Review: Katavasia – Sacrilegious Testament (2015)


Greek Black Metal collective lays out a new Hellenic rule book.

As a country, along with many others in Europe, Greece, have gone through a few turbulent years. The economy has been blown to bits several times over and the infrastructure is significantly less than structured. Plenty to be angry about then and you know what they say; harsh times call for harsh music.

Katavasia (The name is taken from the Greek word katabasia meaning “descent” and is also the last hymn in a canon relating to Eastern Orthodox Christianity) are basically a band formed by some of the best and brightest talent the Greek black metal scene has to offer. An alliance of darkened souls (made up of members from Varathron, Hail Serpent Noir, Transcending Bizarre, Agnes Vein, Aenaon, as well as guest spots from Septic Flesh, Rotting Christ and Thou Art Lord) to unite in a sole purpose of refreshing the old school Hellenic black metal sound.

One could argue that the glory days of Black Metal were in Scandinavia in the early 1990’s but despite many predictions that the genre was just a fad there are still hundreds of bands, along with the originals, that are still producing some of the finest, progressive and most challenging music around. Katavasia have certainly looked to their own history as their collective inspiration for their debut album. Essentially what that means in practice is mid-tempo riffing with overlayed sweeping guitar melodies, epic and darkly lush atmospherics, rapid heartbeat drum patterns and devilish growls.

“Cosmic Nightmare” kicks things off in a classically dark fashion with speedy riffing and drumming complemented by a sweeping interwoven guitar sound. “Symphony Des Gravens” moves at a more leisurely pace . The speed is kicked up a notch on “Visions of the Misty Night” which initially begins like a modern-day Iron Maiden track. The vocals and double bass kicks in though and we are off into the darkness once more. At times the pace slows and the acoustic guitars and keyboards take centre stage. It all adds to a darkened atmosphere that the band wish to present and displays another side to the band.

The guitar leads are particularly impressive as they provide the melody lines whilst the rhythm section provides the power. The vocals are menacing and gruff-laden throughout.   To create music at this level you need to be tight and these guys, with their heritage and experience to call on, are as together as one could hope for.

“The Chariot of Emperor” rounds off the album in fine epic style. The closing of the book if you will.

Classic Hellenic Black Metal rises once again.

Donnie’s Rating: 8.5/10

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