Varathron – Patriarchs of Evil (Agonia)

Tuesday, 15th May 2018
Rating: 8/10

If Patriarchs of Evil opener “Tenebrous” isn’t the most Hellenic black metal-sounding song, then what is? The naturally exotic nature of Greek BM (you can hear it right away in the melodies) is essentially gift-wrapped in this tune, throwing mid-tempo era Rotting Christ (i.e. their late 90s period) and the finer moments of Necromantia. This is not to suggest Varathron is a simple rip-off; they’re not — the band has been active since 1988, which means that they’re in their 30th year of existence, now armed with a stout effort in the form of Patriarchs of Evil, their sixth full-length.

The defined thrash element here is the undercurrent that regularly propels Patriarchs of Evil. Thanks to Varathron’s undeniably tight rhythm section (great fills, tom work, nimble bass work, too), these cuts never quite fly off the handle, which occasionally happens in this form. Rather, the sprint of “Into the Absurd” or “Saturnian Sect” is flanked by the enigmatic “Luciferian Mystical Awakening,” which is an on-point, traditional black metal sojourn that cuts through with keyboard flourishes and careful acoustic guitar strumming.

Elsewhere, we’ll point to the vintage, mid-tempo moves and grooves of “Hellwitch (Witches Gathering)” and climatic, over-the-top barrage of album closer “Ouroboros Dweller (The Dweller of Barathrum)” as brisk, engaging cuts that display the sort of variety that only a song-savvy band like Varathron could achieve. As such, Patriarchs of Evil emerges as the de facto extreme Hellenic album thus far of 2018, blasphemy, mystery and intrigue included along the way, too.

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