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Thelemite - Thelemism

by Chris Hicklin at 28 September 2021, 2:45 PM

Looking at the list of track names when getting ready to listen to this latest offering from Greek metallers THELEMITE for the first time, I was a little worried. With songs called such things as “Unholy Steel” and “Violator” I was expecting something heavily derivative. Indeed, the band’s bio describes the release (their second full length album) as “Painkiller Pt. II," which it is fair to say is somewhat accurate, but also underselling the effort, as this is much more than a copy of JUDAS PRIEST. While it may feel like a spiritual sequel to that album in places, it has an undeniable style and vision of its own.

Straight off the bat the album is fun, the first riff of opener “Unholy Steel” is a tight groove, at first Yiannis Manopoulos’s voice takes a little getting into. It does have more than a bit of ROB HALFORD about it, but it takes a moment to convince as it sounds little hard up in the lower register, but his middle and higher octaves are very strong, and he has a very good high pitch scream that hits the notes very well. The song barrels along with some great guitar solo moments and excellent drumming from Renos Lialioutis.

Track three “Anatolia” deserves a special mention, opening with a storming riff that is one of the fastest most intense things you will hear on the album before settling into a head banging, foot tapping Metal singalong track, with soaring choruses. It has a Middle Eastern inspired feel to the whole song which is punctuated by slight ethereal sounding breaks with hand drumming, before launching us back into Metal each time. The whole track just works, successfully conjures the time and place it is referencing lyrically, and thoroughly showcases the thunderous and extra tight drumming skills of Lialioutis.

Next up is one of the best tunes on the album, “Up on the Cross” is not as heavy as some other tracks, with more of Glam Rock sounding riff, and some classic hard rock guitar soloing, with great whammy dives and tapping, and a quite cheesy but memorable melody.

In “I Love Death” we slow down a lot, starting with a slow keyboard and bass driven ballad section that leads into an operatic Rock track. I’m not sure if it supposed to be tongue in cheek or not, but the track has a feeling of more recent GHOST about it, with very clean but animated vocals, multi-layered and harmonised background vocals, with pomp and bombast in the musical delivery. It is a very good song and one of the highlights of the album.

Moving past the slightly ponderous (but with superb guitar soling) mid-tempo “Eternal Evil” and the heavily PRIEST inspired “Exile” we enter the home stretch of the album with one of the albums’ heaviest offerings, the appropriately named “Violator” a song you want to like just because of the hilarious name, never mind the furious rhythm section work of Michalakakos and Lialioutis and orchestra of harmonising guitars.

The album closes out with a slower track “Psycho,” which strongly recalls classic ALICE COOPER at his most theatrical, a Hard Rock sensibility with acoustic interludes, first person lyrics, simpler DESMOND CHILD style composition and production, it is a satisfying end to damned entertaining album.

I must take a moment to note the cleverness of the band’s name. Thelema is an esoteric religion developed by Aleister Crowley, the early 20th century English mystic, it is also an English transliteration of the Biblical Greek noun for “will” or “desire”. An etymology that no doubt appealed to the band’s roots, and this is reflected throughout the lyrical themes of the album which are informed and evocative.

The musicianship on this album is to a very high standard, the bass is often perfunctory, but tastefully to the track and never stepping on anything, and I believe I have said enough about the drumming and guitars already. The song writing is to an exceptional standard, as is the detail they have put into the production of this which one must imagine would have been constrained by budget, but it really doesn’t show. Highly recommended.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 8
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. Unholy Steel
2. In for the Kill
3. Anatolia
4. Up on the Cross
5. I Love Death
6. Eternal Evil
7. Exile
8. Violator
9. Psycho
Yiannis Manopoulos - vocals, guitars
Nikos Michalakakos - bass
Zack Kotsikis - guitars
Renos Lialioutis - drums
Record Label: Sleazy Rider Records


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