustering ~two minute siege in introduction eventually railing into the sort of classicist black metal rhythms the project is long known for yet they do not set in one place and build an incantation from there. Instead the piece shambles in and out of phases of lucidity and marvel, not unlike earlier Icelandic black metal oddities or contemporaries Acrimonious where this weaving becomes the major construct of the song, ending just as it comes fully into view and tying itself up into statement. Vocals from an inspired V.P.Sorcerer feature here in three major faces, which range from monastic to menacing and this already finds ‘Malocchio ​-​ The Seven Tongues of ΔΑΗΜΩΝ‘ colorful to start yet we find plenty more accoutrement and narrative sound design strewn across this song, and most of the album, to illustrate the events implied. In this case the unsheathing of the athame near the end of the song always felt entirely well placed.

A combination of monastic fanfare and gorgeously set left hand rhythm guitar technique meant “Leviathan – The Fervent Scales in Reverence” would quickly festoon itself upon my mind with each successive listen to the full album, it being a grandest point of dramatic station up front and another example of ΑΧΕΡΟΝΤΑΣ appearing as an fresh exaggeration of Acherontas in some sense. The delayed harmonization of the lead guitars which play out the last third of the song aren’t necessarily an ongoing motif here but a variation on the mid-paced melodic voice of the leads on the album in general, a morose threading of theme throughout the album which’d evolved in my mind as a sinister voicing rather than the ringing existential fraught you’d get from techniques used by festering post-orthodoxy black metal guitarists today. This feels much more in line with a unique extension beyond the triteness of Scandinavian second wave of black metal, especially when considering the use of leads on “Belial – The Enn of Beliya’al”, yet another standout piece linked in arms with its surroundings.

In terms of atmosphere and a bit of chaotic, mind-phasering movement “Choronzon Webs of Alienation” was the piece that’d repeatedly shocked me out of focus into wonder as I’d listened to ‘Malocchio ​-​ The Seven Tongues of ΔΑΗΜΩΝ‘ in blocks of two or three full rotations, the simple shifts between melodic fluidity, halting stomps into disarray, and the brutal spiraling out of its final apex lend us some insight into just a few of these pieces appearing as if they’d needed their stopping point rethought, a burst of intensity often sending us off as if it were the anti-fade out. Otherwise the 6-7 minute pieces on the album tended to bear the most substantive, ‘complete’ statements on hand, “Hecate – Queen of the Crossroads” being the most impactful and, again, entirely lead guitar directed piece on the album for my own taste. We get some of the best from the artist and his post-2013/2017 crewed coven here on the full listen while also getting a few pieces which are very slightly under-baked when set next to stellarly grand epics and, if I could flex a bit of old man perspective here, this is ideal for a black metal record to not feel overthought or wrought with perfectionist tendency, at least if there is any concern for the calloused ‘spirit’ of black metal ever-glowing in the background.

Though it wouldn’t do ΑΧΕΡΟΝΤΑΣ justice to simply say that this ninth album is a new high after so many proud steps forward this last decade or so, the observation will ring true for most any fandom gained since 2013 or so. If the goal is to improve, strengthen, and sand away the edges of weakness over time then of course this sort of development will be obvious among those with the willpower to bear witness. While I am still clearly very much enamored with the previous album I do have to admit ‘Malocchio ​-​ The Seven Tongues of ΔΑΗΜΩΝ‘ represents an elevation and a slightly renewed angle wherein the mysterious sights unseen documented by the artist do appear to come to light just enough to keep me thrilled as to what will be revealed next. For the black metal rhythm guitar enthusiast or the guitarist in general there is just as much to enjoy here even if the occultist’s meaning ascribed (naturally) reads as convoluted. A high recommendation.

High recommendation. (82/100)

Rating: 8 out of 10.
Info:
ARTIST:ΑΧΕΡΟΝΤΑΣ
TITLE:The Seven Tongues of ΔΑΗΜΩΝ
LABEL(S):Zazen Sounds
RELEASE DATE:March 14th, 2022

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