Bythos – Chthonic Gates Unveiled

3 min read

Band: Bythos
Album: Chthonic Gates Unveiled
Label: Terraur Possessions
Release date: April 19th 2024
Country: Finland
Format: High-Quality Digital Recording

Finnish black metal strikes again? Yes. Is this starting to become a pattern in my reviews? Very likely. In any case, a certain Hoath Torog, who you may recall as part of the legendary Behexen, has once again managed to leave a striking mark on the underground, via his more recent project, Bythos. The band’s debut album, The Womb of Zero set the already highly established standard of Torog’s work even higher, thus, at least from my perspective, the expectation for this new album were high. To put it simply, the album not only lived up to the hype, but even improved on its predecessor, which I would personally consider a rather serious achievement, and definitely another win for the Finns.

Two things that this album does impeccably are the mood and the vocal performance. The instrumentation is also nothing to ignore, as it features some incredibly creative riffs and instrumental passages all throughout the record. The way these songs come across can be described as almost ritualistic, with all the musical elements acting like one huge musical organism, with a life of its own. It’s a surprisingly melodic record, possessing an impeccable guitar work, that comes across both as beautiful and eerie. The best way to describe the melodies on this record is definitely, enchanting. They instill both fascination and a shy hint of fear into the listener, that keeps you hooked, taking in every note that you hear, while also dragging you deeper and deeper, towards the black void that is the soul of this record.

The dominating feature of this album, however, is the vocal performance. It is rather uncommon to find such a vocal driven black metal album, as usually their role is not as big compared to the overall instrumentation, However, here, as the vocal performance can be found at the musical center of the record, it is much easier to analyze and overall enjoy. What I love about it most is how powerful it ends up sounding. It is much lower in tone than the standard black metal performance, and it is rather closer to what you might expect from a blackened death metal act, such as the likes of Myrkskog and even Hate. However, it feels much more expressive, more emotional, in a way. It carries a variety of feelings, which are all beautifully exposed through both the harshness and epicness. This one record in particular could be considered an argument for Torog’s place as one of the best black metal vocalists in the history of the genre. If you need one particular song showcasing this, look no further than the soulcrushing “Broken Binds of Eden”, which also happens to be my favourite track from the whole thing.

The other important aspect of the album that I wish to delve into, is the atmosphere and overall mood it induces. Like I mentioned previously, it is both epic and eerie, carrying various sensations, such as fascination, intrigue, and an almost meditative state towards the end of the album. This is really fitting, because the more dainty, delicate atmosphere provides a beautiful contrast with the sheer power and extremity of the vocals, while also maintaining and building upon their emotional aspects. All of this turns Chthonic Gates Unveiled into an incredibly catchy album, that you can return to, and enjoy it as much or even more than the first time. I am unable to find a serious and persistent flaw throughout this album, so I can safely say that it is one hell of a banger that will capture the ears of people for a really long time.

To sum up everything I’ve stated so far, Bythos’s sophomore effort is truly an impressive, well thought piece of black metal darkness. I am getting more and more interested by this band, and by what we’ve seen so far, their future holds nothing short of greatness. 9.5/10 by Ioana

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