Blimey, this is one scary record.
Now, just like I’m not the biggest black metal fan (gloomy, shed burning, badger painted fairies) I’m not the biggest fan of doom metal either. With a few exceptions I tend to find it fucking dull with it’s one chord every ten minutes, drummers that are so under-employed they could wear a duffle coat and not break a sweat, half hour long slogs….sorry, songs and two-bob Scooby Doo atmospherics. But, as with BM there are some bands that really do float my goat. Hooded Menace, Candlemass, Electric Wizard….they’re all great bands.
Which brings me neatly to the debut album from Akatharta.
Akatharta (which means “unclean spirit”) are a “funeral death doom” band. So far so fucking dull…. HOWEVER….. Akatharta was founded by one Mr Kam Lee in 1999 (…. Yeah THAT Kam Lee…… Official Death Metal Legend, member of Mantas / Death, Massacre, Bone Gnawer, The Grotesquery, Denial Fiend and purveyor of some of the most awesome DM vocals ever recorded). Originally named Urizen the project was beset with false starts & line-up changes until now when along with Travis Ruvo (from the brilliant Echelon) on drums and Aaron Whitsell on guitar / bass Akatharta finally crawl from the grave with “Spiritus Immundus”.
On paper it’s everything I don’t like about the genre with its long, lumbering songs and spooky atmospheric approach. But I do like it. This is genuinely creepy shit, no doubt enhanced by the apparent inclusion of actual EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) captured from all across the globe. Aaron’s crushing riffs & mournful solos Travis’s measured, metronomic drumming and of course Kam’s multi layered vocals give this record a supremely eerie and unsettling vibe. The same vibe I get from watching something like Lucio Fulci’s “The Beyond”.
True Story: I was listening to this through head phones in bed the other night and during the intro to “Possessione Diabolica” the dog jumped on the bed and I nearly soiled myself. So much does this album draw you in with its haunting feeling of impending dread.
This album NEEDS to be played from start to finish in one go. In the dark. Dog optional. Nine songs of some of the most genuinely unsettling music I’ve heard in a long time. Akatharta make Hooded Menace sound like Pig Destroyer such is their crushingly heavy sound. The only band I can really compare them to is the UKs own Uncoffined but again, even they sound fast compared to Kam and the lads. Akatharta’s heaviness is enhanced by a gorgeous mix and mastering job by Dennis Israel at Clintworks (Amon Amarth, Misery Index, 3 Inches Of Blood, etc). The album cover artwork is by Malaysian illustrator Irwan Ironworx (Bone Gnawer, Deathevoker, etc) and also with the iconic “Lord Of Logos” Christophe Szpajdel (Emperor, Old Man’s Child, Enthroned, etc) putting his signature stamp on the band logo.
Akatharta have released a total package here but it’s not for the faint hearted. If you listen to a lot of doom you’ll probably like it even more than me….and I liked it a lot.
Oh yeah Kam…. Bonus props for the Celtic Frost cover (Dethroned Emperor) and the Vincent Price samples. Perfect matey!
(9/10 Mark Eve)