Greek black metal band Acrimonious left me thoroughly impressed with their 2012 full length, Sunyata. The perfect fusion of the grimness of black metal and the melody of heavy metal resulted in a sound that was reminiscent of the works of bands like Watain or even the legendary Dissection. 5 years later, the band finally follows up with their third full length, Eleven Dragons, this time under the infamous World Terror Committee.
With Eleven Dragons, Acrimonious sets a tone that seems to be much darker and colder than its predecessor. Incineration Initiator might not kick off the album at breakneck speed, but the riffs and the intentionally slow-mid pace that the band chooses to move at from the start creates an ominous atmosphere, foreshadowing the desolation that’s to come.
Instead of setting a single tone or pace, the band experiments with different styles on Eleven Dragons, giving some sense of variation and throwing listeners off guard at times. Songs like Elder of the Nashiym and its clean intro gives some semblance of solace before the band makes sure to crush all hope thereafter. And it is tracks like these that leave the deepest impressions on me, that (false) sense of quiet and calm that the band brings with them.
Furthermore, the abundance of spoken passages, and the tortured delivery of Cain as he growls, screams, or spits out the lyrics reflect the hopelessness and desperation in the art of Acrimonious. Faster and more aggressive tracks like Damnation’s Bells even bring about some comparisons to Marduk‘s Mortuus with the aggression.
Another thing that I liked about Eleven Dragons is the rather prominent placement of the bass. Unlike many black metal records with the bass being buried in the mix, one is able to hear the basslines clearly throughout, giving Semjaza 218’s fluency on the instrument sufficient limelight, often reinforcing the dark and heavy atmosphere, like on The Northern Portal.
The only drawback though is the duration of the album; clocking at more than 1 hour, there are moments where I almost felt that Eleven Dragons got a little bit draggy. Of course, with genres as such, repetitive riffs are part and parcel of what sets the mood, but there are moments where I felt things got a little bit too repetitive, especially with most tracks going beyond the 6-minute mark.
That said though, Eleven Dragons isn’t a bad album – far from it, as repeated listens often yield new discoveries. For fans of bands like Watain, Nightbringer, or Acherontas, Acrimonious‘ latest release would be a worthy addition to your collection.
Favourite tracks: Elder of the Nashiym, Kaivalya, Thaumitan Crown