There hasn’t been a release that I’ve anticipated and feared for such a long time, Arkhon Infaustus are without a shadow of a doubt one of my favourite bands within black metal, their brand of ferocious blackened death metal. Their last 2007’s release "Orthodoxyn" is still a release that is in heavy rotation and I would rank within my top 10 black metal albums ever, "Orthodoxyn" was a repulsive beast, supremely heavy packed with song after song of Satanic fury and filth. I was concerned however upon hearing that new material was going to be released would it match the brilliance of "Orthodoxyn"?
Then nothing, for 10 years their page on The Metal Archives displayed the status as 'on-hold', until last autumn when a notification popped up on Facebook announcing their return with an E.P to be released on Les Acteurs de l'Ombre Productions, breaking with their long-time label Osmose and a very different line-up from 2007, with only Deviant, the founding member, remaining.
"Passing the Nekromanteion" is a satisfying E.P in terms of value, 4 tracks and running over half an hour, rivaling the length of some more recent full albums by other bands (e.g. Deathspell Omega), but does it live up to the legacy?
The answer is 'sort of', it sounds and feels like Arkhon Infaustus, the off-kilter riffs and ultra heavy sections are still there but it still doesn’t quite sate my hunger for another piece of "Orthodoxyn" style brilliance. Of the 4 songs here, "The Precipice Where Souls Slither" is the best and strongest offering, the other 3 tracks whilst not weak, they’re just not as memorable as songs like "Trigrammaton" or "Magnificat Sathanas", the first 3 tracks are heavy and crushing but lack the groove and engaging pace of the last album, giving way to a more experimental and dissonant journey on "Corrupted Èpignosis".
"Passing the Nekromanteion" tracklist:
- Amphessatamine Nexion
- The Precipice Where Souls Slither
- Yesh Le-El Yadi
- Corrupted Épignosis
The biggest weakness of the album overall though is the production, for the style of music that Arkhon Infaustus create, the production of "Orthodoxyn" was perfect, dark, thick and claustrophobic, it displayed every element of each instrument whilst still feeling raw and unpolished; "Passing" feels a lot more polished, more akin to a modern Death Metal tone which detracts from the overall grime that Arkhon Infaustus are so great at producing.
It must be said that Arkhon Infaustus in the past have always made great use of EPs as a proving ground for their next album, each EP they’ve previously released has been a stepping stone in the evolution of their sound and a glimpse of what’s to come. Judging by "Passing the Nekromanteion" I think there is another great album lurking in the recesses of Deviant’s mind and I can’t wait to see what happens next.
Reviewed by Dan