Released By: Pure Legend Records
Release Date: February 15, 2013
Genre: Power Metal
Nicholas Leptos – Vocals
Sokratis Leptos – Guitar
Paris Lambrou – Bass
Stefan Dittrich – Drums
1. Ad Astra Per Aspera
3. Son of Seriphos
4. Witch Hunter
5. The Spell I’m Under
6. Dramatis Personae
7. Dark Gorgon Rising
9. The Stone Abomination
10. For You I Will Die Young
11. A Sad Day At Argos
12. Perseas Eurymedon
Cyprus is not a country talked about very often when discussing power metal bands, but with their debut “Dark Gorgon Rising”, Astronomikon show they’re capable of competing with the best European bands in the genre. Actually, while this is a debut, Astronomikon aren’t exactly strangers to the metal world, as the band was founded by vocalist Nicholas Leptos and bassist Paris Lambrou, who have worked together in other bands as well, most notably as part of Arrayan Path. In fact, with guitarist Sokratis Leptos and drummer Stefan Diitrich also being involved, all four members come from that same band, so their fans are highly recommended to check this out, as while it does feel different enough to justify another name, it still sounds fairly similar overall.
Lyrically this is a concept album based on Greek Mythology, particularly the myth of Perseus, and this helps keep the music focused throughout, so the songs flow together very nicely. As fans would expect, there is a strong Middle Eastern flavor to the album, with a very oriental feel to many of the songs, though I’d say such elements are less dominant here than they were on the last two Arrayan Path albums. But, you can certainly here the influence straight from the first full song “Anatolia”, where the guitar has a very oriental sound to it, which adds some flavor to an overall excellent mid-tempo song with some great riffs. All the extra touches are nice and make the album unique, but that’s far from being the only strength of the band.
The tempo is mostly controlled throughout, so while there is the occasional burst of speed, don’t expect this to be one of the most bombastic or speedy power metal albums you’ll ever hear. It’s certainly very epic though, with some excellent vocal melodies and huge choruses which will certainly stick in your head long after you’ve finished hearing the album for the first time. Compared to Arrayan Path, this feels a bit stripped down, which ends up not being a problem because it’s also a lot more traditional, with certainly some heavy metal elements to go along with overall mid-tempo power metal sound, and the occasional prog sections. The songs are mostly shorter and more straight-forward, which allows the band to focus more on the melodies, and that’s where they really deliver, as everything is awesome from the melodic guitar sound during the verses to the choruses themselves. There are some heavier sections, but for the most part this is a very epic and beautiful album, so don’t expect too many rougher parts. Nicholas Leptos has a very pleasant voice and mostly uses a higher register, which fits perfectly with the sound of the album and allows to the choruses to soar. On a few songs you’ll hear some harsher vocals, and these also work quite well.
Being a concept album, “Dark Gorgon Rising” works best when listened to all at once, though it does have some big highlights. Fans of the more blazingly fast side of the genre will be very happy with “Son Of Seriphos”, which has a traditional feel to it with the guitar sound, but it moves at a very fast pace and is extremely epic and catchy. The next big highlight is “The Spell I’m Under”, which has the best chorus of the album, and is overall just a fantastic song. There are two ballads, “Dramatis Personae” and “Perseas Eurymedon”, both of which are very good, though the latter has more movements to it and a more memorable chorus, so it’s the better of the two. The title track has the best use of harsh vocals, which show up right near the beginning and help add some intensity to the album, while the rest of the song is heavier than normal but still just as fun and melodic. “A Sad Day At Argos” is more of an oriental metal song than it is anything else, as all the added flavor makes it the most unique song on the album, and it works very effectively, with a much different structure than the rest of the album, along with a few surprises.
My favorite and least favorite songs are oddly right next to each other. First is “The Stone Abomination”, which feels a tad out of place with its focus on heavier riffs over melody, and while it’s not a bad song at all, it plods along compared to the rest of the album and the chugging guitars get a little boring by the end. Meanwhile, “For You I Will Die Young” covers a lot of ground in 4 and a half minutes, with an incredibly epic opening vocal section, and awesome uses of both very low pitched vocals and growls early on. After that it moves very quickly from one highlight to the next, with some extremely good vocal melodies throughout. There’s a lot going on, but it’s still very easy to follow and is easily the most epic song here.
Overall, “Dark Gorgon Rising” is an exciting new album which combines the unique Middle Eastern influences I was expecting, with a more traditional mid-tempo power sound, resulting in a simple and more melodic album which is still incredibly epic, and just as good as the last two Arrayan Path albums. While I love the aforementioned band, I’ll be happy if Astronomikon ends up being more than a one off side
Written by Travis