Devathorn-VritraThe biog tells us very little unless you walk firmly down the left hand path. It’s all about Qliphothic depths and catacombs, sulphur dragons, storming beasts, draconian flames, gnostic origins and the fiery King Sutekh. Put the lyrical narratives aside and what you have here musically is one punishing sermon of black metal orthodoxy. It obviously is not enough that Acherontas are unleashing their new opus ‘Ma IoN (Formulas of Reptilian Unification)’ on Feb 27 but this also drops the same day and Devathron contains guitarist Saevus Helcath from the very same. Not only that but other members of the Greek kvlt are on hand to embellish Vritra and help turn it into a really potent tomb raiding descent to the stygian depths.

It’s quite an epic beast too lasting over the hour mark and the 11 anti-hymns contained within are dense and challenging. Ghastly choirs dip us straight into hell and a massive battery and the coarse vocal barks from singer Althagor come raging in amidst sinister uncoiling fretwork. It’s savage but disciplined with melody slithering in tenuously amidst the barbed attack. Instantly you are aware that this is going to be one hell of a serious ride and one that is going to be an all-consuming one as the band channel their spirit and hone this destructive musical cosmos into pure chaos. There’s plenty of that in just the first number as a guitar solo flails away adding grace to it all you have to wonder how you are going to survive another hours-worth of such obsidian necromancy. A bell tolls, vocals are sinisterly orated and a doom like crawl sees the music ready to hone in and bite which it does as ‘Doctrina Fide’ expands with ravenous soul consuming roars and spiky whiplashing guitars. There’s some guitar clamours that those who delve into this form of orthodoxy no further than Watain will no doubt recognise but this is in all seriousness the next evolutionary step into this type of musical Gnosticism and this Greek horde are well and truly nailing it. Things loosen up a fair bit with more definition on individual vocals and guitar riffs on ‘Cathedral of Set.’ It’s not as dense and layered up and things twist and turn with a slight Middle Eastern rhythmic thrust about it. The Tore Stjerna, Necromorbus sound mastering really adds a punch to the album throughout.

Things rage, rant and gibber, the musicianship is faultless and vocals versatile as they chant and holler away. ‘Cantibus Ad Messorem, Sanctus Mor’ adds a respite with a bell clanging no doubt summoning acolytes to the catacombs for a horrible ritual. The ambient track is full of eerie textures and is a right old flesh creeper. Naturally things come flying out whatever pit they have opened hungrily clamouring for souls as ‘Principles Of Chaos’ is unleashed and the band’s raging brand of perdition gets its claws back out and sharpens them in a flesh ripping blaze of guitars and vocal fire. Treasure has definitely been dug up by ‘Sapphires of Vritra’ the glittering glistening prize shimmering with the opening guitar lines before the track settles and gets into a hefty groove rich in melody and with some arcane chanting oozing out the speakers and invading your head. There are many stand out moments on this album, in fact it’s absolutely rammed with all sorts of nuances that will unveil themselves over repeated listens. ‘The Venomous Advent’ is a real stand out number though due to the excellent vocal work thrown out by Altahgor and Acherontas V.Priest in a fashion that reminds of countrymen Rotting Christ at their most potent. They could have ended there but obviously thought their magnum opus needed more in the form of 10 minute beast ‘Promethean Descent’ a stormy sermon designed to drag you to the fires of hell themselves.

I have not had the chance to hear the new Acherontas yet as I have been concentrating on this. It seriously needs to be good to measure up though as Devathorn really have pulled out all the stops here and made an excellent album that should not be overlooked in favour of its kin.

(8.5/10 Pete Woods)