mercoledì 16 novembre 2016

Agatus - "The Eternalist" (Hells Headbangers, 2016)

Band: Agatus
Title: The Eternalist
Genre: Heavy Metal with Black Metal influences
Time: 42 min
Year: 2016
Rating: 90/100

I must admit it: I have the hots for the extreme metal Greek scene, always ready to crank out a bunch of very interesting bands. Don’t forget that one of the main black metal schools coming from Greece, thanks to great bands like Rotting Christ, Varathron, Necromantia and Thou Art Lord, and all of them are still active today. The band whose I’ll tell you today has not only lived the “golden years” of the Greek black metal being born in 1992 releasing its debut album “Dawn of Martyrdom” in 1996 but experimenting, through the years, sounds very far from the purest black metal (but, surely, not from pure metal!). This especially through the very recent third album “The Eternalist”, released on CD/vinyl/cassette on 9th October 2016 by the Hells Headbangers Records, a label usually not addicted to this kind of productions.

Agatus, always formed by the multi-instrumentalists and brothers The Dark and Vorskaath, have released their third opera after even 16 years from their second album, just to create this masterpiece titled “The Eternalist”. A masterpiece a bit unclassifiable because now the black metal elements are very few, like those growls typical of the early ‘90s Greek black metal or the blast-beats here and there into the album, though they are rare (“The Invisible (Fifth Portal to Atlantis)”, “Gods of Fire” and “Perils of the Sea (Part II)”). But all this is played through a very elegant way and with sounds  close to the ‘80s heavy metal. This resulted in a music that is both very melodic and epic (well, listen the warrior-like atmosphere of “Perils to the Sea (Part II)” but this is due also to the clean and evocative vocals in Bathory-style with the addition of proud but melancholic choruses plus some more narrative parts. Alas, the tracks are mostly mid-tempos that never exaggerates, also considering their average length of 4 minutes, relatively low for the Agatus’ music.
But these two Greek guys shows many others things into this album. Like the acoustic parts here and there, sublimated especially in the conclusive “To Last”, a short and atmospheric outro mostly instrumental. Or like the keyboards which, used with big thriftiness, give to the music something ethereal, for example in the opening track “The Eternalist” but with playing even some kind of solos in the beautiful “Gilgamesh”. But in the album there are also a lot of guitar solos, especially in “Flight Into Forever” where they are very omnipresent. And don’t forget that the same “Gilgamesh” is opened by…a violin played by the guest N. Millhouse! And, speaking of guests, I must mention the backing vocals both of D. Kartaloglou in the titletrack and Lady Widom in “The Oath (of Magic and Fire)”.
In all this, the only thing I don’t appreciate is the third song, the same “The Oath (of Magic and Fire)”, because its long and instrumental conclusion is literally paranoid without real imagination. Alas, the drums are Vorskaath are at times not so incisive but, fortunately, they are supported by an exceptional music, especially in songs as the very dynamic “Perils of the Sea (Part II)”, the better track of the album.
In short, “The Eternalist” is a masterpiece of unusual beauty. It’s not black metal. It’s not pure heavy metal but it’s tremendous epic, melodic, exciting, elegant and atmospheric like few other albums while some vocal lines are truly fantastic. In other words, Agatus of “The Eternalist” are all this and beyond. Take it or leave it!

1 – The Eternalist
2 – The Invisible (Fifth Portal to Atlantis)
3 – The Oath (of Magic and Fire)
4 – Gods of Fire
5 – Dreamer
6 – Perils of the Sea (Part II)
7 – At Dusk I Was Born
8 – Flight Into Forever
9 – Gilgamesh
10 – To Last

The Dark – vocals/guitars/keyboards/percussions
Vorskaath – guitars/drums/percussions/keyboards

Lady Widom – backing vocals (“The Eternalist”)
D. Kartaloglou – backing vocals (“The Oath (of Magic and Fire”)
N. Millhouse – violin (“Gilgamesh”)

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