Agathodaimon - Phoenix
Massacre Records
Symphonic Black/Death/Gothic Metal
14 songs (72:36)
Release year: 2009
Agathodaimon, Massacre Records
Reviewed by Thomas

Agathodaimon label themselves as Dark Metal, which I’m genuinely skeptical towards. I headed straight into this with mixed expectations. From what I’ve read before, this was an earlier symphonic black metal band which switched to a more gothic style as the years passed by. The gothic metal scene is a subgenre I have struggled with since day one, which is probably why this surprised me so much. ‘Cause this wasn’t by any means the “beauty and the beast”-themed, darkened and bleak, female-fronted band I imagined. Fair enough, the lyrical view is more or less depressive and deeply darkened, however, the music is way more entertaining and not at all as sorrow-full as I immediately expected upon reading the genre-tag. Being around since 1995, Agathodaimon has gone through the motions, and this will stand as their fifth studio-album. This took them the respected amount of four long years to create, and honestly, this has to be one of the nicest surprises I’ve experienced this year.

Although I’m not exactly familiar with them, I’ll go ahead and compare this to Cradle of Filth, which is one of the most acknowledged blackened gothic metal bands around. Coupled with layers of swift symphonic touches and some nice clean vocals here and there, the Phoenix spreads its wings and prepares for a fiery death. The excellent vocal exchange creates an atmosphere filled to the edge with sorrowful hatred as Ashtrael’s soaring shrieks and deeper; almost grunting haunts every corner of your mind. The Phoenix takes to its wings with the energetic Heliopolis which left a stomp on my face. The beating continues with the incredible Devil’s Deal as chugging riffs chops everything to pieces. These guys have got a great sense of melody, as they more or less have CATCHY written on their forehead. The rhythmic chops will hook you from the first moment, and the melodies arranged by the entertaining vocal work, clutches your attention in a firm grip. On one hand this does come off as a bit one-sided, but if you’d imagine the whole album as one song, it sure would be a great one.

In fact, and I don’t really know why, this does sound like what Children of Bodom would’ve done if they were taking a slightly darker route. The synth is dominating the background, and not thrilling us with blistering leads. Instead it’s layered over everything like a ghost, while the surprisingly clean guitar-solos climaxes song after song after song even though they’re not as mind-boggling as Children of Bodom’s. When the silent acoustic passages transforms into monstrous riffs like on the brilliant To Our Ashes, when the clean vocal melodies make you shudder with excitement and the haunted shrieks makes you shudder with fear, the Phoenix is on the rise. Agathodaimon have taken their time with this, polished it down to the very last detail, as this is quite frankly one of the better releases this year. Blistering, ice-cold riffs will explode in your face from the first moment of this inferno as songs like Heliopolis, Oncoming Storm and the excellent black metal-tune Throughout the Fields of Unshaded Grace is looking to tear you limb from limb. An excellent release, which I think the majority of the metal crowd will appreciate, as this fiery hurricane of melodic death metal, symphonic black metal and gothic metal demolishes any kind of resistance, as it sweeps the battlefield. Highly recommended.

Killing Songs :
Heliopolis, Devil's Deal, Oncoming Storm, Throughout the Fields of Unshaded Grace, To Our Ashes
Thomas quoted 85 / 100
Other albums by Agathodaimon that we have reviewed:
Agathodaimon - Serpents Embrace reviewed by Jack and quoted 80 / 100
Agathodaimon - Chapter III reviewed by Danny and quoted 85 / 100
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