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The Emerald Tablets of Thoth is the most cinematic album I’ve listened to so far this year. Gilded with golden gifts to the gods and adorned with an atmosphere so thick with sand and turbulence, Akhenaten has provided the world with a fiery vision of ancient Egyptian gods to the tune of extreme metal. The album is taut, each song having a particular stride and cadence whether it be a ballistic, mid-paced screaming proclamation of worship, or a deliberate and apprehensive acoustic folk traveling tune. As a package, The Emerald Tablets of Thoth hopes to entertain with an in-depth recollection of hybrid gods, winged serpents, accursed tombs, and all other things so delectably as coarse and sandy as the banks of the Nile are themselves. Seriously, I felt like I had to do some homework after peeking at the lyric’s booklet. And while the album may get a little lost in the world it constructs itself, it still bleeds a vibrant black blood, indicative of a lively beast forged in metal.
I’d like to emphasize the word lively here, because the album lives and breathes the world of Egypt in spades. The moody ambiance coupled with the middle eastern folk instruments and fiery blackened guitars set the stage perfectly. When I hear these instruments, all I can think of is the pitch-black sky, illuminated by the full moon and brilliant stars, shining light down on the never-ending continent of sand. This is also enhanced by the striking green imagery, near-mythological lyrics, and authentic folk performances to give a palpable, motion-picture like listening experience. 3 of the 4 instrumental tracks are pure middle eastern folk arrangements, dedicated to the ethnic flutes, strings, horns, hand drums and other percussions that solidify the unmistakable identity of the region they hail from. All throughout the metal portions of this album, these folk influences are there to heighten to enjoyable extremity and elevate it above your standard black/death metal affair. Don’t worry, headbanging is allowed in the bazaar.
One aspect of this lustrous emerald that lured me in with was the explosive and rabid vocal performance. S. Wyatt Houseman chews the scenery here with his monstrous delivery, commanding the power and anger of an irate deity. His delivery drips with uniquity and stands a head above most black/death metal vocalists and their tired uniformity. His ability to scream out in an impressive magnitude and scale to the size of giants to the mid paced desert dirge of the music is a sight to behold. Wyatt’s brother, Jerred is no slouch either, credited with playing most of the instruments. The guitars are razor sharp and blackened as the night sky, puncturing the folk atmosphere with deviant, malevolent and intimidating forces that signify the coming of something mighty. The two brothers’ performances might as well be that mighty force because they absolutely decimate together. A very rare 10/10 in terms of raw talent and musicianship.
The culmination of all these aspects is the creation of monsters: behemoths of folkish black and death metal that bring reckoning with them. Turn to tracks like ‘A Hybrid of the Gods’ or ‘The Black Land’ to see dynamic progressions filled with build ups, payoffs, climaxes, rendings and tearings, epic riffs and perfect tones and moods. These two songs might convince you that the two brothers are actual messengers of Mesopotamian gods. The first track, ‘Neferkapta’s Tomb’, is exceptional as well, creeping and crawling, slithering and swirling with necrotic ambiance before blossoming into excellent black metal. The final track, ‘The Fall of the Living Gods’, is a clever inverse of the first track that bookends the album, going from blistering death metal to a brutal drum driven folk march. The rest of the tracks all capture this gleaming energy, but sometime go on longer than they need to.
The Emerald Tablets of Thoth is another fantastic album find of 2021, most assuredly to find its way on my top 10 of the year. Of course, it isn’t the first band to mix these iconic themes with extreme metal, but in my opinion they’re the first to truly yield them with an extreme energy while staying true to their roots all throughout. Bow to your ancient gods, bow you fools!
Release date: April 30th, 2021
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