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Acolyte - Alta CD (album) cover




Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.78 | 4 ratings

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4 stars UK band ACOLYTE was formed in 2011, and released an initial EP not long after they started out. Since then they have produced material for their debut album, and then have taken their time to wait for a suitable label to take an interest it would seem. Come 2013 and they hooked up with Mordgrimm, who released their debut album "Alta".

Acolyte is a band that but for one detail would have a fairly broad appeal. A band that quite clearly should be going places too, with their accessible variety of if not black then at least dark metal. Depending on how you define the former.

Something of a trademark feature for this band is their rich guitar sound, often crafting what I'd describe as riff tapestries. Fairly smooth in general expression, but with a gritter sound when needed. And with a seemingly constant melodic overlay that makes this feature a tasty and enticing feature. This mode of delivery is combined with more traditional dramatic, staccato riffs, and these two modes are also blended somewhere at the halfway point. Pace and intensity as well as the smooth shifts between these modes cater for the majority of variation used, with occasional shifts to a more frantic display more common in black metal and death metal bands. Further expanding their repertoire in the variety section is a strong tendency to incorporate at least one mellow intermission in their compositions, acoustic, semi-acoustic or merely toned down and mellow in expression, often with a subtle jazz-tinged flavor to one instrument motif. These interludes last between thirty and sixty seconds, with a smooth shift or transition back to one of the themes previously explored in the composition. Occasionally Acolyte will also hover around the borderline to post metal with their rich sounding guitars that does develop towards a more textured display at times.

With a skilled rhythm section supporting the events quite nicely the end result are intriguing compositions that crafts arrangements with strong melodies, some rougher sounding movements with more dramatic flair and a select few intense runs sporting bass, drums and guitars in strong competition for the most frantic delivery. This latter aspect infrequent enough to not be a limiting factor in terms of their overall possible reach I might add. The lead vocals, on the other hand, is of the kind that will leave quite a few potential fans cold.

Vocalist JT isn't a low quality vocalist, just to get that out of the way here and now. He's actually a fairly good one as far as I can tell, but his specialty of snarl-like growls or growl-like snarls, that does add a substantial black metal feel to an otherwise fairly accessible breed of metal, won't be to everybody's taste. Not brutal enough for the truly die hard black metal fans I'd suspect, and too dark and black metal sounding for dedicated fans of metal done in a more traditional manner.

Still, it's an impressive debut album Acolyte have made themselves here as far as I'm concerned. Dark, melodic and rich riff constructions and riff arrays aplenty, ample variation and impact-oriented sequences that maintains and often elevates an underlying tension quite nicely, yet with an overall smooth feeling that should attract quite a few listeners not normally into the darker varieties of metal.

If you enjoy metal that resides firmly in the darker parts of the realm yet sticks to a melodic expression Acolyte may be a band for you. Especially if you enjoy richly layered arrangements dominated by fairly smooth guitar constellations, a lead vocalist fairly close to black metal growls as a key mode of delivery and find the notion of gentle, mellow interludes in fairly long compositions to be intriguing.

Windhawk | 4/5 |


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