US black metal visionaries Akhlys bring you the glorious stuff of nightmares

Akhlys promo pic 2020
(Image credit: Debemur Morti Productions)

As the mastermind behind Colorado’s long-running Nightbringer, Naas Alcameth is a rarity in the often prosaic US black metal scene, in that his music has actually matched the metaphysical grandeur of his European counterparts.

Much like Gnaw Their Tongues’ Mories, his huge number of side projects isn’t a sign of an artist spreading himself thin, so much as an indication of a mind constantly overflowing with energy and ideas – and if you’ve heard any of his records, you’ll know that dynamic is reflected in the sheer sonic mass that’s become his signature sound.

Having formed in 2009, Akhlys was initially a more dark ambient-based project, growing in density over the course of two albums, but now reaching an apotheosis with Melinoë – named after the Orphic goddess of and “the bringer of nightmare and madness” and their first release in five years.

Due to be released on December 14 via Debemur Morti Productions, Melinoë is keyboard-driven black metal, but where all the pomp traditionally associated with the subgenre has fermented to become a rapt, consciousness-altering storm, swarming with all the psychedelic properties you’d expect from a Blut Aus Nord album.

At nigh-on 13 minutes’ long, the preview track Pnigalion is more than a glimpse into infinity, but it’s going to annihilate any sense of linear time, it’s opening whorl of guttural chants leading into a luminous, knife-edge journey through realms where rampaging elements and cosmic matter collide, and all sense of reality is stretched to an exhilarating breaking point.

Pnigalion draws upon some of my personal experiences with sleep paralysis, as well as the dreams and waking visions that have occurred around this phenomenon,” Says Naas. “This track begins with a poem I had previously written about my sleep paralysis-related visions, certain lucid dreams that have led up to the paralysis events in some cases, while in other cases occurring directly after, and the ‘waking vision’ and visitation that often occurs in the hypnogogic state during the paralysis. The lyrics that follow expand upon the poem in the songs intro with an emphasis on the manic and often dreadful visitation occurrence and poetically interpreted as the pnigalion: the nightmare demon of the Greeks. The significance of these experiences have become personally sacred to me over the years. This song is one piece of a larger narrative that covers a wider territory within the field of sleep, dream, and trance phenomenon, all from the experiential and esoteric viewpoint.”

Pnigalion might be the stuff of nightmares, but it’s also a state of heightened awareness that reaches the parts even most other black metal bands fear to tread.

Visit Akhlys's Facebook page and pre-order Melinoë from the Debemur Morti EU site, US site or the Akhlys Bandcamp page

Akhlys are due to tour in 2021. See the tour poster below for details so far

Akhlys tour poster 2021

(Image credit: Debemur Morti Productions)
Jonathan Selzer

Having freelanced regularly for the Melody Maker and Kerrang!, and edited the extreme metal monthly, Terrorizer, for seven years, Jonathan is now the overseer of all the album and live reviews in Metal Hammer. Bemoans his obsolete superpower of being invisible to Routemaster bus conductors, finds men without sideburns slightly circumspect, and thinks songs that aren’t about Satan, swords or witches are a bit silly.