Agathodaimon was an ancient alchemist who lived in Roman Egypt, and was noted for having produced some of the world's most common toxic elements through experimentation. What a fitting name for a metal band! Agathodaimon's popularity may not be up there with the metal greats, but...it really should be. The band kicked things off as a relatively straight Black Metal band, taking on the same sonic cues as Darkthrone and early Enslaved, but experimentation has led to a remarkable change in the band's sound. The result is Serpent's Embrace.
I LOVE this album. Why? Because it doesn't stick to a predefined formula. It drifts from Black Metal without snubbing it directly, in an attempt to craft something equal parts ugly and beautiful. Songs like 'Cellos For The Insatiable' and the title track immediately show that this isn't your ordinary Black Metal affair. Synthesizers, piano, clean vocals, and traditional guitar solos purify the naturally tainted sound just a bit without alienating extreme metal fanatics. It literally rocks. 'Rebirth' is a melancholy Black Metal number in the most traditional sense, and reassures its target audience just long enough to launch into 'Light Reborn,' a vicious, snarling track that gives way to neoclassical elements and a soaring, beautiful guitar solo halfway through. Wow! Knock me over with a feather! The album continues to change styles here and there until the final number. 'Faded Years' is a slow, chugging rocker, guaranteed to induce headbanging. The most shocking track on the album is 'Solitude,' a soft, tragic piano-driven ballad featuring the beautifully clean voice of a female vocalist, with not a guitar or growl in sight. The high level of risk-taking is definitely impressive. The band doesn't stay soft for long, though. 'Limbs Of A Stare' goes straight back into sonic Black Metal brutality, and keeps it going up until 'Feelings,' a tragic breakup song which alternates between venom-spitting hatred and regretful sorrow in equal measure. Every song on the album tries something new, and it's a great, great listen. You'll be sad to hear it end, in fact.
Give Agathodaimon a try, and see what you've been missing.