Black Metal and groove seem to be fonder of each other as the genre diversifies and the landscape shifts evermore, progressing from the cavernous affair that was early Black Metal. The way in which Agathodaimon takes this trope to task results in an elegantly haunting experience, encapsulated in 10 tracks collectively titled, The Seven (Napalm Records).
The seventh release (and first since 2013) from the German five-piece can’t completely be called a Black Metal album or a Symphonic Metal release: it’s music for the fan of both genres who can’t decide which they appreciate more, and would simply defer from having to choose one or other.
‘La Haine’ kicks things off with dark grooves and gravelly chanting. Following close behind, ‘Ain’t Death Grand’ hammers home the intertwining of more bouncy vibes and hellacious vocals. It sounds like the welcoming of doomed souls to the bloodstained gates of hell: ‘Entrails and Steel / Glory and gore tonight.”
The strongest song comes last. ‘The Divine’ is aptly entrancing coupled with a deity-esque melody. The vocals and lyrics make for my new personal favorite Symphonic Black Metal song to date. Agathodaimon recruited Benighted’s Julien Truchan, who offers simply razor-sharp screaming for ‘Kyrie-Gloria’ in a way only Truchan can deliver with his trademarked viscera. ‘Wolf Within’ checks off my box by incorporating a killer recorded voice (and stellar riffage to boot). Guitarists Sathonys and Nakhateth impressed with an uncharacteristic and sensational solo on ‘Ghosts Of Greed.’
However, ‘Mother Of All Gods’ sounds somewhat out of sync, musically. Furthermore, ‘In My Dreams (Part 2 – In Bitterness)’ falls victim to unhealthy jostling between solo and background symphonics, competing more than complementing each other.
That doesn’t take away from the explosive expedition The Seven takes us on. Neither excessively symphonic nor off-puttingly harsh, a healthy serving of groove and variety comes together for a promising release.
7 / 10