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Varathron - The Crimson Temple review


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Band: Varathron
Album: The Crimson Temple
Release date: December 2023

01. Ascension
02. Hegemony Of Chaos
03. Crypts In The Mist
04. Cimmerian Priesthood
05. Sinners Of The Crimson Temple
06. Immortalis Regnum Diaboli
07. To The Gods Of Yore
08. Shrouds Of The Miasmic Winds
09. Swamp King
10. Constellation Of The Archons

Celebrating their 35th anniversary this year, Varathron have by no means lost their touch during that time; in fact, The Crimson Temple suggests the complete opposite.

Varathron need no introduction for anyone who's at all familiar with the Hellenic black metal scene, arguably lurking just behind Rotting Christ in terms of renown. With a discography that stretches all the way back to their legendary 1993 debut His Majesty At The Swamp, Varathron have since gone on to establish themselves as a top act, not only within the Greek scene, but within black metal on a global scale. With several impressive releases under their belt, the band now return one more (led again, of course, by vocalist and founding member Stefan Necroabyssious) with their seventh full-length release to date, The Crimson Temple. Following what was an outstanding previous effort in 2018's Patriarchs Of Evil, what can be expected from this latest effort?

Well, to start with, anyone expecting a raw and sinister Hellenic approach in line with their early material can think again. Carrying on from where Patriarchs Of Evil left off, the cleaner and more refined production currently used by the band is a long way off the stripped-back, raw and edgy sound heard on the likes of His Majesty At The Swamp. Similarly, their current sound remains comparatively light and melodic; at times, it seems as if the band have taken a step or two down the meloblack route, and you'll even be introduced to hints of thrash along the way.

This new approach may sound like a step away from the traditional trve kvlt ways, and may not sound pleasing to fans of black metal's truest form, but as a whole, Varathron's recent trajectory works wonders in delivering a thoroughly enjoyable and relatively digestible listening experience, and believe me, Varathron don't shy away from revealing their majestic, unholy prowess either. Stefan's trademark deep gnarly blackened shrieks (which sound more polished than usual this time), distinctive riff melodies reminiscent of the band's earlier material, and eerie enchanting synth passages all remain strong features of the band's sound, as the songwriting remains Varathron through and through.

The album starts off with a short cinematic instrumental intro titled "Ascension", with a tribal-like rhythmic build-up that teases the listener in gently and generates a compelling atmosphere; this method is one commonly used by Varathron on previous albums. The first full song is "Hegemony of Chaos", which straight away demonstrates the band's more melodic approach compared with their earlier years; in particular, folkish keyboard melodies and upbeat meloblack riffs come together in a way that I can best describe as being along the lines of Melechesh meets post-Theogonia Rotting Christ.

From here, you'll be subjected to orchestral war-like chants, tremendous epic choruses, memorable melodic riffs, ferocious blast beats, and exhilarating leads, as can all be heard on tracks such as "Crypts In The Mist" and "Cimmerian Priesthood". "Sinners of the Crimson Temple" features a riff with a familiar feel, as if adapted from a song featured on their debut, but delivered with a noticeable modern twist. "Immortalis Regnum Diaboli" is a standout song for its thrashy and ferocious edge, along with the Middle Eastern folkish melodies and female symphonic chants that help create a dynamic soundscape, plus let's not forget the powerful frenzied solo at the end. Subsequent song "To The Gods Of Yore" takes a different route entirely, featuring a more mid-tempo approach carried by meatier, heavier riffs.

Later on, Varathron step things up a gear, showing us just what the Hellenic black metal scene is all about with one of the album's most epic tracks, "Shrouds Of The Miasmic Winds". This track is heavily driven by an epic, memorable main riff (although it's not like the album has been short on those up to this point anyway) guided by a furious rhythm section moving at a relentless tempo, as sinister backing chants accompany the demonic lead vocals. "Swamp King" is no slouch either, although it is perhaps most memorable for the ultra-distorted demonic vocal effect used partway through. Closing the album off is the epic 7-minute "Constellation Of The Archons"; while offering nothing out of the ordinary compared with what has already featured thus far, the song nevertheless contains all elements that the album has featured throughout, from soft folkish acoustic interludes, erupting into heavy melodic riffs, and tremendous thrashy solos.

All in all, The Crimson Temple is a monumental effort for the Greek black metal veterans, brimming with memorable melodies, enchanting atmospheric soundscapes, and blowing people's expectations completely out of the water. Varathron have managed to take another leap forward, whilst still retaining their old unholy, sinister essence. Varathron may have set an unbeatable standard for themselves with this album; it will be interesting to see where they can possibly go from here.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 8
Songwriting: 9
Originality: 7
Production: 9

Written on 03.12.2023 by Feel free to share your views.


Comments: 5   Visited by: 139 users
03.12.2023 - 20:52

Pretty stellar review. I’ve never listened to Varathron (shame on me), but after reading this and seeing them at number three on your list for the year, I’m definitely gonna have to change that!
03.12.2023 - 20:59
Rating: 9
A Nice Guy
Written by Vellichor on 03.12.2023 at 20:52

Pretty stellar review. I’ve never listened to Varathron (shame on me), but after reading this and seeing them at number three on your list for the year, I’m definitely gonna have to change that!

Thanks, you really should check it out They're a really quality black metal band with a very impressive discography, but I have to say, this album even exceeded my expectations.
05.12.2023 - 16:46
Rating: 7

The Eastern and folk melodies add some nice touches, and overall it sounds like a far more vital spin on melodic Greek black metal than what Rotting Christ have been doing recently. I'm not particularly fond of the thrashier songs/moments, but otherwise it's a solid album - nice review
05.12.2023 - 19:14
Rating: 10
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
Doing nik job huh man
Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''
I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
19.02.2024 - 17:53
Rating: 9

As a first timer to Varathron, thanks to your review showing light to what are they, as a band. I thoroughly loved this album. I like this melodic touch, hence don't want to go back and visit their earlier albums. Maybe I will check the last one, since you have mentioned it as equally melodic.
In the beginning I was made of clay. Then I bit the apple and they changed me to metal 🤘

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