I had all but forgotten about Greek mob Heretic Cult Redeemer until desperately trying to find space in black metal towers (ie my CD racking) and attempting to fit the recent Hermóðr album in them, when their debut came tumbling out. I guess it was trying to catch my attention and indeed it did as it was plonked straight on the stereo and reminded me that it was pretty damn good. Covering it back in 2014 I noted that “The fantastic sense of melody throughout and the cloying sinister atmospheres ultimately triumph and this is a band who are well worth getting your next fix of orthodoxy on.” Naturally I was keen to hear how they had progressed over the last few years so Kelevsma was next to be given a spin. Although not the most well-known of the many Greek clans HCR do contain past and present, live and studio members of established cults such as Acrimonious, Acherontas, Necrovorus and Devathorn among others so that should immediately give you a clue of their calibre.
‘The Hidden One’ has them oozing in with a spark of mystery and constraint letting the melody build rather than going for an all-out attack. It’s intriguing and subtle before it explodes in a welter of coruscating riffs and hefty drumming. I had not really noticed much on the debut that particularly aligned the band to country of origin, here though they quickly put that to rights. ‘Desert Of Revelation’ instrumentally takes us to Ancient Thebes with throat singing and ethnic sounds from the historical traditions of the era and lands. It’s a total mystical interlude and completely beguiles. Up until ‘Phosphorous Queen’ we don’t really get the full force of Funus vocals and even here there are some intriguing chants over much of the track. When he does let things go it is with a commanding and dictatorial holler and it really catches your attention and commands the troops as such, the effect is like a destructive djinn has been uncorked from a bottle.
There’s definitely technicality amidst the thorny guitar embrace here and things twist and turn, tumbling all over the shop with the gravid bark of the vocals over the top casting spells and creating mayhem. Again things have a very orthodox feel but the band seem to be thinking outside the box and the sense of the past lingers here like a ghost. You never know quite where things are leading either ‘Dark Formlessness’ going from what resembles a death march into an angry vocal sermon that really has complete and utter madness at its heart. There is no way that this is not the sound of a band who surely dress up in big hooded cloaks to deliver their music live. A strange interlude with clanking metal and what sounds like a call to prayer makes one think of the opening of The Exorcist and the unearthing of some dark diabolic force dug up from an archaeological ruin. This paves the way to the second half of the album with more thick and dark ranting hymns to darkness and destruction. There’s plenty going on here and the album takes a fair few listens to get beneath the surface. There’s some particularly strident sharp riffs on ‘Thy Forethought Fire’ which take back to the debut album and really add distinction to amidst the raging tumult.
Being a bit on the critical side there is not quite so much variation on the second half of the album and having got into a deadly groove the band stick with it, vocals being a continuous discontented attack on the senses barking out in near relentless fashion. If you are a fan of Greek BM though this is far from what you might expect and has some very good ideas, casting visions of turbulent ancient history and myths into the mind of the listener and stoking the fire of imagination with its atmospheres perfectly.
(7.5/10 Pete Woods)