Friday, January 16, 2015

CD review: ACHELOUS Al Iskandar (Independent) by Dave Wolff

Al Iskandar
This Greek band has been around since 2011 and Al Iskandar is their debut demo. Three paganistic songs completing a short story of epic proportions, well executed and imaginative, though I’m unsure whether the band based it on an actual legend or thought it up for this demo. This is something you would have to ask them directly. At any rate, Achelous display promise to develop their sound into something quite impressive when they begin working on full length albums. This demo was recorded by Chris Kappas on vocals and Chris Achelous on guitars, bass and keyboards, with guest appearances from Theodosis Charakopis (acoustic guitar, drum programming) and Irene Sahtouri (lead, backing vocals). Manowar first comes to mind when it comes to influence; listening further I can associate the atmosphere they bring to the table with that of European symphonic metal bands. “Pagan Child” with guest vocals by Sahtouri reminds me of bands like Hagalaz’ Runedance. Going back to the beginning of the demo, the title cut starts with a brief keyboard passage that moves into a slow, hypnotic rhythm with ethereal, spellbinding overtones. The keyboards return and become a little more prominent at the outset of “River God (Achelous).” This song is far more subtle in its delivery and makes an impression as being indicative of the band’s potential at composing epic songs. There are several layers of atmosphere in this track that likewise expands upon the atmosphere of the previous track. A really good start to what I hope will be an illustrious career for this band. -Dave Wolff