Discovering new bands is fun. Discovering bands with an outstanding back catalogue is even better! It may have taken Greek death-thrashers Acid Death a full three decades to catch my attention, but I’m quickly making up for lost time and you shouldn’t sleep on them either.
Acid Death caught my ear with their most recent effort, Primal Energies, which dropped last week. The album occupies an intersection between groove metal and melodic tech-death – often coming across like a combination of golden-era In Flames, Sylosis and (mostly due to Savvas Betinis’s throaty rasp) Celtic Frost. The combination alone is formidable in its own right, but the band keep things interesting by throwing in a few progressive elements here and there, such as the tasteful saxophone solo that rounds out album opener “My Bloody Crown”. Maybe it’s just the album’s more modern aesthetic but beneath its thick production hides an album more suggestive of a progressive/tech-death heritage than its crispness might suggest. Nevertheless, I was still surprised, when delving into their discography, to discover a slew of lost prog-death/tech-thrash classics, rather than the groovier, melodeath I had expected.
The Athenians’ previous offering, Hall of Mirrors (2015), is perhaps the pick of the bunch. It boasts a much more overly progressive metal aesthetic than the band’s other albums – often being reminiscent of Nevermore and even Queensrÿche at their most extreme as much as the early tech-death of Athiest and Death. It’s certainly the most progressive of their offerings, which are often more visceral affairs. The band’s debut Pieces of Mankind (1997) is a distinctly old-school offering, and has all the hallmarks you’d expect of a lost classic from the early prog-death/late-tech thrash era – along with a few you might not (see: “Our Shadows”). Random’s Manifest (2000) pushes the death metal side of their sound, while noticeably upping the quirkiness – albeit to slightly lesser effect. 2012’s Eidolon is a more straight-forward affair, and appears to be where the groove elements really came into their sound. You can definitely see how it laid the foundation for Primal Energies, but it does seem a touch out of place, given the extremely progressive turn of Hall of Mirrors.
There’s a lot to unpack here and I’ve only begun to scratch the surface. I’m sure there’s plenty of people out there already familiar with Acid Death’s earlier efforts, as the band appear to have a small cult following among tech-thrash and early progressive death metal connoisseurs. However, for me, this is one of the best “new” discoveries I’ve come across in a long time. The band’s discography – though relatively scarce – is delightfully dense and varied and, from my few cursory listens, there doesn’t appear to be an aspect of their sound at which they don’t excel.
Primal Energies and Acid Death’s other albums are out now through Germany’s 7hard Records. The band only have samples of them up on their bandcamp page, although they appear to be available on most streaming services. You can also order their records through their official website.