Genre: Death/Black Metal
Country: Greece
Label: Iron Bonehead Productions
Year: 2018

“…Behold the failure of the creator, erroneous axiom …”

They are times of transcendence, those during which art truly undertakes the role of conductor/guide of the spirit (of the creators as well as the receivers). Reasonably, there are few artists who can achieve in creating such artifacts on a steady basis. Thus, it a great honor for the hellenic death/black metal scene to hold within its ranks -among others- a band that is the definition of what is described above, by the name of EMBRACE OF THORNS.

Consisting of the restless spiritual duo of Archfiend Devilpig and Herald Of Demonic Pestilence and with the contribution of several supreme companions along all these years, EoT never rest assured to any (and there were and still are many) great words and reactions caused by their releases and live shows.In addition, they never tried to catch the eyes of people with big mouthed statements or public relations or generally anything but their Art and maybe this is why they still haven’t received the recognition they deserve. So be it though, the path of integrity is a lonely yet marvelous one…

One would expect that after almost 20 years of existence, having crossed countless passages that led them to artistic peaks during the period of “Atonement Ritual” and “Praying Of Absolution”, the times of saturation and repetition would have come for them. Especially as far as “Praying…” was concerned, being one of the most unique manifestations of the occult within the abyssic death metal space, it could be the cornerstone of any subsequent release. Yet, stagnation is the fate of many but not EMBRACE OF THORNS. “Darkness Impenetrable” came soaring with aggressiveness, constituting a call to arms for those inspired from the forces of the nightside, leaving the listener almost breathless until the closing of “Aiwass Arisen”, the final track.

And now what? Three years after the assault of “Darkness…” what seems to prevail within the souls of EoT is a deep awareness of the gloomy reality the demiurge conjured around us, which comes together with the affirmation that masses remain blind towards it. The fury and hate that spews out when one becomes aware of the above is the kick-off for “Scorn Aesthetics” with “The Wanderer And His Shadow” moving in frenzied rhythms produced from strings, drums and vocals. A first surprise comes from production perspective, which is more detailed than ever. Like the mist that was present until now, has subsided to give ground to the clarity necessary to perceive the false patterns of mundane every-day routine and, subsequently, to overcome it. In an equivalent tune, comes “Mutter Aller Leiden” (Mother of all Sorrows), which rhetorically wonders: “Are we bound to be led or not? No!”. Moreover, the devious intro of “Reducto Ad Absurdum” passes the torch on to the most anthemic riffs ever produced from the band’s core, with the shifting guitar leads becoming the gate to transcendental ecstasy. I really hope it will not be left out from their next live sets…

“Stoking The Fires Of Resentment” is the closing track of the record’s A side and it intensifies the Nietzsche-an fusion of melancholic solitude and conscious will to power which is omnipresent along the full 40-somehting minutes of the album. Tempo has fallen now to mid-paced states and the high-pitched ominous endings of the riffs become more and more frequent. The time of the counter-attack has come and the title-track, which begins in soundtrack-ish fashion, soon gears up to unleash hell, with its thrashing style and some perfect drum blasts. Slower parts are present here too, as dynamics and bitter melodies are an integral part of this release, which certainly is the most “metallic” moment among the EMBRACE discography; coming in connection to the production perception described earlier in order to achieve the concept behind “Scorn…”.

Having reached the penultimate track, which is -in my opinion- the magnum opus of this creation, bearing an almost (if not fully) progressive structure regarding the interchange of rhythms, moods and vocal approached of this -blessed by Lucifer- throat, the feeling of a flame burning insideis impossible to ignore. The moment of Prometheus breaking his chains and bringing again the fire to a new humanity is upon us. Only this time, few will embrace and conquer it;the majority will be consumed by its flames. Within the insurmountable “Wolf Unchained/Prometheus Unbound” that concludes this masterpiece of an album, the “old” (rage, fury, war) and the “new” (solitude, awareness, counterattack) EMBRACE OF THORNS coexist in full harmony.

If there’s one conclusion to be left after listening to “Scorn Aesthetics” (and admiring its splendid cover artwork), it would be the awakening of who we are and where we stand within this modern reality. And if we desire to overcome it, we must know that probably our journey on this rugged path will be an (almost) solitary one. But when there is will to power, then there is also no return…

6/6