Thursday 17 May 2018

ALBUM REVIEW: Varathron, "Patriarchs of Evil"

By: Conor O’Dea

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 27/04/2018
Label: Agonia Records

This is an album that gets better on every listen - there are depths here to appreciate, and it is a joyous triumph of an opus. 

“Patriarchs of Evil” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1. Tenebrous
2. Into the Absurd
3. Luciferian Mystical Awakening
4. Saturnian Sect
5. Remnants of the Dark Testament
6. Hellwitch (Witches Gathering)
7. Orgasmic Nightmares of the Arch Desecrator
8. Ouroboros Dweller (The Dweller of Barathrum)

The Review:

There Charon stands, who rules the dreary coast –
A sordid god: down from his hairy chin
A length of beard descends, uncombed, unclean;
His eyes, like hollow furnaces on fire;
A girdle, foul with grease, binds his obscene attire 

In the pantheon of Greek metal gods, Stefan Necroabyssious must be one of the most obvious avatars of the infamous ferryman of the dead, son of Erebos and Nyx. He has, since founding Varathron in 1988, carried many souls across Hadean waters and into the depths of the Underworld itself. “His Majesty at the Swamp” (1993), a paean to the Acheronian mire, is unanimously (and rightfully) hailed as a classic of Hellenic black metal. From this point, Varathron continued a nearly unabated trajectory of epic black metal excellence, with “Stygian Forces of Scorn” being, perhaps, the zenith of the first part of that journey. “Untrodden Corridors of Hades”, an album which opens with an umbral and intense musical adaptation of Eliphas Levi's Kabalistic Invocation of Solomon, marked, for me, a subtle but important transition of their sound; it is actually darker and more ominous in many ways than earlier albums - murky, threatening, malevolent and agonistic. The other side of those untrodden corridors brings us to the triumphant, utterly majestic new album, “Patriarchs of Evil”

I am not sure how Varathron have managed to do it, but the Homeric, definingly Hellenic sound of the earlier albums has been successfully darkened by whatever mephitic wanderings were undertaken in “Untrodden Corridors..”. The tense, shadowy and unnerving sound which I see as transitional is brought back into seamless alignment with the epic tone and timbre of His Majesty, Walpurgisnacht and Stygian Forces. Opening track “Tenebrous” scores this passage unerringly - the introduction that feels like a celebration of apotheosis, a sublimation from apostle and acolyte of evil into the position of patriarch.

One of the most affecting and beguiling aspects of this album is how it feels like an
amazing rock album, in the most superlative sense. From the aggressiveness of “Into the Absurd” to the much more classic black metal sound of “Luciferian Mystical Awakening” and “Orgasmic Nightmare of the Arch Desecrator”, from the blazing “Saturnian Sect” to the haunting “Remnants of the Dark Testament” and the soaring “Hellwitch”, there is a cosmogonic sweep to “Patriarchs of Evil” which clearly demonstrates masters of their craft at the height of their powers. 

So place an obolos in the mouth of the dead. Take the journey again with this most proficient and dreaded of ferrymen. It will become rapidly clear why Varathron are indisputably Patriarchs of Evil. This is an album that gets better on every listen - there are depths here to appreciate, and it is a joyous triumph of an opus. 

But sail upon the wind of lamentation, my friends, and about your head row with your hands' rapid stroke in conveyance of the dead, that stroke which always causes the sacred slack-sailed, black-clothed ship of Kharon to pass over Akheron to the unseen land here Apollon does not walk, the sunless land that receives all men. 

“Patriarchs of Evil” is available here

Band info: facebook