Now if you’re not interested in politics then I suggest you skip the first paragraph and half to the next and read from there, otherwise continue on. Controversy has never really left black metal since the early church burning days, assaults, murder and no end of allegations made across the scene, most of it has been total crap or exaggerated to such an extent that the original story no longer exists, Chinese whisper effect I guess. Greek black metal stalwarts Naer Mataron seem bent on creating hassle by stating publicly that this seventh full length in no way has any political affiliations due to Kaiadas’s affiliation, alleged or not, with the Golden Dawn right wing political party in their homeland. Now threatening legal action, real or not, reeks of the elitist bullshit said right wing parties spout on about, and if that gets the site a load of abuse from idiotic right wingers then so be it, we don’t want you to read our site anyway so fuck off. The question of whether political connections affect music have gone hand in hand for decades now and trying to distance yourself from it, is naïve at best and grossly negligent at worst, everyone has a view of a bands music, political or not and preventing opinions goes against artistic  freedom of expression. Metallers are some of the most informed and articulate people on the planet, all through the ideals of this freedom of expression and it is likely that underground black metal fans already know about this story with Naer Mataron and have made up their mind whether to continue to follow the band or not, despite the obdurate proclamations of non political black metal on this newest release. I also suspect that getting onto many of the big European summer festivals in future will be very difficult as well, which they may or may not care about.

Now I can perfectly understand why the band has sought to pre-empt the world’s metal media on forthcoming reviews of the new album, but in all reality it will probably shoot them in the foot repeatedly. So onto “ΖΗΤΩ Ο ΘΑΝΑΤΟΣ” which translates as “Long Live Death” and it is clear the band has had an overhaul of their song writing, with all the compositions clocking in under five minutes except the last at just over. Compared to the bands last two albums “Praetorians” in 2008 and “Discipline Manifesto” in 2005, this is far more violent, compressing each song into maximum ferocious assaults that glisten with barbaric insanity. The band has also changed their production style it seems with these songs being richer, denser and out rightly superiorly intense to previous work, which isn’t to say the previous albums weren’t savage or rabid black metal incursions, far from it.

The title track gets this underway with a woman narrating about death before “Apocalypse Of The Ancient One” bludgeons the listener with a juggernaut blast and guttural vocal bellow, very like Spiros of compatriots Septic Flesh. The speed is mental, hitting the same tempos of say Nile and Behemoth. The riff break is death metal and accompanied with massive cymbal crashing as the song ends very abruptly. Into “Sleepless Beings” and the speed is still ferocious, with the snare blast blurring into what sounds like at least 300bpm. The guitar hooks have that Nile atmosphere within them, though lingering harmony that drifts about is definitely like Septic Flesh or even Rotting Christ. As I said the vocals are far deeper than previous efforts, and this continues throughout and with that this is more like a death metal album than a black metal one, with the speed and intricacies being similar also to Vital Remains. There is more hyper tech battery in “I Am Lucifer, Messenger Of Your Death”, which as you can see even has epic song titles like Nile. I wouldn’t say this is completely like Nile, as some of the music edges into Immolation, with obliterating dark riffing being fattened by a humongous rhythm section.

The speed is impenetrable in places, but when the album does slow down as on “Faceless Wrath Of Oblivion” there is a choking, suffocating sludge about it, especially when the leads are scattered within them. “Parade Into Centuries” possesses one of the riffs of the year for me, it is truly awesome, packed with a venomous injection of psychosis, as the speed threatens to veer the tune into uncontrollable bedlam. Marduk is a reference on “Whisper Of Begotten Premonition” as is Keep Of Kalessin, utilising a breathtakingly impassioned vehemence. This album is packed with outstanding songs and none more so than “The Cult Of Doom And Dagger” which contains yet another monstrously brilliant riff that is uniquely melodic despite the incredible speed with which the tune is played at. I was expecting the closing song to be a slower more atmospheric piece but no chance of that which is extremely pleasing as the album ends as it set out, with all encompassing death and black metal ferociousness that is easily a match for Nile’s new album. However I suspect reviews of this will be plagued by the bands press announcement which in fairness cannot be ignored, but be that as it may Naer Matarons’s “ΖΗΤΩ Ο ΘΑΝΑΤΟ” is completely and utterly devastating.

 (8.5/10 Martin Harris)