Aklash / An Impressive Fresh Sound In Black Metal

Brighton-based but boasting a line-up from across the full breadth of Europe, melodic/progressive Black Metal outfit Aklash promise to “shock fans and bring a fresh sound to the UK Black Metal scene” with their fourth full-length studio album, Reincarnation. The album features a range of new influences brought by the refreshed line-up, and having listened to it, I think they will do just that.

Aklash – Reincarnation (Independent)

Release Date: 20 June 2024

Words: Jools Green

Still featuring the remaining original member from their debut, self-titled full-length, Nico Millar on vocals, guitars, and violin and Chris Kendall, who covered bass on the previous two offerings, 2018’s Where The Ocean Meets The Sky and Horizon in 2021, the latter of which was created with the band as just a two-piece.

They are now joined by Yiannis Panou on guitars, flute and bouzouki, bringing a touch of the unusual to the sound, along with new drummer Marco Silva. 

Alongside the multi-instrumentalist aspects of this current line-up adding extra elements to their sound, inspiration-wise, they have also worked in influences from Baroque/early music, NWOBM, Celtic and Eastern Folk, Goth, and prog rock, delivering something surprising and excitingly way outside of the perceived parameters of Black Metal.

Aklash - Reincarnation album cover
Aklash – Reincarnation. Something surprising and excitingly way outside of the perceived parameters of Black Metal.

With lyrical themes drawn from the “anthropomorphism of the natural world alongside a dissection of philosophical, theological, and classical themes”, they push those boundaries even further, delivering eight tracks that span a well-considered thirty-seven minutes of broad-ranging music.

This is felt not only in its influence but also in pace. Some parts are reflective and atmospherically thought-provoking, whilst others are intense and crushing. It is a combination that is guaranteed to hold your attention from end to end.

Opening with Reincarnation, this is a dark, up-tempo and driving beast of a track that grabs your attention from the offset. The vocal punctuation is very impactful, and it’s a track full of surprises. Amidst that drive, it drops back to a prog-style folky leaning but still maintains the driving force throughout. Aklash work in a soaring rock-influenced burst of leadwork, then a closing violin and flute element. Overall, a massively flamboyant and detailed piece that is superbly engaging end to end.

Communion With Ghosts builds out of its predecessor with gentle flute and violin work, building in increments as it switches to haunting guitar and drum work. This is complemented with acidic raw vocals and soaring layered cleans, which take on a powerful and more tormented feel towards the close. All this is alongside leadwork that has a subtle Opeth influence, with an intense driving blackened close. It is a powerful, moving, and thought-provoking piece. 

Released as the album single in early May, Babylon is a rousing, up-tempo, anthemic piece with a blackened undercurrent. With a touch of folk and prog that oozes eastern exotica, it is completed with tolling bells, soaring leads and vocal chants. An irresistibly engaging listen. 

Maintaining the tempo but delivering a darker mood is the next offering, Cossack. It has much more of a Black Metal focus to the style, with acidic and chanting vocals. But you still get a nice prog edge, along with a haunting melodic undercurrent. A mid-point drop with a flute section builds back with old-school rock lead work. Another excellent piece.

Kaval delivers yet another meld of exotic-tinged progressive Black Metal. Again, an up-tempo driver, the superbly layered chanted vocals are alongside raw screams. Tasty midpoint leadwork with a spoken element is overlaid with flute towards the close.

The penultimate piece, Caravanserai, is a brief instrumental interlude that reflects the preceding piece. This is followed by the final offering, My Will Made Manifest. Delivering soaring exotic repeat riffs balanced with reflective atmospheric ebbs, there is a hugely engaging groovy element to parts of the undercurrent. With layers of clean and acidic vocals and an expansive swathe of prog style soaring leadwork, the whole piece has a very prog-stye phrasing to its construct. Overall, a hugely impressive and emotive statement-making closing piece.  

Reincarnation is a superbly powerfully emotive and engaging listen end to end. The time and effort put into every element of its creation is very apparent.

I’ll leave the final comment with the band, who says, “This release is for more than just your average Black Metal fan but for people with a craving for innovation within the genre. This album holds nothing back. It is big and loud, deliberately made to catch your attention and keep it.

“We hope you enjoy what you hear and are willing to share in this journey of discovery with us.” 

Reincarnation will be available as a CD or digital download from Music | Aklash (bandcamp.com) and available on all streaming services.

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