You might think that this tape was found during archeological diggings and dates back to the end of the eighties. It would have belonged to a Hellenic black metal fan who collected tapes by Rotting Christ, Necromantia and Varathron. But no, this tape is brand new, released only a few months ago. (and available on CD and vinyl)
Ithaqua is a duo from Athens that has no other intention than to honor the Greek tradition of the bands I mentioned in the opening paragraph. That means: loads of atmospheric keyboards, thrash metal riffs and pummeling drums. It also means eerie vocals, growls and a lo-fi production. The whole breathes this late eighties and early nineties atmosphere and is an amazing nostalgic trip.
The album opens with a dark ambient intro before the guitars and drums go to work in 'Sorcerers of Profane Enchantment'. This is a great song, varying from slow, evil sounding black metal to intense and furious passages with blast beats, driving on fierce riffs. Yet, it's mostly the keyboards that make this album so interesting. These are not the overproduced orchestral arrangements of today, these are vintage minimal soundscapes, enhancing the mysterious and occult feel of the music.
The album continues is that epic tradition and slowly grows on the listener, at least on me. At first it does indeed sound outdated but after a short while I really wish this demo was released twenty five years ago when I was discovering this style of music. 'Abyssic Journey to the Elder Demons' is arguably the absolute highlight of this album, proving not only their loyalty to the traditional Greek style but also proving that this duo knows a thing or two about songwriting.
So yes, if you're into old school atmospheric black metal you should get your hands on this album. That's for sure. The riffs are brutal, the keyboards are mesmerizing and the atmosphere is highly nostalgic. I don't really kow how many bands play something similar these days but I don't there will be a lot. So see Ithaqua as the continuers of a great tradition and indulge yourselves...