I initially came across Akashah through working with DTB over the last few years, but nothing really prepared me for the incredible atmospheres and sonic mastery that is this USBM act until I actually heard them for myself. Sadly mislabeled by many as NSBM, something that I have a hard time stomaching and refuse to support when it involves extreme political views, but in reality that is not the case with Akashah, or at least not musically so please do not expect or disregard them due to this.
Akashah is REAL Pagan black metal; raw, epic, melodic, and literally does embody the Celtic spirit, as well as that of most European pagan ancestry. In terms of sound, expect a complex multitude of influences from the more pagan era Blut Aus Nord; early Enslaved; hazy pagan black metal from Quebec such as Forteresse, Niege et Noirceur, Sorcier des Glaces; and Frost even. The lengthy hypnotic, nearly 11 minute, “The Dance of Beltaine Fire” is a perfect example of the tribal spirit present and embraced through Akashah. The chanted clean vocals in the more tribal moments sound like a cross between Dead Can Dance and real ritual around a fire, but are nicely subdued and solvated into the glaring echoing guitar leads, sonic distortion, and slightly ritualistic rhythms. Sometimes the guitar leads even replicate Celtic music, but never with the cliché folksy way making it deliberately obvious and at times obnoxious, although I swear that there’s almost a fucking jig towards the end of the title song here.
The more rugged bone crushing riffs and stomping bass drum thrusts come in full force on “Hanged Man’s Vision”, as do some incredibly clean and properly executed throaty chant/howls, the layering of the clean haunting vocals with the shrieks and gruff black metal vocals, it brings the occult/pagan mysticism from a mere theme to an actual reality. There’s nothing outwardly sophisticated about this song, nor is there with virtually any black metal song worth it’s existence, but there’s something in the flow that really causes my attention to gravitate towards it. The rhythms are definitely solid and have some nice variation and pulse while the guitar chords have a nice balance of treble and distortion so that they feel thick and “punchy” like good metal riffs should.
“Song of Amergin”, much like the title track, is a chilling spiritual experience that will undoubtedly cause skin to develop millions of little bumps as the hair stands on end and the skin begins to feel a tingling electrical sensation along its surface. First “Song of Amergin” begins with a slight folksy hand drummed intro with raspy spoken incantations with a nice call-and-response between the clean tribal chants and the incantations, more of the nice layering effect. The song then gradually, with drum pounding steadily, goes into a more intense “free-for-all” ritual percussive jam: the guitars are a bit more fuzzed out and dense; a tambourine clangs along to accent the bassy tribal drum thuds; and the pace feels a bit more “sped up”; and then explodes into an angular guitar lead and traditional tin-like black metal drumming storm as the mix begins to emulsify into a oozing sap that coats everything thus burying within itself as it spirals toward the end.
I honestly can’t realistically describe the sensation of listening to these songs, it’s sort of like explaining an erection to a Eunuch…i.e. it’s something that needs to be experienced. My first listening experience with Akashah was with the 2007 release, Barbarous, which was a much rawer and less developed sound and structure then are present here but it still is a close tie between the two for me in terms of essentiality. While many bands are promoted, and are merely playing with black metal and various themes incredible, genuine, true black metal… and pagan black metal full of atmosphere and melody don’t get exposed and should. If you’re serious about your black metal, than you really need to experience Akashah!!!