Review: Varathron – The Crimson Temple

Introduction

Band: Varathron
Album: The Crimson Temple
Origin: Athens, Attica, Greece
Genre: Black Metal
Label: Agonia Records

Birthed by an ancient evil during the dawning of Hellas’s rise toward eventual black metal infamy, Varathron – a veritable institution of the blackened arts – has achieved legend status over the past 35 going on 36 years by laying genre innovative paths anew, all the while as they’ve remained firmly rooted in the true Greek BM foundation that they themselves played a key role in setting: the epic, the drama, the theatrics and the unbridled wickedness of it all. Now, as Boreas whips the North winds into storm and as the bitter chill of wintry death incarnate sweeps the land, Varathron have awakened from their five years long bestial slumber with benefactions of crimson death… On December 1, through a blood pact with the prestigious Agonia Records, Varathron released “The Crimson Temple”.

Album: The Crimson Temple

Astute as always in their natural understanding of what constitutes genuine Greek black metal, Varathron have bestowed upon us ten epic chapters to one celebration worthy volume that whips the imagination into a maelstrom. Utterly visual and beautifully theatrical but also dominating in their level of unadulterated metal swagger, comprehensive album cuts like “Hegemony of Chaos” and “Sinners of the Crimson Temple” – rich and decadent – sonic feasts for black metal enthusiasts of all eras.

Varathron have dialed up the intensity of their music more and more as the years have passed and this brandishing of well-earned adeptness is certainly present here in the form of racing sequences and flamboyant percussive onslaughts but also those big, fat, juicy riffs of old; from the swamp and for His glory as you’ll so naturally be reminded of the band’s legendary debut, “His Majesty at the Swamp” while those doom-reveling progressions resonate so authoritatively into a synth and sitar-accented atmosphere. Oh, and thrash heavy chugs along with mighty heavy metal solos galore to get your cholesterol circulating.

“To the Gods of Yore” stands as the album’s outlier due to its death metal-infused parts; all brutal and done in the vein of early Pestilence and Asphyx before a reverting back to BM proper as atmosphere and malevolence once again take over. The ancient days and the ancients themselves brought to life, if only in spirit, for its duration. Ritualistic in vox and even tribal in rhythm, with bongos drawing to the fore of the imagination images of grand summoning performed by bonfire’s light.

Le package totale! Bathory worship, engaging riffs, complex melodies, a myriad of percussive techniques and all the atmosphere you can handle but without anything gaudy or pretentious. And it’s all done in ways both old and contemporary. True black metal through and through, yet refined and dynamic in ways that admonish the early 90s approach. There’s some of that here, but it’s done solely in homage to the early scene that Varathron built alongside the likes of Rotting Christ and Necromantia.

Conclusion

Considering what a monumental 11 months it’s been for black metal thus far, it was a bold move in my opinion to release “The Crimson Temple” so close to the year-end. As you’ve been packing your fat gullets with Marduk, Tsjuder, Azaghal and Satanic Warmaster, Varathron have been behind the backdrop awaiting the opportune time to unleash their opus. I’d say the gamble has paid dividends, or at least it should. Much work was obviously put into the crafting of this latest work, and when artists like the ones who comprise the Varathron lineup are as much in the zone as these guys are, great happenings are bound to transpire.

Our rating: 9/10

Experience “The Crimson Temple” by Varathron right here as presented by Agonia Records:

YouTube player

Thoughts?

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