The Finnish Black Metal scene is about as rich and diverse as any scene, ranging from the ultra raw to the symphonic and melodic. However, for the most part the underground connection is still very much the same as the early days. The well of creativity seems endless, and many a band has been formed from the friendships built over the years as the Black Metal scene festered regardless of trend and popularity. One such recent union is Bythos, a band which combines the forces of drummer LRH (Chamber of Unlight, Horna, Trollheims Grott), guitar and bass player Infection (Horna, Ajattara and Behexen) and Hoath Torog, the vocalist of Behexen and formerly of Sargeist. This gathering of members of some of the most respected bands from the land of the thousand lakes crafted their debut album ‘The Womb of Zero’ which was released by the one and only Terratur Possessions in 2020.
Despite their presence in many bands with different styles of Black Metal, Bythos doesn’t sound like any of their other bands. Behexen is a hammer in the face, with a crushing sound on their most recent albums. And the up-tempo melody-laden groove of Horna can only vaguely be heard on ‘The Womb of Zero’. Instead, Bythos is the vessel to channel the sinister and melodic side of the band members, focussing on rather entrancing melodies and mid-tempo oppressive atmosphere over pure force. That does not mean it’s a tame album, far from it. ‘Sorath the Opposer’ is one of the faster tracks, with a crafty dynamic drum performance by LRH. But it’s the melodic leads with the crushing atmosphere that stick out in this track the most. That same quality of leads is what makes ‘When Gold Turns into Lead’, ‘Destroyer of Illusions’ and ‘Hymn to Lucifer’ some of the album highlights, with downright beautiful and mesmerizing riffs. ‘Omega Dragon’ is a downright rocking mid-pace grooving track, and as you get from all these variations in elements, ‘The Womb of Zero’ is indeed quite a varied album. The pace may not go to blasting mode, but varies frequently, together with the bewitching melodies creating a dark and melancholic musical landscape.
The Black Metal that Bythos has crafted is highly melodic and mostly at mid-tempo yet remains obscure and ominous through its melancholy. The pace and focus on melody make it somewhat different from what the band members usually do with their other bands. But don’t let that deter you, it’s actually great to hear them take a different approach to the same genre. After all, the music on ‘The Womb of Zero’ is through and through Black Metal, in all its glorious darkness. (VincentP)