There are plenty of artists out there that have decided to release ‘solo’ albums. This one is slightly different as it has George Kollias writing all music and lyrics and playing all the instruments to boot. Sure he has some guest appearances from friends in other bands, but they aren’t effectively the backing band as they are used for enhancement and to be fair at this time of starting the review I was not finding much name dropping about who the guest contributors even were.
The first name that I had seen was that of Mike Breazeale, who speaks on the intro “Echoes of Divinity” as it builds up to become the title track “Invictus” with its intense drum patterns and accompanying guitar to drive it along. George’s vocals are heavy and rough, but not an inaudible indiscernible roar while Dallas Toler-Wade’s lead is short, sharp and to the point.
Kicking off immediately with a blast and blistering guitar riff, “The Passage” settles slightly to be just plain fast with footwork as intricate as the tom rolls. The long flowing lead played by Yiannis Papadopoulos is a complete juxtaposition to the rest of the song as it feels so calm while being hailed upon by a barrage of drums.
“Aeons of Burning Galaxies” has a strange mid-tempo feel to it, which is shattered by the blasting and machine gun speed of the kick drums it alternates with, but Rusty Cooley’s lead just keeps climbing in pitch as it scales the fret board with frantic speed and precision.
With the drums keeping the simple time of the melody guitar and vocals but the kick drums matching the ferocity of the rhythm guitar triplets, “Shall Rise/Shall Be Dead” has an interesting arrangement as it works its way through your brain.
A steady choppy rhythm is used on “Voices” where George’s vocals a little more guttural than earlier and Karl Sanders’ lead is more scathing that soothing as it screams out the amp.
“Treasures of Nemesis” has a bit of an ancient Egyptian feel to the harmony guitar and George’s lead shreds up and down the guitar at break neck speed as he spits out the lyrics with venom.
Going down a rather more ambient route, “Apocalypse” builds slowly with acoustic guitars and gentle almost tribal drums and a melancholy ethereal lead by Bob Katsionis while violins and thunder fill out the sound.
“Epitaph” almost feels like a slap in the face as it come in with such malevolence after the gentle “Apocalypse” even if the lead is played mellowly over the raging maelstrom of guitars and drums.
The penultimate track “Through Empty Eyes of Light” ranges from minimal to a manic crescendo of drums and guitars as Yiannis Papadopoulos’ lead soars majestically above it all.
The Gregorian chants that open “Buried Under the Flames” bring visions of friars being marched to their doom but Michalis Papadopoulos lead is pleasantly light and uplifting over the angrier backdrop of the song itself.
I really enjoyed this album for both its technical skill and good music, even if on occasion there are bits that feel slightly repeated after multiple listens.
(7/10 Marco Gaminara)