Nechochwen — Heart Of Akamon
Hailing from West Virginia, Nechochwen present their own unique take on the mixture of folk and black metal that has become a staple of American contributions to the genre. This two-man project mixes a heavy dose of acoustic guitars, clean vocals and various non-traditional metal instruments — such as flutes and hand drums — with incredibly heavy, aggressive black metal. While there are some similarities to genre contemporaries like Falls Of Rauros and Panopticon, Heart Of Akamon distinguishes Nechochwen as more than just copy-cats.
The majority of modern black metal gives at least a nod to being progressive, and Nechochwen do far more than that — brewing up a unique mixture that is roughly half blackened death metal woven into melodic folk record. The opener, "The Serpent Tradition," sets the tone with an acoustic-heavy intro before the aggressive metal kicks in. Track 3, "Lost On The Trail Of The Setting Sun" is far-and-away the best song on the album; encapsulating everything about the record into a perfect dose and climaxing with an epic mix of clean vocals and electric guitar harmonies that gave me goosebumps the first time I heard it.
The remainder of the album serves up more of the same diverse material, alternating between unrelenting fury and beautiful melody. The Heart Of Akamon draws heavily from the history of the American continent's indigenous people, their spiritual concepts and their encounters with European settlers. Similar to what Panopticon's seminal album, Kentucky, did with history of coal miners in its namesake state, Heart Of Akamon fashions a niche aspect of North American history into its own blackened folk metal experience. In both cases, it works well as an underlying narrative to such winding, epic material.
I found this album completely by accident, when I decided to binge the whole Nordvis catalogue on Bandcamp. Nechochwen were completely unknown to me, but they made an indelible impression on me with The Heart Of Akamon. The sheer depth and level of quality in the American black metal scene continues to astound me, and this project is something I can recommend to fans of Panopticon, Falls Of Rauros without hesitation. A decade into their existence, and Nechochwen serve up black metal brutality and heartfelt folk melody in perfect doses.
An incredibly well-crafted record, Heart Of Akamon showcases both first-rate black metal and a hearty dose of melody and acoustic instrumentation in roughly equal proportion. If, like me, you've been enthralled with the offerings of projects such as Falls Of Rauros and Panopticon then you should absolutely love this album. I was not familiar with Nechochwen prior to hearing this record, but they've rocketed up my list of black metal projects to keep an eye on in the future. Looking back, Heart Of Akamon could easily have been slotted into Top 10 lists in 2015.
Release date: September 4th, 2015
Record label: Nordvis
Nechochwen — flute, guitar, hand drum, lalawas, vocals
Pohonasin — bass, drums
- The Serpent Tradition
- The Impending Winter
- Lost On The Trail Of The Setting Sun
- October 6, 1813
- Traversing The Shades Of Death
Published: November 22nd, 2017