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Akatharta : Spiritus Immundus

Bona fide Death Metal legend Kam Lee turns a very successful hand to producing an equaly bona fide Death/Doom opus.

It would be impossible to write an accurate history of Death Metal without mentioning Akatharta's Kam Lee, given that he had a large hand in defining the guttural vocal style we see all over the place today. Vocalist on demo's by fledgling outfit Mantas in '83 and '84 (featuring a certain Chuck Schuldiner), he then hooked up with members of Repulsion prior to joining Massacre alongside the likes of Allen West, Rick Rozz, and Terry Butler. Massacre then produced two more influential demo tapes before recording their debut 'From Beyond' in '91. To many, myself included, Kam is a bona fide (underground) legend.

Akatharta then. This band was conceived quite some time ago to "express the paranormal, and the complete feelings of dread and doom of the grave and beyond". To be honest, they've pretty much covered all those bases. Providing the 'grave' in question is home to the remnants of various classic horror movies, the voices of Vincent Price and Peter Cushing, as well as the narrative of H P Lovecraft and the atmosphere of The Exorcist. If you then imagine Thergothon gathering all that together and trotting off to make a record with Morrisound production values, you've effectively got 'Spiritus Immundus'. Throw in some of the slower riffs from Obituary, Six Feet Under and, of course, early Death, and you've got a fairly rich concoction of deathly Doom.

It's perhaps not suprising that there is so much of Kam's past in the riffs and overall feel of Akatharta, even if the mission was to make a Doom record. But, to be honest, personally I wouldn't want it any other way. There's plenty here that could be left overs from Massacre's career, and you can hear the slow, swampy stylings of Florida's Death scene dripping unforgivingly from the speakers with each morbid track.

As much as the album refers us back to the dim and grimy past, it is nothing other than a modern sounding slab of Doom. You can also hear bits of everyone from My Dying Bride to Mournful Congregation in here, but it's never there for too long. Akatharta seem most comfortable, and by extension, most effective when they stick to what they know best. Slow, doomy, death metal, strikingly reminiscent of works such as 'Remnants of Expansion' by Krypts. If that particular sort of thing tickles your fancy then this ought to be on your shopping list. Opening with a track boasting narration from Vincent Price, it's fairly obvious what sort of direction we're heading in. A cthonic one, if you will; Akatharta at times manage to outdo Massacre at their own Lovecraftian games.

As with most, if not all of Kam Lee's ventures, 'Spiritus Immundus' is not trying to be anything that it isn't. Most of Death metal is that way, and Akatharta's debut benefits from having it's overall aesthetic firmly routed in this ethos. Chunky Sabbathian riffs, bundles of atmosphere, eirie leads and scrapping solos are generally the order of the day, along with those vocals. There's even a stellar Celtic Frost cover tacked onto the end of the CD just in case you're not convinced. So it follows that if you're looking for diversity and experimentation, you won't find it here. What you will get however, is a reminder of simpler times, when metal didn't have to be clever, idiosyncratic or terribly technical to be effective. All of which, when you think about it, is what a good Doom record is all about.

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Reviewer's rating: 8/10


Tracklist :
1. Macabre Reflections In The Dark
2. Onryō (Wrath Of A Vengeful Ghost)
3. Tenebrarum In Aeternum
4. Nocturnal Interment
5. Phantasmagories
6. Transpierce The Umbra
7. Possessione Diabolica
8. Pneumata
9. Dethroned Emperor (Celtic Frost cover)

Duration : Approx. 59 minutes

Visit the Akatharta bandpage.

Reviewed on 2017-08-23 by Matt Halsey
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