Incantations Through The Gates of Irkalla (2015)
label: Satanath Records (Russia), Murdher Records (Italy), Darzamadicus Records (Macedonia)
release: 20 December 2015
Akhenaten (Colorado, U.S.) is the work of two metal blood brothers, Wyatt Houseman (vocals, lyrics) and Jerred Houseman (guitars, drums, bass), who have two projects that I am a bit familiar with: Akhenaten and Helleborus. I guess it was last year, 2015, that I heard the black metal of Helleborus and I immediately liked the vocals. I liked the music, too, but I noticed the vocals, which, in my opinion, are possibly the best new extreme metal vocals that I heard in 2015. For me, the vocals stood out a lot and I remember thinking that they were especially good. Thus, I was looking forward to getting to know this Akhenaten album on account of the vocals of Wyatt Houseman.
Akhenaten is an entity that is something like “exotic” extreme metal with major Middle Eastern/Arabian elements: "Middle Eastern ethno dark industrial black metal." There is a symphonic vibe and the Middle Eastern/Arabian components are upfront, an indispensable part of the music, not just low-volume background sounds. In this music, despite the “world music” sounds, the black metal does not disappear completely. The guitar is present, even if it’s not raging all the time, obviously. I like the fact that the percussion is present throughout, too. If there is a beat, then that keeps my interest. I am not looking for long periods of ambience or yoga music, you understand. Anyway, like I was saying, I like the vocals, but I knew that coming in. That was part of the deal. I expected those vocals to be present because if they were not, then I was probably going to go find the exit door. I usually see the word “industrial” and I’m out the door. Mr. Houseman screams/growls similar to prime-time Chuck Schuldiner/ Mikael Åkerfeldt/David Vincent. There is a thickness to Mr. Houseman’s voice. I hope that he can actually do the vocals for real, and not just studio magic. The vocals are closer to black metal in feel, but they do not sound annoying like screechy vocals do for some people. There is a certain smoothness to them. There is definitely an expressiveness to them, too, that’s for sure.
The “exotic” elements are upbeat, like belly-dancing music, in a similar way that Nile or Melechesh is belly-dancing music. Akhenaten sounds very melodic due to these elements. Given that this is supposedly just two people, there are several issues that you might be pondering. It sounds like the drumming is drum programming and not real drums. What about all that Middle Eastern instrumentation? Is it real instruments? I cannot find anywhere where it says that Mr. Jerred Houseman plays other instruments besides guitar and bass.
Don’t trust what I say, though. Hear the album for yourself at the Bandcamp link below.
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