Album Review: Ammanas – Acolythus

Ammanas is a one-man black metal act hailing from Russia – Siberia to be exact if the blurb is to be believed. To be fair, the stark and bleak arctic tundra of the north of Russia would be an ideal location to get into the mindset for something creepy and evil, so I’m prepared to believe it after listening to Acolythus a few times.

This dark pit guarded by demons located in the bit of the garden of the House of Rock where even next door’s cat won’t go isn’t the sort of area I’d normally explore myself. So do excuse me if I don’t pick up on a lot of the black / extreme metal nuances. What I can say is that Acolythus is equal parts atmospheric, brutal and spine-chilling. It’s also all the more impressive for being the work of entirely one person.

Listening to “Solipsist” I can hear layered vocals (harsh and even more harsh) which is a nice touch. Ammanas’ singing style varies between the lower growls and the high end cheese-grater screams, and these are both included in most of the songs. It’s the fact that it often sound like there are two vocalists that highlights that effort has gone into the composition and production on Acolythus. It’s not just the power and the lyrical content (all of which you can read on their website), it’s the delivery.

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“Bardo” is another highlight, and potentially the least black metal song on here which may be why I like it. It just drags me in, sounding like a crying lament, but also features some great slow moments and some faster paced guitars. Haunting yet abrasive, and hugely emotional. It’s the standout song for me as it really manages to get across everything that Ammanas is about in five minutes. Oh, and the opening to “Hiraeth”. Wow.

Guitars drone, drums blastbeat and the pace varies from that slow headnod where you get in the zone through to absolute screaming chaos. It’s so easy for the outsider to write off this subgenre as samey, but Ammanas has done a great job of dispelling the myth across this single work. I’m not a fan of this style of music, but I’ve genuinely enjoyed having these seven tracks on loop while I’ve reviewed them. I’ve also passed it on to a couple of my colleagues who do like to delve into the dark side.

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Acolythus is out now

Check out all the bands we review in 2022 on our Spotify and YouTube playlists!

Ammanas: official | spotify | bandcamp

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