Review: Akhenaten – Incantations Through the Gates of Irkalla

Posted: February 19, 2016 in Reviews
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American blackened death metal conjurers Akhenaten dropped the superlative ‘Incantatiosn Through the Gates of Irkalla’ just at the end of last year through Satanath Records. Following in the footsteps of the likes of Melechesh, Akhenaton combine esoteric Middle Eastern folk with boiling blackened death metal with stunning results.

Opener and title track, ‘Incantations Through the Gates of Irkalla’ is the perfect scene setter, with Arabian instrumentation building the intensity and the atmosphere, before the scathing release of ‘The Watchers’, which actually almost acts like a secondary intro. It’s a weird set up, and would seem almost pointless if the satisfying thick double kicks weren’t so sweet. The churning dervish of ‘Enlil: Lugal Kurk Ur Ra’ is the first proper song, and it is seriously intense. It’s murky and dense, while retaining the Eastern flourishes that add a lot to the album overall.

While Melechesh always felt like the sharpened, glistening edge of the sabre, Akhenaten are much more that sepulchral voice that croaks from beneath the sand; that dark foreboding myth, the eerie creeping death of Mesopotamian nightmares. . Their incorporation of ethnic instrumentation is more akin to Karl Sanders’ solo projects than Nile or Melechesh, using it a lot more liberally. This will enhance of detract the album based on your preferences for these kind of thing. For me, tracks like the suffocating ‘Passage Through the Flames’ could soundtrack that most claustrophobic of tales, Lovecraft’s classic ‘The Nameless City’. Akhenaten hit a spot for me that I can’t quite describe, but their otherworldly conjurings are fantastic.

Akhenaten was an ancient Egyptian pharoah who tried to abandon traditional polytheism in Egypt, and in the same way the band don’t follow the crowds when it comes to their metal. ‘Incantations Through the Gates of Irkalla’ is a long record at almost an hour of ethnic blackened death metal, and while repeated listens unlocks the true complexity of Akhenaten’s sound, some may find this a bit impenetrable. Persevere however and you will find a record that is adventurous, uncompromising and at times primally heavy.


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