Released: 2004, Nuclear Blast
Now this was a total surprise. Germany's Agathodaimon to me has always been one of those bands that slips through the cracks. I've heard every one of their records, and have always felt that they were of a decent quality, but nothing so outstanding that I would be knocked unconscious or anything. So it was with the sentiment of, "oh, wow...another Agathodaimon record... great" that I popped SERPENT'S EMBRACE into the cd player. It was then that the one two punch of the tracks "Cellos for the Insatiable" and "Serpent's Embrace" knocked me down for the count.
What happened to these guys? Suddenly, this was a band that demanded you stand up and take notice. The Black Metal framework is still in place, only this time tempered with catchier song structures, reminiscent of the Suicide Rock scene coming from Finland these days. Heavy, up-beat staccato guitar riffs collide with swirling keyboards on many of the songs here, creating an infectious atmosphere that few fans of melodic blackened goth/metal will be able to deny.
With the worldwide success of Dimmu Borgir, it would be easy to say that Agathodaimon are capitalizing on the Norwegians' "accessible" (some would say "dumbed down") take on Black Metal, but I really don't feel this is the case. For one thing, the band have been working this genre of Blackened Metal for 4 albums now, but more importantly is my opinion that SERPENT'S EMBRACE is an album which succeeds in every way where DEATHCULT ARMAGEDDON failed me. Maybe it's the increased emphasis Agathodaimon places on the guitarwork(see the killer guitar solo/syncopated madness in "Faded Years"), or the immense hooks the band places in their music, but for me this is so much more enjoyable.
Fans of melodic Black Metal don't have many really impressive options these days, so it does my heart good to see Agathodaimon return with such a strong showing. I truly hope that this record does well, because it has so much more to offer than the more "high profile" efforts from many of their established contemporaties lately. I highly reccomend you take a chance on this one.--MG