Lloth – Athanati

The history of Lloth is closely linked to that of Astarte, the band with which Maria Tristessa Kolokouri’s star shone brightly before the gods of Olympus decided to call her back to their presence. This is in fact the initial moniker that one of the first all-female extreme bands used before the one that made her known to the most attentive fans: it’s no coincidence that Lloth would have been reborn in parallel to Astarte, if it hadn’t been for the disease to abruptly interrupt a project aimed at further developing the melodic black death of typical Mediterranean matrix. In deference to the memory of Maria, the reformed Lloth have published last year this Athanati (immortal, in Greek) and, led by the husband of the musician Nicolas Sic Maiis, were able to give life to fifty minutes of magnificent music, intense and exciting, as often happens when the compositional vis feeds on the adversity and the attempt to process the grief to transform the pain into an artistic form with a disruptive impact. In making amends for having listened to Athanati only today, six months after its release, I can’t help but say that a work of such depth has not had the prominence it would have deserved; It’s really strange, since the melodic black death built by Lloth is the most enthralling and involving work we’ve heard in the last years, thanks to a formula that, starting from the bases laid by bands like Moonspell and, obviously, Rotting Christ and Nightfall, increases the epic component of the sound, grafting on it that melodic sense that is the trademark of southern European bands. But, as always, words risk being reductive for a work that never lets up, kissed as it is by an excellent songwriting and by an instrumental execution as linear as impeccable, with the deep growl of Nicolas Sic Maiis to lead the dances, helped in some tracks by tutelary gods of the Hellenic metal scene as Efthimis Karadimas, in In the Name Of Love (Sacrifice), and Sakis Tolis, in Hell (Is A Place On Earth), without forgetting the vocals offered in Tristessa by Androniki Skoula, singer of Christos Antoniou’s Chaostar. Athanati offers a series of beautiful songs, among which it would be difficult to extract from the deck a potential single just for the embarrassment of choice between the title track (which draws sap from Moonspell’s Alma Mater), Born Of Sin (for what it’s worth my favorite) with a guitar melody almost unforgettable, In The Name Of Love (Sacrifice), the last track composed by Maria and that in the joint interpretation of Nicolas and Efthimis ends up making her presence still tangible among us, Empitness (and it could not be otherwise with the already mentioned contribution of Sakis) and the final epic hymn entitled I (Dead Inside). And if Pan, Alles In Black and Hell (Is A Place On Earth) are still beautiful pieces, that maybe remain only a bit less hooked to the memory than the ones mentioned above, two more important episodes in the economy of the album should be mentioned for their intrinsic meaning, such as Archos, dedicated to the son of the couple, with its slower and enveloping rhythms, and the poetic acoustic interlude of Tristessa. Athanati may lack in originality, because the influence of Rotting Christ and Nightfall is perceptible, not only for the imprimatur provided to the album by their respective leaders, but the greatness of Lloth is just in passing this aspect in the background, putting before everything an emotionality that is felt at every note, despite the pain is expressed through a robust and often angry sound, although seamlessly cloaked by a melodic afflatus that can make a difference. This is a wonderful album, which leaves as the only question about the ability of Lloth to express themselves again in the future on these levels, when they may be called upon to compose a work whose meaning does not go, as in this case, beyond the purely musical, even if I feel like betting on the fact that Maria will continue for a long time and with the same results to act as the muse of the band.

2017 – Sleaszy Rider Records