Released: 2009, Massacre Records
Reviewer: Mr. Rock
PHOENIX is the fifth album from Germany’s Agathdaimon, and I have to admit that I hadn’t heard of the band until I received this cd. I know, but you can’t know them all…
With a black metal band name with a hard rock album title, I really wasn’t sure what I was in for with Phoenix. The music is a mix of black metal vocals with the music falling under any of the following categories: metal, power metal, speed metal, a little techno, and goth-y clean vocals. This is quite a mixture, but you know what – it works!!
Vocalist Ashtrael is powerful, with a gutteral growl that will impress even the most staunch black metal lovers. He is a menacing force over the highly melodic music, and the contradiction is a pretty cool mix. The guitar work of Sathonys and Jansohn is intricate, without being overly complex, leaving the listener humming the tunes for quite some time.
Like I mentioned, the music behind the vocals varies from power metal-ish (“Heliopolis”) to quasi-speed metal (“Devil’s Deal”), to a little more goth-y (“Decline”) with clean vocals, to a little more ethereal (“To Our Ashes”), to more death-y (“Oncoming Storm”). I love the very death metal vocals on “Oncoming Storm”.
With this much variety, you may think that the band is all over the place. Well, yes, but it does work. I would have preferred it though if they would lose the clean vocals. When you have very dark vocals mixed with clean, the only way that it really works is when the clean vocals are stellar. There has to be a really big contrast. Here, Sathonys’ clean vocals, while good, don’t quite make the contrast (think how Leaves’ Eyes vocals work, or Luna Mortis, or Scar Symmetry). Don’t get me wrong, his vocals are fine, but I don’t think they offer the desired result. One other thing that sort of stands out for me is the length of the album – 14 songs clocking in at well over an hour. I think that when a disc is this long, you risk losing some people. I don’t know if the attention span of most will work in Agathodaimon’s favour. I would think 40-45 minutes would be great.
Agathodaimon are a very talented band, and after 5 albums, they have their songwriting down. PHOENIX is impressive on a lot of fronts, and if you are feeling a little adventurous, then this disc will fit nicely into your collection.