The mastermind behind Death/Black Metal outfit Acheron, Vincent Crowley, is back with his second release, Anthology Of Horror, from his self-named band. The debut offering, Beyond Acheron, was an absolute feast of nightmare and horror, hankering for more and now, almost three years later, the ten-track, fifty-minute Anthology Of Horror satiates that desire perfectly.
Vincent Crowley – Anthology Of Horror (Hammerheart Records)
Release date: 23 February 2024
Words: Jools Green
Beyond Acheron, with lyrics inspired by the masters of terror such as Lovecraft and Poe, was, for me, an end-to-end superb listen. It was an enticing, unnerving journey through the dark and macabre, which I considered, back then, to be Vincent’s best work to date.
Like its predecessor, Anthology Of Horror continues to regale the listener with more tales of horror and the macabre, delivered to a Dark Metal backdrop, melding elements of rock and Metal in a dark, sometimes doom-laden format. It oozes suspenseful and unnerving elements, reflecting the feel of old-school legends like King Diamond, Mercyful Fate, and Candlemass, and it reflects the doomier side of the vintage Acheron sound.
The Vincent Crowley line-up remains the same as the last album except for the addition of Tim Wilson, who is taking over bass duties, allowing Vincent to focus on the vocals.
The scene setting Intro VI VI VI has that eerie cinematic feel and is practically an anthology of horror all on its own. Reflecting some of the tensest moments in cinematic horror, with just a few seconds for each, it packs a lot into less than a minute and gives the listener a hint of the atmosphere and mood of the rest of the album.
Dark grooves and searing leadwork open Amityville’s Horror as Vincent Crowley lays down the storyline with his superb, searingly raw vocal delivery. The lyrics are unleashed with unnerving clarity of content, recounting the tale of 112 Ocean Avenue. With haunting swathes between the lyrics, a change and rise in pace in the second half heralds a swathe of superbly complex lead work before continuing the tale of how the family abandoned everything and fled the house. It’s an unnervingly great start to the album.
We continue with That Which Lurks Below The Sea, which was the album single released back in December of last year. This is a nautical Cthulhu-inspired nightmare where the beast awakens with the arrival of a storm, and the ship’s crew descend one after another into madness.
A sinisterly slow, plodding-paced offering that creeps up on you with unrelenting menace, it seeps suspense and is a punchily phrased piece made all the more atmospheric by the sound of the tolling of eerie bells permeating the air. You get squealing leadwork balanced with quieter eerie segments, with a second swathe of haunting leadwork and choral vocals adorning the second half of the track.
Clean, reflective guitars and a haunting melody dominate much of Under The Hanging Tree, adding a superbly bleak atmosphere. The pace and intensity build in the lyrical repeat. The sound becomes more crushing and oppressively sinister in the second half, contrasted by a sublime swathe of soaring second-half leadwork, as the evil tale unfolds of the meadow and swamp where the hanging tree is situated and the terrible tale of the young hanged victim.
Jekyll and Hyde
In complete contrast, Nowhere To Hyde is a chugging up-tempo beast that packs a punch in the guitar department. The pace pairs back temporarily to allow for the sinister vocal delivery, inspired by, as the title suggests, the tale of Jekyll and Hyde. The second-half swathes of leadwork are just sublime.
Blood Moon Lycanthropy is a superbly atmospheric builder. A sinister groove accompanies the vocal growls, which are delivered with equally sinister intent, punctuated with haunting instrumental swathes, between which the sinister mood returns with increasingly more punch. Midway, it pauses briefly, then the roar of “The dark begins!” the pace frantically ramping up, ensued by an up-tempo blast of extended leadwork, before plummeting back into the sinister groove. A gripping track.
Another suspenseful, gradual builder, Gods Of Crimson Cullings, is a tale of aliens and ancient Egypt. It has a superb exotically tinged repeat that courses over the more sinister undercurrent of the track, becoming more developed as the track progresses. It culminates in a superb double swathe of leadwork in the second half, a perfect complement to those sinister, acidic vocal growls.
The horrors of being zombified and one’s soul controlled by a bokor’s zombie potion are explored in Coupe De Poudre. It is a punchily phrased, complex chugger that boasts catchy repeat bursts and multiple lead swathes. Vincent unnervingly recounts the horror of being the honoured guest at a Voodoo ritual, of the hallucinations, being buried, dead but alive and unable to move. Truly the stuff of nightmares.
The atmospherically sinister Madame Laveau (Voodoo Queen) tells the tale of Marie Laveau, either the historical figure or the character based on her and immortalised in Robert Tallant’s 1956 novel The Voodoo Queen. Laveau was reputed to wear a pet snake around her neck. She holds prominence within the history of Voodoo in New Orleans and, although dead for over 200 years, is still said to have power over the city. The complex story is delivered with menacing intent by Vincent and set to a suitably dark and slow, suspenseful musical backdrop.
The final piece for the CD only is the bonus track, Killer, a King Diamond cover. Admittedly, I’m not much of a King Diamond fan. However, I absolutely love this interpretation. It’s addictively groovy, vocally brutal, sinister as hell, and packs a massive punch while still sticking to the original’s remit.
With Anthology Of Horror and its predecessor Beyond Acheron, Vincent Crowley has definitely found his niche in the realms of horror, capturing the mood and creating mental imagery superbly with the music and lyrics. It’s an end-to-end winner for me. I absolutely love this album.
Anthology Of Horror will be available as a digipack CD, gatefold LP or digital download, and is available for pre-order here.