Despite hailing from Greece, Akantha has far more in common with their Norwegian brethren than Rotting Christ or Varathron. The duo’s second release Baptism in Psychical Analects is right in line with the Transylvanian Hunger tradition, boasting piercing guitar runs, ever-blasting drums, and vocals consisting of Immortal-style croaks. It’s ten minutes longer and arguably has more dimensions than 2018’s Apocalyptic Psalms, but this is still very stock black metal fare.
Though the production lives up to the raw lo-fi standard with seemingly no bottom end to be found, I really can’t accuse the band of sloppy musicianship. The duo is quite tight as the guitars and drums never falter or shows sign of fatigue when delivering their relentless bombardments, and they play off each other in ways that would be literally impossible in a typical one-man scenario. The vocals also get the job done, nothing too exceptional and often indecipherable, but ultimately reliable.
Unfortunately, the songwriting doesn’t really stand out. Individual tracks are often interchangeable due to soundalike tremolo runs and even more monotonous drum blasts, and the midway tempo shifts on songs like “The Monotheistic Pharaoh” only provide superficial elevation. With that said, “Heroic” serves as a slower palette cleanse before jumping back into more of the same and “Lethargy” closes out in a particularly sweeping fashion that one could hope to be a sign of greater things to come.
Overall, Akantha expands their sound on Baptism in Psychical Analects but still doesn’t offer much uniqueness to the scene at large. You won’t hear the sloppiness that comes with this sort of lo-fi black metal, but the songwriting still feels indistinct despite the developments. A thirty-four-minute runtime makes for a breezy listen that’ll likely satisfy fans of Judas Iscariot and classic Darkthrone, but it won’t have much appeal beyond that basic niche.
“Catharsis from Katara and Anathema”