Varathron – The Confessional of the Black Penitents (Agonia)Tuesday, 17th November 2015
Still fresh off their warmly-received 2014 Untrodden Corridors of Hades album, long-running (as in, 1988) Greek black metal ensemble have cobbled together an odds-and-sods EP by way of The Confessional of the Black Penitents. Comprised of three new songs and four live jams, the EP’s purpose, apparently, is to put a bow on the album cycle for Untrodden Corridors, while giving the band a nudge in the visibility department while they head into 2016 with plans a fresh LP.
Consider the three new songs really two and-a-half, for the opening track is more of an intro/build-up sojourn than a real number. “Sinister Recollections,” though, contains Varathron’s hallmark elements – biting melodic guitar lines, coupled with (pun intended) sinister motifs and the blackened rasp of Stefan Necroabyssious, who remains the band’s sole original member. “Utter Blackness” emerges as the superior number, pulling at both sides of the modern Septicflesh and early 00s Rotting Christ table, eventually engaging a rapturous BM blast-off battle.
The live songs, like any other live recordings on any other live album, are give-and-take. The four pull from all eras of the band’s career, with the venomous “Descent of a Prophetic Vision” being the only song that translates appropriately. Probably fun for Varathron to record and stack into the vaults, but not much value beyond that. The real call beckons with another full-length next calendar year.