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Primeval Mass - Nine Altars Award winner

Primeval Mass
Nine Altars
by "Der Bärtige Mann" Gareth Beams at 07 February 2020, 5:33 AM

Orth is the only surviving (full-time) band member of the band that started life in Athens Greece in 2000. This is not the first, but the second album where it has been just Orth, following the release of “To Empyrean Thrones” back in 2016. Before this, Alex Zachos was drummer on the full-length album, “Blood Breathing Idols” and the EP split, “Transcendence” with IASMA in 2013. Going further shows more band members who have come and gone, but enough about the past. Let us concentrate on the present and on “Nine Altars”, let’s go…

Circle of Skulls” has a fast-paced start, very similar to ABSU in their instrumental style. The tempo is controlled really well, whilst still keeping up the high levels. The vocals kick in close to the minute mark, they are coarse, but become easier to follow the longer the song goes on. The good thing about the vocals is that they are not distorted for the sake of it; they act towards the overall pace of the song and do so perfectly with the harmonies. The Thrash and Blackened Death Metal mix works perfectly together.  As there is only one person doing vocals and stung instruments it is amazing to see the level of detail the instrumentals get at the end of the song, the final third is a solo jam of skills showing exactly what talents Orth has, with George adding the drum skills not only to keep up, but o shine a light on the harmonies. The final minute is used as chorus, well played. Such a great start to the album.

The Irkallian Born” continues with the Thrash inspired melodies, which if executed like on “Circle of Skulls”, then bring them on. The melodies have kept up the fast pace, which is a good thing to do when starting the album, so we hear the intention. The technical guitar riffs are heard here more, and it lets us hear the true potential this album actually has. There is even a progressive stance in the latter section of the song that shows how the music is being allowed to grow without as much experimental changes, this is not an easy thing to do.

Night Rapture” keeps up the progressive aspect from the start, you can tell something is coming, but you are happy for the guitar artistry to get you there. The harmonies in this are amazing, really reminds me of how influential IMMORTAL were to the melodic side of Black Metal. The guitar work is fantastic; the tempo is kept up throughout, flawlessly. The way the song is kept in balance is amazing, the skills shown and to be held together, so well composed shows a masterful amount of skills. This song sounds so much like the old styles, the best styles 9of Black Metal.

Amidst Twin Horizons” continues exactly where “Night Rapture” left off. The tempo has not changed, there are a few different styles thrown in here and there and this gives the song a new depth, making it different from the rest of the album, genius! As this is an instrumental song it takes a new approach, as for its placement, it allows a break in the album, which is a good idea, keeping it all fresh is key.

Burning Sorcery” spends the first two minutes flowing the instrumental juices from “Amidst Twin Horizons”. The vocals kick in, not taking center stage, but more blending in. The vocals are more aggressive than before which is also a good change in rhythm. This song is the first to have some very experimental twists added, these twists were not needed to be added, but the fact that they have been and work is a brilliant move.

Orphne” returns with the Melodic styles, could say Melo Death or Melo Black, more like DISSECTION if you ask me but you decide. The pace has been dropped down a gear or two here. The aggression kicks back towards the 2-minute mark, with an aggressive aspect in both vocals and instrumentals, makes this seem like two different songs. The experimental bends on the guitars that was heard in the previous song have somewhat returned. It is not an overall fresh idea, but the idea of mixing the styles and melodies sure is.

Firecrowned” is another song that sounds like a mix of something Abbath himself would be working on and a wave of Melodic Death Metal riffs. With it being a longer song we expect a few different changes of style, we are not disappointed. The pace is still exciting as it continues the pulsation that he album has already set down. The dynamic approach throughout this album has made the songs similar in practice, but the outcome is totally different,. This song does the same again, it is brilliant

The Hourglass Still” is a long song to end on, will it be a fade away, let’s find out. A far more experimental approach on this within the progressive riffs, I like it. The tempo is slower, but it is balancing very well within the aspects of the song, seemingly not just as a fade away.  The guitar solos are beautiful, they could belong in a JOE STUMP or JOE SATRIANI song easily. The melodies of the song are beautiful, the song doesn’t go into the depths of pace as others before, but it is still executed perfectly. A good closer to the album

I give you, a contender for album of the year, in the field of Black Metal. It’s a homage to the 2nd wave of Black Metal, the glory days with a few modern twists.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

1. Circle of Skulls
2. The Irkallian Born
3. Night Rapture
4. Amidst Twin Horizons (Instrumental)
5. Burning Sorcery
6. Orphne
7. Firecrowned
8. The Hourglass Still
Orth –Vocals , Guitars & Bass
George Christoforidis – Drums & Percussion
Record Label: Katoptron IX Records


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Edited 10 June 2023

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