17 Jul 2021 - Thorsten
Black Metal | Repose Records | Release date: 21 Jul 2021
Over the last couple of years, there have been loads of good records coming out of “The Crypt” the gathering point for Switzerland’s semi-anonymous Black Metal collective Helvetic Underground Committee, many of them overwhelmingly good music-wise and even better when looking behind the thunder and roar. Not trying to place Lykhaeon’s new release within the collective’s opus but this one definitely adds a new dimension to it!
The band, formed by Kerberos and Meister T, released one EP back in 2018 and has otherwise been pretty silent all the time since its inception several years earlier. Nevertheless, they have now spat out a record into the world whose mere concept is nothing short of radiant! Music lovers and nerds will surely know how about the influence of the ancient Greek theater on music as we know it, and that it evolved from the role of the choir in ancient Greek drama, where said choir was used in order to evolve the play. In some way, Lykhaeon (which is a homophone to a mythological Greek king) follow the roots of that form of theater, for they also clearly show in their vocals which parts are sung by different characters and which ones are sung by “the Choir”. Something like that definitely gives a record real depth and makes it stand out from the ever-similar form of Black Metal that is nothing but a dime a dozen. Adding the storyline of Opprobrium (basically a ‘publicly shaming humiliation’) to that you will see how closely related to the ancient Greek world this record is: The storyline follows the Kore or Persephone whom the Greek king of the underworld Hades lusts for and who kidnaps her, for his insatiable lust cannot be stilled by other deities and goddesses – he now wants her: ”My hands are the shrines of desolation, my breath reeks of ancient foul flesh, souls devoured by my ruinous splendor, abducting the seed!” (from ”Abducting The Seed”). This story does not bode well for the young girl.
Musically, the record is a splendiferous mix of every kind of metal one can think of: there are noisy elements like the ending of ”Abducting The Seed”, but the bands also throws in some meniscule industrial noise parts clearly parting the different segments of some songs. Lykhaeon also use some atmospherically dense elements like the opening title track which makes it easier to follow their train of thought. You can find some classical Black-Metal arpeggios and some very well-placed vocals which are somewhat between screaming and growling. Nevertheless, Opprobrium is most impressive, when the band combines noisy thunder (sometimes having a slightly industrial or naval touch) with something totally different – an element that at first might seem out of place, like the outro of aformentioned ”Abducting The Seed: It features a kind of spaghetti-western-meets-black-metal-sound. Combined with the often epic sound – connected to the Choir – this makes for a very unique kind of Black Metal.
As usually the case with the H.U.C., this record is very strong on the details. However, here these details are not small, but rather big. The soundscape is vast and epic, the story is amazing, the mix is raw but not unpolished. This record might be the best H.U.C. release in a while, it is very unique and the collective has found a new field for their stories! Lykhaeon will deal with Greek antiquity just like other bands from “The Crypt” talk about Zoroastrianism or about medieval times. Lykhaeon is a great addition to their “storybook” - musically and lyrically.