Label: Hells Headbangers Records
In reality not many things have changed for Agatus. Even from the time of that first “A Night Of The Dark Ages” demo back in 1993, the band was more musically restless than any typical black metal band of its time. Of course the aim was expression through black metal forms, but Agatus’ path towards that aim was adventurous and musically interesting. The melodic interludes, the essential presence of keyboards which had a distinctive role in the orchestration of the songs and the persistence in riffing that was looking traditional steel eye to eye, were all elements that became trademark for the band in the “Black Moon” demo (1994), but also in the “Dawn Of Martyrdom” which was the album that put them on the map for good. Ι remember vividly that when the needle of my turntable touched the album of their then return in 2002, “The Weaving Fates”, I was quite perplexed. Not only was I listening the above elements set free and even more pompous, but I started realising that it is in the band’s intention to do a lot more that do not fit in the frame of black metal – but can coexist with it.
So, it came as no surprise that 14 years later, I pressed play in the third full length effort of the band which brings to the forefront a sum of great songs that combine a plethora of influences. 70’s guitar styles – either in Proto Metal or Hard Prog Rock motifs -, NWOBHM riffing – that serves as a basis for some of the more intense moments of the album –, also Black Metal passages – either as main themes, either as break outs-, these are the basic elements that give life to Agatus’ music. And all this through the pompous prism that was always characteristic of the band.
Perspicuity is what the band wants of its guitar parts. Either we are talking about Heavy moments, or for Black Metal practices (that refer to the particular space and time of 1993-95 Greece, before atmosphere becomes the goal for many black metal bands of this era), the listener can almost bring back from his memory every guitar theme of the record. I don’t think you can say that about many albums. The puzzle is completed by some more elements that will come to the attention of the listener by the first listening session. On one side there is an almost minimalistic usage of keyboards that serves a vintage 70’s aesthetics that has its own charm in the end or gives the necessary pompous vibe – in the epic moments of the album -. In both cases it is clear that the keyboards here were not a mere last minute supplement, but they rather serve a general concept of orchestration. Of course, it is Agatus we are talking about all this time. Finally, I can write with pride that the drums lift off every composition in this album. To the point, emphatic, with phrases that tone certain themes in their songs and with a demonic dynamics, the drumming in the new Agatus is a hidden ace of spades in the sleeve.
This is an exceptional album. Made with conscience. It grooves, it has a vintage aesthetics that coexists with this Black Metal perception that the golden Greek bands had during the golden era of the genre and it brings forth the epic lyricism, going through 70’s prog guitar paths. Its production carries a 70’s warmth, but doesn’t want to sound retro. Ask my neighbours that were banging the walls when I was playing the album as loud as I could.
Those of you who have listened to the 2 EP’s that the band released in 2011 (“Night Mares”) and 2012 (“Gilgamesh”) might be somehow prepared for the stigma of this record. Agatus likes EP’s (remember the magnificent “Rise Of Metamorphosis” from 1997) and maybe are using them not to bewilder us when they decide to release a full length. Nevertheless, I am going to write this as heavy as it may seem: I believe that “The Eternalist” is the most subversive and set free music that this band has given us all those years. It is a huge record that is here to stay. Is it about the talent? Is it about the vision? Is it about the experience Vorskaath has in classical orchestras? I don’t know… There is plenty and rich music in this record and you’d better listen to it as soon as possible.