What a difference five years can make. Akrotheism sprang into action in 2014 with a delicious platter that set out to tear your soul to shreds while casually leaving you skipping and whistling down the road at the same time with some of the most insanely catchy black metal melodies you care to conjure up. It was a blast that was both orthodox and completely carefree at the as it ripped through flesh and sphincter-tightening sensibilities with equal glee. Surprising then that these Greeks, whose sound was more Swedish than anything else, appear to have taken a dark and dour turn into something all the more cavernous and nightmarish. Law of Seven Deaths is not exactly a complete departure from their black path but it does take a serious detour from the misty, murderous, overgrown environments of Behold the Son of Plagues which was full of amphetamine energy and, with this latest release, into pitch black caves of demonic presence where the likes of Nightbringer, Hetroertzen and Dødsengel dwell.
Yes, Akrotheism, no doubt by virtue of some devilish pact, have dared to evolve into something more refined, so give me some time to get over that…. *holds fists aloft* Shock over and put to one side, this change of tack is not unwelcome… even if’s unexpected. Akrotheism seize on their newly chosen occult-driven sound (hinted at if not conclusively signposted on 2015’s split with Septuagint “Sphinx: The Great Enigma of Times”) with absolute commitment. In fact that’s an understatement. This is a decisive blow that rips various shades of shit out of your average black metal band and hurls them headlong into a star collapsing under the weight of furious demonic anger. Not one shred of light passes through this work as the cover (remarkably similar to Nightbringer’s Ego Dominus Tuus, guys….) suggests – at least not until much later in the album.
Darkness and derangement beckon as The Law of Seven Death’s spews out filth from the get go with lunatic percussion and a wall of guitars that barely even allows space for the ever obligatory tremolo volleys. This is pitch black and cruelly hides those still supercharged riffs under so much flailing, satanic excrement (in a good way) that it’s not until subsequent spins that the full intricate glory emerges from the void. Happily, if that’s a word I can use next to this album without spontaneously combusting, Akrotheism don’t use the wall of sound as a veil for their sins. Typhonian Serpents, the opener, begins and ends in a twisted torrent but manages to separate into a howling dirge, a rampant riff-fest and even a majestic tremolo-induced spell at various points. Manifesting Tartarus continues in a similar vein – weaving in some classic black metal bites while unleashing something worse that hell into the bargain. Desmotrophia drags the proceedings further downwards into a reverberating, chanting nightmare while the breath-taking 12 minute Skeptomophes takes the already multidimensional sound into new yet vistas and segueing nicely into occult-drenched acoustic closer closer En.
The Law of Seven Deaths is quite a ride. Densely packed but brimming with good ideas and impressive occult black metal maturity. Yes, I enjoyed the old version of the band but with this they’ve become almost unrecognisable, like a darkly attractive moth that has reappeared from its cocoon, reborn into an eight winged hell demon spitting life-destroying antimatter into the universe. This is big and I’ll be impressed if I hear anything much better from the rest of the occult black metal scene this year. Akrotheism, it was fun. But you have been resurrected into a new form. The Law of Seven Deaths has come to annihilate and is already one the black metal highlights of the year.
(8.5/10 Reverend Darkstanley)