German Dark Metal outfit Agathodaimon return from their eight-year hiatus with their seventh studio release, The Seven. “The gates of darkness have opened once again,” the band promise, “to reveal extreme soundscapes amid a captivating mélange of evil provoking, cutting Dark Metal and heroic symphonic Black Metal.”
Agathodaimon – The Seven (Napalm Records)
Release Date: 18 March 2022
Words: Jools Green
The title has nothing to do with its place in their discography. Thematically The Seven has a far deeper meaning and “is centred around the momentous and symbolically powerful number seven and the seven deadly sins – sloth, greed, lust, gluttony, pride, wrath, envy, all addressed with religious topics that contrast with human beings and its original nature.”
Opener La Haine lures the listener into the freezing, dark lair of Agathodaimon. The intense opening riffs, searing screams and acerbic vocals ensnare you, followed by a dramatic drop away into a slower, darker, doomier sound. This allows deeper harsh vocals and a repeat epic clean segment to build up to a searing intensity before the close.
Ain’t Death Grand has a dramatic meld of unnerving symphonics and harsh vocals and an excellent swathe of intense riffing. I love the ebb and flow in pace, which, all the while, maintains the sinister edge. Completed with great mid-point leadwork, it is an impressive track, dark, brutal and very engaging.
Intense to open, with a subtle symphonic undercurrent, Wolf Within flits between a dark, dense, punchy drive and more reflective passages with clean vocal choruses that are subtly understated but effective. The second half leadwork adds impact, along with a groovy chug that courses through the more up-tempo segments.
Agathodaimon move into a more up-tempo realm with Ghosts Of Greed. It’s very dynamic and is interspersed with complex, convoluted segments becoming more intense as it progresses. With deeper cleans that are powerful and effective, rocking leadwork midway, a superb second half has intense blackened riffing.
Continuing with that dynamic feel, Mother Of All Gods is a dark, dramatic and heavily symphonic work that also features a guest appearance of Agathodaimon’s former vocalist, Vlad Dracul. This is Dracul’s very first collaboration with his former band since 1999, an impressively powerful track that hits the spot.
On Estrangement, I do like the way the cleans have been implemented. They have a harrowing edge, becoming more tortuous as they progress, and there is often a doomy bleak aspect to the sound, something that always appeals to me.
In my Dreams (Part 1 – Prelude) is a short reflective, slightly bleak, instrumental piece that precedes and melds into, In my Dreams (Part 2 – In Bitterness). This moves between dense instrumental bursts and bleak passages, which are topped with bitter tinged cleans alongside intense leadwork.
The superb Kyrie/Gloria features a guest appearance of Benighted frontman Julien Truchan. It’s a slow, heavy Black Metal crusher. I love the harsh vocal layering, and as it progresses, it develops very sinister overtones, particularly when the deep choral cleans kick in. In the final minute, it ramps up to utter Black Metal mayhem, not surprisingly, my favourite track of the album.
Closer, The Divine is another very good track. It’s slower, very bleak, dark and symphonic. I love the inclusion of the piano work in the first half, which adds an extra texture and goes well with the scathingly vitriolic harsh vocals.
Overall, The Seven makes an engaging and intriguing listen and is a welcome return by Agathodaimon.
The Seven will be available as an LP gatefold in ocean blue, CD Digipak and T-Shirt Bundle (Napalm Records exclusive), CD digipak or as a digital album.