After thirty years fronting the controversial gods of blasphemy, Acheron, frontman Vincent Crowley decided, as a band, they had run their course and it was time to start a new chapter, with a venture under his own name. The first release, is appropriately titled “Beyond Acheron,” and after listening to this album you’ll realise what a brilliant decision that was.
For this latest chapter Vincent is joined by former Acheron guitarist Art Taylor and ex-Blood Coven drummer Ryan Arter, as they travel into new territories of nightmare and horror, with lyrics inspired by the masters of terror such as Lovecraft and Poe, to create an eight track, thirty-six-minute offering of horror infused Ambient Dark Death/Doom Metal.
Although I quite enjoyed Acheron’s albums, this new project and album surpasses its predecessor by miles, not least because horror offers an endless scope that is only limited by the imagination and alongside the chillingly engaging lyrical content there is a decidedly precise, well considered and sophisticated quality to the sound across “Beyond Acheron.”
After the intro, which I’ll mention in more depth at the end of the review, I’ll say from the offset there isn’t a track here that won’t fail to impact and the first track proper, “Where No Light Shines” is like stepping over the threshold into another world, where the dark and sinister atmospheric riffing and repeat melody and even the closing leadwork which is bleakly sublime, emphasises that sense of disquiet, escalated by the rasping vocal delivery which also has an air of uncertainty suggested in its delivery and the lines “Looking for the place where no light shines, I must find the pace where no light shines” delivered in a way that advise trepidation of step alongside a compelling urge to proceed, but make sure you can pay the ferryman.
The dark and horror laden mood continues with “My Eternal Vow,” half sinister, half beautiful, thanks to the eerie keyboard work that complements the bleak melody and escalating leadwork which suggests the onset of a madness to the central character. Add Vincent’s vocals, which here, have a tormented rasp to the delivery that befits “necro-centric” lyrics about being unable to let go of a loved one after their death, very Lovecraftian.
“La Muerte” takes you further into the darkness, enticing you in and enthralling you with more bleak riffs and unnerving you with the delivery of the dark lyrical content, arresting your senses with the atmosphere inducing mid-pace that dominates both this track and album, amplified by the arrival of the shreddy leadwork which elevates the sound alongside a rise in pace, adding a sense of unnerving imperative towards the end of the second half as Santa Muerte, the grim reaper, the personification of death, call it what you will, approaches. Another gem of a track.
The punchy and sinister “Bring Forth The Dead” is a little more up tempo, but no less sinister especially the vocals, scathingly determined and the layering and complexity of the guitars adds a breath-taking richness and depth to the sound.
Tolling bells and sinister soundbites add to the spine-chillingly eerie phraseology of “Masquerade Du Macabre” which oozes a grim and ghastly atmosphere and is vocally expressive, in the most sinister way imaginable, thanks to the multiple harsh voices employed by Vincent, with the intricately convoluted guitar work, all combined to seemingly paint a grand imagery but beneath there is that feeling that something far more sinister lurking.
Final offering “Farewell (At Death’s Door)” is a dark and gritty reflection that takes a look back over a life lived as the track’s character pens his final memoir with his death approaching and although it has an impending sense of finality in its atmosphere there are also contrasting groovy rhythms which bolster the searing leadwork and build on the mood of the approaching moment of death.
The unnervingly atmospheric scene setting “Intro: Beyond Acheron,” a meld of storm sounds, a tolling bell, monastic chants and drum pulse along with the ‘pulse to flat line’ “Outro” were created by Ludo “Evil” Lejeune.
“Beyond Acheron” was recorded at Sonic Lounge Studios in Grove City, Ohio and engineered, mixed and mastered by Joe Viers (Jacob’s Dream, Robot Lords Of Tokyo etc) and is end to end a superb listen, so no favourite tracks, this is definitely Vincent’s best work to date, an enticing and unnerving journey through the dark and macabre that goes “way beyond Acheron”.
“Beyond Acheron” also features special guest Aaron Werner on keyboards, with cover art by Timo Wuerz, who has produced work for past Acheron albums, and is out on Odium Records on and available from the links below in a wide range of CD and Vinyl versions and deluxe limited edition wooden box or digital download.
Rating – 5/5