Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Naer Mataron

Naer Mataron - Up from the Ashes
Black Lotus Records, 1998
Genre: Black Metal

1. The Chosen Son
2. Faethon
3. Zephyrous
4. Τα Εν Ελευσινι Μυστιρια
5. Zeus (Wrath of the Gods)
6. The Silent Kingdom of Hades
7. The Great God Pan

This is the debut album by Naer Mataron from the small Greek scene that I knew of at the time this was released.  Naer Mataron do take a relatively interesting approach to their music, sadly it is restricted only to their lyrical concepts.  The album is slightly deceiving, in a way, with it’s opening track “The Chosen Son,” because it has a distinctively Thrash Metal feel to it, but that only lasts for four measures when it kicks into the more traditional Black Metal arrangements.  Essentially as far as this album is concerned it does not have any ground breaking work even for its release year, but it is a good album to listen to.  I cannot say I would pull it out frequently and listen to it, but it does show that this band has a definite degree of potential.  For the most part the album has a little bit of Black Metal for everyone, they use keyboards at points, but it is not used that often, maybe one riff per song on average.  There are some very well done melodic parts and the song that the band put together best on this album is definitely “Zeus (Wrath of the Gods),” it has an excellent chorus section of the song that couples with the melodic guitar line under the vocals.  I thought that is where they really shined on this album, the other songs are good, but none of them has a riffing approach that is as memorable as this song did.  The one production complaint I have on this is that the vocals seemed to be a bit low in the mix, but what do you expect for a debut album, usually these are the lowest budget of all the releases.  (Interesting note, one the producers of this album was Necromantia.)

Lyrically this band has a slightly different approach.  Being from Greece they chose Greek Mythology as their focal point.  I think it’s a great maneuver, since, for some reason, a lot of the bands from other countries outside of Scandinavia don’t really focus on the mythology of their homeland.  Which I think is very strange because one would think that the Scandinavians would set the trend that singing about your country’s ancient deities is a good idea.  Or maybe out of the hundreds of bands I’ve heard, I just manage to find the ones who don’t sing about that particular topic.  Greek Mythology unfortunately is not my strong point, so these lyrics did not hold all that much meaning to me, but if you are a Mythology buff and like Greece, then I highly recommend you look into this band for you will find it a more worthwhile purchase than even I did.

For the most part this album is traditional Black Metal through and through, except for the track “Τα Εν Ελευσινι Μυστιρια,” which is an instrumental and more of a relaxing track that focuses on atmosphere and has no metal at all in it.  The worst track for me was the last track “The Great God Pan,” because the vocal layering attempts were not very desirable.  For example, the vocalist will sing in a Death Metal voice the lines of the song “From the Arcadian Forest,” but layered under that is a higher-ranged Black Metal voice which comes in and yells “Forest!”  At first these things overlap a little and sounds fairly decent and is a very common layering approach, but then they start to spread apart more and get a little too sloppy for my tastes.  Until towards the end of the song the word “Forest” for example isn’t even attached to the original line anymore and is just sung separately.  It sounds rather out of place not the best thing to close with if you ask me.

Fans of traditional Black Metal will without a doubt enjoy this album very much; the production isn’t so poor that you can’t figure out what is going on.  In fact I found the production to be quite well done except for the vocal volume on the first few songs.  So for a rather unique lyrical approach this is a great band to delve into, I would say watch for further releases because as far as I can tell they have the potential to put together some really great stuff.  A lot of the guitar lines have very majestic approaches to them so it sounds really nice in the great scheme of things.  The debut album is always a strange occurrence in a bands life.  It is either the best work they have ever done and will never be able to top it, or it is just a somewhat decent album and the band pulls it together later.  I have not seen many bands get worse after their first album, but I am sure they’re out there.  Anyway, this is certainly worth a listen.

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