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Varathron - Genesis of Apocryphal Desire
Review: Tracing the vein of development through the evolution of this famed Greek black metal band who were at their peak a mystical, romantic and often esoteric collection of ideas so abundant they were not contained in reality but generated fundamentals of a now-recognized style, this collection shows a melodic Swedish-style death metal band mutating into atmospheric black metal.
What distinguished Varathron from the sawing, dissonant black metal of the time was the ability to integrate a range of melodies as part of a narrative song structure and not lose cohesion. Through an understanding of rhythm derived from the mighty Slayer and a tonal conceptualization process that, despite its heavy metal roots, seems classically influenced in its use of melody, Varathron helped define what would become a trademark black metal approach to composition.
Many of the lessons learned between these two demo recordings shaped black metal that took the incipient heavy metal elements of the previous death metal style and converted them to pensive, restless, compassionate riffs which developed the music of outright violence into the subtle naturalistic holism in which evil is the dark nothingness which lurks in the forest. Think about death!, it howls, underneath its youthful desire to break out and rise, through beauty painting the abyss.
The first demo, Procreation of Unaltered Evil, approximates the range of bands who attempted early meaningful death metal without losing the inspirational directness of classics like Possessed and Death. Guttural whisper-blown vocals and characteristic muffled-strum riffs alongside ripping speed phrases, as well as the style of writing multiple bridges to make a complex song form that Slayer inherited from Judas Priest, outline the difference in style.
Where the first demo lurked, the second, Genesis of Apocryphal Desire, articulates with a deft motion of themes in riffs that works with intense narrative effect, so that one feels immersion in the music: the structural component of atmospheric music, in concert with the fuzzed and spacious production many mistake for incompetent, achieved once succeeds many times in suspending disbelief so that the aspiration in the music and its desire can be communicated.
Like later Scandinavian black metal, Varathron works on the principle of an extended and theatrical melody that sets its own stage with a sense of tonal and acoustic dynamic as structure to the regulation of mood -- creating a lush and immersive listening experience which escapes modern conditioned isolation to demonstrate through the entranced listener a possibility of mental awareness.