Thursday 21 May 2015

Akhlys - ‘The Dreaming I’ (Album Review)

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 20/04/2015 (digital), 
12/06/2015 (physical)
Label: Debemur Morti Productions

‘The Dreaming I’ CD//LP//DD track listing:

1. Breath and Levitation
2. Tides of Oneiric Darkness
3. Consummation
4. The Dreaming Eye
5. Into the Indigo Abyss

Akhlys is:

Naas Alcameth | Vocals, Keyboards, Bass, Guitars, Sound effects
Ain | Drums


Naas Alcameth has been mightly busy over the last year or so, with Nightbringer having just released a new album late last year and now returning with Akhlys’ second album ‘The Dreaming I’ just this year. The natural inclination, since both projects involve Naas Alcameth as both songwriter and guitarist/vocalist, is to use the two albums as points of comparison. In this interview on the Debemur Morti website, Alcameth sheds a bit of light on the conceptual and musical differences, but it’s worth exploring a bit more in depth.

Where Nightbringer is more straightforward and vicious, similar to an even darker Dark Funeral or ‘Hell Eternal’ era Setherial, Akhlys uses more ambient noise, and musically falls into a more eerie, atmospheric style that is less easy to compare to others. The rhythm guitars tend to drone, serving as a deeper bedrock from which the lead guitars can dictate the finer emotional tone, as difficult as it can be to determine exactly what emotional reaction it brings out as you’re listening.  Meanwhile, the drums are generally content to alternate between relentless blasting, thrash beats or more conservative snare and cymbal patterns struck atop a wall of impenetrable double kick, a suitably raucous backbone for an album likely to pull such deep emotional reactions from the listener.

The strange, surrealist disposition of the album seems to be directly linked to the album's concept, built around a number of Naas Alcameth’s particularly bizarre dreams. With the music sounding so alien, to the point where the humanity evident even in the majority of black metal albums is stripped away completely, ‘The Dreaming I’ feels more like a sonic web woven by the worst recesses of the subconscious, rather than something a human being concocted while of sound mind. If that reads like a criticism of the album to you, it isn’t. The vocals are harrowing as they’re hissed and howled without the thinnest trace of either human warmth or pain. The drums, guitars and keyboards are maelstrom, subsiding only long enough to make you nervous about what the next storm has in store.

If that all reads a bit too much like I’m writing a press release for the album rather than reviewing it, I’m sorry, but it was either this or write a review that just says “It’s fucking fantastic.” and then turn it in. I’m sure other writers have found ways to describe this album without resorting to hyperbole or being excessively dramatic, but try as I have, I’m just not capable. It’s too all-consuming while I listen to it, and too exciting when having the presence of mind to try and analyze it. What’s surprising in retrospect is that the album didn’t always feel that way to me upon my initial, more cursory listens. It took allowing myself to get lost in the album to truly appreciate it as much as I do.

This is an album that warrants your exclusive attention when it’s on, otherwise you’re cheating yourself. It’s the kind of clandestine mindfuck that catches you after numerous listens, softening your brain into thinking it’s less uniquely affecting than it really is before it decides to completely change the complexion of your day. That’s something few albums can accomplish, once you’ve heard a large and varied portion of what the genre has to offer.

Words by: Daniel Jackson

You can pick up a digital copy here and a CD/LP copy here

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