I’ve been a fan of Aktaion ever since their debut album Throne in 2015. They then followed this up with the improved The Parade of Nature a year later. The bigger gap between that album and Above Empires seems to have paid off, and the band’s third album truly sees them blossoming even bigger.
Above Empires finds Aktaion stripped back and lean. The longer, progressive metal elements have been trimmed, and this album contains the band’s most focused and direct work. That’s not to say that the Aktaion-brand of atypical riffs and ideas has been totally jettisoned, only that this aspect of the band’s sound has been channelled more efficiently and effectively than previously. I’ve mentioned in the past that although Aktaion play modern metal, they manage to avoid the tired, stale route of many bands playing this sort of thing, and instead go their own route with it. Much to their credit, Above Empires follows this trend, despite the more direct, streamlined delivery.
This tightening up of the songwriting has resulted in a compelling collection of tracks. Aggressive riffs and melodic appeal mix with catchy hooks, producing songs that combine style and substance. Each song here has something individual to offer the listener, and quite quickly it becomes quite easy to identify the tracks and where they sit in relation to each other. The album flows as a whole well, but each song stands strong on its own too. There’s even a reworked version of Walrus March off the band’s previous record.
Like the music, the production is the band’s best too. Thicker and heavier, while also clearer and punchier, the professional recording does the band’s material justice.
The band’s singer is on top form, and like everything else here he has stepped up his game. Whether he’s screaming, growling, roaring semi-cleans, or belting out melodic singing, his performance is above reproach.
Although the band have made a conscious decision to adopt a slightly different approach for this album, the Aktaion personality is alive and well. Above Empires is Aktaion at their best, and I urge you to check out this talented band.
Very highly recommended.