3 years after the release of their debut album Purulence, Greek black metal masters Acrimonious release the follow up entitled Sunyata. The album artwork got me wondering if this were the same Acrimonious that I encountered years back, with the psychedelic-feel that has been evoked being a far cry from the rather simplistic artwork of Purulence, rather uncharacteristic of the band’s releases.
Yet fitting to the album artwork, Sunyata kicks off with the ambient track Nexus Aosoth, quickly and easily putting the listener into a state of trance with the calming soundscape, despite the restlessness that underlies this apparent calmness. But all hell breaks loose soon enough as the track ends and Lykaria Hecate kicks in, with the band introducing their brand of dark, blasphemous black metal to the listener. The influences from such bands as Watain are immediately clear, not only through the songwriting and the song structure of most of the songs on the album, but also in the execution of the instruments. For instance, Cain’s vocals bears a pretty strong resemblance to the aforementioned’s Erik in the way he alternates between growling vocals and tortured shouts. The similarities to Watain is all the clearer in the way the riffing of Semjaza and Cain come together with Docre’s drums in bringing about a somewhat theatrical effect, not unlike what Watain has done on their latest opus Lawless Darkness.
The band has also displayed its growth musically compared to their previous outputs in the expansion of the amount of influences that they have put into the music. Apart from the usual old school Norwegian (or Norwegian-inspired) black metal sound such as Mayhem and Behexen, the band has also included a rather wide range of other influences, ranging from depressive black metal that at times remind one of such bands as Drowning the Light to occult rock and old school heavy metal moments, what with the usage of organs that are rather prevalent throughout the album, especially in the lead guitar playing style, and hence, the heavy comparison to Watain‘s Lawless Darkness and the heavy metal-infused black metal on the album. The ritualistic atmosphere is constantly reinforced with the inclusion of chants and hymn-singing on tracks like Adharma.
To top off the listening experience, there is that production on the album as well, not too polished yet not too raw. The powerful sound of the drums, especially the bass drums, ensure that the listener’s ear is constantly punished, further increasing the impact of Docre’s punishing drumming. Despite the long track lengths, with most tracks lasting almost 8 minutes, there is not a single boring moment, and the listener is left in a constantly enchanted state of mind from the start right through to the end of Sunyata.