A while back, you may recall I reviewed a live DVD from the Scottish band Achren (if you didn’t see it, shame on you but go read all about it HERE). Anyhow, their first CD has finally been released, which offers an excellent opportunity to bludgeon your skull to 10 tracks of Euro-metal goodness.
Achren’s self styled ‘Blood Metal’ is a decent blend of Death, Thrash and Black metal, with a lot of mid-tempo songs that while solidly constructed, offer unusual key changes rather than drudging along in endless repetition. Guitars can be multi-layered in parts but have a tendency to reinforce the melody, not going for individuality or complex harmonies. The rhythm section lays down pumping bass lines that chug along like a locomotive, accenting the driving, high intensity drum blasts. Scott Anderson’s vocals alternate between deep chested growls to rasping screams, but the words are still enunciated & understandable, not lost amidst the distortion.
Opening track ‘Impaled’ doesn’t have the strongest intro but is in fact one of the more outstanding pieces on the album once you get about 50 seconds into it (after the transition). Blood boiling rhythms pile on top of the listener like an invading horde with a no holds barred attack on the temporal lobe, crying out in fist-pumping anger. “The Way of the Twilight or the Aura of Flies” shows some definite Maiden influence but in my opinion really needs more of a wail in the guitar solo to take it over the top.
“Bastards on the Gallows and Bastards on the Rack” showcases the Gothenberg influences of the band, aptly delivering a stylish & melodic piece with both exceptional rhythm and some of the best fretwork on the album. “Fuck It Hard” is somewhat anomalous in lyrical content but is a quick, intense little number that probably translates well in a live environ. I also recommend the raucous “Fury Of The Northmen” with it’s hyperactive gallop & blistering guitar solo, the anthemic battle overtures of “Darkest Days” & “Wings Of War”, and the surprisingly haunting echoes of “Manuel’s Mile”.
I’ve compared Achren to Ohio’s own Skeletonwitch, and would still love to see those two bands tour together. But regardless, Achren has delivered an impressive freshman effort and I look forward to hearing what the greater exposure and touring experience brings to their sound. You can download the entire album on Amazon (while previewing a few tracks) or order yourself a hard copy at http://www.ceoldorchas.com/. Long live Blood Metal!