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Ὁπλίτης - Π​α​ρ​α​μ​α​ι​ν​ο​μ​έ​ν​η review

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Band: Ὁπλίτης
Album: Π​α​ρ​α​μ​α​ι​ν​ο​μ​έ​ν​η
Style: Progressive black metal
Release date: January 2024

01. Μῆνιν Ἄειδε, Θεὰ Παραμαινομένη Ἐμοῦ.
02. Παραδειγματιζομένη Μουσική
03. Ἡ Τῶν Λυσσημάτων Ἄγγελος
04. Συμμαινόμεναι Διονύσῳ Ἐλευθέριῳ
05. Συμμιαινόμεναι Διονύσῳ Ἐλευθέριῳ
06. Ἄπαυστα Θεία Mανία

Last year, J.L. seemed to be the busiest black metal composer around. While the production and some of the musical ideas in this new album need to be more developed, it is safe to say that Ὁπλίτης (Hoplites) has reached a new high in its young yet productive career.

I’ll be honest: I’m rarely keen on artists that release multiple albums per year. I realise this makes me a hypocrite as some of my favourite artists are the ones who do this by default. That being said, it wasn’t too long ago I was severely disappointed by an avantgarde black metal artist who was a little too ambitious. So I had every right to be both intrigued and sceptical towards Ὁπλίτης and their three 2023 albums. It was a wild ride to listen to them in preparation for this review. These three full-lengths are comprised of roughly 2 hours of intense, dense, dissonant and technical black/death metal, a bit reminiscent of Deathspell Omega with added thrash aggressiveness and mathcore sensibilities, but at other times, the levels of quirkiness are closer to what Sigh on steroids would be able to produce. It’s an explosive combination of sounds, and I believe J.L. has what it takes to release marvellous music; however, some things from his 2023 releases put me off, like the uneven production where the drums could drown out the guitars, or the continuous shifts that felt like the product of unfocused songwriting.

So we get a new Ὁπλίτης album merely three months after the release of the last 2023 album. J.L. has certainly grown a lot as a musician. So what’s new? What is working differently now? Well, for starters, the production is much better and leaves plenty of room for all instruments to shine through. We now have fewer but longer compositions that allow for more cohesive ideas. There is much more emphasis on unorthodox instrumentation; while there are some acoustic passages and piano hidden here and there as intros or interludes, it is with the brass department where there is plenty to dive into. The saxophone adds intense personality in all the tracks on which it is featured, but without feeling like a cheap gimmick.

There is also more variation in the vocal department, with ritualistic chants like in the beginning of the album. Unfortunately I did not really enjoy their monotone style, but luckily they don’t appear often. Ὁπλίτης strikes me as a project that is best suited for the odd high-pitched scream and low growl, or just going straight-up instrumental, as the most memorable moments for me are when the blasting intensity of the drums and riffs take over, with the crying saxophone as the cherry on top. The intriguing and all-over-the-place musicianship doesn’t come without some shortcomings, though. The quick, djenty breakdowns in the middle of the third track might be complex, but sound very irritating and sterile due to the somewhat clinical production; they make me lose focus on the atmosphere that had been built previously. Yet that same type of “chugga-chugga” mathcore riff sounds gratifying on the fifth track, acting as a prelude to an increasingly insane combo of saxophone, synths and guitar solos.

I was on the verge of losing touch with Ὁπλίτης after the three previous albums. It was a case of “too much of a good thing”. I believe that J.L. is doing the right thing by sticking to fewer, longer songs that force him to use a wider sonic range. I also believe the best is still yet to come, but he is surely getting there. I just wish the next album won’t come so soon. Not necessarily for his sake, but for us who need the extra time to properly digest this beast.

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

Written on 23.04.2024 by A lazy reviewer but he is so cute you'd forgive him for it.


Comments: 3   Visited by: 72 users
23.04.2024 - 22:48
Rating: 7
Nocturnal Bro
My impression was that it was fine, but flawed. Definitely check out his other project that I much prefer: Vitriolic Sage. Not as experimental, but with very nice melodies strewn in between the intense moments.
24.04.2024 - 14:04
It's kinda surprising seeing this as the worst rated of their albums when it is the most well rounded
Do you think if the heart keeps on shrinking
One day there will be no heart at all?
25.04.2024 - 22:05
X-Ray Rod
Written by RaduP on 24.04.2024 at 14:04

It's kinda surprising seeing this as the worst rated of their albums when it is the most well rounded

I honestly think it is his best yet with this project.
Written by BloodTears on 19.08.2011 at 18:29
Like you could kiss my ass
Written by Milena on 20.06.2012 at 10:49
Rod, let me love you.

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