I tend to listen to various styles in spurts. Up until recently, I was pretty obsessed with the more chaotic and dissonant side of Black Metal, such as Deathspell Omega or Sjálfsmorð af Gáleysi. I spent some time immersing myself in the style and soaking it up. Recently, however, I find my listening patterns taking a different tack. More and more, raw black metal has been finding its way onto my playlist to the point where it has become clear that raw is my latest obsession. That’s fine by me, and, as with any style, dissonant will find its way back eventually. All of this brings me to “Crowned in Shadows” by Äkth Gánahëth. It’s one of several in the style that I requested for review purposes, in order to satisfy my current need, and I have to say, I find myself entranced.
In terms of Äkth Gánahëth, I’m actually working backwards. I also have the demo from earlier this year to review, but I happened to click play on this one first. Let’s start with the specifics. Äkth Gánahëth is the one-man project of A. who hails from Iceland, though I wouldn’t say he’s following the Icelandic style. A. has two releases, a demo and this full length, released a month apart earlier this year. “Crowned in Shadows” was actually just released a couple of weeks ago, at the time of this writing, on April 10. As of yet, the project is unsigned and only available digitally, though I hope that changes. I think a cassette release would be a very nice format for this project.
Musically, “Crowned in Shadows” has some really fantastic riffs, dark and melodic, great rumbling drum patterns, and a very solid, perfect for the style, vocal performance by A. In addition, as hinted at above, there are some magical synths that are mostly kept to the background, though occasionally, as on the track “Journey Through The Desert of Ice”, they are allowed to take center stage. The synth work would fit comfortably in the Dungeon Synth world, though it’s mostly kept relatively deep in the mix, allowing for haunting ambience. The few times the synth is brought forward lead to an excellent contrast with the aggressive darkness of the more Black Metal sections.
Overall, I’m very impressed with “Crowned in Shadows”. While raw, the musicianship and composition is quite accomplished. It seems that some musicians who create in this style believe that raw can hide a lack of talent. This is not the case at all. In fact, I think “Crowned in Shadows” has found a permanent home in my regular rotation. (Hayduke X)