While Yoth Iria has been recognized for featuring members of groups like Rotting Christ and Necromantia, their first full-length isn’t necessarily cut from the same cloth as their forebears. As The Flame Withers (Pagan Records) features the riff-driven structures and melodic flourishes common in most Hellenic Black Metal but pushes them to even further extents thanks to the equally prominent Traditional Metal and Doom influences. The results are comparable to Agatus’s The Eternalist, which featured a similar Blackened Heavy Metal mindset.
A clear production job and tight as hell musicianship play big parts in seeing this combination through. While guitarist George Emmanuel and drummer JV Maelstrom contributed their parts on a sessional basis, they may go the furthest in shaping the material. The guitars are particularly potent, putting in atmospheric trills, intricate leads, and cold chugs while the drums respond with appropriate blasts and smooth grooves. Fortunately, the main members pull their weight as bassist Jim Mutilator gets some spots to shine while The Magus’s vocals provide a steady rasp. One would also be amiss to not mention John Patsouris’ keyboards, which give the songs a symphonic edge.
The songwriting also goes through a variety of moods with the otherworldly atmosphere serving as a common factor. Tracks like ‘Hermetic Code’ and ‘Unborn Undead Eternal’ provide more brooding excursions while ‘The Mantis’ wouldn’t have been too out of place on the last Varathron album with its more grandiose flair. There’s also room for more straightforward fare as the opening ‘The Great Hunter’ is the most obvious Black Metal display, ‘The Run Crown Turns To Black’ is executed in an almost rock up-tempo fashion, and ‘Tyrants’ puts in the album’s most chugging riff set.
Overall, As The Flame Withers is a strong showing as a full-length debut and splendidly highlights the collective experience of the musicians behind it. There are times where the momentum meanders, particularly during the back half, but it remains committed to atmosphere while offering some memorable tracks along the way. I’m an absolute sucker for this sort of Black/Heavy Metal style fusion and can imagine serving as a cool compromise for both sides of the aisle. Either way, Yoth Iria is definitely a name to watch out for in the future.
8 / 10