Trying out modern melodic death metal can me tricky sometimes. Sometimes there is a little too much core in there somewhere….enough to turn me off usually. Thankfully that is not all modern melo-death bands. France’s Akiavel manage to pull off a modern sound while throwing in some crushing riffs and a darker atmosphere as well as some nice tremolos. I was surprised to find that the band was female fronted. She’s got quite a range to her growls and can get quite guttural at times. Now before I get ahead of myself here, this is all based on repeated listens of their sophomore full length, VAE VICTIS. I was unfamiliar with this band up until I heard this album and I must say, while not a perfect album, I can see what they were trying to accomplish and, for the most part they succeeded.
The album starts of quite strong. The first single and video, which is also the album opener, “Frozen Beauties,” comes out strong with a some nice riffs and some blistering speed. The guitars are downtuned and the riffing reminds me of some Nevermore riffs. Those growls still make me forget that this is a female fronted band. Vocalist Auré can truly belt them out. They also have a gothic metal element to them adding a lot of atmosphere. “Blind Torture Kill” follows that with a more direct approach. Once again, there is that darker atmosphere and this song does not have the speed but makes up for it with that mix of brutality and melody. Then you have a song like the blistering “Needles From Hell.” This song has a lot of interesting things going on in it. There’s some serious blasting right before the chorus. But in between there are killer time changes, monster riffing and those growls are brutal!
But for all of this, the album still leaves me wanting in some ways. As I said, the album is full if great ideas and brilliant musicianship but the absence of a solo, any solo, is a huge issue for me. The guitars are so front and center and the riffs can be so good, where’s the shredding? Right after the break at the 2:45 mark during “The Lady of Death,” a solo to take us back to the chorus would have been perfect. Or at at the 1:35 mark of “Pentagram Tattoo;” that would have made for a perfect place to throw a short burst of shredding. That is just a personal preference of mine. Thankfully that does not completely ruin the album for me. It’s too interesting to just toss it aside for that. With song titles like “Zombie,” “Mommy, I’m Capable,” and “Matrimonial Advertisements,’ you just have to know what is going on here!
This is a really talented band with an interesting and intriguing approach to melodic death metal. It took some time for this album to grow on me an for me to fully understand what they were trying to do here. While the lack of solos and the modern approach was an opportunity for me, it was not enough to take away from the dark atmosphere and the interesting approach. This is female fronted and modern but nothing like the others in the genre. If you’re looking for melo-death that offers something unique, this could be for you. Check it out! Solos not included.