Varathron - Untrodden Corridors of Hades [Agonia Records - 2014]Along with bands such as Rotting Christ, Necromantia, and Thou Art Lord, Varathron pioneered black metal for Greece in the late eighties and early nineties, with classics like His Majesty at the Swamp and Walpurgisnacht cementing their status as legends. Untrodden Corridors of Hades is the band’s fifth full-length and first album in five years, and shows that Varathron isn’t going to rest on its laurels. The album is set to be released November 21st by Agonia Records on CD and LP.
What strikes me most about Untrodden Corridors of Hades is how atmospheric it is while still throwing out delicious riff after delicious riff. It seems to be a trade off when making black metal: breakneck riffs or atmosphere. Untrodden Corridors of Hades doesn’t so much strike a balance between riffs and atmosphere as it does combine the two in a heady, noxious mixture. The main draw here is the guitar interplay between Achilleas and Sotiris. On tracks like “Arcane Conjuring” and “Delve into the Past” there isn’t typical lead/rhythm guitar work, instead, one acts as the lead guitarist while the other adds these little clean accents around the main riff. And in addition to this awesome style these two have so much versatility, with standard black metal tremolos, thrashier attacks, traditional influenced riffs, and crushing, doomy riffs. There’s never a dull moment on this album thanks to these guys. While hyper-dissonance seems to be all the rage these days, Varathron has rejected that, choosing to stick with kick-ass melodies that still retain a darker tone.
The vast majority of the album is an atmospheric, mid-paced march. There are moments of all out fury, complete with thundering blast beats, but the slower pace allows the album to breath and everything else to stick out. Even the bass is given time to shine! Longtime vocalist Necroabyssious utilizes a hoarse snarl to spew out sickening blasphemies. Evil chanting on “Kabalistic Invocation of Solomon” helps to enhance the dark atmosphere and “Delve into the Past” features some evil female cackles.
It did take me some time to warm up to Untrodden Corridors of Hades but it’s getting better and better each time it gets played. It’s tough to pick out the best track from the bunch because the thing flows so well but I can say for sure that there are no duds. It’s not a life changing album, but Untrodden Corridors of Hades proves that Varathron isn’t content to rest on its laurels. These Greeks have the drive and ability to create awesome black metal and it shows. A thoroughly enjoyable album, and one that I wholeheartedly recommend. Tyler L.