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Akoma – Revangels

by Jose Macall at 13 April 2017, 7:01 AM

When I think of Metal, I have a fairly strong bias given to me by my previous exposure to the genre. It should be no surprise that what you intake influences your perception and expectation. Regardless of this preconception, the genre evolves and is beholden to no standard. In short, regardless of what you want, the artist owes you nothing and the spectrum of Metal stretches far and wide beyond anyone’s narrow definitions. I’m noting this because for me, “Revangels” by AKOMA was a learning experience.

The album cover depicts a lady in all black clothing holding a staff. There are several standard pieces of Metal imagery here: Fire, a desolate terrain, some skulls, and giant black birds appearing from possibly smoke or flying silk scarves…  I’m not sure which. What I assume to be an evil sorceress of some sort gives the viewer an uncaring stare, perhaps one of contempt or disgust. The slight air of condescension for me was the prelude to perhaps a bit of intensity. I was eager to dig in.

The musicianship here is proficient. The guitars are fuzzy and distorted as is standard Metal fare. There are several riffs and even a few solos (The title track “Revangels” features one that stuck out to me). The drumming is fast and tight; I dug the parts where the songs picked up tempo to showcase this. There is an abundance of keyboards throughout the album which adds to the atmosphere. The vocals here are the centerpiece, and I feel are the focal point in deciding whether or not this will appeal to you, the reader. The entire album features operatic singing. Nothing but. There’s no yelling, no growling, no Power Metal caterwauling, it’s all airy sopranos from female vocals. Think of something like LACUNA COIL but more opera-y. That’s what you’re getting.

For me this was the deal breaker. I enjoy my Metal with grit and aggression. I can enjoy softer vocals but I prefer them on the periphery of a song, especially used in contrast to something more brutal. For me this release just lacks ‘oomph!’ There’s no “Yeah, this wrecks!” moment. I’m more than willing to admit that I’m a mouth-breathing, low-brow, club-carrying Neanderthal who lacks the palette necessary to fully enjoy something refined. It’s quite possible I’m just not capable of understanding what the aim here was, but I just feel the singing takes the bite right out of this release. It’s just not up my alley.

This whole album is very epic sounding. It’s melodic and symphonic and all the fancy words that people use when classing up Heavy Metal. I don’t know if that necessarily makes it appealing though. At the end of the day this release is just too soft for me. The song “Hands of Greed” features a climax where things get quieter and there are violins and even softer mewling. I’m pretty sure the song “Vira” has a harp in it. You know how brutal those can be. The song “Humanity” is basically a piano ballad. “Change of Propensity” starts out by being really promising with its fast drumming and faster tempo but it quickly feels muzzled by gentle crooning that not even the solid solo can make up for. To me, this is what it would sound like if a Disney princess put out a Metal album.

I’ve always associated Metal with stuff like death, evil, and the apocalypse. It’s not lace, ball gowns, and Pagliacci. I just can’t get into the softer stuff. I understand it’s supposed to be more Goth-y and Atmospheric but I feel there have been great examples in Metal’s past of how you can add ambience to something while still maintaining some harshness. I’m not a NIGHTWISH guy, and I’m not really familiar with this genre of Metal. If you like opera vocals, this is for you. They are so prevalent here that it’s really the only thing you need to decide on. I applaud the chance taken here and the commitment to the sound but I personally am not a fan. This album takes on a tone more of tragedy or longing. It’s somber, it’s grand, but it’s just not the punch in the ears I typically enjoy Metal for.

Songwriting: 4
Originality: 7
Memorability: 4
Production: 9

3 Star Rating

1. Enticing Desire
2. Revangels
3. Change of Propensity
4. Mesopotamia
5. Hands of Greed
6. Vira
7. Humanity
8. Heartless Deceiver
9. Bittersweet Memories
Morten Harboe - Guitars
Tanya Bell - Vocals
Rune Frisch - Drums
Andreas Pedersen – Guitars
Record Label: Massacre Records


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Edited 05 June 2023

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