Melinoë by Akhlys

Release date: December 14, 2020
Label: Debemur Morti

Akhlys come from a place located deep in one’s subconscious, where all the dreaded magnificence of nightmares dwell and where those little horrors awaken, writhe and seethe, coiling their wicked tongues around your throat and dragging their splintered nails down your spinal column to force your body to quake violently at the unseen. Akhlys is a state of mind, an emotion in audial form… the unbearable fear your mind conjures when you’re at your most vulnerable, turning you into a sweat-drenched husk beneath the sheets. It is a waking, living nightmare made flesh.

In real-world terms Akhlys is the sleep deprived child of esoteric musician Naas Alcameth, whose name you may know from premier band and ceremonial black metallers Nightbringer. Akhlys may not be as familiar to you as Nightbringer are and that’s perhaps down to only unleashing one straight-up black metal album a whole five years previous, 2015’s lauded blast of evil The Dreaming I, which was preceded by 2009’s dark ambient album Supplication. Now, after some uncertainty of the continuation of the band Akhlys have returned from the shadow realm more defined, more visceral and louder than ever with brand new creation Melinoë. Such a fright-filled audial abomination requires an immersive and claustrophobic atmosphere to listen in and a totally different reviewing approach.

The ominous intro of ‘Somniloquy’ is quickly shattered by infernal angular guitars wailing for freedom from the darkest space of your mind… pummelling blastbeats and buzzsaw riffage tear chunks from that anxious meat that quivers around your beating heart… downtuned guitars spiral into the void and monstrous blasts boom into form… harrowing vocals pierce the soul and overcome you with their demonic spell… one last possessed onslaught lurks in the depths as furious and ear-melting horrors are unleashed to awaken you from any respite…

‘Pnigalion’ boils and intensifies as it progresses, crawling over your body with spiny fear… voices reach into the supposedly safe blanket of night as all manner of horrors creep around you… the groan of fright bellows… you float, agonisingly lost… seething chaos builds until you are consumed in its maelstrom of blastbeats and terrifying atonal shredding… tremolos flail like hooks and drums quake as you are swept up into its perpetual devastation… you are orgasmic, but also wet with the thrill of fear as you’re left sweating, penetrated by every strangled note… and finally your mind breaks and you are left staring into the blackness foreseeing your own demise…

‘Succubare’ brings you back to what you assume is consciousness… your eyes break open, sticky with your tears, to see the mangled face of your terror looming above you… hollow, mesmeric eyes and teeth like rusted nails, or whatever abhorrent vision your mind conjures, claws at your chest… the pressure is too dense to draw in breath… you reach out but nothing is there, no face, just black, just weight… vile breath in thick clouds and dread, utter dread, so palpable, still nothing stares back at you anymore, just the unbearable cacophonous embrace around your heart and soul…

‘Ephialtes’ grabs that suffocated heart and doesn’t let go, dragging you further into your madness, your descent into unknowing… are you awake or living your unconscious nightmare… the insanity of this night knocks you back into despair as you are left quivering under relentless blastbeats and tremolo fury shredding a part of your sanity away with each garrotting shriek… “breathe in, breathe out” you repeat to yourself as you attempt to writhe free of paralyses, but it’s hopeless as those charred black fingers squeeze the life out of you, leaving you cold, forgotten and unbearably alone…

If you have made it this far ‘Incubatio’ will surely render you lifeless… through the churning, abstract bleakness of the build-up comes pure devastation with every unforgiving drumbeat, ever changing from assaulting stabs of brutality to mesmeric metronomes of violence, shrouding you in oppressive blackness from your feet upwards until all you know is to be consumed… soaring melodious strings slice away your essence, discomforting, irregular but so transfixing… it haunts you, its cacophonous plague swarms your ears sucking you further into the dense ambience, dragging you into relieving, satisfying unconsciousness… or death’s horrid limbo… until you are free of its clutches and nothing remains, just a voice, singing you to sleep…

Akhlys dwell in a harrowing dimension of nightmare in the deepest, most dreadful recesses of one’s mind. Melinoë pulsates with every extremity that fear brings you, intensifying even the slightest whisper, creak or touch to a point where the suspense is overwhelming. The five tracks are pure immersion and the music on display is of the blackest, bleakest and most depraved of quality, the audial essence of what blackened metal should be. You shake and shudder at the strange chill that enters the room when Akhlys are tearing ears at full force with the darkness they bring with their music. It is abject terror driven into your soul with every harsh tremolo, every blast beating onslaught and every insidious fear-building atmosphere, making Melinoë an unforgettable and utterly terrifying release and possibly one of the best black metal albums of all time. You will pick it up and be too afraid to ever put it back down.

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