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Akoma – Revangels
Written by Allyson Kenning   
Monday, 07 August 2017

Akoma – CD Review
Revangels

Akoma – Revangels

 

 

CD Info
2016
Massacre Records
9 tracks
English lyrics
9/10

About 8 years ago, when Last.fm was still a thing (I don’t know if it still is a thing; I’ve moved on), I randomly came across a stunning find, this little outfit from Denmark called Akoma. Their ethereal, lush sound mesmerized me immediately, and I found myself downloading their Lost Forest EP from iTunes in short order. I have been a fan ever since, and am so happy to see them still around to this day and making big strides within the scene.

Revangels is Akoma’s third release, following 2012’s The Other Side, which I reviewed for Sonic Cathedral here. Both previous releases showcase some of the finest symphonic metal around created by a very talented duo, Tanya Bell and Morten Harboe Bell. Since The Other Side, this couple have worked so hard to improve their sound, write killer music, and have been rewarded with a record deal with Germany’s Massacre Records. Revangels is their strongest release yet, proving that like a fine wine, this band just keeps getting better with time.

The new CD contains nine tracks of full-on symphonic awesomeness. The first track, “Enticing Desire”, sets the scene for a CD that has us hearing the familiar full, lush sound that is Akoma’s trademark, as well as showcasing some new and improved aspects of their compositions. The first thing I noticed was that this was a faster song than what I’m used to from Akoma, and the second thing I noticed was a huge difference in range and technique from vocalist Tanja. I had noticed a big difference in her range in the previous CD, but she has notched it up another few levels for this album – and she has become an exceptional singer over the years.

The title track “Revangels” is faster yet, and contains a nice surprise: a duet with ex-Leaves’s Eyes singer Liv Kristine (Akoma opened for Leaves’ Eyes a couple of years back). This is one of the catchiest songs on the CD and the band’s first single, complete with music video. It also has a nifty guitar solo by Morten, which I really enjoyed seeing, and it’s also a great headbanging tune to boot. It’s definitely a highlight of the album. The duet is spectacular and these two amazing singers compliment each other perfectly.

And to speed things up even more, track three, “Change of Propensity”, starts off with a quickfire intro before bringing us into those ethereal strains of Tanya’s vocals combined with gorgeous backing vocal harmonies. This was one thing I have always loved about Akoma’s sound, their ability to harmonize, and that element is even stronger on this CD than previously, probably because of the huge strides made by Tanya’s vocals over the last five years.

Akoma has always used choirs in their sound, but I found that in this CD they were used much more powerfully than before, and they are more prominent than in previous releases as well. Again, Tanya’s vocals shine in these sections because her voice is able to soar along with the choir arrangements. It gave me goosebumps at times!

“Mesopotamia” is a very straightforward symphonic metal track, which provides a bit of variety in the mix of tracks on Revangels. It’s kind of a mournful song, but it has a lovely string arrangement in the middle of it that adds atmosphere and feeling to it.

One more song that really impressed me was “Bittersweet”, which is a remake of their song “Bittersweet Memories” from The Other Side. In fact, it was one of my favourite tracks from The Other Side. But they didn’t just cut and past this track from one CD onto another; it has been totally revamped. It starts off with eastern-influenced acoustic tones and then suddenly morphs into a very full-on metal power ballad. It’s a suitable ending because it’s the most epic song on the album. Tanya belts it out full throttle, and she sounds magnificent. This song also contains some of my favourite riffs, and again…those vocal harmonies. It’s a spell-binding completion to an overall magical listening experience.

Another big improvement on this CD is the drumming, which I really need to mention here. Previously, the drumming on Akoma’s other CDs was kind of just in the background to my ear, but on Revangels, the drums are more prominent and the songs are much more drum-centric with lots of driving and much more power. I enjoyed this a lot.

I am so proud of all the strides Akoma has made over the years, and Revangels is the jewel in their crown. It their most complex, up-tempo album so far and contains their strongest compositions and vocals to date. That they have signed with Massacre Records is a great reward, and hopefully a great sign of more to come from this talented, powerful group of Danes who have been a favourite of mine for so long. Check them out – you will not be disappointed.

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