When it comes to music, we tend to go for things we already know. Humans are creatures of habit and we enjoy what we like because it’s familiar and it doesn’t require a lot of processing power. After all, it’s easier to listen to an album that we know for sure we are going to like than dedicate time to something that we aren’t sure we are going to enjoy. This was my dilemma with Ad Nemori’s Akrateia, an album that on the surface sounded like something I would enjoy but was hesitant to do so because traditional death metal is not a genre I seek often. However, I enjoy atmosphere on an album — especially when done correctly — so I decided to give this album a go.
Let’s just say I enjoyed this album more than I thought I would.
Akrateia starts off with a somber tone on “Miasma,” clueing us in that while the music may be melodic, it was also going to be both heavy and melancholic. As the deep swells of piano build, new sounds are slyly introduced; the introduction of keys, for example, which adds to the heavy atmosphere of the song before a full stop stop then heading straight into “Telluric Doom.” One of the first things one will notice about this song – and for the first half of the album – is the slight Insomnium influence that permeates the way the music is constructed. Although it may be simplistic in concept, the way the music is orchestrated and played sounds like Ad Nemori took a page straight out of Insomnium’s book and made everything incredibly somber while maintaining a feeling of reverence. This is evident on the track “Kenosis,” an almost ten-minute track that ebbs and flows between somber orchestration and melodic bursts of manic energy. The atmosphere is especially immersive and allows plenty of space for groove when expecting something else entirely. It’s an odd juxtaposition, but it works, and you can’t help but happily accept it.
I also wanted to point out that Ad Nemori’s musicianship is nothing short of stellar. Akrateia may be a debut album, but they certainly took the time to create something that refuses to be labeled. Although it might be appropriate to label this band, and therefore this album, as prog death or melodeath in tone, there is so much going for it that it’s hard to put into words.
Things take a turn with both “Obey Thy Sovereign” and “Diverging From the Black.” For “Obey Thy Sovereign,” there’s a slight black metal influence that’s a head scratcher but, just works. Meanwhile, “Diverging” has a slight gothic influence that reminds me of Daniel Lioneye, especially in the faster sections of the music. It’s something you don’t quite expect, especially after you’ve been knee-deep into what sounds like Insomnium. However, these songs are palate cleansers for what is to come, especially when the band continues to build on the reverent quality that they offered earlier, and it pays off. The penultimate track, “The Stars My Destination,” is one hell of a track, a culmination of all the elements they’ve been dipping into woven into this intense yet restrained piece of music that continues to build on itself. It weaves in and out of various influences, but it’s the orchestral tones behind the main melody that really makes a deep impression.
The depths that Ad Nemori went to in creating an album of this caliber is truly shown throughout this amazing debut and that makes me look forward to seeing what the band will do next. Come for the atmospheric death metal, stay for the (hopeful) leanings into black metal territory.