Friday, December 11, 2015

Nechochwen : " Heart of Akamon"

West Virginia is an unlikely breeding ground for this kind of music. Roughly black metal in some sense, it is highly progressive in the same manner as old Agalloch. The clean vocals are stronger and they layer clean sounds and the more metallic grim ones through a different lens than the Portland band. In some ways these sounds are blended much like their label mate Panopticon. The clean tones are very organic and often allowed to stand along. The blast pretty furiously into "Lost on the Trail of the Setting Sun". The drums are masterful insanity in motion. The footwork pretty breathtaking even in a genre where it is expected. The vocals are well layered and punchy. While they work in many twists and turns over the course of a song they do not exceed the seven minute mark. They are also good at not placing the clean vocals in the obvious Killswitch places to make it the good cop/ bad cop dynamic.

"October 6th, 1813" finds things getting to a Opeth level of melody. The vocals are well handled and the song might not be heavy at all but captures a cool haunting vibe.  The acoustic guitar that opens " Traversing the Shades of Death", makes for a good segue out of the previous song and gives the album a increasingly thematic sound, rather than a uniform sound. A little over the midway point when they get heavier it almost has an exotic death metal sound  and the vocals are awesomely layered and the growl is much huskier when it roars out from behind them. They eventual speed up breifly into a more black metal pace. It would be hard for any guitar players or fans of prog metal to not drool over the guitar playing on "Skimota", leaving the vocal harmonies as  the icing on the cake.

If you are going to play a blast beat take notes on the song " Skyhook" on how to do it without sounding like everyone else. The guitar solo dominates this song and handles the places where the vocals would be. Since the vocals have pretty much ruled up to this point if they want to go in a direction and make this an instrumental then they have certainly earned that. They keep up the stellar guitar work on the final song blending acoustic with some tasteful soloing. Then the flute comes in and they kills the momentum til the guitar comes in with crushing chords. Not sure about the spoken word part that they sing over in the doomy part. I think my expectations have been raised so high at this point that I think all arrangements will be perfectly smooth a hundred percent of the time. But these guys pretty much killed it  the bulk of the album so it is easy to round this one up to a 10.

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