Naas Alcameth: Man or Myth? If you’re not voting for the latter, you haven’t been paying attention to black metal over the past decade. With absolutely monumental releases from his bands Nightbringer, Akhlys, and Bestia Arcana under his belt (not to mention his work with death metal juggernaut Excommunion), it would be very difficult if not impossible to argue effectively against his status as one of black metal’s most skilled and influential voices. In a year already filled to the brim with stunning black metal releases, the Colorado-based enigma unleashes upon us fresh musical fury, this time with his project Aoratos. We are not worthy, yet we receive with gladness. Manning all songwriting and instrumental duties this time around, this project’s debut record Gods Without Name is another notable progression in Naas Alcameth’s black metal alchemy. But does it measure up to his fantastic previous work?
You bet your ass it does.
In similar fashion to Akhlys’ The Dreaming I, Gods Without Name delves deeply into more atmospheric black metal templates. But rather than taking the synth-filled or post-whatever approach apparent in much of his work, Aoratos instead builds its atmosphere here on almost exclusively instrumental, classically black metal terms. The guitars come in waves of impenetrable noise, washing over the record in a nearly relentless rhythm. Think Ævangelist levels of atmospherics led almost exclusively by tremolo-laced riffs, and you’ll have a sense of what Naas Alcameth is conjuring here. “Holy Mother of Terror” is a perfect example of this trend within the record, drowning listeners in guitar-based agony with only brief seconds of fleeting abatement from start to finish. The drums, while present and powerful, serve as a constant undercurrent layered within the album’s overwhelming melodic sections. However, one of Alcameth’s principle strengths as a songwriter is knowing when to ramp up the focus on particular elements of his music. “Of Harvest, Scythe and Sickle Moon” opens with a fantastic black metal riff that within seconds gets utterly consumed by Alcameth’s manic drumming which feels perfectly amplified in the mix, giving the track just the right amount of percussive intensity. It’s a perfect storm of unreachable atmosphere and tactile instrumental aggression, balanced to near perfection.
As always with a Naas Alcameth record, amid all the atmospheric intensity, melody carries the day as the core of the record’s sound. “Thresher” includes enough earworms for the seasoned black metal fan to occupy weeks of headspace, while album bookends “Parallax Pt. 1 & Pt. 2” introduce themes that will briefly show their faces throughout the record, creating a musical through line that allows Gods Without Name to feel like a cohesive whole. Even the album’s instrumental track “Prayer of Abjection”, while obviously meant as a sort of respite from the near-constant onslaught, is engaging enough to warrant its place on the album. On the whole, all of these elements make Gods Without Name far more than a collection of songs, but a singular body of work rife with consistency, variety, and impassioned songwriting and performance. In short, one of the best records I’ve heard this year.
If black metal could only have one voice, a singular arbiter of darkness, my vote would be cast for Naas Alcameth. His body of work thus far is nigh unassailable, and Gods Without Name is further proof of his thus far uniformly incredible vision. Listen to this record immediately. You won’t regret the time spent with it.
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Gods Without Name is available now through Debemur Morti Productions, and is available for purchase on the band’s Bandcamp page.