Nechochwen – Heart of Akamon (Nordvis Productions)

Sunday, 27th September 2015
Rating: 8/10

Originally made familiar to this scribe (and many others) via their unheralded oTo EP from 2012, Nechochwen is an anomaly in the context of extreme metal. Their subject matter delves almost solely into the plight of Native Americans, with mainman Nechochwen (real name: Aaron Carey) taking a hard look at the Eastern Woodland Indians. Furthermore, they’ve steadily blossomed from a folk-oriented outfit into a formidable, if not wholly unique ensemble, capable of blending the more brazen elements of death and black metal with acoustic guitar passages and a litany of exotic instrumentation. On Heart of Akamon (the band’s third full-length), it all coalesces for a listening experience like any other in 2015.

Easy to get turned on by the somber thread running through the band’s riffs. Nechochwen is appropriately fond of dynamics, where upon the vast brush strokes of hard-pacing BM riffing gets turned around when it’s time to tone matters down. One will no doubt find a wealth of these ideas on excellent album opener “The Serpent Tradition,” as well as “Lost on the Trail of the Setting Sun,” a voluminous, punchy combo with its head deep in the atmospheric brush strokes of the dudes over in Scandinavia. But the album’s real value turns up via the marvelous “Skyhook” instrumental, which glides right into album closer “Kiselamakong,” which is perhaps the best representation of how well Nechochwen blends so many elements into one fine stew.

What should be many’s first introduction to Nechochwen, Heart of Akamon is a wonderful gateway. The band’s West Virginia locale, combined with its songwriting wit and panache give the band a distinct edge. Furthermore, the intrigue builds with each passing listen to Heart of Akamon. Marvelous stuff.

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