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Acherontia Styx – Shadow & Flame

Acherontia Styx
Shadow & Flame
by Andrew Graham at 08 January 2021, 7:24 PM

Newcastle-based death metallers ACHERONTIA STYX unleash their debut album on the world, offering a stunning and immediately arresting blend of classic death metal and more contemporary groove metal.

I have a love-hate relationship with usage of the ‘post-‘ prefix in music. Whilst it has certainly become very trendy to use it, particularly with the meteoric rise of various kinds of post-metal acts, more often than not it is deployed as a rather unhelpful umbrella term used to apply to anything that doesn’t necessarily fit the very strict genre conventions a particular group “ought” to be in. So whilst I would certainly not wish to add to this genre-nerdy confusion by calling this product something like “post-death metal” (because we have post-black metal, so why not!) this would certainly come close as it meets the bill of defying traditional conventions for the genre.

Very much in keeping with the horror theme of the album (there’s more than a few references to the Hannibal Lecter series here!) “Pleasures of her Flesh” opens with a thoroughly scary riff, alternating between heavy sections and dissonant quieter passages: it’s legitimately frightening stuff! “Evolution” has an almost industrial feel about it. This is what I meant earlier, there’s lots of boundary-stretching going on here but it all serves a purpose and it all adds to the impact – perhaps New Wave of Death Metal would be a more appropriate genre-label?

“The Cursed Love” reminded me more than a little of DETHKLOK and other groove-death classics (see anything by Max Cavalera). That latter comparison is actually more than a little appropriate, I feel very strongly that Max would have been very pleased to have written this song! “Scorned” features guest vocals from Linn Liv (Dutch death metal vocalist of stunning calibre in here own right!) There are plenty of nods to the finest of melodic death metal groups to be found. “Eyes of Glass” (more Thomas Harris references!) Continues the strong display seen up to this point. I could go on but I would encourage the reader to dive headlong into this album, it’s a breath of fresh air to the ears!

I’ve said a few times in previous outings that the task of making death metal seem fresh and original in the face of the classic “it’s all been done” complaint is no mean task. What ACHERONTIA STYX have done here, I think, meets both those criteria. In fusing a classic death metal sound with key elements that have been observed in the groovy nooks and crannies of NWOAHM (New Wave of American Heavy Metal) bands such as LAMB OF GOD, MACHINE HEAD, and even PANTERA in places, we are presented with a final sound that is at once both pleasing and nostalgic for the classic death metal listener whilst also providing enough freshness to keep one interested and coming back for more.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 8
Memorability:
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
  1. Pleasures of Her Flesh
  2. Evolution
  3. The Cursed Love
  4. Scorned (feat. Linn Liv)
  5. Eyes of Glass
  6. As Above, So Below
  7. Dressed In You
  8. Hurricane of Pains
  9. Blackened Serenade
  10. She Begs For More
Lineup:
Grant Crossan – Vocals
Paul Dinenthal Taylor – Bass, Guitar, Vocals
Adam Ashbridge – Lead Guitar
Jake Burden-Stoke – Drums
Record Label: Dwarrowdelf Records
     


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