With roots back to 1993 Greek veterans Kawir have had a studious history that is as historical as the themes and traditions they musically embrace. Leading them through thick and thin Therthonax has had almost 30 players both on album and live come through the revolving door line up that sees today’s quintet unveiling their 8th full length album and it is one that as ever takes roots back into Greek mythology thematically embracing “heroic women and the cruelty around them.” The title Adrasteia is for instance the goddess of revenge, nursemaid and protector of Zeus so before the music even starts, we are aware that these 6 tracks are going to be a veritable clash of the titans. As it does, you may well be tempted to look up the background stories of the characters involved and imbibe yourself with the very stuff of legends to go along with the songs themselves.
The tale of Tydeus is recanted with an acoustic strum and rich choral work courtesy of Alexandros of Macabre Omen (who sure gets around a lot) before the blackened dynamism gradually and richly unveils itself via shimmering and grandiose guitar work and hoary growls. Majesty and heroism are the key points along with a grand melodicism leaving you with the feeling that although the album is only just over 40 minutes long it will proffer mighty battles and bloodshed along the way even if in no hurry to do so. Another facet here are the pipes trilling away and adding a Hellenic vibe of paganism which really brings the mythos of the narrative to life. These are not drenching the music but come at just the right point to have you listening out for them and welcoming them when they parp in. Drums and jagged riffs bring the tumult of ‘Atalanti’ into more forceful life, vocals are bloodthirsty and the cleave hefty here along with the thorny barbed strum of the guitars. There are some classic furrows and screaming cadences from the instrument that are rife from many scene originators utilised too; let’s put it this way Rotting Christ fans will certainly be in their element when they strike. Having 50 daughters would be an unthinkable challenge but the Danaïdes as they are known are the subject of the next one and here things tear off at full force and fury. Fist-slamming might is rife and although not a battle in the literal sense pairing these ladies up with 50 sons and the tragedy that unfolded makes stormy drama. Listen out for a guitar solo from Melechesh’s Ashmedi in the heaving midst of it all.
The call of the pipes gives a Grecian medievalism to ‘Limniades’, drums boom and we gallop off triumphantly. The full furrowing fury and vigour of the players at full-force have me hungering to see the band who recently made it as close as Scotland but are yet to invade our shores in London. The trip North would have been worth it to catch them but nowhere near as appealing as seeing them in the land of their own riches perhaps (and a damn sight colder too). There is something missing though, after all this is an album about powerful women. Cue a formidable atmospheric wail from another special guest Lindy-Fay Hella on ‘Colchis’, augmenting the acoustic caress of the folk-like number. Last muse Medea should really need no introduction and the band pay tribute with the clash of steel ringing and culminate the album in a rumbustious fashion. Classical melodicism and themes are tied together here in an album that is more than about just mere music and dipping into the legends behind it makes this ambrosia worthy of the gods themselves as well as for me the 1st heroic album of 2020.
(8/10 Pete Woods)