Agathodaimon – The Seven – Album Review

Artist: Agathodaimon

Album Title: The Seven

Label: Napalm Records

Date of Release: 18 March 2022

Within my album collection, nestles ‘Blacken The Angel’, the 1998 debut album from German symphonic black metal band Agathodaimon. I bought this record whilst at University, during a time of significant musical exploration. I recall Dimmu Borgir being a favourite of mine at the time, and so I was drawn to Agathodaimon for two reasons. Firstly, because they were on the same label, Nuclear Blast, and secondly because I had to have the record based on the cracking first track alone, ‘Tristeţea Vehemanţă’; these were the days when you could go into a record store and ask to have a cheeky listen to an album before purchasing.

Since then, despite still occasionally pulling the debut off the shelf and giving it a spin, only to be strangely beguiled by the melodic black metal stylings of the music, I never kept up with the subsequent career of Agathodaimon. And this was despite the fact that they went on to release a further five albums up until 2013 before, in 2014, band mastermind and guitarist/vocalist Sathonys put the band on hiatus for personal reasons. Donning my rose-tinted glasses that recalled those pre-Millennium days of wide-eyed discovery, I just had to check out Agathodaimon’s seventh release and first for the best part of nine years.

Just one small problem though: Agathodaimon circa 2022 sounds almost nothing like the Agathodaimon I remember fondly from 1998. Clearly the intervening years were important, and I missed them, meaning that tackling ‘The Seven’ is a significantly different task than I had anticipated. Undertaking some hurried research, it quickly became apparent that the band had evolved, moving away from all-out melodic symphonic black metal territory into something really quite different. It was also obvious that aside from Sathonys and vocalist Ashtrael, who had a stint with the band between 2008 and 2014, the remainder of the band, comprised of guitarist Nakhateth, drummer Mortos, and bassist Von Yanesh, is brand new.

Initially, as I tried to come to terms with my surprise, I struggled with ‘The Seven’. Having gone into this review thinking I knew what I was going to be faced with, the very different reality completely threw me. An element of black metal still remains, but not the symphonic black metal style that can be heard on their debut. Instead, there is a much more pronounced Gothic feel to the music, laced with plenty of atmosphere, and a much greater sense of variety; almost every song offers a slightly different approach and feel. As such, there are some tracks that I prefer more than others. But the overall impression I now have on ‘The Seven’ is positive.

‘The Seven’ kicks off with ‘La Haine’, and thanks to the fast-picked riffing, rapid drumming, and the gruff screams and growls of Ashtrael, the black metal side of Agathodaimon looms large at the outset. However, as the song develops, Sathonys’ clean delivery plays an integral role, as does a demonstrable slowing of the tempo to more of a relaxed pace. The more I listen to it, the more I like it and it’s increased Gothic opulence. The black metal trappings continue within ‘Ain’t Death Grand’, which injects much more of the atmospheric side of the band’s early days whilst also somehow sounding nothing like they used to at the same time. I know it doesn’t make much sense but take a listen and hopefully you’ll understand where I’m coming from.

With the introduction of ‘Wolf Within’, I get that spark for the first time. With spoken-word samples, and an introduction that attacks at warp speed, it blends the worlds of black metal and Gothic metal just about perfectly. And then, when the commanding and melodic clean-sung chorus hits, bathed in glorious atmospheres and accented by a melodic guitar lead, I suddenly feel connected to the music and get a greater understanding of what Agathodaimon are trying to achieve.

It’s not all positivity though, as I’m definitely not a fan of ‘Ghosts Of Greed’, a track that’s much more of a black ‘n’ roll affair with a bluesy swagger that I can very much take or leave. And most of the time, I leave it if I’m honest. But I also doff my cap to Agathodaimon for mixing things up and trying out new ideas – it takes guts and confidence which I fully respect, even if I’m not a fan of the final product.

Preferring to focus on the positive as I do, there are a number of tracks that stand out for me on ‘The Seven’ that require a mention. Firstly, there’s the blend of brutality and measured attack of ‘Mother Of Al Gods’ that’s a dark, atmospheric horse which becomes more intriguing the more I hear it, especially as I start to pick out some of the orchestral embellishments that liberally lace the song without interfering with the potency of the aggression within it.

One of my favourite tracks, if not the favourite, has to be ‘Estrangement’. It begins in a slow, lumbering manner but the minute the gritty, clean vocals of Sathonys emerge, it takes on a whole new presence. The melodic nature of the track is incredibly addictive, whilst the grandiosity created by the vocals combined with powerful atmospheres is magnetic. There are moments of aggression within the song too, which only help to make the melodic sections even more arresting; it’s a fantastic track, pure and simple.

‘In My Dreams (Part 1 – Prelude)’ is glorious, and an example to many bands of how to create a rousing and effective instrumental composition without losing any of the impetus in the process. It seamlessly segues into ‘In My Dreams (Part 2 – In Bitterness)’ which is far more potent and poisonous to begin with, before settling into more of a mid-tempo Gothic song. That said, there is a great blend between the two which creates a nice sense of drama in the process.

If you thought that the experimentation was complete, think again, because ‘Kyrie – Gloria’ carries with it more of a lumbering doom metal presence, whilst the seven-minute closer, ‘The Divine’ lives up to its name by being an utterly divine track upon which to conclude this long-awaited return. Carrying the majestic bombast of modern Dimmu Borgir, with the drama and theatrics of Cradle Of Filth, it is a monstrous closing statement, one that’s a fitting conclusion to a triumphant return. It may have taken a while for me to get my head around the difference between the Agathodaimon of 1998 versus the Agathodaimon of 2022, but ‘The Seven’ eloquently proves just how worthwhile it was for me to persevere. Now that they are reformed, I sincerely hope to hear much more from Sathonys and Co. in the years to come. Welcome back!

The Score of Much Metal: 89%

Check out my other 2022 reviews here:

Moonlight Haze – Animus

Hellbore – Panopticon

Konvent – Call Down The Sun

Idol Of Fear – Trespasser

The Midgard Project – The Great Divide

Threads Of Fate – The Cold Embrace Of The Light

Arkaik – Labyrinth Of Hungry Ghosts

New Horizon – Gate Of The Gods

Cailleach Calling – Dreams Of Fragmentation

Tundra – A Darkening Sky

Sylvaine – Nova

Hath – All That Was Promised

Sabaton – The War To End All Wars

Kuolemanlaakso – Kuusumu

Oh Hiroshima – Myriad

Godless Truth – Godless Truth

Shape Of Despair – Return To The Void

Eight Bells – Legacy Of Ruin

Embryonic Devourment – Heresy Of The Highest Order

Serious Black – Vengeance Is Mine

Allegaeon – Damnum

HammerFall – Hammer Of Dawn

Immolation – Acts Of God

Veonity – Elements Of Power

Nightrage – Abyss Rising

Arjen Anthony Lucassen’s Star One – Revel In Time

Pure Wrath – Hymn To The Woeful Hearts

Dagoba – By Night

The Last Of Lucy – Moksha

Arð – Take Up My Bones

Embryonic Autopsy – Prophecies Of The Conjoined

The Devils Of Loudun – Escaping Eternity

Cult Of Luna – The Long Road North

WAIT – The End Of Noise

Abysmal Dawn – Nightmare Frontier

Amorphis – Halo

Nordic Giants – Sybiosis

Persefone – Metanoia

Vorga – Striving Toward Oblivion

Mystic Circle – Mystic Circle

Nasson – Scars

Burned In Effigy – Rex Mortem

Silent Skies – Nectar

Celeste – Assassine(s)

Abyssus – Death Revival

SOM – The Shape Of Everything

Ashes Of Ares – Emperors And Fools

Beriedir – AQVA

Lalu – Paint The Sky

Nocturna – Daughters Of The Night

Battle Beast – Circus Of Doom

Lee McKinney – In The Light Of Knowledge

Descent – Order Of Chaos

Aethereus – Leiden

Toundra – Hex

Ilium – Quantum Evolution Event EP

Power Paladin – With The Magic Of Windfyre Steel

Necrophagous – In Chaos Ascend

Infected Rain – Ecdysis

Wilderun – Epigone

You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here:

2021 reviews

2020 reviews

2019 reviews
2018 reviews
2017 reviews
2016 reviews
2015 reviews

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