Greek masters of Epic Fantasy Steel are back. They got a new album coming out this March on No Remorse Records. The band organized a pre-listening session and of course FORGOTTEN SCROLL was there. Let’s see what the mighty Zippo has to write about this victorious comeback album.
I love ACHELOUS. Its one of those bands that have been working like mules to produce high-quality fantasy heavy metal, far from social media and ridiculous dramas, ACHELOUS choose to speak with their music and their live performances. Needless to say that it was a great pleasure to visit the lads for a pre-listening section of their new album titled “Tower of High-Sorcery” that will be released in March 2024 via No Remorse Records.
The listening session took place at En Vivo Rock (Peristeri, Athens City, Greece). In a very friendly mood. All the band members were there to provide the media people with all the important information about the album, to answer questions and to speak about each and every detail of the record.
General info concerning the album:
As with its two predecessors “Tower of High Sorcery” is a concept album, not in the form of a story but all songs share the same thematic.
Its predecessor “The Icewind Chronicles” was inspired by the “Icewind Dale” saga from the “Forgotten Realms” Dungeons and Dragons world making ACHELOUS one of the first bands to deal with gaming fantasy worlds alongside with GYGAX and SPELLMASTER (and the upcoming OWLBEAR). This time ACHELOUS are inspired by the “Dragonlance” world, the campaign and saga created by Laura and Tracy Hickman and Margaret Weis.
But lets get on with the tracks:
01. Whispering Forest Intro (ft Anastasia Megalokonomou on vocals): An acoustic folk intro theme with female vocals. The song can be described as an actual entrance to the fantasy world of Dragonlance. Quite melodic, reminded me of fantasy r.p.g. theme that turns into a medieval hymn.
02. Dragon Wings: The album’s first single. Classic galloping teutonic metal in the vein of “Macedon” full lengtrh. Epic lead guitar theme that leads into a fast straight metal song. There are multiple layers of vocals: both male and female on the chorus.
I love the fact that the lead harmony is actually something that the listener can sing along. Chris Kappas vocals are better than ever. Lyrically is about the “The battle of the Abyss” and the prophecy of the wizard-knight that led the knights of Solamnia.
03. Istar (Blood Red Sea): A mid-tempo epic song, with a heavy electric intro. Reminded me of the band’s “Cold winds of Olymbus” and the “Northern Winds” tracks. This one carries an early ACHELOUS vibe: It is heavy, doomy, epic. It begins with female vocals in the style of an ancient hymn yet it progresses into a heavy epic metal song. The lyrics deal with the cataclysm of Istar that was filled with the blood of the dead.
04. The Oath: Another fast straight metal song. More aggressive with a catchy chorus and a “live vibe”. This is the most memorable song of the album. Lyrics are about the Oath of the “Knights of Solamnia” and the betrayal of the oath by a certain Knight.
05. Tower of High Sorcery: This is the most traditional doom song of the album. An epic acoustic intro that leads to a mid-tempo epic doom song. Heavy distorted guitars and influences from Mediterranean doom outfits like REFLECTION and FORSAKEN and of course SOLITUDE AETURNUS. This is maybe my favorite song of the album. This song is about Raistlin Majere a well known sorcerer in the “Dragonlance”
06. Fortress of Sorrow: A keyboard intro based on a classical / epic theme. Here we got an epic piece of music with heavy metal guitars. Through its melodic development the song actually works as an interlude or transitory theme if you prefer it between the two parts of the album. The lyrics are about the “Tower of the High Cleric” and the sacrifice of a certain Knight of Solamnia.
07. Into the Shadows (ft Harry “The Tyrant” Conklin): A song about the two Majere brothers, and since its about two different kind of heroes, its a duet with Chris Kappas and the LEGEND Harry Conklin. A fast straight metal track, quite melodic that reminded me of 90s-00s JAG PANZER. This is the next lyric video for the album!
08. Pagan fire (ft Anastasia Megalokonomou on vocals): This is the ballad of the album. A great acoustic composition with female vocals. The song somehow sounds as the continuation of the “Whispering forest”. This beautiful and dreamy song is about the Princess Laurana, a notable character of the “Dragonlance” saga.
09. When the Angels Bleed: The final track, a nine minute epic with an acoustic intro and a lot of Greek folk influences. The song slowly progresses into a slow epic doom anthem. I firmly believe that it has strong roots into the epic BATHORY era -with some PRIMORDIAL influences here and there, but whiteout the “melancholic” and dark atmosphere-. This is a grandiose song, apparently the heaviest composition of the album. I actually believe that “When the Angels Bleed” marks a new musical path for ACHELOUS to explode. Lyrics deal with the legend of Huma a notalbe legendary Knight in the world of Dragonlance and the sacrifice of the silver and golden dragons, however Chris Kappas mentioned that the song, as well most of the songs deal with themes like sacrifice and moral values of modern life.
I loved the fact that ACHELOUS choose a difficult path to follow. In a time when most bands try to standardize their sound and try to copy the classic 80s or 90s -or whatever- stuff, its a pleasure to see bands that try to carve their own musical path.
ACHELOUS could easily write nine or ten fast classic metal tracks based on a well tested formula, yet they choose to make another diverse album featuring both male and female vocals, dreamy folk acoustic paths, teutonic metal songs, epic/doom metal anthems etc. And you know what? Everything sounds perfect.
The band’s album performance is stellar: Chris sounds better than ever and kudos should be given to the massive drum playing by Yannis Roussis: the guy is devastating, taking advantage of his death metal backround (he plays in OBDUKTION as well) he demolishes everything in his path.
Keyboard arrangements were made by guitar player George Mavromatis.
Recordings, mixing and mastering were done by Stathis Pavlantis of REFLECTION in his Dark Water Audio studio.
The album was produced by ACHELOUS and Stathis Pavlantis.
Album cover is created by Silvana Massa Art.
I should mention that the band made a pre-production in a home studio and the recordings were made in full analogue equipment in Dark Water Audio studio.
To sum up I’d say that this is the natural continuation of the “Icewind Chronicles”, this time more complete, with more self confidence, more focused.
ACHELOUS are evolving into a very interesting metal outfit and you should give them a chance, since they totally worth it.
The album will be released March 22, 2024 on No Remorse Records.
Check the discussion about the album on our forum pages.