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Akiavel – Vae Victis Award winner

Akiavel
Vae Victis
by Thomas Kumke at 22 April 2021, 3:50 PM

AKIAVEL hailing from Southern France were formed in 2018. They belong to the new generation of European melodic Death Metal bands with traditional Death Metal, Groove, Thrash, and Black Metal influences. Prior to “Vae Victis”, AKIAVEL released one EP and their full-length debut “V” in 2020. The new release is a concept album about the darkest parts of the human psyche. It was released via Akia Records, as the name suggests, the label is run by the band. “Vae Victis” has a length of more than 41 minutes.

The Latin expression “Vae Victis” means woe to the conquered and AKIAVEL literally have no mercy with those conquered by the new album. Compared to the debut album, they step up a few gears in terms of pace and aggression while maintaining the epic and melodic elements that made “V” one of the highlights in 2020. “Frozen Beauties” in fact starts with an epic opening sequence before a dynamic mid-tempo rhythm with fast guitar riffing driving the song forward. The melodic chorus breaks come a bit abrupt and unexpected, but contain the typical AKIAVEL trademark sound. The lead guitar sequence near the end of the track sound dark and chilling. “Frozen Beauties” was the first official single release and the YouTube link is given below.

Bind Torture Kill” and especially “Zombie” indicate the development of the AKIAVEL sound towards a heavier and more “kick-into-your-face” sound. Both songs are fast and aggressive, with crunching bass lines and especially “Zombie” is pummeling the listener thanks to the relentlessly hammering drums of Butch. Despite the onslaught, there are still a lot of melodic breaks in both songs and the frequent changes between the aggression and epic melodies is only possible due to Aure Jäger’s phenomenal vocals. Compared to “V”, she has more diversity in her growling especially towards higher notes and she sounds more brutal than ever. “Zombie” has, besides the typical AKIAVEL sound, also some Thrash Metal vibes, something I did not hear from them before. “Needles From Hell” and “Comrade” continue with the assault and speed including blast-beat sequences, hammering bass lines, and the frequent switch between traditional and melodic Death Metal. In “Needles From Hell”, the growling vocals are at the low to very low end of the gutturals for a large part of the song, something that Aure masters to perfection.

Medium” is one of those songs that fits towards the sound of the debut album. It has a fast start and then transitions towards mid-tempo, before the slower melodic and epic part takes over with another deep growling vocal sequence. “Medium” also has a few thrashy vibes which fits here perfectly. “The Lady Of Death” starts with a dark and heavy head-banging rhythm with some catchy guitar riffs. “The Lady Of Death” stands for the extreme diversity of the AKIAVEL sound on “Vae Victis” which is exemplified by the vocals of Aure who has a standout performance with a huge range of growls and screams perfectly fitting to the clean guest vocals of Mimi Canavaggia.

Pentagram Tattoo” and “Mommy I’m Capable” are straight forward Death Metal songs with flesh-ripping guitar riffs, bludgeoning drums, and brutal vocals. Both are the fastest, heaviest, darkest, and the least melodic songs on the entire album. “Pentagram Tattoo” is heavily inspired by traditional European Death Metal. “Mommy I’m Capable” is a bit more complex in structure with a melodic short intro transitioning into a part played blisteringly fast followed by mid-tempo breaks. Especially the performance of Butch on the drums is really outstanding in both songs, given the pace and complexity of the songs.

 “Matrimonial Advertisements” closes out the album with a bit more melodies and with the rare occurrence of some lead guitar sequences. Perhaps one thing should be said, people will not find any classical extended lead guitar solos on AKIAVEL songs, the melodic components come rather from their epic and sometimes melancholic song melodies that often are driving the chorus sections or the breaks. This makes them less comparable to other melodic Death Metal bands, but it takes nothing away from their melodic approach to Death Metal.

Vae Victis” is a giant of a Death Metal album! AKIAVEL deliver a mix of modern melodic Death Metal with epic melodies and traditional Death Metal as well as Thrash Metal elements. The album is fast, brutal, dark, and an upgrade on their debut album. With “Vae Victis”, AKIAVEL develop their own Death Metal sound further and “Vae Victis” gives them a distinctive uniqueness and own identity as a band. The diversity of the songs on the album is evidence for excellent songwriting. The production of “Vae Victis” is excellent. With their second album, AKIAVEL is becoming a serious force in the Death Metal scene in the years to come and “Vae Victis” should be part of every Metal fan’s collection.

Songwriting:  10
Musicianship:  10
Memorability:  10
Production:  9

5 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Frozen Beauties
2. Bind Torture Kill
3. Zombie
4. Needles From Hell
5. Comrade
6. Medium
7. The Lady Of Death (ft. Mimi Canavaggia)
8. Pentagram Tattoo
9. Mommy I’m Capable
10. Matrimonial Advertisements
Lineup:
Aure – Vocals
Chris – Guitars
Butch – Drums
Jay – Bass
Record Label: Independent
     


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Edited 02 August 2021
 

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