Review by Rick Ossian
When I first listened to Aktaion‘s Throne, I was promptly put back in my chair on numerous occasions just from the sheer force of the tunes. One thing I DO know for sure – to lump these blokes into a group with the veritable myriad of Swedish metal outfits would be a profound mistake. They DO thrash ( and do so rather well, I might add) – they can also shred, vocally as well as instrumentally. They also know where Riff City is – it must be on a map there in Sweden, possibly nearby their home of Halmstad. This particular metal outfit comes to us from the folks at Dewar, and is beyond heavy as most of us may know it.
They were masterminded/founded by guitarist Francis Larsson in 2010, and though I noticed that no drummer was listed, the bio also stated that ‘literally everything was done by Aktaion’, so let us for now assume that the group did the drumming. Other personnel on board are vocalist Jonas Snackmark, who careens wildly from straight vocals to full-on power shredding, sounding as if his vocal chords are about to explode. His cohorts are Jonatan Ney (guitars, keyboards,vocals) and Axel Crone (bass). They are a force to be reckoned with. I also noticed that the bio referred to this outing as their first full-length recording, but the bio listed it as an EP.
One more note from the bio, and then we will charge blindly into some tunes. This is listed as being ‘for fans of Soilwork, Killswitch Engage, and progressive metal‘. Take these words as you will, dear readers, but know that Rick has your back as well, and would never steer you in the wrong direction. If you are a fan of full-on heaviness – we’re talking mosh pit heaviness – then Aktaion are definitely for you. Save for a spot or two of mellow introspection among the seriously heavily instrumentation and vocals, this group does NOT let up – their assault on your senses is a continuous, pummelling affair. Please listen at your own peril!
First up is M.A.D. – Ass of a Catfish (how’s THAT for a title?), and it is pretty basic heavy-as-hell thrash mixed with a bit of punk attitude. Some seriously heavy riffing and growling-at-your-granny vocals are involved here, and though there is some slight shifting into slower introspection, as mentioned above, it is for the most part brain-fryingly heavy!
We should probably also note here that the shortest tracks are at the 5-minute mark, which may lead one to wonder what happened to the shorties here. Perhaps Aktaion are a bit of progressive metal after all…though, to be honest, I didn’t often get the PM vibe here. Track number two, Prison Walls, gets off to a wonderfully heavy start, pounding and thrashing away like mad. I suspect my speakers on my PC are taking a beating, as I was forced to turn the volume up a bit on this one. There are, again, some positively node-shattering vocals here, but also some straight stuff. This being a regular thing on these tracks leads me to the inevitable question: if Jonas can do the straight stuff, then why do the growling? I believe the answer lies partially in the intensity of the delivery, if you will. There are times when you can just sing like a regular singer, but there are also times when you just have to LET RIP!!
For All the Things That We Are! starts life out with a pretty cool keyboard intro, then gets heavy-as-fuck before you can utter any resistance. There is some sweet, pedal-to-the metal heavy riffing here. They even do a shift into super fucking heavy at about the 1:45 mark. Again, straight vocals are interspersed with the growling, but I believe I’m already getting used to that. I would most likely submit the intensity theory again here, for reasoning alone. Perhaps I should do as Curtis suggests, and interview the blokes for answers…I also got the impression that this track could even be a thrash metal anthem, if you will (even a possible radio/podcast track). There was a shift to PM briefly, but mainly heaviness throughout. The scream at the end almost hurt my throat, by the way – just a side note!
The Cure begins a spate of longer tracks (seven minutes plus), which includes the next two numbers. With the Cure we have another super-mellow intro – almost like a different band is operating the instruments. Fair warning, folks – it doesn’t last! The heaviness arrives in due time, and it is heavy indeed, with excellent instrumentation, leads on top of riffs, and the main riff is a stomper! About half-way in we do get a PM downshift, but we are back to Riff City in record time. This track is very representative of that moving back and forth between introspective and slamming.
The Disease is another fairly long slammer, almost seven minutes again. It starts out with a heavy main riff and more straight vocals. At the 2-minute mark I noticed that all elements of the tune were remarkable – vocals, music, instrumentation in general – all very well done. The positively pummelling nature of the beat will have you at the back of your seat, as it did with me. “SAVE YOURSELF!!” bellows Jonas, a warning which we should all heed, by the way. At the 6-minute mark there is a blood-curdling growl/scream, again my throat was ghost sore just from hearing it!
Track Six, an interesting take on Ulver‘s Blinded by Blood, is titled Thousands, and is the longest of these recordings at 9-and-a-half-minutes plus. The intro and the close are both notable for the use of accordion, if nothing else. I think the only time I normally recall hearing an accordion is that rare occasion when I find myself drinking beer(s) at a local Oktoberfest-themed gathering…but I digress. This is followed by a decidedly mellow section. The main riff kicks in at a minute in, and we also get some excellent vocal shredding shortly afterward. The two-minute mark finds the boys downshifting to an almost lullaby-style section, but the return to full-on heaviness lies directly ahead. There is another introspective moment or two within, particularly at 3:15 and 4:40, the latter of which contains an absolutely spooky piano solo, worth the ride alone for this track. There are also a couple of nifty little guitar pieces. The keyboards play a pretty big role here, but this is the only track where that really happens.
Sense of Throne, the closer, is another heavy slammer with bloody, bloody vocal chords shredding and heavy-as-hell riffing. At this point I was almost breathless just from trying to keep up. So, as mentioned before and above, if the heavy factor is what draws you in to your tunes, then definitely check out Aktaion‘s Throne EP! Top marks! Also, due in 2016, the Parade of Nature coming soon!