Acrimonious – Sunyata
Release: LP, 2012 (Agonia Records)
Genre: Psychedelic Black Metal
Sonic Brethren: Nightbringer, Krallice, Nachtmystium
The geographical shift in the propagation of black metal has changed drastically over the past three decades. And while all genres of music see trends in hot spots all across the world, bm’s movement has been particularly interesting. After its beginnings in England, the Nordic second wave took over and held the title as the blasphemic epicenter of the world for a solid 10+ years. As their southern neighbors caught on and the North Americans caught up, waves of fantastic darkness fanned out across the globe. In recent years there’s been an explosion in the USBM scene, with the French and Germans also steadily outputting hundreds out worthy purveyors. But for my money, Greece is currently spewing forth the most interesting mix of blackened acts.
Little surprise that a country experiencing so much turmoil has been lashing out with pissed-off extreme music; an economy in ruins and a vast mistrust of the government is the perfect breeding ground for such passionate exhortations. What Rotting Christ started more than 20 years ago, a horde of young guns have been carrying forward with a plethora of fantastic releases; Ravencult’s Morbid Blood is one of my favorite thrashened attacks, and last year’s debut from Hail Spirit Noir was a powerfully unique album. Which brings us to the newest release from Acrimononious, a band whose decade of existence has seen releases few and far between.
I almost passed on this album, assuming from the trippy cover art that it was just another drugged-out Electric Wizard clone. But upon learning the group shares members in common with American psychotics Nightbringer it piqued my interest. And what the quintet offers forth is a fascinating foray into thinking-man’s black metal. Falling somewhere between the psychedelic and progressive spectrum of things, these Greeks spew forth lengthy attacks of mind-fuckery with their bipolar verses. Some passages are drawn on for minutes, others stop on a dime and contort themselves into territory as familiar as guitar solos or as confounding as Gregorian-style group chants. Drawing on lyrics from global mythologies, Acrimonious doesn’t deal in your cliché Christ-bashing and seem to have more in common with the philosophy of Nile than that of Watain.
Sunyata is a tough one to digest, the eight tracks take some getting use to as the band’s style is more concerned with creating whole pieces of art rather than a few short interesting hooks or choruses. With a riffing style similar to latter-day Belphegor the album isn’t wholly unfamiliar to those with a taste for extreme metal, but it sits on the palate as quite the oddity for the first few listenes. But as you reach the final few songs, Acriomnious’ talent become immediately apparent. “Vitalising the Red-Purple in Asher-Zemurium” is the definite highlight of the album, conjuring up a Marduk-like groove with a vortex of a melody that will get stuck in your cranial box. The sophomore release is a powerful one, with no slump to be found and the sort of attitude that shows creative masterminds at their best. If only a country’s debt could be paid for in high quality black metal, Greece’s debt crises would be solved.
Final thoughts: Another unique Greek black metal voice rears its head as Acrimonious delivers with a complex and satisfying second album.