(Unholy Prophecies, 2015)
This trio from Lichtenstein (Germany) has been active for about 5 years, releasing a Demo in 2013, before this their first EP. The band likes to label their music as Nihilistic Death Metal, but music-wise (in my opinion), in the early nineties this release could be labeled as Melodic Black Metal as well (depending on the image and attitude of the band).
After the atmospheric and “occult”-sounding instrumental intro of different picked strings and chiming bells, this EP offers us indeed four quite long songs of very old-school but actually pretty unique-sounding Metal of Death. While I’m getting a lot of the obscure feelings of for example Tiamat’s “The Astral Sleep”, and mostly the melodic eeriness, hook-filled tempos and technicality of the first Dissection or Unanimated releases, the band manages to sound very individual.
Besides the obvious music, the sounds and production of these songs are also very old-school (most likely deliberately), such as on those of an old cassette-demo or a 7”, partly murky and foggy, partly sharp and high, with the right amount of reverb in the voices from the temple.
The guitars, which are most present element in the mix, are usually played with high notes and full of melodies. The guitarist does a remarkably fantastic job, switching between different playing styles and quite complicated riffs with ease, while the drums follow and back the guitars with the same amount of imagination and skill. The quite high (as well, at least to my ear) basses howl and boom in the mix with great performance as well, and as the bassist is also doing the vocals, he is doing a terrific job naturally. The awesome vocals are mostly low screaming or high growling, in the vein of for example many early nineties Scandinavian melodic Death and Black Metal bands, usually barking in a typical yet personal and highly atmospheric fashion, yet sometimes going to truly twisted and insane places.
In the end, the greatest wonder of this release is not the authentic old-school obscure aura surrounding it all, but indeed the amount of riffs and different parts (under the same musical banner) in the songs, making whoever has composed and arrange these rituals a truly master of his craft.
Although (at a first quick glance) pretty similar in aesthetic and lyrical (?) lines with numerous modern Black Metal bands of the “occult” nature, the music Archaic Thorns creates really beats most of the other trendy currents in imagination, skills and style.
If you like your Death (or Black) Metal melodic, eventful, old-school, obscure and occult, look no further. This EP offers 28mins of highly imaginative and entertaining ethereal invocations, with an extremely high re-listening value. Hopefully the band will continue to record a full-length album in the future.