Music Review: Achren – The Forgotten King

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!

Bands You’re Not Listening To – Achren

I’ve recently been enjoying a live DVD for the Scottish Black/Thrash metal band Achren called ‘Impaled at Bloodstock-Open-Air 2010′. I’m convinced these guys need to tour the states with our own Skeletonwitch as there’s a lot of similarity in their musical styles – and they’re both fuckin’ brutal! Achren’s self-described ‘Blood Metal’ sound is one part chest pounding Battle Metal and one part raspy Black – all channeled thru vocalist/guitarist Scott Anderson (who bears resemblance to Soulfly’s Max Cavalera), guitarist Callum Kirk, Bassist John Clark Paterson and skin-bashing demon Gordon Johnston.

The disc features their entire set at Bloodstock, a performance that won them the ‘Metal 2 the Masses Initiative 2010’ title and in turn insured 2011 invites to Metal Camp (Slovenia), the mighty Wacken Open Air (Germany) and a slot on Bloodstock 2011. The Foursome from the Northsome (like that? I just made it up!) blast thru songs like the adrenaline fueled ‘Wings of War’, ‘Blood Soaked Banner’ (one of my fave’s – I love it’s blackened, oldschool vibe), ‘The Way of the Twilight or the Aura of Flies’, ‘Fury of the Northmen’ (another one with catchy Thrash riffs), ‘Forgotten King’, the pummeling ‘Bastards on the Gallows or Bastards on the Rack’ and instant classic ‘Impaled’ (which is included below so you can check it out yourself).

The DVD itself does suffer from a few flaws as Anderson’s guitar is muddled & hard to distinguish, and there’s scarcely any footage of the audience – which is a lot more massive than it would appear at first. Still, the multi-camera angles are professionally shot and Achren’s dominance of the stage is fully captured in all it’s glory.

Definitely give the video a watch as these guys are destined for great things in the hallowed black annals of heavy metal. If you’re interested in getting the full DVD, you can order it HERE. New album ‘The Forgotten King’ is forthcoming too, so watch their site (www.achren.com) for more details.