To my ears, a lot of American black metal sounds either overly polished, or too try-hard and unoriginal. Thankfully, Naas Alcameth *gets* raw European black metal aesthetics, and throughout his impressive oeuvre (Akhlys, Nightbringer among others) has always strived to mould these influences into something different.
Aoratos (meaning “unseen” in biblical Greek) show signs of the emerging Icelandic influences that Akhlys display, taking the atmospherics in new direction. The same haunting, droning, ambient soundscapes are present but less suffocating than those on “The Dreaming I”. High tempo tremolo-picked riffs lend an air of urgency that compliments both the tortured vocals, and relentless yet intelligent percussion.
There’s an underpinning bombastic, powerful orchestral vibe to this album that provides a piercing counterpoint to the nightmarish ambience, and is more in keeping with the sounds associated with Nightbringer. I labour the Akhlys and Nightbringer comparisons to make this point; Naas and chums are clearly cherry-picking the best of both worlds, as “Gods Without Name” is a refreshingly concise album, each song crafted in a focused manner to fit the overarching narrative.
This is forward-thinking black metal, thankfully bereft of the tedious showboating and introspection that ruins the potential of lesser experimental compositions. A multitude of layers means that it’s impossible to fathom in a single session, but there are hooks-a-plenty to interest anybody on their initial spin, and many rewarding sonic gems to mine upon further listening.
As an aside, 2019 seems set to be an astonishing year for Debemur Morti. We’re only in March, and the quality of releases from this French label is effortlessly keeping pace with the quantity, even by their own previous high standards. Merci beaucoup, and bravo chaps.