Of all the nascent metal scenes to crop up in recent years in nations with historically sparse representation, the one that has been brewing in Cyprus of late is of particular note for its unique blend of traditionalism with modern flourishes.
No more is this apparent than those projects running adjacent to the recent NWOTHM craze, spearheaded by the earlier strides of outfits like Solitary Sabred and Astronomikon, which has inspired a new crop of traditional metal bands that have proven quite formidable. Alongside the recent lightning bolt of a debut put forth by epic metal upstarts Receiver, the field has now grown to include a more ferocious and modern twist on the early 80s represented in such seminal offerings as Manowar’s “Into Glory Ride” and Manilla Road’s “Crystal Logic” in March To Die. Though a very recently conceived project, in contrast to Receiver they boast a veteran lineup that includes Solitary Sabred guitarist Nikolas Moutafis and former Electric Wizard bassist Tas Danazoglou, culminating in a massive debut undertaking dubbed “Tears Of The Gorgon”.
In contrast to many other bands flying the epic metal flag of late, this quartet has opted to emulate the classic early 80s style by largely avoiding the practice of trying to outright time travel back to said era.
The production work of Nikolas Moutafis could best be likened to the pounding aggression of a dense hammer striking metal typified in Manowar’s 90s and 2000s albums, showcasing a guitar tone that cuts with about the same force as a modern thrash sound, while Tas’ bass work enjoys a heavy amount of prominence in the mix comparable to the grinding, distorted character of Joey Demaio’s recent handiwork, albeit minus the overt shredding approach.
The general tone and tempo of the songs and their overall progression leans into a heavy-ended, slow to middle pace approach that resembles Cirith Ungol’s mid-80s work, keeping things mostly streamlined musically while not shying away from going a bit longer as Manowar was wont to do when exploring similar territory. Though the element that truly sets this band and album apart is the gritty, barbaric roar of vocalist/guitarist Alex Danazoglou, coming off like a Greek answer to Grave Digger’s Chris Boltendahl with a side helping of Eric Adams-styled operatic tendencies.
In keeping with the lofty and elaborate subject of Hellenic mythology being explored via lyrical content, “Tears Of The Gorgon” is an album that doesn’t shy away from adding a theatrical element to their otherwise barebones approach. Like the military beat of the mighty armies of Greece marching towards the city of Troy, a recurring employment of timpani, low-tone horns and synthesized choral voices paints over much of this album, though in a tasteful fashion that serves to augment the atmosphere rather than fight the rest of the arrangement for prominence.
The slow-trudging majesty of this album’s musical exposition ‘The Eternal Oath’ presents a perfect balance of cinematic pomp and metallic thunder that could easily rival Manowar’s grand arrangements featured on “Kings Of Metal” and “The Triumph Of Steel”. Similar recurring moments of bluster and largess paint over the doom-like stomp of ‘Son Of The Old Gods’ and ‘Stand And Be Counted’, the latter sounding starting off like something that could have occurred on Manowar’s infamous ‘Achilles: Agony & Ecstasy in 8 Parts’ epic before laying down the heavy riffs like it’s going out of style.
Naturally this album isn’t a uniform exercise in quasi-symphonic pomp and circumstance, with several entries sticking closer to the basics of heavy metal and fitting in comfortably with the standard retro-feel of the New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal sound. Though largely sticking to a middle of the road pace, the infectious banger of a song bearing the band’s moniker ‘March To Die’ relies exclusively on the basic guitar, bass and drums arrangement and listens like a slightly heavier and modernized take on what a standard British metal entry circa 1981 might sound like, complete with recurring melodic lead work and a shuffling tempo change with a bluesy rocking feel that almost sounds like a lost section from a Diamond Head song.
Other straightforward chapters in this anthology of Hellenic might such as ‘Hail To Thee’ and the up tempo sonic aggressor ‘Decapitation’ also feature more stripped down arrangements, the former going the catchy fist-pumping route, while the latter goes a bit crazy between the riff work and whammy-happy guitar soloing and almost veers into thrash metal territory.
This will definitely be a band to watch for those that miss the days when Manowar was putting out ambitious masterworks every other year, as well as those who want a band flying the traditionalist flag without draping it over a production that sounds as thin and dated as was typical during the era that birthed it.
This is metal that puts a much needed emphasis on the heaviness factor, all the while avoiding the trap of sacrificing accessibility in the name of aggression and presenting a well-rounded collection of individual songs. It mixes just the right amount of eastern mystique in relation to the western-leaning tonality that goes along with an old school metal approach to reflect the unique vernacular flavor that is typical to its place of birth, thus giving a more authentic take on the myth of the Gorgon and other various tales of the region in contrast to the picture presented by Hollywood, underscored by the archaic 17th century visual depiction of Medusa adorning the cover. The name of this band’s game is authenticity, and they play it quite well for their first go around.
Released By: No Remorse Records
Release Date: November 24th, 2023
Genre: Epic Heavy Metal
“Tears Of The Gorgon” Track-List:
- The Eternal Oath
- One Eyed King
- Hail to Thee
- Son of the Old Gods
- March to Die
- Stand and Be Counted
- Tears of the Gorgon
Order “Tears of the Gorgon” HERE.
Yet another impressive feat of epic metal majesty emerges in the island of Cyprus courtesy of a de facto super group of scene veterans, exploring the subject of Greek mythology in a militaristic manner that would make the likes of Manowar and Manilla Road proud.