Waxen – Agios Holokauston (Moribund)

Wednesday, 21st May 2014
Rating: 8/10

Best known for his work in defunct American power/shred outfit Onward, guitarist Toby Knapp has a blackened side to him, apparently. It comes in the form of Waxen, a one-man black metal ensemble he started in 2004. The band has two albums to its the name, the most recent of which being Agios Holokauston, a mostly pure-bred USBM offering that does the dirty ala the usual suspects (Krieg, Leviation, Xashtur, etc.), but, with much better guitar playing. Knapp is a shredmaster at heart, you know.

All instruments are handled by Knapp, although we’re pretty sure a machine holds down the drum fort. It’s not much of an issue, though, for he’s buried the drums under massive swaths of guitars of brazen variety, where rippled chord movements and odd-duck melodies make for some challenging moments by way of opener “Suicidium,” as well as “At War with Reason Itself,” which gets the nod as the pick of the litter. There’s a subtle morose atmosphere to the proceedings – not as pronounced as the above-mentioned trio, but enough to jostle a number like “Eight the Adept” into dark black metal position. However, it’s mostly about Knapp’s unique and frayed approach to BM riffing which amounts to the main selling point behind the album.

Association with the always-reliable Moribund alone with help get Knapp’s foot in the USBM door, where upon he’ll discover the faceless Cascadian minions are rapidly running short on ideas…and time. Waxen, though, should strike the instant fancy of those who prefer the semi-spectacular bombast of the old Norwegian guard, whose musicianship always overshadowed whatever was going on behind the scenes. Knapp on the guitar, is clearly on their level. He just needs a sweet get-up with chainmail and he’s set.

Moribund Records official site